BuzzFeed Crossword – Tuesday 20 October 2015


Definitely try solving the puzzle before you read more– it’s just more fun that way

BuzzFeed solution 10 20

“Whattup Mah Dude”

Constructor: Ben Pall

Theme: Famous historical figures who have been reimagined as frat bros.

  • 16A: BRONAS SALK – Dude who cured the shit out of polio when he wasn’t destroying nerds on the Pong table
  • 23A: EDGAR ALLAN BRO – Dude who wrote some crazy shit about a raven probably after roasting a fat j with the boys
  • 40A: TEDDY BROOSEVELT – Dude who played mad wingman to the entire United States during the Progressive Era
  • 51A: VINCENT VAN BRO – Dude who cut off his own ear to impress a chick at Arles’ Kappa Crush, crazy night
  • 64A: BROALD DAHL – Dude who wrote about Miss Trunchbull forcing a pledge to eat a whole chocolate cake in front of the entire school

Ben: My thoughts are going to be pretty brief on this one, because I’m busy watching the Canadian election results. I really should go to bed but I can’t turn it off until Stephen Harper gives his concession speech. Personally, I hope he just shows up at the podium, starts swearing, throws the double bird and vanishes in a puff of black smoke. Go out with more dignity than you had in the campaign, y’know?

Ben: I really enjoyed this puzzle. It’s an obvious joke, but all of the entries at least made me smile. My favourite was VINCENT VAN BRO.

Lena: Adding BRO to words and names is a lot of fun for me (“Brosecco” and “Brosé” are probably my favorites) so I loved this. And it’s nice to see brospeak *mostly* restricted to a theme. Caleb commented over on Amy’s site that he’s been “trying to address the inherent broey vibe in male puzzledom with a sense of irony/sarcasm, but that seems to come across sometimes as genuine broeyness.” I think just using brospeak and brocentric topics in clues is too subtle a way to address the issue– it just ends up being the voice of the puzzle. But Caleb is clearly taking feedback seriously, and I’m really happy to have already noticed a change of tone in this week’s Buzzles.

Michael: I forget: are there any “homies” in this puzzle? I have a feeling there aren’t … thank god.

Michael: I think I was not as big a fan of this puzzle as y’all were. I like that they are all dudes, so bro-ing them makes sense, but … I don’t know, this didn’t amuse me as much as it might’ve. I did, however, love the clues on TEMPORARY (37D: Like my barista job and my new tattoo, as far as my parents are concerned;)), VROOM (55D: What I like to say when I ride my imaginary motorcycle), and EDAM (67A: Cheese that’s made in reverse?).

Lena: That EDAM clue was hands-down my favorite clue in the whole puzzle. I ooooooh-ed like it was fireworks.

Ben: I always forget that it’s Jonas Salk, not Jonah Salk, so for a while I had MAH instead of MAS (4D: “Dos ___ margaritas, por favor!”) and was trying to figure out if I was missing something. Also, I don’t know the reference in the clue for BROALD DAHL (64A: Dude who wrote about Miss Trunchbull forcing a pledge to eat a whole chocolate cake in front of the entire school). Hm, Matilda apparently. I actually read that when I was a kid, but obviously it didn’t register.

Lena: I read all of BROALD’s books when I was younger (and his sick adult stuff later on), and it was nice to see some young adult fiction in here that isn’t Harry Potter. That is definitely a very specific reference, though!

Ben: A little bonus theme content in 3D: Like the nerds who challenged 16-Across to Pong, eventually (OWNED) and 65D: Pennsylvania ___ (home to 40-Across’s chiller pad, once) (AVE). I don’t think I get the joke on the former, though — why “eventually”?

Ben: Favourite clues: Also liked TEMPORARY,TEA (48A: Starbucks order for weird hippies), STOVE (68A: Ramen- and popcorn-making machine, as far as I’m concerned). Definitely enjoy the personal clues more than the BuzzFeed house voice.

Lena: I can’t really top my love for the EDAM clue, hard as I try. Definitely didn’t like 12A: Sound from a cat or even a sexy cat (MEOW). Didn’t make sense, but it did make me think of all those loathsome “sexy” Halloween costumes…

Ben: Least favourite clue: TAP (8D: Hit dat ass). Noooooope.

Michael: Yeah, huge boooo there. First, just no. Second, technically, the clue should be [Hit, as dat ass]. So I object on “ew” grounds (esp. in an already broey puzzle) and on technical puzzle nerd grounds. Doubly objected! I also don’t like the “playing dumb” tone on the MATH clue (4A: The subject with the stuff you have to add and stuff). You’re kids, you’re not fucking stupid. Stop.

  1. Bob Dively said:

    Totally amused by the BROness, dude, particularly TEDDY BROOSEVELT. Loved “cheese that’s made in reverse?” and “redhead who wants to be tickled”.

    Still not sure what to make of 22A “DiCaprio, to his model biddies”. A visit to Urban Dictionary shows that “biddy” has been repurposed in a way unfamiliar to me, so maybe that’s it.


  2. Bob Dively said:

    Also, this is some real nit-nattery here, but I very much hope that Caleb & Co settle on a consistent file naming scheme and stick with it. The filename for this one is 1019-15Pall.puz, so not even the right date.

    — your Quibbler-in-Chief


  3. Tony Z. said:

    Still generally feeling like the Buzzles are TRYING TOO HARD. I appreciate the broadening of the landscape they represent, but the cluing often feels condescending and dumbed down, as Michael notes.

