Anthony's XM radio partner / FRI 4-5-13 / Kegler's org / Meaty Applebee's morsel / Half of old comics film duo / Mortimer of old radio

Friday, April 5, 2013

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RIBLET (16A: Meaty Applebee's morsel) —
There is still some debate in the meat cutting world over the true definition of a riblet. The popular pork appetizer served by Applebee's and other "fun food" outlets may be called a riblet, but many professional meat cutters would actually call it a feather cut, carved from the thin outer tips of the lower ribs. Others would call the meat and bone portion nearest the spine, a section often scrapped when cutting ribs, the true riblet or baby back rib. (
• • •

Always happy to see a Peter Wentz byline. He is a careful and entertaining constructor who has quickly gone from "that guy whose name I see on themelesses sometimes I guess he's OK" to "that guy whose name I hope I see every weekend." I like my themelesses to be about the fill, not the black square count, and P Dubs regularly delivers. I mean, this one has some stuff well out of my wheelhouse — I'm about as likely to bet an EXACTA (18A: It includes picking the place) or listen to GOOD CHARLOTTE (31A: Pop punk band with the 2002 triple-platinum album "The Young and the Hopeless") as I am to eat FATBACK (36D: Greasy part of pork) or a RIBLET (16A: Meaty Applebee's morsel) — yet I still loved it. Aggressively contemporary yet wide-ranging, and very smoothly filled. Hard to complain. If anything, the puzzle felt a little too smooth—a little too easy for a Friday. I did it on paper just after stumbling out of bed, and nowhere near a timer, and while there were moments where I had to stop and think, there were more moments when I filled in answer after answer, non-stop. Toughest part was probably the center, but once you send enough crosses crashing through it, you can pick all those long Acrosses up, even if you haven't (as I expect many of you haven't) heard of GOOD CHARLOTTE before.

My favorite part of the solve today was actually one of my own wrong answers. I had just started the puzzle and was already working up a good head of steam when I noticed that 17A looked like this: PAK--T--. So my brain, which is pretty good at pattern recognition by now, says "that can be only one thing!" and so, without bothering to look at the clue, I wrote it right in: PAKISTAN! Of course five seconds later I knew something was terribly wrong. Then I looked at the clue (17A: Half of an old comics film duo). Ugh. Then I thought "what the hell kind of name starts PAK-!?" Crosses helped me out: "Oh, PA KETTLE. Right." Other problems were few—I wouldn't even go into an Applebee's unless you paid me (well), so I had no idea what kinds of morsels folks there graze on. This meant that I had RIB- and no idea what followed. I considered EYE and TIP. I did not consider -LET. RIBLET is a horrifying word. -LET is an OK suffix with CUT- or OME-, but it sounds like disgusting children's food when attached to RIB-. Too close to NIBLET and NIPLET, both of which are aesthetically displeasing to me as words.

I semi-remembered what a "kegler" was today, so that's something. Not sure I would've remembered without context, but I already had PB-, so I was like "oh, right, bowling." Didn't remember the DODO (30D: Awarder of a thimble to Alice, in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"), but once I got both Os, a very distinct drawing of the DODO popped into my head, so though I couldn't remember anything about the plot, the bird went in the grid. (I like DODO crossing DOO-DAH.) What else? THEEU looks insane in the grid, though it's a perfectly valid answer (29D: Grp. whose flag has 12 stars). I had never heard of NONES before, which is strange, as apparently I am one. Weird to belong to a group you didn't know existed. The SE corner is noteworthy for having all its longer Acrosses start with initialisms. This is part of what made the puzzle very easy—I wrote in VW BEETLE, AAA RATED, and NBASTARS (59A: Court luminaries) one after the other, with only their first two letters in place. Finished up without even seeing the clues on RHODE, NEW CAR, or LOITERERS. So the puzzle could've had more teeth, but it was well done nonetheless.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Terrific puzzle, especially after yesterday's bollux. Am still disturbed by the NYT careless disregard of us across lite solvers on yesterdays puzzle.

Still, today was great fun.

Zipadeedoodah, indeed!

joho 8:09 AM  

I knew @Rex would rate this easy because I breezed through most of it last night leaving only the NW for this morning. I couldn't parse PAKETTLE for the longest time and read it as one word which is definitely somebody I've never heard of!

Loved KICKSOFF at 1A and KAPOW doing down. Great, active start to the solve ... also STANLEE hanging out in the NE is a perfect companion to "Batman" commics sound.

Easy Friday, for sure, but smooth and fun, too, ITSADUD does not apply here!

Thanks, Peter!

joho 8:11 AM  

Holy oops! That's "comics" ... also forgot to mention the shoutout to ACME!

Evan 8:16 AM  

Just finished this one right as Rex posted. Peter's another young gun, and you can solve his "Twenty Under Thirty" puzzle for free (though I obviously highly recommend getting the rest of them!).

Thought this was fun and very easy too, probably my third-fastest Friday where I've recorded my time. My write-overs were GIBLET before RIBLET, PARTS before COSTS, and RAILS before REEDS (though I corrected all in short time).

I thought the clue for KNEEL was a little strange. I guess it's technically a request in that a king or queen might request that you kneel before them, but I would expect that it's really an order, unless you want to be ejected from court -- you wouldn't hear them say, "Oh, I'd like it if you'd kneel, but it's totally okay if you don't." I've also never described myself as a NONE even though I generally belong to that group. I've never seen anyone referred to other supposed Nones as NONES, either.

Don't forget me, @joho! Nice to see both me and ACME in the grid -- although I've never seen the movie that bears my namesake (I've heard it's terrible).

Milford 8:18 AM  

Fastest Friday ever, no clue how that happened. Just the right wavelength, I guess. SW filled in like an early week puzzle, SE pretty quick after, totally insane for me on a Friday. Thank you, Peter!

Wish I could be the cool mom of teenagers, but I don't know GOOD CHARLOTTE, even after looking them up. They sound like Green Day.

