QB protectors informally / THU 8-20-20 / Mickey's rival for Minnie's affection / Longhorn rival / Hypothetical solar system beyond Neptune / White-barked trees / Pink alcoholic drink familiarly / Relatives of violas /

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Constructor: Grant Thackray

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging or Easy depending on if you looked at the revealer early or late (I looked late) 

THEME: "A WRINKLE IN TIME" (59A: Classic young adult novel ... or hint to the path taken by four letters to the answers in the starred clues) — in order to make sense of the themers, you have to find the missing "IM," which is sitting directly above the "TE," so it's like the answer has sort of buckled, causing a "wrinkle" in the letter string "TIME":

Theme answers:
  • SENT(IM)ENTAL VALUE (16A: *An old wedding dress might have this)
  • "WHAT (I M)EANT WAS ..." (29A: *"Er ... um ...")
  • MORT(IM)ER MOUSE (45A: *Mickey's rival for Minnie's affection)
Word of the Day: "The L WORD: Generation Q," sequel starting in 2019 (26D) —
The L Word: Generation Q is an American drama television series produced by Showtimethat premiered on December 8, 2019. It is a sequel series to The L Word, which aired on Showtime from 2004 to 2009. A first-look screening took place on December 9, 2019, hosted by House of Pride, to coincide with the US release. In January 2020, Showtime renewed the series for a second season. // Generation Q is set over ten years after The L Word, in the new setting of Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Several actors from the original series returned to reprise their roles alongside a new ensemble of diverse characters. The show centers on a group of diverse LGBTQ+characters experiencing love, heartbreak, sex, setbacks, personal growth and success in Los Angeles.(wikipedia)
• • •

Rival? Really?
RThe concept is slightly clever but the actual experience of solving this puzzle was not great, largely because, once again, my grid is full of gibberish. It's a little better than other gibberish puzzles I've done in the past, in that at least I can actually *see* the missing "IM" at the end, once the revealer tells me what's going on, but still, the themers were all messed up in ways that made everything just a slog. Also, who the hell is MORT(IM)ER MOUSE? I cannot picture him at all. What a bizarre, obscure themer. But getting the letters in "MORTER" was actually much easier than getting the other two themers. I guess I resent the idea that if I'd done my puzzle backward, i.e. read the ending (the revealer) first, this puzzle would've been, what, 3 to 4 times easier. I'm making that up, but A WRINKLE IN TIME was practically a gimme, even with its generic [Classic young adult novel] clue, and then I could've focused on the letter string "TIME," and deciphering the themers would've been a snap. But instead I hacked to the end and while the revealer definitely gave me the "aha" moment you typically look for, the experience of working my way down there was so singularly unpleasant that it didn't matter. Payoff needed to be Much bigger to make up for the slog. And it wasn't just the theme experience that was annoying: the fill is really rough in lots of places, and that NE corner was really hard in a way that made it a huge, huge outlier.

Without knowing the themer gimmick, I didn't have SENT(IM)ENTAL VALUE, so in the NE I had PDA and DOILIES ... and I figured DOILIES would open things right up, buuuut ... nope. Had LIE for AIL (11D: Languish). Had LEK for LEU (Romanian currency, truly the lowest form of crosswordese), and I wasn't sure if 13D: -speak was -ESE or -ISH. So many Hindu gods that I wasn't at all confident there (9D: Hindu god of destruction = SIVA) (having the "V" would've helped) yet, and HOLESAWS???? (8D: Ring-shaped cutters attached to drills). LOL, forget it. Never seen the term in my life. I eventually had the SAWS part but, yeah, "ring-shaped" wasn't helping me at all. Clue on PHSCALE was vague (7A: Bases make up a part of it), so until I couldn't figure out the VALUE part of SENT(IM)ENTAL VALUE, that corner was a horror show. By contrast, its symmetrical equivalent went down in about 10 seconds. Harumph. And the fill in this thing, yuck. Romanian currency is just one of the terrible ICINGS on this dry cake. ESE ASEAT LAMES WAL LOC ESME REA OEDS IES TSETSE and whatever a CIERA is (!?!?) (2D: Popular Oldsmobile model of the 1980s-'90s) (I had ALERO, and then MIATA, which isn't even an Olds, but I was desperate). And while I'm up in that NW corner, what is with the *two* cross-referenced answers with all *four* parts all jumbled up together in this tiny little space (INNER crossing ERE which is followed by NOW which is followed by EAR). That clusterf*** was so choppy and awful, I was sure it was part of the theme until I saw the "*" on the first themer clue (and even after ... I wasn't sure). Please value user experience more, he shouted at the uncaring sky. Have a nice day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Marcus Chance 6:25 AM  

Definitely got stuck early on with the vowel crossing of CIERA and SENTENTAL VALUE. I seem to have some sub-conscious knowledge of the alt-mouse, though I think I prefer it as displayed: MORTER MOUSE.

I'm in Albania, so I tossed in LEk, until the cross didn't work. I guess I need to go to Romania to get their currency seated in my knowledge bank.

I ended in the NE after switching to pencil and starting to throw things down hoping they worked.

mooretep 6:33 AM  

"A Wrinkle in Time" was one of the first books I read that blew my mind.
Unfilmable, IMHO, still is.

Does Mortimer Mouse use a Hole saw to get through the "O-Line"

Once rented a Ciera in Arizona. Discovered what happened when you shift into park while driving at highway speed.

Liked the puzzle. Always look forward to either a rebus or "wrinkle" at least once a week.

Lewis 6:37 AM  

@rex -- "... he shouted at the uncaring sky." Terrific line!

The two best parts of this puzzle for me:

1. Cracking the gimmick -- the little time-traveling time-zone -- after twisting my brain through most of the puzzle trying to get the theme answers. Said cracking brought not only a striking "Aha!" but also a tranquilizing "Aaaah" that cascaded through me top to bottom.

2. Ju-jitsuing against the delightfully pugnacious cluing, finally wearing it down, and, in the end, in triumph, shaking hands with it, filled with respect and affection.

Grant, you got me so highly involved with your lovely creation. It was one terrific experience, and I'm most grateful.

David Fabish 6:43 AM  

I gotta say, I found this one really easy, even without the revealer (which I got AFTER all the themers). I didn't see the "I'm" above, so I figured (from "SENTIMENTALVALUE") that the acrosses had "TIM" in the single square, which made the rest fall pretty quickly.

That said, the solving experience wasn't great, although I wasn't as annoyed by it as Rex was. But then, I'm rarely as annoyed as Rex... 😂

Harryp 6:50 AM  

Right on average Thursday time. I got the upward jog at 16A, and got all three Themers before solving 59A let me know what it was all about. Liked PHSCALE, PANACEA, and HITME, I always think of the tan CIERA in the movie Fargo when I see that word.

Leslie 6:51 AM  

Great idea! I really enjoyed it.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

One of my fastest Thursdays ever---what was your time, "Rex?"

ncmathsadist 7:07 AM  

Just ick. Noxious fill combined with nonsensical themers. A grim slog.

JD 7:17 AM  

Reading a book about the lives and working conditions of 19th century British housekeepers so my brain may be stuck there, but this puzzle felt like A Wrinkle In Time.  Icings and Celli, Scrimps, and Didnst and Sent(im)emental Value. Mort(im)er. Doilies on dining tables.

I liked it, especially the wording of this clue: Hypothetical solar system body beyond Neptune. Lofty.

OffTheGrid 7:25 AM  

This was a really nice Thursday. There were 3 starred clues so that identified the theme answer locations. Working in the north I thought 16A had to be SENTIMENTALVALUE but didn't see how to make that happen. A rebus wasn't going to work. So I moved on down. MORTIMERMOUSE appeared out of my memory, but again, how to make it work? The revealer made everything clear. AHA and OHO. I did notice that in 16A & 45A "TIME" was part of one word. In 29A "TIME" spans 3 words. That's kinda cool.

SPROCKET is a neat word.

The CIERA was the Olds version of what GM called their A platform line. Chevrolet version was a Celebrity. Pontiac-the 6000, and Buick-the Century. It was a mid size sedan that also was offered in a station wagon.

ChuckD 7:26 AM  

Liked this more than Rex - but agree too much short gluey stuff. Nice revealer - but the theme entries were flat. Hate everything Disney - so obscure Disney is ridiculously bad. Thought the PH SCALE clue was great and routinely use HOLE SAWS so the NE fell quickly for me. APP, WAL and RNA ruined the SW for me. Always like to see ASPENS so that was a comfortable end to the puzzle.

We’ve seen this kind of trick before but I’ll take this on a Thursday.

DSM 7:27 AM  

Let me just get this straight: if I (an engineer) haven’t read (or can’t recall any major character from) the entire English canon, I’m a philistine. But if a humanities person doesn’t know what a hole saw is - or complains about common STEM subject matter or the very existence of the worlds of business or commerce - they aren’t luddites; the fill is just obscure. Got it.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

IES and ESE.

