Infamous settler on Galveston Island 1817 / SAT 5-17-14 / Once common desert fighting force / Ballistic test units Abbr / Tommy of 1960s pop / Parlor with simulcasts / River crossed by ferry in 1965 Top Ten hit

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Constructor: Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LAFITTE (18A: Infamous settler on Galveston Island, 1817) —
Jean Lafitte (c. 1776 – c. 1823) was a French pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his elder brother, Pierre, spelled their last name Laffite, but English-language documents of the time used "Lafitte". The latter has become the common spelling in the United States, including for places named for him.
Lafitte is believed to have been born either in France or the French colony of Saint-Domingue. By 1805, he operated a warehouse in New Orleans to help disperse the goods smuggled by his brother Pierre Lafitte. After the United States government passed the Embargo Act of 1807, the Lafittes moved their operations to an island in Barataria Bay, Louisiana. By 1810, their new port was very successful; the Lafittes pursued a successful smuggling operation and also started to engage in piracy.
Though Lafitte tried to warn Barataria of a British attack, the American authorities successfully invaded in 1814 and captured most of Lafitte's fleet. In return for a pardon, Lafitte helped General Andrew Jackson defend New Orleans against the British in 1815. The Lafittes became spies for the Spanish during the Mexican War of Independence and moved to Galveston Island, Texas, where they developed a pirate colony called Campeche.
Lafitte continued attacking merchant ships as a pirate around Central American ports until he died around 1823 trying to capture Spanish vessels. Speculation about his life and death continues among historians. (wikipedia)
• • •

Anyone who thinks a themeless is a themeless is a themeless should really hold this one up to … well, most other themelesses, but let's take yesterday's puzzle, since it just happened. Yesterday's was about as good a quad stack puzzle as I've seen, but you simply can't achieve this kind of grace, splash, and elegance in a quad stack. The demands of that damned stack are just too severe—so, in yesterday's case, the top and bottom of the puzzle let you know what a wonderful themeless might look like, while the middle (quad area) was … something you sort of had to endure. Here: wow. There are a small handful of what I'd consider weak answers, but they are short and spread out and not (much) worth noting. The long answers just dance and sing across the middle of this thing, while the corners offer a smooth refreshment of their own (those roughly 6x8 NW/SE corners are deceptively hard to pull off—doesn't look like a ton of white space, but good luck getting those things to come out this nicely). Even the stuff I didn't know—most notably CAMEL CAVALRY (7D: Once-common desert fighting force)—was stuff I instantly felt I *wanted* to know. I had to look up LAFITTE when I was done—fascinating. PAOLO VERONESE rings only a small bell, but "the largest painting in Louvre" is a clue-fact that makes me want to learn more. Brad is one of my favorite themeless constructors, in part because while we have similar tastes in puzzles/cluing, we have very different knowledge sets. No, let me refine that—he has many, many more knowledge sets than I do, so his puzzles often force me out of my comfort zones, but almost always in ways I enjoy.

Without much confidence, I threw down TONITE PLAT and AORTA, and they all ended up being right. Fortuitous. Got some of that corner, then got stuck, then finally got FAULT out of FA- and flew out of that corner. No hope in hell with FTLBS (one of those few "weak answers" I was talking about), but ALMAY swung me over into the NE. SPRY CRY WARY, 1 2 3. Had real trouble with SNEER AT, largely because the clue seemed like it could've meant a million things. I wasn't even sure it was a verb. [Cousin of a zombie] got me good. Made me pull DAIS because I was like "there are no equivalent monsters ending in 'I'." Gah! That's 'cause the zombie here is a drink, and its cousin is a MAI TAI. Had ACRIDITY for ACERBITY, but otherwise, that corner was not a problem. The SE, however, featured many problems. It didn't take me long, but it made me fall down a lot. GOT … ANGRY! IMP … ULSE! Gah and gah! Thank goodness I knew "Ferry Cross the MERSEY" (even if I did spell it with a "U" at first). Nice place to end it. This was just a joy. Brad's puzzles seem to appear in Newsday (as the Saturday Stumper) more than anywhere else. His name on any puzzle is always a welcome sight.

Here, I'll say one semi-negative thing about this puzzle: CAMERA TRIPOD feels a little redundant. Sorry, but between that and SNEERing AT FTLBS … that's all the criticism I got.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    PS speaking of the Newsday Saturday Stumper, today's is by Doug Peterson and it's great so you should do it. Thanks.


