“THEMELESS 4” by Andrew J. Ries
Didja solve it? Didja? DON’T LIE!
Constructor: Andrew J. Ries
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!