BuzzFeed Crossword – Thursday 15 October 2015

YOU TRYNA?” by Andrew Ries

You tryna peek? Step off! Go solve the puzzle and THEN you can look.

Buzzfeed solution 10 15

“You Tryna?”

Constructor: Andrew Ries

Theme: Rebus puzzle in which two symmetrical black squares represent the word COCK.

  • 38A: COCK BLOCK – Terrible wingman, slangily, hiding literally twice in this puzzle.
  • 10D: PEACOCK – Festive feather fanner
  • 22A: POPPYCOCK – “Bullshit!” to old British chaps
  • 24A: COCKPIT – Workplace for those getting everyone really high?
  • 29D: COCK ROCK – Testosterone-fueled music genre, in slang
  • 38D: COLDCOCK – Completely knock out
  • 54A: HANCOCK – 2008 Will Smith movie about an alcoholic superhero
  • 55A: COCKTAILS – They’re shaken behind bars
  • 60D: COCKNEY – Person who makes a hash brown ash brown


Ben: This is the first BuzzFeed puzzle that I’ve had kind of mixed feelings about, and it took me a little while to understand why.

Lena: I knew I was headed towards a major eye-narrowing when I had the two Ks in the the theme answer and dropped in COCK BLOCK like it was hot. And kinda gross.

Ben: I don’t love the theme here, and at first I thought it was just the obscene phrase that I didn’t like, but upon reflection I don’t think that’s it. I don’t have any inherent problem with sexual slang being used in puzzles — it’s just that COCK BLOCK is a phrase that I’ve only ever heard used by obnoxious frat boys and their ilk. Basically, anyone who uses the phrase unironically is somebody who I’m probably not going to enjoy spending time with.

Lena: It reminds me of the horrible book “The Game” that details the “art” of sexual harassment– women are for sport, conquest, etc.

Ben: I don’t think I’d object to COCK BLOCK as fill for a themeless or something, but as the central theme of an entire puzzle — I found it more obnoxious than funny. I suspect this is a case where people’s mileage is going to vary depending on how they feel about the base phrase.

Lena: I agree re: themeless fill, depending on how it’s clued. Phrase-wise, yesterday Michael said he’d take PENIS over SEMEN in a puzzle, and I’ll add that I’ll take PENIS over COCK— I just find the latter too pornographic. And with LOADS still fresh from yesterday…

Lena: God, I feel the need to say VAGINA to clear the air in here!

Ben: Putting aside my issues with the theme, this is nicely crafted. I did like that seven of the eight themers include COCK in its non-genitalia meaning to avoid repetition — the lone exception being COCK ROCK (29D: Testosterone-fueled music genre, in slang) which I’d honestly never heard of before this puzzle. (The fact that the clue is a straight definition suggests I might not be alone there)

Lena: I liked that the theme required some puzzling, and I’ll admit to drawing little penises in the black squares. Also, I’ve encountered a lot of puzzles lately that involve writing in the black squares– I’m going to have to get a metallic glitter pen.

Ben: My favorite theme clue was definitely COCKTAILS (55A: They’re shaken behind bars)

Lena: As a former bartender I also enjoyed that one! Just as long as nobody is shaking a martini…

Ben: In order to accommodate the rebus squares, we have a very segmented grid today — there’s really only two pathways into each of the mini-puzzles in the NE and SW. Fortunately, LIMP BIZKIT (6D: “Nookie” rap metal band, which was voted Worst Genre Idea by “My Mind Monthly”) and DOLLAR SIGN (32D: Cha-ching indicator) are both strong entries and easily gettable (although I’m not 100% sure I understand the clue on the latter).

Lena: I guess ETILLS don’t make that sound when you need ECHANGE for your ECASH.

Ben: Even though I wish that the sections flowed more smoothly into each other, I do admire the smooth fill here. There’s some fun mid-length stuff that I haven’t seen much in crosswords, like ORDINAL, FRENEMY and THE BEEB. None of the short stuff stuck out while solving, and I appreciated TEN PM (which always strikes me as a very arbitrary answer) being clued modernly as 9D: When “American Horror Story” airs.

