“AT LEAST WE STILL HAVE CALVIN KLEIN” by Alex Eaton-Salners
Solve the puzzle before reading more — it’s not like you can reverse time and unsee the solution or something…
“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).