    Steve J 12:15 AM  

    Two excellent themelesses in a row. This was silky smooth, lively, clever, serving up resistance while remaining utterly fair throughout. In what I think is the mark of a good late-week puzzle, everything that you scratch your head over becomes perfectly obvious once you fill it in. Enjoyed this tremendously.

    jae 12:33 AM  

    Medium for me.   A solid crunchy Sat.  CAMEL CALVARY has a nice ring to it....CAMERA TRIPOD not so much... 

    NW took the most effort.  Had AUTO LOAN, took it out for Fjord and put it back for FAULT.

    Needed a lot of crosses for PAOLO....

    Liked it.

    Moly Shu 12:37 AM  

    I liked it too, just not as much as yesterday's. Sloth and lemur before KOALA, Hoss before ADAM, laughter before APPLAUSE, and out before LET. Only gimmies were OREM, MERSEY and DRDRE (hi @OISK, I know how you love rapper clues). So it was a struggle for me. A few more problems for me than OFL, FTLBS (footpounds I guess), CAMERATRIPOD, come on, who calls it that? DOCE, I know, Spanish for twelve, and whatever the heck BCE is. Someone please enlighten me. I floundered, but enjoyed it. Hoping for the same tomorrow.

    Charles Flaster 12:42 AM  

    Medium but easy for a Saturday.Had little success until Luck be a Lady. Then everything flowed.Usually not very good with Brad Wilber but loved Puritans and a friend recently moved to Orem.Spry was tuff for me and was last answer. Loved the puzzle.

    Steve J 12:51 AM  
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    Moly Shu 12:57 AM  

    @SteveJ, thanks. Never seen or heard BCE before. Decades you say? I need to get in new circles.

    Steve J 12:58 AM  

    @Moly Shu: BCE = "before Christian era". It's been replacing BC in various circles for the last few decades. Depending on one's views, that's either more accurate or sacrilege. And, yes FTLBS = foot-pounds.

    Agreed at the redundancy of CAMERA TRIPOD. While there are other types of tripods, nobody says that.

    (Edited my original comment to make something clearer. @Moly Shu: I've seen it primarily in academic circles, but it's moved into popular history, journalism in some publications, etc. I wouldn't call it tremendously widespread.)

    AJ 1:03 AM  

    BCE stands "before common era." It's an attempt by historians to secularize their discipline. See also CE (common era) replacing AD.

    r.alphbunker 1:18 AM  

    Having caMAY instead of ALMAY slowed me down as did plAN instead of LOAN for the financial commitment. Incorrectly guessed that {One who puts others to sleep} ended with ER but didn't really believe it. Wanted ache instead of TILT for {Result of pushing too hard}. I will leave it too others to describe other ways that this puzzle tricked me.

    But this was just the opening act for M&A's latest runtpuz. I did it in the runtstudio and the results are here. This puzzle has been rated U by the MPAA.

    The U stand for urinal because M&A mischievousness reminds me of DuChamp. We could say that he is "The U Champ."

    Anonymous 1:22 AM  

    BCE was a gimme. When I was studying Religion at a liberal arts college in the 1980s, BCE/CE (Before Common Era/Common Era) was the PC alternative to BC/AD that was used in any book that we read and every paper that we wrote where dates mattered. I suspect that the usage is still common in those circles, but I confess that I've seen it infrequently since then.

    Unknown 1:40 AM  

    2:10. No googles. Naticked at tAY/tANC.

    [Dating inits.] Black Christian Male...Female...Woman...Divorcee...Single... For about 20 minutes. Not helping was [Run down],meaning "drive over" "find" "summarize". I never got to deride. SNEERAT just happened at the same time BCE did. I figured the word began with a vowel, perhaps because I had UNEARTHED for about 90 minutes. Too good to give up on, especially when there was no way to make sloth work. Miracle that I got thus close, and I give full credit to the constructor.

    This was a *much* better experience than the MAS yesterday. My patience was double, and I needed it. Everything was in fact gettable through thought and crosses.

    I'd describe every wrong turn, but it would take the full 2 hours. Suffice it to say I'd be surprised if someone here reports a rabbit hole I didn't spend 20 minutes in.

    GOTangry fEElS gOLAPS IMPulsE

    mathguy 1:59 AM  

    I've never heard "Before Common Era" before. When I went to school we used BC to mean "Before Christ." Some years back I began to see BCE as an abbreviation for "Before Christian Era." Substituting "Common" for "Christian" seems like a lame way to keep the C without referring to Christ. Common Era is meaningless to me.

    I agree that the puzzle is medium tough. On the tough side because I was able to immediately write in only five gimmes and there were ten entries I didn't know. But eminently solveable because 20 clues were practically straight definitions.

