BuzzFeed Crossword – Wednesday 21 October 2015


Solve the puzzle before reading more — it’s not like you can reverse time and unsee the solution or something…

Buzzfeed solution 10 21

“At Least We Still Have Calvin Klein”

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Theme: References to the Back to the Future trilogy — in the second movie, Marty travels forward to 21 October 2015.

  • 16A: MARTY MCFLY – Visitor who should be arriving from the past today… any… second… now…
  • 30A: HOVERBOARD – Transportation method that should be gracing the streets… any… second… now…
  • 43A: CLOCK TOWER – Backdrop 16-Across should ride his 30-Across by… any… second… now…
  • 56A: GREAT SCOTT – What I would say if I actually saw the event described in 43-Across come to pass today

Ben: Ah, the tribute puzzle. This has always struck me as a weird genre. Either you know about the thing being celebrated, in which case the puzzle is incredibly easy for you, or you don’t know (or don’t care) about it, in which case the theme answers might as well be random phrases. I’ve been on both sides of that equation in the past.

Ben: In this case, I do like Back to the Future (all three movies are great fun), so this played incredibly easy for me. And they’re certainly well-known enough to warrant a tribute puzzle, so fair enough. But at the end of the day, the theme here is still just a list of things associated with the movies, so… eh. I think my favourite bit might actually be the title, which is perfect.

Lena: I represent the “don’t care” demographic. I was so desperate for there to be something more that I excitedly started circling martymcFLY and HOVERboard. Nope, no extras.

Michael: I loved this “tribute.” Published on the correct date. Ridiculous. Just fine for me. I don’t remember “BTTF2” at all. But I still had no problems with this puzzle’s theme.

Ben: I’m curious how many BTTF-themed puzzles we’re going to get today — I just reviewed a Chris King meta puzzle from this past weekend with a BTTF theme. That’s not a spoiler, by the way — it’s acknowledged in his post. (That write-up will be going up Saturday after the deadline expires, but it’s a fun meta, so you should do it.)

Ben: Presumably the constructor here tried to get BACK TO THE FUTURE in as a fifth theme entry, but couldn’t make it work… that 15-letter title is just too tempting for me to believe he didn’t think of it.

Michael: Whoa, does the movie title appear anywhere in the puzzle? I don’t see it.

Ben: Some good fill today, with WII SPORTS (10D: You can use it to play tennis or golf without ever even leaving home) and BAD BLOOD (32A: 2015 Taylor Swift hit about some beef) being my favourites. The beef in question is with Katy Perry, if I remember correctly (don’t look at me like that, I teach high school).

Lena: The clue for DEALER could have been better (12D: Someone who enables you to reach higher?) if the awkward “higher” went away. Maybe something like [Someone encouraging you to reach your highest?]– I think there are lots of better options there. I see that it plays with HOIST (30D: Enable to reach higher), but that clue is bad as well IMO; lose them both.

Michael: I don’t understand either criticism. Both seem spot-on to me.

Ben: Fun with duplicate clues — CUBA and USA are both clued as 1A/2D: Party in a recently lifted embargo. That amused me.

Lena: Me too. I have no idea why, but I liked 66A: Actress Mryl’s throat condition? (STREP). Maybe because it was just plain silly.

Michael: That was the best thing in the grid, easy. I laughed hard. BuzzFeed being BuzzFeed. I have no problem with that. At all.

Ben: Love the clues for TOAST (50A: “To Kanye: May he finally learn to share his deep and boundless love with another human,” for one) and DWI (42D: Crime prevented by many a vomitty Uber, I imagine).

Lena: Oh! I really liked the YOYO/WII SPORTS pairing (9D: You can take it around the world without ever even leaving home)/(10D: You can use it to play tennis or golf without ever leaving home]. Great clue for YOYO. Also liked RABIES (22D: It’s worse than either the bark or the bite).

Ben: Is NERD even an insult anymore? I usually hear it as a positive term, which makes 19D: Person who might prefer the term “socially challenged” sound a little off to me.

