I didn't really cut the mustard today. I like to finish a Monday in under six minutes whenever possible. Being comfortably ensconsed in the land of the DUNE and the SAIL may have contributed to the fact that I didn't MAKETHECUT (Survive elimination ... or what one may do to the ends of 17-, 31- 38- and 50-Across?).
Which brings me to today's theme four theme answers, each of which is a two-word phrase, the second word of which, when paired with "cut the" makes a common expression: "cut the" (VOCAL)CORD, "cut the" (FLIGHT)DECK, the above-mentioned and my favorite "cut the" (HOT)MUSTARD, and "cut the" (PERSIAN)RUG. I thought the expression was "cut a rug," but it's probably because AMAH KNOT too smart.
In some places the puzzle felt like a gathering of old friends including OREO, EMT, IRE, ERR, and EMIT, but elsewhere the occasional tastier RAREBIT like STATURE, HIRSUTE, and VESTRY popped up to DIVERT the solver. On a side note, why is melted cheese over toast called rarebit? I'd look it up, but I'm low on Internet unitz right now.
Other clue/answer pairs I enjoyed:
"Refuse to obey" (DEFY)
Ho-hum feeling (ENNUI)
And how about BLATHER and SHAM to CAPITAL off?
I didn't really like the clue "State of confusion" for MESS and I have a personal dislike of the word AGIN ("Opposed to, in dialect), but neither of those entries caused me to 'AVERAGE.
Too much? Please DONTGO. I'll try to do better tomorrow. It's a PRO MESS.