Idomeneo heroine / SUN 9-8-13 / Musician with gold-selling album Sugar Lips / Candy bar featured in Seinfeld episode / Country composed of 200+ islands / Lenovo competitor / Pussy Russian girl group

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Constructor: Pete Muller and Sue Keefer

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Bumper Cars" — car models are lined up (bumper to bumper) to form silly phrases, clued  "?"-style

Theme answers:
  • 23A: Search for a cradle-robbing woman in New York City? (PARK AVENUE COUGAR QUEST)
  • 37A: High-handed ambassador stationed off the Italian coast? (CAVALIER CAPRI DIPLOMAT)
  • 55A: Peace treaty between a predator and its prey? (BOBCAT RABBIT ACCORD) (my favorite theme answer)
  • 67A: Tom Brady, in the 2002 Super Bowl (INTREPID RAM CHALLENGER)
  • 78A: Musical piece for a "Star Wars" battle scene? (STORMTROOPER SONATA)
  • 98A: Advocate for pro-am tournaments? (CELEBRITY GOLF DEFENDER)
  • 116A: Diminutive Aborigine? (MIDGET OUTBACK EXPLORER)

Word of the Day: TESSERA (96D: Small mosaic tile) —
tessera (plural: tesserae, diminutive tessella) is an individual tile, usually formed in the shape of a cube, used in creating a mosaic. It is also known as an abaciscus or abaculus. // In early antiquity, mosaics were formed from naturally formed colored pebbles, but by 200 BCE cut stone tesserae were being used in Ancient Roman decorative mosaic panels and floor mosaics. Marble or limestone were cut into small cubes and arranged into representational designs and geometric patterns. // Later, tesserae were made from colored glass, or clear glass backed with metal foils. The Byzantines used tesserae with gold leaf, in which case the glass pieces were flatter, with two glass pieces sandwiching the gold. This produced a golden reflection emanating from in between the tesserae as well as their front, causing a far richer and more luminous effect than even plain gold leaf would create. (wikipedia)
• • •

Very straightforward Sunday puzzle. Bit of a step back from recent Sunday puzzles in terms of theme conception, fill quality, and difficulty. There is a mildly cute quality to the clues for the theme answers, but that's about it, interest-wise. Mostly it's just rote fill-it-in stuff—we're back to a high word-count puzzle with lots and lots of short fill, which usu. makes the puzzle easier and the fill more bland. There's really not much to talk about today. No real tough spots. No scintillating moments. A pretty run-of-the-mill Sunday. Not at all bad, just not that remarkable. The only surprises were the few car models I did not know—DIPLOMAT (Dodge) (bygone), BOBCAT (Mercury) (bygone) (barely existed) (Pinto variant), STORM (Geo) (Haha) (bygone!), CELEBRITY (Buick? ... nope, Chevrolet) (bygone), MIDGET (MG) (bygone) (in retrospect, I *have* heard of this).

Difficulty I encountered was scarce and unexciting. Took me a while to see AIRWAVE (3D: Broadcast medium), even after AIRWA- (wanted -WAYS) (??). Tried SHEIK and SAUDI before SWAMI (46A: Turbaned type) (clearly not thinking there). Took a while to come up with ROLL / TALE, due only to standard clue vagueness (53D: Sushi bar offering + 63A: Relation?). Went through SNEER and SNORT before hitting on SNIFF (83D: Disdainful response). Had OCTA instead of OCTO (I'm putting myself to sleep just writing these little hiccups out) (51D: Twice tetra-). Had -ORKED and stared for a while before hitting on FORKED (102D: Split). Most weirdly of all, wrote in FTA at the very end, when I clearly meant ATF (95A: Smuggler-chasing org.). When I didn't get the Happy Pencil, I thought for sure I'd spend many minutes tracking down whatever stupid error I had, but it turns out the stupid error was the last thing I'd written in, so I found it instantly.

I think my favorite thing about this puzzle is the clue for RIOT (99D: Pussy ___ (Russian girl group)). I look forward to the day the NYT prints the name of their future male counterparts, Cock Revolt.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:16 AM  

    Easy for me and as Rex implied,, a tad bland.  Only real hang up was holding on to cpi for PSI a little too long.   

