It's Monday...so that means we're back on Easy Street. I wonder how long before the puzzles turn challenging again.
Maybe it's just that my brain has failed me, but the last two weeks have really seemed more difficult than usual.
Christina Houlihan Kelly serves up an entertaining theme today...four theme answers, all ordinary phrases, but with clues that could literally stop you in your tracks.
20A: Bidding impediment? (auction block).
33A: Outdoor meal deterrent? (picnic hamper).
44A: Truth obstruction? (reality check).
58A: Metallic element's obstacle? (aluminum foil).
I had a hard time picking a favorite...they were all good...but I think aluminum foil wins, followed by picnic hamper.
I love it when I actually remember things from previous puzzles, and that happened a few times with this one.
17A: From __ (completely) (A to Z)...that used to stump me fairly often.
18A: Cheri formerly of "S.N.L." (Oteri). She wasn't on when I watched the show, and I only know her from a previous puzzle.
10D: Napoleon, on Elba or St. Helena (exile). Okay, I knew this, but it's been cemented by frequent appearances.
24D: Les États-__ (Unis).
45D: Grades 1 to 12, briefly (elhi)..had never heard that expression used before I started doing the New York Times.
Favorite answers in the grid:
16A: Lucy Lawless TV role (Xena).
27A: Steisand film about a Jewish girl masquerading as a boy (Yentl).
38A: Gas brand with the slogan "Put a tiger in your tank" (Esso). That takes me back many years.
39A: Book after Daniel (Hosea).
6D: Crime boss known as the Teflon Don (Gotti). I thought the reason might be something disgusting...thankfully that wasn't the case.
11D: "The Two Gentlemen of __" (Verona).
13D: Annoy (rankle). Such a good word.
46D: Mozart's "__ Fan Tutte" (Cosi).
48D: Dahl or Francis (Arlene). I know both names, but I seem to remember Arlene Dahl from the television game shows of my youth.
Just one more late night for Don after tonight...I know he's so ready for this tax season to be over. I saw his secretary today...she's worked for him for five years and doesn't recall it ever being as crazy as it was this year. On Friday, he still had thirty returns to do. The really crazy thing is that he'll get them all done. He's looking forward to spending the rest of this week and all of next week at home...puttering around the yard, walking with the dogs, just enjoying seeing the place in daylight.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.