LOC and WAL and REA and DIDST.

OEDS as a plural.

So, there is a lot of bad short fill.

There is also a revealer that falls flat; insufficiently famous, as a novel. [Although I see Rex would disagree]

And yet, I had fun with this. TSE TSE and MORTIMER MOUSE and PH SCALE and PANACEA and a dozen other niceties in the grid.

Grant's last NYT puzzle also featured Mickey Mouse, in the form of STEAMBOAT WILLIE.

The search for PLANET X led to the discovery of Pluto.

The plural of LEU is LEI.

Moldova's currency is also called the LEU. The two currencies are not linked. Currently one Romanian LEU is worth about 4 Moldovan LEI.

Smitty 7:41 AM  

"Holesaws" are very common tools.
That said, it didn't help my solving experience.

John H 7:51 AM  

Why is starting with the revealer "backwards?" I didn't do that today, and when I saw it was pleasantly surprised that the theme had more substance than the simple deletion of two letters. Thoroughly enjoyed this, except for the pluralization of OED.

Hungry Mother 8:08 AM  

I saw the theme early, without the reveal, but got hung up on the EttA/ELLA conundrum. Also had a typo on ESME. Still finished way faster than average.

amyyanni 8:18 AM  

Had to Google LEU to complete the NE corner (thank you for hearing my confession). Love the book and had fun. There was a lot of small fill, Rex is right. It is what it is.

Joe R. 8:20 AM  

I started getting mad at this puzzle when I knew that SHIVA was the deity they were looking for, but it didn’t fit. I had -I-A, and was just stumped. SIVA is not an alternate spelling, ŚIVA is, but even that is extremely uncommon. The fill never got any better that that. This was an unpleasant slog all the way through.

I didn’t notice the IMs above the themers, but I figured out early on that there was an IM missing, so I expected a revealer like “I’m outta here” or something of that ilk. The revealer was better once I reached it, but by then I had finished all the theme answers, so it didn’t aid me at all.

pabloinnh 8:24 AM  

AWRINKLEINTIME is one of those titles I know of a book I have not read. There are many more.

Wanted SENTIMENTALVALUE instantly, but it took some doing to make it fit, and it was fun to discover the gimmick. I suspect I'm not the only solver who has not only heard of a HOLESAW but owns more than one and has actually used them. And MORTIMERMOUSE rang a distant bell somewhere in the dusty brain attic, and now I'm wondering why.

Thanks for the fun, GT. Not a rebus but tricksy enough to entertain.

Mike G 8:28 AM  

PH Scale slowed me down for a bit... couldn't figure out the PHS___ and AIL/LEU/ESE were no help. Other than that, I breezed through this one except for a typo I had to hunt down in the SE corner.

Odd Sock 8:28 AM  

Didn't an Oldsmobile Ciera play a part in the plot of "Fargo"?

Blue Stater 8:32 AM  

Worst in years.

@mooretep: What *does* happen when you shift into Park at highway speed? I'm strictly a stick-shift guy so I have no clue....

TJS 8:39 AM  

Yeah, the fill was a bunch of junk : ere,leu,ese,oxo,lames, aseat,rea,ies,app,wal,celli,didst,loc... I thought I knew all things Mickey, but Mortimer ?? I guess the gimmick worked if you like that sort of thing. All things considered, not a Thursday I will remember. Why so few comments from last night? Everybody fall asleep watching the Convention?

Pamela 8:44 AM  

I expected a rebus, so put the missing letters to the long answers into one square. When the revealer finally appeared, I gave myself a pat on the back and looked for my gold star. To my great surprise- no happy music! I wasted soooo much time looking for mistakes in the grid. I never did figure it out on my own. I turned to Wordplay, hoping for a clue, but Deb Amlen gives it all away. No subtle hint this time- she explains the whole wrinkle in detail.

Viola relatives seems an odd clue for CELLI. With that answer, all stringed instruments could be considered relatives -double bass, violin, what about guitar? Banjo? I had been looking for something more specific, like viola D’Amore, or da Gamba. Hmmph.

How is SOONER a longhorn rival? Is it about sports?

Diabolical puzzle, worthy of a Thursday.

Unknown 8:51 AM  

A very tough puzzle. So tough that Rex won't or just can't bring himself to reveal his finish time, so yeah, it was a grind. And while I agree with Rex that some of the fill (Romanian currency?) was not great, that's the price we pay for PLANETX and PHSCALE (which was so cleverly clued!). I'm not sure that clues involving the LWORD will be around in ten years or so; same goes for Mr. Arbuckle's dog, but in the big scheme of things, this was a tough, challenging, well-executed Thursday puz, and isn't that what we all came here for?

Anonymous 8:53 AM  


SteveDubs 8:53 AM  

Ugh, I was working with IME rebus the whole time, never saw the TIs connected.

Lewis 9:07 AM  

@mooretep -- What did happen when you shifted into park? I've always wanted to know but, of course, have been afraid to try it.

Azzurro 9:17 AM  

This was really bad. I liked the theme, but the rest of the fill was just dreadful.

Whatsername 9:18 AM  

Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention but this is the first time since I’ve been doing crosswords that I can recall having two undersized grids in the same week. Didn’t have too much trouble with this one other than the NE corner which I agree was tough. I just wasn’t seeing PHSCALE and never heard of HOLESAW ... which makes me think of coleslaw. After getting the revealer I had to go back and look for the trick, but it was easy enough to figure out. Clever, different, and it didn’t give me a headache like yesterday’s DIDST, so I’m a happy solver.

I had never heard of MORTIMER MOUSE but he sounds like a real rat. I’m glad Minnie chose Mickey, a much nicer guy as rodents go.

@Odd Sock (8:28) You are correct. The car - “a brand new burnt umber CIERA” - played a significant role in Fargo.

Petsounds 9:20 AM  

@Pamela: SOONERs are Univ of Oklahoma athletes; Longhorns are from Univ of Texas. They are rivals in the Big 12 athletic conference.

It was MORTIMERMOUSE that got me to the theme, and overall I enjoyed this puzzle. Couldn't get how RNA is a "bio subject." Never heard of a bio course devoted to it. TWIT took a long time too. I really liked PHSCALE, PLANETX (never heard of it, so I learned something) and DOILIES. And I liked having a puzzle with a twist, which we all want on a Thursday!

A lot of crap fill, yes. And I've never heard of SHIVA written as SIVA, but I gather from Uncle Google that it's written that way in Sanskrit. But it's not written that way in English, so I'm not quite there on that clue.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

I always heard that Walt Disney originally called Mickey Mouse "Mortimer," and that his wife Lillian persuaded him to change the name to Mickey.

Gretchen 9:25 AM  

This was fun! Very clever, Grant Thackray!

The Clerk 9:26 AM  

PHSCALES and it’s horrific crossings make this an unpleasant puzzle. Why would you ever pluralize PH scale to start with?

Sixthstone 9:33 AM  

Figured "sentimental value" fairly quickly but was trying to squeeze a rebus in there somewhere--did not catch the IM in the row above. Puzzle went quick but spend several minutes trying to resolve the rebus situation in the themers. Fill not great but overall an enjoyable TH ride.

George 9:35 AM  

Being a car lover, starting out with an Oldsmobile CIERA was quite a let down.

Tom R 9:37 AM  

Got the theme trick early off sent(im)ental value, though it did take a lot of crosses to finally convince me sentental was correct. Never heard of Mortimer Mouse, but easily inferred. Used to own a Ciera, though tried Alero first because, well...., but luckily never shoved it into Park at highway speed. In the end, very easy. Maybe best Thursday time ever.

OffTheGrid 9:37 AM  

@Pamela. I agree that a violin and a double bass would also be cousins to a viola. But not other string instruments that I can think of. Those four are the same design and shape and are played primarily with a bow
(Although a jazz bassist doesn't normally use a bow).

@Lewis & @ @Blue Stater. Putting the transmission into park locks everything up so doing it at speed would likely badly damage the trans. Nothing is supposed to be moving when you shift to park. Modern cars have some safeguards to prevent a shift to P while moving but an 80"s car probably did not.

MarthaCatherine 9:44 AM  

I thought it was a bad puzzle if the rebus doesn't work both across and down? I got the gimmick before I got to the revealer, but I thought I was wrong since it doesn't work with the downs. NITim? ITimALIAN? TWITim? Maybe the "im" is hidden in some sort of wrinkle, so we just pretend it isn't there.

I actually like the puzzle a lot and had fun solving, but I was waiting for blistering remarks from Rex about it not working both ways.

GILL I. 9:45 AM  

I'm trying to decide what I think about this puzzle. Let's see.... i'll jump to the theme revealer and say that these days if it's not Peppa Pig, I don't really know anything about A WRINKLE IN TIME. I got it eventually because I was able to chip away at all the downs. Oh, no wonder MORTER MOUSE was missing his IM. Let's go sniffing around and figure who else is. Ah....now I get it. That old musty wedding dress - that no one will ever wear again and is kept in the closet - has SENT(IM)ENTAL VALUE. WHAT EANT WAS now began to make sense. Sorta.
This is one of those "sit back and look at it and maybe decide it was clever in places" puzzle. It was. It also had some tedious fill. I knew HOLE SAW and SPROCKET because I watch "This Old House"....so good for me. I don't know things like MINI ME or O LINE and if I ever live to be 80, I will never put DOILIES on my dining room table nor utter DIDST in good company. You will, however, get a good CLARET(S) if I can ever afford or pronounce a Cartuxa Pera Manca.
So I managed to get through devious Thursday with only one lookie uppie. Austin Powers gives me the heebee jeebees and you know what he can do with his spy that shagged him.....Other than that, this was clever, Grant. You got my first smile at COSMO and reliving "Sex and the City."
Now back to reality and trying not to breath in our god-awful smoke filled town. Ash on my car, ash on my Azaleas, ash on my eyelids. At least the abode is still standing.

Ethan Taliesin 9:48 AM  

I thought I was going to get a personal speed record but got stuck at the NE corner. Languished for five minutes and cheated. I did not know LEU.

I should have gotten PHSCALE. Perhaps I was influenced by all the AMINOS and DNAs and RNAs that are so often used

Nancy 9:57 AM  

And to think, I just finished telling a regular on this blog that I am severely challenged by puzzles that twist and turn unexpectedly. But I did come close to finishing this -- with great, great difficulty -- as I filled in all but the top line in the NE. I didn't know, and couldn't see PH SCALE, nor did I know what kind of -OLESAWS we were talking about, nor did I know -IVA.

And what in the name of everything holy is ESE-speak???????

The LWORD Generation Q??????? That's a series? It sounds like a conspiracy-minded subgroup.

But A WRINKLE IN TIME enabled me to decipher everything else that didn't seem to make any sense. And so I came closer to finishing this bear of a puzzle than I had any right to.

BTW, you might want to know my very first thought on the answer to "An old wedding dress might have it" when I had only filled in the first E: SEEN BETTER DAYS. (It fits.)

Preferred Customer 10:00 AM  

Hi mooretep,

We want the painful details please. Was there smoke? Did pieces come off? Did you come to a screeching halt?

I'm a stick shift person and I'm thinking it would be like shoving it into reverse while going forward...


William of Ockham 10:03 AM  

Lots of crummy little (3, 4) fill, especially NE.

Not a good week so far.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

Good grief. I see that today is Thursday. I spent the whole day yesterday thinking yesterday was Thursday. So now I understand why today's had a theme and a very tough one. And why yesterday's had the wrong kind of theme for a Thursday. You must have all thought that I was crazy. Keeping track of days during the pandemic is really hard. Mea culpa.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Oh, and back one more time to say that the $@#%$# car make got me again. This puzzle would have been so much easier in the NW if I hadn't been sure that the $%@#$# car was an ALERO rather than a CIERA (which I've never even heard of, btw.) I hate car make clues so much!

Anonymous 10:13 AM  


Sure. Every edumacated person has one in each room. Can never have enough of them, 'though it is Britenglish.

JC66 10:15 AM  

Today's grid is only 14 wide, so @Rex's time is worse than he thinks.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

@The Clerk:
PHSCALES and it’s horrific crossings make this an unpleasant puzzle. Why would you ever pluralize PH scale to start with?

because the clue doesn't - 'part of it'

and that doesn't even fit.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Rex doesn't seem to know anything, and I mean anything, about tools, machinery or anything remotely mechanical.
I feel bad for him. I suspect he's had to have friends or pay people to fix things or do things that, with only a tiny bit of knowledge and skill he could handle.I find it astounding that a grown man, a homeowner no less, could be so willfully ignorant of such a basic thing. And it is surely willfulness. I mean, even if he's never used a hole saw, he must have been in a hardware and walked by them many, many times. That suggests a profound lack of interest in how the physical world works.

Z 10:25 AM  

I had this image in my head of regulars here yelling “cellopodes” at the uncaring sky as I wrote in that POCI.

I got the WRINKLE at SENTIMENTAL VALUE.I like the whole inside back cover of Mad Magazine vibe. But, oof, so much obscurity. I want to know in what sub-group niche CIERAs we’re ever popular with. Fargo watchers is the best answer I’ve seen so far. And the only MORTIMER I know is Snerd (not to be confused with Hager’s dog Snert - who shares a name with pea soup). PLANET X has long been replaced by the Kuiper Belt, so is more bad 1950’s science fiction than “hypothetical body” now. I’m a little surprised we didn’t get a Spacely SPROCKETS reference. Rex already did a fine job pointing out the short dreck, but boy, so much we see in crosswords 10,000 times more often than in the wild. Still, the theme was great.

@MarthaCatherine - No rebus. In SENTIMENTAL VALUE the IM is above the TE, as if there is a WRINKLE in the word TIME. The downs read normally.

@The Clerk - They are known as Plurals of Convenience because they appear for the convenience of the constructor.

@Pamela - Yes, college sports. Texas and Oklahoma.

I’m seeing complaints about SIVA. Transliterations are malleable. ShIVA is no more “correct” than ŚIVA and crosswords are notorious for ignoring diacritics.

@Smitty - HOLE SAWS are “very common tools” the same way CIERAs were “popular cars.”

@DSM - No. Trivia and factoids are always lesser than wordplay.

mathgent 10:25 AM  

It was fun finding TIME in the three little boxes. It reminded me of the song about catching time in a bottle. AWRINKLEINTIME doesn’t quite capture the gimmick for me, though. I prefer what @Joe R (8:20) came up with. “IM outta here!”

@TJS (8:39) has an imposing list of junk entries. I’m more tolerant because of my great respect for grid creators, but I still found seven stinkers.

I Googled “ese-speak” but couldn’t find much. What is it?

A different clue for REA at 40A. I wondered whether Stephen Rea had gone inactive but I found that he won a BAFTA not long ago.

I liked the blackjack clue for HITME. Like a lot of math people, I studied the book Beat the Dealer when it came out in 1966. I learned the ten-count system and got pretty good at counting cards. The object of counting cards is to know when a deck had a high ratio of aces and ten-valued cards. Such a deck gives the player an advantage over the dealer, so he increases the size of his bet. I never won a lot of money at the blackjack tables, but I did get thrown out of a casino once in Reno. I stopped playing when they no longer dealt from single decks (favorable situations come up less frequently) and the casinos stopped paying two-to-one for blackjacks.

TundraDad 10:27 AM  

"It's the tan Ciera! I found my tan Ciera!" Frances McDormand in FARGO.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

The parking pawl on the output shaft typically prevents the sort of thing mooretep described.
The pawl works by engaging a metal pin into one of the notches of a metal ring that is attached to the output shaft of the transmission when the gear shift is placed in the P position. When the pin is in this position, the output shaft is stopped from turning, which prohibits the wheels from moving and in turn, the car doesn’t move. Once you move out of shift, the pin will disengage and allow the vehicle to drive freely. For a simpler explanation, it would be like putting a wedge in front of a vehicle’s wheels. The wedge would stop the wheel from moving and would act as the pin and the wheel would resemble the transmission.
When driving at high speeds, there is a safety mechanism that is designed to prevent the parking pawl from engaging until the vehicle is stopped.
You Can overcome. I've seen it done. And indeed, the transmission does size. Lots of metal, and broken bits swirling in the bell housing.
But most cars simply wont let you do something so bone-headed. They over ride the imbecile benid the wheel.
I believe Mythbusters did apiece on it with a Crown Vic. They couldnt move from Drive to park at real speed.

jberg 10:33 AM  

DNF. I only know the AlERo, and know even less about Austin Powers, so I didn’t have enough crosses to see that tMEN should be Gs. That left me thinking finishing touches migh be paINtS, but p_SET? I gave up there.

I did love the theme though. @marthacatherine, it’s not avrebus—you go up from the T to get the IM, then come back down for the E. That’s the wrinkle. The downs read normally.

TTrimble 10:35 AM  

"-ESE" as in "legalese. So that -ese is a synonym of -speak.

I think SIVA is acceptable, just as SENORA is acceptable, just as any word that is properly spelled with a diacritical mark is deemed acceptable without it in crosswords.

I liked this puzzle. I too was late to the revealer, so sure, it was puzzling for a while, but that's what Thursdays are for. Another thing Thursdays are good for are learning new things: HOLESAWS and L-WORD and MORT(IM)ER MOUSE were not in my ken, and if LEU plays in Scrabble, then I'm down with that as well. I'll grant that some of it wasn't great: OEDS was a standout nose-wrinkler.

My time was pretty good, seen against my historical average, although I'm very willing to suppose that if Rex had my time, he'd be crying in his beer (or his Negroni). Maybe that's what happened? Not posting his time is a pretty good clue to how he felt.