    TOGAED was kinda cringy.

    88a should never be said aloud on a golf course.  The PC term is lateral shot.

    And, speaking of PC,  MIDGET?

    Liked the SOO/COO cross.

    Extra points for RIOT and TWIX as clued.

    But, in the end, this was brown bag lunch puzzle. 

    John Child 12:37 AM  

    Soma cube! Cool.

    A solid dissection puzzle invented by Piet Hein during a lecture on Quantum Mechanics by Werner Heisenberg. There are seven soma pieces composed of all the irregular face-joined cubes (polycubes) with cubes. The object is to assemble the pieces into a cube. There are 240 essentially distinct ways of doing so (Beeler 1972, Berlekamp et al. 1982), as first enumerated one rainy afternoon in 1961 by J. H. Conway and Mike Guy. -

    Return of TWIX and GMA. I was ready for the latter today, thanks to @evan.

    I thought this was a little harder than average. It took me a long time to see the theme, and even then it didn't help much, as I never paid attention to US car models. I did chuckle over the results for eah theme answer though.

    Evan 12:39 AM  

    It's worth mentioning that the NYT did this exact same Sunday idea back in July 2005, albeit with mostly different cars (but with the same INTREPID RAM sequence). The only difference is that the previous puzzle used the same make with different models in each theme answer, while today's has various makes and models in the themers. That's actually a little strange about this one's theme entries, because the makes look like this (from top to bottom, left to right):

    Buick Mercury Nissan
    Chevrolet Mercury Dodge
    Mercury Volkswagen Honda
    Dodge Dodge Dodge
    Geo Isuzu Hyundai
    Chevrolet Volkwagen Land Rover
    MG Subaru Ford

    It's just a random collection of cars, with that run of Dodge models in the middle. I sorta like some of the theme answers and clues from today's puzzle better than the one from 2005, and can't tell which one has better fill (the 2005 grid has better long answers but has some really bad short stuff too like BCDE and ETAOIN and MCV and EMBOW). In any event, I'd have preferred it if today's theme entries had been a little less scattershot in their choice of cars -- some current, some random, some outdated....just feels a little too random for my taste.

    Questinia 12:52 AM  

    Speaking of Piet. The grid reminded me of Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie.

    Anonymous 1:11 AM  

    Midget is considered highly pejorative. I'm surprised this
    was allowed in the grid.

    Nick O 1:16 AM  

    No one refers to UC Berkeley as U Cal. It's Cal, Berkeley, Cal-Berkeley, or rarely UCB. That one upset me.

    mathguy 2:18 AM  

    The only fun for me was trying to string the car models to fit the clues. The easy fill helped. I had 18 gimmes and only five words that I didn't know.

    paulsfo 2:41 AM  

    @Nick O is correct. "Cal", not UCal".

    I liked the "Sticky Handle?" clue.

    Steve J 3:33 AM  

    Took me forever to get the theme. I thought "bumper cars" meant some kind of collision/combination of words in the theme answers. I had 5 of the 7 theme answers filled in with 1-2 blanks, and I still didn't get it. And I'm a car guy. Once I had the aha moment, things fell together quickly, but it still felt bland.

    I would have liked this theme better had the theme answers made any sense whatsoever on their own. PARK AVENUE COUGAR QUEST, BOBCAT RABBIT ACCORD, MIDGET OUTBACK EXPLORER, et al. mean nothing on their own (and "midget" is painful). Ultimately, it's just a recitation of car names. When you can put car names together to make phrases that are in the language, you've got something. Otherwise, you've just got random car names.

    Finished 85% of this before grokking the theme. Even once I got that, I had a couple hangups. Biggest one was having Tacoma for the longest time at 4DS.

    TWIX must have come up in a post-Larry David "Seinfled" episode. I loved "Seinfeld" back in the day - c. 1990, I was the one in my college dorm responsible for turning half my school onto the show - but it was horrible after Larry David stopped writing. I've rewatched every episode before his departure many times (and I've not rewatched any episode after he left). That corner took me way longer than it should have.

