Is Mercury in retrograde? No, not right now. It was earlier this month... but it sure seemed like something was, because I kept looking back to previous CLUES to see if I really did just see "Mercury" mentioned a couple clues back. Turns out I did. Mercury is paired with five other, different members of our solar system, and each time, the answer is in a new category.
Mercury or Sun, e.g. - WNBATEAM
Mercury or Venus, e.g. - ROMANGOD
Mercury or Earth, e.g. - INNERPLANET
Mercury or Mars, e.g. - MUSICIAN (Freddie and Bruno)
Mercury or Saturn, e.g. - AUTOMAKE (both now defunct)
Not a bad set, but only barely Thursday-esque.
|"Approved undertakings" "A new order of the ages"|
I said OHNO to a few answers, like SOAKAGE (Liquid absorbed by surrounding soil), FIERO (Sporty 1980s Pontiac) (Remember those? No?...), and OPIUMS (Poppy products), but one must ACCEDE to such inclusions from time to time. Especially when they allow for more interesting fill like ASTARTE (Bronze Age fertility deity), OCELOTS (Striped and spotted felines) (This was my favorite animal in grammar school), and SABERS (They go into battle at the sides of cavalrymen). That last one is fun, and it didn't exactly trick me, but I did enter SwordS at first, which slowed that NW corner down a bit.
My FWOEment came at the intersection of ANYA (Novelist Seton) and ADVERT. I had entered ANne originally for the author, thinking, I suppose, of Anne Sexton, and I eventually changed NnE to NYE ("Bill ____ Saves the World"), but I never looked back at that E. Tant pis.
Not one out of the GILDED Age of puzzles, perhaps, but a decent enough start to the Turn.