Conjectured answer to the big question of the day: on older models, I guess you'd completely blow out the transmission, and there would be a lot of noise, similar to having a thrown rod. It's been ages since I've put my own hands on my own car, so I can't speak too knowledgeably about car mechanics, but I *believe* that on newer models, moving to the wrong gear is no longer so catastrophic. Why do I say that? On my present car (2015 Toyota Rav4) I've sometimes played a game of coasting downhill in neutral, and then thinking I'm still in drive, shift into "neutral" which is actually now reverse! And the car forgives me.

---[SB Alert]---
-->> spoilers from yesterday <<--

This morning I was still one away from yesterday's QB, but on encouragement from the examples of @Barbara S. and I think @Pamela, who proudly brandished their tiaras, I decided I'd keep the tab open a while longer. Did the crossword, the mini, and then turned to today's SB which was a total blowout -- I don't think I'll ever again get to QB as fast as I did, on a list of that length. Easy-peasy. Most of it due to one Genius Trick. (Not really -- I think you'd have to be asleep to miss it.)

And then, staring into space on the couch, realized the last entry to make yesterday's QB: COCCI! Fist-pumpingly satisfying. Most of yesterday's were commonplace, and I believe *all* of today's are: give it a go, fellow SB-ers!

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Shiva is definitely a better translation because the H sound, while an approximation of the Sanskrit, is better than no approximation of the sound.

Also, Z it's Hagar. With an umlaut, and really, you should include The Horrible. Has anybody else ever, referred to Hagar The Horrible as simply Hagar?

TJS 10:38 AM  

"a conspiracy-minded sub-group". @Nancy, my comment winner of the day.

Z 10:38 AM  

@mathgent - -speak is like -ESE, something you add to a group or activity name to indicate a specific set of slang. Pokerspeak = pokerese (not that either is an actual term as far as I know)

RooMonster 10:39 AM  

Hey All !
ALEROs are 90s-00s cars, CIERAs 80s. File away for future use. I have an Achieva. Yes, an Oldsmobile. It's the Rare 1992 SCX model. *Pats myself on the back*

Another 14x15 puz. Weird two in one week, weirder on a Thursday.

Add me to the group who didn't see that the IM was above the TE. I just figured the IM was missing. *Deflating balloon sound* ☺️ That worked for me.

Along with others, spill. I did see on one of those car shows on TV once, the hosts tried it, and it seemed to just grind and slow the car down, or else just popped itself into neutral. I'm sure it messed up the tranny.

TWIT - On a Monty Python board I used to go to, my name was TWIT Of The Year. 😋

Seeing now the extra IM on top of the TE notched the puz up one. Lots of ESE-y fill as others have mentioned. ESE clue bizarre. Movie buff, so MINI ME a gimmie-me. Har. Add me to the "who the heck is MORTIMER MOUSE" ers. Another odd clue for APP.

The combo-letter-word-things were messing with me today. PHSCALE, LWORD, even PLANETX. The ole brain not picking up those as quick as I'd like it to. Maybe need an INNER EAR adjustment. Har, that will probably become a procedure in the future!

No F's - DIDST you SCRIMPS on the F'S, Grant?

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Loved this one! Got the revealer half-way through, which was perfect. Got bogged down in NE (isn't is Shiva, not SIVA? And ESE was cute but tough).

albatross shell 10:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 10:42 AM  

@mathgent -- I'm running out now, so I won't see your answer until much later, but here's my question:

I understand why a higher proportion of aces and ten-value cards makes it more likely to get 20 or 21 points when you're dealt two cards. What I don't understand is why that isn't just as true for the dealer as it is for any of the gamblers? Is it because the dealer is forced to take another card (at 16, if memory serves) when the player isn't? I can't think of any other reason.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

This one was pretty easy and mostly fun. Although agreed re: amount of short junky fill. Still don’t quite get clue for 30 D (hit me).

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

It's all so subjective.......Wrinke In Time a gimme? Recognize the title, but have no idea what it is, or that it's YA. So much of "this is a good puzzle"/"this is a weak puzzle" depends on your subjective experiences.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

TTrimble. I understand forgetting what gear one is and making an error. But setting that aside. Why on Earth would you be shifting from drive into neutral?

egsforbreakfast 10:48 AM  

I know some of you don’t like to actually read Rex’s commentary, so here’s a summary:

If the themers had been so obvious that the revealer was irrelevant, this would have been a good puzzle except that the fill was a bunch of dreck. Therefore, you don’t get to know how long it took me.

Actually, I liked the Theme and how it was executed, and I needed the revealer to pull me out of the rebus rabbit hole that I’d unfruitfully gone down. Fill wasn’t strong, but a good theme still always beats poor fill IMHO.

Carola 10:49 AM  

Tough and enjoyable. Much groping in the dark until I stumbled on the reveal and light dawned, allowing me to see SENTIMENTAL and to get WHAT I MEANT and MORTIMER. Hats off to the constructor for seeing the trick in the title. Nice placement of SOONER under TIME. I also enjoyed SPROCKET, SCRIMPS, PANACEA, PLANTET X, the clue for HIT ME, and the nearly impossible to see PH SCALE.

Help from previous puzzles: MINIME, and the LE of LEU (didn't know if it was a U or a k [hi, @Marcus Chance]).
Do-overs: Me, too, for alERo; DoeST.

ghthree 10:56 AM  

Hi, Pamela, OffTheGrid et al.

My wife Jane is a violinist. Our son David learned viola at an early age. Too small for a real one he used a viola, fitted with an end-pin. That's when I learned that both instruments are tuned in fifths: G-D-A-E. Guitars, basses, ukes, etc. no.

Hi, DSM at 7:27
I’m with you. We STEM people gotta stick together.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  


Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Z is talking out of his hat. Again. The Ciera was massively successful car for Olds. Often outselling the slee and sexy Cutlass (LOL). Anyway, the Ciera had a decade and a half long run and consistently sold more than a 100, 00 units. Some years, substantially more. It was not popular, it was popular for a long time.

pmdm 11:02 AM  

Convinced myself this was a puzzle in which the theme entries had a rebus and the down entries did not. Wrong. Somehow I filled the puzzle in, but had to go to a blog to learn what the real theme was. Sigh.

There certainly is inconsistency in Mike revealing his solve time. Why? It seems to enable those who want to complain about him.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Thankful for your informed, clearsighted cheerfulness Lewis! Reading Rex is like listening to Trump - reliably all about him and depressing.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Yes. Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma Sooners. College teams.

Z 11:17 AM  

@Anon10:35 - I completely forgot that Hägar had the Metal Umlaut before the Metal Umlaut was a thing. More Cowbell.*

* That’s Hagar --> Hägar --> Metal Umlaut --> Blue Öyster Cult --> Don’t Fear the Reaper --> Saturday Night Live

GHarris 11:17 AM  

If I reacted to every puzzle that gave me a hard time, the way Rex seems to do, I would be baying at an uncaring sky almost every day. Today I intuited sentimental value immediately but was unable to make it work until I got the theme. Had the same hard time in the NE as did Rex and many others.. I never thought of languishing as ailing, so my first response was sit,, then lie.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

No one did. Answer is PHSCALE.

MRGold 11:23 AM  

Yes. I can hear Margie (Frances MCD) shouting Tan Ciera! Tan Ciera ! As she drives around the lake. It was Steve Buscemi’s undoing. He should have paid the other guy for half.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

The I and M are above the T and E.
Works perfectly.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

-speak means the language spoken.
Japanese, for example.

Doc John 11:28 AM  

Hear hear!

JD 11:28 AM  

@Roo, Har! From Oldsmobile, the Achieva. The car that says, "I did it ... and you didn't. At your dealership now

@OfftheGrid, Agree on Sprocket, a fun word to say.

Ernonymous 11:30 AM  

I'm just aggravated. The only puzzles I have not been able to finish, where I give up after working with one entry for over 30 minutes are things where you need to parse the answer with 2 letters and another word like PHSCALE, LALAW, HARDG, TVMOM (that one I did get). I also am aware when I am stuck that it is indeed something like this, but I can't see it.

This PHSCALE I did not know the Hindu God. I had PH_CALE but I was not positive about the L for LEU - I had a feeling about it but not absolutely sure and the ESE was such a dumb clue that I was not positive either. The Clue about Bases was totally useless, that could be a million things.

I tried every letter of the alphabet there but I must not have put in the S when I had the CALE. I changed the L to an S thinking it might be SEU and CASE. Then I decided maybe the E was a P so you would have PH_ CAMP! I liked this camp idea as in BASE CAMP. I think this is when I got PHD CAMP! PHD CASE! so you see I tried and finally I looked at the answer key.
I think, like most of us, I solve by using what letter combinations are normal in English, so PHY seemed correct to me PHS - nothing starts like that.
What I have been trying to get my brain to do is think outside the box on this type of clue and say each letter aloud like "L" "A" Law I had LALA and I'm seeing lala not L then A. GRRRRR. I had HAR_G and what the hell is that?

