BuzzFeed Crossword — Monday 12 October 2015


How exciting! — Our first review! Spoilers below — go solve the puzzle before continuing.

Buzzfeed solution 10 12

“Which Disney Princess Are You?”

Constructor: Neville Fogarty

Theme: Nine pop-culture icons are taking the titular BuzzFeed quiz — their results are the theme answers and the reasoning is the clues.

  • 2D – “Aquaman: You have the ability to breathe underwater, so you’re…” ARIEL
  • 17A – “Greg Brady: Your ability to deal with stepsisters knows no bounds, so you’re…” CINDERELLA
  • 26A – “Garfield: You know how to take a long nap, so you’re…” AURORA
  • 28A – “Mrs. Doubtfire: You’ve cross-dressed out of love of your family, so you’re…” MULAN
  • 38A – “Carmen Sandiego: You like being shown the world, so you’re…” JASMINE
  • 45A – “Hermione Granger: You love a good book, so you’re…” BELLE
  • 46A – “Katniss Everdeen: You’re a pro with a bow and arrow, so you’re…” MERIDA
  • 59A – “Star-Lord: You hang out with a raccoon all the time, so you’re…” POCAHONTAS
  • 52D – “Miss Piggy: You’ve fallen in love with a frog, so you’re…” TIANA


Michael: Is it going to be feasible for you to copy a G-chat to a blog post?
Lena: yes
[Well … we’re not doing that again …. after many technical difficulties….]
MichaelOK so this is the Buzzfeediest theme ever, which I like. You’re Buzzfeed, you open buzzfeedily. Nice move.
Lena <physically pushes my side-eye back into position> Yes, I agree– it certainly has a strong voice. Let me see, I just grabbed my clipboard.
Michael I think there are people (snobs, like you) who will hate on the puzzle for its Buzzfeediness. Its listy poppiness. True or false?
Lena: True. Look, I just pushed my glasses up to consult the puzzle, printed out on paper, on my custom-made wooden clipboard. Come at me bro.

Michael: I genuinely LOL’d at the Greg Brady clue (17A). I knew I was in right there, even though, in the end, the theme is just a bunch of princess names.

Lena What I’m personally worried about is that I’m going to be just as frustrated as a 25 year old who doesn’t know some “old” NYTimes reference. I don’t know anything about how Brady (Tom??) deals with his stepsisters. I just threw down CINDERELLA and was all ¯\(ツ)
Michael If you don’t know “The Brady Bunch,” I’m afraid that’s on you.
Lena Oh, I own that– never watched it but, yeah, it’s a big family I hear.
Ben: I like the voice a lot, and I like the modern references even more. But admittedly, I got all of the references, so that’s easy for me to say…

Lena: I do like how the clue style allows for nice visualizations/imagery, even for icky fill like LA LA LA (8A: [fingers in ears] “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”). The caps, the description, nice.

Michael LA LA LA clue killed, I agree. Fill, redeemed.
Lena I am a big fan of clue-saves-fill moments.
Ben: Same thing happens at 39D — instead of the partial, I TRY is clued as the (excellent) Macy Gray song.
Michael Even clues for simple answers, like at 1-Across ([Quiet times for unlucky toddlers and very lucky grown-ups] = NAPS). Nice.

Lena: And the fill! It’s so nice!

