1973 Jim Croce album / SAT 5-28-11 / C ration replacer / Counterpart of Selene / Issuer of 1986 report on pornography / Funicular alternative

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Constructor: David Quarfoot

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: CHARRO (7D: Cousin of a vaquero) —

Charro is a term referring to a traditional horseman from Mexico, originating in the central-western regions primarily in the state of Jalisco including: Zacatecas, Durango, Guanajuato, Morelos, Puebla. The terms Vaquero and Ranchero (Cowboy and Rancher) are similar to the Charro but different in culture, etiquette, mannerism, clothing, tradition and social status. // The traditional Mexican charro is known for colorful clothing and participating in coleadero y charreada, a specific type of Mexican rodeo. The charreada, or corrida, is the national sport in Mexico, and is regulated by the Federación Mexicana de Charrería. (wikipedia)

• • •

What a strange week. This puzzle was easier than yesterday's, which was way easier than Thursday's. My times are not supposed to get *better* as the week goes on. It's true that I have always had a bit of a wavelength thing going on with David Quarfoot (who seems to be back in regular rotation after a way-too-long-hiatus), but still, under 7 is pretty ridiculous for me on a Saturday. Might be my fastest Saturday ever. It's certainly close. It's not the sexiest DQ puzzle I've ever done, but it's definitely solid, with a batch of fresh, contemporary answers (GUITAR HERO, RED BULL, LASER MOUSE) (15A: Hit video game series featuring "hammer-ons"; 8D: Drink containing taurine; 61A: Optical tool for a computer user) and only a stray EDE (40A: Central Dutch city) or ORALES (45D: Mass attire) here and there to bring things down (FYI: I zoned on EDE, but managed to get ORALES off the "O").

I experienced no significant hold-ups. Plugged "I" into the beginning of 1A: "Shhhh!" follower, figuring it would be some variant on "I'm workin' here!" or "I'm trying to sleep!" I was wrong, but that "I" immediately got me "I GOT A NAME" (1D: 1973 Jim Croce album => tip of the hat to my dad on that one), and that gave me a Lot of first letters in the crosses. Struggled a teeny bit with LE HAVRE (27D: City on the Seine), but followed ED MEESE (42D: Issuer of a 1986 report on pornography) easily into that SE corner and then back up around to the NW, which was the toughest part of the grid for me. Thought 18A: "The Eighth Wonder of the World," informally was K-TWO. Then I thought it was K-ONE (there's a K-ONE, right?), which is *very* close to KONG. So I had -NEER at 14D: Inflame and thought "SNEER? That's terrible." Indeed. Tried LUNA at 11A: Counterpart of Selene (correct), and got ANEER. Bah. Not right. Finally pulled the "E" in K-ONE and there was ANGER, and that was that, except for the little SW corner, which I somehow drove right past on my first lap around the grid. UTTER for ULTRA (49D: Extremely) slowed me down a bit, but not much.

Found a couple parts of the puzzle, er, puzzling. Shouldn't the clue for ABE LINCOLN in some way signal that you're going for the familiar, abbreviated form of his name? (58A: Political leader who patented a system to alter the buoyancy of steamboats). All the crosses said "LINCOLN," but I hesitated for a bit because of this cluing issue. I was going to ask what a SIT-BESIDE was (!?), but then I realized that "neighbor" in the clue 3D: Neighbor in the bleachers, say was being used as a verb. Glad that's sorted out.

  • 20A: Dwellers in the Southern Carpathians (SERBS) — did my typical "Slavs or SERBS?" teetering before making the right choice.
  • 25A: Longtime Disney name (EISNER) — might have proven tough if I hadn't had the first three letters in place before I saw the clue.
  • 50A: C ration replacer (MR. E) — people think the phrase is "mystery meat." They are mistaken.

  • 25D: Home to a famous geodesic sphere (EPCOT) — crossing EISNER, nice.
  • 54D: Funicular alternative (T-BAR) — seems I have no idea what a "funicular" is. I thought it was something to do with interior decoration, like a newel post or curtain rod or something. But no. It's a sort of inclined railway.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


jackj 12:46 AM  

Walking on air after my Boston Bruins tonight won the right to play for the Stanley Cup against Vancouver beginning next week, I thought that had something to do with my solving this one in 8 minutes (and I'm not a speed solver by any means).

