Hole-positioning gadget / MON 4-22-13 / Ugandan site of 1976 Israeli rescue / Automated Web program

Monday, April 22, 2013

Constructor: Allan E. Parrish

Relative difficulty: Medium



THEME: Bat-to-But vowel progression puzzle —


  • 18A: Louisville Slugger, e.g. (BASEBALL BAT)
  • 24A: Wager that's not made at the site of the race (OFF-TRACK BET)
  • 37A: Hole-positioning gadget (CENTER BIT)
  • 56A: Automated Web program (INTERNET BOT)
  • 62A: By no means (ANYTHING BUT)


Word of the Day: CENTER BIT —
n.
A drill bit having a sharp center point, used in carpentry for boring holes.
• • •

Found this one pretty dull. Vowel progression puzzles are common, and need to have some damned spicy answers in order to be at all interesting / not reek of antiquity. Today, theme answers are adequate, and they actually get better as the puzzle progresses, but the cluing is ultra-snoozy—perhaps because it's Monday and the cluing needed to be as transparent as possible. Clues are just so literal. [Not made at the site of the race] => OFF-TRACK. [Web] => INTERNET. Plodding and unimaginative cluing combined with just OK theme answers = not much joy in Rexville. Doesn't help that the non-theme fill is from some dusty crossword attic. Perversely, my favorite part of this grid is AAA over RRR. That's some daring stacking. I wonder how far someone could take that idea—stacking triple-letter answers. Consider the gauntlet thrown.

    Puzzle would've been Easy if not for CENTER BIT, which I've never heard of. Needed literally every cross. I know what a bit is, and a drill bit, but not a CENTER BIT. I also briefly blanked on the old-school crosswordese AMAHL (41A: Menotti's "___ and the Night Visitors"). Hate when that happens. That stuff's supposed to be right at my fingertips, but I fumbled it. No big time loss—just 10 seconds or so, probably. Just a loss of pride.


    OK, that's it. Brace yourself for tomorrow's puzzle. The early chatter is ... insane (it was one of the puzzles at the Marbles crossword tournament that took place this past weekend; my friends were ... let's say 'impressed'; yes, that's non-commital enough).
      Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

      70 comments:

      jae 12:04 AM  

      Medium for me too, but there were some non-Monday clue/answers...OSBORNE, AMAHL, CENTER BIT...

      Erasure: abc for RRR

      Did a puzzle recently where METH was clued as " ______ mouth, a dental condition resulting from drug use." 

      Liked it.  Pretty smooth grid with a couple of zippy theme answers. About par for a Mon.

      okanaganer 12:49 AM  

      2D and 3D look kind of funny side by side like that...like I accidentally copied over the answer or something. And I really did not want to write in METH!

      chefwen 1:35 AM  

      Was pretty embarrassed when my first fill was Ivan the Red at 4A. Do ya think I shouda checked some downs?

      Really like the northwest corner with MCC, AAA, RRR, and OFF. Kept thinking WOE IS ME, I must have something wrong there, but there it stood and stayed.

      CENTER BIT and AMAHL were new to me also, but crosses filled them in.

      Made a huge kettle of 34D just the other day from leftovers that had been hiding out in the freezer since Easter. Pretty tasty!

      Benko 1:40 AM  

      Medium Monday, not that fun. I didn't pick up on the theme until late because I was filling it in too quickly to notice.
      Apart from the AAA/RRR stack, the symmetrical lines in the SE corner contain NEB/REB. Seems intentional.

      Anoa Bob 1:55 AM  

      This is the second Monday in a row with triple-stacked seven downs in all four corners. There is a higher theme square count today, 53 vs 39 for last week, so we see the typical trade-off in the form of more constriction in the central area and a few more BOBA's here and CEST ERST ELHI's there.

      Was the trade-off worth it? The scale was tilted, very slightly for me, in the negative direction because I have never seen nor heard the term CENTER BIT. I know it must have some wiki cred or it wouldn't be in the NYT. But if someone who got his first drill bits back in the 1960's and who has accumulated many, many more over the years, has never heard of it, then you gotta wonder if many other solvers will know this one.

