“DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU” by Kary Haddad
Solve along, sing along, read along
“Don’t Say I Didn’t Say I Didn’t Warn You”
Constructor: Kary Haddad
Theme: References to Taylor Swift’s “1989” album, and mostly to lyrics from “Blank Space”. The full lyric is:
Got a long list of EX-LOVERS / They’ll tell you I’M INSANE / But I’ve got a BLANK SPACE, baby / I’ll write YOUR NAME
You must enter YOURNAME in the central blank space to complete the puzzle.
- 17A: EX-LOVERS – Contents of a long list who they’ll all tell you 12-Down [sic]
- 12D: I’M INSANE – What the long list of 17-Across will tell you about me
- 32A / 34A: BLANK SPACE – With 34-Across, what I got at the center of this puzzle, baby
- 32D: BAD BLOOD – What we might have if you don’t follow this puzzle’s instructions
- 52A: YOUR NAME – What you should write in the 32-Across 34-Across at the center of this puzzle to add yourself to the long list
- 25A: SWIFT – Singer/writer of the song at the center of this puzzle
- 45A: ADAMS – Singer/coverer of the song at the center of this puzzle
- 39D: SAY YES – “It’s a love story / Baby, just ___” (25-Across lyric)
Ben: This one frustrates me. There are a lot of things I like about it — I own and like “1989”, so I get all the references; this is an imaginative way of doing a tribute puzzle; I like crosswords that defy constructing rules; I admire the theme density and am impressed that there’s still room for two more good long answers (LISTICLE and SUBSONIC). And yet…
Michael: Least favorite BZF to date. Applet wouldn’t take anything for that center square. And that was just the last straw. There were many more straws earlier. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to finish. For real. Painfully HIP. Every damn clue felt like a desperate bid for the attention of millennials. I have loved BZF’s youthful vibe to date, but this is nth degree stuff. Not knocking Tay Tay. But no.
Ben: The theme isn’t tight enough for me. EX-LOVERS, I’M INSANE, BLANK SPACE and YOUR NAME are lyrics, and BAD BLOOD is… another song off the same album? Granted it’s a major hit, but it doesn’t feel like it belongs here. And as much as I like the SWIFT/ADAMS joke, it’s a distraction here. That plus the bonus theme answer (SAY YES, which is a reference to “Love Story”, which is from an entirely different album) makes this feel overwhelming to me, even before you get to the centre space.
Ben: Anybody who doesn’t like Taylor Swift or just isn’t familiar with “Blank Space” is going to be lost on this one. For that matter, I wonder if it’s common knowledge that Ryan ADAMS covered the entire “1989” album (I didn’t know until I saw him on the Daily Show a few weeks back).
Lena: Yeah, I was lost. Even as someone who hasn’t listened to Taylor SWIFT and has no idea who Ryan ADAMS is, I can sense that this is a kind of discombobulated theme. Is it “blank space with your name in it?” <sullenly Googles Taylor Swift lyrics> “But I got a blank space baby/And I’ll write your name” Well, okay, there is indeed a BLANK SPACE, and we are told to write our name in it. FINE that’s cute. But I’m not doing any recon on this Ryan Adams guy.
Ben: The Adams cover album is great, and you should buy it. The joke won’t work if you don’t know the original songs, but honestly the original Swift album is worth buying anyway.
Michael: I own albums by both TSwift and RAdams. They’re fine. But this puzzle is too too inside. The solver demo is small—it’ll be too hard for most non-crosswording TSwift fans to solve, and it’s too TSwift for most regular solvers.
Lena: It wasn’t so much that the puzzle was difficult to solve, I just didn’t really care about what I was solving. It makes it hard for me to pick out favorites and give thoughtful comments here– I just… finished and didn’t really want to spend anymore time on it.
Ben: The theme requires a very odd grid structure, so there’s not much long fill of note. Also nothing to really object to. I blinked at AUX IN and TBTS, but I think they’re both fine — more of that aggressively modern short fill Michael mentioned yesterday. Could do without ESME but at least it’s clued modernly as 55A: Edward’s adoptive mother in “Twilight” (which wasn’t especially helpful for me).
Michael: I more than blinked at AUX IN and TBTS, as well as DSLR (like SLR isn’t bad enough to deal with).
Lena: “Twilight” is probably great and all, but I hope younger folks are still reading some Salinger! “For Esme…” is a pretty intense short story as I recall; the main character has PTSD… and then the vampires attack!
Ben: Favourite clues — 26D: Houston football player or a random person at his game, probably for TEXAN and 21A: Corpse pose, for example and easiest for ASANA. Oh, and Days Without a Harry Potter Reference – 1.
Michael: Are there really no HP refs? In *this* thing? That is stunning. It basically empties both barrels of the youth-y gun. And not even a RON?
Ben: I predict this one’s going to be polarizing — seems like one people will either love or hate. I liked it more than you guys did, but it’s not my favourite. Still, I am going to print this out and give it to my coworker’s teenage (and Taylor Swift megafan) daughter, so what the heck. I do love that Caleb is looking to appeal to different demographics than crosswords traditionally do (see also that ESME clue).
Michael: Well it didn’t exactly polarize us. I am glad that you younger people also had issues with it. I don’t feel so crotchety. Just a little. The right amount of crotchety.