Yeah it’s the 5th and I’m still wishing everybody– co-workers, assholes, besties, THE LOT– a Happy New Year. Resolve to solve this puzzle and read on
“AULD LANG SOLVE” by Caleb Madison
Auld Lang Solve
Constructor: Caleb Madison
Theme: Where do you go to see THE BALL DROP? TIMES SQUARE! You can also see a SQUARE-shaped BALL DROP in the grid; good TIMES.
Lena: As a lapsed scientist and generally flexible gal, I appreciate experimentation. So, although I am not personally a fan of BuzzFeed’s move away from 15×15 themed and themeless puzzles, I think it’s important to pay attention to what’s going on over there. After all, they are still crossword puzzles and Caleb is continuing to do what he set out to do– turn a new generation of folks on to puzzles. Caleb is working for a huge website (company? thing? idk) and no matter how romantic you feel about not kowtowing to the man, it became clear that the puzzles not only weren’t creating traffic but were flustering the BuzzFeed demographic.
Lena: I want to treat all of BuzzFeed’s crossword puzzle efforts seriously. Let’s be Crucianthropologists and have a cooler self-declared major than Will Shortz himself, and talk about these little puzzles as they’ve come to exist in our time.
Lena: “Auld Lang Solve” is hilarious. The grid art is clearly up to something– but is it male genitalia or is it… of course it’s THE BALL DROP (3D: What many gather to see yearly in 4-Down)!
Lena: I really liked the cluing not only because it’s skillful and fun, but because this is Caleb as constructor. It doesn’t have the same vibe of the clues being made to fit the BuzzBill– they are just fun clues. These are the parentheticals you have been waiting for. I loved (14A: #lightofmylife #myoneandonly #__) for BAE because it’s neat to have [#__]– it’s part of how we communicate now; do I need to drag out what’s been added to the OED recently?
Lena: Do I call my BOIF (4) BAE? Nope it’s not my STEEZ (5). But this is incipient Crosswordese so get ready everyone.
Lena: (16A: Father in a cooking show?) WALT? Yes. And these are the clues I solve for. (25A: Swiping wrong?) for ROBBERY— hell yes. (29A: Style for verse averse?) PROSE-– yes yes yes.
Lena: The non-theme long entries, CAKE BATTER and INADEQUACY have a Lifetime Movie Network vibe to me. Maybe the joy that comes with an uncooked cake melange in symmetry with sad feelings of not being up to snuff tugged at weird heretofore unidentified heartstrings.
Lena: The bad? That’s the thing about smaller grids– the dreck stands out. I made a bunch of small puzzles when I felt I didn’t have the chutzpah to tackle a 15×15 and quickly realized that restricted viewing field leads to higher resolution and then everything is magnified. Here, I would say ESQS (17A: Abbrs. next to some lawyers’ names) is the worst with all those plural possessives in the clue. Obviously SSE (15A: Opposite of NNW) is not ideal… blah blah blah ESE…
Lena: Alright I have to leave now but I would like to hear what you have to say about what BuzzFeed is trying to do. And seriously– if you want 15x15s that buck basically every NYT trend, go to, say, Matt Gaffney’s website and subscribe to his puzzles and look at his blog’s sidebar for Indies Indies Indies! – You’ll never go crucihungry.
Lena: Happy New Year!