BuzzFeed Crossword – Thursday 12 November 2015

THE EX-FILES” by José Chardiet

Roll up your sleeves and sharpen your iPads, solve the puzzle, then read on

BuzzFeed 11 12

“The Ex-Files”

Constructor: José Chardiet

Theme: Each theme answer is missing DATA. (It’s reinserted in the list below for clarity.)

  • 11A: SA DA TAY – *Classic Pootie Tang-ism roughly meaning “That’s the way it is”
  • 20A: HAD A TASTE FOR – *Found delicious, as vampires vis-a-vis blood
  • 26A: CALLED A TAXI – *Used Uber, maybe
  • 38A: AVOID AT ALL COSTS – *Steer clear, as I do of any physical altercations
  • 53A: MIRANDA TATE – *Alias of Talia al Ghul in “The Dark Knight Rises”
  • 68A: SODA TAX – *Recent 1-cent-per-ounce levy aiming to promote healthier diets
  • 59A: DATA LOSS – Virus symptom that occurs six times in this puzzle

Lena: I thought this was a nice easy Thursday theme. It quickly became obvious that something tricksy was afoot, the revealer clears it up right away, and off you go to chuckletown. Was it too easy? Nah, life is hard enough– the portions of it that come before Fridays especially– so I’ll lark it up with this one as best I can.

Michael: Unfinishable. NE corner = no way in hell. This is, by far, the worst BZF we’ve had to date. Caleb did not bring the cluing under control. We get it, you listen to rap. It is a great genre. But this thing was ridiculous. MIRANTE? SAY? I can’t even make DATA fit in there. PES? GRAE? These are terrible answers. And when it’s not mired in its own personal pop culture bog, we get ASSESS? TOSSTO? IDES? This just hurt and hurt and hurt. I’m begging Caleb et al to make these puzzles for a broader audience. Youthy, good. This … train wreck. How is [rn] ATM? If TRU is a “shouted” ad lib, why is it spelled that way? Jesus … awful.

Lena: I liked that 3-letter answers SOX and SAY turned out to be theme answers– it surprised me! I had DATA LOSS early on, and AVOILLCOSTS is the themer that let me know I’d need to squeeze DATA into each starred clue somewhere– the stars were helpful, but whenever I run across long answers with gibberish I start looking for stuff to flip/add/remove.

Lena: I will say that my easy time with this puzzle came to a screeching halt in the face of another couple of tiny answers: YUM (13D: “that’s rich!”) and the wicked, wicked ATM (19A: rn). The lowercase thing made it hard for me to realize that I was looking for an acronym… an acronym I have never used.


Lena: “rn” is “right now” and “atm” is “at the moment” but this was all guesswork.  Honestly, I thought “rn” was a typo at first and it took me until this morning, when I saw that it ended up in the published puzzle, to figure it out. Pretty rough for a two-letter clue and a three-letter answer, huh?

Michael: I honestly have no more to say. “Too easy” is fucking hilarious. Hard from front to back. Never once easy. Also, not rewarding. Nonsense theme answers. The T-Swift puzzle on Monday had the same issues, but this one is Worse. Your imagined audience (super hip millennials who are rap aficionados and know almost nothing outside of pop culture?) Can Not Solve This. Ditto your actual audience (me).

Lena: To be clear, I thought the theme was easy– the fill is a different story. In cases like this I typically slip into what I call a “Solver’s Fugue” and things I don’t know, like PES and GRAE, just end up filled in without me even realizing it happened. Like, I’m just now looking at the clue for ISH (27D: Word in many a radio edit instead of the s-word, shit) and, uh, wait what? ISH isn’t a word! Plus I’ve never heard that kind of bleep-out. I agree– lots of bad fill with unredeeming clues.

Lena: I flat out didn’t like ANGRY SEX (38D: Act of tough love). “Make-up sex” is a thing, but angry sex? I… don’t really want to know what that is. Why would you be angry? You’re having sex! I hope no one has ever been mad at me during sex. I guess if I wasn’t aware it would be more like passive-aggressive sex. . . Is it that you’re angry about something else while having sex, or angry at the person you’re having sex with?

Lena: Michael? Are you still there?

