“THEMELESS 6” by Brendan Emmett Quigley
Constuctor: Brendan Emmett Quigley
Ben: Increasingly I’m finding that I GOT NOTHIN’ to say about these themeless puzzles. I like them, they’re beautifully filled… but it’s hard to find a new way to say that every week.
Michael: I was like “O, great, an “OITNB” clue …” I do not watch (as I do not watch Every show people insist I *have* to watch). But PORNSTACHE is a term in common usage, and it’s great, so hurray. Pop-culturey without locking me out. I don’t mind that at all.
Ben: Here we have triple-stacks in every corner (10’s and 8’s), plus a few longer answers thrown in for good measure. The centre is a little tight with black squares, but I didn’t have any problem with the puzzle’s flow.
Ben: Really like the NW, with PORNSTACHE (1A: “Orange is the New Black” nickname based on some douchey facial hair) and ARE YOU COOL? (15A: “We’re not fighting, right?”) both being super-modern, and MARC ANTONY getting a nice modern clue (17A: Friends, Romans, countrymen, J-Lo if I had an extra H” speaker). No compromises on the crosses, either.
Michael: I can’t really make sense of that MARC ANTONY clue. Oh, wait, I realize I’ve confused the classical guy and the modern guy. It makes more sense now. I think of “ARE WE COOL?” as the much much more apt answer for [“We’re not fighting, right?”]. In fact, the best possible answer is “WE COOL?” ARE YOU COOL? is what you say to someone you think might be a narc. See “Dazed and Confused” if you don’t believe me.
Ben: SE isn’t quite as smooth — I don’t even know what city MOTT Street belongs to, and SPINEL is my SYNOD — it’s a real thing, but it seems like crutch fill to me. But the long answers are all nice.
Michael: I just stared at SPINEL like “… I hope that’s a thing.”
Ben: There isn’t much to complain about here for fill. ART BUYER (37D: One shopping at a gallery, say) seems contrived, and I could do without EEE, MEX, O NEG… that’s really about it. I think IMAC might be getting into the territory of crosswordese at this point — it always sounds dated when I come across it in a grid.
Ben: Favourite clue — 43D: Make someone feel better, perhaps by playing some Wii or XBox for CONSOLE. Also liked 13D: Lady with a personal trainer for PROTEGEE, if only because it comes at the answer from an unexpected direction.
Michael: Yes, those are both very good, esp. the CONSOLE clue. My favorite, most satisfying answer-getting experience was, weirdly, SO INCLINED (24A: Tending in such a direction). I couldn’t make sense of the clue very well, then couldn’t parse it from the SOIN- beginning. And then bam, it came to me, and seemed perfect—a common phrase I can’t remember having seen in crosswords before.
Ben: Days Without a Harry Potter Reference – 1. We do get, of all things, a Scooby-Doo reference with DAPHNE, clued to the live action movie from a few years ago.
Michael: I got a NANCI Griffith clue, so I’m good (54D: “Other Voices, Other Rooms” singer Griffith).