One write-over was NOstS before NONES - I thought maybe it was short for agnostics?

I think I would honestly eat FATBACK (is it bacon?) before I would ever touch a RIBLET.

Psychopop moment - someone I vaguely know from high school wrote a book about "This Land Is Your Land", and yesterday I glanced at the summary, and it mentioned that Woody Guthrie was a Dust Bowl refugee, which I didn't previously know. OKIES today!

R.I.P. Roger Ebert. Met him a couple times, he lived near our family cottage on Lake Michigan. Loved his reviews and writing. He wasn't a film snob - he loved "Animal House", I remember.

Z 8:20 AM  

I did do it near a timer, 21 minutes, which qualifies as an easy Friday for me. Having a son who is a huge pop punk fan did not help with GOOD CHARLOTTE. Having two other sons who used to make fun of anyone who did like GOOD CHARLOTTE did, though. I asked the fan's opinion this morning. I got a resounding "meh."

ACME and EVAN get shout-outs but so do I so I'm happy.

ICE RAIN? Relative of sleet? Isn't it just a synonym?

MetaRex 8:21 AM  

I believe this puzz was a secret shout-out to all of us Rexeans...

The irrefutable evidence along w/ the MRian solving story and the ratings are at Homage to Rexalonia

Z 8:24 AM  

NONES - I was thinking it related to non-denominational, not agnostic or atheistic.

Thoracic 8:28 AM  

Fastest Friday ever for me!! Google free. Kapow!

Mohair Sam 8:31 AM  

Very easy Friday (in spite of my early ZIPPITY spelling error), too many long answers were intuitive - setsagoal, gimmefive, familyreunion, and zipadeedoodah. Still, the clues were clever and clean - hence the puzzle was fast, but fun.

Jeez @Rex, Applebee's ain't all that bad.

oldbizmark 8:39 AM  

loved the puzzle but probably because it made me feel so smart. must have been close to record time for me for a friday at around 25 minutes. good cluing, good fill.

Rob C 8:43 AM  

Definitely on the easy side. Flew through this in one sitting - unusual for me on Fri or Sat. Lots to like especially the contemporary feel and clueing. Clues for EXACTA, NBA STARS, ARISES, FAMILY REUNION my favs.

Also like KICKS OFF placed at 1A and KAPOW at 1D. What a way to start a puzzle. I can't say WEE LAD without hearing Groundskeeper Willie in my head.

One gripe: ICE RAIN can't be legit. I've never heard anyone on the Weather Channel or elsewhere use it.

evil doug 8:44 AM  

Have we got all the shout-outs out of the way? Anybody with a 'T'ee in their initials? A 'V' or 'W'? We know m&a will lay claim to 'Thee U'. How about 'O'kies, or 'O.P.'(ie)? 'AAA'? 'BAA'? 'SCI'? 'PBA'? Seeing a Tuesday-esque trend yet? Can't forget a big ol' howdy do to 'Pol' (Pot) and his old stomping (literally) ground of 'S'outh'E'ast'A'sia. You guys and your shoutouts---'B'ig 'FF'ing deal....

Don't know what riblets are, but one thing they aren't is 'meaty'.



Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Easiest Friday ever for me. Still took 30 minutes but no googling.

Jeremy Mercer 8:52 AM  

Briefly had RILLET instead of RIBLET, thinking this was an American version of the RILLETTES that are all over French menus ... Thankfully I was pretty sure a Kegler wasn't a member of the People's Liberation Army.

Glimmerglass 8:54 AM  

After my disastrous DNF yesterday (Did Not come close to Finishing), this one restored my crosswords soul. Easy, for a Friday, probably, but it was what I needed.

retired_chemist 9:02 AM  

Medium-easy. Immediately put COSTELLO down for 17A. He's funnier than PAKISTAN, although PAKISTAN as an answer is funnier.

Wanted A__ENS at 9A to become ALIENS. Nope.

The long answers in the center didn't go in smoothly. Needed lots of crosses, but they were mostly easy to come by. 12-13-14D went in quickly, off AWN, POL, and DIRE. That made 16A CUTLET for a while.

Similarly straightforward in all the other corners - finally saw what the longs in the middle were (although I never heard of GOOD CHARLOTTE) and that was that. Stared at PAKETTLE for a minute - WTF. OH, PA KETTLE.

A fun solve. Thanks, Mr. Wentz.

Keen Observer 9:03 AM  

I can't for the life of me understand why Will published this puzzle. It has no Seinfeld tie-in! None at all! What a waste of an opportunity, as I can't come to this blog and read @ED's Seinfeld script excerpt!!!

All I get from @ED is an inchoate complaint from him about other people writing about what they like to write about. I absolutely life for @ED writing about what he likes to write about, as irrelevant to the puzzle as it may be.

Wes Davidson 9:05 AM  

Not sure why "costs" is the answer to 41d (Figure on a manufacturer's balance sheet). Costs are income statement items. I guess you could have a "standard cost" number on a balance sheet. Any accountants out there?

loren muse smith 9:06 AM  

Pretty easy but I dnf because I had “fifty” for SIXTY and never even questioned it. And I don’t follow baseball. Silly. Also EXACTA and RIBLET were two WOEs for me, but I did have a good friend in high school, L. RIBLET – she was a lunatic but in a good lunatic way.

Cool that this one KICKS OFF with KAPOW!

Five letters _ _ _ _ O: “am too,” “is too,” ARE SO.

WEE LAD crossing DADDY crossing FAMILY REUNION with PA KETTLE right above. Nice. (@joho – I couldn’t parse that, either!)

Two obvious ones that I didn’t see forever:
RHODE - Even with the RH in place. I was already off in some tropical SEA, floating around. Lost.
WHEAT – Put in “adder” with no hesitation. Hiss.

I kept thinking THE un and vaguely wondering, “Only twelve stars? Really?” But at least I didn’t write it in.