Crickets: <chirring>

  1. Bob Dively said:

    Oof. Brutal DNF here. I was left in the dust by the pop culture clues because I know almost nothing about the rappists in play here. The NE looks like complete gibberish to me – and I’ve even seen and can quote from “Pootie Tang”. Baffled by ATM (19: rn). Rn? Registered nurse? No clue.


  2. erinium said:

    The theme concept was fine, but when you have no idea about the answers to at least two theme entries and an entire corner, it’s no longer fun. Also, if you’re going to call something a “classic” saying by a character, it should be something that’s still commonly referenced today. [yells at kids to get off her lawn]

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob Dively said:

    Oh, and ISH (27D: Word in many a radio edit instead of the s-word, shit)? What is going on there? I assume from the cluing that the s-word in question is not “shit”, but I have no idea what it might actually be or what ISH is supposed to be. And do the Young People even listen to the wireless nowadays?


    • Bob Dively said:

      Some research shows my difficulty with ISH is that I’m an old who doesn’t listen to rap on the radio (or even just the radio, really).


  4. tough, but doable. i somehow remembered sa da tay out of some deep dark corner of my brain, despite never seeing Pootie Tang. i immediately recognized rn as right now (it’s buzzfeed, i’m surprised it took this long), but took a little bit to get ATM (i wanted PDQ at first).

    ANGRY SEX is definitely a thing where you’re in a screaming match with your partner and then it turns to sex.

    the clue for ISH is definitely worded poorly. either say s-word or shit, i don’t know why both are there. but ISH is definitely a substitute for SHIT in radio edits.

    this puzzle just happened hit my sweet spot of knowing crosswordese and my knowledge of just enough of what the kids these days are talking about.

    i especially liked the clue for MASHUP.

    Liked by 2 people

      • zzedzed said:

        What about IRE ISH sex? And what’s going on with that ORGY STYX HI HAT line? Related?


  5. brayden said:

    I did not like this puzzle. Theme was good once I figured it out, so I’ll give it that, but otherwise it was an unsatisfying slog. ISH was strangely a gimme for me (I think “technically” I’m on the Millennial cusp at 35…) since I had friends in high school who used it. And I can quote Pootie Tang front and back – so I’m pretty sure that was actually the first post-revealer answer I got, and really I was just excited to see Pootie Tang in a puzzle. But yeah, definitely my least favorite so far.


  6. zzedzed said:

    A 2001 movie that has a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. I can’t believe I missed it.


    • it’s enjoyed a bit of a cult renaissance within the last few years since it was written and directed by Louis CK.


      • Bob Dively said:

        I always kinda liked “Pootie Tang” because it’s just a bunch of absurd nonsense that some talented people somehow got made into a movie.


  7. rabonour said:

    I love seeing rap in puzzles, but this did probably go too far. If you’re going to go so niche, it needs to be easier. The whole thing was hard, but it was the brutal NE that made it a DNF for me.

    I will say that I liked the theme okay. Revealer was good and I had fun trying to get the answers.


  8. Ben Johnston said:

    Busy day at work kept me from chiming in today, but yeah, add me to the list of people who couldn’t crack that NE corner. Even before that, the mix of bad fill and really devious clues made this a fight. I liked the theme but it got drowned out by everything else for me.


  9. r.alphbunker said:

    Started googling early on. T.R.U appears to be a rap album. Aren’t all rap lyrics essentially ad libs? OSO appears to be an acronym for Other Significant Other but I have not been able to find any evidence that someone named Diego has had any kind of relationship with Gao Gao. Mystic is evidently a person but I am not sure what mystics have to do with the river Styx. ART EXPO seems like green paint to me (appropriate).

    Has Caleb ever considered abandoning some of Margaret Farrar’s guidelines? They are almost a century old now. For example:

    Why not allow 2 letter words like rn? Texting is a major way that millennials communicate and it appears that new two letter abbreviations are being invented every day.

    And symmetry? Who cares? AJAX is a dominant technology on the web and the A stands for Asymmetric. Multitasking is surely not symmetric either.


    • Bob Dively said:

      Gao Gao is a panda at the San Diego Zoo, so Diego – presumably a Spanish speaker – would use the Spanish word for bear, OSO. I imagine there’s a further level of reference in that Diego is the name of Spanish-speaking character from the children’s animated TV show “Go, Diego, Go!”, in which Diego’s adventures consist of rescuing and helping animals.

      Liked by 1 person

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