But, it seems I have the same problem with today's puzzle as with yesterdays; interesting fill but too easily clued.

For example, 5 letters of the 10 letter entry at 1 across are revealed by filling in the obvious answers of IGOTANAME, TUNASALAD, SAES, ERRED and TOO.

This continues throughout the puzzle and it is extremely frustrating to once again be given a themeless NY Times puzzle which is much too easy!

Perhaps I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth but come on Will, please don't let the puzzles slide.

syndy 2:34 AM  

Okay not as fast as you two but still...sitbeside did have me shaking my head and crossing of ORALES-MRE was a total natick for me but only so many choices (I thought they wear albs?)ALSO the puzzle seemed strangely familiar especially the sw corridor -PTA down hmm but hey nonnie nonnie I'll take the gift

jae 2:47 AM  

Yep, pretty easy. I tried to make it harder by misspelling SIRUSRADIO for 17a. Also TRAM for TBAR and PANCAKE off the P in POPTART but those were about it in an otherwise smooth solve. I liked this one but, Rex is right, this weekend is going in the wrong direction difficultly wise.

chefwen 3:02 AM  

Liked this one a lot. Got a little hung up, as Rex did, with utter before ULTRA, he recover much faster than I did.

Loved 18A, the front of our house has a view of King Kong mountain. Husband (plumbing boy) designed our home to have every bathroom, while sitting on the throne have a view of the mountain. The Dalai Lama visited here in 1994 to view the area because there used to be a natural arch on the mountain where is was believed that souls entered the earth, it has since collapsed due to natural causes, but this is still believed to be a magical place.

i got a name, it's andrea 5:05 AM  

@Rex, if you ever end up riding a funicular (hand up for Tram at first) you will be overwhelmed by a desire to sing "Funiculee, funiculae..." at the top of your lungs.
(There is a beautiful one in Budapest that I think takes you from Pest up to Buda...or the other way around.)

Two moments of synchronicity while solving tonight...
I had limbo till FENCE became clearer due to FIREPIT...
and as I was wondering the strangeness of the phrase FIREPIT Cliff suddenly said FIREPIT on "Cheers" on in the background!
Then Sam mentioned "BlackJack", my kitty (who was on the bed with me, pointing out that I made my usual one-square mistake at OdALES/MdE.

The little SW Friend-of-Dorothy corner finally got me going, but sheesh, DQ, you gotta admit there are a LOT of props and costumes in "The Wizard of Oz".

Hardest letter for me to overcome was that Ostspitze was an ALP not an ALe!
Now can someone tell me what Taurine is?

And @Rex, there are probably plenty of funiculae? funiculi? funiculas? in the ALPs.
And if you ever end up riding one (hand up, btw, for Tram) you will be overwhelmed by a desire to sing "Funiculee, funiculae..." at the top of your lungs.
There is a beautiful one in Budapest that I think takes you from Pest up to Buda...or the other way around.

(ack!)me again 5:08 AM  

sorry about that, I thought blogger ate my comment and I was trying to remember it and retype and it printed my first comment anyway with half the rewrite! Spooky. Either that or there is an echo in here!

imsdave 5:26 AM  

@acme - from wiki:

Taurine, or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, is an organic acid. It is a major constituent of bile and can be found in the lower intestine.

Mouth-watering, no? Could I have some LICE with that too?

About the same time as yesterday (10ish), but a little zippier.

fikink 6:14 AM  

First entry, I GOT A NAME, and never looked back.

I'm sure I've seen TRAM clued as funicular elsewhere and, having the A in LASER MOUSE, I bit, too.

The PTA cascade did just that and the friends-of-Dorothy corner (very funny, Andrea) was a pushover.

Loved MAKE HAY, of course, but balked at DIP.

Now how shall I do chores without a stiff Saturday NYT to mull over?

Glimmerglass 7:38 AM  

Mr. E? Oh, I see: "mystery." Is that what soldiers call MealReadytoEat? Easy puzzle, but I don't see why NASAL is "pinched" or why a LASER MOUSE is optical.