I TOYed with the idea of starting and origami club when I was teaching. For Origami Lovers & Dilettantes. Get it? But it ended up being A DUD. I can only FOLD this square “balloon” box thingy anyway. Oh well.

A long time ago, a young, hip, gifted constructor/veterinarian in South Africa who shall remain nameless told me that two + word entries were usually more fun/interesting than just one word entries. I count at least 20 entries today (including names) that are more than one word!

GIMME FIVE, Peter! Sparkly, ZIPpy, scrabbly, smooth fun.

evil doug 9:11 AM  

Even a shoutout to L. Riblet? Wow, it just gets better and better....


Rob C 9:14 AM  

@Wes - don't mean to go all technical on you, but "costs" are capitalized, "expenses" are expensed. So for example, the cost of manufacturing a car initially gets reported in the manufacturer's inventory (asset on the balance sheet). The electricity and telephone expenses go directly to the income statement. I was sort of surprised they made such a distinction in the clue, but technically correct.

Robso 9:15 AM  

We would have keglers in college now and then, and the cops were often called--but that clue is a real stretch.

Rob C 9:15 AM  

@LMS - it would be a shame if an oragami club "folded", or would it?

Robso 9:16 AM  

ETA: I kid.

Horace Fawley 9:17 AM  

I, too, will now watch for Peter Wentz's name in the byline. This was clean and fun, ICERAIN notwithstanding. Who says that?

- Horace

FearlessKim 9:20 AM  

Yes, fastest Friday ever! An exciting combination of in-the-wheelhouse and ZIPpy letters made for a quick and very satisfying solve.

Running lovely 9's through substantial stacks in the corners, and the big stack of 13's in the center -- felt meaty, unlike RIBLETS...

Ditto, @Rex, on parsing PAK_____ and on the really odd-looking THEEU.

Liked the clue for EXACTA -- saw "picking the place" had EXA___ and just couldn't get the idea of being on a date (with your EX?) out of my mind. For way too long.

@Z -- Yes, NONES are non-denominational. On the survey forms, when asked to check religious affiliation, they check "none."

@Milford -- I like NOstS!

Thanks, Mr. Wentz!

Z 9:22 AM  

@Evil Doug - Thanks for the shout out!

3 and DONE.

Jim Walker 9:23 AM  

I think Peter shows that a puzzle doesn't have to be hard to be fun. Even though I frequently play golf, I had TKE for ball-bearing piece for a long time. Did not know the Efron dude. Loved ZIPPADEEDOODA. Had STANLEy crosing GOODCHARLOTTy for a while. Under a half hour here. Thank you sir.

Not a none ( Elle54) 9:26 AM  

My first answer was ZIPPETYDOODAH ( spelled wrong). I love that ride! Have a great Friday, everyone!
God bless!

jberg 9:31 AM  

Hey, did everyone notice that PA KETTLE has exactly the same number of letters as Ma KETTLE? Also Costello. So that one slowed me down quite a bit.

In general, I found this one much toughter than everyone else. All the misdirections misdirected me as intended -- so I spent way too long looking for some sort of party planner for 18A, for example. On the other hand, this is the sort of solving experience I really enjoy, so I loved the puzzle.

@ED, can't believe you didn't notice the appalling shoutout to the KKK (K) in the NW.

Here in Dorchester, the NONES gather every Sunday morning to KNEEL to the sun and eat FAT BACK.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I struggled in the NW with an incorrect rObin Roberts after putting in ATONEFOR. That was the only stumble in an otherwise easy, fun Friday puzzle.

jackj 9:35 AM  

Starting out by giving us a response we all like to hear in a discussion, ITAKE (“____your point”) and then quickly pairing it up with Woody Guthrie, et al, as OKIES, were friendly acts by Peter Wentz and the upper left quadrant filled in easily.

The trickier upper right had a couple of false starts though with AERIES before ASPENS and RIBEYE before RIBLET but the certainty of ELCAPITAN was the reconciling entry that brought closure in that segment.

There were so many worthy entries sprinkled around the grid, picking favorites is difficult but GIMMEFIVE and ZIPADEEDOODAH are at the top of my list as are the cleverly clued AUDIT, COTTA, EXACTA and THEEU (looking as pathetic as its member’s economies).

Having a non-Ron OPIE was welcome and maybe an adventurous constructor will soon discover Julian OPIE, a British artist who is rapidly gaining celebrity in the art world for his minimalist portraits with unforgettable eyes that are but small dark circles yet wondrously convey compelling personas for his subjects.

With so much stellar cluing there are, of course, things that are hairy, to say the least, with the most hirsute of them all taking a bow as something called GOODCHARLOTTE. I know GOOD and I know CHARLOTTE but I wouldn’t have been able to name the combo outright to save my skin. Thank goodness for crosses.

Peter has given us some great puzzles in the past and further strengthens his oeuvre with this superb effort.

Many thanks!

Sir Hillary 10:01 AM  

Nice breezy start to the weekend. Not much else to say.

The GOODCHARLOTTE entry made me chuckle, because the bassist and primary lyricist for another mid-2000s pop punk band (Fall Out Boy) is named...Pete Wentz.

loren muse smith 10:03 AM  

@Rob C - Hah! Good one!

@ED – Heck yeah, I shouted out to L. RIBLET! She was my partner-in-crime when we used to roll (TP) people’s houses but in an I –like- you- you’re- my- friend sense.

Also a shout out to my aunt CHARLOTTE, and my college friends, STANLEE Lowry, GIM MEFIVE and ELCA PITAN!

And the day LOREN makes a grid, I’m going to be thrilled. I don’t know why I think it’s so fun.

You’re never pleased deep down to see EVIL or DOUG in a grid?

Masked and Anonymous 10:03 AM  

@Evil Duck Dude: Yo. Thanx for the shoutout. And har. And you may well have somethin there, with that 2EZ. Even old M&A breath took this FriPuz down, like it was almost ZIPADEEDOODAH.

