(updated at 10:54 a.m. Saturday)
Ah! Just what was needed after last weekend's not-quite-hard-enough tournament puzzles—an honest-to-goodness tough mofo of an NYT crossword. I didn't recognize the constructor's name, John Duschatko, and Barry Haldiman's records show that his last daily NYT was in the year 2000. Must be one of those seven-year itches or something. Anyway...the puzzle. It's a March 31 puzzle with a definite April 1 vibe to it, with the tasty CONTINUED ON NEXT / LINE gimmick. Those nonexistent clues signal that those spaces are a continuation of the entry at the end of the line above everywhere that consecutive rows aren't interrupted by black squares at the edge; thus, 10-Across to 14-Across, [Freddy Krueger and others], is SLASHERS split into SLAS and HERS. 16-Across starts AIRP/ORTS; 19-Across, UNDE/RESTIMATE; 24-Across, GLENN M/ILLER; 34-Across, UPRI/SING; 40-Across, SEAS/ONER (strange occupation alert!); 45-Across, PREDE/STINED; 54-Across, INCAPACIT/ATES; 61-Across, RUMI/NANT; and 64-Across, CRIN/KLES. Not only does it take some doing to glom onto the twist here, but then there are also some solidly Saturdayish clues and entries. For example, [Mistake at the hospital?] is baby SWAP; [Dollars for quarters] are RENTS; UPRI/SING is clued with the word [Jacquerie], apparently a French popular revolt from 1358; [Head out on the range] isn't a verb, it's a STEER; [Like human skin] means PORED; [Been intimate (with)] is LAIN; speaking of intimacy, SPERM's here as [Kind of bank]; IRENE is clued as [Godfrey's woman, in "My Man Godfrey"], and I am not up on 1936 pop culture; [Starter, often] is SALAD, not a jock; and a FERMI is a wee unit of length (how many men want a tiny length unit named after them?). If this puzzle stymied you, then you may be the PATSY of 52-Down, [Object of an April Fools joke]. It's kinda fun to get kicked around by a crossword, isn't it? Especially in honor of April Fools day!
The Anna Stiga ("Stan [Newman] again") Newsday Saturday Stumper wasn't so apt to stump today. Some great entries, like UTAH JAZZ and AIR QUOTES. What makes BURRITOS a [San Diego snack]? You can get burritos in most of the country. Clues I liked: [Name meaning noble] for ETHEL; two types of [Oil holder(s)], CRUET and TANKERS; [Trail of a sort] for ODOR (but if it's going to cross a cheese, how about something more pungent than gentle GOUDA?).
Patrick Jordan (who returned to the ACPT and the top 10 last weekend after taking last year off) inserts RAYs of sunshine into the theme entries. Call me crazy, but there's something oddly intriguing about BRAYING CROSBY, [Crooner singing like a jackass?].
Robert H. Wolfe's LA Times themeless brings me a newsflash: REBA's series finale aired last month. Of course, given that MR C (what Fonzie called Richie's dad on Happy Days in the '70s) is still fair game, REBA can continue being used as a TV clue. And I much prefer TV clues to country & Western clues. Case in point: [Claire's kidnapper in "Lost"] was ETHAN, the creepy character played by Tom Cruise's cousin, William Mapother. You can count on the LA Times puzzle to reward your knowledge of TV and movies even more than the NY Times does.
March 30, 2007