BuzzFeed Crossword – Friday 6 November 2015

THEMELESS 4” by Andrew J. Ries

Didja solve it? Didja? DON’T LIE!


“Themeless 4”

Constructor: Andrew J. Ries

Theme: None

Ben: This was a hard puzzle, at least for me. I found it harder than today’s NYT themeless, which is a first for BuzzFeed in my book. Also a really good puzzle, as usual.

Lena: Oh man I was having an obnoxiously busy work day and just now tried to burn through this– well, after getting through about half I decided to “reveal all” and LOLed at CHEAT DAY (1A: Occasion for treating yourself). Then I made myself a word-from-home-tini because… cheat. day.

Ben: I thought this was going to be a walk in the park — I was having trouble in the NW, but rode down into the centre and filled in SUN’S OUT, GUNS OUT (27A: Motto on a muscle shirt), UKULELE (29D: Instrument for Istrael Kamakawiwo’ole — gee, thanks) and ULTIMATUMS (28D: Dramatic negotiation enders) off one letter each. But the short stuff turned out to be way harder.

Ben: Had major trouble parsing 32D: Beating, perhaps as ALIVE and ERA as 48A: Brewer’s figure that’s ideally low — I totally fell for the misdirection on that one and was thinking “yeast…?” So the west was tricky.

Lena: Ugh, yeah, I had AHEAD instead of ALIVE and was also thinking beer.

Ben: Days without a Harry Potter reference – 1. Michael will be grossed out by 16A: Traces using poppy seed? for DNA TESTS, though. (A bunch of these clues have got really tough misdirection like that — not just synonyms, but synonyms used in really odd ways. Nice to see constructor voice coming through so clearly — when I’ve done Andrew’s subscription puzzle in the past, I’ve run into the same thing.)

Lena: Since I don’t think Michael’s going to be able to chime in today, I’ll be grossed out in his stead. I really hate “seed” as a sperm thing– it’s right alongside the cringetastic “let’s make a baby” for me. I don’t really like synonymizing “tracing” with “testing” and I don’t like DNA TEST as a verb at all. “I’m going to DNA TEST your… DNA.” I came away thinking it was more grammatically awkward than misdirecting.

Ben: I had a moment with 25D: Tried to get someone off your back? — I had -UCKED, and was like “…your back? How does that work?” (It’s BUCKED.)

Lena: Uh oh– looks like BuzzFeed is pervin’ up your brain real good!

Ben: The SE almost did me in — I honestly thought I wasn’t going to finish. I knew FREE RIDE (64A: Scholarship, in slang) and was pretty sure 61A: “I’m not playin’” was either FOR REALS or FER REALS, but I wasn’t getting anywhere with —A-TEA for 66A: Target for some Southern pumps. When I finally saw TEXAS TEA, I didn’t even make the oil connection at first — I was thinking it was like Texas toast. Good thing I got that, because I wanted BURN for SORE (54D: Unfortunate ointment target), I don’t know who REX Ryan is, and I could have stared at 53D: “No fuckin’ way!” for a year without seeing PFFT. Needed every cross on that one.

Lena: I also had FREE RIDE right away, but my issues pretty much spiraled out of control– I couldn’t get VAMPIRE WEEKEND (45A: “Contra” band) (cute clue!) because of my AHEAD/ALIVE mistake compounded with having BABYpOwder instead of BABY LOTION. That damned “O” worked either way and I’m more familiar with the powdering of babies than the lotioning thereof.

Lena: Let’s see, there’s a lot of stuff I liked here. Of course SUNS OUT GUNS OUT— Michael clued SKYS in a L’il High Five as [“___ out, thighs out” (slogan of Chubbies, maker of shorts for 1A (BROS))] so it made me smile AND remember another fun puzzle moment from the past. I also liked SERAPE (15A: Mexican wrap with fringed ends) because I was excited to find out what kind of rococo taco this might be. BAGPIPE clue was fun (20D: Drone holder) but on further consideration, can you have one bagpipe? Is it like the main pipe or something? I pretty much only hear folks say they play “the bagpipes.” You know, all those bagpipesers I roll with. I’m sure BAGPIPE is totally fine.

Ben: Fun challenge. A lot of good entries and very little dross. Nice way to end the week.

Lena: Indeed. I felt bad not being able to sit down to chat about this puzzle earlier, but perhaps people needed some extra time with this one anyway!

  1. Bob Dively said:

    I won’t lie – I DNFed this so hard. I hosed myself fantastically by putting in BEEHIVE instead of BAGPIPE (20D: Drone holder), MON instead of DEX (13D: Poke- suffix), plus a number of other terribly wrong answers.

    Don’t get DNA TESTS (16A: Traces using poppy seed?). Oh wait, nevermind. I just go it. [groan] Literally never heard anyone say wait A MO (23A: “Wait __!”)

    Love seeing VAMPIRE WEEKEND.


  2. rabonour said:

    Super challenging – pretty rough DNF for me. There’s a lot of great stuff in here – VAMPIRE WEEKEND, FOR REALS, ERA (I took the bait on the redirect). There were a few things I was less fond of – I think “Invite to the elevator” is a pretty weak clue for ASK UP, and I think of FREE RIDE as a full scholarship, not just slang for a scholarship. SAP for “Treacly TV fare” was the weirdest for me – is “sap” a TV term? I’ve never, ever associated it specifically TV, and wanted so bad for that answer to be SOAP. None of these are “bad” in the sense of being lazy, just didn’t quite work for me. Overall, I liked the puzzle a lot.


  3. zzedzed said:

    Ahead –>Alive and mon–>dex, otherwise no real problems. Groaned once I had enough crosses to see DNA TESTS. There’s no verb issue here, “traces” is a noun in the clue.

    Based on recent crossword cluing it would appear that Val Kilmer was the star of Top Gun.


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