    SEAMEN cannot appear anymore without making me think of one of my favorite "Arrested Development" gags.

    Overall, bland theme. Bland fill to go along with it. That said, I've seen far worse Sundays.

    (@jae: Saying TOGAED kinda cringy is like saying a hurricane was kinda stormy. It's spectacularly awful.)

    Steve J 3:36 AM  

    Forgot to add: @Nick O is right. I've lived in the Bay Area for 4.5 years now. Not once have I heard "UCAL", even from people I work with who graduated from Berkeley. It's technically correct, but it's at the same time wrong. It's Cal or Berkeley. Not anything else. Ever.

    jae 4:30 AM  

    @Steve J -- I'll admit "kinda" was kinda an understatement.

    And TWIX: George, SAAB Dealership, Vending Machine

    SEAMEN: QEII Episode?

    Anonymous 6:34 AM  

    Seen this car theme before - don't care for it. Otherwise puzzle is mostly kinda okay.

    Bob Kerfuffle 7:08 AM  

    Who would have expected GMA to come up in today's puzzle? John Child and Evan, apparently.

    One write-over: Given the car theme, perhaps not surprising that at 115 A, Turning point, I threw in AXLE before AXIS.

    Mohair Sam 7:08 AM  

    Medium-challenging for us and I'm not sure why. A lot of the short entries were tricky (PSI could easily have been PPI, i.e.) or obscure (heard Berkeley called lots of things for short, but never UCAL). So maybe that's what held us up.

    Didn't enjoy this much . . . maybe as @Evan and @Stevej suggested there had been some pattern to the cars in each theme answer (small cars, SUV's, old models, sedans) it would have livened things up. But just trying to string together random car names, blah.

    Gill 7:30 AM  

    From today's NYT Magazine:

    The Best-Selling Home Video Ever: 'Finding Nemo'
    By A.O. Scott
    The family-animation boom of the early 2000s — the golden age of “Shrek” and “Ice Age” and “The Incredibles” — flourished on the faith that parents and children would go to the movies together and enjoy what they saw. This was not an entirely new idea, but the modern style of participatory parenting made it a lucrative one. A pattern of cross-generational pop-cultural pandering soon took hold to ensure that all tastes were satisfied. Mom and Dad would get some cool songs and winking references to older movies, while the kids would get mildly naughty humor and wholesome lessons. “Finding Nemo,” one of a string of Pixar masterpieces interrupted by “Cars” and broken by “Cars 2,” at once epitomized and transcended this formula. Its story is a perfect machine of all-ages satisfaction, with a double plot perfectly aligned to the emotions and aspirations of the whole household. Nemo’s flight from the nest answers the primal childhood longing for autonomy, while Marlin’s panicked pursuit embodies the deepest anxieties of parenthood. For kids who are too young to wrestle with these themes, there are silly sharks and turtles, bright colors and a great cross-species merchandising coup: “Nemo” succeeded in making coldblooded, slimy creatures into warm and fuzzy friends.

    chefbea 7:38 AM  

    Got the theme right away but didn't know half of the cars so DNF. Loved the Elmers clue and shanks clue.

    r.alphbunker 8:18 AM  

    This puzzle brings to mind Merle Reagle's classic Gridlock puzzle.

    Rob C 8:28 AM  

    Easy-Medium Sun. for me too. For me, these type of themes always seem to have a couple of good ones (PARK AVENUE COUGAR QUEST and MIDGET OUTBACK EXPLORER in this case) and the rest are just there to complete the theme. Not bad, just not as sharp as the other two. Points off this puzzle b/c many of the models are not produced anymore.

    Fill was smooth for the most part. Only two real groaners among the fill longer than 4 letters: TOGAED and LAXEST.

    We've just had the B CUP discussion. A CUP today.

