“PICK ME UP” by Sam Trabucco
Go on, click it. You know you want to read more — but don’t spoil it for yourself, solve the puzzle first.
“Pick Me Up”
Constructor: Sam Trabucco
Theme: Each corner contains one size of STARBUCKS coffee (TALL, VENTI, GRANDE, TRENTA)
- 36A: STARBUCKS – Multibillion-dollar corporation with four size options all hidden in this grid
- 24A / 49A: A CORNER AT A TIME – With 49-Across, how 36-Across is taking over America and also this puzzle
Lena: Disney! Netflix! Starbucks! Certainly lots of brand recognition going on in these first few puzzles. Yesterday was more about memes/movies, but Disney princesses and Starbucks cups feel more commercial. I’m personally looking forward to themes with a little more *puzzling* involved, and not just for my own enjoyment– I want to believe that the core BuzzFeed demographic will still have fun parsing some clever (and hip, always hip) wordplay. Betcha I’ll get my wish.
Ben: I think I’m still enjoying the novelty of so much pop culture showing up in grids — I’m used to doing the NYT, which for all the things it does well, doesn’t put as high an emphasis on freshness as I’d like.
Ben: That said, I have literally never heard of A CORNER AT A TIME, so even when I worked out what the slogan had to be, it didn’t get me the central STARBUCKS answer.
Michael: Ditto. I had to google “A CORNER / AT A TIME” to see if it was a pre-existing expression. If I google [“a corner at a time” starbucks”] I get 8 hits. That’s eight (8). E-I-G-H-T. That’s not the greatest total to get, answer validity-wise. This puzzle works very well conceptually (i.e. the idea of Starbucks seeming like they’re on every corner, esp. in NYC, is very much out there), but the revealer feels forced.
Lena: The “Starbucks on every corner” thing combined with the placement of the circled answers is awfully cute, and the clues (like yesterday’s) are more clever and succinct. (64A: Be so inclined?) => TILT wasn’t a showy clue, but it felt good to answer.
Ben: Yeah, I liked that one. Wordplay is my sweet spot for crossword clues, so stuff like SEMI (30A: It happens right before a formal to make it more casual) and SHED (65A: Building that a bunch of tools live in) are both welcome.
Michael: That is possibly the best ÊTRE clue ever (10A: Ah, “to be” in Paris…). Don’t know if it’s original, but it’s great. Made me think ÊTRE was OK fill.
Lena: I’m really liking the conversational answers alongside their clues. STEP OFF (34D: “Get da fuq up out my face!!!”) and HELLA (66A: Like, so freakin’ much brah) and OOPS (33A: “My b!”). I’m a sucker for phrase substitutions or whatever the technical crossword term is (THROW ME A BONE, guys, “drop some science!”).
Ben: Yeah, I think those are just called “phrase substitutions” 🙂
Lena: YOLO clue made me LOL IRL (22A: “About to shotgun this tube of cookie dough and binge-watch ‘Breaking Bad’ backwards so it seems like Walt gets lame #___”). Neat to see a hashtag clued this way!
Ben: I really like how the BuzzFeed puzzle has been taking advantage of the longer cluing opportunities — two or three per puzzle is about right. See also 19D: “Lost colony” of North Carolina which was settled in 1585, but in 1590 there was no trace of any of the 118 humans except the word “CROATOAN” carved onto a post and still no one knows what the f happened there (gasp)
Lena: I fumbled my order in the NE because I didn’t remember the TRENTA drink volume option (basically like in real life when I go into a Starbucks and ask for “uhhhh, a medium?” <cue barista death stare>). Then I didn’t get RON ARTEST, and put in ERA instead of EST (10D: Ballpark fig.). Tricky! The corner did “Not let [me] sit with [it]!!!” I was SHUNned.
Michael: Never heard of TRENTA. Ever. Not on menus where I’ve been. Are they on menus at all, or is this like the “Animal Style” of coffee? (that’s an In ‘N’ Out reference, Shake Shackers).
Ben: I got my ass kicked in that corner. Took me forever to parse 32D: “Rafa” smokin’ fast ones on the court as Rafael NADAL, never heard of RON ARTEST or TRENTA, didn’t know RSA, somehow forgot Obi-Wan KENOBI’s last name and was like “why is it -OBI? Is it backward?”… took me a while to dig my way out.
Ben: A little more crosswordese than previous days: ETRE, RSA, ACTE, STD, DSL, STA, EST, ARG… this is the first BuzzFeed puzzle that’s had enough to actually register for me while I solved.
Michael: I literally LOL’d at ACTE (39A: Entr’___), which has never happened. I was like “Dude, what are *you* doing here?” That is a total narc answer! ACTE is the narc. “Hey there, kids, this rave party is neato. Do you enjoy rap music?” etc. ACTE is your grandpa at your bachelorette party.
Lena: Oh, I also had a NYT PTSD moment when I misparsed A CORNER as ACORNER and frantically checked the clue to make sure it wasn’t “squirrel in autumn, say.”
Lena: The DAWSONS clue (47A: “___ Creek” (TV show that had me like, “I don’t want to wait for my life to be ovahhhh either!”)) made me laugh because I type-sing song lyrics all the time.
Lena: It’s weird– as often as I say “don’t blow your load” in casual conversation, I didn’t love seeing LOADS in this context (58A: Units of, uh, “genetic material”). <insert animated gif of Clarice Starling’s unfortunate interaction with Multiple Miggs in “Silence of the Lambs” …aaaand NETFLIX AND CHILL anyone?>
Lena: Oh god, I actually found that animated gif.
Ben: Please do not insert it. (Michael: THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!)
Michael: All semen jokes are going to go over poorly with me. Can’t stand ‘em.. NUT. LOAD. JIZZ. Etc. Pass. Hard pass. Penises are AOK, semen, *pass*! Just a personal ‘breakfast test’ thing, I think. I’ll take PUBES over semen. I’ll take DIARRHEA over semen. I just will. (I’m learning a lot about myself just typing this)
Ben: I also found that clue to be a little too much. Same with STD clued as 57D: Mean thing to give to a lover: Abbr. But if a few borderline clues are the trade-off for wonderful bits like 43A: Didn’t question one bit, as America to everything Taylor Swift does (ATE UP) and 46A: Listen to, as America to everything Taylor Swift asks of us (OBEY), I’m prepared to make that trade.
Lena: Oh yeah! I forgot how much I liked ENSURE (4D: Make certain, as that by drinking a shake an adult will get all their essential nutrients). It made me remember all those OLD commercials with the OLD folks cheersing with the stuff: “To your health! — No, to ours.” Take that BuzzFeed, your puzzle made me think of OLD things!