The Bard 8:34 AM  

Hamlet > Act IV, scene VII

Let's further think of this;
Weigh what convenience both of time and means
May fit us to our shape: if this should fail,
And that our drift look through our bad performance,
'Twere better not assay'd: therefore this project
Should have a back or second, that might hold,
If this should blast in proof. Soft! let me see:
We'll make a solemn wager on your cunnings: I ha't.
When in your motion you are hot and dry--
As make your bouts more violent to that end--
And that he calls for drink, I'll have prepared him
A chalice for the nonce, whereon but sipping,
If he by chance escape your venom'd stuck,
Our purpose may hold there.

joho 9:01 AM  

Hmmm, I was hoping for a bear and we ended up with a pussycat.

I liked the "Wizard of Oz" corner and TBAR next to ALP. There's also a mini computer theme with LASERMOUSE, PRESSENTER and ICON.

The good news is I can get on with my Saturday a lot sooner than usual, the not so good news, this was way TOO easy for a Saturday.

GLR 9:46 AM  

Just to demonstrate that there’s some diversity here, this one took me a looong time to solve (though I got the Happy Pencil on the first try). I put down IT’S A SECRET right away, and thought maybe this would be a breeze, but after that, the answers I knew were just here-and-there, all over the grid, so I couldn’t get on a roll anywhere.

Also had too many wrong first guesses – gaucho for CHARRO, Minnie for EISNER, stole for NASAL, NEA for PTA, oatmeal for POPTART, tram for TBAR, pig for CON. I’ve got seven wrong answers and maybe ten correct ones spread around the grid, and it all just turns to confusion.

In the end, there were several answers I just wasn’t familiar with – ERIS, LUNA, DRU, EDE, TULLE, ORALES – but most everything else looked reasonable. Did not care for SAES (I assume this is self-addressed envelopes). I’ve heard of SASEs, but not SAEs. On 47D, I don’t know that I’d call STRAW the costume – it’s more like a part of a costume.

quilter1 9:50 AM  

I did the SW corner first, I GOT A NAME was a cinch but the contemporary clues/answers slowed me down some. I did not know GUITAR HERO or LASER MOUSE. I haven't seen/heard of ORALES for a while. There are all sorts of vestments besides albs. The alb would be under the ORALE, a kind of cape. Very high church. I knew EISNER but blanked on it for the longest time. Grr. Not quite medium but not quite easy either, but a fun puzzle nonetheless.

pawleci: those who protect Tim Pawlenty

David L 9:53 AM  

Opposite experience to Rex this week -- yesterday was way easy (tho it took me a tad longer than Thursday's) and today's I struggled with and ended with a mistake -- ALLPRO for OLDPRO. That gave me LIP for DIP, which didn't make sense, but CHARRA for CHARRO seemed equally plausible, not recognizing either.

Other stuff was just not in my wheelhouse. I got GUITARHERO and IGOTANAME eventually, but they weren't gimmes. What KONG is the 8th wonder of the world? King Kong? And I know what an optical mouse is, but have never heard it called a laser mouse (unless that's something different). And ORALES is a new one for me....

SethG 9:55 AM  

Didn't know the album, I was _sure_ [Advancement aid] would be ATM, thought CHARRO would be TORERO, and mistyped DRU as DRI. So the NW was pretty slow.

That, TRAM, struggling more than a bit on LE HAVRE, and not having any idea about the [Counterpart of Selene] help explain why it took me twice as long as yesterday and three times as long as you.

You should stick around, Quarfoot.

retired_chemist 10:09 AM  

@ glimmerglass - a nasal tone is often described as pinched. A laser emits light, hence optical.

Many of the same writeovers as described above (SLAVS, TRAM, UTTER) and quite a few of my own (POP TART <= YOGHURT, GUITAR HERO <= WHACK-A-MOLE, EISNER <= MICKEY, PTA <= NEA).

WHACK-A-MOLE and A SEC (22A) led me to CHEESE ??? @ 2D. gave up on that, but then tried something with SLAW. Time sink in that corner......

I presume Mr. E is on TEAM O (54A).

Loved clues for RED BULL (hint: taurus <=> BULL), LE HAVRE (hint: The Harbor). Interested to learn of Lincoln and the steamboat.

@ Chefwen, I had to read your post twice to make sure the Dalai Lama wasn't specifically visiting your throne room.....