    Unknown 2:19 AM  

    In Beijing in 2007, I asked our state-sanctioned tour guide what year it was. Trick question? she asked. 2007, of course. But on the Chinese calendar? I tried again. Oh, she said. 2007. It is truly a common era.

    @mathguy, CE has translational symmetry. You should love it.

    chefwen 2:46 AM  

    Finished Friday and Saturday without my Part Time Puzzle Partner and just the teeniest amount of Googling so I'm a pretty happy camper.

    Was mirroring @Moly Shu with Sloth before KOALA and Hoss before ADAM, we're probably not the only ones. I also had Korea before KENYA (what the hell do I know?)

    Winced at CAMERA TRIPOD. Needed every single cross for 32A.

    Don't agree with WIRY for a poodles fur, curly yes, but pretty soft. Ret_Chemist?

    TDNF on both days, but it still felt good.

    mac 5:14 AM  

    Beautiful, erudite and enjoyable puzzle! Perfect Saturday, or Saturn Day.

    Some write-overs: koala for sloth, cry for sob, ago for yet at 53D.

    Fun to have brother Adam in the puzzle, it usually is Hoss.

    Thanks, Brad!

    John Child 6:19 AM  

    CAMEL CAVALRY made me think of video games, not history, so I was "meh," but I see that it is quite real. Hurray for learning something new. Echoing @all on CAMERA TRIPOD. TRADE SECRET didn't shine IMO, but otherwise I liked this puzzle very much. East was much easier than west for me. PAOLO and several crosses fell last.

    John Child 6:29 AM  

    @Casco Kid: I'm two years ahead of you on the learning curve. I didn't think Saturday puzzles were possible for the first year. You are doing well and you are entertaining us. Keep on solving and commenting.

    If I can offer any advice, don't hesitate to erase a guess or even two or three if a section of the puzzle isn't working out. Do it quickly, before the rabbit hole gets very deep. "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."

    Danp 6:34 AM  

    I suspect this puzzle will please solvers who like trivia and straight forward clues rather than misdirection and puns.

    I admit I wanted to know who did the largest painting more than I wanted finish the puzzle honestly, so off to google I went. I love it when a puzzle makes me do that.

    Also felt that this puzzle had a theme - art, drama, music through the ages. Loved BUGBEAR, though I always feel it should have an "a" between the G and B.

    Anonymous 6:37 AM  

    Foot pounds is a measure of force used in torque (the amount of pressure applied to a wrench to tighten a bolt) or for the pressure needed to pull a trigger.
    I see BCE frequently in my eclectic readings. I'm glad the usage has become less Euro-Christian centered to allow respect for other much older and more developed cultures from whom we borrowed knowledge during our Dark Ages!!

    jberg 7:36 AM  

    I had trouble with FTLBS, as ballistics makes me think of scratches on bullets. Should have been "dyne alternative" or something.

    On the other hand, I got PAOLO VERONESE off the ESE. He was part of a big museum show here a few years back, and the only Renaissance painter I could think of ending that way.

    I'm off to Paris for a week, and don't expect to spend my time doing puzzles, so I'll see everyone on Memorial Day.

    Glimmerglass 8:08 AM  

    Excellent Saturday puzzle. And the surprise is that Rex liked it too. I agree with all the positive comment above. "Zombie" got me good. I looked at MAITAs and didn't consider the drink. Maybe MAITAs is some kind of French zombie? The problem was I had mAsS as the recitation station (and mRDRE as 43A). I'd rather be perfect, but this was a fine Saturday for me.

    Loren Muse Smith 8:22 AM  
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    Loren Muse Smith 8:24 AM  

    @jberg – safe travels!!

    "Cousin of a zombie got me good." Not me – when "martini" didn't fit, MAI TAI went right in, man.

    @Danp – yeah, my BUGBEAR has that connecting a, too.

    The entire DR DRE. My, my. A rare citing indeed.

    Look – I've never met a name I didn't like to drop. . . I've been lucky enough to get to know Brad a bit at the past two ACPTs, and he's Just. One. Swell. Guy. Knowledgeable, engaging, pleasant, approachable (I'm a shameless Constructor Watcher Groupie Chaser Accost-Out-of-the-Bluer, and Brad is always, always, a good sport. (I guess this would imply that some aren't, but that's not the case – every big name I pestered at the tourney was patient and gracious.)

    So because of my fondness for him, and my certainty that the puzzle was fair, I soldiered on way past the point that I would have thrown in the towel with other constructors. Little by little, the grid emerged, and I agree with Rex – just lovely! CAMEL CALVARY evokes endless possibilities for mental images (spit-shined shoes, anyone?), and, yes, I checked back mentally to make sure I hadn't missed that VERONESE painting that was so big. Was it next to the oh-so-tiny Mona Lisa?