I am mostly mad at myself but it is good to read all of your reviews and to see other people struggled with this as well.

It's also good to see I am pulling these crosswordesy words out of my ass easier now like ESME ONEA (apartment of Super 1-A.) We had ENOS 2 days in a row and I put in ESAU I thought that was the grandson. I thought ENOS was the Mormon Boo. Oy vey. There are just so many of them. My list is 4 pages long. I made a screenshot of 2 comments here that I need to add to my list. One was (I think Z) wrote that INGE is a fair cross to all but new solvers. 4 letter playwright is going to be him or AGEE 99% of the time. I also put in AGEE a few times in past few weeks but INGE was a new one.
Then from Ciclista21 "ELEA should be a gimme by now for veteran solvers" Then Ancient Greece: If it's a mountain try OSSA.
All these comments are very helpful to me.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

-speak refer a to language spoken.
Japanese, for example

TTrimble 11:36 AM  

@Anonymous 10:48AM

I think I'll plead the fifth, to avoid incriminating myself further in a court of stupidity. (I don't do it anymore.)

Capt H 11:37 AM  

Aah, the ultimate insult...compare Rex to his buddy, Donald!!

Rick Walker 11:42 AM  

Yeah. I had the same reaction to Rex on this one. In thought it was obvious what was happening with sentimental value without the revealer. And I have always known what a holesaw is and write it right in. And Zillion Cieras were once on the road if Rex had been paying attention.

albatross shell 11:44 AM  

Easy Thursday, aithough did like @anyyanni on REU.

Did a rebus of TIM, then realized I might have to change it to TIM/T, then saw the WRINKLEINTIME, or at least of TIME, deleted the rebopodes, and entered plain ole T.

I thought EWERS were small pitchers too. I guess I was mistaken.

Just never get Rex-obsession with the grid looking like gibberish. You know the theme, it may appear that way, but it is truly not. Sounds like a guy complaining that Picasso never draws a woman that looks like a woman. Why don't those poems rhyme? Why can't Joyce write with normal words and standard punctuation?

I have seldom used HOLESAWS in the basement.

Some POCs irk me a little: OEDS PHSCALES. Most do not, as long as there are not too many of them. No specific number in mind.

I thought people would split on this puzzle just like yesterday's. But maybe half wrong there. I am with @Lewis again. Although, if you squint between the lines, you might just imagine a shadow of negativity there.

Z 11:48 AM  

@anon11:00 - So there is some subgroup niche for which the Oldsmobile CIERA was popular besides just Fargo fans. I don’t know that 14 model years constitutes “a long time” (Mustangs - over half a century and still being made - and the Beetle - 75 years not counting the “New Beetle” - seems to fit that description better), but whatever. I had to look up images to even remember what a CIERA looked like and realized I never knowingly noticed one because it was one of those nondescript 80’s era sedans that were essentially interchangeable. The same feeling I get today with crossover SUVs, they all look alike except for the logo.

Lindsay 11:52 AM  

'A Wrinkle in Time' is a classic worth re-reading, or reading for the first time if you're not familiar with it. Lots of us have some extra time on our hands these strange days. Do it.

CT2Napa 11:55 AM  

OK I did this relatively quickly (for me). But no happy music. So I checked all the acrosses and then all the downs. Couldn't see a problem. My "wrinkle" was that the "tim" rebus had to be ironed out in the down answers. WRONG.

My complaint would be with the revealer. It is not the path taken by FOUR letters, it is the path taken by TWO letters (I and M) in "time" that is the wrinkle.

old timer 12:01 PM  

Pretty Easy, I thought. The gimmick was quickly discovered.

I loved the comment about pawls. Brought to mind that old sea shanty:

Paddy lay back, take in the slack,
Take a turn around the capstan heave a PAWL.
About ships' stations boys be handy (be handy)
We're bound for Vallapariso round the Horn.

PAWL. Coming soon to a puzzle near you.

(The capstan is that circular thingy that has a line, typically an anchor line, attached to it. A PAWL is a chink that can be inserted into the works to stop the line from running backward).

Swagomatic 12:17 PM  

I liked it okay. I figured something was up with the IMs in the puzzle, but I didn't connect it with TIME until I got to the revealer. I finished in about 1/2 my normal Thurs time.

A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books. I think I read it in 5th grade, maybe??

albatross shell 12:27 PM  

@me 1144am
OK, l tried to make the puzzle 15 wide by adding a rebussed S to PHSCALE. No? OK, that earlier incorrect PHSCALES struck in my mind. And if it were in the puzzle, it would be a wee irk. Any misspellings are typos are mine alone.

Donald 12:28 PM  

What is see-speak (13D)?

Joe Welling 12:29 PM  

I wish OFL would abandon the notion that saying he never heard of something is somehow a criticism of a clue/answer. HOLESAWS are relatively common. I have a collection in my basement.

McKay Hinckley 12:31 PM  

Yup, tried to rebus it with TIM, which seemed to work. The theme clue didn’t seem to make sense anyway. Didn’t understand the “wrinkle” directional thing until reading this after. Huh. Okay then.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

I don't know that any sentient being would describe any Olds as niche. As for the Ciera in particular, they sold far too many units for it to be described as such.
An Ariel Atom is niche. Caterham sevens are niche. Cieras? Not so much.
Ciera owners were more likely to be members of the Elks club or the local garden club than kind of Ciera owners group. The car itself had no fan base per se, so to suggest there was some appeal to a particular group is really quite wrong.That car was as middle of the road as possible.

Ernonymous 12:35 PM  

EWERS was one of the first crosswordese words I learned and it is often clued as America's Cup Trophy. It was on February 21 2020, which really messed me up. Someone on Wordplay went into a long diatribe about it so it sort of stuck. Unfortunately that popped into my head as YWERS though, giving me problems with the IES clue. It looks so dumb and easy but the clue is weird imo.

albatross shell 12:47 PM  

@Trimble Anonymous
My guess is on long downhills shift to neutral to save gas (which it might do if you turn the engine off) or just to see how far you can coast. I hope not to get pulled along as you tailgated a truck at 60 mph.

BTW: HIT ME: Blackjack, taking a card with a n 18, dangerous play.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  


careful there... Mustang, and a host of other marques may well last for decades, by name. however, excepting Europe where it isn't done, Mustang emerged when the 'summer shutdown for model-year change-over' was still the norm. equating the original 'Stang with today's is foolish. :) op cit, Beatle

CIERA, if I recall (haven't consulted the wiki), had few or no body changes.

jae 12:59 PM  

Mostly easy except for the NE where I had the same problems as many of you. Fun tricky Thursday, liked it.

The LWORD sequel is not as good as the original. That said, both are pretty soapy.

Teedmn 1:06 PM  

I found this puzzle challenging but not at all for reasons connected to the theme. I got the theme right away at SENT[IM]ENTAL VALUE since I had SENTEN in place and the wedding dress clue gave it away nicely.

But the NE, I couldn't remember the Romanian currency and went with crU because I was thinking of the cu ending on Romanian names. And are DOILIES really related to dining? I associate them with chair headrests, armrests, end table liners, but not dining. And wanted Shiva for the god.

Then there was 25A. ELLA made more sense with the clue but LW was looking weird at 26D. But eventually I thought of The LWORD series.

I thought the clue for HIT ME (30D) had a great misdirection, 18 not referring to the age of the requester.

Many tiny beefs about the overabundance of cross-referenced clues which didn't serve the purpose of yesterday's (only two but they were so close to each other, it seemed like more), and partials. But I love the theme so that covers a lot of sins. Thanks, Grant Thackray!

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

Anon 12:48
What? Just off the top of my head the Porsche 911 is a model that's been produce, uninterrupted for at least 55 years. It's been developed, of course, but no one on God's green earth would ever mistake any model year in that span for anything other than a 911. And Porsche is as European as it gets.
I'm loath to defend Z, but come on, his point is fair. Beetles and mustangs have had ( or in the VW case, had) very long runs.
Also the term marque is typically reserved for the manufacturer of the car. I think the word you're looking for is model. That is, Ford is the marque, mustang is the model. Volkswagen is the marque, Beetle is the model.

Whatsername 1:24 PM  

@Z et al: Yes, the CIERA was standard issue middle of he road, but not necessarily nondescript, at least not in its day. If there was ever a subgroup niche, I would venture that it might have been widow ladies of a certain age. My mother and several of her best friends all drove them in their day. When she passed on in 2013, her 1992 model had a little over 100,000 miles on it, and she never had any kind of mechanical issues other than a minor repair or two. It wasn’t flashy, but it was a good solid vehicle and served her well over the years.