Lena: I’ve been accused of being too dupe-sensitive, but REMARRIED and RENAMES as longer answers stuck out IMO. I was also definitely aware of ORAL B, EOS, EERO, PTA and, of course, SSS. But how can I stay mad at SSS when it’s “[Like the only thing a snake can say]”? Sometimes it’s, like, the only fill you can fill.

Ben: Favorite clue by a mile: SAMSON (18A: Biblical figure whose hair game was strong). Next runners up: REMARRIED (30A: Gave lifelong, unbreakable promises (again)) and ERGO (26D: “So, if my logic is correct and I’m super pretentious…”). I think since Monday the cluing has been striking a better balance between the vaguely obnoxious BuzzFeedy voice and sassy wordplay (which I love).

Lena: I think my favorite clue is 19A: [Does some digital processing?] => ADDS. Now this is super clever and misdirecting in a way that still incorporates those modern feels.

Ben: I am curious whether INUITS (61A: Arctic Natives who believe the main problem with humans is everything we eat has a soul (I’m paraphrasing)) gave anyone trouble — it was pretty much an instaget for me off the first two words of the clue, but I don’t know if Canadian First Nations tribes are common knowledge in the States.

Lena: Looks like INUIT/S has appeared in NYT puzzles 31/4 times– I expected more due to those fill-friendly letters!

Lena: Oh, and did you notice that the TUT clue (62D: He ascended the throne of Egypt by age ten, must have been quite a college essay!!!) repeated the “quite a college essay!!!” part from the clue for ABIGAIL Breslin in yesterday’s puzzle? I checked to see if it was a meme, but it doesn’t seem to be… yet! Stay tuned.

  1. marysueh said:

    Your comments about this puzzle were enjoyable, but the puzzle itself not so much. The ‘cockiness’ innuendo definitely seemed too frat boy and crude. As I solved it, I wondered if I am just an old prude who is out of touch. I thought about the breakfast test too. Since I solved the reveal (38A) early on, I spent the remaining time feeling icked out. Despite the off-putting theme, the non-innuendo theme entries were fine. DINGUS was a stumble because I tried DOOFUS at first. The digital processing clue for ADDS was modern and clever. In general the fill was a step above the norm, and I’m grateful. I just can’t get past the cock word play.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob Dively said:

    Not a huge fan of all the COCK, but just because it feels like it’s trying a little too hard to be edgy. Also, I don’t recall hearing COCK BLOCK used as a noun, as its clue implies it is. My brain wants it to be a verb and the person doing it to be a cock blocker.

    I was also confused for a while about the “hiding literally twice in this puzzle” part of the main theme clue because there are 8 additional theme answers, and I initially thought they were rebuses. It took me a while to realize that the two blocks business referred to the two black squares that are placeholders for “COCK”.

    Love the meta-clues for EERO and SOLVE. Never heard of DINGUS as a person – for me it’s a stand-in for the name of a thing I can’t remember or don’t know. “Hey, would you hand me the dingus there.”

    I don’t get 47A “Brand used to clean traps?”. ORAL B is dental, so is “traps” slang for teeth or jaws? I mean, I get that traps (like bear traps) are jawlike, I’ve never heard the reverse.

    –your Quibbler-in-Chief


    • marysueh said:

      Trap is a slang term for mouth. As in saying, “Shut yer trap!”, rather than, “Please, darling, could you be a dear and stop talking a moment? I’m listening to the Beeb.”

      Liked by 3 people

      • Bob Dively said:

        Oh jeez, that seems totally obvious now. [facepalm] Thanks.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Finn said:

    So much stereotypical frat boy lingo has been reclaimed ironically by millennials. COCKBLOCK is one such term, according to me, a millennial. Thus, I had no problem with it, and think it clearly makes for a great revealer. I enjoyed this a lot and agree that the cluing has evened out quite a bit since Friday. (Also love the “quite a college essay!!!” motif, though also I’m a college admissions officer.)

