“THEMELESS 10” by Sam Ezersky
Those themelesses tho
Constructor: Sam Ezersky
Ben: Challenging themeless today, at least for me. I had much more trouble with it than I usually do. (Although still not as much as today’s NYT… who the fuck crosses a “Massenet opera set in 11th-century Spain” with “New York home of Hartwick college” on a Friday? There’s like 5 crosses today that I’m stumped on. But I digress.)
Michael: Sam is great and this grid is loaded with scintillating fill. I am beyond sick of the dick / penis / ejaculation / masturbation shit. It’s no longer even funny. It’s a turn-off, and I have spoken to many women who feel same. Youthful / playful cluing, great. Penis-focused cluing … it’s alienating a huge audience. Makes people see this puzzle as niche, which is horrible, since the puzzle caliber is first-rate. BZF puzzles are routinely as good as or better than the NYT, conceptually. But man … put it away. (today: FAP and [Peak ejaculation?] are at issue … not a huge list, but This Type of *** Happens Every Day) (Also not sure CADS = “fuckboys”)
On the feminist side, kudos for the Becky HAMMON reference (62A: Becky who became the first full-time female NBA coach in 2015)
Lena: Don’t forget FEMDOM (10D: Porn fetish category with men strapped to tables, for short). I just got into a deep thought zone about this and it’s like, ok, so it’s just porn if a guy bedecks a lady in a “pearl necklace” but it has to be a whole fetish category if the lady restrains a dude? Hmmm…
Ben: Took me absolutely forever to remember that there was such a thing as a DS LITE (1A: Handheld Nintendo console since 2006). Also, 5D: Noises made to pass the time? is a great clue (TICK TOCK), but I couldn’t parse it at all. And I’ve never even heard of PALCOHOL (26A: Controversial just-add-water booze), so that whole NW corner played hard for me and was where I finished.
Michael: PALCOHOL gets major sideeye from me. ALCOPOP, OK, but … is the Alcohol your Pal? WTF? I guess it’s “controversial” somewhere?
Lena: Nope, I guess this is why you hate my puzzles… I had PALCOHOL as a seed entry in my 1st or 2nd themeless right around the time it was current– it’s a portmanteau of “powdered” and “alcohol,” and is indeed controversial because, well you can figure it out… the only reason ALCOPOP is “real” is because it has existed for longer.
Ben: I can confirm that GOOD KID, MAAD CITY is in fact a great album (38A: 2012 best-selling album featuring “Swimming Pools (Drank)”, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe”, “Money Trees”, and more amazing songs (LOVE. THIS. ALBUM.)). Being able to fill that in across the middle gave me a foothold just about everywhere, though again — hard puzzle.
Lena: Gotta listen based on the titles alone– I *really* need good recs for new music. Michael has made a similar request and has offered to help a sister out, so I’m ready to go!
Ben: Also, I’m glad I knew that album title, because otherwise the crossing with Kendrick LAMAR could be pretty tough
Michael: Love that Kendrick Krossing there in the middle, though I misspelled the album title, apparently believing KL was from a city with a strong Mothers Against Drunk Driving presence.
Ben: Lots of colourful stuff here. AU REVOIR (16A: “Peace out, Pierre!”) isn’t hard, but it’s fun to say. Liked GOOGLE WIFI (12D: Connection from Starbucks, often) and ROLL, TIDE! (46A: Bama cheer). Does anyone actually have an IPOD CASE? (60A: Touch protection?) I’ve bought phone cases, but never one for an iPod.
Lena: I goddamned loved my goddamned iPod. what a beautiful device. Now I use my stupid “phone” and it’s nice too, but an iPod was just for music and that was beautiful.
Ben: A little junk — DAHS RECS APO… that’s about it. OREIDA is boring but it’s a real thing. Very smooth fill. The NE and SW are a little mini-puzzley, but having two points of entry into each helps alleviate that.
Ben: Lovely themeless.
Michael: [What a WASPy mom might shout to her lacrosse-playing son] => GO, TAD! (31D)