    Brad, uh, came on strong with the two 12s beginning with CAME, huh?

    I have to confess here that the word "eponym" always scares me. I feel instantly, defensively, inferior to the lexical sadist, the grid maverick, who would throw the word my way. Clues like this feel almost draconian at first. And then I see, for the thousandth time, how simple it actually is and calm down and stifle the urge to boycott such fancy terms. So this morning, in my panic, I went straight to "hump" day something or "TGIF" because I've dug my Achilles heel in on refusing to get "eponym." I do this with other words, too. Maybe we can call it lorenating.

    So is Verona some kind of sneaky eponym?

    The ridiculous "Pompei" (sic) was the only P city I could think of at first. And then I erased it to put in "pet peeve" with defiant disregard for the plural clue. And then "Jet Li" popped into my head and just wouldn't budge. I couldn't see past his damned silhouette to access BRUCE. So that Pompeii corner was that last to fall.

    BAY – today's the Preakness. My daughter is there with some college friends. Look for her in the stands – she'll be in a cute yellow sundress and Kohl's turquoise necklace that she didn't want to spend the money on so I paid for it because I knew it was perfect. (As of her departure two days ago, the jury was still out on the matching turquoise earrings I paid for, too.)

    Beautiful puzzle, Brad. About to print out the Stumper. Wonder if your name is there, too? Nope. Just checked. Some guy named, what was it – Doug Peters? Don Peterson? Oh well, maybe it'll be ok.

    Mohair Sam 8:33 AM  

    Usually frown when a Saturday falls too easily, but this one is the exception. Agree totally with Rex today (except for his anti-stacks snarkiness). Delightful clues throughout. Almost no junk fill - what's not to love?

    So many things that you kinda knew, or didn't know you knew (LAFITTE, PRAGUE, and on and on). Great misdirection on MAITAI, and a nice rare crossword ACERBITY. The new(?) 3-letter fill BCE a gimme here, hearing it more and more.

    Two great puzzles in a row. Keep it up NYT.

    Hartley70 8:54 AM  

    For me it was the easiest Saturday I can remember. My first fill was Lafitte because it just fit. My last was Nsync. The best clue was for Puritan, loved it! Never heard of ftlb but what the heck, it fit. Nice start to the day because I didn't pull any hair out before rising.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:08 AM  

    Can someone tell me how "Run down" is SNEER AT?

    This one was rangy for me...there were times when I cruised through, and times not so much. The difficulty I found was in the clues. Some, like "Gallop," "Exercise in a pool, say," and most of the name clues were so obvious that I felt like I was missing something. Then others, like "Run down," "Trunk line," "Group living at zero latitude," and the zombie cousin were brutally hard.

    Did anyone notice CAMELCAVALRY and CAMERATRIPOD both start with CAME? Is that an okay thing? Seems a little weird for them to be side by side like that...

    Anyway, again my cretinism betrays me. I liked the puzzle but I have no particular reason why except that I like doing puzzles. I'm such a rube sometimes...

    Davidph 9:29 AM  

    @danp and @Lauren: there's BUGBEAR and then there's bugaboo, which is the same thing. That's why you want to put an a in the first, I guess.

    quilter1 9:38 AM  

    Struggled a bit with the pop culture answers but everything fell into place in the end. BCE very "common" to me. I really liked CAMEL CAVALRY. Image evoking of being run down by hundreds of galloping camels. Aieee!

    Dirigonzo 9:56 AM  

    My first run through all of the clues left me with just enough well-placed words to get a little bit of a toe-hold, and it took less than an hour to work back through the grid filling squares a word, or sometimes just a letter (love those plurals) at a time until I finished where I began, in the NW corner. When I finally jettisoned "soup" for PLAT, AUTOLOAN came along and gave me all I needed to cruise to the finish line. Other than calling Seabiscuit a nAg and having poodle hair be fIne (which it is, btw) most of my initial guesses worked out so my grid is not even as messy as usual.

    Dirigonzo 10:03 AM  

    @NCA Pres - If you had hated the puzzle you probably would have run it down in you comments, or maybe you would have just SNEEREd AT it; whether those terms are equivalent might be questionable, but it's close enough for me on a Saturday.

    retired_chemist 10:09 AM  

    This is apparently not an NRA-friendly crowd. All you ballistic torquers out there: While Ft-Lbs is indeed a unit of torque, it is also a unit of energy. It is used in ballistics for muzzle enery, "the kinetic energy of a bullet as it is expelled from the muzzle of a firearm."

