BuzzFeed Crossword – Friday 26 February 2016

THEMELESS 17 (“The That’s So 2012 Themeless”) by David Steinberg

Feast upon this Friday Freestyle

Fri 2 26

Themeless 17 (“The That’s So 2012 Themeless”)

Constructor: David Steinberg

Theme: None

Ben: Man, this puzzle was hard. I was just beating my head against it for ages. 2D: Dangers to gardens? for ANAGRAM is brutal — those kinds of cryptic clues always catch me. I also just wasn’t familiar with BAHAI, SMYRNA or AC DELCO, so I needed pretty much all the crosses on those.

Max: I knew the first one and the last one from crosswords. The middle one gets my SEOTD because…. just look at it. Sideways, that is. As for the rest of the puzzle, I liked it well enough. HARLEM SHAKE/SAUSAGE FEST is nice on the top and STRETCH GOAL and BOOTY SHORTS is nice on the bottom. the middle…was messy, but it played quick enough for me not to be annoyed too much.

Lena: This puzzle didn’t do it for me– pretty much at no point did I enjoy myself. I had to look up LYNNE” in order to make any progress up towards that terrible NE and found that she spells her name “Lynn.” Boo. The clues were vague, distant, not terrible clever. Like, (40D: Sick jelly source) for APRICOT? Am I missing something? Is this an example of green paint in a clue? If you substitute “my favorite” for “sick” then who the hell knows which jelly you like best. Also, who cares.

Max: It’s just one of those buzzfeed-y clues. No special meaning to “sick”. I’m a straight peanut butter man myself, but I (mostly) respect you jelly eaters.

Ben: There’s a mini-theme here, with RAUNCHY being clued with reference to SAUSAGE FEST (17A: Party with a very uneven ratio), SEX TAPE (14D: High-exposure film?) and BOOTY SHORTS (66A: Cheeky rave attire?). Any one of those would be fine with me — all together, it got a little tiring. (There’s also a theme implied by the title, but HARLEM SHAKE is the only thing that seems to be 2012-ish to me.)

Max: Pro tip: if your clue has more xrefs than words, you’re doing it wrong. Hated the RAUNCHY clue, which just looks ugly.

Lena: I don’t think RAUNCHY is a particularly good/apt descriptor for BOOTY SHORTS and especially not SAUSAGE FEST— what’s RAUNCHY about having more guys at a party? Also, I really don’t like themes in my themeless! I can make the link between answers on my own, if I want to– I don’t want to be told.

Ben: I like both 11-letter triple stacks a lot. NTSB and RLS are pretty small prices to pay for the SE, and the NW is completely clean, and even hits a double Kardashian joke in the clues for EVA and MAGDA Gabor.

Max: I was just reading on Reddit about how Zsa Zsa Gabor is still alive(knock on wood), so I was able to get Madga really easily. but the NW is the reason why SMYRNA exists, so I wouldn’t call it “clean.” It nearly forces the SMY, which doesn’t give you a lot of options.

Lena: The Kardashian parenthetical threw me off. All the Kardashians just have “K” names, right? I then expected the Gabor sisters to have the same initials– the little info nugget ultimately tripped me up, not knowing anything about the Gabors.

Ben: I’m not especially fond of the SW — APPOSES (38D: Puts together) and PURL suck, and TAURINE (39D: Controversial Red Bull ingredient) is kinda boring. I also noticed the dupe between AT A SLANT and SNIPE AT, which never happens. PAPA SMURF (46A: 546-year-old cartoon character voiced by Jonathan Winters) is great, though, and the puzzle as a whole is open and clean and fun.

Max: Yeah, the SW was bad. I knew TAURINE with no crosses, because it’s not as boring as you think (it used to be made naturally–from the bile of oxen!). Didn’t even notice the AT dupe, so it didn’t bother me.

Lena: Mmmm woolen lingerie– now *that’s* RAUNCHY. I don’t really think of PURL (49A: Lace lingerie loop) outside of the context of knitting, so… APPOSE was bad alright, but FEALTY (47D: Oath of faithfulness from a vassal to their lord)?? Nuh-uh.

Ben: Favourite clue was 13D: Your average “The Scarlet Letter” villager for PURITAN. Least favourite was 22D: Common name or nickname for… urban establishments near a… body of water for BAY CITY, which was too cutesy by half for me.

