Buzzfeed solution 10 13

“He Gives You This Puzzle”

Constructor: Jeffrey Harris

Theme: Movies with cold-related titles — well-suited to NETFLIX AND CHILL.

  • 34A: NETFLIX AND CHILL – Transparently sexual Tinder come-on… where it would be fitting to watch the answers to the starred clues?
  • 17A: SNOWPIERCER – *2013 Chris Evans action movie that takes place entirely on a constantly moving train of apocalypse survivors
  • 22A: ICE AGE – *2002 animated movie dealing with themes of acorn addiction and the plight of the squirrel
  • 50A: FROZEN – *2013 Idina Menzel musical that’s the highest-grossing animated movie of all time, so more like “Let It Rain”
  • 54A: WINTER‘S BONE – *2010 Jennifer Lawrence drama where she plays a teenager who has to hunt to provide for her younger siblings, sound familiar?

Ben: So I liked this one a lot. It’s not complicated but it’s fun.

Lena: I agree! My hackles went down and I found it really enjoyable– a quick solve with tons of good fill. And the clues definitely seem to have struck a better balance between conversation and content this time.

Ben: Sure — you’ve got the Buzzfeed style showing up in some of the theme clues, or in 14A: Skewered Southeast Asian dish often served with peanut sauce and now I’m salivating (SATAY), but you’ve also got interesting facts like the Amazing RANDI at 48D (Magician whose foundation offers a million dollars to anyone who can prove they have psychic powers).

MichaelI am old and married so the NETFLIX AND CHILL meme / thingie / whatever passed me straight by. I had NETFLIX AND CH– and sincerely thought CHIPS. I know *I* would enjoy NETFLIX AND CHIPS.

Lena: I grinned when I filled in the first themer: SNOWPIERCER. I love that ridiculous movie to bits– it’s so, so bad.

MichaelYou are insane it is great

Lena: I KNOW Snowpiercer is great, man. Someone once told me I shouldn’t put it in one of my puzzles because it wasn’t mainstream enough– and would you look at it now. But, like, it is not a “great” movie.

MichaelLALALA

Ben: I’ve heard it’s really something. I’m actually 0-4 on having seen the themers, to be honest — not even FROZEN.

Lena: 3-4 for me (haven’t seen FROZEN either). Once I realized nothing weird was going on in the theme answers I could just relax and solve the puzzle left to right, smoothly moving down towards the central revealer.

Michael2-4 for me. Saw the grown-up movies, not the kiddie ones. Because, again, I am BuzzFeed’s dad.

Ben: This is really a pretty straightforward trick — common expression reparsed as literal instructions — but I think the modern phrase and cute theme clues elevate it.

Lena: Did you notice a typo in 33D: Stack at the beginning of a buffet (PLATE)?

Ben: Yeah, it should read “Part of a stack”. Looking over the rest of the clues, there’s not a lot here that sticks out one way or the other. Nothing super-clever, nothing super-blah. I kind of like LOSSES (43D: Number after the dash on a team’s record). And I’m not sure why LOS Angeles and NEW York (40A and 56A) are both clued as fun cities.

Lena: The BAT (55D:___ an eye) and EYE (57D: Bat an ___) thing, especially with one on top of the other, made my eye twitch a little. I’m okay with some repeating clue elements, but with the double arbitrary “(fun city)”s it felt like too much.

Ben: Oh wow, I didn’t even notice that while solving. Yeah, that’s too cute for my taste.

MichaelI love the middle finger quality of the BAT / EYE thing. Same way I did not mind *at all* the “BALANCE” dupe yesterday (it was the answer and was in the clue). I can see its being too cute for some, but it’s early-week, you want newbies to get toe-holds … I’m all for minor rule-nose-thumbing.

Lena: My top three favorite clue/fill combos this time were:

-YES (64A: Great response to “Can I have a million dollars?”) – Simple, funny. It takes three-letter fill and makes it fun.

PAW (7D: Command to a dog that ideally allows for an interspecies handshake) – When a no-frills answer and clue can come together to deliver an adorable visual, everybody wins.

SHRED (12D: Go crazy on that sick solo!!!!!) – Yes. This is the clue I want to see for SHRED.

Ben: I like SHRED too. I also enjoyed the clue on A TO Z (6D) referring to “Wannabe”. Normally I hate that fill, but that was a good way of salvaging it.

Lena: The resulting earworm wasn’t necessarily appreciated (fine, maybe it was a little…), but that the answer tumbled into my brain in song was definitely an improvement to how that fill has been clued in the past.

Ben: Conversely I did not enjoy CAMEL (23D: One or two humps and they’re done). A little too much for me.

Lena: I didn’t like the clue for AMP (29A: Energy drink that implies you are a guitar that needs to be louder).

MichaelAny time ESTELLE is not clued via a “Golden Girls” reference, I get upset (I’ve honestly never heard of whoever this ESTELLE is) (21A: Kanye’s 2009 “American Boy” collaborator).

What is KONAMI (27A: “Metal Gear Solid” and “Dance Dance Revolution” company)? KON-AMI? Obi Wan KON-AMI? Is that a known thing? I’d’ve gone with BON AMI there. Insert additional joke here about being in my mid-40s.

I think RAE Sremmurd was in the NYT this past week (in a clue for DUO … did I imagine that?) [ed: well, I imagined the NYT part; it was in WSJ, not NYT. h/t Erik Agard]. And now here they are today (20D: ___ Sremmurd (“No Flex Zone” rap group)). So they’re having a crossword moment. Look forward to seeing their whole insane name in the grid some day.

Ben: So on the whole, good theme and fill, clue voice is a work in progress but more good than bad.

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