    Also just chiming in to say I’m loving your guys’ back-and-forth commentary — makes for a great, and different, blogging format! Keep it coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lena Webb said:

      I’m going to take this opportunity to admit that I have, on more than one occasion, accused my cat of being a cockblock.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Caleb said:

    Hey everyone! Sorry to people who found “cockblock” offensive– like Finn, my experience of the term has been mostly ironic and un-gendered. More of just a term to refer to anything that gets in the way of a prospective sexual or even just social experience. Thanks again for your feedback, though! And the “college essay” thing is an effort on my part to benefit regular solvers with meme-y in-jokes I hope you’ll enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. rabonour said:

    Obscenity generally doesn’t bother me, and maybe I’m just used to the old-fashioned standards of the Times, but I definitely winced when I got the revealer (which came very quick, despite this puzzle feeling much ore difficult than yesterday’s to me). I enjoy this sort of theme, but less so when it’s based on the word “cock.” Combined with “Fuck” in 3 down and it just felt a little too profane.

    Looking back, it’s interesting that they go big on the profanity considering that, especially with the cluing, this is by far the most conventional PuzzFeed yet. It’s just cutesy enough, but with some very strong clues.


  6. aries said:

    I successfully predicted that the prevailing attitude towards this puzzle would be negative, but I guess I underestimated the amount of offense taken at COCKBLOCK, considering the venue. I wouldn’t have submitted this to any other venue, and I wouldn’t have even published this on my own site. But I was attempting to capture some of the Buzzfeed vibe in crossword form, which I thought was the whole point of Buzzfeed publishing crosswords. COCKBLOCK is a topic that Buzzfeed has covered before, including publishing a listicle of analogous terms used by lesbians (, so it’s not a term that’s strictly used by frat boys.

    Many solvers criticized Maleska for avoiding pop culture and a commonly cited reason for Shortz using pop culture in the NYT was that if you could find the word in the pages of the rest of the paper, it was probably good enough to use in the puzzle. I used a similar strategy with this puzzle, basing a theme around a topic that can certainly be found on Buzzfeed’s pages.

    In the end, this is the only puzzle I’ve ever regretted making. Interestingly, I’ve learned that the breakfast test doesn’t only exist as an editor’s principle – ironically, I think it’s morphed more into a standard implemented by solvers. All I would ask of solvers is to consider the outlet and the intended audience before you get the pitchforks out. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • pblindauer said:

      Well, I loved it. Great idea very well-executed, with a bunch of very clever clues. Bravo!


    • I am also in favor of this puzzle. Part of the instructions Caleb issued when asking for constructors was to keep an eye on the clientele, and this theme is a way to combine both the millennial language and classic crossword themes. I’ve heard both genders use the central theme answer, and I was pleased with the eight resulting phrases made. Fine job Andrew.

      And, as a South Carolina Gamecock, I’m always partial to puns with COCK in the name. I once played on an intramural dodgeball team called “Cocks and Balls”.


  7. Bob Dively said:

    “Reclaimed ironically by millennials” really gets at the core of why I’m enjoying the Puzzfeed enterprise. Keep up the good work!


  8. therealrexparker said:

    COCKBLOCK is not offensive to me. I’ve heard women use it. Always semi-ironically, maybe, but who cares? I think this is a very imaginative repurposing of familiar term, and there’s nothing in cluing or content of this puzzle that makes me think “ew gross” or “bad.” The puzzle itself is real well made, and obviously you can’t tell people their offense is excessive, because it is what it is. But today, I don’t quite get it. I got it, for sure, in the CM sample puzzle that circulated before bf actually launched. But this theme—I have zero problems with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • therealrexparker said:

      Correction, I do find one thing offensive, and that is LIMP BIZKIT.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Bob Dively said:

        I kinda like the way that LIMP BIZKIT sounds like maybe it’s not up to much cock-wise.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Caleb said:

      Also keep in mind I’m testing things out to see what people respond to in this venue!

      Liked by 3 people

    • Lena Webb said:

      I personally don’t like the implication that my vagina is a “goal” and that another guy can “block” someone else’s ability to “score.”

      This puzzle was a ton of fun to solve– but I got the revealer right away and so it was an initial “here we go again, BuzzFeed can’t keep it in its pants.” Once I got the whole package (!!!!!) I eased up. I just don’t think that using words/terms ironically should erase original meanings or make them less offensive. With the BZF tone being pretty brotastic so far IMO, I feel more sensitive to these kind of things when they appear in puzzles.

      We… need more women constructors.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. r.alphbunker said:

    Oops. Last link is for Friday puzzle


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