Great writeup. But zipadeedoodah bullets, alas. And with so much cool stuff in the puz. But only 2-U's, 4-Oh. Likely you are punishing P Dubs for that last transgression, by denying him his otherwise well-earned silver bullets. I'll try to fix him up a mess of 'em, after cinnamon roll time.

John V 10:12 AM  

Easy. Costs don't appear on any balance sheet that I know of. Costs are an income statement entry. Clue is wrong. I actually paused at that spot, hoping the answer was something else

That aside, a fine puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:19 AM  

Nice one, but left me hanging in a way. That is, I finished the puzzle before I finished breakfast.

From the Crypt of Ancient Jokes:

"Did you know that the kettle drum was named for a comic couple?"

"Why, yes, I did. Ma and Pa Drum!"

M and A also 10:22 AM  

@chefwen--re:late yesterday. Went to la times screen at American Mensa. Nothin there but a big blank area and an ad. Tried logging in as M and A, but no dice. Also tried M ens A. nope. Too hard. Am just not MensA MateriAl.


Susan McConnell 10:22 AM  

Very easy Friday. I'm with Horace...ICERAIN is the weak link in this puzzle, but other than that, no complaints. At first I thought there was a K thing going on, since I had plopped down 4 of them in the first 4 answers.

I tend to confuse KEGLERS with KEGELS.

Notsofast 10:27 AM  

WOW! Nice Friday! A thousand times more entertaining than yesterday's debacle. Peter Wentz must be a college professor who does stand-up at night. ZIPADEEDOODAH! GIMMEFIVE! ELCAPITAN! What a freakin' HOOT !!! A TEE is a "ball-bearing piece"! I'm just in awe. A BIG tip of the Hatlo hat!

Carola 10:31 AM  

Agree, very fun. Medium for me....slow going but didn't get stuck anywhere. Well, except for same ??? when looking at PAKETT_ _ _.

Liked WEE LAD + TOY, NEW CAR + VW BEETLE (and the new AUDI "T"), and AAA-RATED v. IT'S A DUD. And @Milford's NOstS.

I live in the land of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and the delightful "wintery mix" and haven't heard the term ICE RAIN. Anybody here use it?

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

I rode a wave of wild guesses that just happened to be right. Whee!
I was hoping for bairn, too short, for 23A
The contemporary stuff was nicely balanced by Mortimer Snerd and Pa Kettle (I love ol' Ma and Pa).
This blog got me BFF which would have been a head scratcher.
Hey Doug, I suppose BFF is another shout-out to our guest hosts.
Heck, while we're stretching that point gaits could be for me!

evil doug 10:42 AM  

Loren: "You’re never pleased deep down to see EVIL or DOUG in a grid?"

I'm never pleased to see *any* overused, trite, cliche word in the grid. Evil, acme, eels, Oreo, oleo, and the list goes on ad nauseum, are used waaaaay too much---and, for example, on the frequent times 'evil' gets in there I'm fully aware it's no shout-out, but rather a sign that the constructor is "out of airspeed and ideas" as we used to say about pilots who were less than creative in tough spots.

That goes for abbreviations, too---when one can't come up with a good word, there *must* be some common bowling/tennis/gov't/geographic/etc code that save's the constructor's bacon (or riblet, as the case may be).

Now Stan Lee and Zac Efron? I'll accept those as shout-outs. And if you get a puzzle published with a Doug in your grid---and you *announce* it as a reference to me, I'll accept it in the spirit in which it was offered. But to simply find some word---I was an 'El Capitan' in el air-o force-o, and I'm a 'daddy', and I've flown in 'ice rain' (we actually call it 'freezing rain')---and then lay claim to it as a shout-out is, to me, an ego run amok.

The only thing worse, of course, is when the constructor gives him/herself a shout-out, which is the height of narcissism.


chefbea 10:44 AM  

Fairly easy for a Friday...even with all those initials in the south east.

Riblets can be very meaty...they are just short.

Gotta go "work" in the kitchen so I can bake my bread

Matthew G. 10:55 AM  

Second day this week that I've set a personal record for that day (the other being Tuesday). My time was Wednesday-like here, and I think the clues should have been a bit harder. But the grid was so clean it was a wonderful solving experience. Never, ever heard of GOOD CHARLOTTE, but barely noticed it. When you've got a long pop-culture answer like that that I've never heard of and I still barely blink, something special is going on!

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

All you guys who found this so easy can go suck an egg. I finish the NYT puzzle almost every time including on Saturday, or can at least get down to guessing on one last square, but holes were still gaping in the center and NE corner of this when I had to give up after the better part of an hour. There's got to be more like me, so "solidarity brothers!"

Big problem was having ICY RAIN, which unlike ICE RAIN is a thing that exists. This meant that the Disney song, whose canonical spelling I didn't know--because frankly who knows how they spell some made-up word?--was ZIPADYDOOHDAH. That messed up all kinds of stuff. I admit that answer looks weird, but it had to be right because ICE RAIN was simply not a possibility.

Between that, and never having heard of Good Charlotte, and my problems in the NE I was sunk. I know Maris broke the HR record, but what the record was? Do people who aren't baseball junkies really remember that? I know what kegeling is, but never heard of the PBA. Never heard of RIBLET, which I consider a good thing. I eventually got "el capitan" and guessed "awn" and "pol", which are both terrible, by the way. But the final killer here was EXACTA, which still doesn't make any sense to me. Can some one explain that? Is it like the minutiae of something? But then why is it "picking the place"? Is it about good handwriting, like making an "exact A"? Or is it some Latin phrase "ex acta" that I don't know? What am I missing with this?

So yeah, "ohhhh my god you guys! It was soooo easy!" Suck an egg.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

@Anon 11:04 - I'd answer your legitimate questions, but I'm too busy sucking an egg.