    I'm not a big music fan. Has pussy RIOT ever done anything musically significant or are they only known for their church stunt a couple of yrs ago?

    loren muse smith 8:29 AM  

    Five 21's, two 18's and all amusing. . . why the lukewarm responses? @Steve J – I couldn't disagree more; PARK AVENUE COUGAR QUEST, CAVALIER CAPRI DIPLOMAT, BOBCAT RABBIT ACCORD, for me all conjure up vivid mental pictures. (Especially the BOBCAT one. I've decided to take up mountain biking as my exercise now since we have a lot of woods and trails. Day two was yesterday, and let me tell you it's OBSCENEly difficult. You can't swat the gnats away on technical parts, and I seem to be on a plan to swallow/inhale/ingest one gnat per trek. Ick. Anyway, the whole time I'm in the woods, I'm mindful that there have been multiple BOBCAT sightings here. So I, when I have the breath, try to talk loudly to the woods lest I surprise some mother BOBCAT, and, yes, I feel ridiculous. @Gareth – assure me that a BOBCAT won't bother me. . .I don't need to hope for a BOBCAT Loren ACCORD?)

    So anyway, I loved this theme and all the entries! A Sunday has to amuse me for me to stick with it, and this one definitely did.

    @Evan – sometimes I try vainly to explain to someone the allure of this site. Funny how words fail me, when it's really all about words. Your post about that 2005 puzzle sums it up; I adore hanging out with people who talk about such things. At the ACPT, we played a Family Feud game in teams. One question was "Guess how many times DR DRE in its entirety has appeared in a NY Times crossword." We all exchanged meaningful looks, understanding the enormity of adding the DR, and I was almost overcome with emotion to be with such like-minded people. I'm serious. I really was.

    "Care" before POOH. "Doze" before RAZE. "Bit-a" before BIT-O, those damn schwas. BRA and ACUP – hello again.

    General theme question – when does a theme have to be non-random, inclusive? Why are some people saying today's theme is just "random" cars? Wasn't the list from Lynn Lempel's April 2012 puzzle just as random? And we all loved that one.

    Stud Muffin
    Big Enchilada
    Good Egg
    Human Pretzel
    Sweetie Pie

    My son's brief tenth grade dietary habit notwithstanding, that list is assuredly not comprehensive, just like today's cars.

    I've run ideas by a couple of heavy-hitter constructors (but not *you* M & A, because you refuse to cooperate, probably because you recognize me as the pest I can be), and the response is often, "there are too many examples. . ." or "too random. . ." I don't understand why a theme has to be all-inclusive. It's like, "Pete, Sue, you've left out Nova, Corvette, Rambler, and Pinto, so it's just not tight enough for me."

    Well, I liked it just fine. Fun puzzle, you two!

    Glimmerglass 9:10 AM  

    [Sigh] We're back to typical Sunday puzzles -- easy and long. This one took me less than half the time as yesterday's, and it was less than half the fun.

    Anonymous 9:13 AM  

    Can someone explain why "relation" is "tale"?

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:32 AM  

    @Anonymous, 9:13 AM - That which you have related, aka a RELATION, is the TALE you have told. A bit of a stretch, but OK in crossword terms.

    Jeremy Mercer 9:33 AM  

    COCK REVOLT was the highlight of my Sunday solving experience. Probably not a good sign ...

    DocRoss 10:07 AM  

    Isn't there already a band called the Revolting Cocks?

    Carola 10:18 AM  

    My response to the theme was in the SEPIA range. I did like envisioning the BOBCAT and RABBIT working out their ACCORD, and, being "kinda" (@jae :) ) fond of Star Wars, was amused by the idea of a STORM TROOPER SONATA. Somehow John Williams left that out.

    I wasn't familiar with a fair number of the car models, so I had to guess from what might make sense in the phrases. Last in was DIPLOMAT...had assumed it was some sort of ....MAn. Long struggle in that area (TOGAED? TOGA up?) was redeemed by the fun of finally understanding "Sticky handle?"

    jberg 10:24 AM  

    I don't have a car, don't follow the model names, so I was amazed I was able to get all of these -- testimony to the power of advertising, I guess. It did seem more of an achievement to me to actually make them all fit, but I did not know it had been done before, so maybe it's not all that hard. There are an awful lot of car models out there.