      Not an opera buff (Elle54) 2:12 AM  

      AMAHL is not just crosswordese. It used to be on TV every Christmas and I've seen it live a few times. I could sing the songs for you right now,
      After BAT and BET I wrote in all the B _T ' s for the rest of the puzzle, so CENTERBIT. Was easy to deduce.
      Concurrent psychopop: was watching Celeb Apprentice while filling in LIL Jon

      Alibaba Carafes Marlowe 2:38 AM  

      Did this as part of speed contest at Marbles, so a) did not notice theme!!!! b) misread my N for D so put it hEAd for "Noggin", so it became CENTERHIT.

      So I thought it was a baseball theme with BASEBALLBAT, CENTERHIT...and then I lost interest.
      (Having never heard of CENTERBIT either, I'd not have noticed my mistake)

      That said, way hard for a Monday, what with:
      AMAHL, OSBORNE, METH (disguised), ELHI, KEENS, I suspect this would be a mess for a newbie.

      I confidently put in Aladdin off the A for ALIBABA, so I made a serious mess, considering I'm sometimes facetiously dubbed "Miss Monday"!

      But as a maker of these kinds of vowel runs (so close to have BYTE!) I applaud that they were are self contained words BAT BET BIT BOT BUT which is very hard to do (to get all five and have them not be part of other words)
      so this makes this a worthy puzzle (to me) but leaning toward Tuesday.

      I had a blast seeing Ryan Hecht, Kevin Der, Tyler Hinman (who was nice enough to judge), winners Jonathan Berman and Jeremy Horwitz.
      Only 12 folks total but we all made friends and it was very sweet and social, even tho everyone sorta hated all the puzzles...you'll see what @Rex hinted at tomorrow.

      Fluffhead 2:46 AM  

      If you're not familiar with Joan Osborne, check out her vocals on Turn On Your Lovelight in the concert found here: http://archive.org/details/paf2006-07-09.dsbd.phillesh.net.75724.sbeok.flac16.

      It was one of the first shows at a newly built amphitheater at the site of Woodstock, and the acid may have helped, but the aura from the festival was palpable.

      I started listening to the second set as soon as I finished (that's the best part, and it starts with Uncle John's Band), and it has me grinning from ear to ear. Having Phil Lesh and Trey Anastasio on the same stage was such an incredible treat.

      (If you listen, I beg of you to skip High Time. It was an incredible night, but that was a rough five minutes)

      The puzzle was decent for a Monday, except for the utter disappointment when 54D turned out to not include SEX. I was really excited to write SEXTET in, but was heartbroken that no one likes an XCONE with their tea. Alas.

      Ellen S 3:57 AM  

      Yeah...easy in a hard sort of way. @Acme, I tried Aladdin also before ALI BABA. What's wrong with us?

      DONALD 4:08 AM  

      That is so funny when you claim to lose 10 seconds thinking, what do you use -- an egg timer?

      Gill I. P. 4:26 AM  

      Why do I want to sing bibbidi bobbidi boo...?
      IKE DER REB NEB sounds like something AMAHL might compose in his sleep.
      I'm waiting with Bated Breath for tomorrows crossword. I hope it's not a BOBA one.

      loren muse smith 5:29 AM  

      Andrea’s point is well-taken that all five words are stand-alone words. I’ve played around with vowel progressions a little BIT, and she’s so right; that’s hard to do. I haven’t ever managed.

      I don’t know, though – what’s the rule? Either they’re all stand-alone words or all parts of words? Probably. But if you’re not going to have them all be nouns, I wonder if “quite a BIT” would have been more in the language and a kind of match for ANYTHING BUT.

      BUT, BUT, BUT. . . I love how elegant CENTER BIT is right smack dab in the CENTER of the grid!

      I have never heard of INTERNET BOT, so I initially guessed “internal” BOT.

      BOBA, BABA, EBB, EBBE. . . (@Gill I.P. – thanks for the earworm!) Twelve B’s. (Yes, ED, I CHECKed.)

      @Anoa Bob – first thing I noticed were the seven stack corners. And only 34 black squares.

      UZI crossing OOZE. Fun! And OOZE sharing grid with BILE and SPIT. Sorry. You’re probably eating some EGGOS or a SCONE.

      EBB TIDE and ENTEBBE (huh?) look like fraternal twins.

      I liked AAA over RRR, too. And I actually got a kick out of REB right over NEB. @Benko – the symmetry of those two pairs completely escaped me. Thanks.
      Thanks, Allan, crunchy Monday workout.