Solid A, and easy-medium here. Thanks, Mr. Quarfoot.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Where on earth did "MR.E" come from? Is this a joke that I just don't get? It means "Meals Ready to Eat". I've heard some soldiers jokingly refer to them as "Meals Refused by Ethiopians"

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

Easy and fun.
I hope we see Mr. Quarfoot in the by-line again soon and often.

chefbea 10:53 AM  

At least I finished todays with a few googles.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone. Get those grills going!! We are going to do ribs either Sunday or Monday and my yummy potato salad. Corn on the cob!!!

retired_chemist 10:58 AM  

@ lapelpinhead - Yes to your question. @Rex is the most frequent and arguably the funniest intentional misparser but several of us do it. See TEAM O (TE AMO) above, the classic I, FIDO (IF I DO) of a week or so ago, and MR. ISCANS (MRI SCANS) of a year ago. Just havin' fun....

Lindsay 10:59 AM  

TRAM for Funicular screwed me up; also, POP TARTs aren't on my breakfast menu.

Filled in "quite" for 49D Extremely where 48D QUOTE belonged. Not very good with numbers.

Have a good weekend everyone.

JaxInL.A. 11:14 AM  

You guys are occupying a different universe from me today.

After popping in OILCAN in the SW as an experiment and guessing STRAW as the complimentary costume, I thought I was in for an easy time. I danced through that section but came to a screeching halt. A few other random answers appeared, but I could NOT make much headway or crack any of the other sections. Like Rex I put in I for the first letter, but could only remember Time in a Bottle. I finally looked up hammer-on (never played GUITAR HERO) and that gave me the NE.

But I had to look up sh*t in each section! I found the cluing Saturday vague and not easy in the very least. In the end I was completely defeated by an inability to see PRESS ENTER as "advancement aid." And you guys are all pissing me off by rubbing my nose in this epic fail with your "way too easy" whining.

Maybe I'm channelling Evil Doug today. As a CHARRO might say, ORALE!

Thanks, @quilter1, for helping me understand ORALES.

My mood improved on reading @r_c's observation of the Dalai Lama on @chefwen's toilet.

JaxInL.A. 11:16 AM  

Oops. I meant TAB for Advancement aid, and Continue for PRESS ENTER. Both keyboard clues.

Badir 11:25 AM  

I thought this was really easy too--I think it was my second-fastest Saturday ever. I slapped down GUITAR HERO first and almost never stopped. For some reason, I had "IMAMS" for "EMIRS", but eventually worked that out. The NE gave me a short pause, but when I had everything else, I broke in through LIKE SO.

captcha: routi, a broken routine.

Matthew G. 11:38 AM  

Definitely easier than Thursday, but noticeably harder than Friday, this played like two puzzles for me. Everything but the NW was easy, easy, easy, but the NW was brutal for me. Just couldn't see any of the answers, and finished with an error because I've never heard of Joanne DRU (with a name like that, you'd think she was crosswordese, but I've never seen her that I can recall) and wasn't familiar with the term CHARRO. So had CHARiO/DiU there.

Not seeing the word "neighbor" as a verb was probably my biggest obstacle, because once I finally got SIT BESIDE, the NW finally fell too.

Masked and Anonymous 11:54 AM  

I probably made this one seem harder than it is. Saw IGOTANAME and KONG stone cold immediately; no crosses. So, I'm startin' to think I'm tourney material.

Then I spot 22-Across. Looked like another gimme. Thunk. Thunk some more. No matter what I did, couldn't shake darn "Hang on Sloopy" tune from head. Came up with "sloopy", "tight" and "tome". But needed something starting with A ... if IGOTANAME was right; wasn't it? Started on second cinnamon roll, tourney potential melting away before my eyes.

Gave puz to PuzSpouse. Her philosophy: if it ain't a NYTimes SatPuz or Newman SatStumper, it's for wimps. She ate it up and spit it out. "Easy peasy," she yawned, taking a chomp out of my cinnamon roll.

dquarfoot 12:00 PM  

Hey folks, most of the clues were my originals, but sadly, my favorite was changed - the original clue for LASERMOUSE was "Game player that never touches a ball?". Probably too over-the-top, so understandable it got axed. Hope it made for a gentle vacation-weekend puzzle.

mac 12:05 PM  

Definitely easier than Thursday and Friday, but a lovely puzzle nonetheless.