Milford 11:10 AM  

@Susan - LOL at your Kegler vs Kegel confusion. Do you think one can do Kegels while they bowl?

@ED - your buzzkill reminds me of a prof that overheard a classmate and I discovering we shared a birthday, and he remarked that it was statistically unexciting. I got his point, but still...

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Heh heh. I like your style, Anon. :)

So apparently EXACTA is about horse racing. I do not feel bad at all about not knowing this. Apparently I need to get out to the track more.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 11:14 AM  

I didn't know I was a none either. But it's not like they're having a meeting every Sunday or anything! I loved this puzzle. Friday finish without visiting google made me feel smart!

Easy to Google 11:16 AM  

exacta - definition of exacta by the Free Online Dictionary ...
A method of betting, as on a horserace, in which the bettor must correctly pick those finishing in the first and second places in precisely that sequence.

Horace Fawley 11:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Horace Fawley 11:26 AM  

@ Susan McConnell - LOL. Yeahhhh, you don't see "Kegels" much in a grid. It's a shame, really.
How would you clue it?

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Second fastest Friday ever, and by a lot. I got into the grid instantly and cruised through. Had to stop for a minute or two in the NW, but then the whole corner caved in. 17:10 on Friday, for me, is an outlier that should get multiple asterisks.

Cheerio 11:35 AM  

My investment in crosswordese paid off today with kegler and PBA. For me, the SE was the hardest bit. I'm still thrown by acronyms at the starts of things. Overall, very enjoyable.

jackj 11:38 AM  

Remembering that first, second and third places in a horse race are "Win, Place and Show", an EXACTA wager requires the bettor to correctly pick the winner and the place (second) horse in that order to win an EXACTA bet.

Thus, "It includes picking the place", (the second horse), works nicely for the tricky clue.

OISK 11:42 AM  

Thanks, Anon at 11:04. I was beginning to think I would be the only "No" vote. Typical for me, having breezed through what was called a difficult Monday, easily conquered a generally unloved Thursday, I miss two squares in an "easy" Friday. Even had I finished correctly, I would have disliked this pop-culture infused mess. Never heard of Goodcharlotte, Zac Efron, what the heck is a "BFF", what modern lingo has the expression "nones", and never heard of a Fatback either. The result was that I had Fatrack, which made more sense to me, and RGF (really good friend?) and Zac Egron. Perfectly logical, and wrong. Never heard anyone say "up top" either, but at 67, I don't 'Give five" very often. Loved Monday through Thursday, but this one ruined the week. I don't even like the clue for "kneads". Sure, one might knead dough in the kitchen, but there are far better, more direct clues, when the down clues are an obscure actor and pork. Nones??? That's how many "stars" I give pop rot puzzles like these. There. I feel better now.

M and A's Last Silver Riblet 11:48 AM  

Silver Bullets...

* ELCAPITAN. Got'er off the E+whatever. Was just in Yosemite Valley last friggin week!

* EXACTA. Great clue. @Anonymous and Eggsuckin: Use the Googler dude's definition above, plus remember that "place" means "second", when playin the ponies.

* THEE U. Sounds almost like some sort of Biblical reference.

* NONES. Has that sweet, desperate sound to it. Sorta like LOITERERERS.

* ITSADUDE. If you bounce left off AUDIT and drop in at the FAMILYREUNION.

* COTTA. Nother primo clue. Wanted PIZZA. Always do. Always will. I was twice baked in Albuquerque, by the way.

* VWBEETLE ontoppa AAARATED ontoppa NBASTARS. har. thUmbsUp, PdUbs.

* ZIPADEEDOODAH. Seed entry that suggests, "If you got zipadeedoodah, you got a heckuva start".

* FATBACK RIBLET ICERAIN. Former name of GOOD CHARLOTTE. I'd turn back, if I were them.


Gill I. P. 12:02 PM  

Well, there's a shout out to me - DODO.
This puzzle was terrific but I had trouble. Had the GOOD and a few other letters but CHARLOTTE only came to me via Google. ZIPPYdedoodad. I'm a terrible speller.
When I go to the gym, The Price is Right is always on. I'm always holding my breathe hoping George will shout out It's a NEW CAR.
I don't care how much of an idiot the contestant is, I always want them to win...
When I fill out those forms, I always mark Presbyterian because that's what I am. When I was at hospital checking in, the clerk wanted to verify my religion. She said you're PR right? I said I was and then she wanted to know what that meant. I said Puerto Rican.
PEACE to all......

Marc 12:29 PM  

Being a huge Disney fan, I actually started smack dab in the middle with ZIPADEEDOODAH, to OPIE, to GOOD CHARLOTTE. The rest of the middle and bottom came easy except that for the life of me I could not see NBASTARS. I had COTTe so I had no idea what a N-BASTER. A few hangups in the NW and NE but overall not too bad.

I really like the symmetry of DEIST and NONES and was surprised no one else commented on it.

Ruth 12:40 PM  

I think "cotta" is more literally "cooked", while "al forno" is what you'd use for "baked". The clue might have been a bit more misleading using "cooked." But Google translator says otherwise so I will drop my case.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Up top, OISK!

I did know UP TOP, (which is frequently paired with "down low" -- a "low five"), but I feel your pain on this puzzle. I feel better now too.

-- Anon 11:04

Lewis 12:56 PM  

Went down easy (for Friday) and smooth, though I've never heard of ELCAPITAN or GOODCHARLOTTE. When I got PAKETTLE, I didn't see it as PA KETTLE, I saw it as a single word, and a pretty funny word at that. Like, at the FAMILYREUNION everyone started spatting and the next thing you know, theres a big PAKETTLE going on.

Thanks for this Peter!

