“FANDEMONIUM!” by Paolo Pasco
Solve the puzzle first, won’t you?
Constructor: Paolo Pasco
Theme: Slang terms for fans of a pop culture property replace the words they are derived from in common phrases.
- 17A: GLEEK SQUAD – Devotees of a certain musical TV show, collectively?
- 31A: I’M A BELIEBER – Confession from a devotee of a certain Canadian heartthrob?
- 46A / 64A: TWIHARD WITH A VENGEANCE – With 64-Across, devotee of a certain supernatural romance series who has a thirst for payback?
Ben: I really liked this. I totally missed a layer of the theme while solving — I just thought terms for fans had been inserted into phrases in funny ways. But of course, they’re replacing the terms they’re derived from.
Michael: I don’t understand, “replacing the terms they’re derived from.” GLEEK is derived from GEEK, sure, but how is it derived from GEEK SQUAD (which is a Best Buy computer service, isn’t it?)
Ben: Maybe I should have phrased that better — they’re replacing the terms they’re derived from, in common phrases that contain those terms.
Lena: I definitely didn’t dive that deep with this one, and ultimately it came across as kind of weak themewise. The TWIHARD WITH/A VENGEANCE split is awkward. I realize that it’s necessary to get the whole thing in there and work with the lengths of the other two themers, but I’m just not into the fandom thing enough for it to feel “worth it.”
Ben: Also, on behalf of Canada, I apologize for BELIEBER fever. It’s been a long national nightmare.
Lena: I have gone through life thus far with horse blinders up for things like “Glee,” “Bieber,” and “Twilight.” They just don’t register. More than suits me fine, but it certainly can make what other people would consider super-current wow-wow stuff completely bland and boring. Like I’m filling in STOA in a NYTimes or something. Justin Beiber = ancient covered walkway.
Ben: Really smooth puzzle, and I especially liked KC ROYALS and THE METS both making it into the puzzle (41D: Casual name for one team in the 2015 World Series… 45D: …and a casual name for the other team in the 2015 World Series). The turn-around time on this puzzle must have been ridiculous — major points to constructor Paolo Pasco (who also did that awesome themeless from a few weeks back).
Michael: Baseball bit was somehow both amazing and distracting. I think I like it, though I’m not the hugest fan of “THE…” answers.
Ben: Fun clues for weak fill — 28A: “I’m excited, and also a dog!” for ARF. See also 51A: Number before “catorce” only in that U2 song “Vertigo,” not in real counting for TRES.
Lena: I did laugh at the TRES clue because that song is so bad and was on MTV all the time when there were still music videos and BONO just shits the bed with his counting skills there.
Michael: I loved the clue on TNT the best (63D: Explosive letters (or, cmpr’s dwllng?)).
Ben: Days without a Harry Potter reference — 0. (30D: The incredibly bad story “My Immortal,” to the “Harry Potter” universe, e.g. for FANFICTION). I will take the puzzle’s word for it. Also, note the symmetrical Hunger Games references — BOWS (13D: Accessories for some Katniss Everdeen cosplayers) and J-LAW (53D: Actress who played Katniss Everdeen, familiarly).
Lena: If I volunteer as tribute will it stop?
Ben: (I will be hugely disappointed if there isn’t a Hunger Games themed puzzle next week in honour of the last film.)
Lena: <mockingjay hand symbol> “WINGARDIUM LEVIOSA!” (haha gross I spelled that correctly first try)
Ben: Favourite clue was for SCAR (60D: I got this character in a “Which Disney Villain Are You?” quiz, probably because I’m a determined, mysterious, and homicidal talking lion). My favourite Disney villain is Jafar, but Scar is up there too.
Michael: I always thought SCAR was spelled SKAR, so that messed me up. (One of my wife’s Ph.D. advisers was named Kitty SKLAR, so that might’ve been involved in my misunderstanding)
Ben: Did not know FOMO (16A: Feeling you get when all your friends are out having fun but you have to stay in and write clues for a crossword puzzle 😥). It stands for “Fear Of Missing Out”. Also, I just now noticed that “out” also appears in the clue — that’s not ideal.
Michael: Yeah, that’s well known enough that I know it. This puzzle takes some big risks with little fill. AFK / FOMO, LIL B / NBD, JLAW / JET, all trying to do hip/new things with short fill, all caused me some struggles.
Lena: AFK (10D“Be right back, fellow internet users) goes back to the days of AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, a/s/l checks, etc. It’s old. It’s basically BRB’s unsuccessful sibling, living in squalor, bitter, lonely, coulda been a contender… Anyway, Michael e-yelled at me for putting it in one of my L’il High Five puzzles, so I’ll admit to smiling wryly when I saw its inclusion here.
Ben: The BZF crosswords have (rightly) come in for some criticism from both us and commenters for cluing typos and inaccuracies. Interesting to see it acknowledged here with EDITS (6A: PRoofread, as I oviously do to a}ll my cleus.
Michael: It is a little meta. Even more meta: close quotation mark in 49A’s “Careless Whisper’s” should really, really be after the “r” in “Whisper,” not after the apostrophe-”s.”
Lena: Yeah. I then wondered if “Whisper’s” was a horrible mistake and should have been “Whispers.” Then I thought (41A: Outfits seen in “Brave”) for KILTS was a typo and should have been “Braveheart.” Not so, but you’re right– the typo thing has me on high-alert, which diminishes the funnitude of my solving experience.
Michael: this puzzle reminded me that ANNE Carson exists—always a good thing (40A: Poet Carson who wrote “To be running breathlessly, but not yet arrived, is itself delightful, a suspended moment of living hope”). Please read “Autobiography of Red,” which is one of my favorite books ever. Speaking of “ever,” I thought 3D: “Do you ___ lift, bro?” was EVER. It’s EVEN.
Ben: I’m always looking for good poets (I send a daily poem to my work colleagues… cause I’m a nerd…). I knew EVEN — agreed there are a lot of interesting short answers (and fun clues for stuff like this, which could be clued generically).
Michael: I typo’d a correct answer today. Went to write “I’m INTO you …” at 59D, and accidentally wrote ONTO. That was weird.