1959 Spanish-language Top 40 hit / MON 5-30-11 / Pitchfork-shaped letters / Maker Rodeo Trooper / Bonding material bathroom floors
Monday, May 30, 2011
Constructor: Michael Barnhart
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: BREAK A LEG (63A: "Good luck!" .. and a hint to 17-, 25-, 39- and 51-Across) — word "LEG" is "broken" across two words in the theme answers
Word of the Day: AGHA (28D: Turkish title) —
Socio-political title of authority. Agha ("chief," "master") was associated with certain administrators in the Ottoman empire. It is also used in other settings, such as among Kurds. (wikipedia)
Not too thorny as Mondays go, but I never really got a good rhythm going, and so my time was slightly north of normal. I think the somewhat odd theme answers, particularly TILE GROUT (which I've always just called "GROUT") and CHARITABLE GIFTS (which I've always called "charity"), coupled with a decent amount of ambiguity in some of the clues kept this one from being a flat-out romp for me. Is the "Rat" of 1D a verb or a noun? Is 5A: Seethe BOIL or BURN? Etc. These weren't *hard* to figure out, but they required figuring out, which is what passes for "difficulty" on most Mondays. The theme seems like one that would have been done before. Several times before, in fact. And yet I find no evidence for that. I see that BREAKALEG has been used as a theme answer several times in the past, but it's never been a theme-revealer. A theme so obvious that no one ever thought of it. Kinda like the purloined letter hiding in plain sight. I call dibs on "BREAKING BAD." Let's see ... RUB-A-DUB ... GRAB A DRINK ... uh, SAMBA DANCE? Hmm, I'll get back to you. [Correction: someone has done this theme before—Patrick Blindauer, CrosSynergy puzzle, 6/26/08; it shares one theme answer with this puzzle: JUNGLE GYM]
- 17A: Bonding material for bathroom floors (TILE GROUT)
- 25A: Playground fixture (JUNGLE GYM)
- 39A: Donations (CHARITABLE GIFTS)
- 51A: Upholsterer's need (STAPLE GUN)
- 27A: 1959 Spanish-language Top 40 hit ("LA BAMBA") — second time in the puzzle for this answer in the past week or so.
- 43A: One of the Carpenters, in 1970s pop (KAREN) — Every time I hear her voice, I think how impossibly pure it is.
- 7D: Maker of the Rodeo and Trooper (ISUZU) — tied to JAPAN. My first thought was that SEDANS would've made a more natural cross-reference, but then I couldn't name an Isuzu sedan...
- 34D: Entertainer at a kid's birthday party (CLOWN) — scary. Here's a video I've played before—so weird and creepy that it's worth playing again:
- 38D: Pitchfork-shaped letters (PSIS) — PSI/PHI (which is a homonym of "scifi," I just realized) always confuses me.
- 55D: Bit of light that's harmful to the skin (UV RAY) — always looks good in the grid. Appropriate for what feels like the start of summer—it's finally gotten well and truly Warm here. Mint julep helped ease the discomfort. Gonna bike around the neighborhood while there's still sunlight. See you tomorrow.
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