    Gives me that Buscemi “How do you do, fellow kids?” vibe.


  4. Evan said:

    Wait, are you guys receiving BuzzFeed’s puzzles earlier than the rest of us? Sounds like it, possibly, given Ben wanting to go to bed when you started chatting. Either that or there’s a way to get them much earlier than 8 or 8:30 am ET on the morning of publication and I’m just clueless.

    I liked the BRO puns. Loved the ARES clue. I’ve never heard of BITER used in that context, though.


    • Lena Webb said:

      We asked if we could get them early– given our work schedules it’s impossible to get the post together the morning of publication.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. nwnk said:

    I like the BRO clues I don’t care what anyone says. EGOT was a bit of crosswordese I should have already known I guess?

    I’m a little on the fence about the informal tone of the cluing. Casual is good, vapid is lame. But MATH was really the only clue where I hated it, and by the time I got to DAVE all was forgiven. Also the clue for NAIVE was gold, even though I initally filled it as NERDY.


    • rabonour said:

      I don’t recall seeing EGOT in a crossword – it’s a pop culture thing. I think a lot of people know it from 30 Rock.

      The EDAM clue rocked – clever, but not in a cutesy Buzzfeed way. TAP bothered me too, but honestly


  6. jess said:

    Agree with most of the above. The cluing didn’t read as ironic to me; more like it was written by a “bro”. I’ve heard all the bro-puns before, but it was sorta fun to see them in a puzzle.

    Good vibe clues: the one with emoji at the end, “EDAM”. “NAVAL” was kinda fun. Fresh, relevant references to things like the ice bucket challenge are way less stale than their NYT parallels.
    Not so good: “TAP” was odd and SORTA misogynistic. Could have been clued better if it was referred to as such. Many of the other clues had a weird, anti-intellectual feel to them that seemed to say “sorry for being in a crossword, bro!”, which may have worked if every single clue had been in that bro-voice, though maybe that would’ve been obnoxious?


  7. Loved the clues for TOBY, ATMS, TEA, STOVE and RADAR. Hated the clue for TAP and the reference to “biddies.” I really, really want to love this puzzle on a daily basis so I hope Caleb keeps working on that “broey vibe” thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. pblindauer said:

    Silly and fun. 29A’s open paren became a semcolon somehow. EDAM clue is an oldie (but a goody).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bob Dively said:

    I’m becoming increasingly fascinated with the Buzzle as a peek into inter-generational communication, and I’m very curious to see how Caleb’s editorial decisions evolve (or if they don’t).

    FWIW the bro-ness in today’s version read ironic to me, although I will grant that as an old I had to work a little in some spots to get myself to where I could see the irony.


    • To be clear, I’m not complaining about the bro-ness of today’s theme. I totally got that and thought it was kinda cute. I’m talking more about, for example, the clue for TAP.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Bob Dively said:

        Yeah, TAP was the answer I had to do the most interpretive work on. In the end, I had to just shrug because I don’t know if the average 20-something would find it offensive or funny.


  10. marysueh said:

    Regarding this puzzle:

    Loved the clue for EDAM, hated the TAP clue. (The T could have been an M, with the words changing to MAP and MOBY. Or better, just leave TAP and rewrite the clue.) The BRO theme was okay, though maybe a little testosterone-ish.

    Any level of hipness or cool that I ever had was on a ship that sailed long ago. So I have a serious question: Is one metric for a Buzzfeed puzzle concerned with how young it skews? Is cluing (and humor) intentionally directed toward a young audience? Some comments over the last few days relate to what the typical 20-year old might know, etc. I understand the online medium, and maybe BF in particular, might attract a younger audience than the average newspaper (NYT, etc.) reader. I’m very glad to engage younger (and broader) audiences with crosswords, but I certainly have felt past my prime and well into my dotage solving these puzzles. This is not a complaint, but rather a real question.

    As a comparison, I tried to work a pre-Shortz NYT puzzle and barely solved more than a few words. I’m afraid my brain is rotting.

    Finally, mad props for those of you who construct puzzles for a living or even a serious hobby. I’ve been trying my hand at constructing and it is much harder than I realized!


    • Bob Dively said:

      Yes, the Buzzfeed puzzles are explicitly trying to appeal to younger people. The opening paragraph of the submissions guidelines page is:

      “BuzzFeed is looking for original crossword puzzles with a modern pop sensibility that will dispel the reputation of crosswords as academic or inaccessible and get a new generation hooked on puzzles that are relevant to their daily experience.”


      • marysueh said:

        Thanks! I shoulda read more before posting, obviously.

        A concerted effort to draw in younger people is quite welcome. I’m thrilled when anyone finds enjoyment in puzzles. The interest was passed down to me from my mom and grandfather when I was younger than BF’s target audience is now. So I get it. And welcome it.

        Thanks again.


  11. zzedzed said:

    Didn’t get to this until after the Blue Jays went way down. I said just about all I wanted to say about Bro-Culture over on Rex. I guess I should add that most of my opinion comes second hand through my three sons, two in college and the oldest about to start grad school after a hiatus. They don’t do Xwords, but I don’t know if they would see the irony (hopefully) intended here. Most likely use of word from them would be, “Don’t be such a bro,” or, “We’re not really friends, he’s a bro.”


  12. Neville said:

    “I also don’t like the ‘playing dumb’ tone on the MATH clue (4A: The subject with the stuff you have to add and stuff). You’re kids, you’re not… stupid. Stop.”



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