Selene/Luna was a gimme (crosswords), as was I got a name. For 25A I had -isne-, and had a huh moment because of the Disney in the clue. I don't know my Red Bull from my Red Ball, so that was a little struggle. After getting Ed at 42 down I thought, now that's an interesting clue for Asner (in his function as head of Screen Actors Guild)....

@Andrea: to go from Pest to Buda, you have to take a bridge. I think there is a funicular in Prague, though. And Pittsburgh.

No barbecue this Memorial Day because we will still be in NY. Maybe pick up some BBQ ribs?

quilter1 12:15 PM  

Rain predicted and falling here so I might have to do an oven BBQ this weekend. As I recall we took the funicular up past the Reichenbach Fall (not Falls) and I kept my eyes open for Holmes and Moriarity but alas, must have missed them.
Joann Dru has been in the puzzle a few times.
Today is a good day to bake bread and make quilts.

joho 12:27 PM  

@dquarfoot, thank you for stopping by. I like your clue! Also, I didn't mention in my previous post, I also really liked the puzzle even though it was on the easy side of a Saturday. But as you said, it is all part of our relaxiing, fun-filled holiday weekend!

Baffled 12:36 PM  

5D Requests from an ed. => SAES? If "ed." means "editor" how is a request for an SAE related to editing?

29D Chew => DIP??? HELP, please!!!

Wade 12:42 PM  

I'm setting forth in the crossword blogosphere to correct misinformation and spread edification of the expecoratory arts, so if you frequent more than one blog you may see some version of this elsewhere. In short, to dip is not to chew and a dip is not a chew. Chewing tobacco, either looseleaf or twisted or in a plug, is chewed, and one helping is referred to as a “chew.” Red Man, Beech Nut, Bull of the Woods, Tinsley’s and many others are in this category.

Snuff, on the other hand, is either in a dry powder format (W.E. Garrett has one of the oldest trademarks in US History), or, more prevalently,in a moist(er) ground-up texture. The dry stuff was originally sniffed, as in those 18th century novels people lie about having read. The moist stuff is what athletes and guys in my hometown except for Brian Ranger and Chad Meacham dipped. (Yes, they were actually known for NOT dipping,) Copenhagen and Skoal are the most well known brands. One helping is called a “dip.” Dip preceded by “some” or without the singular definite or indefinite noun sounds goofy to most dippers, though up north they have different terminology, I hear. But in any event you do not chew snuff. To do so would be unpleasant and idiotic. You dip snuff. Both chewing tobacco and snuff are included in the category of “smokeless” tobacco (which of course is smokeless only if it’s not set on fire) but are no more synonyms of each other than apple and pear are.

Wade 12:52 PM  

But I did like the puzzle and found it easy but not quite as easy as Rex. The NE slowed me down a lot. I was stuck on DOME for "Eighth Wonder of the World," as in Astrodome (which is referred to as "the Dome" down here). Other than that it was pretty fast.

I loved Jim Croce when I was a kid--I credit him with making me the morbid bastard I am--and got embarrassed about that in my later years and more recently have come to appreciate him again in a different way. He had it goin' on.

CoffeeLvr 1:08 PM  

I was puzzled by SAES until I checked the British usage: Stamped Addressed Envelope, in the plural, as the clue clearly indicates. I, of course wanted the US singular, SASE.

@dquarfoot, always glad to hear from the constructor. Thanks!

You guys know I am challenged by even an easy Saturday, so I will spare you my journey, other than to note that bIgsPIT sat in the grid for a while (after a wild stab at LPSTOVE off the L in "limbo.") Of course, sPIT relates to "chew" and DIP. I worked with people who did both, and am sitting here now with my upper lip curled in revulsion. Filthy habit, not to mention extremely unhealthy.

Masked and Anonymous II 1:11 PM  

Thankx to Mr. Q for the (7 U-ed) puz and (7 U-ed) commentary.

Fave clue: "Hang on ___!" Runner-up: Drink containing taurine. (If the editors won't let you use urine, go for taurine, I always say.) Miss congeniality: Took a night course? Reminds me -- Tip #8 for beginning solvers: Don't order the goat dish on Friday at the Indian restaurant. Or you'll have goat bloat while solvin' the SatPuz.