    As for Cock Revolt, I am reminded of the following brief passage from "James Branch Cabell's Something About Eve":

    Gerald replied, “For the renovation of your noses, and as a propitiatory trap for the doomed wu in Peter’s Tomb, you will pay me the price of one black rooster.”
    “But what,” asked Tenjo, “is a rooster?”
    “Why, a rooster is the herald of the dawn, it is the father of an omelet, it is the pullet’s first bit of real luck, it is the male of the Gallus domesticus.”
    “We do not call a male chicken that—”
    “No,” Gerald assented, “no, but you ought to. And not to do so is wholly un-American.”
    “Yet why do you Americans call this particular bird a rooster, when everybody knows that all birds except ostriches and cassowaries roost, and that every flying bird everywhere is thus a rooster?”
    “Well, I admit that we do not reason about it as you reason in Lytreia. I admit that the word ‘rooster’ is a word without connotations and without any correspondence in anatomy. Nevertheless, every nation has its customs. And it is as much our well-established American custom to call the male of the chicken a rooster as it is your custom to call that thing a nose.”

    Finally, speaking of PC, note the gender bias in SEAMEN and PRINTMAN.

    FearlessKim 10:48 AM  

    @jae: very close -- it was the Queen Mary :)

    Just watched that episode last night, as part of a summer-long effort to review the entire series before diving into the "new" Netflix episodes. So weird, and so much fun :D

    Now back to re-enjoying "Better Off Ted", another odd, intelligent, and unfortunately short-lived show.

    And @lms, there's nothing like finding your place and your peeps :) thanks, Rexites, for being there, and of course thanks to the King of CrossWorld!

    retired_chemist 11:00 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    retired_chemist 11:01 AM  

    Medium here.

    This Berkeley alumnus agrees that UCAL is a no-no. Berkeley, Cal, UC, and UCB (grudgingly) are all OK.

    Hand up for CPI @ 119D (like @jae) for way too long.

    Not a lot to thrill the solver - not a lot to complain about IMO. So, a reasonable Sunday offering.

    Bra size is back - A CUP instead of the recent B CUP. What sizes do PUSSY RIOT wear? GMA is back too.

    Thanks, constructors.

    August West 11:09 AM  

    Felt it was just kinda...there. As Rex called it: "Very straightforward." Liked the clues for ELMER'S and PREEN. As noted, TOGAED and LAXEST were blecch, and UCAL an abomination. Else, the bland/xwordese fill didn't annoy so much as facilitate a blitzkrieg eastward march to completion. As @Glimmerglass said, less than half the time as yesterday, and not nearly half as fun.

    Would ordinarily hate on BITO. But have ya had them? Mmm, Mmm good. Love me some Bit o' Honey!

    quilter1 11:10 AM  

    I had pretty much the same solving experience as everyone else so I'll say that last week at my mom's nursing home in the dining room the subject of Riverview, an early Des Moines amusement park, came up. All these little old people who can't remember what day it is began sharing their memories of Riverview, actually calling out across the dining room and having a blast. One of the favorite rides was the bumper cars. My two cents for today.

    Joe The Juggler 11:18 AM  

    EMTs don't have to take the MCAT.

    Joe The Juggler 11:29 AM  

    "The only difference is that the previous puzzle used the same make with different models in each theme answer"

    Yeah, that's what I thought was going to be happening here when I first spotted the theme. I only know makes and model names well enough to have spotted a couple of them that I knew weren't the same maker, and that was a bit of a disappointment.

    Luckily for me, my memory isn't good enough to recall the 2005 puzzle with the same theme!

    C. J. 11:31 AM  

    Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle. If it had a weakness, it might be that all non-theme answers were 7 or less in length, with the exception of PRESSMAN and UNLOADED. Unusual feature for a large-sized crossword. All the long theme answers evidently absorbed most of the white space. I think the fun of unraveling the theme answers was worth the compromise, here.

    @lms, sounded like you were giving poor M & A trouble, for being masked and anonymous? One may just have to let the songbird roam free and sing, no? Seems like it's part of his ... "charm". Although there has to be a better for it.