Ellen S 1:18 PM  

@Mac, I tried to post an answer to your question yesterday, but though Blogger said it had been saved, it wasn't. I don't have anything against actual eels, of course. I believe there are, or were, some in the "Petting Pool" at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, though they weren't as friendly as the rays, who would let you stroke their backs. I just went off on them when, after sproadically appearing every day or so, they showed up like five days in a row. Feeble filll, as @Evil points out, and yet it was looking like a new Shortzian requirement; every puzzle had to have an EEL. (havn't seen SNIGGLER or ELVER lately, though; I shouldn't even say it.)

Thank you, Peter Wentz, for an EEL-free puzzle.

Hand up for staring at PAKETTLE forever before finally parsing it. I thought I knew all the comedy duos, but never heard of Mr. or Ms. Pakettle.

Rober Ebert: At least I have this blog to fill my otherwise useful days, becuase I can never go to the movies now, without his guidance. Often his reviews were better than the films, even the good films. I was reminded in the Sun-Times obit that his cancer started with malignant tumors of the thyroid and salivary glands. He was just a year older than I am, and so quite possibly a "beneficiary" of a widespread practice in the late 1940s and early 50s of irradiating people, mostly children, for all kinds of things, including to shrink tonsils instead of removing them surgically. The polio epidemic was raging and the rationalization was that this non-surgical procedure would be less stressful to the immune system and so not increase the risk of getting polio. I think, in the shadow of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that it was an attempt to make people believe that Radiation Is Your Friend. So, in 1989 I had one salivary gland removed (benign, thanks to the gods I don't believe in and any other ones that might be looking after me), and in 1997, the main salivary gland on the other side removed and at the same time half my thyroid, all rotted with tumors but all benign. If I were a believer, I'd think that was a sign I'm supposed to do something useful with my life, but here I am at this blog...

Oh, if you google "Ice Rain" you come up with ZipADeeDooDaa.

Ellen S 1:20 PM  

I meant "because."

Sparky 1:27 PM  

I was truly happy to finish a Friday. Of course it was easy. (Italicize course here.) Bah, humbug. Hand up for Costello. @SusanMc: tee hee. Good one. Well, I don't care, I was pleased to see Evan and Acme's names. Nice people. There were a lot of initials it seemed to me. It was a good solve. Thanks Peter Wentz.

Feel sad about Roger Ebert. He fought a good fight.

Bird 1:49 PM  

A really good puzzle that I enjoyed solving. Thank you Mr. Wentz. I was worried after the first run-through resulted in less fill than I hoped, but things started to click and finished with no errors.

Write-overs include EAGLES before ASPENS, JUMPS before GAITS and STANDS before ARISES.

Loved the clues for 18A and 36A. KAPOW and ZIPADEEDOODAH are cool, too.

@Wes - I work in manufacturing and we have material COSTS and labor COSTS. Clue is correct.


syndy 1:53 PM  

Practically Perfect puzzle! my only hangup was needing the crosses to spell ZIPPITY!I would have said it was just a mite too easy but after reading the whingers I just it's just that we rexites are just that good!(p.s. the cluing for friday is SUPPOSED tp be tricksy!Next time go ahead over the hour mark.)

okanaganer 1:58 PM  

Quick fun puzzle; plus it had ACME. I was expecting Andrea to chime in somewhere...did I miss it?

Also, kind of a general question: when you-all complete the grid but realize you have a wrong letter somewhere (for instance because Across Lite does not congratulate you), is that still deemed a Did Not Finish? Is there a way to configure AL to wait until I click an "I am Really Finished" button before it checks for correctness?

Benko 2:00 PM  

Easy breezy Friday fun! So much better than yesterday's. Had a good time solving this one and seeing woody Guthrie, one of my all-time heroes.
Good Charlotte, I knew, because one of my best friends got his band kicked off the warped tour for punching their singer in the face. Mic you've ever seen them or heard their music, I'm sure you can relate.

Benko 2:13 PM  

I hate text auto-correct. It makes you write stupid things. Mic in the last post? Haha, and just now it tried to make post into POTTS.
I grew up in the Carolinas, and the grocery stores there have tables piled high with FATBACK, which is the belly fat of a pig. Used like lard for cooking, the Cherokees and the crackers both loved it.

Evan 2:23 PM  


She made a comment over at Crossword Fiend about today's puzzle (and spread my new coined word too [insert evil cackle]!).

About your question on DNF: I personally have a different definition of it than many others 'round here do -- they'll say that any wrong letters at all is a DNF; while I say that if you have a full grid and didn't leave any blank spaces and didn't use Google while solving but had one or two wrong letters, then you did finish, you just didn't finish perfectly.

Regardless, yes, there is a way you can create a makeshift "I Am Really Finished" button in Across Lite. If you lock the puzzle solution by clicking on Solution/Lock Solution, then when you've filled in the grid, the timer will keep running. That gives you time to check over your answers. When you hit the Unlock icon, that's a way of telling Across Lite that you're really done -- and you'll know if you've made mistakes.

sanfranman59 3:10 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)

Fri 15:13, 22:18, 0.68, 5%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:01, 12:57, 0.70, 7%, Easy

ACME 3:22 PM  

Thanks, @Evan!

I was up late last night and @Rex hadn't posted yet and I loved the puzzle so much, I chimed in on Amy's site...

Then when I came here just now, I saw that Joho and I continue to think EXACTA alike, so I saw no need to post...

But since @okanaganer has given a nice shout out, I'll cut and paste what I had written, despite the repetition and late-to-the-partyness...

"KAPOW! Peter Wentz, my fave constructor KICKSOFF a great puzzle from word one!
Four K’s in the first four downs!!!! You have got to love this guy!

Easy one for some reason bec I kept guessing right…
(Like, even on GOODCHARLOTTE, even tho I thought their name was sweetCHARLOTTE and don’t know the song!)

Fave part was the lower SE with the first two letters of all words being totally unexpected:
At first you think you are making a mistake (Tho what could it be besides “EVAN Almighty”…and I had just read an EVAN comment…PSYCHOPOP! (Kidding…))
But then the crossing words are VWBEETLE, AAARATED, NBASTARS.