Lena: And to me. This is another one of those cases where, because of the continuing tone of the BZF puzzle (the it’s-cool-to-be-stupid vibe, the broness…), NERD does come across as insulting. I don’t think anybody would prefer to be referred to as “socially challenged.” Social anxiety is real, and difficulty reading social cues is real. And you know what? When I hear shit like “he’s definitely ‘on the spectrum’” and “she’s a social challenged” it means to me that the person making those comments is the socially awkward one who doesn’t know how to interact with someone who maybe can’t start a conversation. Or maybe when they start a conversation it’s a niche topic. So instead of engaging they just walk away and talk shit to their friends. Not cool.

Michael: Again, I have no problem with this clue. I have def been accused of being a NERD. And I am def “socially challenged” at times. Should I have been insulted?

Ben: Apparently we’re still getting one extremely questionable clue a day, with 60D: Top rating for a shawty (TEN).

Lena: I remember when Anna Shectmann clued DIME as [Attractive female, in modern slang] when she constructed the ACPT puzzle #7 in last year. In an article featuring Anna, the same term is used to describe her: “To pretty much everyone’s surprise, out walked a pint-size stunner (or shall we say a dime?)” Anna is a woman, the writer of the article is a woman. Does that make any of this okay? I’m thinking not– it gives men the classic excuse “but I heard a woman say it.” It also indicates to me that women feel the need to just let terms like that roll off– be strong, act like a man, and move on– and tossing around that kind of language “like one of the guys” can act as a kind of protection against how shitty it feels to be reduced to a number. Not cool.

Michael: I’m gonna stand up for Anna here. I loved that (DIME) clue. Smart. Colloquial. No problem. I have mostly female friends, many of whom have more guy friends than female friends, and they’ll occasionally get flak for it, even though they’re all feminists. I don’t think it’s fair to psychoanalyze a woman’s reason for doing something that a guy might do. I don’t expect my puzzles to take all things vaguely objectifying / sexual out of my line of sight. Yes, if the pervasive tone of the puzzle is “guys ogling chicks,” then fine. You’ve got a problem. But I think BZF’s “problem” is overstated at the moment, esp. as we are in week, what? Two? I feel like it’s a truism. Already. [UPDATE: OK I was thinking about this on the bus just now … I figure the world has bros in it and if the puzzle reflects that in some ways, I think that’s fine. Where I don’t think it’s fine (and I think we’re in agreement here) is if the puzzle’s overall, general tone is bro talking to bro. If we’re always being asked to see the world through bro-eyes. That’s a problem, and the BZF could go that direction w/o decent guidance]

Ben: There’s a little more crosswordese here than I’d have expected, considering that all four theme answers are pretty short (and the same length, so the constructor had some flexibility): OSTEO, ACS, STS, APT NO, TIS and EUR. Also, does anyone actually say APTER (28A: More suitable)? But on the whole it’s pretty clean.

Lena: Also TET, IRE, BVD… has ABBA been added to the crosswordese dictionary yet? I’m adding it… now.

Michael: ABBA is timeless. Never crosswordese. Also TET, IRE, and BVD are very real things. Not ideal fill, but not ugsome to me at all. EUR. is more annoying. Also NOMS 🙂 Too cutesy for me (5D: Grub).

  1. rabonour said:

    This was probably my least favorite yet. It felt super conventional. Too much crosswordese, and while the theme was competent for a tribute, I just don’t care about BTTF. Some weird cluing – does TET really “cause” fireworks? The whole thing just felt clunky to me. Mryl Strep was pretty great, though.


  2. therealrexparker said:

    I think some of us have different ideas of crosswordese, which is perhaps not surprising. I see many common entries here, but I see very little in the way of “crosswordese.” NES and OSTEO and APTNO and maybe APTER are get-rid-of-worthy, but ALTOS (e.g.) doesn’t bug me. I think “conventional” is fair, though, fill-wise, despite WIISPORTS and BADBLOOD and PRETZEL.