      Peace, everyone. May someone always SLACKEN your TETHERS.

      HumanBean 6:03 AM  

      The puzzle was a fun quickie; not super interesting. I wanted to thank you for including Night Swimming in your post...forgot how beautiful that song is. Just the thing I needed at 5am

      MetaRex 6:51 AM  

      Yes, the MCC AAA RRR stack in the NW provokes...it's CW modernism. For me, it's a nah. I like Mondrian's lines of pure color...these lines of pure letters, not so much. A better puzzle for the peeps than for the insiders, I think...more phoomphing at MAR CAR CAR

      Milford 7:15 AM  

      Easy Monday, only write over was writing UNkept (a word I made up) before UNTIDY.

      CENTER BIT I assumed was a thing, nicely in the center. Didn't think twice. Somehow the wording of ANYTHING BUT made me pause.

      Liked the SW with ALI BABA, MARINER, and ANALYST. Good stuff. And I'll take BOBA Fett any day of the week.

      Z 7:19 AM  

      CENTER BIT as the center bit is a nice touch.

      SAY ANYTHING BUT was a great Meatloaf film, wasn't it. He'll SAY ANYTHING for love, BUT he won't say that.*

      11 minutes, here, so more challenging than medium. ERSe before ERST didn't help, and not going with the obvious INTERNET to complete BOT also slowed down the SE. Also, have to look at the downs to decide between oLDEST and ELDEST as well as wAN or LAN.

      Z 7:20 AM  

      *I know. It's a joke, it's not meant to be right.

      evil doug 7:27 AM  

      George: Listen to this. Marcy comes up and she tells me her ex-boyfriend was over late last night, and "yada yada yada, I'm really tired today." You don't think she yada yada'd sex?

      Elaine: (Raising hand) I've yada yada'd sex.

      George: Really?

      Elaine: Yeah. I met this lawyer, we went out to dinner, I had the lobster bisque, we went back to my place, yada yada yada, I never heard from him again.

      Jerry: But you yada yada'd over the best part.

      Elaine: No, I mentioned the bisque....

      Anonymous 7:34 AM  

      37A is more familiar to me as "CENTERing BIT" rather than "CENTER BIT".

      Rob C 7:38 AM  

      Definitely on the challenging side of Monday for me. As Anoa Bob pointed out, liked the non-Monday looking grid for the second Monday in a row.

      Liked some of the connections with this puzzle: just went to a AAA game on Saturday evening in Allentown, PA. In NE Penn, we have two AAA teams, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. Like how both team represent the history of their respective towns.

      Also, spent many nights in MARINER's Pub in Marine Park, Brooklyn, NY "prepping" for Fri and Sat nights out at the clubs.

      Rob C 7:39 AM  

      should be "...team names represent the history of their respective towns."

      jberg 7:50 AM  

      I expected a lot of spam in the comments today, after that INTERNET BOT got let in, but none so far. Like everyone else, loved the NW triple letters-- and I be he really tried hard to make that 300 at 1A -- and hoped BOBA and BABA would have more company (there's a restaurant called Biba here in Boston). But mainly it was just easy.

      joho 8:01 AM  

      It was odd not knowing CENTERBIT which centered the puzzle. I did learn that, though, and INTERNETBOT.

      @Gill I.P. "Why do I want to sing bibbidi bobbidi boo...?" Funny! I, too, @Loren, counted all the B's which kept me busy for a BIT.

      I wondered if ALIBABA and BOBA get along.

      Along will all the three letter words we also have ETCETC, is this overkill?

      Now, after @Rex's and @Acme's "tease" I can't wait to see what's in store for Tuesday!

      Carola 8:29 AM  

      After filling in the NW corner, I thought the theme might have to do with double or tripled letters, especially when OFF was in a theme answer. But no. Got the progression after the BAT and BET.

      Still, it does seem that there's some other word fun going on besides the theme. Besides the doubles @chefwen, @Gill I.P., @loren, and @joho noted, there's also CAR next to CAR in the NW, and I'm not sure if anyone mentioned KEENS. I especially loved BOBA and BABA with ETCETC - what a STITCH! Speaking of which, I liked the singular STITCH + TOG. Underdressed, maybe.

      Anonymous 8:42 AM  

      Rex, that's non-committal

      dk 9:04 AM  

      I know it as Center punch.

      Andrea your moniker is Queen Of Monday not Miss Monday.

