“THEMELESS 15” by Neville Fogarty & Doug Peterson
Constructors: Neville Fogarty & Doug Peterson
Ben: Loved loved loved this. Everything from CHARIZARD (1A: Fictional dragon that’s known to be the product of evolution) right down to PALEO DIET (60A: Regimen that requires early meals?) and GLAM BANDS. Tremendous, start to finish.
Lena: I just finished this puzzle with my commuter pal– skillful combo of train solving and walk solving (I even put my coffee cup on my clipboard like a tiny desk)– and we had a blast (and didn’t fall or run into anyone), like you said, from start to finish.
Max: I accidentally got an earlier version of this puzzle, so I saw CHARIZARD as 1A before closing the version. Still like the answer though, and it crosses ZOLOFT(6D: Antidepressant that has commercials featuring a bouncy blob). Also this puzzle appears to be a pangram, and achieves this without having to “hide” the scrabbly letters.
Ben: Actually, one thing I’d never heard of — CHIQUITITA (48A: ABBA song whose title translates to “little girl,” not “little banana company”). Easily worked out nonetheless.
Lena: Something tells me that CHIQUITITA would be the first thing Michael fills in– he’s probably a huge ABBA guy. My problem was with CHARIZARD, but my problem was my co-solvers delight and she got it pretty fast (I had -LIZARD). The only iota of Pokemon knowledge I have comes from watching stoned people play Super Smash Bros. Actually, come to think of it, I think you can play as a CHARIZARD… whatevs, the real take home here is that 50% of women age 30-35 know what a CHARIZARD is.
Ben: What’s the worst fill here, AGAR/RHEAS? I’ll make that trade for my daily science dose of HALOGEN (2D: Element in the penultimate column of the periodic table) and my daily stupid cartoon dose of ATOM ANT (3D: Superhero/bug who’d shout, “Up and at ‘em!”).
Lena: My least favorite fill is MDL (55A: Super Bowl ___ (game that will be played in the year 3516, we assume)). I cannot stress enough how much I hate Roman numeral answers. HATE. Fireball puzzles are notorious for having the bitch-assiest Roman numeral content you can find; in this week’s, for example, we have [562% of L, quintupled]– well screw you too, buddy! The MDL clue here may be more jocular but still a pain in the ass.
Ben: Really like how open this entire puzzle is. No places where a solver could realistically get stuck. Lovely corners, multiple entries to every section, even a few Scrabble letters smoothly worked in.
Max: And like you said, it’s sooooooo smooth. AGAR/RHEAS is the worst of it, but those are real things. And so is everything else. AGAR does get my SEOTD unfortch, but it’s still awesome.
Ben: The clue 30A: Rickman who played Professor Snape, who responds to “After all this time?” with “Always” 😥 for ALAN reminds me that I want at least one Harry Potter themed puzzle out of BuzzFeed at some point. Also, that’s a callback to Wednesday, isn’t it?
Max: Alan Rickman probably got a lot of callbacks. *Actor-joke-self-five*
Ben: This is the kind of puzzle where because I don’t have anything bad to say about it, at some point I just start reading off clues I like. So I’ll limit myself to a single pairing — GRANDE (20A: Ariana ___ (fake Starbucks order)) and MOCHA (41A: Ariana ___ (Starbucks order that’s not only fake, but doesn’t make sense as a pun!)). I LOL’ed.
Lena: The ZOLOFT commercial with the sad oval was a favorite of mine and, I shit you not, my ovoid white eraser is named… ZOLOFT. Also a neat little pairing with MISERABLE (57A: Depressed and then some). I’m huge fan of 29A: asdfghjkl;’___ (ENTER)– I see that it’s just the middle row of a keyboard, but it could also be interpreted as sending a Keyboard Spasm which can convey combinations of OMG WTF SRSLY LOL TMI in a simple burst of mostly middle-row characters.
Ben: Can we just make Caleb start running freestyles three times a week, please?
Lena: That would be so lit.
Max: That would be awesome, themed is so hard sometimes to make. Well, my earlier version really affected by solve since the clues are all different, but it gets a 4.3/5 from me. maXWORD out!