Ironically, ACME was my last fill as I struggled to think of ZAC’s name.

Loved EXACTA and his ZIPADEEDOODAH right across the grid.

There is always some much verve and Scrabbledyness and energy in his puzzles! I just love him!

I never know if playground taunts are ARESO, AMTOO, IAMSO, AMNOT…
Or if party folks are DEM, GOP, REP, before POL…but that’s my only trip up.

And I learned a lot (eg SIXTY for Babe Ruth, Kegler being related to bowling, you know, sports stuff).
Fun, visual def for FREE.
Anyway, thank you, Peter Wentz, definitely not a dud!"

Lewis 3:43 PM  

Evan -- can you send me your email address? I have a question, if you don't mind...

Evan 4:11 PM  


Sure, it's ebirnholz AT gmail DOT com.

(Sorry, I post it on public fora that way to avoid bots spamming me.)

Tita 4:31 PM  

Fridays are still hard for me, including this one.
2 naticks caused a dnf:
Had STANLEy, had not even teh merest clue on the samurai, so how could I infer anythign from GOODCHA_LOTTY. It sounded like what I might say when licking an Italian ice cream cone.

@Mohair - yes, it is...

@lms - thanks for those familial xings...

Groaned when the Island was not an Island but the next state over...
I used to be thin as a Rail.

Shoutout to my cousin who is a translator for THEEU in Brussels.

@Bob K - had an astronomy prof in high scool who used that joke incessantly... You know who invented the Newtonian Refractor? Isaac Refractor. etc.. ad nauseum.

@Gill - you win Shoutout o' the Day!!!

Thanks Mr. Wentz.

chefwen 4:33 PM  

@Evil Doug - Shout out to me too, I just got a 42A yesterday. Hah!

Young whippersnapper renter boy helped me with GOOD CHARLOTTE.

Easiest Friday in ages.

Now off to "suck an egg".

M&A - Google LA Times Crossword - American Mensa, LTD.

Eric 4:33 PM  

Pete Wentz, huh? Who knew? Emo rocker AND a damn solid crossword constructor. Loved it.

Altogether, it's been a stellar week of puzzling with the NYT. Here's hoping for some more this weekend!

jae 4:37 PM  

Easy, smooth, liked it!

mac 4:39 PM  

Fantastic Friday puzzle, but not too easy for me.
The NE was the biggest struggle: are Sweet Aftens flowers? fifty, and PBA took a long time. Riblets probably have no bones but are made of ground pork PRODUCT? Mystery meat.

I got Pa Kettle, but I'm pretty sure I've never seen him or his spouse. BFF showed up but I don't get the Pal....
Oh, now I get it.

That's the kind of trouble I enjoy.

Two Ponies 4:47 PM  

I forgot to mention earlier that I knew Ronin by a movie of the same name with Robert DeNiro. I loved it.

Evan 4:55 PM  

@Sir Hillary and @Eric:

Believe it or not, the Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy went to my high school (as did the 80s singer Richard Marx, who showed up in a recent grid). I didn't know him, though I did know Pete's mother a little. If I remember correctly, my brother and Pete both played on the school soccer team.

Adler Cokie Michaels 5:20 PM  

Whoa, till I read your note and went to wikipedia, I realize I've been mixing up Pete Wentz of "Fall Out Boy" with Pete Doherty the heroin addict guy that was on and off with Kate Moss!
At least Peter Wentz shares his name with a cool guy, not a porn star who slept with Tiger Woods!

LaneB 5:54 PM  

UaSpelled ZIPADEEDOODAH zippitydoodah to KICKOFF my effort and that slowed me down, but finally recovered and finished in good shape. Never heard of AWN, did you? Glad to complete a Friday.

Mohair Sam 7:38 PM  

@tita. No, it is not.

Nigel 9:54 PM  

I find it amusing when people announce that they have never heard of x or y, as in PAKETTLE today (even though I had Ma Kettle since that's how they were referred - it was always Ma and Pa Kettle, never Pa and Ma. If you are over 50 you probably know them - because they were part of the movie industry at the time. You're just too young.

And EL CAPITAN - I guess you don't know your geography or your national parks or your state icons. Not having heard of something is not a reason for excluding it from a puzzle. It that's how it worked the only answers we would have would be EEL and LIE and other boring words. I mean look at AWN, it's pure crosswordese, and you have probably never seen it in print any other way.

I dread the day when all the clues are from the nineties and on because I'll be lost. However, I did fill in GOODCHARLOTTE from a few letters because it looked right and I thought, oh, I think that's the name of some band - didn't know it was punk, could have been reggae (not!). And you have to know BFF if you are paying any attention to pop culture. (And for the record, this guy who recognized that band name is 62. I just have a good memory for things I read, hear about and find in crossword puzzles. Lucky me.

JenCT 10:31 PM  

@Susan Mc: I read the clue as Kegel's organization and thought whaaaat? The NY Times??? No.....

@Tita: It's not an "Epic wrong answer" but is there a category for "Epic Wrong Misreading of a Clue?"

@Two Ponies: I really liked the movie Ronin too.

Anonymous 10:33 PM  

@Nigel - I too am always amazed when people here fess up to things they don't know. Most of the people I know are arrogant SOBs who wouldn't admit to any lack of knowledge, as obvious as this lack may be to one and all. It's called humility.

sanfranman59 10:37 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 7:02, 6:12, 1.14, 92%, Challenging
Tue 7:22, 8:19, 0.89, 16%, Easy
Wed 9:25, 10:16, 0.92, 30%, Easy-Medium
Thu 20:46, 16:58, 1.22, 84%, Challenging
Fri 15:18, 22:18, 0.69, 5%, Easy (9th lowest ratio of 171 Fridays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:22, 3:42, 1.18, 96%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 172 Mondays)
Tue 4:21, 4:52, 0.89, 13%, Easy
Wed 5:20, 6:04, 0.88, 18%, Easy
Thu 14:10, 9:56, 1.43, 91%, Challenging
Fri 8:36, 12:57, 0.66, 4%, Easy (7th lowest ratio of 171 Fridays)

finna 8:38 PM  

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Spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Of course, the "picking the place" clue brings "The Sting" to mind:

"Place it on Lucky Dan."
[Later] "I put it all on Lucky Dan, to win."
"To WIN?! I said PLACE! That horse is gonna run SECOND!"

