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
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. (wisegeek.com)
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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