[HIGH:low] Puzzle #3 by Kameron Austin Collins

Kameron? More like CRAM-eron, amirite? So much good fill packed in one puzzle…you’ve gotta check it out!


Sam here, taking over for Ben in the [HIGH:low] blogging department for all eternity. I was quick to snatch this post, because, man, Kam has some serious constructing chops. His freestyle grids by themselves look insane to fill…yet they’re packed with such amazing content! HOW DOES HE DO IT?!

This week’s puzzle was no exception, though I found it markedly easier than the first two. Then again, that’s probably because I was able to plunk in a few gimmes right off the bat:

  • 16D: [Standard failed by any film with unnamed women characters] = BECHDEL TESTWhen one of your first confident entries in the grid is the central long down, things are looking good.
  • 13D: [The Persian Gulf, as it was once known by fearful Brits] = PIRATE COAST. When one of your first confident entries in the grid is the long answer next to the central long down, things are looking better.
  • 19A: [What a thief swipes] = CREDIT CARD. Almost bummed I didn’t see right through this, because I really like how clever it was, and feel that the “aha” moments for some must’ve been incredible.
  • 3A: [Label on a pint] = GRADE A MILK

Mind you, these were just the solid entries I filled in within the first 30 seconds; they comprise about 0.001% of the puzzle’s good fill. Don’t bother taking your calculators out…just trust me, I’m an engineer. Seriously though, I don’t know what to do…if I go about listing the rest of the “highlights” this grid has to offer, I’ll probably have every single answer of 7+ letters spelled out here! I guess I’ll try to be selective: REAL SIMPLE, AUDIT TRAIL, CRISTAL, DAMES AT SEA, DINNER DATE, EROTOMANIA (which was a new one for me, but is absolutely inferrable), EUROPOP, SO IT IS, MR MET, ADAM’S RIB, RAGTOP. Holy cow, I just rattled off almost half the entries in the top-left corner–that’s expert puzzlemaking on Kam’s part!

Oh, and check out the gorgeous grid! Kam said in his post that it reminded him of carnivorous pitcher plants; as someone who used to own a terrarium full of those creatures and Venus flytraps, I was able to enjoy this puzzle even more upon reading that. Sure, a few may argue that this shape causes “minipuzzles” to form in the top-left and bottom-right corners as a result of being sectioned off, but there’s ample room to crack them, imho.


Three-Point Miscellany:

  • I’ve been blabbing almost entirely about the grid and fill, but Kam’s clues are top-notch; they bear a hybrid resemblance to those of Bob Klahn and Erik Agard, two of the best “clue artists” in the game. Look at [High-pitched?] for STEEP and [Food and wine pairing?] for DINNER DATE. Bravo!
  • That being said, what did you all think of the FITB clues? If there was one nit to pick for this puzzle, I felt they were hit-or-miss. While [___ Regency] for HYATT was nice and [Bad ___] for KARMA was tough but acceptable, I felt that [Personal ___] for BESTS was a bit of a stretch; how are we supposed to know to pluralize? Similarly, I shrugged a bit after entering LAURA for [___ Bush]…it’s like cluing ALAN as [___ Alda] or QUVENZHANE as [___ Wallis]! Maybe “Bush” was intended to be a noun misdirect, despite a capital letter?
  • Thank god for the existence of indie puzzles, and the resultant encouragement of indie over stale fill. I don’t think we’d see PYT/ITALY as a crossing in the Times…it’d get changed to ITALO/POT in a heartbeat, which is so meh. Liked learning about the former, a Michael Jackson hit I was unfamiliar with; surprised that, as a hit single with a friendly letter pattern, it’s not more prominent in mainstream puzzles!

Looking forward to Kam’s next puzzle, which was just released today! God, I’m so behind…

Grid Kid is OUT.

    • zersky20 said:

      I can only imagine; will be back with a review of it ASAP!


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