“I’M JACKED UP” by David Steinberg
Solve! The! Puzzle!
“I’m Jacked Up”
Constructor: David Steinberg
Theme: Theme answers conceal energy drinks
- 16A: GILA MONSTER – *Giant poisonous lizard that’s too lazy to pose any real threat to humans
- 24A/35A: PARTY LIKE A ROCKSTAR – *With 35-Across, 2007 Shop Boyz hit that’s now stuck in my head
- 49A: GUITAR AMP – *Sound booster for a sick solo
- 59A: ENERGY DRINK – All-nighter aid… or what ends the answers to the starred clues (in addition to one more hidden within 2 symmetrical answers)
- 3D: COLORED – Shaded in with crayons, say
- 43D: BULLION – Heavy metal bar?
Ben: I like the concept on this one, which is pretty straightforward but modern enough to work for BuzzFeed. But is it just me, or is the execution a little wonky? Having one phrase split across two theme answers, and then the weird “symmetrical answers” thing — I know it’s a bonus, but it seems like the puzzle loses the elegant simplicity you want for an early-week puzzle.
Michael: Well, one man’s “wonky” is another man’s “wonky plus.” I liked hunting for RED BULL, oddly. If the most famous energy drink hadn’t been the missing energy drink, though, I’d’ve been SOL for sure, as that entire category of beverage is nasty and ridiculous, and thus not well known to me.
Ben: Nice stacks in the corners. The way the themers are set up, there isn’t a lot of space for long fill, but the midlength stuff comes out pretty nice. I’ve never heard of BOCA Burger at 1A, but maybe it’s an American thing. (Although if I hadn’t known BOGOTA and OKINAWA, that corner could have gotten ugly — geography is not my strong suit.)
Lena: I filled in BEET burger because yum! (Michael: WTF? That’s a thing? Why wasn’t I informed?) Then I remembered those nasto BOCA (1A: ___ Burger (vegetarian patty option) patties. I liked the geography over in the NW and also the NE “spice cabinet” with PAPRIKA and PEPPERS (12D: Plant sources of 10-Across). The latter led me to learn Fun PCP (10A: Angel dust) Facts!
Ben: Never heard PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR, but I do like “TRAP Queen” (21A). I also dig all of the modern clues here — 28A: Mr. Robot from “Mr. Robot,” say for HACKER, 21D: Network that aired “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” for two long years for TLC, and the PEGGY Olson quote at 52D.
Michael: I am a diehard “Mad Men” fan and wrote in PATTY there. This makes me sad in multiple ways.
Ben: It makes such a difference to my enjoyment of a puzzle when I get most of the cultural references. The modern cluing is something that BZF has done very well so far.
Ben: There’s a lot of 3-letter fill here — 25 entries by my count. Short fill is a part of crosswords, but it seemed like I was constantly tripping over short stuff while solving. I don’t construct puzzles, so I can’t comment usefully on this — is it something necessitated by the grid that Steinberg has chosen here?
Lena: I once filled a grid that I designed with two horizontal lines of 5 black squares, and that ended up trapping me with a ton of 3-letter words. When I looked at my list of Downs to clue I thought “well I’m never doing THAT again.” This grid has those two horizontal ROODS in the middle, plus the narrow columns of those corner stacks lead to six 3-letter words total.
Michael: Yeah, this one’s cheatered up and short-answer heavy. Those kinds of grids can be death. This wasn’t. Cluing to the rescue.
Ben: Some great cluing to spice up boring stuff — 9D: Mo. with shwrs. that bring Ma. flwrs. is either insane or great or both, and I love 19A: “Not activist Yoko!!!” for ONO — reminds me of how Peter Gordon always tries to find new ways to clue common entries. But eventually the avalanche of short fill got a little old.
Michael: Agreed on APR and ONO, for sure..
Ben: Did not know that ASHANTI (44D) appeared on Buffy. Disappointingly, it appears to be after she launched her music career — I was hoping it was just a random pre-fame appearance. Still a fun fact.
Ben: I think my favourite clue here might be 41A: “Time to blow this heladeria!” for ADIOS. I looked it up afterward, and heladeria translates to “ice cream shop”, not “popsicle stand”, but it’s close enough for me. And perhaps because Edmonton is going to be getting its first snow of the season any day now, I was darkly amused by ESKIMO being described as 45A: Language once rumored to have a ton of words for snow (although it’s not technically one language, it’s a language family).
Lena: Yes! I’m totally going to be saying “Let’s blow this ice cream shop” from now on. Lots of chuckles in this puzzle for me.
Michael: Could’ve done without the reference to “whale farts.” Else, I liked this one fine.