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

Theme answers:
  • 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)
• • •

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.
      Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


      Evan 12:15 AM  

      I flew through this grid until I got to the northeast corner. That really screwed me up big-time. I had LATTER-, and couldn't dredge up MATE. I wanted it to be WIFE -- you know, the partners for all those LITTERHUSBANDS out there, with their little LITTERWEDDINGS, and some such.

      That was bad enough, but I had nothing a blank corner for a real long time. I could not come up with SUMATRA, OATES, UNIX or SAKE. I had WINE before SAKE, which of course is just plain wrong, since that's typically drunk while chilled. Even when I finally put in EXES as an educated guess at 13-Down, I put in NEIL at 12-Down. I thought that was reaaaaaal brilliant -- "A Diamond in the sky!" Then I realized he's not dead. Yes, @Tita, you can and probably should put that one in your Hall of Fame list.

      Anyway, I finally got it all, but not after feeling pretty humbled.

      Last thing -- I've been to the ruins at POMPEII. They're gorgeous, and if anyone should ever take a trip to Italy sometime in the near future, I highly recommend going there. Only thing I'd suggest is to avoid Naples (okay, Napoli) along the way. I had an awful dinner and train riding experience late at night there, so Napoli is a no-no.

      Pete 12:15 AM  

      What if I don't have any friends?

      jae 12:41 AM  

      On the tough side for me too.  Lotsa fairly obscure stuff for a Tues. as clued...BOER, UNIX, USAIN, ERROR, ROSA, ERIE...  The only thing this doesn't do is clue IMF as Mr. Phelp's org.

      AGRA crossing ARGO is a nice touch.

      Clever theme with a zippy reveal and a very smooth grid.  Liked it a lot!

      Nice one Gareth.

      Joseph B 12:42 AM  

      Agreed about the better-than-usual short fill, but I hate-hate-hated ICER.

      It represents my biggest pet peeve: things no one says, ever.

      "Put the Champagne in the icer, honey."

      "You mean this bucket of ice, you freak?"

      chefwen 12:56 AM  

      One of the tougher Tuesday's in my recollection, which isn't completely accurate these days. Like @Evan the NE was my big hanging point.

      I stay about 50 yds away from hot Saki unless I feel like dancing on tabletops.

      @Quilter1 - Woo Hoo at 51A!

      syndy 2:28 AM  

      I know that I wouldn't have accepted BATPARTS as easily from anyone else!ICER as clued seems very fair to me.excellent tuesday of a puzzle.PATCHPERFECT!

      Mike 3:31 AM  

      Tough but enjoyable Tuesday.

      Loving the Puzzazz App and already sent in my $$ for the Red Cross.

      NYER 3:34 AM  

      Naticked at IcER/AcUP. Otherwise flew through the puzzle, even though I didn't get the theme until I got to the reveal.

      Aloha Culkin Mackels 5:08 AM  

      Fab. Love him. Love how uber strong Gareth's voice is, between the vet refs, animal allusions and South African history lessons...he really is a constructor to be reckoned with!

      Killer reveal !!!
      Tho to add to @rex ? About second AT in LATTERMATE (weakest theme answer imo because there was an IT in KITE (and KITSCHY and SIT and ABIT in the downs..)
      That there were four ITs in the downs is ok, but I'd have redone 8D SIT crossing 15A USEIT... That. IT in USEIT is not good.
      But perhaps that's picking nats!

      Love the crazi double i i in POMPEII
      The visual of the ATLAS clue
      The HASTY type of what goes with these two things? Clue, which are my favorites.

      Almost blew the ACU?/S?AR Cross, had to run the alphabet several times...
      SUMATRA. Is begging for a Frank Sumatra joke!


      Loren Muse Smith 5:42 AM  

      @Acme said it so well – Gareth’s voice is crystal clear in his puzzles - all the animal/vet/South African entries.

      The other ITs didn’t bother me A BIT – didn’t even notice them.

      This wasn’t a HASTY solve, but with some ELBOW grease it was ultimately very doable.

      Early on I had “zees” for EXES. Jeesh.