    C.J. from Green Bay

    Carole Shmurak 11:33 AM  

    Joe, it said ENTs - ear, nose & throat specialists.

    C.J. 11:34 AM  

    ...has to be a better word for it.

    Anonymous 11:46 AM  

    Re: Midget---Get over it PC types. It was a fairly popular little MG years ago. It's still around and is not called a MG "little people" or what ever term you folks prefer! Jeez!!!

    Anonymous 11:47 AM  

    surprised no one has objected to EXPLORER
    What definition of ABORIGINE am I missing

    Rex Parker 11:58 AM  

    Nothing annoys people like UCAL unless it's AMEBA.

    Mark Pagliaro 12:02 PM  

    Yes and I have their one hit which is a cover of Rod Stewart's Do you think I'm sexy.

    Ray J 12:18 PM  

    How did that truck (Dodge RAM) get in there? Bumper vehicles, I guess.

    The NUNS in bumper cars pic was my favorite part of this one. Sorry.

    jae 12:54 PM  

    @Fearless Kim -- Dang, that's what I meant to type.
    Re: New episodes: you may want to take notes.

    Clamor 12:56 PM  

    Yakima is near Mount Rainier like Chicago is near Mount Rushmore. Tacoma -- that is near Rainier. (Also a truck.)

    paulsfo 1:57 PM  

    @Loren I've seen BOBCATs in the woods twice (at a distance of maybe 50 feet). Both times they ignored me. Also, note that they are about size of a very big and very muscular house cat, so I assume that they would't think it was prudent to attack at adult human.
    If you happened to walk right up to a cub though, I assume that all bets are off.

    Regarding theme "rules": I am frequently annoyed by people complaining about some minor inconsistency among the theme answers. -- It's the English language! People who want perfect consistency might want to try Esperanto or, better yet, Sodoku.

    However, Loren, regarding randomness: the examples you gave were all well-known phrases; hence, *not* random. *None* of the theme answers today were actual phrases that anyone has heard before. Hence they were... random. :)

    paulsfo 2:05 PM  

    @Clamor -- I was in complete agreement about YAKIMA. However, I then Googled it and it turns out to be sufficiently close to the east side of the part to be listed on the directions page.
    Search for this phrase:
    Directions - Mount Rainier National Park yakima

    Three and out.

    Steve J 2:07 PM  

    @jae: Thanks for the memory jog on the TWIX episode.

    @Loren: The key difference, to me, between the Lynn Lempel example you cited and a puzzle like this is that the theme answers in the Lempel puzzle were decidedly not random. All of those phrases are common expressions and in the language (Human Pretzel being, perhaps, the exception).

    The theme answers today, however, are just car names strung together in a way that's grammatically correct. The cars are definitely random, as @Evan noted. The phrases themselves? Some people will find them evocative (as you did), some people won't (as I didn't).

    For my preferences, that's the key difference in the themes. One featured expressions in the language. One didn't.

    That said, I did state my reaction poorly in my initial post. The theme answers do make sense (and there is a level of interestingness in being able form that many long, grammatically correct expressions using nothing but car names). I just didn't find the resulting phrases evocative or compelling, and they felt forced to me. In other words, just a question of personal taste.

    syndy 2:15 PM  

    I was driving on a non public road atdawn when when a very large BOBCAT stood in the street and glared at me- I put it in park and took my hands off the wheel until he slauntered off into thr brush! Told me!MsAT/sIO meant nothing to me either way. What says PRO in CELEBRITY GOLF?

    Milford 2:18 PM  

    One of the fastest Sundays for me, got the theme very early and much of the cars got filled in without even reading the clues. Grateful for an easy puzzle after the Saturday puzzle gave me fits.

    Had never heard of the MIDGET or the BOBCAT.

    Funny how many "playground retorts" can fit in 5 spaces: I AM SO! Am not! Oh yea? Me too!

    I find myself really preferring one word clues: lip = BRIM, nurse = SIP, fix = SPAY. I think because they make you really consider multiple meanings of a given word.

    Clamor 3:08 PM  

    @paulsfo Yeah, a little hyperbole there.

    joho 3:29 PM  

    @Rob C ... here's a thought: maybe the models were being produced when this puzzle was submitted!

