“THEMELESS 16” by David Phillips
Constructor: David Phillips
Lena: 41A: Street bum? for BADONKADONK is… not ok. “Street” has negative connotations that privileged folks can subconsciously distance themselves from by defining it simply as “modern slang.” It’s one of those things I wouldn’t feel comfortable referencing because I cannot relate to, from my position of privilege, what “street” really means. I found this to be an informative and interesting read upon looking into “street,” and it’s worth checking out: https://www.nytimes.com/books/first/a/anderson-code.html. Also the misdirection side of the clue steers us to another negative descriptor, “bum,” and the whole thing just ends up making me feel uncomfortable. Why not credit Missy Elliott for popularizing the term with some lyrics from “Work It”?
Ben: Even though I like BADONKADONK as an entry, I’m with you on “street” being a piece of language that should be removed from the vernacular — generally BZF is a little more on the ball than this (or WOKE, one might say). It seems pretty clear that it was put in as a symmetrical counterpart to RIDONCULOUS, whose clue (32A: Wiggity wiggity wack) is also pretty iffy, frankly.
Max: Well, BADONKADONK wasn’t a problem for me. So I’m on a totally different wavelength from you two. I can’t imagine why that is… ROFL. Anywaaaaaaaay, I wanna point how clean the grid is. There’s an AMICI and an ANAPEST, but other than that….. it’s niiiiiice. And I loved the RIDONCULOUS clue. It’s spot-on, IMO.
Lena: RIDONCULOUS is another no-go for me– it’s the more “arcane” spelling of an already-made-up word– the preferred spelling is “redonkulous.” It’s quite easy to google check this kind of stuff and go by the number of search results. Also the homophonic dupe with BADONKADONK smells like non-theme theme material, which I am usually not too fond of.
Ben: This puzzle didn’t click with me. Never heard of TFAL, cluing NONE as 15A: Number of J’s, Q’s, W’s, X’s and Z’s in this puzzle’s completed grid irritated me for some reason, the weirdly dated 2004 (!) Billy Crystal (!!!) quote in the clue for EGOS, the clue on AMICI (12D: Roman bros… or “bromans”, if you will) left me cold, I hate seeing SANTA or a “Night Before Christmas” reference in the clue for ANAPEST outside of December — I just wasn’t on its wavelength.
Max: Wasn’t really my wavelength either, since I had no idea what ADAM AND EVE was. (I’m still in high school, so that’s not really my scene). I got that answer, and I was like “huh. okay. those are three words that, whed put together, make a coherent phrase. Must be right.”
Lena: I found THE BBC (10D: English channel?) to be irksome. THE + abbreviation = meh. Also, does that need a question mark? THE BBC is literally an English television channel.
Ben: It’s weird — looking back over the puzzle, there are a lot of good entries, there are plenty of good misdirection clues (4D: Title for some fathers for MAN OF GOD, 33D: Worker who needs to be light-headed for COAL MINER), it’s a nice open grid… but I came away from the puzzle more irritated than entertained. Which is strange, because technically it’s a strong puzzle.
Max: I liked SENT BACK(21A: Like every dish Gordon Ramsay orders on “Kitchen Nightmares,” seemingly). Soooooooo true. Love the show.
Ben: I’m going to have to chalk this one up to personal taste — it just didn’t do it for me.
Max: I was content with it. Nice and strong. 4.3/5 for me. maXWORD out!