Saturday, February 2, 2008

Saturday, February 2 - Natan Last

It's only been a couple of weeks since Natan Last's amazing trigonometry puzzle appeared in the New York Times. Today he serves up a themeless puzzle that's chock full of one of my favorite things.

Multiword answers.

20A: Convict (bring to justice). If you put the accent on the first syllable, as I initially did, you probably had a tough time coming up with a plausible answer.

32A: Has as a foundation (rests on).

50A: "She's gonna blow!" (run for it).

6D: Snapped (lost one's cool).

7D: Ecstatic (on top of the world).

11D: A jiffy (no time).

21D: Quality that's hard to express (je ne sais quoi). It's one of my favorite French expressions...right up there with "joi de vivre."

33D: 1979 film with sequels II to VI (Star Trek).

36D: Popular dish in an Asian cuisine (Pad Thai).

Some very clever cluing, as well...8A: Tree (corner), 14A: Spinners, for short (DJs)...not LPs or CDs, 22A: Meter readers? (poets), 31A: Italian mine (mio), 46A: Seemingly silent types (ventriloquists), 8D: Option for wings (Cajun), 13D: Least spotted (rarest) and 22D: Event for a king and queen (prom).

I thought this might be a pangram. Unless I'm missing something, though,there's no X or Y. But there are plenty of Scrabbly letters.

The best word in the grid...hands down.. is 2D: Neighbor of Somalia (Djibouti). The combination of letters can't be beat. I was sure I had something wrong when I ended up with DJ as the first two letters...before I'd read the clue.

Other great answers:

17A: Having the most pizazz (zippiest), sharing its Z with 1D: Hoelike cutting tool (adz)...a crossword staple. It will behoove you to remember it.

19A: Cap and bells wearer (jester).

36A: Easter-related (Paschal).

38A: Norm of "This Old House" (Abram).

41A: Coup d' __ (survey made with a glance) (oeil).

3D: Brewed drink (espresso). Not my favorite, but I'm a sucker for lattes. I get them with vanilla soy milk and a sprinkling of raw sugar...delicious. Don and I could probably retire now if it weren't for my expensive coffee habit. I don't even want to know how much we paid to coffee shops last year.

26D: Father of Harmonia (Ares).

34D: Prophet of Thebes, struck blind by Athena when he accidentally saw her bathing (Tiresias).

39D: Zyzzyva, e.g. (beetle). Okay, so the clue is the better word...and I'm pretty sure it appeared in a puzzle in the last year or so. Maybe fellow blogger Jim will check it out and let us know. For those of you who have long wondered, here's what a zyzzyva looks like. For those of you who forgot (again!) what a zyzzyva was, you probably weren't alone.

40D: Malignity (rancor). Again, the clue is a crossword-worthy word. Not to say that the answer isn't.

42D: Protein-rich paste (miso). I used it in a soup several years ago...a very simple soup with some greens and tofu. Delicious.

Things I didn't know and got from crosses:

4A: Hershey brand (Rolo). I know the name but didn't know they were a Hershey candy. My favorite Hershey candy is Special Dark anything.

15A: Southern university whose campus is a botanical garden (Elon). I think I've seen this before but didn't remember it.

33A: "Rugrats" dad (Stu). My girls weren't Rugrats fans...and that was just fine. There were plenty of movies that were watched ad nauseum for a long, long time.

52A: Ferris Bueller's girlfriend (Sloane). Too long ago. I'm happy to remember his name.

54A: Where the utricle is (ear). It was either that or eye...not hard to figure out which.

57A: The Wildcats of the Big 12 Conf. (KSU). I've gotten better with the names of professional teams, but I can't keep up with all of the college teams. If everyone had only one sport...maybe. But with basketball, football, baseball and's too much to expect. I now know they're basketball...just Googled them.

5D: Two-time figure-skating Olympic gold medalist Protopopov (Oleg). I only had the E and thought it might be Alex or Alec.

18D: British P.M. when the U.S. Constitution was signed (Pitt). Very Saturday cluing.

27D: Former Giant Robb __ (Nen). If they hadn't put the blank in the clue, I wouldn't have known if it was Robb Nen or Nen Robb.

47D: Oscar-winning French film director __ Clément (René). That's what I had guessed, and it panned out.

51D: Robert Morse Tony-winning role (Tru).

It's time to wrap this up. We're gathering at church in a couple hours to make twelve pans of lasagne to put in the freezer. If someone needs a meal because of illness or death in the family and no one can do it on short notice, we'll be ready. The bad news is I don't get to stay home all day. Because it's only a mile and a half, I can get there and back without driving. So it will still be a no-drive day...and I'll get in some much-needed exercise.

Enjoy your day. Here's the grid...

...and I'll see you tomorrow.

Linda G


Anonymous said...

I love muti-word answers too. Not sure why they feel so good. Maybe it's a throw-back to when I first started puzzling and was always tripped up by them.

ZYZZYVA has been used three times as an answer word in the NYT, clued as something like "Insect that's the last word in the Scrabble Players' Dictionary." You can check out all the clues for that or for any word at

Anonymous said...

A good puzzle for a Saturday...had an easier time with today's than I did with yesterday's

MBG said...

Nice Saturday puzzle, very enjoyable, not too hard, but enough challenge to make it interesting. The NE gave me the most trouble since I immediately wrote in breach for interstice. That took a while to straighten out. Finally got AREOLA from the crosses. I loved the stack of three long down answers in the center of the puzzle, especially JE NE SAIS QUOI.

SethG said...

The thing with college sports is that the mascot is usually associated with the school, not the sports team. At least for varsity sports, and almost certainly for any school that would appear in the puzzle. (Though sometimes you get something like the Bears for the boys, Lady Bears for the girls.)

So the KSU Wildcats are the Wildcats for baseball, football, basketball, equestrian and everything else.

Students at my school once tried to change the official mascot to Neckfoot, but that was slightly after Orange's time.


Linda G said...

Thanks, Jim...I knew you'd come through.

Bob and Annielee, good...but tough. Those are the best kind.

Seth, thanks for clarifying that. I went to college 30 years after graduating from high school...and never really noticed that all our teams were Mavericks. I was too busy with my nose in the books, I guess.

wendy said...

I'm not worthy! I had just 10 answers to this unaided. And I really like Natan Last's puzzles so I was excited when I saw it. Thank God for things like Al-ANON and Coup D'OEIL, is all I can say. ;)

For multi-worders, I was really hoping for Off the Table for No longer under consideration, and Over the Moon for Ecstatic.

Zyzzyva to all. There's a literary magazine by that name too; click on their blog and see today's entry!

Anonymous said...

Linda, you pointed out that, "If you put the accent on the [wrong] syllable, as I initially did, you probably had a tough time coming up with a plausible answer."

Those kinds of clues always amuse me. It's so easy to get stuck if you guess wrong at first. Some percentage guesses right and can't figure out why the rest struggle. There ought to be a word for clues like that.

In fact, there probably is, right? I thought if I asked in this forum someone might know.

Anonymous said...

I really loved this puzzle. Great job, Natan!

I had trouble in the NW -- oh did I....

For 14A I had "Drs" -- c'mon "Spin Doctors" know what I mean?

And I had no freakin' clue about 2D so that didn't help any.


Linda G said...

Jim, I guess no one knew. Maybe when this goes the syndicated route.

Kitt, it's nice to hear from you. Good to know you're still doing puzzles.