    Topnotch. Agree with Rex and the rest of you. Loved CAMEL CAVALRY and PAOLO VERONESE because I knew neither and learned something from each. CAMERA TRIPOD - what everybody said. Almost everything else was crisp and clean.

    LUCK BE A LADY - gimme. ALMAY, BRUCE LEE, MERSEY, PRAGUE,.... the list of good stuff I had to dig for goes on.

    Well done, Mr. Wilber. Thanks.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:19 AM  

    Very nice puzzle.

    My first entry was 9A, WEBBS. The last answer that I understood, though not the last entered, was 35 D. What a strange song, about the LAW O' MAN -- as opposed to the Law of God, say? (Yeah, got it now.)

    I have seen BCE/CE for many years, although I was brought up on BC/AD. Might as well use the new nomenclature, since one of my pet peeves is how often AD is used incorrectly. This is AD 2014, Anno Domini 2014, the Year of our Lord 2014, not 2014 AD.

    Susierah 10:33 AM  

    Any Saturday I finish in an hour and don't google is a happy day. But man did I WANT to google!!! I am learning that patience pays off, and some obscure answers will surface. But, a dnf again, did not know the Morrison song or otb, so I guessed wrong for the o.

    My first run through only gave me soup, sloth, luck be a lady, hoss, and dr. Dre. And some kind of secret. Bruce Lee proved sloth to be wrong, the ferry mersey( but I spelled it mercie) proved hoss to be wrong.

    Loved the clues for aupair, puritans, and Mai tai. Good one. Sometimes Saturdays are just impossible for me, but this ended up being doable.

    Anonymous 10:44 AM  

    As I read the comments I was intrigued by the number of calvary-cavalry transpositions. Go back and look!

    Z 10:47 AM  

    denT put a dent in my solve time. It took me forever to realize that I should have been playing pinball instead. This made FAULT, AU PAIR, and STIFLE very hard to see. LAFITTE looks vaguely familiar, now, but I wasn't going to pull it out without help from crosses.

    Fun puzzle.

    BCE/CE isn't "politically correct," it is just correct. In case you haven't noticed, we live in a society that includes Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Agnostics, Atheists, Hindi, etc. etc. etc. Using BC/AD is certainly not on a par with the bigotry of a Donald Sterling or an Antonin Scalia, but its use is a telling indicator that we still don't understand the diversity around us.

    Masked and Anonym007Us 10:50 AM  

    Too good.

    Not nearly enough desperation. Unpromising selection of weejects, in particular. ENS? Is that the best U got? Dude. My UQS weeject, alone, beats the tar outa any and all of these guys. Primo U -count, btw.

    Only slight wobbles I was able to just just just barely detect, on the Desperate and Yet U-filled Meter (D.A.Y.U.M.), while scannin this puz:
    * FTLBS. Fat Labs, in case U beginners out there were stumped.
    * BANC. Man, those French. Worst spellin of bench I've ever seen. Clue needs a "(Var.)" flag. Maybe "(Fr. Var.)" would be fairer.
    * ANTONS. Near gimme. All composers are named either Anton or Antoff. Crucial fact to memorize, U beginners.

    'Bout it. Almay as well say adios, y'all.


    @r.alph: Entertainin runtflick. U are amazin, dude.

    Agent 007-U will return, in
    "Dr. DreNo".

    jdv 11:02 AM  

    Easy. I can't believe I just called a Brad Wilbur puzzle easy. For me, it's never happened before. Usually, they are challenging to impossible. Also, in my opinion, this is RP's best writeup. He perfectly captured my feeling about this puzzle (and yesterday's puzzle).

    Even though this was easy, I had a number of missteps. DENT for TILT; CAMAY for ALMAY; my favorite--STATESECRET for TRADESECRET; SOUP before PLAT; IMPULSE before IMPLORE. In keeping with NYT tradition, the NW was the toughest for me. Great puzzle.

    AliasZ 11:07 AM  

    I love it when a crossword puzzle inspires such interest in, and lively discussions about so many subjects: music, the arts, history, popular culture, etc.

    This was a great puzzle, thought provoking, tough but fair, covering a wide range of common interests from TRADE SECRET to CAMEL CAVALRY, from Gunsmoke to Guys and Dolls, from Jean LAFITTE to DRDRE, etc. My initial entries doing the acrosses first, as I always do, were PRAGUE, sloth, LUCK BE A LADY, AREAS and ANTONS. All were correct except sloth, of course. The NW gave me some trouble but LAFITTE eventually came to me with the help of the F in STIFLE of Archie Bunker fame.

