“ZZZ” by David Steinberg
Yeah, yeah it’s Monday– WAKE UP and solve the puzzle!
Constructor: David Steinberg
Theme: The puzzle is a literal Buzzfeed — all four theme answers are clued as “Buzz source”
- 18A: BUMBLEBEE – Buzz source
- 28A: GOSSIP WEBSITE – Buzz source
- 44A: MORNING COFFEE – Buzz source
- 57A: CELL PHONE – Buzz source
Ben: Nice simple theme to start the week. I like how both of the Monday puzzles so far have been very BuzzFeed-specific concepts (Disney princess quiz last week, a literal “buzz” feed here), and I wonder if that’ll continue.
Lena: I want to see tiny little animated gifs embedded in each square, flickering away like psychotic candles…
Michael: My first scrawled comments about this puzzle were: “LOVE—easy, basic, greatly entertaining.” The cluing is (mostly) on point today. That HEBREW clue made me legit LOL (6D: Language I “learned” for my bar mitzvah in the same way a dog learns to high-five). That’s how this whole “personal” style should go, imo.
Ben: One of the many small ways that pros like David Steinberg distinguish themselves is elegance and tightness in theme. Here, all four theme answers use a different meaning for “buzz” — at first I was disappointed by CELL PHONE being the last one, since it’s a relatively prosaic answer, but on consideration it’s the best bit of wordplay in the theme (phoning someone = giving them a buzz).
Lena: As a “vibrate only” person, I can’t remember the last time my phone made a sound other than “buzz” so I also thought BUMBLE BEE and CELL PHONE were too similar.
Michael: Because they’re the same *kind* of “buzz”? That never occurred to me. Interesting.
Ben: Not a ton of long stuff today, but it’s all clean and BRAINSTORM (3D: Session where an idea might strike like lightning!) is fun. Note the exclamation point there, by the way — I wonder if we’re going to see a stronger BuzzFeed voice on the early week puzzles. See also NHL (34A: Sports org. with so many pucks, can you believe it? Probably at least over 100) and ERIE (62A: Spoooooky Great Lake (if there was an extra E ha ha)).
Lena: I get a kick out of seeing how the crosswordese that inevitably makes its way into these puzzles is clued. When I filled in OATEN, for example, I hurried my eyeballs over to see how they jazzled that one up (32A: Like Cheerios, granola bars, and many other healthy things that taste to me like wood pulp). The day a Millennial (or anyone else for that matter) describes anything as OATEN, well… “Ugh, bro, the OATEN nature of this Kashi cereal is harshing my MORNING COFFEE buzz.”
Ben: I think I’m getting more used to the BuzzFeed style of cluing — I chuckled at a number of these. (Michael: me too)
Lena: Same. I laughed aloud (LA– shorter than LOL, wut wut) at 43A: Roll a dollar bill into a nose straw and suck some of that good good into your honker (SNORT). It was the “good good” that got me. Also, I was already feeling silly about drugs after I wanted to write HORSE in place of NURSE (24A: Cry from someone who needs more morphine, maybe). It’s heroin slang, but still.
Ben: Up to this point I’ve been on board with these puzzles’ taste in music, but we’re going to have to agree to disagree on 17A: Stop existing, as hopefully Macklemore’s career, which clues CEASE. “Thrift Shop” and “Downtown” are both great, and I can definitely see a place in my life for a goofy but technically excellent rap song every 8-10 months.
Michael: Without taking sides in #MackleGate, I will say that I don’t really groove on gratuitous meanness.
Ben: Interesting clue in 27D: Exam that Elle Woods gets a 179 (!!!) on — is that a good or a bad score for the LSAT? It’s been too long since I saw Legally Blonde.
Lena: It’s all but perfect! I had a neat little memory zap from 13D: Stand-up comedy needs? (FEET). It reminded me of an awesome story I heard a couple years ago about a professor who became a quadruple amputee and then a stand-up comedian.
Ben: Pop culture tracker: the ROBES of Harry Potter (1A), a spoiler ALERT for Breaking Bad (23A) and Jon SNOW from Game of Thrones (53D). Particularly like the clue on the second one — 23A: Spoiler ___ (disclaimer before telling someone that Walt kills Jesse then himself in the last episode of “Breaking Bad,” say). I wonder if that will fool anyone?
Ben: One last note — love the understated irony of the clue for SITH (53A: “Only the ___ deal in absolutes”), since the quote is itself an absolute.
Michael: I don’t watch “GOT” and don’t recognize “Star Wars” I-III as legit entities, so the SITH / SNOW crossing was easily the hardest (is that a paradox?) part of the grid for me. These were the clues I marked as “enjoyable”:
- CREEP (42D: Act like a stalker of Thom Yorke of Radiohead)
- FLAK (33A: Thing often caught by Miley for every choice) (just read article on Nicki Minaj and her whole “beef” with Miley, so … I don’t know what to say about that, but it def happened)
- LSAT (as you’ve noted)
- NHL (ditto)
- HEBREW (see my comments above)
I wrote in ESAI for ESAU because of crossed crosswordese wires, no doubt (15A: Biblical figure known for constant drama with his twin brother Jacob). I also wrote in PUBE for LOBE (11D: One of the only parts of your body it’s totally cool to poke a metal pin through). I have no good excuse for that. A+ for clue on RURAL, which made me laugh with “30 Rock” memories (64A: “The ___ Juror” (tongue-twister of a fake movie title on “30 Rock”).