“ABOVE AND BEYOND” by Mary Lou Guizzo
“Above and Beyond”
Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo
Theme: Letters in the names of famous doctors are outside the grid and must be added to the beginnings or ends of starred answers.
- 23A/39A/50A: DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS – With 39- and 50-Across, group of physicians providing aid in over 60 countries… or an explanation for 14 letters missing in this puzzle?
- 17A: ROBBER BARON – *Capitalist who achieves a fortune through questionable means
- 27A: URCHIN – *Spiky undersea animal sometimes used in sushi
- 41A: TINT – *Car window option
- 56A: HEROS – *Subs for lunch
- 5D: WEARS ON – *Starts to get to
- 8D: HOMO – *___ erectus (me and you and everyone we know)
- 11D: ORION – *Hunter in the sky with a belt
- 19A: GO BAD – *Spoil, as milk
- 37A: OREO – *Cookie offered in Red Velvet starting February 2015
- 47A: TEND TO – *Take care of, as some business
- 57A: FALSE BOTTOM – *Feature of a spy’s luggage
- 54D: OOZED – *Exuded, as charm
- 58D: APER – *Impressionist
- 47D: TRIBUTE – *”I volunteer as ___!”
Ben: How exciting — this is the first time I’ve had to do any work to our solution grid aside from just taking a screenshot! I feel like a real blogger now.
Lena: Ooooo! Very nice, Benny Bloggins.
Ben: There was a Fireball meta earlier this year that had almost this exact theme, so I figured out what was going on very quickly — as soon as I saw the revealer clue, I was able to fill in all three parts. With 21 letters as gimmes, this mostly played easy for me. It’s cute, though.
Michael: I thought this was killer. I vaguely remember the Fireball, but still didn’t pick up the exact nature of the gimmick for a while. I just knew there were letters outside the frame that were going to spell … something. Nice reveal. And this is the nicest balance I’ve seen in the BZF cluing between zany youthiness and general interest.
Lena: I really, really enjoyed this puzzle– yes, the revealer made the gimmick pretty obvious but no less fun to me. Plus, I always enjoy seeing a little extra meta action pop up, and MaryLou picked some great “doctors!” Imagine them all on a team delivering aid to a Country in need– I’d definitely watch that show.And, on BuzzFeed’s part, it’s nice to see the donation link to Doctors Without Borders below the puzzle!
Ben: I wonder if there was concern about people not getting the gimmick, because most of the 14 entries with missing letters are clued as definitions, with ORION and “I volunteer as TRIBUTE!” being the only exceptions. (Days without a “Hunger Games” reference: 0) (Michael: Thank you for that update)
Lena: I thought this puzzle was very matter-of-fact clue-wise for sure. I’m okay with that; I like to hear the constructor’s voice come through the Buzz.
Ben: Aside from the revealer, the only “locked” portions of the theme are the first or last letters of 3-4 answers on each side, so Guizzo has a fair amount of flexibility here. She’s used it well — there’s some fun long answers, like THEORY BASED (26D: Not relying on experiential data) and RED NOSE (43D: Comic Relief’s ___ Day (I sure hope Caleb doesn’t change this clue to that sexist rap song) [Editor’s note: Sage the Gemini grants you your wish]) in addition to ROBBER BARON and FALSE BOTTOM.
Michael: RED NOSE clue = fantastic. Also, I had THEORY BLIND, which I like better. Just putting that out there. That should be a concept. But I think THEORY-BASED is pretty OK too.
Lena: I thought THEORY BASED and TRANSMITTAL (6D: Radio signal, e.g.) were a little dry for long fill– actually ROBBER BARON and FALSE BOTTOM aren’t exactly sparkly either, but they are involved in the fun times hangin’ outside so I didn’t really notice at the time.
Ben: Oh, and hey, the theme answers are all symmetrical. That’s a really nice touch that I completely missed the first time through.
Lena: liked TTYL (26A: “gtg but c u soon”) and 42A: Service center? for ALTARS.
Ben: That centre section is pretty nice, although it’s a shame that BIL and MUS were needed to make it work. Am I missing something, or is there a reason why BIL wasn’t clued as Bil Keane instead of 35D: Your sibling’s spouse, briefly? I mean, “Family Circus” sucks, but still.
Michael: Didn’t even see those answers (which is the best way to encounter subpar fill: not at all). But I actually like the BIL clue, in that I’ve never seen it. And MUS as letter plural > MUS as abbr. for “music,” IMHO. I mean, you are right, neither is lovely, but I found them innocuous.
Ben: The only places I ran into problems were in the north — I can never remember ASANA (20A: Position for a yogi or yogini) for the life of me, so between that, HORA dancing and the awkward TRANSMITTAL, it took a little effort to solve. And then the NW, with ANGOLA (10D: Its capital is Kwanza — gee, thanks) and TCBY (12D: Creator of the Shiver — never heard of it) crossing ANONYM (21A: Assumed name) was kind of a pain. I was able to infer what an ANONYM was, but I’ve never heard of one before.
Michael: O, Canada, please tell me you’ve never heard of the Shiver, and not that you’ve never heard of TCBY… 😉
Ben: Both — obviously something I need to correct when I’m in New York next year.
Lena: …for Lollapuzzoola? You gonna get tattoos with me and Michael??
Ben: Days without a Harry Potter reference: 0 (43A: Harry’s best friend and politician Paul, for two – RONS). (Michael: LOL. This is fun.)
Ben: Favourite clue — 45D: They can only be perfect in the past 😦 for TENSES. More English teacher humour, please!
Michael: Yes, wonderful clue, great use of emoji (which may be the first time I’ve ever said that).
Lena: That’s an emoticon.