    Volumes have been written about the origins of our calendar and the usage of Common Era. A monk by the name of Dionysius Exiguus (c.470-c.544) started to use the term Anno Domini Nostri Jesu Christi while calculating the Easter tables (based on the Hebrew calendar). He calculated the year of the birth of Jesus Christ and called it Year One. He wanted to replace the Diocletian Era (Era of Martyrs) in use at the time, because he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians. His calculations may have been wrong by a few years, but his system and nomenclature was adopted by the Venerable Bede (672/3-735), and eventually all of Europe, and both the Julian and the Gregorian calendars are based on it.

    The term Common Era, or Vulgar Era, started to be used in England in the 17th century to distinguish it from the regnal dating system used in national law at the time, based on the year of the reign of a sovereign.

    Replacing Anno Domini or any mention of Christ became quite popular in totalitarian regimes, starting with the French Revolutionary Calendar, in which the first year of the French Republic was established as Year One, and the week became 10 days long because 7 days was too closely tied the Book of Genesis. It continued with the Third Reich, then it swept across Eastern Europe during the Soviet Communist rule which supplanted all religion with its own, thus the use of Before Christ and the equivalents of Anno Domini in the various languages were strictly forbidden. The secularist West loved the idea, and eventually BCE/CE became widely used in official legal and historic discourse and in politically correct circles. BCE/CE also neatly accommodates all other nations, cultures and religions who have long adopted the calendar and have been using the term for centuries.

    No matter what you call it, the fact remains that the calendar accepted and used world-wide today starts with Year One, or the birth of Jesus of Nazareth as calculated by Dionysius Exiguus.

    Here is the Light CAVALRY Overture by Franz von Suppé. It is not CAMEL CAVALRY but it'll have to do.

    joho 11:09 AM  

    When I saw Brad's name at the top I promptly wrote YAY! next to it.

    I love that just about everybody agrees that this is a flat out, beautiful Saturday puzzle. Because it is.

    I like @Moly Shu, @chefwen and @mac took a while to get past sloth and lemur to KOALA.

    I also had IMPulsE before IMPLORE.
    And Libya before KENYA.

    Nothing else to say except YAY!, Brad!

    And thanks to @Rex for posting Doug's Saturday Stumper. These two guys are killer constructors alone and together!

    Bob Kerfuffle 11:14 AM  

    Perhaps I should have said this the first time around, but religiously, I am a Fundamentalist Philosophical Agnostic. My argument regarding the use of AD with respect to years is based only on what I consider proper use of the Latin.

    Nancy 11:22 AM  

    Thought the puzzle would be too easy for a Saturday as I zipped through the NW. Then came FTLBS to slow me down. What the hell is that? Fortunately LUCK BE A LADY opened up a lot of other sections. How wonderful, after a week of obscure (to me) pop song titles from the '80s and later, to have not only a song from my own era, but one that was hugely important in the context of the musical it was in. For me -- a devotee of musical theater, a BMI Workshop alumna, and myself a lyricist, LUCK BE A LADY has always been the most dramatic, effective, suspense-producing number to end a first act in the history of musical theater. Is there any puzzle-solver from that era who DIDN'T know 35 Across? Bet there wasn't!

    Carola 11:25 AM  

    What a treat. I enjoyed a slow amble through this lovely puzzle, starting out at PRAGUE and heading SW via PAOLO VERONESE to the two ANTONS. Having CAVALRY and CAMERA in place in the center then gave me my entry into the other corners - I liked that face-off of FAST PACE and ODYSSEYS.

    Am I the only one who first thought that the sources of chronic annoyance were BUGBiteS? Maybe you have to be a Wisconsin resident looking forward (not) to the first mosquitoes to appear.

    Thank you, @Brad Wilber - this was a lovely start to the day.

    GILL I. 11:47 AM  

    This was more of an ODYSSEY(S) than a FAST PACE. That whole upper section was re-written so often, I couldn't make anything out and had to re-print a fresh copy. When I got rid of rAce PACE and Censor and other words I made up, I began to get all happy inside when I figured out the correct entries. Yay me!
    I had to Google LA WOMAN and double checked LUCK BE A LADY. Once in I was off to the races. Go California Chrome!!!
    Well what is it...Before Christian era or before common era?
    Tres excellent puzzle Mr. Wilber

    Arlene 12:07 PM  

    I started at LUCK BE A LADY, but knew the fun would end soon if I didn't Google. So with a little help (six Googles, to be exact), I had a really good Saturday experience. And, as others pointed out, learned some interesting stuff along the way.
    The next cocktail party conversation is definitely going to veer towards discussing large Louvre paintings, for sure!