      I often put my husband’s ALE in a makeshift ICER.

      @chefwen – I want to hear your dancing-on-the-table SAKE story!

      @Evan – maybe you’ve never had Glühwein. @chefwen – I can do some serious yodeling in the Alps after A CUP or four of warm mulled, spiced wine.

      Before we drove home from visiting family in NC, my mother-in-law gave us a bag with some snacks, and among them were two OVERripe bananas. Seriously. Upon unloading, lazy me grabbed too much – you can see where this is going – the snack bag fell, and I had a banana splat right there on my driveway.

      On another note, and I’m really not making this up, I’m planning to take my watch in today to get a new glass face. I’ve been putting it off for months because I *have* to have some kind of cheap stand-in and I’ve been loath to go on watch-hunt.

      So, so fun, Gareth. Loved it. Now I have to go AT LASt and let my dog, OWEN, in before he wakes the neighbors.

      Anonymous 6:22 AM  

      I know the whole consistency argument for no other "it"s or "at"s in the theme answers and agreed that it would definitely be cleaner without them...

      however, i don't think the second at in lattermate "implies that the base phrase was" littermite... the theme is "where its at" -- not "where all the ats were previously its" --- granted its not as pretty as it could be, but it still works logically.

      OTD 6:55 AM  

      Well, I found this puzzle to be rather easy. Blew right through it except for a short stop at LATTERMATE since I did not know USAIN, and again at RUFFALO because I didn't know OWEN. The rest of the fill was quite interesting. I'd rate it an easy/medium tipping toward the medium for a Tuesday.

      webwinger 7:14 AM  

      A BEAUT of a Tuesday! Can’t say enough good things about this one, though most have been said already by @Rex and others. Agree it seemed challenging for an early weeker, with tougher than necessary clues creating a couple of potential Naticks (ACUP/SPAR, OATES/ROSA) where I guessed right, but my time was only about 20% longer than average despite being somewhat drowsy during the solve. Sublime cleverness in the theme, from idea to execution to reveal. Terrific cluing for KITE, EXES (though that pair did make the NE distinctly non-Tuesday-ish), TORT, TEAR, LOVE. Fill way above average—especially liked KITSCHY and POMPEII. ICER better clued than usual. Did not notice non-theme ITs, and even after considering carps above, have no problem with them. Finally nice to see BOER in a puzzle from a South African, with clue that was teasing but very gettable.

      Z 7:38 AM  

      Had up for stalling at the A CUP/SPAR crossing. I literally walked away from the puzzle and came back to it for that one letter. If you count my away time while I made coffee this took 20 minutes, with 10 of this minutes spent on that P. Looking at S-AR and running the alphabet I kept wanting StAR. When I returned, a cup of java in hand, I looked at the Java clue, ran from A to P and went "D'OH!" If I'd been going slower and thinking about both clues as I ran the alphabet I would have finished more quickly. Slower is Faster sometimes.

      Far too often Tuesdays are the weakest puzzle of the week. Not this week.

      Glimmerglass 7:47 AM  

      Hard and fun Tuesday.

      joho 8:09 AM  

      Gareth is fast becoming one of my favorite constructors for the reasons already stated here today and because his puzzles are smart and whimsical at the same time ...and always enjoyable.

      I, too, like @Aloha Culkin Mackels wrote the ITs in the margin then decided I was just nITpicking!

      Then I went searcHing for ATS and besides the AT in MATE (which really didn't bother me) SATYR morphed into SITYR to SITAR.

      Loved HEN sitting beneath HATCHINGPOST and so wanted CULKIN to be CLU(c)KIN'!

      My favorite clue was for KITE.

      WHEREITSAT is so fresh and fun!

      Tuesdays just don't get better than this.

      MetaRex 8:19 AM  

      Wow. Really nice.

      CrossWorld and CrossOver buzz ratings here

      Will be posting a link in the next few days discussing the results of the "How Bad Are MetaRex's Ethics?" poll on googling while solving.

      wa 8:22 AM  

      Fun for a Tuesday. Had to work around Java Jive and then I thought it was an answer to a bra clue.