Michael This puzzle is clean as hell. Even the “janky” stuff (WTF does that mean anyway?) is fresh: IRL, ZYNGA.
Ben: There’s another great clue on ZYNGA (66A: Company that makes users send those crazy FarmVille requests to all their friends, definitely wasn’t actually me haha).
Lena What’s the worst fill we can find?
Ben: I needed the crosses for AIG. I’m not sure it exists here in Canada.
Michael I didn’t particularly care for the slam on ITT Tech [43A: ___ Tech (notoriously janky college)].  Felt like snobbery. Also, bad fill-wise, there’s ET TU. There’s always ET TU.
Lena: My intelligence was a little insulted by the “gimme” clues for OSLO and PLASTER, especially since the PLASTER clue was awesome on its own, and definitely gettable (42D: “It plays a big role in most casts (OK, this clue is tricky for a Monday but I couldn’t help myself :p)).
Michael Yeah, I think the cluing hasn’t quite figured out what its audience does/doesn’t know. The PLASTER clue seemed unnecessarily apologetic, especially given that NESS clue  [31D: “Super Smash Bros.” character that can direct PK Thunder into his own body to propel himself forward] was much, much, much harder (for a Monday). Sometimes the clues were so ridiculous they amused me. See LUSH [55D: OK, I don’t know how to clue this, but it’s a pretty good grime song by Skepta featuring Jay Sean where he rhymes it with “rush”].
Michael Holy crap I just realized the puzzle won’t print out on one page. I’m missing Downs after 55. That’s a LOT of clues.
Lena: It’s true, just looking back through this puzzle to talk about it is difficult– it’s SO dense with text!
Michael: Clues are hella long. No space issues because BuzzFeed is not paper-bound, so there’s a lot of cluing. And they say millennials are illiterate. Pshaw! (do they say that?)
Lena I think attention span is of more concern…
Ben: The extra space is a double-edged sword, because some of these clues could really stand to be tightened up. But it also makes room for stuff like the terrific SCALIA clue (57A: Justice who wrote of the court’s “interpretive jiggery-pokery” in his King v. Burwell dissent), referring to the Obamacare decision.
Lena: If we’re going to talk about the unique cluing voice, I have to say that the arbitrary hip-speak REALLY sounds like it’s trying too hard. I honestly rolled my eyes more at this puzzle than at some of the stale-ass NYTs. Maybe I’ve just become numb…
Michael: Yes, there’s some TTH, for sure. I like the idea of making the cluing fun to read. But different people will have different ideas of “fun.” Like, what’s with all the extra stuff on the ISLE clue [62A: Tropical vacation destination, and I’m sitting on the beach with a mai tai and a good book and I’m … *falls asleep*]. It adds nothing.
Lena: same for the one that just uses “ur” over and over again [4D: Vending machine container u mite crush on ur head after u finish it if ur strong enough haha] => SODA CAN. Based on my experience with indie puzzles, I see that conversational clue tone as a way of sheepishly cluing some bad fill or just goofing around– when it’s overused like this, I don’t find it enjoyable anymore. It’s a bombardment.
Ben: It’s overwhelming for sure.

Michael Also the 2nd Kelly Clarkson ref doesn’t work so great if you don’t solve the puzzle in a certain order. Even though I kinda laughed at her inclusion in the ALTAR clue (51D: Place to sacrifice something to the gods or, apparently, Kelly Clarkson). KELLY DEMANDS BLOOD!

Lena: Haha, oh man I am going to be so culturally AT SEA. I’m going to have to [gulp] start reading BuzzFeed to solve these!

Michael Honestly, I can’t even look at Buzzfeed’s homepage without getting dizzy. It’s depressing in extremis, that whole approach to info delivery. I actually think they need to handle the crossword slightly differently, because crosswords are Fucking Rituals. If you don’t get this about your audience, you’re in trouble.


Michael This theme is wicked-dense, so the smoothness of the fill deserves extra applause. Most people aren’t going to realize how hard it is to control your damn grid when you’ve got all these themers sqawking at you.

Ben: It’s a great theme — and also the sort of thing that just wouldn’t work at another outlet. Shows that BuzzFeed is going to be willing to poke fun at itself.