I completely agree that current model SUVs look like they all came off the same assembly line. A friend and I sat over lunch at a picnic table the other day attempting to identify passing vehicles and that was something we both noticed. And there are so many of them on the road now; sedans and coupes are practically a thing of the past any more.

@MRGold (11:23) Yes poor kinda funny-looking Carl Showalter should have known he couldn’t trust his creepy partner. I never understood either why he didn’t pay for half the car when he had that bucket load of cash buried in the snow. Stuffing him in the wood chipper made for a better cinematic ending I suppose. It certainly was a memorable one; I bet anyone who ever saw that movie never looked at a wood chipper again without thinking of that scene. The Coen brothers were always evasive about how much of that film was fact or fiction, but one of the stories it was thought to be based on did include some poor soul ending up in a wood chipper. I don’t know if the part about burying the money was true, but I always wondered if anyone ever found all that cash just sitting there after the snow melted.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Anon 12:48

Obviously Z got the Ciera business all wrong. But as far as Europeans not staying with the same model over a long a period of time, I'd like to augment the Porsche 911 with The VW Passat, the Morgan plus 4, the Lada 4x4, and the Peugot 405. There are others.

Crimson Devil 1:43 PM  

Sorry if already been said, but of course a legislative body can FIX a LAW: that’s what “technical corrections acts” do, usually in year succeeding passage of original statutory language.

Pete 1:50 PM  

I have to question the "popularity" of the CIERA. It never accounted for more that 2% of the total car sales in the US. It wasn't "popular" with me as I bought it, and it certainly wasn't "popular" with me for the time I had it. Three years and 45K miles later, after a complete re-paint and repairing almost everything, I prayed that it would make the final 25 miles of its life driving to the Toyota dealer as a trade-in ($100) for a Camry. That car, which was totaled 15 years and 350k miles later, got me $5000 back from the insurance company. That car was popular with me.

I own 3 HOLESAWS, and yet it took a while to get it from the clue, and I'm pretty sure the person who wrote the clue never actually saw a HOLESAW as they aren't ring shaped, they're cup shaped.

Z 1:56 PM  

Wow! Really did not expect to incite an ontological debate about car models.

@12:35 - The car itself had no fan base per se was what I asked about in the first place. If I showed anyone a picture of the CIERA from Fargo and the Dodge Diplomat from Basic Instinct* the only thing that might give away which is which is the color. It’s like macro brew pilsners. Sure, Bud sells more than Miller but you might as well be drinking Old Milwaukee for all the difference it makes. If “so bland that it evokes no emotional reaction whatsoever” is the equivalent of “popular” then the clue is spot on. It’s almost as if the middle of the road is the narrowest niche of all.

* Yeah, I looked it up. Turns out it was just another K car.**
** 3, 2, 1...

Pamela 1:58 PM  

@Z- Thank you!

@ghthree- Aha! Now it makes sense. In my early years, I migrated from violin to viola, so didn’t make thatconnection. :-)

****SB ALERT***

QB! A double- header, two days in a row. Not so painful today, either, in spite of the high word count.

tavara 2:05 PM  

Please stop cluing old oldsmobiles

rjkennedy98 2:21 PM  

This puzzle kicked my you know what. So much crosswordese and arcana. Even stuff I should've gotten like PH SCALE was so hard to see.

I had to guess in so many places: TSETSE/ESME, LORRE/OXO/ONE A(tough clue) SIVA/HOLE SAW/PH SCALE(just didn't see it with all the vowels), LAMES/LWORD (ick). I even got the reveler early and it barely helped.

I've been doing crosswords for a few years and normally a Thurday challenges me till I get the reveler. This one challenged me beginning/middle/end. Good look to any novice (or younger) solvers on this one!

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

I don't think you know what ontological or niche means.
Middle of the road is the exact opposite of niche.
And it's clear your original post was claiming that Cieras weren't popular in general but rather were only popular in some niche circle. You used its appearance in Fargo as your applause line.
But you're obfuscating the fact that your original post was not question at all, but a facto tatement to contradict the clue which called the model popular.
Look no big deal. But admit your error and move on.

2 to 3% of US Car sales is an enormous number. Also, I'd like to see where you got that number.

Frantic Sloth 2:33 PM  

I was half dead when I did this, so cannot speak to the solving experience except for 2 things:

I stared at 16A seemingly forever because I just knew the answer had to be SENTIMENTALVALUE. Finally espied (a word I'd never use if not for crosswords) the IM above in MINIME and decided the theme had something to do with TIME in a square.

No, I didn't do the natural progression to TIMEs Square because half (maybe 3/4 by now) dead. Still wrong, but close enough to finish, with nary a wrinkle, in zippy-zappy time.

The other thing that stuck with me was Spacely Space SPROCKETs, because cartoons must be where I did all my lurnin' as a kid. Surprise!

Here's really why:
One of my OCD-ish, clean-freak friends figured out a way we could get together responsibly in a way that the little Ms. felt safe enough to attend and we were all over it.
It was just the "core four" of us, clean, masked and spaced appropriately on her porch on an absolutely beautiful (70-ish, partly cloudy and dry) day.

Ever laugh so long and so often and so hard that your abs get a real workout? Haven't laughed like that in too long. Still feeling the effects now and it's delicious!

Now to read you all.

This is just a guess:

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

Wrong. I mean gosh, please, at least look things up if you don't something.
K car doesn't mean anodyne or run of the mill or anonymous or whatever you or the Bare naked ladies apparently think it means. K cars weer Chrysler. And in fact, extremely important in that company's history.
Oldsmobile was part of General Motors. the Ciera was in direct competition with K cars. You're from Michigan. Worked in the shadow of the big three for years. My God man! h.

Ralph Nader 2:38 PM  

@mooretep 633am Those CIERAs. Unsafe at any speed.

Whatsername 2:44 PM  

@Pete (1:50) Not to debate or dispute your word but just wanted to add my GM vs. Toyota experience. I was always a General Motors driver but in 2000 I bought myself a brand new Camry/Solara. The car appealed to me, but my decision was based primarily on the massive popularity and legendary reliability of Toyotas in general. I kept that car for 11 years and drove it 133,000 miles, but I had more problems with it and spent more money on repairs than I did with any GM vehicle I ever owned. Maybe I just happened to get a lemon, but I got where I hated that car, and I’ll never own another Toyota again. In 2014, I traded it for a new Impala - which sadly, GM no longer sells - and I hope to keep driving it for years to come,

@tavara (2:05) LOL. Okay, I’ll stop now. Well I’ll try anyway.

Barbara S. 2:54 PM  

@Z 10:25
PLANET X may exist. There are scientists making observations to see what they can learn. It's an idea that goes beyond both the lunatic fringe and dated sci-fi, although for now it's only theoretical.

***SB ALERT***
@TTrimble 10:35
Had to laugh at the picture of @Pamela and I brandishing our tiaras, but I'll have you know that THIS is what I wear when I get QB. Yeah, it's a little heavy but thanks to my swelled head, I can manage just fine. So glad you got the crown yourself yesterday AND today! I'm two away today -- a little word and a big word -- and I'll keep on truckin' on your say-so.

ghthree 3:03 PM  

In my post at 10:56, I wrote something that made no sense at all:

My wife Jane is a violinist. Our son David learned viola [sic] at an early age. Too small for a real one he used a viola, fitted with an end-pin.

Of course, I really meant that David learned *Cello* at an early age.
A former colleague of mine was fond of the phrase "Listen to what I mean."
Reminiscent of today's 20 Across. Many people do that automatically.
Stay well, everybody.

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

the K car, as opposed to the Mart, wasn't even a 'car' anyway. it was just the base chassis used to build most of the Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler models for some years. and didn't even go to the wiki for that.

GILL I. 3:13 PM  

@Frantic 2:33. Nothing in this world is more liberating than a gut cleansing, pissing in your Depends, laughter.
I've had those moments and cherish them when I can. My sisters live far away...one in Spain and the other in Charleston SC. When we do manage to get together, (it's usually a wedding a funeral or a reunion), we invariably have that delicious tummy giggle that doesn't seem to stop. I have a few friends that I can do that with, but.....my sisters and I...well, it's hard to explain. Man, is it cathartic....

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

@tavara. You said "Please stop cluing old Oldsmobiles"

But there aren't any new ones. Har.

Another Anon 3:27 PM  

I don't want to enter the car wars. I just want to say that I had a 1988 Dodge Aries station wagon, manual transmission. It was one of the best cars I've owned, useful and reliable. Put about 120K miles on it with only an occasional valve cover gasket replacement(cheap fix).

Pdxrains 3:42 PM  

I'm a tool kind of guy so HOLESAW was cake, but the three letter fill wAs all RIDICULOUS.

Scout 3:49 PM  

"A Wrinkle in Time" is not a young adult book. It is a middle reader novel which is found in every library in the children's section. Young adult is equivalent to "teen" and is written for a much older audience.

Geezer 4:01 PM  


I am a Queen! Well no, actually. Not there would be anything wrong with that.