  3. Bob Dively said:

    I liked the BTTF tribute fine. I’m generally ok with tribute puzzles that aren’t too narrow. As long as they’re not another damn Beatles one. I’ve had a lifetime of those already, thankyouverymuch. Definitely more crossword-standard-y than the other BF puzzles to date. Nothing wrong with that, but it didn’t feel as fresh as some of the others.

    I don’t get the relation between TOAST and it’s Kanye-related clue. The amount of Kanye stuff already in the BF puzzles makes me think that I’m going to have to expand my Kanye knowledge, which is limited because I didn’t get “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and stopped listening to his new stuff after that. Also, on principal I refuse to pay attention to anything involving Kardashians.

    Loved Mryl STREP. Thought the cluing for NERD was a little odd – not because it was offensive but because it seemed terribly antiquated, like out of an 80s movie. Was a bit puzzled by 42A “French or Italian dripping all over a bed”. I get the connection between DRESSING and a bed of lettuce, but the clue seems to imply additional wordplay that I don’t see.


  4. bathtubgin said:

    Lena, you seriously need to lighten up. The SJWism for a CROSSWORD PUZZLE is a huge turn off from reading this blog. It’s meant to be funny. Get over yourself.


    • e.a. said:

      lena, this comment is how i know you knocked it out of the park in today’s review. (i mean, i also know that from reading the review, but.) keep up the excellent work!

      i was surprised that nobody commented on the gratuitous, neo-[Place with homies] appropriativeness of “shawty” in that TEN clue. that was like reading an @IHOP tweet in clue form.

      Liked by 6 people

  5. therealrexparker said:

    Let’s not post comments that are just personal attacks anymore. Anyone who uses the term “SJW” in earnest shouldn’t be allowed near a computer anyhow. Talk about the puzzle or shhhhhhhh…..

    Liked by 7 people

    • bathtubgin said:

      I apologize, but yes, talk about the puzzle, just not “which microagression has the buzzfeed crossword offended me with today”


      • Kameron said:

        Puzzles have words

        It was a discussion of the words in a puzzle

        How is discussing the words in the puzzle not discussing the puzzle?


        Liked by 9 people

  6. xworddoug said:

    Pop culture-y tribute puzzle is cool with me and fits with the general BuzzFeed vibe. I think the grid could have been a little cleaner with only four 10-letter themers to worry about. I don’t know why there are such big, wide-open corners in the SW & NE, and it made me wonder if there was a meta element I was missing. The STREP clue was lol funny, so big thumbs-up for that one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bet those corners were even bigger before the extra black squares got added, Doug.

      Fun tribute puz. “Shawty” was new to me, but it seems to be from “shorty,” at least per Wiki:

      I fell for [Letters that cue Q] and put in MNOP. Curse my xword reflexes!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Neville said:

        Me too… I was so convinced that it was the (ugly) MNOP!


  7. zzedzed said:

    Between Twitter, the rest of the interwebs, and the Cubs in the playoffs, it has been hard to not know the BTTF significance of today. So, pretty easy. Iran before CUBA was my only hang-up.

    Regarding “shawty,” I was clueless. But if all that happens is we replace the largely 50-something white male cohort of constructors with a largely 20-something white male cohort of constructors the freshness of these puzzles will quickly stagnate. I’m hoping for puzzles that reflect the breadth of our culture.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Neville said:

    “ABBA is timeless. Never crosswordese.”

    Michael, whenever you have the last word in these posts, you say exactly what I’m thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. marysueh said:

    The discussion, as always, is as entertaining as the puzzle itself. The BTTF theme was fine because the day is what it is. Any other day the theme would have been less interesting. I was surprised that I remembered BTTF trivia so quickly.

    It was an easy solve. MRYL STREP – hilarious. Never heard NOMS before (‘nom nom’ – yes – but not the phrase used here.) APTER is awkward, but I’ve seen it before in other puzzles. NERD isn’t the slightest bit negative to me, but I may not have the most objective view. I do see Lena’s point about it.


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