I know it's most likely just coincidence, but I sometimes feel that there is a meta-theme running through a week's puzzles. I recognize this is probably due to the fact that I am scrutinizing each daily offering for things to talk about in the blog, when I'm on a week of reviewing. But come on.
49D: The missing letters in _UDW_IS__ (BEER). Just like yesterday, there's a connection to the puzzle from the day before. I'm sure Mr. Shortz and Mr. Fagliano will deny it, but I bet they're sniggering into their sleeves.
Is that something people do? Hmmm.
In any case, today's theme is pretty straightforward. There's a visual representation of that old game of keepaway, MONKEY [INTHE] MIDDLE, where the second and third words are split in an arc from one word to the other. Who are they playing keepaway with? Chairman MAO? or MEL of the Spice Girls? Either one brings an amusing picture to mind, so IMCOOL with that.
No, the real monkey in the middle is the APE hidden in five answers throughout the puzzle. I can't claim credit for figuring this out: I had to go to xwordinfo.com because I felt there had to more going on than what I had recognized. Nicely, with the exception of the monkey in DIAPERS, each simian crosses over the two words in the phrases. Thus, RHEAPERLMAN (no relation, as far as I know, to my wife) and AMANDAPEET. Some might say the BANANAPEEL is a meta-theme answer, relating to the pleasure gorillas supposedly get from eating the fruit in question.
|Not an OBOE|
With all that theme material, it's nice to see things like EPHEMERA and HYENAS. I will be forever amused by 64A: General whose good name has been battered? (TSO).
Nice debut for Mr. Harris. Keep up the good work!