    Carola 3:42 PM  

    @Milford - I had a similar thought yesterday about the one-word clues "Mind," Moor" and "Radios." I was reminded of when I started doing the daily puzzles, after doing the Sunday ones for many years, and began with Saturday, not knowing any better. I remember encountering clues like "Cover" and thinking, "Wait, that could be a noun or a verb" (not to mention having more than one meaning for each), and regarding that as particularly diabolical. I agree, they're their own kind of special puzzle within the puzzle.

    r.alphbunker 3:56 PM  

    @joho 3:29 PM

    Brillant observation!

    I bet that Will Shortz has in mind how well the answers in puzzle will age when he accepts a puzzle because he wants to republish them later in puzzle books.

    OISK 4:18 PM  

    What I don't like in puzzles, (and there is no reason they should be written to please me) are product names and pop, rap, rock etc. So this one was not easy for me, and not pleasurable; I am not up on the names of auto models. There is a "midget"? Missed a square due to carelessness. Had "Spot" for "fix" and changed it to SPAT when I wrote airwave, not changing the "T" to spell spay. My fault. Despite my lack of interest in the theme, this was a well constructed, well thought-out puzzle.

    Steve J 5:05 PM  

    @joho: Highly doubtful. Several of the cars in this puzzle haven't been made for 20 years or more. I think the MG Midget is the oldest one in the puzzle, ceasing production in the late '70s.

    Ray J 5:08 PM  

    I am frequently annoyed by people complaining about other commenters comments instead of giving their own opinion of a puzzle. People who do that might want to try going to a different blog or, better yet, going to ….

    jackj 5:21 PM  

    Trying to cope with the damnable flu so I’ll be (blessedly) brief.

    Not being a “car person” I wasn’t excited about the theme but I thought the clues successfully turned the auto combos into clever, humorous phrasings, especially their seed entry of PARKAVENUECOUGARCONQUEST and the Brady reference that gave us INTREPIDRAMCHALLENGER, (so maybe I really did like the theme).

    It started brilliantly, as the healing clue at 2 down was signaling RELAPSE (soon to level out as PLATEAU); next, SPAY wanted to be SPOT; memories of SeaTac Airport made TACOMA a gimme, until YAKIMA butted in and for the answer to the clue for “Cast” I initially had no idea, other than it would ultimately be “H” something.

    Things came under control eventually but too bad, the rest of the puzzle didn’t deliver the hoped for head-banging foreshadowed by my experience in the upper left quadrant.

    Still, on balance an enjoyable puzzle for me, with kudos to Sue Keefer on her debut!

    joho 5:26 PM  

    @Steve J ... I was kidding, should have made a :)

    WA 5:59 PM  

    The theme was insipid and tortured.

    And yes, it is common after a drunken frat party to comment,"Yes we were all properly togaed?"

    Togaed!! Togaed!! Togaed!!

    mac 6:00 PM  

    A medium for me, because I took way too long figuring out the theme and I spent too much time on that. Finally figured it out at "rabbit".

    Lots of write-overs: issue for essay, axle for axis, scoff for sniff and of course aztec for olmec.

    Susan McConnell 6:05 PM  

    Guessed what was going on from the title, but still struggled quite a bit. Probably because I was dong it while watching my beloved Tom Brady and crew, who were also in a struggle of their own, but managed to squeak out a win over the Bills.

    Mend before SPAY held me up, as did care before POOH.

    Rob C 7:41 PM  

    @joho - hah! it does take that long sometimes

    @r.alph - that's exactly where I was going with the Pussy Riot question. If they haven't really done anything (else? - debatable) significant, that clue won't age well. I wonder if any of the clues ever are changed in the compilation books b/c the reference didn't hold up over time.

    Anonymous 9:20 PM  

    Good thing the puzzle clue was for the Ear/Nose/Throat (ENT) docs then!

    Anonymous 10:04 PM  

    The word midget when referring to the car is not pejorative.
    However, the word midget was used in the clue to refer to a person.
    Big difference. And if the term is
    considered derogatory why use it?