      Beck 8:30 AM  

      ...I got two turntables and a microphone.

      Unknown 8:39 AM  

      Very, very fun...gotta run.

      orangeblossomspecial 8:41 AM  

      Here's an earlier version of 'Java Jive' by the Ink Spots.

      @wa at 8:22 had a cute comment.

      Carola 8:52 AM  

      Very witty, theme and cluing both - especially loved those for SATYR, HASTY, and LOVE. Definitely a harder Tuesday for me - for a long time I had an almost empty Eastern seaboard, with the beginnings of all the theme answers and no idea what was going on. Then the reveal - really made me laugh. Very fun to finish up. And having learned here that Dr. Bain is a vet added to the pleasure of all the animal references.

      Maybe I'm missing something, but the A's in MATE and SATYR are long, so they don't spoil the reveal, soundwise. (?)

      @joho - I noticed the HATCHING HEN but didn't hear her (almost) cluckin' - priceless!

      Evan 9:01 AM  
      This comment has been removed by the author.
      Evan 9:03 AM  


      Fair point on the IT of USE IT. I don't mind any of the down ITs because they're just the same combination of letters that otherwise have no connection to the word IT. But USE IT could easily be changed to USE ON or USE AS, or if you needed to change 5-Across too, CURIE/USERS would work and the crossings would be fine.

      I've actually had an editor reject one of my puzzles in part because the theme answers didn't consistently follow the same pattern to the exact letter. It was a simple change-one-letter theme like this one, and they didn't like it when the same new letter showed up elsewhere in the same theme answer even though it wasn't switched -- though having said that, the theme revealer in this one is far better than mine was.

      I mean, maybe all of that is picking nits, but that's exactly what crossword editors do.

      OISK 9:11 AM  

      The really wonderful puzzles inspire unanimity, as this one did. Best Tuesday in ages. It took me longer than usual, but that is actually pleasant when I am having as much fun as I did with this one. The usual pop culture references - Java Jive and Oates (??) didn't bother me much, and I somehow knew Ruffalo, even though I have never seen "The Kids are All Right."

      Well done Mr. Bain!

      oldbizmark 9:17 AM  

      what's the story with "SPAR" for Boom or gaff? I had a DNF because of the "P" and unlike the dude above, I did not figure it out even after coming back to it. Don't know the song lyric for the cross either. Otherwise, I thought the puzzle was quite easy solving and enjoyable.

      chefbea 9:20 AM  

      Tough for a Tuesday but got the theme right away.

      And a great shout-out to our quilter in residence!!!!!

      B Donohue 9:23 AM  

      Tough Tuesday! Finished, but in 10 minutes over my normal time band.

      SUMATRA and some of its crosses in the northeast were tough- not in retrospect, but at the time. At first I put "lucy" instead of KITE for "diamond in the sky," despite knowing it wouldn't make sense. BOER and ACUP also were tough.

      Thanks, Rex! I agree with all of your comments.

      MikeM 9:30 AM  

      I had the Who song in my head before I came up with Ruffalo. Messed up SUMATRA/ACUP/SPAR so I did not finish. But I did enjoy the puzzle. The reveal made me chuckle, what more can you want out of a crossword puzzle?

      mac 9:31 AM  

      Fantastic Tuesday. Looking over it nothing is really hard, but why did I have those little pauses? Agree with Rex's write-up completely.

      @acme: you're so right, Gareth almost always has a strong voice in his puzzles, it's nice to come upon those tidbits.

      @loren: I feel very dense, even went over the grid, but why the watch crystal story???

      jackj 9:35 AM  

      A rather routine letter swap made for a “shrug the shoulders” theme and even a double reveal of WHEREITSAT and USEIT didn’t make this one sing for me.

      The fill rescued things to a degree, but I couldn’t help but wonder why our favorite South African Veterinarian constructor didn’t clue his IMF answer at 63 down with a tie-in to the “debauchee” reference used in his SATYR clue.