Max: I feel like BAY CITY isn’t a thing…. so I don’t know of any clue that would save that for me.

Lena: As I was sitting here griping about this puzzle, I found out that BuzzFeed will no longer be accepting/publishing outside submissions starting next week. I’m sorry to hear the news– as irksome as the millennial-skewed puzzles could be, I considered them a guilty pleasure. Also BuzzFeed was basically the only game in town paying young constructors the same as a weekday NYT if published, which is a great way to encourage new folks.

Max: This was an awesome experiment, and I am so sad to see it go. I’m sure there will be more ways to get more young people into puzzles, but this was so far my favorite. Still, I hope that it can come back later, when Buzzfeed realizes how much it’s missed!

As for the puzzle, 4/5 for me. maXWORD out!


  1. Bob Dively said:

    This was a very hard puzzle for me. Some of the answers were a difficult, but I was tripped up by some of the more opaque cluing. ANAGRAM (2D: Dangers to gardens) was particularly tricky. I stared at 40D: Sick jelly source for a very long time before mentally redacting “sick”, after which APRICOT finally came into focus and I thought, oh, duh, “sick” like “really good”.

    Kudos for getting NTSB (54D: Fed plane crash investigator) correct a day after the NYT puzzle said it’s the FAA in a theme revealer.

    Totally baffled about how a SAUSAGE FEST is RAUNCHY. I’ve always heard sausage fest used to describe a situation that is at minimum a bit of a disappointment due to the relative absence of women, e.g., “this lame ass party is a total sausage fest”. Contrast with “that bachelor party at the strip club was a total sausage fest”, a usage I’ve never heard because, wow, a strip club bachelor party comprised mostly of dudes, huh.


  2. Wow, I liked this a *lot* more than any of you (including @Bob Dively?) did. Took RAUNCHY to refer to the actual fill; hence SAUSAGEFEST is raunchy because sausage == “penis”. I’ll admit that I’m kind of predisposed to like a Steinberg puzzle, though. SALARYCAP clue was a nice misdirection. Also nice to see a “lace” clue that didn’t have TAT as an answer. “Sick jelly source” was a little too cutesy.

    Agree that it is timely to see a correction of FAA.


    • Bob Dively said:

      For the record, I think this puzzle is overall fine. The 2 triple-stacked 11s are pretty neat, and the fill is mostly decent. My comments about its difficulty aren’t meant to be condemnatory—just observational. My biggest complaint is the RAUNCHY thing, which didn’t really detract from the solving experience and is just more of a head-scratcher for me.


      • SAUSAGE + BOOTY + SEX. That conjures a (non-hetero-normative) RAUNCHY image (or two) for me. I think it’s a cromulent mini-theme.


  3. Giovanni P. said:

    God FUCKING dammit.


    • Giovanni P. said:

      This is why we can’t have nice things. That is all.


  4. zzedzed said:

    Put me in the like this more than most everyone else camp. I thought the APRICOT jelly clue was excellent because you either think APRICOT jelly is sick or sick(ening). There is no middle ground. Great clue. As for SAUSAGEFEST, I thought if it wasn’t RAUNCHY it was just a bunch of guys. Urban Dictionary, though, is in agreement with Bob Dively. On the other hand, BOOTY SHORTS are always RAUNCHY, they exist to be RAUNCHY.

    Didn’t we here once before that the BFX was done, and then it returned as a thrice a week puzzle? I hope it continues.


  5. Giovanni P. said:

    Re: my last comments: Sorry you had to see that. It could have been worse, trust me :P. I just really don’t want to see the Puzzfeed crosswords go the way of the dinosaur, especially the themelesses, which scratch an itch I’ve had (themelesses chock full of cutting-edge fill) for a while.

    But now the newsletter today is announcing they are going daily. So are they not closing down then? Or are they just moving to a more private or in-house process for the crosswords? This may not yet be over.


    • Lena Webb said:

      I understood your outburst– no worries! The bottom line is that they are no longer accepting/publishing submissions– no more Pascos, Fogartys, Trabuccos, Eaton-Salnerses– as you say, they will come from in-house. Always a wild ride with these buzzles, huh!


      • Giovanni P. said:

        That’s still not great news though. Where else could they get puzzles like the ones they did posted? The other constructors helped give it the voice they had. Here’s hoping they reconsider in the future.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: