Saturday, March 12, 2022

Saturday, March 12, 2022, Natan Last

Well, dear Readers, a hard fought victory today. I supposed, posited, and guessed my way through most of the grid. There was so much I didn't know! But, after a full 43:44 minutes of perseverance, I eventually triumphed.

Gimmies in the gird were few and far between for this solver. I did immediately guess BRIBED for "Paid off" but the next definite for me didn't turn up until I got to "Basic technique in skateboarding" (OLLIE) in the southeast. As for Downs, thanks to my recent study of Chinese, I got "Tea, in Mandarin" at 9D (CHA), but I didn't hit another definite until 31D: "Exams for British 18-year-olds" (ALEVELS). There were others along the way that I knew, or knew I would know once my brain woke up and/or I got some letters like "'Don't Look Up" star, in tabloids" (JLAW) and "New Jersey's 'unofficial rock theme of our State's youth'" (BORNTORUN). I knew the latter would be a Springsteen song but couldn't immediately come up with one that had the right number of letters. On the other hand, I never did figure out why  "Something picked up by a silent butler" is ASH. Anyone?

The hardest section for me was the top-middle-eastish area where "2000 Sisqó hit with a rhyming title" (THONGSONG) and "1924 tale of derring-do" (BEAUGESTE) crossed "On equal footing, in Latin" (PARIPASSU),"'We / Jazz ___ ' (line in Gwendolyn Brooks's 'We Real Cool')" (JUNE), and "Danced to the music of Carlos Acuña, say" where my first guess of 'mAmbOED' was a misstep. The tricky QMC "Juice boxes" for CHARGERS didn't help matters either, but I did enjoy that one once I got it.


The two clues "It might work on a block" and "They might work on a block" formed a nice pair of similar clues with very different answers (DRANO, PATROLS). I also especially enjoyed "Floor" for STUN. It took me a very long time to pull the answer TWEEZE for "Be plucky?" out of my brain. "Where to pick sides?" (MENU) was clever. 

In addition to all the fine C/APs mentioned above, there was a lot of good Saturday-level fill including CAESURA, FLUNKIES, and POUTINES.

Despite - or perhaps because of - all the trouble I had figuring everything out, I enjoyed the puzzle and felt great satisfaction when I completed it successfully. As this is my last review for a while, my THONGSONG if you will, I'll say hasta luego, amigos



  1. My grandmother had a silent butler. She also always had a tablecloth on her dining room table. Only she used it to pick up crumbs from the tablecloth, not ASH. I really enjoyed this puzzle. JEEPERS CREEPERS is fun, and seeing ISAAC STERN, HANK AARON, and BEAU GESTE is great. And I'm grateful for the "rhyming" hint in the clue for THONG SONG, whew. Thanks for the week, Frannie!

  2. My recent classes in Latin poetry really paid off when I could drop in CAESURA off the clue :) but jeez, there weren't too many others. BRIBED, for instance, took me forever!

    And thanks for the "silent butler" tip, Kelly. Looks like it was once a big thing primarily for ashes, but I see many pictures of those little crumb-gatherers (we have and use those occasionally) too in the Google image results.

    Overall, a very satisfying puzzle.

  3. With the karmic appearance of my beloved POUTINE, I was off to the races and didn't stop until 5:46 later! Silent Butler was new to me too...

    1. 5:46! Wow. Nice. I did think of you when I hit POUTINE, of course, but I doubt I even saw that clue until well after the 5:46 mark. :) 14:52 for me, and I felt good about that. It was about twenty seconds faster than Thursday was...

      I'm looking forward to watching your name in the standings in Stamford, Philbo. And, of course, to meeting you in person. :)

    2. Holy cow, Philbo! That's quite a feat. I solved with my wife and daughter together, and finished it in 9:19.