Lena Now, question — if this showed up in the NYTimes as a Monday would you describe it as a “non-theme?” The theme is basically just princess names.
Michael Oh, hell no. This is not a non-theme. No way. It’s a super-theme. Take today’s WSJ puzzle. Another supertheme. The word CIAO is embedded in three phrases, and you’re like “wow, didn’t know you could do that, cute, but … so what?” And then you notice that the title is “Goodbye, Columbus”—a Columbus Day theme out of left fucking field! The title puts it over the top. Shows that real thought went into it.
[Note for kids: “Goodbye, Columbus” is a famous novel by Philip Roth; ask your parents]
Lenathat sounds way cooler than this theme– but remember, I’m a clipboard-toting snob.
  1. Neville said:

    Y’all rock. Thanks for solving this puzzle, and thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. erinium said:

    I agree with everything said above. The puzzle is jampacked with theme while showing off fresh, solid fill. The cluing made me cringe in places, but it’s what I would expect from a BuzzFeed product. Kudos to Neville for making a BuzzFeedy puzzle while avoiding a grid full of drug/alcohol references and misogynistic sex jokes. I’m excited to see what’s to come from this outlet!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. marysueh said:

    Agree that 44D was poorly clued, even for an easy Monday-like puzzle. So much of the puzzle worked well, but that clue stuck out in comparison. I’m not a fan of those extra wordy clues either. But all in all I had fun solving this one, despite my inadequate princess awareness.


  4. gabeluis said:

    Enjoyed the conversational review — nicely done! I am a bit floored that Lena has never watched “The Brady Bunch.” Were you a “Partridge Family” purist? 44-Down was the weak spot. Putting the answer in the clue seems pre-Monday. Otherwise, great work by Neville F. packing so many cultural references and using such a light touch. Bonus points for the Scalia zing.


  5. jess said:

    The title and theme are pitch-perfect for the venue, but the style will need some tuning. To be expected for a new puzzle like this, right? I agree about the cluing language being over the top, which is my main gripe. I draw a line in the sand before using “ur” in place of “your”, and I’m a “millennial”.


  6. danfeyer said:

    This is great – both the new blog, and the fact that the BuzzFeed puzzles have begun! I get that Caleb’s mission is to make every single clue fun — but I really hated some of these trying-too-hard-to-b-cute-4-the-kids run-ons. Is it just because this style is reeeeally not optimized for speed-solvers like me? Will this “every clue” philosophy repel some veterans but entice newbies? I really hope that Caleb gets robust feedback in the early going from people he doesn’t know, like BuzzFeed readers who might not have tried crosswords before. Look forward to seeing how these evolve!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. bobdively said:

    Turns out I know more about Disney princesses than my crusty old man self-image would seem to warrant.

    Overall I found it enjoyable and breezy. I was momentarily flummoxed by 44D’s answer-in-the-clue because I couldn’t believe it was that simple. I do like the irreverence and attempt at freshness by the whole Buzzfeed crossword enterprise, but I found myself getting distracted by the wordiness of the clues, which led my brane down various meta-rabbit holes wondering why clues were written the way they are. I imagine that will go away as I get used to this style of cluing. It’s not your father’s “Alero manufacturer”, and that’s alright with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Caleb said:

    Hey guys! Thanks for all your feedback. I think the #1 thing I want to look at is clue length– I think I need to work on being fresh and personality-y without rambling on too much. So, basically, I hear you and I’m thankful for your feedback!

    Hearts and farts,


    Liked by 8 people

  9. cwillhe said:

    But 44-down was obvious after the first few words. I didn’t even read the second half of the clue until after I had filled in the grid, and when I did go back and read it, I had a nice chuckle.

    I like nice chuckles when I do crosswords.


  10. Sam Donaldson said:

    Um, I TRY is not a partial. It’s a complete sentence. It doesn’t need to be “saved by” a modern-ish clue.


    • therealrexparker said:

      Um … yeah, that checks out.


  11. Nice puzzle, Neville. Great blog, you guys. And thanks, Michael for explaining the whole WSJ puzzle so I can just skip it. 😡

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay I think I fixed it so my name won’t display as “Rex Parker” any more. Sorry about that!

      Liked by 1 person

      • therealrexparker said:

        So YOU’RE the one who took “Rex Parker”! Impostor!


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