Repeated lyric in Java Jive / TUE 3-5-13 / Boom gaff / Paul Kruger Krugerrand fame / Seoul-based automaker / Operating system since 1969 / Oscar-winning film set in Iran
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Constructor: Gareth Bain
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: "WHERE IT'S AT" (62A: Happening place ... or a hint to 18-, 23-, 39- and 51-Across)— letter string "IT" is changed to "AT" in familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued "?"-style
- 18A: Second of two spouses? (LATTER MATE)
- 23A: Nest? (HATCHING POST)
- 39A: Wing or fang? (BAT PART)
- 51A: Like a good quilt maker? (PATCH PERFECT)
Word of the Day: Mark RUFFALO (47D: Mark of "The Kids Are All Right") —
Mark Alan Ruffalo (born November 22, 1967) is an American actor, director, producer and screenwriter. Apart from portraying Marvel Comicscharacter Bruce Banner / The Hulk in Marvel's The Avengers (2012), he has starred in films such as You Can Count on Me (2000), Collateral(2004), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Just Like Heaven (2005), Zodiac (2007), and Shutter Island (2010). For his role in The Kids Are All Right (2010), he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. (wikipedia)
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I think this is an exceptional Tuesday puzzle. Catchy reveal precisely describes the theme. Wacky phrases aren't hilarious, but they are clever. One problem: I do not like the second "AT" in LATTERMATE. This implies the base phrase was LITTERMITE. Which it isn't. But that's a minor deduction. Fill is thoughtful, varied, and interesting despite being mostly short stuff (in the 4-5-letter range). Not easy to make a grid that's heavy on the short stuff interesting. The puzzle definitely played on the hard side for a Tuesday, both because of the nature of the theme (all "?" clues, somewhat tough to bring into focus in advance of the revealer), and because of a particularly tough patch in the east. Somewhat frustrating to be undone by "A CUP," but I had no idea what was going on there ... until, of course, I had that answer completed, at which point I was like "oh, right ... 'A CUP A CUP A CUP A CUP A CUP'!" But that answer, and the crossing SPAR (31D: Boom or gaff), and SPAR's crossing, ERROR (46A: Standard ___ (statistician's calculation)), all took me some time to see. I was lucky to know Mark RUFFALO instantly. Not sure all solvers are going to be so lucky. He's Oscar-nominated, so more than legit, but still maybe a little outside the mainstream *for a Tuesday*. I don't remember ever seeing his name in a puzzle before. Looks good.
Hesitated at 13D: The Gabor sisters had many. It ended up being EXES, which made a nice cross for LATTER MATE. I'm a devotee of debauchees, so SATYR was a cinch (actually, I had the -YR before ever looking at the clue and new instantly that it was SATYR). Dr. Bain mixes it up with a long philosophical clue for a simple answer at 68A: "___ is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies": Aristotle (LOVE), a couple of smart but devilishly tricky clues (41D: It might be seen out of the corner of one's eye => TEAR + 12D: Diamond in the sky? => KITE), and then his signature South African stamp at 45A: Paul Kruger of Krugerrand fame, e.g. (BOER). If this puzzle had been harder, I might have shaken my fist at the sky and shouted "BAIN!" As it was, I nodded silently and approvingly and moved along.
Just a reminder that "American Red Crosswords" is now available for iPhone and iPad. Download the free Puzzazz app from the App Store, use the in-App button to donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, and then use their very cool interface to solve 24 great puzzles (ed. by Patrick Blindauer, introduced by Will Shortz). You can use an on-screen keyboard OR use their TouchWrite™ feature, which allows you to put a letter in a square by drawing that letter with your finger on the screen. It's pretty cool. Tell a friend.