BuzzFeed Crossword – Thursday 5 November 2015

ABOVE AND BEYOND” by Mary Lou Guizzo

Solve, solve like the wind!

Buzzfeed solution 11 05 mod

“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 twoRONS). (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.

12 comments
  1. rabonour said:

    I really like this theme in theory, but BZF is a digital puzzle. If I were doing this on paper I could have written out the letters and it would have made sense. Doing the puzzle in Across Lite, I just ignored the theme. That said, I really admire how well it is executed.

    As for fill and cluing, I thought it was mixed. Most of it struck me as fine but, but I didn’t like a few parts. TRANSMITTAL and THEORY BASED both felt awkward. 14A sat a little poorly with me; neither MUFTI nor FATWA are inherently bad, but I think both are typically associated with a very ugly side of Islam in the mind of most Westerners.

    A few other answers were just totally lost on me (TIA, TRIBUTE, TAM, etc.) It’s funny how personal pop culture can be – I generally applaud modern references in puzzles, but clearly I have blind spots.

    Like

    • Bob Dively said:

      +1 for digital puzzle observation. I totally biffed the doctors outside the borders because I solved in Across Lite.

      Like

  2. erinium said:

    I loved seeing “male GAZE” in a grid. Fun solve, and it was great to see Mary Lou’s tone shine through.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jonathan Scott said:

    Fun puzzle, but … I personally like to think of myself as a member of Homo Sapiens, not (H)OMO Erectus. Am I missing something?

    Like

    • Bob Dively said:

      Yeah, unless this is a subtle dick joke that I don’t get, it’s wrong because Homo erectus is extinct.

      Like

  4. pblindauer said:

    Very nice! The ANONYM corner almost had me stumped, and BIL and TAM were new to me (as clued).

    Too bad that Fireball puz was still in recent memory, but I can’t imagine there’s much overlap between the two groups of solvers.

    Like

  5. Bob Dively said:

    +1 on rabonour’s digital comment above. Because I solved in Across Lite I didn’t write down any of the outside the borders letters, and I didn’t even think about using them to make famous doctors until I read the blog entry.

    I also go tripped up by OMO (8D: __ erectus (me and you and everyone we know) because it’s crossed with THOR (6A: __: Ragnarok (upcoming Marvel feature). I looked at the H in THOR and thought that OMO was getting it’s H from a dogleg and not from outside the border. So I floundered for a while with the * answers until I got the theme.

    Not sure about BIL (35D: Your sibling’s spouse, briefly). OK, if your sibling is married to a man, sure. Very amused by ANGOLA (10D. Its capital is Kwanza), which puzzled because I’m a nerd who can name most of Africa’s capitals and I know none of them are named Kwanza. When I finally got ANGOLA via crosses, I was further flummoxed because Luanda is Angola’s capital. I had to go to Wikipedia to realize that it’s “capital” in the sense of money not seat of government. Well played there.

    Like

  6. Bob Dively said:

    Oh yeah, FALSE BOTTOM is a missed opportunity for an edgy Puzzfeed clue.

    Like

  7. anonymous said:

    You’ll really get tired of this theme when you see it run in the New York Times, who accepted a Thursday puzzle with this theme six months ago (I was told it will not run for a while, perhaps next year). There are notable differences between mine, this one, and the Fireball puzzle, and I think mine is the best-executed of the three (obvious biased opinion), but I’m sure the appreciation of mine will suffer because of the fact that it will be the third incarnation of the idea, even though it was written before even the Fireball one was published. Oh well – you’re hereby warned.

    Like

    • the nyt has been using this tricky type of gimmick for close to a decade (at least). on 4/1/06, will published a terrific “think outside the box” puzzle by kevan choset and david kwong. no — we don’t want to see such high-profile type gimmicks all the time, but as long as the constructor does her/his job and creates something fresh (something mary lou has done perfectly today [brava!]), solvers will have something to savor. imoo.

      😉

      Like

      • anonymous said:

        Mine’s not merely a puzzle that has letters outside the grid for thematic reasons; it is a doctors without borders-themed puzzle with letters outside the grid. When it’s finally published you’ll see my frustration.

        Like

  8. jpahk said:

    i was trying to figure out who dr. DRES was because that TAM clue is unambiguously plural. and yeah, HOMO erectus…

    does caleb not have test-solvers? the frequency of outright errors in the puzzle (not just today) is really harshing my buzz. there’s lots of stuff i liked about solving this puzzle but the errors were by far the most memorable things to me post-solve. and that’s a shame.

    it takes real effort to clean up the last 1% of problematic stuff, but that effort is worth it.

    Like

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