      Sluggish start to the week. I guess I will lose my marbles tomorrow.

      ���� (2 Stars. Vowels are nice… in their place.)

      chefbea 9:13 AM  

      Easy Monday.
      Shout out to @Quilter at 21 down.

      All in all a tasty puzzle - waffles, peas soup, scones all of which can be made in a kitchenette.

      John V 9:18 AM  

      Fine Monday. Happy Earth Day.

      Looking forward to Tuesday.

      quilter1 10:07 AM  

      I rated this one easy and agree it was a little on the "old" side but maybe that is why I found it easy. Saw AMAHL just two Christmases ago.
      @chefwen:I'm making ham and bean soup from Easter leftovers as well.

      Bob Kerfuffle 10:07 AM  

      Not exactly carbon dating, but our OED-facile friends could assign a maximum age to this puzzle by finding when BOT entered our vocabulary.

      jackj 10:24 AM  

      Gill I.P.from yesterday@8:53PM-

      LOL!!

      Nigel 10:51 AM  

      Boringest NY Times Puzzle I've did in a long time - so many trite clues for so many trite words. The puzzle was almost complete with my first run through of the across clues. Yes, the bottom half was harder than the top half - Mies van ___ Rohe. Next time we could have MIes ___ der Rohe - and then MIes van der ___. All totally boring crosswordese. Blech! Unlike Rex Amahl was just there - so easy. Thumbs down to this one.

      Nigel 10:54 AM  

      Damn, I wish one could correct one's errors after posting - "I've did! "(I'm appalled at myself.) Let's make it a crossword clue. Feeling after making grammatical error: APPALLED - I mean look at those double letters.

      My captcha is sigh turn - really - that's what I did when I saw my error - sighed and turned back to post this response.

      Eric 11:10 AM  

      High point: AAA/RRR in the NW & REB/NEB in the SE

      Low point: BitBatButBetBot

      When I start a Monday puzzle, I tend to feel I'll receive some satisfaction from blazing through it like a hot knife through butter, but much like any one of Don Draper's extramarital affairs, it's never different and all I am left with is an otherwise empty and unsatisfied feeling inside.

      Todd Nemet 11:48 AM  

      I do the crossword using Times Reader, and I got this date last year's (4/22/2012) puzzle. Very strange.

      jackj 12:04 PM  

      Here's hoping the alerts by Rex and ACME on the upcoming puzzle mean it will be head-bangingly tricky, not just a Tuesday version of the vapid, tired, "give it some Geritol and hope for signs of life" monstrosity we had today, posing as a NY Times crossword puzzle.

      Sfingi 12:08 PM  

      "AMAHL!"

      "Coming Mother!"

      One of the LPs I dragged to NYC with me in the '60s. Kids are lucky these days.

      Didn't notice the theme. Also thought CENTER hIT.



      Lane 1:30 PM  

      Easy until I mistakenly used HEAD rather than BEAN for ,d40 Noggin. Made it tough to figure out INTERNETBOT (?) and CENTERHIT seemed just as logical as CENTERBIT. Took long er thank Mondays usually do.

      Davis 1:37 PM  

      Weird Monday for me — it felt difficult, as I skipped a number of clues rather than doing them in order like a normal Monday. However, I ended up with an average Monday time, so medium it is.

      First time seeing AMAHL and ENTEBBE, and didn't know CENTER BIT (also had CENTER hIT at first, like Sfingi). Joan OSBORNE was a throwback to high school for me, and managed to inject an earworm into my head for the rest of the evening.

      Overall, nothing standout, nothing awful. I'll classify this one as workmanlike—no sparkle, but it gets the job done.

      Gill I. P. 1:47 PM  

      @Nigel. I've did it too!!!
      @Davis: I read your post as "I'll classify this one as "womanlike" - no sparkle, but it gets the job done!!!!"
      I was about to pounce, but this BOBA did laugh out loud.

      loren muse smith 2:05 PM  

      @Carola – Oh! I see now what @MetaRex was saying. MAR CAR CAR. I like that!

      @Nigel - No worry's. Your among friends hear!

      @dk – in my world, a CENTER punch isn’t a drill BIT; we used center punches to break car windows if we had to extricate someone. I owned several back in the day.

      @Carola and @jberg - I'm still grading.. .consider these two sentences taken straight from the essays:

      "It's non-criminals out there committing all of the most horrific crimes."