    LaneB 10:07 PM  

    CtorsHad a lovely Sunday with this enjoyable puzzle, a doable acrostic and watching my beloved 49 ers slip by the Packers. Doing these puzzles reduces the tension this devoted, somewhat neurotic, fan experiences. Good for an old man's health.

    Anonymous 12:31 AM  

    Perhaps I'm Breaking Bad obsessed, but anyone notice the mini Breaking Bad theme?

    - "MRCHIPS"... Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, has said multiple times he pitched the show as "Mr. Chips turns into Scarface."
    - SOMA cube, per Wikipedia: "The Soma cube is a solid dissection puzzle invented by Piet Hein in 1933 during a lecture on quantum mechanics conducted by Werner Heisenberg." Heisenberg is the pseudonym of Breaking Bad's protagonist, Walter White.
    - Breaking Bad airs on AMC...


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    Joe The Juggler 5:38 PM  

    Anonymous Carole Shmurak said...
    "Joe, it said ENTs - ear, nose & throat specialists."

    D'oh! And I shouldn't have misread that since I've had troubles requiring the services of ENTs in recent months.


    Z 9:21 PM  

    @Ray J - And what about commenters complaining about other commenters complaining about other commenters? Where should they go?

    @LMS - While the phrases are cute, another level of commonality would have raised the puzzle above just average. Make, size, era, anything. Missing that extra layer and having all those short answers to accommodate the theme density just left me with that "meh" feeling.

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    Anonymous 2:13 AM  

    Here here...that was a big no-no. I started thinking that it was really about one of Berkeley's grad schools (Haas, Bolt, etc)

    Steve Blais 2:50 AM  

    I realize i'm really late to the game here (a whole week? gah!), and probably no one is going to see this, but...

    ...Yes, there already is a band named "The Revolting Cocks". They were (are) a side project of Al Jourgensen, the front man for Ministry. They're probably most well-known for doing industrial covers of "Let's Get Physical" (which was banned because they hadn't attained permission to cover it) and "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy".

    Steve Blais 2:54 AM  

    Oh, and the reason for the name? It's what a bouncer yelled at them after they got kicked out of a bar.

    And now you know.

    Or not.

    Cuz, ya know, it's a week late.

    BedfordBob 12:00 PM  

    You're not late Steve Blais. Those of us doing the syndicated version just got it today. Thanks for the information - Ha Ha

    I guess because I am an old engineer, I just loved the puzzle. It was a delight for me to do.

    Especially Tom Brady being a INTREPID RAM CHALLENGER and they are all Dodges!

    Anonymous 3:28 PM  

    If you picture this grid as a freeway, that is one heck of a traffic jam! (Probably how I-5 will look today. Go Hawks!!!!!)
    Connie in Seattle

    Solving in Seattle 3:53 PM  

    My "nurse" was an aId before SIP.
    Had tAcoMA before YAKIMA. Its 2nd appearance in the last week or so. @Waxy, don't be tempted unless you just want a beautiful drive off I5.
    dea before ATF.
    My toltEC evolved into an OLtEC, then emerged as an OLMEC with NEMO's help.

    Go Hawks!

    Capcha: boursubl. Whiskey drinker's slurred request for a double?

    Dirigonzo 5:28 PM  

    I had Acre/lot for the "Small 45 down size" combo and I thought, "that's not small, that's a pretty good size lot" - needless to say I chuckled when ACUP/BRA replaced them.

    Berkeley campus, for short > UCAL produced a grin for reasons that won't be apparent here for five weeks - let's just say I had a hint.

    I thought I was pretty clever when I entered SSR for 10d Union letters, clever but wrong.

    Why don't I remember the SOMA cube?

    Monsta 12:43 AM  

    4 down-- city near Mt Ranier. I can tell you that it isn't Yakima.

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    gravymeister 5:08 PM  

    As a retired car guy I just filled in enough to guess the models.
    Took awhile to get midget and I used to work on them!
    We always called them "sprigets" cause the BLM MG Midget and the Austin Healy Sprite were clones.

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