Fave short fill: See 37-Down. Favret long fill: LEHAVRE. (Better clue: Poet's home away from home for Bret Favre.)

And a good Memorial Day weekend to all. Off storm chasin', next week.

JaxInL.A. 1:16 PM  

@Wade, as one with actual knowledge of the subject, you are unfortunately completely unqualified to answer this clue successfully.

I, on the other hand, don't have even a passing acquaintance with anyone who uses smokeless tobacco, my only acquaintance with it being my intimate knowledge of the aforesaid 18th century novels. Yet in one of my rare successes today, I read "chew,", popped in DIP and moved on to flailing at the rest of the puzzle.

Give it up. You can't win this one.

davko 1:34 PM  

A tough slog for this solver, thanks to a lock-up in the NW. But I enjoyed the creative cluing, which led to some interesting nuggets about disparate topics like Abe Lincoln, Red Bull, and Balkan geography.

I thought that a tuna on rye, with its choice of breads, represented a better "option" answer than the correct TUNA SALAD, but I guess that was the point of this misdirect. After all, no one can deny a salad is an option, too. There were other problems for me in this quadrant, like not knowing the Croce album and not recognizing SIT- as the start to a noun (2D). It was only when I traded my sandwich in for a salad that things began to free up.

Nice piece of work for a Saturday... but easy? Not by my lights. I'm in constant awe of your times, Rex, wondering how one could fill in all the squares in 7 minutes even knowing the answers in advance, let alone having to solve them and write them in.

Guess it's like that old riddle: "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"

foodie 2:02 PM  

@ Wade, thank you! Erudite as ever! I have a collection of paraphernalia related to all kinds of drugs of abuse, including hookahs, snuff boxes, fancy cigarette boxes for delicate ladies, opium pipes and the like. It's a whole world out there!

@ RC and Chefwen, LOL. I had the very same thought re the Dalai Lama enjoying the view from your bathroom.

The puzzle was very lovely. I did not know I GOT A NAME, but once it emerged, everything else fell, albeit much more slowly than it did for Rex.

jberg 2:40 PM  

Really hard for me. I'm not familiar with Jim Croce's work, but had some semi-conscious association with Alabama, which I filled in after getting 22, 30, and 36D. Did that ever hold me up! AD_ seemed as good as anything for a central Dutch city, so I decided there must be an album called IN ALABAMA - then wavered between "ON THE RADIO," which fit RED BULL and "AT THE OPERA," which fit ALABAMA. Finally got the NW mostly sorted out, though I still thought SAES was a typo for SASE.

However, I finished with the same error as @DAVE L. - ALL PRO/CHARRA & LIP. The 'chew' clew made no sense to me, and by then I was misremembering the clue for 7D as Vaquero's partner (rather than cousin)so the feminine ending seemed OK.

KarenSampsonHudson 2:58 PM  

Relaxing puzzle to start 3-day weekend. Let summer begin!

Clark 3:37 PM  

This was so not easy for me!

I did know what a funicular was at least. Here's the one that goes up to the Reichenbach Fall (singular, as @quilter1 points out).

chefbea 3:40 PM  

Our neighbor across the street always has a wad of dip between his teeth and lip. And he is always spitting. It's not attractive!!!

Bonnie Buratti 4:04 PM  

9 down (Eris). The latest evidence is that Pluto is actually larger than Eris.
- Bonnie Buratti, astronomer and crossword puzzle nut

Lindsay 4:17 PM  

@CoffeeLvr, I believe SAE is a self-addressed envelope, not a stamped addressed envelope. The stamp would be the second S in SASE, or self-addressed stamped envelope.

retired_chemist 4:28 PM  

So Pluto, the Roman god of the underworld, and Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos, get to duke it out over which has the lesser significance? I suppose the world can take heart at the insignificance of hell and discord.

Arundel 4:33 PM  

This one was fun, although not, in my opinion, quite as easy as Rex would have us believe!

My only complaint had to do with the cluing of the all-too-familiar TBAR as an alternative to a funicular. There are funiculars in use in this country, much closer to hand than Buda, Pest, or Reichanbach (although those falls do happen to be situated on the always useful River Aar!). In Pittsburgh PA there are two of them: the Monongahela and the Duquesne Inclines which are both pretty impressive.