    Arlene 12:14 PM  

    I just remembered - Here's a crossword-related entry from my blog, celebrating May is Better Speech and Hearing Month. Thought you might enjoy!

    Black eyed Susan 12:45 PM  

    Help please. How is posed a clue for CAMERATRIPOD? Isn't a tripod the thing you put the camera on? Thanks.

    RnRGhost57 12:48 PM  

    A great puzzle, and fascinating convo on this thread re: BCE, BC, AD, CE and foot pounds. It's fun to hang out with bright people.

    Carola 12:50 PM  

    @Black eyed Susan - Did you perhaps misread the clue numbering? The clue for CAMERA TRIPOD is "Stand for a photo." "Posed" is the clue for MODELED.

    M and Also 12:53 PM  

    Movie (stills) from this SatPuz:

    1st get: ENS. Was 93.2% sure.
    Then ETA. Was 95.5% sure, after ETD didn't work.
    Then BCE. Was 55.0% sure.
    Then REEF. Wasn't real sure.
    Then DEER. Had to be it. Unless BEAR or KIDS. Or "I (heart) U s". Let's say 77.7%.
    Then FAULT. Total guess. har. Worked.
    Then DuCa, at 24-D. Was 50% right.
    Then HOSS at 38-A. The wheels were off! I careened into the Tree of Life and Limb.
    [The rest is a blur.]
    When I awoke, last thing to go was PAO LOVE RON ESE and DOC E. Direction subthemers!

    "Solving His Way Out of Wet Paper Bags Since 2014"

    Sorry. No M&A Saturday stumpy stumper. Due to cinnamon roll O.D. That regular Newsday Stumper **is** highly recommended, tho.


    Fred Romagnolo 1:01 PM  

    From @Z -"BCE isn't politically correct because it is correct," is tantamount to Hitler saying "Naziism isn't evil, because it is correct." Things aren't correct because a particular person's mindset thinks they are. BCE is PC, period! @Alias Z is totally correct in his historical analysis. FYI I'm an agnostic. The Mona Lisa is the only painting in the Louvre which has it's very own guard permanently standing next to it. @Muse: yes Veronese's name is derived from Verona, in the same way mine is derived from the Romagna (greater Rome).

    Benko 1:38 PM  

    Isn't it more politically incorrect to insist that the Christian calendar is the one which is "Common" to all cultures? Calling it the Christian calendar seems accurate to me, while calling it the "common" calendar ignores the various other cultural calendars around the world.

    Susierah 2:26 PM  

    Get this. I still couldn't figure out the lawoman answer that gave me a dnf. Law o man? So I came back here to the blog. Duh! And another head slap! It's l.a. Woman! So I did google it, 1971. I surely should have gotten it. But I honestly could not figure that answer out.

    Mette 3:31 PM  

    Easy? What is the shape of a shadow a road sign makes? Octagon, triangle, circle, rectangle. @casco - single/married Chinese male/female. Stymie rather than STIFLE. But I finally got it with no Googles. Rated really high on the entertainment scale.

    DigitalDan 3:52 PM  

    So answers are weak if they have any connection to science, technology, engineering rather than art, history, music ... OK.

    Ludyjynn 4:05 PM  

    This was a beautiful, challenging ODYSSEY for me. Clever clueing and misdirects in abundance enhanced the solve. My only buga boo was BUGBEARS, a new expression here.

    Overall, APPLAUSE, APPLAUSE to you, BW and WS. MERSEY beaucoup!

    Happy Preakness Day.

    Lewis 5:31 PM  

    @rex -- never a need to apologize for a paucity of criticism.

    Hand up for lemur. I plugged away bit by bit and the puzzle beautifully revealed itself. It felt like a fountain of good. Fine. Quality. Puzzle.

    Anonymous 6:49 PM  

    Great puzzle from Brad today. For some reason I found it much harder than yesterday's ;)


    fergus 7:54 PM  

    FTLBS was crap, until I realized that it was good.

    retired_chemist 9:18 PM  

    Hand up for lemur (after sloth) and libYA.

    michael 9:58 PM  

    I edit an anthropology journal. BCE is our standard style and has been for some time. [This was done long before I became editor.]

    Zhoen 11:05 PM  

    This one is the sort to keep me from doing Saturdays. So many possible answers, which were wrong, but kept putting me off even the ones I got right. No idea where to go with so many. As a middling solver at best, this one was utterly frustrating and not at all fun Call it my failure, but this was not easy, could not have gotten through without the answers.

    Good on all of you for being brilliant. This makes me want to stop solving. Or if I took up drinking cocktails, I'd at least have gotten that corner.