      That would have exposed the priapic Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he who famously lost the trappings of his life, (including his position as head of the IMF and ultimately his wife), when he so brazenly pursued a hapless NYC hotel maid and ended up providing fodder of the most delectable kind for the New York tabloids.

      But, giving the puzzle its due, KITSCHY, USAIN (“Lightning Bolt?”), SUMATRA and POMPEII kicked things up a notch, as did the clever KITE, that, based on its clue of “Diamond in the sky?”, first looked liked it was asking for the Beatles’ LUCY.

      FOYER, CALVE, EXES and TWEEN all added some interest to the grid, OVARIES seemed awkward without a frame of reference and didn’t we just have a go round with ACUP, albeit in a different type of container?

      “Oh, my aching BATPART, Robin.”

      joho 9:40 AM  

      @mac ...I think because watch hunt becomes witch hunt ... @loren?

      jberg 9:47 AM  

      @oldbizmark - those are parts of a sailboat, put in the puzzle to match the BAT PARTS. I.e., two kinds of SPAR.

      I don't know that song - it's about bras? Or some other meaning.

      I liked it, like everybody - fairly easy, I thought, but maybe not for a Tuesday. My own nAt to pick is the repeated TAG, in answer and clue, with the same meaning, at 7D and 35A.

      I didn't know OATES, nor Mt. ROSA - but the other choices didn't seem plausible.

      Milford 9:55 AM  

      @Beck - I thought of your song immediately with the theme.

      Nice, medium Tuesday, except had to run the alphabet twice to get the SpAR/AcUp/IcER mess. Still want the boom/gaff to reference a technical filming term.

      Like all the biology terms, the fun KITE clue, and the very current ARGO clue.

      They are showing "Wordplay" on the Sundance Channel this week, which reminds me that it was this time last year that I first watched it and thought, "I should make myself do the puzzle every single day." And for a year now I have, amazing myself that yes, indeed, I can do Friday and Saturday puzzles. And naturally this blog has helped me immensely, so thank you to Rex and all loyal Rexites!

      @Evan - I agree about Naples. Walked into a bank to exchange money (this was 1990), huge NO GUNS sign at the door, and you had to get a full body scan in a plexiglass vestibule upon entering. Scary. Between that, the catcalls from the men (I'm blond), and the train thieves, it was not a pleasant visit. But POMPEII and Capri were lovely.

      Thank you Gareth!

      John V 10:02 AM  

      What's to say? Gareth's puzzle are always top rate and this one fits the legacy. Nicest, crunchiest Tuesday in recent memory. Thanks, Gareth.

      Bob Kerfuffle 10:17 AM  

      Agreed: Fun, challenging, ultimately quite doable.

      (Tangentially: My cinematic introduction to Mark RUFFALO was a bit awkward. I saw the film The Kids Are All Right without having read any reviews, and didn't quite know what to make of it. Only afterwards did I learn that, at least according to the Golden Globes Awards, it was considered a comedy. That might have changed my reaction!)

      Rob C 10:18 AM  

      Just wanted to register one more vote for 'liked'.

      The other ITs in the grid are no problem b/c the revealer states specifically which answers the trick applies to.

      Played much more like a Wed for me. Wed/Thurs type theme also.

      Oldactor 10:18 AM  

      An acquaintance of mine was entertaining a visitor to their cattle station in Australia. I believe it was Princess Di's mother.

      The hostess told the maid to put the Champaign in the Champaign bucket.

      When it was time to serve, she had done just that. She had poured it over the ice in the bucket.

      The hostess didn't bat an eye. She simply served it as if it were a punch bowl. Didn't want to embarass the new maid.

      quilter1 10:39 AM  

      Always like Gareth's puzzles and of course he had me at 51A. This puzzle was hard enough to be interesting and easy enough to finish in a satisfying way. Knowing a little about Gareth that helps solving makes me feel like I'm WHERE ITS AT. I like it when early week puzzles are a little crunchy. Thanks, Gareth.

      Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

      Loved the puzzle but I feel really stupid not to have seen and recognized Bat Part as a theme answer. I left the puzzle thinking that was such a bs answer. Geez.
      Lots of pop culture that I was clueless about but finished anyway.
      @ loren, If @ joho is right about the watch story then you are just too too clever!

      Rob C 11:07 AM  

      @ quilter - so are you 51A?

      DigitalDan 11:30 AM  

      Before I got the theme, wanted TROPHYWIFE for second spouse. Took a while for that section to settle in, therefore.


      Unknown 11:58 AM  

      That was a puzzle I enjoyed very much! To me it was tough but fair, which I expect for a Thursday (so I get a bonus Thursday) TAU TAO for now.

      retired_chemist 12:11 PM  

      Loved it. Noted, as did several others, that Gareth put his personal stamp on this puzzle - both in clues and answers. Theme and reveal - A+. I rarely say that.

      Tried FARMERS first @ 28A. Wanted RUFFALO (never heard of him, however legit he is) to be BUFFALO, which made no sense and also screwed up ERROR @ 46A.

      BTW the seven golden retriever LiTTERMATES at 5 days old are thriving, gaining weight rapidly, and are as vocal as can be.

      Kudos, Gareth.

      LaneB 12:36 PM  

      I agree that this was a more difficult Tuesday--or maybe I just wasn't thinking all that clearly. Anyway, I struggled through it even after I identified the 'theme'. More experienced puzzlers get, I'm sure, gimmies that I don't see and in fact hold me up a lot, e.g. TAU, UNIX, TAO. Thank goodness for some of the regulars: ALAI, ETE, EURO, APE , ALE and LEIA. Timesavers all.

      Anonymous 12:59 PM  

      Took a long time to get the DANCE theme. Line, Snake, Rain, War, and my two favorite Fan and Belly! Nice job Mr. Arbesfeld!

      quilter1 1:06 PM  

      @Rob C: I strive for PERFECTion and have improved greatly over 25+ years. But there is a quilter's saying: If a man riding by on a fast horse can't see your mistake don't worry about it. Words to sew by.

      Rob C 1:13 PM  

      @quilter - sounds like you have the PERFECT attitude. Down with moths!

      Nigel 1:23 PM  

      Must be something wroing with me - I thought this puzzle was easy. And being a neophyte with this blog, I don't understand Rex's beef about LITTERMATE vs littermite. There was a simple change of I to A in the first word of each answer - why would the puzzler have put two into one phrase? I got RUFFALO with all the crosses - didn't even realize it until I saw the full down word. I wouldn't have gotten it any other way - the name is familiar but I know nothing about him at all.Everything else was easy - well, BOER was only a given once I had BOE - but the Krugerrand clue was huge.

      Lewis 1:46 PM  

      @m&a -- I'm fairly near the Biltmore, nothing is too far from anything else here. Today's puzzle is respectable, U-wise.

      @pete -- you're still invited to the party

      A smooth solve for me today except for Maine and Maryland, which were crunchy but finally the light went on.

      Maybe Will has decided to make this week's puzzles harder each day in prep for ACPT?

      @acme -- your comments are generally so fresh and insightful.

      Bird 2:08 PM  

      I started out okay with a few blank answers, especially for a Tuesday, but got worse as I headed back up to the NE corner. Had LATTER WIFE, UNIX and not much else. Whiskey, scotch and cognac don't fit at 10A and I couldn't think of SAKE – maybe because I like it hot. Who sang “She’s Gone”? The O’Jays? Nope, Hall and OATES.

      - The extra ATs & ITs in the grid (32A, 67A, 4D, 53D).
      - Why wasn’t 15A changed to USE AT?
      - TAG in the clue for 35A and in the answer for 7D?
      - ICER? Ugly. Ban it for life.
      - Clues for 37A and 11D are not Tuesday clues

      Good stuff
      - Theme
      - Clues for 39A, 12D

      Junmai Daiginjo 3:06 PM  

      10A really bothered me even though clue is not technically incorrect.