As I recall from a visit a while ago, you wouldn't want to be towed up either of those hills on a T-bar!!

CoffeeLvr 4:46 PM  

@foodie, what a great idea for a collection.

@lindsey, it can be both, and in the UK SAE is as I noted.

michael 5:42 PM  

I thought that Friday's was considerably easier than this one. But that's only because I got stalled in the southeast because I refused to accept pop tart as a breakfast food. Once I gave in, I finished quickly.

Stan 5:52 PM  

I started with a malapop, thinking the video game was going to be DONKEY KONG or one of its relatives.

Loved the SQUIRM corner. TULLE mystified me when I saw it in an Emily Dickinson poem many decades ago, but at least I learned the word.

All week my neighbor has been driving a backhoe around his yard lifting rocks. It turned out not to be Stonehenge he was building but a huge FIRE PIT.

Good puzzle, David, though I'm glad Will made your clue easier. Happy s'mores to all!

chefwen 5:58 PM  

@r_c @foodie - It's a great bathroom, he would have loved it!!!

sanfranman59 6:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. 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 7:05, 6:52, 1.03, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 9:45, 8:56, 1.09, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 13:09, 11:47, 1.12, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 25:15, 19:04, 1.32, 93%, Challenging
Fri 17:22, 25:50, 0.67, 5%, Easy (5th lowest median solve time of 103 Friday puzzles)
Sat 25:04, 30:24, 0.82, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:40, 1.04, 69%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:14, 4:35, 1.14, 89%, Challenging
Wed 6:34, 5:48, 1.13, 82%, Challenging
Thu 11:50, 9:11, 1.29, 89%, Challenging
Fri 8:59, 12:42, 0.71, 12%, Easy
Sat 13:17, 17:16, 0.77, 9%, Easy (8th lowest median solve time of 93 Saturday puzzles)

thursdaysd 6:11 PM  

Well, Saturday's are still beyond me, even with some help from google.

Just stopped by to mention that once you cross the bridge from Pest to Buda, you can then choose to take a funicular up the hill that confronts you. But my favorite funicular is the one in Lisbon that takes you up to a wonderful viewpoint, and to the Solar do Vinho do Porto, where you can buy delicious port by the glass. Can't imagine using a T-Bar instead, especially going back down...

andrea pest michaels 6:29 PM  

@thursdaysd, @mac
Ha! I thought so!!!!! I know I didn't just have a repressed memory of fights I had with my Israeli in Hungary...we fought everywhere, in the street, on the funicular, in some farmer's market, on half the bridges, in some hotel...most miserable trip in... my... LIFE...plus, I've never been to Prague!

not too late! Never know where he'll appear next! (or in what incarnation...)

retired_chemist 6:40 PM  

@ Chefwen - your description makes me want to visit.....

thursdaysd 7:04 PM  

@andrea - and here's a photo - pity about the fights, I love Budapest.


Stan 8:42 PM  

Just noticed this:

"Badder than old King Kong / And meaner than a junkyard dog."

jackj 9:57 PM  

The most accessible funicular in the U.S. is probably Angel's Flight Funicular which operates in the Bunker Hill area of downtown Los Angeles.

It just reopened last year after a lengthy shutdown and if you read the Harry Bosch series of books by Michael Connelly, Angel's Flight has been both referenced and used as a plot device by the writer in various of his books.

fikink 10:50 PM  

Discussion of DIP makes me feel better about having balked.

@foodie, I share your fascination with that subversive world of drug paraphernalia, having similar relics from the head shop days. We plan to bury them with our 1963 Bug.

dquarfoot, your clue for LASER MOUSE was right on and would have lent this puzzle a bit of the cryptic. I am sorry it was changed but look forward to your next appearance.

Chris 12:41 AM  

"MR.E" is "MRE," short for Meals Ready to Eat! Should know that on Memorial Day weekend.

CY 12:30 PM  

I'll never know how I would have done on this puzzle had I not accidentally glanced at Rex's page before doing it, and seeing the answer for 1 across. Regardless, I proceeded from there, but still finished with two squares wrong. My mistake was the same as David L's: ALL-PRO for OLD PRO.

In this case, I think that the "wrong answer" works almost as well as the right answer.