Frantic Sloth 4:18 PM  

It's been so long between the time I started reading the comments and now posting my reactions, I can't promise it will make sense. But, since that's often a given with my posts, here goes:

@Lewis 637am and always, really... We might not agree at times, but I always, always enjoy your comments and wordsmithery. Every so often, I feel compelled to say that.

@Harryp 650am Yessss! And in Margie's voice!

@pabloinnh Welcome back!! We've missed you! I also agree with what you said! And here's another 2 "!" for ya!

@mooretep 633am Haven't finished reading the comments yet, but here's hoping you answer the question!
@OffTheGrid 937am I'm just wondering how you can do that without flying through the windshield. Seems that's what would happen in a sudden stop at highway speed.

@GILL I 945am Stay safe, girl!

@JC66 1015am LOL! Under the heading "I got news..."

@Z 1025am "I had this image in my head of regulars here yelling “cellopodes” at the uncaring sky as I wrote in that POCI." Classic you and 😂 Also enjoyed the trip down Mad magazine lane. Your Spacely SPROCKETS was late, but it did arrive.😉

@Anonymous 1035am All yes: Hagar (with 2 As) is correct and I have used just "Hagar" as a shortcut and people have understood my meaning.

@Giovanni 1130am Dude. If I recall correctly, you haven't been doing crosswords for that long - less than a year, maybe? Cut yourself some slack! I have often marveled at your accomplishments and level of understanding in such a short - yes, short - amount of time. I've been doing these varmints on and off since the early 70s and I still fall for some of the same "tricks" and even can't recall words that I know I should know. I'll bet even solvers with longer experience could cop to the same. Your determination and desire to learn is almost as impressive as what you've attained so far, so keep it up. You're doing better than you think!

@old timer 1201pm Thank you for the ditty and sailing trivia! Well, I say "trivia" because I know nothing about sailing, but it sounds like common terminology to sailing types.

About all this "shifting to neutral" stuff: Does anyone remember "No Coasting" signs on the road approaching a downhill? I never understood what would be wrong with that until my father explained that to save gas, people would actually shift into neutral and turn off their cars until the bottom of the hill where they'd restart them. 😲
This seems like one of those things that falls into the "do-not-eat-the-contents-of-this-package"-silica-gel-bag warnings to me, but apparently it was necessary back in the day when it was even possible to do that and maintain any semblance of control of the vehicle. Go know.

@GILL I 313pm Now, why does it not surprise me that you know exactly what I'm talking about? Stay safe, girl! ☺️😘

With all this car talk in the comments, I bet @Nancy is gonna have a field day upon her return. Or not.

Yeah - how many OEDS are there??

I'm beginning to think @mooretep made up that story.

Unknown 4:33 PM  

How Are oeds multivolume reference works?

Maddiegail 4:36 PM  

QB today and was feeling so proud ... Until I read your "Easy-peasy. For Thanks a lot!

Barbara S. 4:42 PM  

Hey, I did it! It's a party today with all these QBs. There's probably enough of us to stage a triumphal procession. As the XW said -- AWESOME!

JC66 4:43 PM  


"How Are oeds multivolume reference works?

Because, they are..

Pete 4:48 PM  

@Anon 2:38 iOn the 80s, total car sales were 11 million plus per year. The Ciera never seemed to sell more 100k, so the less than 1%. I said 2% because I didn't look at every year, and 2% makes my point. How can one say something is popular if only has 1% market share? I'm sure Wal-Mart brand butter has a 1% market share, and they sell millions of units a year. Does that make it popular in any meaningful sense?

Frantic Sloth 5:06 PM  

@GILL I Did I mention that I want you to stay safe?

TTrimble 5:15 PM  

My eyes have passed only very glancingly at the car model discussion, but the "ontology of cars" makes me think of a Ship of Theseus thought experiment that I could have *sworn* was somewhere in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but some months back when I checked -- bupkus. Perhaps I was speed-reading too quickly and impatiently. Anyway, I suppose you know the basic idea: if @mooretep's Ciera has to have the entire transmission replaced and if s/he did a hundred other things so that every part had to be replaced, can we still speak of that car as the same Ciera s/he rented?

---[SB stuff]---

This is how I look and act when I win the crown. My family beams in appreciation, I can tell you!

Words from yesterday's unaccepted list that I like are "coition" and "dicot". Actually, I think I had tried just about all of them!

Favorite word not on either list: "octonion". An element of a certain 8-dimensional algebra over the real numbers.

Unknown 5:17 PM  

Had my brother on the phone he gave me Forstner first, then hole saws.

Newboy 5:43 PM  

Saw the missing IM at the first asterisk.......saw the reveal clue “modern (sic) young adult novel” and synapses fried! Sadly “instant message” fit today’s 14x15 grid. I must admit ageism bias based solely on seeing the tops of grandsons heads as they perch like vultures over their respective Kindles. Not a pretty day in the Pacific NW, but finished while still mystified. Guess my CIERA was stuck in the wrong gear🤢

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

I've even used hole saws and didn't know they were called hole saws.

GILL I. 6:19 PM  

@Frantic..Does staying safe twice in a sentence constitute an amendment to the Constitution? If so....I shall.
Happy face ;-). I can't do emojis.

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

Um. Check the data. The best selling car the year the Ciera debuted was another debut, the Ford Fiesta. It was number one at 330 ish units. The Ciera did 112 thousand. Don’t have the rankings for the top sales at hand, but be assured the Ciera was among them.
You clearly don’t know how many models were available to the US consumer in 1982, nor, I’m sure how, Manufactures count sales.
E.g., The Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra are the same truck. Combine their sales and they outpace Ford F-150 sales. Ford claims they’ve had the best selling truck for 30 or more years running. Periodically, GM roars and claims otherwise.
In any event, the Ciera was very popular. Believe it or not. I don’t give a fig.

JC66 6:58 PM  

****SB ALERT****

QB, but no tiara for me. I'll have a scotch.

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

OED: there are/have been at least two versions - the multi-volume printed large enough to read, and the single volume with a bespoke magnifying glass.

hills and neutral: in the very old days, over-the-road truckers would do the neutral trick, but newer tractors had something called a Jacobs Brake (my brother built them for a while), which used the engine's compression back pressure (diesels run much higher compression than civilian gas engines) to slow the truck. a safety feature.

Barbara S. 7:11 PM  

***SB ALERT***
LOL!! Glad to see that you conduct yourself with regal dignity in keeping with your lofty accomplishment. ;-)

Yeah, I had some excitement with "coition" yesterday (as it were). I was down to one, which I thought was a 7-letter word. When "coition" occurred to me I got all gleeful, only to be bitterly disappointed when it was rejected. Then I realized I'd miscounted and the missing word had 6 letters. Turned out to be OUTDID, appropriate since I OUTDID myself in dim-wittedness. Tee Hee.

Slàinte Mhath!
(pronounced Slan-ja-var)
That's "cheers" in Scots Gaelic.

Z 7:18 PM  

Anonymice are so much fun. Here I expected to get corrected about the Dodge Diplomat (since it wasn’t a K Car) and instead I find that they thought the K Car reference was to CIERAS and one of them has no idea when word play is involved. I write something like It’s almost as if the middle of the road is the narrowest niche of all and I think I’m being heavy handed and it turns out it flies right over the anonymouse’s head.
BTW- Lee Iacocca’s saving Chrysler and all the blue collar jobs in Michigan and Ontario that went along with it is part of the subtext of If I had a $1,000,000. Imagine a person dreaming of riches so vast that they can buy a “a nice Reliant automobile.” Also, if you put that video on an Imax screen you might be able to pick me out in row LL.

@TTrimble - Curious, so I googled Pirsig and Ship of Theseus and found a blog post discussing in part his discussion of the paradox in Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. I never read that book, so I cannot say more, but maybe that’s where you read it. And the car debate isn’t worth reading, really, but the idea that a 2020 MUSTANG isn’t the same as a 1964 MUSTANG was asserted.

@Frantic Sloth - With a stick shift it is (or maybe “was”- cars are lot more complex these days) possible to restart a car (say, if the battery is dead) by getting enough speed with the car in neutral and then putting it in gear and popping the clutch. Doing the same thing while going downhill with the engine off is also plausible (not that I would ever have done anything that stupid in my youth). Of course, your power steering isn’t going to work so you better not need to change direction.

@Barbara S - Interesting. Five years later and still nothing. This was just published so creative minds are still at work. Of course, it could be that the mass needed to explain the orbits is provided by numerous smaller objects. I think Occam prefers that theory.

Anonymous 7:27 PM  

Classic Z. Avoiding the whole point. He started this fight with a demonstrably wrong claim and is now defending silly points in his subsequent posts. Wow.

Richardf8 7:36 PM  

How could you not love 30 foot Oprah and the flying kale leaf?

Granted, that movie was its own thing and not A Wrinkle In Time, but still . . .