      SAKE should not be served warm. it "typically" was in the old days because it was of lower quality. low quality sake is still typically served warm, partly because people dont know any better, but good sake is to be served chilled.

      retired_chemist 3:14 PM  

      re SAKE - most of what I have been served in Japan was warm, and only if my host was unusually affluent did the cold stuff come out.

      Nameless 3:25 PM  

      @Bird - Rye and totty don't fit at 10A. I've started seeing SAKE served chilled at Hibachi steak houses, but I too prefer it warmed.

      This played med-challenging for me because of the cluing and NE corner. Can't believe that UNIX has been around that long. Thought, for a fraction of a second that 13D was NEES because they've been married so often. I like the theme and some of the original cluing.

      Am I correct in that Mr. Bain is a vet (so it's Dr. Bain?) and 11D was clued in that way as a shout out to himself? Good grief.

      Elle54 3:28 PM  

      I did not finish and had errors in the NE. So this puzzle beat me, I dare to say

      sanfranman59 4:09 PM  

      Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

      Tue 9:35, 8:23, 1.14, 82%, Challenging

      Top 100 solvers

      Tue 5:46, 4:52, 1.18, 88%, Challenging

      Loren Muse Smith 4:23 PM  

      @nameless - Dr. Bain is indeed a vet, and I *loved* the alternative clue for ANAT. It felt "wink wink nudge nudge" to me and made me smile. A lot of constructors have a "voice" and like @Andrea said, Gareth's voice is crystal clear in his puzzles. It never fails to please me.

      Nameless 4:43 PM  

      @loren muse smith - Thanks for the response. The clue threw me for a sec as I was trying to come up with a biology class related specifically to animals. Damn him ;-)

      acme 7:24 PM  

      Darn, now I have "HOT SAKE!" going thru my head to the tune of "Hot Pockets!"
      and that funny video somebody posted a few weeks ago with that comic doing a long extensive rant on "Hot Pockets". Brian someone?

      Thanks! :)
      It's ironic bec I feel like I actually pointed out a few slightly imperfect things in a puzzle otherwise almost universally loved (usual unpleasable grumblers aside)
      but the USEIT thing if altered would have gotten rid of one more down IT too...
      Bottom line tho, WHEREITSAT is so clever and Beckish it might even wipe the "Hot Sake!" earworm out of my head.

      Packing for ACPT!!!! Only thing that would make my life more complete is if Will would allow me to rename it! ;)

      On The Road with M and A 7:32 PM  

      Hi, @Lewis. I'm currently in Santa Fe. Just visitin'. Tryin' to avoid all that ACPT traffic out east. Think I'll try Phoenix, next. Yep... U-count = 6 today, I believe; so darn respectable. Average is around 4-4.5.

      Since I'm travelin', I'm not solving the puzs everyday. But will check in from an exotic place, now and then. M&A

      sanfranman59 9:03 PM  

      @acme ... I didn't catch the "Hot Pockets" post a few weeks ago, but I think you must be talking about Jim Gaffigan. After reading your post, I watched that bit for about the 20th time and each time it brings me to tears with laughter. He really knows how to tickle my funny bone!

      Sfingi 9:07 PM  

      Liked it.

      Never heard of RUFFALO, USAIN or these SPARs.

      Mead before SAKE, but I'm a non-drinker, so what do I know? Anyway, the Gabor sisters corrected that. Two of them married George Sanders, who eventually committed suicide. Magda was the LATTERMATE, and she and ZsaZsa were LiTTERMATES.

      Didn't know the Java Jive was about a flat-chested girl. A-CUP, A-CUP...

      Tita 9:52 PM  

      @Loren - hilarious.
      And I have about 18 Glühwein mugs from various Christkindlmärkt from when living in Germany. 2 Marks for the drink, one mark for the mug.

      Tough Tuesday, great fun.
      @ret_chem - Congrats on teh bouncing pups - hope all are doing well.

      @quilter1 - I love your saying, and am comitting it to memory!! My brother-in-law was a master builder - his catchphrase was "We're building a deck, not a piano."

      Thanks Mr. Bain!

      Tita 10:06 PM  

      @Evan - Hall of Fame entry duly noted and updated...