Ah, what a great flick. Today's puzzle offered a bit less resistance than usual for a Friday, as has been mentioned. I don't quite know why; faced with "impossible" letter combos in the SE I nevertheless left them in, and they led me to three easy fills across. It kinda went that way all over.

I do have a couple of bones, though. ICERAIN is not a "relative of" sleet; it IS sleet! There's a word for ice rain: it's "sleet." This entry is the epitome of green paint. And how is THEEU different from AANDE? Two initials preceded by THE written out. Flag! Fifteen yards!

One clue I don't understand; maybe a CPA out there can put me wise: how does "Take without credit" equal AUDIT?? Maybe that's one of the COSTS.

Entertaining? you bet. Careful?? Not so much.

Weird that my captcha's first word is "the." I'm being haunted.

Waxy in Montreal 12:19 PM  

@Space - if you sit in on a college/university course for interest purposes only (no credit for the course will ensue) without registering, you are said to audit the course.

What a breezy, refreshing Friday puzzle leaving lots of the day for other activities.

And Ethan Allen is known for more than commanding the Green Mountain Boys - who knew?

connie in seattle 12:45 PM  

@spacecraft: when you take a college course without credit, you
are auditing it.

Ginger 1:39 PM  

I must be getting better at these things because I finished a Friday with only one google. (so please, don't tell me it's easy!)

Wanted halfdome for ELCAPITAN. Held off on -AKETTLE, until KAPOW gave me PA. Smiled at TEEball (okay, I know it's golf, but whatever) as great-grandson is now playing it. Hits the ball really well, then just stands there not knowing where to run.

ICERAIN is quite common here. Falls as rain, but freezes on contact creating a slab of black ice on the roads. Nasty driving conditions. It can shut down the Interstate through the Columbia River Gorge for 2 - 3 days.

rain forest 2:13 PM  

Just for fun, I think I'll change my name to Eke, so I get a shout-out regularly. Good puzzle even if it was easy. Got the Disney song off the -AH (I know some people just KNEW that), and rest was pretty perky. I didn't mind THEEU especially an abbreviation was called for, and EU of course is only a two-letter word. ICERAIN was iffy, and could have been clued differently. Nice to finish a Friday so quickly, though.

Syndi Solver 3:03 PM  

The bottom half was definitely the easiest part! But I got stuck about 3/4 of the way through and needed help. So, DNF for me even though this was rated as easy.

I wanted my RAIN to be ICy but ZIPADEEDOODAH fixed that.

Which leads me to ICE RAIN. Huh? I'm with the folks who say that this is not a thing. But hey, I'm not the puzzle editor, so what do I know? :-)

@Ginger, I do know of both "black ice" and "freezing rain." But I've never heard anyone (on weather reports or otherwise) use the term ICE RAIN.

Enjoyed learning some new words (RIBLET and EXACTA). It's funny that I wrote in AWN without any crosses. Just goes to show that I've absorbed some crosswordese over the years.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:22 PM  

@Spacecraft - In defense of certain crosswordese, we might observe that when we speak them out loud, we do say, "The E U" or "A and E." No one says "A ampersand E."

On the other hand, those who object to "DR WHO" (they are over in that corner with the guy shouting, "DARTH is a title, not a name!"), may have a point!

Syndi Solve 4:16 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle,

Absolutely! DOCTOR WHO should always be spelled out. How else would you get TORCHWOOD as an anagram?? :-)

That said, when someone puts DR WHO in a puzzle I'm still happy to see it, even if it's not quit right. Maybe it should have var. in the clue, LOL!

Spacecraft 4:21 PM  

Thanks to all for clearing up the AUDIT thing. Me? If I'm gonna give the prof an hour of my time you better believe I'm getting credit for it!

@BobK: I agree with you about the spoken expressions "A and E" and "The EU." They just look so dumb when they're written out. The former is NEVER written that way outside of the crossworld; as to the latter, people fuss when "THE" is stuck in front of a long theme answer, so I just thought when THE takes up 60% of the entire entry, that it was worth a fifteen-yarder. You have to admit, it LOOKS awful! But I did enjoy the puzzle otherwise.

And now, I swear to God, this is my captcha:

1909 tortsEU

Dirigonzo 4:33 PM  

It was only when the puzzle was done and I was admiring my completed grid that I realized WEELAD is not the botanical name of some highland flora - geesh.

RailS before REEDS for my exemplars of thinness, and IgiveUp before ITSADUD until I said, "Well, that one doesn't work" were my major missteps (along with ICyRAIN). Favorite section was the dust-up of nonwords in the SE corner.

DMGrandma 5:04 PM  

Struggled with this one-cowed by the three long acrosses: a "way beyond my time band", a song from a Disney ride that didn't exist when I was taking my kids there in the 70's and 80's, and (I thought) some kind of business term. So I put the puzzle, complete except for the center, aside as a "can't do". Then turned to WSJ puzzle where the clue for a coin with 12 stars gave the Euro. armed with this "new" knowledge, I came back and filled in THEEU, which, along with an AHA on the "meeting", let me finish this thing, BFF, NONES and all!

Marie Jones 6:40 PM  

Your article helped me to understand the topic well and I would love to share this to my friends. I also love to
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Longbeachlee 12:31 PM  

Count me in the natick club, good charlitty, stanley, and dido. Final answer? Yes.

Dirigonzo 7:53 PM  

@Longbeachlee - But you still had fun, no?

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