Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015, Kameron Austin Collins


Dare I say it? I think this puzzle was better than yesterday's Patrick Berry grid. It's got a lovely mix of new and old, a smooth flow through the grid, and very little fill I didn't like.

I put 19A: Tut relative (TSK) in off of the presumed S at the end of 2D. It's a cute clue for a common crosswordism, just the slightest amount of misdirection. I thought PCAS (People's Choice Awards?) and then VMAS (MTV Video Music Awards). While the second one was wrong, with ODIN at 8D, I got IMAFRAIDSO, which led precisely nowhere, because of that V.

I next hazarded HISAIRNESS for 26D: Jordan, to worshipers. It's another nice little piece of misdirection, and I was pleased to see I'd guessed right when I put AREA, INA, and PEST in. I thought 51A: Staff at sea (MAST) might be MeSs, I'm not really sure why, since the mess is where you eat, and the staff serves you, at least if it's a luxury liner. Except then it's not really a mess at all, is it? It's a grand dining room. Right. Anyway, I figured it out when one of the few words I didn't like in the puzzle, LANATE became clear. I've always had a soft spot for THENATURAL, but I thought for a while they were referring to a still life with that clue (Picture about a pitcher). Truthfully, he's only a pitcher for a short time, isn't he?

What about 28D: Uses pickup lines, in slang (SPITSGAME)? That was a term I'd never come across before. I'm a little unsure whether it has a negative connotation, after researching on Urban Dictionary.

BTW, I once again got fooled by tense with a clue using the word "fit". 37A: Fit for (TAILORTO), I had as TAILORed for a long time. This meant that the very middle of the puzzle was the last to go.

I used CORNROWS to move into the SE. I guessed STATEflags at 54A: Where California and Missouri put bears (STATESEALS). I love WARONWOMEN. 36D: Secret enforcers (GAGLAWS) moved me up the E. I don't quite get 36A: Like players on opposing teams, often (GIBED). Are we to understand that they are taunting each other, and so each one then is a "gibed" person? Doesn't quite work.

But the NE corner works great. Each of the downs is excellent, from TINTIN to ICEICEBABY, to TAXSHELTER, to ONTHEROAD. That's great, and you get DOMINEER and CEVICHE across.

Finally, I worked my way back into the NW, where 1A: Place like Chicago's Boystown or San Francisco's Castro, in modern lingo (GAYBORHOOD) wins best clue-answer pair, and gets a strong A from me. The clue is a bit wordy, but it's worth it.

I can overlook HITAT, OSO, BLO, and a few others for top quality. Oh, and here's another great one: 24D: There's no sense in them (COMAS). That's outstanding.

- Colum


  1. 40:50

    There certainly is a lot to like about this grid. GAYBORHOOD is excellent, as are many of the longer entries. SPITSGAME is new to me, and I'm not sure I like it, and I've never heard of DONLEMON or OLIVIAPOPE, but it's Saturday, so I can't complain about stuff I don't know. I can, however, join you in complaining about GIBED. And OSO and BLO.

    On the other hand, I like that BFF makes an appearance, and everybody loves CEVICHE.

    I've enjoyed Mr. Collins's puzzles in the past, and I enjoyed this one. I may not have given it quite as rave a review, but hey, it's not my month, is it? Still, it was a solid, fresh, challenging Saturday.

  2. Around 45 minutes. Is GAYBORHOOD the first straight A recipient? If it is, it's deserved. GIBED is terrible, but not much else. Add me to the roster of those never having heard of SPITSGAME or DONLEMON.

  3. "The Natural" is not about a pitcher. Roy Hobbs is a hitter.