All-pro, "a term mostly used in the NFL for the best players of each position during that season," is surely a much better fit for the clue "master" than the made-up "Old pro", where the "old" part contributes almost nothing.

Although CHARRO works better than CHARRA for "Cousin of a vaquero", "CHARRA can be justified--after all, cousins can be female.

That leaves the weakest link: LIP comes close to working for CHEW in a couple of senses (of things done with the mouth) but doesn't quite; on the other hand, I would not have seen DIP as a synonym for CHEW at all. I gather from the erudite commenters that it has to do with chewing tobacco, but I would have had no idea.

One of the rare DNFs where I exonerate myself from blame entirely.

Red Valerian 1:28 PM  

Well, I “finished” without googling but with errors, so I didn’t (finish, that is). But managing even that on a Saturday confirms Rex’s rating of easy.

Made the aLlPRO for OLDPRO mistake, though feel somewhat vindicated given the discussion. Got Naticked at 50A and 45D, so guessed MdE and OdALES. Glad Rex explained that “neighbor” can be a verb. I got the right answer, but didn’t really like it. Ditto with KONG, which I googled (after “finishing”) to learn is a video game.

On the strength of just the O in 17A, I plunked down Operahouse. But 10D made me see that I had a problem, and it didn’t take long to sort out. Considered MADEpAY, but knew the cross wouldn’t be LEpAVRE.

Since I already had LASERMOUSE, I guessed hOg for 59D, but that too worked out. IGOTANAME was, for a while, obscured by “time in a bottle,” which, luckily, didn’t fit.

Was wondering where the first BuckyBall was built until EPCOT came into view.

I enjoyed the puzzle and had lots of chuckles at the write-up and comments “today.” Thanks, folks!

captcha= prick... really. Shoulda had that one for Andrea's puzzle a few days ago...

Deb 4:47 PM  

I understand that Rex rates puzzles' *relative* difficulty, but it's nonetheless always dispiriting to come here and see a Saturday puzzle rated as "easy." I think I've only finished ONE Saturday puzzle without either googling or flipping my syndi-puzzle over to see an answer.

One of the first answers I very confidently plucked down was PHOTO for "Stock ____." Just like yesterday with "CAN I" (instead of RSVP), my stubborn refusal to reconsider that answer made the SW move like quicksand.

I also wanted LIMBO instead of FENCE, and threw in RED WINE instead of RED BULL.

I googled "mass vestments" to try to figure out ORALES and Whoa Nelly there are tons of them! Didn't see ORALES in the list though.

Anonymous 5:26 PM  

Wanted "fellow fan" at 3d, but that wasn't going to work with anything so I left it blank and waited.

I had sUbmarine crossing with sUpermariO, which messed me up for quite some time. Was pretty sure Super Mario wasn't a series, though (series would be Mario Brothers, right?) so I knew I was in for some write-overs. Eventually, working my way up from Oz, I got the Croce album off the M in MADE HAY and most of the rest fell into place.

Other trouble spot was 32a where I had tICs, leaving me with either pig spit or pit spit at 21d. And some sort of RED B_ _ t drink. Red beet juice maybe, but of course you can't just drink a red beet.

Was about to throw in the towel when I saw REDBULL, which gave me LICE, FIRE PIT and an answer that made much better sense at 21A than pENCE.

If ABE(raham) needs a cluing signal, by the way, then so does ED(win). Or perhaps the clue is that they cross each other.

Dirigonzo 5:49 PM  

On the topic of syndication-synchronicity (which if it isn't already a common phrase, it ought to be), this puzzle originally appeared on Memorial Day weekend and reappeared for its encore on Fourth of July weekend. Weird.

Nullifidian 8:56 PM  

Writing from syndication-land:

This puzzle with its contemporary references was right in my comfort zone. I plunked down GUITAR HERO for my first gimme answer and didn't stop until I filled in the grid. It was one of those rare Saturdays where I was able to go across the grid in order. I even knew that bit of trivia about ABE LINCOLN.

It really was easier than yesterday's, which I didn't do until today because I had to get a replacement newspaper. It came wrapped up with today's edition. Yesterday, my newspaper never even made it to the driveway, but rather was left in the gutter where it got completely soaked through. *grumble*

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