      "America is the fattest, flabbiest, most flatulent country in the world."

      Figures. I'm gonna go lie down.

      mac 2:29 PM  

      Medium Monday for me, with caskets at 3D causing some problems. Head before bean as well.

      Nice puzzle but it must have been tough to the newbies.

      Lewis 3:04 PM  

      Sounds like this puzzle tomorrow is either going to be stupendously wonderful or awful...

      chefwen 3:15 PM  

      @LMS - Best Avatar so far.

      Carola 3:37 PM  

      @loren - To quote from an esaay that my daughter recently graded (teaching seems to run in the family), those two assertions "should be taken with a grain assault."

      JenCT 3:52 PM  

      @Rob C: Marine Parker, eh?

      CENTER BITs help prevent the drill bit from "skipping" over the surface as you start drilling. Guess I've watched a lot of This Old House & The New Yankee Workshop...

      @chefwen: I started with IVAN, too.

      New avatar is one of two chicks we just hatched (we started with seven in the incubator). Don't count your chickens before...you know the rest.

      Sparky 5:16 PM  

      Hand up for abc before RRR. Entered head first but the theme required a B and gave me BEAN.

      @chefbea. Ham for Easter? We too. I bet I've seen Norm Abrams use a CENTERBIT. Flew right by.

      Was moving quickly but had to answer a question on how to get chocolate stain from dress shirt. Which is why they won't let us take any food into the opera house.


      Cute chick @JenCt.

      I edit and correct posts all the time on this old PC. Is the problem with modern equipment?

      I await tomorrow with bated breath.

      chefbea 5:22 PM  

      @Sparky Huh?????

      Sparky 5:25 PM  

      @RobC and JenCT. Good old Riis Park. The smell of Skoal, sand, sun, blisters. Those were the days.

      Sparky 5:41 PM  

      @chefbea. Huh?which? I am a big non sequitur today. I figured you had ham because you cooked pea soup. At The Arsht Center they are adamant about no food in the opera house. The chief usher goes down the aisle. She takes food and drink glasses away from people. So, yesterday, my husband sneaked a bite of chocolate chip cookie (which they sell there). This morning he discovered a chocolate stain. That's the story.

      Anoa Bob 6:03 PM  

      I see others were unaware of a CENTER BIT. (Hi JenCT. I use to watch "This Old House" but don't recall hearing CENTER BIT.)

      As a public service, here's a link to a DIY Network page that lists 16 different types of bits. Nary a CENTER BIT among them. Click on the Next button to move through the pictures and descriptions. The first type, the Brad point bit, is the one I use the most for wood work.

      DIY Drill Bit tutorial

      Bananarchy 6:06 PM  

      I like stuff like the AAA/RRR. The fact that I immediately recalled this Quarfoot puzzle from last year (note 60-, 63-, and 65-Across) should assure you that I'm serious.

      All in all not a bad Monday offering today, but then I also have a soft spot for well-executed vowel progression themes.

      chefwen 6:54 PM  

      @chefbea - I think @Sparky is mixing her chefs up.

      Anonymous 7:28 PM  

      Hey Professor,

      was surprised Mr. Marlowe didn't get a shout out, seeing as he was the protagonist in a book I've read for one of your classes.

      I was tripped up all over the place on this one today though.

      chefbea 7:35 PM  

      @chefwen wondered what that was all about???

      David from CA 7:48 PM  

      @dk, @loren, @anoa

      Center bits and center punches serve the same purpose (well, aside from breaking glass) - to start a hole so the "real" drill bit can follow it and not slide off to the side. Punches are spring loaded or hit with a hammer to dimple the surface, center bits are short thick bits so they can't flex, and are typically used in machining - e.g. in a milling machine where you've precisely located where the hole is supposed to be. Not much metal work in this old house.

      And the puzzle was fun too!

      retired_chemist 8:31 PM  

      I have a drill set which includes three CENTER BITs for woodworking. Didn't know what they were called (until now) but I use them.

      I'd call this easy - second Monday in a row under 4:30. My figure of merit used to be 5:15 for easy. Seeing the theme early helped a lot.

      CRIES before KEENS, ACID before BILE, and EDGES IN before EASES IN were my only overwrites. Three theme answers put in without crosses. had a Louisville Slugger as a kid. CENTER BIT was a learning experience (see above) and the INTERNET part of INTERNET BOT took ab out 3 crosses before it was obvious.