    KMS 10:30 AM  

    Somehow got this one - but left wondering about BUGBEARS, will read above to learn about these. LAFITTE, came to me, I think from old cartoons, or kids commercials from way back then (sinister mustache?). Great clue about Denali answers to a FAULT. Tough for me was to get going - the old 'I don't know any of this'... espanol & DOCE rescued me, got me away from Sloth, and into KOALA 6:10 PM  

    I thought it must have something to do with a camel, and it seemed to fit. But then I thought about the French foreign legion. Turns out I was right with my first guess!

    Jim Finder 9:48 AM  

    All I can add to AliasZ's interesting post is that I've know BCE/CE, wherein C="common", since high school classes in the 60s. Great puzzle.

    Torb 11:04 AM  

    nw corner baffled me. dnf. dang......

    spacecraft 11:58 AM  

    Well, I wouldn't call it easy. I did finish, and with only one w/o (my CAVALRY started out as roMan), but ask me to come up with an entry without crosses and I can only get LUCKBEALADY and MERSEY. (Knew the WEBBS but forgot; long ago I played the stage manager.)

    Couple of nits: BUGBEAR is more a source of dread than mere annoyance; bad clue IMO. And I agree with many others that CAMERATRIPOD smells of green paint.

    I thought the cluing was far from "straightforward;" it was every bit Saturday-strong.

    I get a lot more kicke watching Spike LEE movies than BRUCE's, but I was suitably WARY of entering that genius' name till I was sure.

    Not sure I'd call LAWOMAN a Doors' "classic," though admittedly, they had many.

    This is the end.

    Solving in Seattle 1:29 PM  

    I need to learn how to spell ODYESEYS.
    Had ME---- at 41D and threw down MEkong. That took awhile to fix.
    DRDRE seems to be everywhere, and I guess he can well afford it.
    The clue for MAITAI threw me.
    dOt before COM.
    32D had me running through all the countries on the equator.
    The first time Mrs.@SiS and I visited the Louvre we did the "top ten" list in about three hours (an hour over my normal museum circuit breaker limit) and I think The Wedding at Cana was just outside the Mona Lisa room.
    I enjoyed this Brad Wilber satpuz.
    "Is that you, Wilber?"

    DMG 2:25 PM  

    Surprised myself by finishing this one, because the first run through yielded only two or three "maybe" answers. Then DEER/DOCE fell and I was off and running. Crosses gave the painter's first name and the Door's song, and it was done! Loved the MAITAI clue. Zombies were the big "Do I dare?" drink when I was in college. Think PURITANS would be better defined as having "no latitude" but that's a small nit for such a fun puzzle.

    ecanarensis 2:29 PM  

    I was just becoming aware of pop music in 1965 & of course heard a ton in later years as 'Golden Oldies,' but I could've thought & hummed to myself for a hundred years & without coming up with MERSEY. I finally googled it, & my first reaction was, "Oh, THAT'S what they were saying!!" For me, that song is almost on par with "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" & "There's a bathroom on the right" for songs with indecipherable lyrics (though not nearly as bad as "Louie, Louie"). I had no clue it had anything to do with a boat or a river, though I always liked the melody. I had a vague idea the words were something like "So Mary, cross [something] mercy..."

    But a pop song about Catholicism seemed low probability. I never got around to finding out what the lyrics actually were.

    Had a physics prof who used to invent the most absurd-sounding units of favorite was 'foot-pounds per fortnight."
    For me it was a slightly easier Saturday than usual, as I got several biggies easily (all that time in high school drama finally paid off). Fun to finally know what the heck that song's about.

    129 5:01 PM  

    Come on Rex. I'm sure you can find more to criticize if you REALLY tried! Instead you chose to continue to harp on yesterday's excellent quad stack oeuvre. Jeez. What a giveaway.

    I found today's tougher than yesterday's, and ended up with a DNF because I followed the "i before e" rule for VERONiSE. Drat! But, it was fun to struggle with the devious cluing in between World Cup games (or fixtures as they are called).

    Started off well with LAFITTE, ENS, ETA, CRY, FAULT, and SPRY. Lotsa problems in the SW, and finished up with my error on the artist.

    I clearly do not understand what makes a themeless "elegant", which is OK by me. This was good, as was yesterday's, but I don't know where the elegance fits in, and I say that without ACERBITY.

    Waxy in Montreal 11:04 PM  

    What a pleasurable puzzle for the first day of summer. Finding that solving NYT crosswords goes well with watching World Cup soccer - who knew? Only difficulties here were with ALMAY, this PAOLO guy and LAWOMAN which refused to be parsed for far too long.

    And since I don't chime in on Sundays: GO USA!

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