October 31, 2022


Constructor: Nate Cardin

Editor: Anna Gundlach

Theme Answers:
GHOST KITCHENS (19A: Facilities that prepare meals for delivery apps, often under fake restaurant names)
PHANTOM MENACE (34A: Titular term for Darth Sidious in a 1999 "Star Wars" movie)
SPIRIT FINGERS (49A: Cheerleader's hand gesture)

Theme synopsis: The first word of each theme answer is a type of specter. Today's SPECTRAL SERIES includes a GHOST, a PHANTOM, and a SPIRIT.

Things I learned:
  • GHOST KITCHENS (19A: Facilities that prepare meals for delivery apps, often under fake restaurant names) GHOST KITCHENS, also known as virtual restaurants, do not have a store front and dining room. Their business is solely focused on delivery and pick up orders. As you might expect, GHOST KITCHENS became popular during the Covid-19 pandemic when restaurants were forced to close their dining areas and demand for food delivery increased. Although I hadn't heard this term before, it was easy to figure out once I had the GH- from crossing answers.
  • SKI (41D: Glide like Gus Kenworthy) Gus Kenworthy's website offers the wisdom, "When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or SKI. Gus Kenworthy is a former freestyle skier. He competed for Team USA until December 2019, when he began representing his birth country, Great Britain. His final competition was the 2022 Winter Olympics. Gus Kenworthy was in the 2019 movie, Olympic Dreams, and has been on several TV shows. In a link to another clue in this puzzle, one of his TV appearances was in the made-for-TV movie that appeared on the SYFY channel, Sharknado 5: Global Swarming. Appropriately, he played a skier.
Random thoughts and interesting things:
  • ALEX (12A: What is Trebek's first name?) Q: Phrase the clue as a question. A: What do you do when the Answer was the host of Jeopardy! from 1984 to 2020? Well-played, Nate! 
  • HE'S (23A: The Supremes' "___ My Man") "HE'S My Man" is a 1975 song by The Supremes. This clue pairs well with a clue from Saturday's puzzle, ["___ a Good Guy" (Marvelettes song)].
  • PHANTOM MENACE (34A: Titular term for Darth Sidious in a 1999 "Star Wars" movie) Darth Sidious is the Sith name of Sheev Palpatine, a role played by Ian McDiarmid in the Star Wars movies. In the original trilogy, Darth Sidious is the Emperor of the Galactic Empire and the master of Darth Vader. The 1999 movie, Star Wars: Episode I - The PHANTOM MENACE was the first of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. In that movie, Sheev Palpatine is portrayed as a politician who is secretly a Sith Lord.
  • SYFY (41A: "Sharknado" channel) Sharknado is a series of six made-for-TV comedy disaster movies distributed by SYFY. The first movie, Sharknado, was released in 2013. As the name suggests, the movies are about "sharknadoes" - tornadoes filled with sharks.
  • SPIRIT FINGERS (49A: Cheerleader's hand gesture) SPIRIT FINGERS, a variation of jazz hands, is the term for outstretched hands - palms facing toward the audience - with splayed FINGERS wiggling up and down. 
  • RANGE (1D: Five octaves, for Mariah Carey) This is a fun clue, and five octaves is an impressive RANGE! In addition to singing notes in the lower RANGE, Mariah Carey also has a whistle register, the highest register of the human voice. This video clip gives examples of Mariah Carey singing a RANGE of notes. 
  • ENHANCE (14D: Often-parodied response to pixelated security camera footage on "CSI") Using the "ENHANCE Button" to make computer images clearer has long been a widely-used trope of crime shows. I recommend spending two minutes of your day watching this delightful mash-up of ENHANCE scenes
  • LUMPY (28D: Like some mashed potatoes) LUMPY mashed potatoes are just an indication that they aren't instant, right? Fun clue.

    Geography review:

    • TEMPE (13A: Arizona State's city) TEMPE, Arizona is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area, and as the clue informs us, is home to Arizona State University.
    • IOWA (15A: Des Moines' state) Des Moines is the capital of IOWA. IOWA also happens to be the state where this blog is being written today. 
    • ORE (39A: State between Wash. and Calif.) Shoutout to the west coast states of Washington (Wash.), Oregon (ORE.), and California (Calif.)!
    • SFO (42A: Bay Area airport code) Speaking of the west coast, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is located south of downtown San Francisco, and serves the Bay Area.
    SPECTRAL SERIES is a science term referring to a method of characterizing light emitted by excited atoms. Hooray for science in crosswords, brought to us today by Nate Cardin, who is a chemistry teacher. You don't need to know about the science of SPECTRAL SERIES for this puzzle, however, since these specters are of the spooky variety, perfect for Halloween. In addition to the theme, I liked the apt crossing of GOOF (32D: Mess up) and OOPS (38A: "My bad!") Thank you, Nate, for this puzzle that was a perfect spooky start to my Halloween Monday. Happy Halloween!


    1. As I do the print version of this puzzle, I obligingly wrote the "R" backwards in 35D.

      1. Very nice! I did have that thought...but not that option...as I typed in the answer.


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