Masquerade

New York Times crossword Oct. 2 / Constructed by Eric Berlin

Trick or treat! Today’s crossword celebrates Halloween a little bit early. As related in an editor’s note, the grid is a double puzzle that — when fully solved — will yield the names of 10 “famous” people attending a “costume party.” (Caveat: “Famous” is a relative term, and two of the celebrities passed away years ago. “Dead Man’s Party,” anyone?)

The puzzle’s 10 theme answers each contain two shaded squares; the celebrities are “unmasked” by changing the letters in those squares. For example, “Rods on a cowboy’s truck” (23 Across) are RANCH AXLES; by changing the N and the X to a Y and an R, you’ve now invited musician RAY CHARLES to the party. (It’s hard to shade here, so I’ve bolded and underlined the appropriate letters.)

Other guests: golfer GREG NORMAN (from GREEN ORGAN, “Environmentally sound keyboard,” 25 Across); songwriter BOB DYLAN (from BOND PLAN, “007 strategy,” 42 Across); “Interview with the Vampire” author ANNE RICE (from INNER ACE, “High card up one’s sleeve,” 44 Across); Giants quarterback ELI MANNING (from SLIM AWNING, “Narrow overhang,” 66 Across); and “Jeopardy” host ALEX TREBEK (from ALERT REBEL, “Government resister standing ready,” 68 Across).

More guests: Former Yankees/Dodgers manager JOE TORRE (from JOLT OGRE, “Shock a fairy-tale monster,” 85 Across); R&B/soul crooner LOU RAWLS (from LOUD OWLS, “Nocturnal birds liable to keep people awake,” 89 Across); actor DON CHEADLE (from CONCH LADLE, “Soup spoon designed for shellfish,” 109 Across); and “Gilligan’s Island” actress TINA LOUISE (from FINAL GUISE, “Last costume at a costume party,” 111 Across).

Fun concept for a puzzle, but not sure that’s a party I’d be eager to attend — especially considering Ray Charles and Lou Rawls died years ago. I’m not even sure some of these people still qualify as celebrities. Greg Norman? Anne Rice? Seriously? However, I have to admit I’m grateful there weren’t any Blake Livelys or Olivia Wildes to be found; I’m not even sure I could name US Weekly’s top 10 It Girls/paparazzi targets today.

Hard Copy Dept.: “Newspaper section that competes with Craigslist” is WANT ADS (90 Down), which you can find (among other places) in the SUN (“Baltimore daily, with ‘the’,” 46 Across). While we’re on the subject of dead trees, “Paper collector” in this grid is an INBOX (57 Down), though my inbox contains only e-mail.

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