      All in all, I liked it much better than Rex did. A fun solve in which the main challenge was to use time efficiently.

      Thanks, Mr. Parrish.

      Rob C 8:34 PM  

      @JenCT and Sparky - Please tell me you've been to Mariner's

      We used to ride our bikes over the Marine Parkway Bridge to Riis as kids

      JenCT 9:20 PM  

      @Rob C: that was one scary ride - there was no guard rail between the bike riders and the speeding cars back then, as I remember. Email me...

      sanfranman59 10:35 PM  

      This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

      All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

      Mon 6:32, 6:14, 1.05, 78%, Medium-Challenging

      Top 100 solvers

      Mon 3:55, 3:43, 1.05, 75%, Medium-Challenging

      LaneB 1:15 PM  

      Theme made for four gimmes and,by my humble standards, a quick and easy solve--even for a Tuesday.

      LaneB 1:18 PM  

      Theme made for four gimmes and,by my humble standards, a quick and easy solve--even for a Tuesday.

      LaneB 1:20 PM  

      Theme made for four gimmes and,by my humble standards, a quick and easy solve--even for a Tuesday.

      exlowe 6:58 AM  

      Hi friends, I have been very successful takip├žinizim blog. I would like to invite you to a very nice site you have music hit tubidy to look at the address. There are a warm and friendly atmosphere where everyone is constantly keep up to date what is happening shares tubidy waiting for you.

      Dirigonzo 7:56 PM  

      First comment in from Syncity because I cheated and did the puzzle on Sunday (my paper won't publish tomorrow because of the holiday so they put the puzzle in Friday's paper).

      I actually finished the grid before I had used all of the clues - the bottom of the grid was filled in by the down answers. That has never happened to me before. I did have to change one answer when good old what's-HER name came along - I had gone with the obvious, or so I thought.

      Have a meaningful Memorial Day. See you back here Tuesday when the puzzle apparently has something special to offer us.

      Spacecraft 12:34 PM  

      @Rex: I hope nobody takes up that gauntlet. Romanumerals and other non-word junk like RVER and ELHI are bad enough, but strings of repeated letters? I'll pass.

      There is some goodness here; some of the sevens, and the fact that CENTERBIT is right where it belongs, but really. I've done Parrish puzzles before, and they're usually fine. This one: ANYTHINGBUT.

      DMGrandma 1:51 PM  

      This puzzle was easy enough, but I was stumped at trying to interpret the long center crosses, until lighting hit and I replaced.hEAd with BEAN, not becaus I know anything about tools, but because INTERtETBOT was simply unreadable. Maybe would have gotten the BIT part sooner had I latched onto the theme, but then I almost never do. How does everybody know what tomorrow's puzzle will bring before tomorrow comes? Anyhow, see you then.

      Dirigonzo 2:20 PM  

      @DMG - Rex ended his write-up with this: "OK, that's it. Brace yourself for tomorrow's puzzle. The early chatter is ... insane (it was one of the puzzles at the Marbles crossword tournament that took place this past weekend; my friends were ... let's say 'impressed'; yes, that's non-commital enough).
      Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld" I think ACME mentioned it in her comments, too, so apparently we are in for something special (which may or may not be a good thing). We'll find out tomorrow!

      Syndi Solver 4:26 PM  

      I thought it was cute. I didn't notice that it was hard for a Monday but @ACME does have a point about some of the fill being more Tuesday-ish.

      As soon as I got the theme, and before I read the 37 Across clue, I was thinking the BIT entry might be horse related. That might have been fun. :-)

      CENTER BIT may not be interesting on its own, BUT when seen in context, both as part of this theme and as the CENTER BIT of this puzzle, then it's a very nice touch! Kudos!

      Looking forward to "tomorrow's" puzzle (in syndi-land).

      Waxy in Montreal 5:24 PM  

      Seems I'm the only contributor who wasn't familiar with KEENS as an answer to the clue WAILS. Guessed at TIKI (as in KON-TIKI) or this would have been a Monday DNF.

      Guess no word ends in "byt" or an additional word ladder entry would have been possible.

      Will start prepping for tomorrow immediately. Thanks for the heads-up, @Syndi, @Diri et al.

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