It doesn't happen much anymore, but occasionally a puzzle will just frustrate and irk me to the point that it's no longer fun. That happened today. I don't think it's a bad puzzle -- maybe a little tough for a Wednesday, but maybe not. It may just be that my biorythms were off or Kelsey Blakley and I were on different wavelengths, but this one kicked my ass and I didn't like it.
No spoiler warning today. Here we go.
In "The First Shall be Last" the first letter of several common phrases is moved to the end. That's it. Sounds simple, doesn't it?
But I think I messed myself up by starting at the bottom of the puzzle. I got 55A: Earthy brown sheets (UMBER LINEN) pretty quickly and 41A: Torture beginning (RACK START), and I had the theme by then, but for some reason I got the idea that all the themed entries were going to be linked in another way -- not just by letter rearrangement, but by all having something to do with running or racing in some way. You can see how I thought that -- I had a TRACK STAR on a NUMBER LINE and then I got 34A: Aftermath of a sausage explosion (RAINING BRAT) and I figured a TRAINING BRA was something you might wear to run track -- but of course it's not, I had it confused with a sports bra.
So, because I was looking for track references or track apparel, it took forever to get 28A: Flower repugnance (ASTER HATE) cuz it never occurred to me that one might wear an Easter Hat to a track meet. And then it took two forevers to get 17A: Straight line? (ARC ANTONYM) especially since I had GROWS instead of GAINS at 14A: Makes progress and TEAR instead of TOOT at 20A: Bender.
Another screw-up that delayed progress was 11D: Undersea explorer where I had AQUANAUT instead of OCEANAUT and became very attached to it -- because AQUANAUT is just a much cooler word, isn't it? Cooler but wrong.
I'm in a hurry to put this one behind me so the only non-themed entry I'll comment on is 22D: Subject of the book "Bush's Brain". Of course I knew the subject couldn't be Bush cuz he doesn't appear to have one -- but it took me a while to figure out it was KARL ROVE. Being forced to think about that SOB made a frustrating puzzle distasteful.
Here's hoping Thursday will be better.