“THEMELESS 9” by Max Sherer
Thank F it’s Friday, amiright? Get up on this here themeless and careen towards your weekend
Constructor: Max Sherer
Ben: Interesting grid layout. Central staircase triple-stack, open corners in the NW and SE, some long stuff in the other two. The downside is that it’s very segmented, with those nice open corners basically serving as separate puzzles. I didn’t get stuck, but I’m usually not wild about that much segmentation. Always tradeoffs with this stuff — the segmentation allows for clean fill, with only minor RTE TAPA ANA RXS type stuff.
Lena: Oh, I got stuck alright. When I lifted it off the printer this morning I saw it and said outloud, to my cat, “uh oh, mini puzzles.” I think the “spiral staircase” is neat looking though, I just got stuck (LIKE HARRY POTTER), in the little closet under the stairs. I didn’t pay attention to the tense and put ASSAYS instead of ASSESS (56A: Give a test to, in a way). MICROPENIS was so weird to me that I couldn’t see it and had trouble getting out of the SE. Is MICROPENIS a thing? Seems kinda made up to me. “Chad totally has a MICROPENIS.” <Googles> Oh god it’s real. Thanks, Wikipedia…
Ben: Actually, now that I’m looking closely, most of the worst fill is in those little stacks of 3-letter entries in the NE and SW.
Lena: You want those slender stacks, you have to be prepared for a smattering of potentially unsavory fill.
Ben: I like that stack in the middle, with FROZEN PIZZA being my favourite entry (34A: Pie with frosting?) — that’s the sort of legitimately tough clue that BuzzFeed doesn’t do very often.
Lena: My favorite stair step is I HAVE A POINT due to its misdirecting clue (33A: “You gotta gimmie that”) and its conversational tone. Overall I have a fondness for this puzzle, largely due to the cluing. (15A: Bring back Walt Disney, say) for THAW was certainly creative, and (33D: Provide with many channels?) for IRRIGATE was another rewarding toughie.
Ben: Other lovely clues include 1A: Beer brand Marlon Brando was really craving in “A Streetcar Named Desire” (STELLA!!!), 40A: Movie whose sequel is its title’s plural (ALIEN), and 38D: What people are actually complimenting when they say “You have beautiful eyes” (IRISES).
Lena: No joke, just last night my friend said “I don’t understand why STELLA Artois didn’t make use of ‘Streetcar’!” Crosswords are awesome.
Ben: On the other hand — 11A: Result of eating raw meat, maybe? (Sorry!!!!) for STD. What the fuck. That’s just disgusting. Also made me a lot less favourably inclined to the jokey tone on 45A: Teenie weenie? when I uncovered MICROPENIS a few minutes later.
Lena: Yeaaaah, if you feel the need to apologize for a clue in the clue maybe reconsider the clue. The more I think about MICROPENIS the worse I feel. It’s a medical condition, an unfortunate abnormality, that significantly impacts one’s life– mentally and physically– and I just can’t get down with a jokey clue about something like that.
Ben: Days Without a Harry Potter Reference: 9. Let’s end with this lovely quote about ART — 27A: Its purpose is “washing the dust of daily life off our souls,” according to Picasso. I usually use BOOZE for that, but well said.