Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday, November 2, 2013, Thomas Heilman


Well, this was fun. It seemed to push the boundaries of the language in spots, but we must assume that it is due only to our unfamiliarity with the phrases, and not to pure creative fancy on the part of Mr. Heilman. We refer, of course, to things like KIDULT (18A: Grown-up who's not quite grown up) and JAMCAM (9A: Traffic reporter's aid).

It was slow going for a while. The first thing I entered was ILLIN (27A: "You Be ____" (1986 hip-hop hit), and after that, CLOP (37A: Common sound in Amish country). That second I was so unsure of that I took it out again before handing the puzzle over to Frannie. Eventually, though, it went back in, and we slowly ground through the grid in a more-or-less clockwise fashion, starting in the SW and ending in the SE. AMELIE (64A: 2002 C├ęsar winner for Best Film) was an educated guess. The year seemed about right (I thought it might have been even earlier), and it was foreign. With that, SEAGRAM (39D: Park Avenue's ____ Building) went right in (Love that this is in the grid, and it's a nice touch that the building's name is vertical!), and we were off to the races.

In the transition from SW to NW is a contender for "Clue of the Year" - 28D: Result of knuckling down? (NOOGIE). Frannie put that one in, even though I'm fairly certain that I have received many more than she has. (I grew up with older brothers, she with older sisters.) All controversy aside, however, that is some fine work, Mr. Heilman. Or Will. If either of you reads this, we'd love to know who it was! Another nice one was 1D: Determine the value of freedom? (SETBAIL).

It is especially cruel that the game of euchre can also be played with a deck where 7 is the lowest card, and for a while, that first E was all we had to work with down there. I threw in "euchre," and probably added ten minutes to the time, if not more, before in desperation it was taken out and we finally backed into ECARTE (50D: Game in which the lowest card is 7). I don't know why DECAYS (57A: Goes downhill) took us so long but, well, it did.

Some might QUIBBLE (2D: Carp) about UNPILE (49D: What a bunch of footballers might do) or STUCKUP (43D: Sniffling a lot) (would have preferred either "stuffed up" or a different clue), but I think that those are perfectly acceptable in a grid this full of clever clues and good fill. A satisfying Saturday.

- Horace


  1. Love the relaxed, thoughtful tone of your comments.
    Please continue!

  2. Horace, you are correct that STUCKUP would be a very poor answer for "Sniffling a lot," but it is an excellent answer for the actual clue "Sniffing a lot." One of the secondary definitions of "sniff" is to regard with contempt or to be dismissive of. This was indeed a toughie, one of those that gives you a real feeling of satisfaction when you finish. Funny about KIDULT; I thought of that somewhat non-seriously right off the bat, then I was surprised when it turned out to fit in. SETBAIL was one of the ones that I had marked for distinction. Great clue that stumped me for quite a while. UNPILE seems fine to me, since when you watch a game you see that very action about 50 times. "Super German?" is very cryptic, isn't it? As in cryptic puzzle-esque. The clue for CONIC is quite nice, I thought. Excellent puzzle. The kind of challenge I like from a Saturday.

  3. Fair enough on STUCKUP. I stand corrected. I should have known better than to quickly jump to such a conclusion on a Saturday!