Richardf8 7:39 PM  

Oh c׳mon, Cieras were not something to pay attention to beyond the basic mandate of driving “must not rear end that.”

pabloinnh 7:40 PM  

@Frantic-Thanks for the welcome back. I've been reading y'all but unable to chime in and I've missed it.

My laugh quartet is our doubles tennis group. Stopped the actual tennis some years ago due to age and injury but still meet for "tennis" in pubs, or did, and will again when the world is made right again. At some point we decided we should all be Bobs, so we became Killer Bob, Scoop Bob, Killer Bob, Frog Bob, and me, Coach Bob. Long backstory, but we still pretty much just call each other Bob, and tennis nights often devolve into uncontrolled giggle fests, which as you point out, are more necessary now than ever. We're lucky to have such friends.

Xcentric 7:44 PM  

Initial slowdown - Alero before siera before Ciera.
Saw the time in sentimental, but took a while to sink in.
A Wrinkle in Time was a blast from the past.
Took a while to grok PDA as public display of affection and not the more typical personal digital assistant (aka smartphone.)

Everyone should learn to drive on a standard transmission (stick shift).

Richardf8 7:46 PM  

IIRC the shifter won’t move past N at speed. been a while, I drive mostly stick.

CDilly52 7:55 PM  

I thought this was an absolute jewel of a Thursday puzzle. I enjoyed every single moment of the solve for the first time in ages!! I also got the theme on the first one because I k ew what the wedding dress answer had to be. When I saw that we had insufficient squares to get all those letters in, I went to look for the reveal, and BAM!!! That answer (as @Rex noted) was obvious. Back up to the wedding dress, look at some of the downs and AHA, time could in face “wrinkle.”

As @Lewis and others noted, we had some very clever clues and very little junk. Huge kudos to Mr. Thackray.

TTrimble 8:02 PM  

Thanks for the lead! You could be right, although I don't recall being drawn into other works by Pirsig at that time of my life besides ZAMM. The image made an indelible impression, well before I was aware of the phrase "Ship of Theseus". It seems to me now that Pirsig could be well worth rereading.

Also: the trick you mention to @Frantic Sloth about starting an auto seems to come up regularly in the lovely film Little Miss Sunshine.

---[SB Alert]---

@BarbaraS. and @Pamela and @JC66
Congrats to all. Having a scotch myself. The desperation of yesterday's search had me considering not just "coition" but "coiti" as an imagined Latinate plural for acts of makin' whoopee. I really can't predict what will be considered non-obscene by the New York Times, who blushes/blanches not at words like DILDO (jeepers, mister). COCCI on the other hand is a plural form, for bacteria, and means not what some might cursorily think based on pronunciation. But you all knew that.

Barbara S. 8:19 PM  

@Z 7:18
I wouldn't discount the possibility of Planet X (or 9) just because it's been 5 years. These searches sometimes take decades, often because you can't see the thing directly but have to infer its existence from its effect on its visual surroundings (like the masking of a distant star). But the primordial black hole theory is a fascinating one. I don't think it's known whether black holes can last that long, and they might be even harder to find than the hypothetical planet, but they might serve to explain the anomalies just as well.

Nancy 8:28 PM  

@pabloinnh -- I almost missed your post -- dodging, as I was, all the car comments. (You're right, @Frantic, I was not amused.) But the problem with whizzing by comments is that sometimes you miss something that speaks to you. Such as Pablo's tennis buddies. Like you, Pablo, I was forced to give up tennis many years ago too and, like you, miss it terribly. I spent the whole day at the courts today for the first time since they reopened in early August -- because the heat has been so terrible; because the shady areas there are limited in the summer (100 park trees went down in the "straight-line wind event" of Aug 2008 that blew from West to East through the park and directly through the area of the courts); and because with social distancing, there was no way I would find a bench in the shade that wasn't in someone's lap.)

Itt was great finally seeing people. It was, finally, a gorgeous day. But I wish I'd gotten to play with your group of "Bob"s, Pablo. A warm, funny, compatible tennis group is a wonderful thing. And they sound like such fun. It's really nice that you continue to get together regularly.

Unknown 8:50 PM  

“Siva” should really have had a warning that it was a variant. I kept thinking there was some random rebus in 7A because it’s usually Shiva in the puzzle and everywhere else I’ve seen it.

Z 9:33 PM  

@Barbara S - Given the conjectured orbit decades might be too short. I don’t know how they narrow down where to look plus, even if they can narrow the search area, 5 to 10 times the size of Earth is pretty small astronomically speaking.

@Xcentric - I don’t disagree, but it’s getting harder to do.

@Richardf8 7:39pm - 😂😂😂😂

Graham 10:28 PM  

You know, people under the age of 65 enjoy doing puzzles too. I just wish this constructor knew that. Yeesh.

Frantic Sloth 10:54 PM  

@Z 718pm Now that you mention it, I was speaking of an automatic transmission not standard. That's the only kind of car my parents drove when I was a kid, so it's all I knew. (Obviously, you were supposed to just know that. Try to keep up.)😉

I've actually done the clutch-popping move of which you speak - once I became proficient with driving standard, that is.

And power steering is probably one of the main reasons why the practice of coasting went the way of the dodo. I'm sure there were other reasons far beyond my automotive ken.

StellaBlue 11:08 PM  

Thank you for

Anonymous 11:10 PM  

for those wondering about planet X/9, become a regular viewer of "How the Universe Works", Science Channel, and the shows about same will come around on the guitar.

Monty Boy 12:00 AM  

I liked this one a lot. I know hole saws and other mechanical stuff and that helps. Am I the only one who noticed that, as an answer to "Bases make up part of it" INFIIELD fits also and makes as much sense to me. AlthoughI did grok PH scale when it fell.

Anonymous 12:01 AM  

This is one of the worst puzzles I've ever seen in my life. Even after seing the answers for most of the NE I have no idea what they mean. Should never have been published

Jeff 1:17 AM  

Lol. I finished with the right stuff though it was a bit of a slog. At the end I was left trying to decode "WHAT TIME ANT WAS" (apparently my brain threw an extra T in there at the wrinkle just to further confuse things).

I have actually owned a hole saw so that was no big deal. If you ever want to install a door knob on a door that didn't come pre-drilled, you'll need one.

GTownInfo 9:11 PM  

Very logical...

thefogman 10:45 AM  

I liked the theme but the puzzle had a fair amount of junky fill and alphabet-soup words like USVISA, PHSCALE, LWORD and GMEN.

spacecraft 10:46 AM  

7? GMEN PHSCALE ONEA PLANETX USVISA LWORD OLINE? Seven letter add-ons??????? Please, take ASEAT. (didn't count that one) I had to write down a list!!

So, you can see where this is headed, score-wise. However, aided by gimme MINIME, I was able to sniff out the mcguffin early. SENTENT--is indeed gibberish, but by borrowing the IM from the line above it became SENTIMENT--thus fitting the clue. Difficulty rating is easy-medium--so there weren't even a whole lot of triumph points to save this one.

There are other fill woes beyond those seven, but you get the picture. I DIDST not like it. ELLA reprises as DOD, but she's in an awful place. Double-bogey.

P.S. It is my understanding that MORTIMER was Disney's original name for the character that BECAME Mickey. But perhaps he reintroduced the name in later works as a rival, I don't know.

rondo 12:00 PM  

I'm sure @spacey will have something to say re:GMEN LWORD PHSCALE OLINE USVISA and maybe PLANETX and ONEA to boot. To boot them out of any future puz.

@D,LIW, are you up on your Hindu gods? I expect the periodic table to appear soon as well.

I got the TIME thing up on the first themer, so the rest weren't so hard, but I didn't know of that book that is the revealer.

A CIERA is the car most prominent in the film "Fargo". In case you care.

Not my favorite puz, but OK.

thefogman 1:13 PM  

@Spacecraft: You are correct.

Walt Disney originally called his creation Mortimer. It was his wife, Lillian, who persuaded him to change it to Mickey Mouse. American actor, Mickey Rooney, has claimed that Mickey Mouse was in fact named after himself, following meeting Walt Disney in the 1920s as a child.

Source: https://www.iglucruise.com/blog/2017/04/20/ten-facts-you-didnt-know-about-mickey-mouse

Burma Shave 1:25 PM  


ONCE upon a TIME common,
I’d eat MEAT if I SAW some,


thefogman 2:52 PM  

To anyone who cares, I finally finished Saturday’s tough puzzle by Joe DiPietro and left a comment about it.

leftcoaster 5:18 PM  

Got the gist of the theme but didn't put it all together.

The IM went unseen over the TOP of TE, and TIME flew over my head until the revealer. Settled for an 85+% word rate recovery, which doesn't quite cut it.

Foxy puzzle. Not AWESOME but have to like it.

Unknown 1:45 PM  

Best comment of the year! Correction: the decade. LOL

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