“THEMELESS 8″ by Damon J. Gulczynski
Solve, read, love (you know, like “Eat, Pray, Love”)
Constructor: Damon J. Gulczynski
Lena: Oooo I can hear the Buzzfeedlets whimpering from here– I think this may be the most “mature” puzzle so far. Yes, I am calling a puzzle that has HOOBASTANK (7D: Band with the 2004 No. 2 hit “The Reason”) in it mature. You know what I mean though– not a lot of silly clues, not hyper-flashy long fill; it’s kind of a NERDSY puzzle, which is probably why I like it.
Michael: I’d like to RELEGATE D.G. to hell for reminding me that HOOBASTANK once existed. I’ve spent most of the last ten+ years in a Stankless eden. That era is now over.
Ben: I’ve heard the name, but I have literally no idea who HOOBA STANK are. God, does this make me a millenial? Anyway, really like the triple stacks in the corners, especially SWEEP THE LEG, AARON SORKIN (17A: Writer of the characters Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs) and REALPOLITIK
Lena: STRIATED (34D: Groovy?) is great and reminds me of a Peter Gordon themeless clue. SUPER SOAKER (63A: Arm full of water) messed me up for a bit because I made a prefix prediction and wrote in SUB…
Ben: I didn’t know who DARLENE LOVE was, so I had trouble with that corner until I found SUPER SOAKER.Lena: Guys. I didn’t know MOSELLE (41D: Light white wine named for a river along the France-German border… [blah blah]). It was killing me– I thought “I’ve probably had gallons of whatever this is!” NOPE. I can’t remember ever having anything from the Côtes de Toul AOC. From MIND ERASERS to MOSELLE…
Michael: I’d just read about “The Wolfpack” on … well, somewhere. Probably “The Internet.” And I noticed the director was a woman. But her name didn’t stick. Weirdly, the wine I’ve never had Did stick. Wait … how do you not know a wine type?
Lena: Oh yeah I forgot about the very mature clue for PEN (5D: The ___ 15 club (immature prank organization for my “PENIS” tattoo). I don’t know how an organization can be “for” a tattoo, so I find the wording here a bit awkward– I totally would have gotten that without the parens. Teacher Ben Johnston, do any of your students belong to the PEN15 club? (Michael: I advise you not to answer that)
Ben: Weirdly, the subject has never come up… also, as I mentioned on Twitter, my school e-mail has started displaying my name as “Teacher Ben Johnston” and it’s really weirding me out. Teacher isn’t really a title that works like that.
Michael: Prison org.?
Lena: I’ve never been a fan of “taken” being used to mean “in a relationship.” If I ever said “I’m taken” I would instantly feel like a chair. So NOT TAKEN (36D: Single and ready to mingle) is probably my least favorite piece o’ fill.
Michael: I’m goin’ with LYIN’ EYES as my least favorite. I was really feelin’ this puzzle up to that point. I mean, DARLENE LOVE! So great. (Seriously, that whole SE is wonderful)
Ben: The LOW NOTE for me is AMARE (53A: NBA big man Stoudemire who dated Ciara)… I just don’t follow basketball, so any name less famous than KOBE BRYANT is going to be a mystery to me. I filled in that entry and was like, yep, that sure is 5 letters in a row.
Lena: I laughed at NEIN (44A: Paradoxical response to “Sprechen sie Deutsche?”) and FIXER-UPPER (29D: House you might buy to flip) is my favorite long answer. While this puzzle isn’t what I’d call a “breezy solve” I enjoyed the challenge and still managed to finish during my commute.
Michael: I enjoyed learning the alt-meaning of “coffin” and am going to use it All the time now … all the time I am around MEAT PIEs (a nostalgic favorite of my Kiwi-wife, or Kiwife™). I think NOT TAKEN should’ve been clued [Emphatic answer to “Which Liam Neeson movie is your favorite?”]. I was a little put off by the SOFT clue (28A: Sensitive and unaggressive, slangily) and the PEN15 tattoo for the bro-vibe they created, but then the undercutting of TYSON with “sex offender” and the double-weeping-whammy of “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” clues made everything cool again.
Ben: Loved that SOB/WEPT repeat, and that would be a great clue for NOT TAKEN. I really enjoyed this puzzle — didn’t find it that hard, but there’s a lot of good stuff here. Great ELLEN quote (21A: “I like my coffee like I like my men… I don’t drink coffee” quipster). My favourite clue is for EROS, though — 4D: God often depicted shirtless and trying to shoot someone.
Michael: Nice clue-attempts at masking the stain and stench of ERI (10D: Fuka-___ (fictional author in Murakami’s masterpiece “1Q84”) and EKE (60A: “I’m sick and tired of having to ___ my way through life” (Lloyd’s lament to Harry in “Dumb and Dumber”)).
Ben: Is EKE bad? I think of it as a real word, even though I never hear it used. Anyway, fun puzzle. (Also: Days Without a Harry Potter Reference – 4. That’s got to be a record.)