      I am going to have to hire someone to do the updates for me - once again, I am amazed that Rex does what he does day in day out.

      sanfranman59 1:00 AM  

      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 6:15, 6:10, 1.01, 60%, Medium
      Tue 9:30, 8:23, 1.13, 79%, Medium-Challenging

      Top 100 solvers

      Mon 3:47, 3:41, 1.03, 67%, Medium-Challenging
      Tue 5:33, 4:52, 1.14, 82%, Challenging

      Spacecraft 12:02 PM  

      Got THRU it okay, but yikes! Those clues!

      -->Nothing in the clue for CHAS to indicate an abbreviation. Yeah, I know that's how his name customarily appears, but it's still an abbrev.

      -->Of all the Hall and OATES songs he could have mentioned in the clue--"Private Eyes," Man-eater,"I Can't Go With That," etc. he picks "She's Gone." Crikey, must be an album cut; I never heard of it.

      -->"Days," for one?? We're supposed to recognize that that's short for "Days of our Lives," I guess, but really. One word, enclosed in quotes. That's not right.

      This was a good puzzle, with a catchy revealer, but some KITSCHY clues nearly scuttled my butt. Mercy, it's only Tuesday.

      Solving in Seattle 12:38 PM  

      I agree with Rex and others that this was one slick puzzle, and more like Wednesday tough.

      Tee before TAU. Finished with CHAz and KITCzCHY.

      The theme was clever. Thanks, Gareth.

      Rest in peace, Annette.

      Dirigonzo 4:04 PM  

      Hand up for Tee before Tau, and I too finished with an ERROR (other than the one at 46a): RUFFLAg/gWEN.

      I wonder if we'll see a tribute puzzle to Annette in 5 weeks?

      J.aussiegirl 4:42 PM  

      Fresh and sweet puzzle! Finished with no errors, and I don't keep time - it takes what it takes.

      Jberg @9:40 am. a cup, a cup, a cup, a cup of coffee

      We saw Manhattan Transfer in concert a little while back with our symphony orchestra. So smooth and sweet, they can come back anytime.

      Ginger 4:49 PM  

      @SIS - I swear I've seen CHAz, I thought of it as a gimmie - GRR. Caused my DNF.

      When I saw the by-line I knew it would be a fun solve, and I was not disappointed. From Ohio on east it was challenging and crunchy. Fun Fun Thursday, er Tuesday!

      Thanks Dr Bain!

      rain forest 6:28 PM  

      Fabulous puzzle, and it would be equally fabulous on a Wednesday or Thursday. I don't give a rat's patootie that LATTERMATE has another "at" in it. All theme answers only have one substitution of AT for IT, and no substitutions of IT for AT. Good, consistent, not even worthy of an overly-anal comment. Also, "She's gone",is my favourite Hall and Oates song (from the Abandoned Luncheonette album). The cluing was so clever-devious-in places, and the entire puzzle basically sparkled

      strayling 7:31 PM  

      I enjoyed this one a lot. Just hard enough to teach me a few new words, and done without any obscure crosses or potential Naticks. Nice Job, Mr. Bain.

      Syndi Solver 8:10 PM  

      I loved this puzzle! What a great constructor.

      Re: 16 Across, USE IT, I'm wondering whether that answer/clue was put in on purpose? The clue was about the phrase "use it or lose it" which is related to the theme. The it was not used in any theme entry so it was "lost" (well, replaced with AT). Since it would have been so easy to eliminate the IT from that entry I think this was intentional, a second "reveal" or hint to the puzzle theme.

      I think commenter @jackj was suggesting this same thing when he wrote "a double reveal of WHEREITSAT and USEIT ..." so I don't think I'm the only one who has come up with this idea.

      PS to @strayling, re: the hacker discussion a few days ago, I was happy to hear that someone out there still uses hacker the old school way. :-)

      strayling 7:59 PM  

      I enjoy listening to Emmanuel Goldstein struggle with technology on "Off the Hook", too. Long live Cap'n Crunch and more power to his 2600Hz whistle!

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