Sunday, June 10, 2007
Relative difficulty: Medium (this means average for a Monday)
THEME: "Short on dough" - this is the clue for five themed answers ... so lots of words and phrases meaning "broke" (including FLAT BROKE)
This is a nice Monday puzzle, and the theme allows for the inclusion of a lot of great idiomatic phrases, which are never unwelcome, particularly in an early-week grid. Started out fast, tripped around a bit - couldn't pull out VICAR (34D: Church official) off just the "V," which broke my rhythm, then couldn't spell LOOIE right (45A: Sarge's superior); I had LOUIE; then couldn't (and still can't) figure out how CUE IN works for 27D: Give hints to; wanted CLUE IN - but still ended up with right around my typical Monday time (low 4's). There's some good multi-word phrases, at least one answer I didn't know at all, and a very interesting BRA mini-theme going on in the NW. But first, your (maxi-)theme answers (all of them clued [Short on dough])
- 17A: FLAT BROKE
- 21A: STRAPPED
- 41A: FEELING THE PINCH
- 56A: IN THE RED
- 66A: TAPPED OUT
All good. I especially like TAPPED OUT, even though it makes me think more of a keg than a wallet. But let's get straight to the BRAS, shall we?
3D: Garments that usually clasp at the back (bras)
I always like BRAS in my puzzle. BRAS yes, toilets no. That's pretty much a constructing rule to live by, right there. But today's BRAS are unlike any other day's BRAS because of the fabulous intersecting and surrounding fill ("fill," HA ha - BRAS is giving every other word I type a new meaning...). I love how BRAS intersects both FLAT (from FLAT BROKE) and TISSUE (20A: Kind of paper for gift-wrapping). Because, you know, if you're FLAT, you might wanna stuff your BRA with TISSUE. After all (and here comes the nearby parallel fill), you want your breasts to appear nice and SOFT (1D: Downy), and not at all UGLI (2D: Wrinkly fruit, HA ha). I love also how the first three theme answers can all be read in BRA-related ways: FLAT ... STRAPPED ... FEELING THE PINCH. If this is a coincidence, it's a glorious one.
4D: Takes off on a cruise (sets sail)
43D: "Enough already!" ("I've had it")
I love when the long non-theme fill is multi-word and vibrant like these symmetrical answers. A very weird thing happened when I read the clue ["Enough already!"] - immediately, even before I looked at the grid, a song popped into my head: an Aimee Mann song called (luckily, eerily) "I've Had It." Have I raved about her before? Well, she deserves it. Love her.
24D: Ballet's Fonteyn (Margot)
Absolutely no clue who this is. Who will be the first jackass to write in expressing shock and dismay at my appalling ignorance? It could be you! Hurry!
42D: Polite refusal ("No, sir")
57D: "Uh-uh" ("Nope")
35D: Prefix with -centric (ethno-)
At first I was a bit irked to see "NO SIR" and "NOPE" in the grid together. But then ETHNO came along and gave a new spin to the whole "NO" theme, and somehow I'm no longer irked.
MAPPED (50D: In an atlas) pairs nicely with TAPPED (in TAPPED OUT), which it intersects. Other nice pairings include ROSIE and PEREZ (22D: With 71-Across, "White Men Can't Jump" co-star), and AUDIO (36A: The "A" in A/V) followed immediately by RADIO (38A: Howard Stern's medium). Speaking of nice pairings ... I refer you to BRAS, above.
Thank you. Good night. Tip your waitress. Etc.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld