Henry Hook, by Sam Ezersky

Another late review of a great Grid Kid puzzle; this one a tribute to the late, great Henry Hook. Solve first, or just spoil it and read the review, HH probably wouldn’t have given a shit.


Here, Sam has interpreted Henry Hook’s name in a visual fashion by arranging the letters of HENRY in a hook shape in five places in the grid. Neat idea! This mechanic forces stacked thematic entries, which is fitting since stacked theme entries were one of HH’s hallmarks. Although at first glance the constraints here may seem somewhat mild, consider that Sam had to find a stack of three horizontal entries that could intersect with a stack of two vertical entries. Wow. Sam often takes cool ideas that one ambitious step further, and this is no exception. Given all of this, let’s look at the fill.

We’re treated to gems like SPIKE TV, H H MUNRO, MELON RIND, and LATE TAG (13D: Controversial observance on MLB’s Instant Replay, maybe). This, especially the latter, is all five-star fill. But I’m biased towards LATE TAG because it’s wtf-is-that-a-thing-it-sounds-legit-and-I-figured-it-out-from-the-clues-so-ok-and-it-sounds-cool fill (Sam and I were chatting the other day that we really need a name for this), which is my favourite, and because it’s a sporps thing that I figured out all by myself so I’m just chuffed.

I’ve enjoyed AUTOPIA (42: Disneyland racing attraction that’s a portmanteau) IRL both as a child and an adult and in this grid just five minutes ago. I remembered that the name was AUTO mashed up with an early-20th-century-view-of-the-future word but it took me a while to remember the name.

How do you feel about the six-letter partial SHE’S SO (1D: Title words before “Cold” and “High,” in respective Rolling Stones and Tal Bachman hits)? Like with dupes, I can’t always be certain how much I care because it negatively affects my solving experience. More often than not, I find that my first reaction to stuff like this is “oh, it’s a six-letter partial, that’s against the rules right?”. In this case, too, I know that Sam’s fill standards are quite high and that this is a particularly constrained grid, so I’m willing to bet that this was the best of many shittier possibilities for this heavy-duty corner. In other words, there’s a reason for this other than constructor laziness or ineptitude.

Speaking of partialesque things, I think I preferred SHE’S SO to BE YOU (35A: Motivational words for promoting nonconformity) because at least the former was right out in the open as a partial, whereas BE YOU is presented as a stand-alone sentence. I guess it is, but I think I’ve only heard it as part of “You be you” or “Just be yourself.” I dunno, I’m not that bent out of shape over it.

It took me forever to remember that Huey Lewis and THE NEWS (25D: “Do You Believe in Love” backup band) were responsible for that hit. I was a late-bloomer when it comes to Huey Lewis. As a youngster he was just that dude with the tacky “Power of Love” song from Back to the Future, but as a grown-up with a more refined ‘80s pop palate I now enjoy many jams from the HL&TN catalogue, such as “Heart and Soul”, “Hip to Be Square”, and “Stuck with You.”

That’s it for me; thanks for the puzzle Sam, and R.I.P. Henry Hook.

1 comment
  1. Kameron said:

    Nice, Sam.


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