As far as I'm concerned, the best way to do the Sunday puzzle is leisurely...do a bit Saturday morning, a little more in the afternoon, and finish it up after dinner.
Yeah, the headlines made me go "huh?" -- and each was funny in its own way. But they were impossible to get without a lot of the downs in place.
So here's how I tackled it.
Went with the acrosses, skipping the theme entries, and was able to get:
10A: Former Connecticut governor Ella (Grasso). I was born in Hartford and still have several cousins there. I remember that Ella Grasso was governor at a time when very few women held public office.
21A: Swenson of "Benson" (Inga). I always forget whether she's Inge or Inga.
30A: Level of care (intensive).
72A: Fall setting (Eden). The best clue I've seen for this often-repeated answer.
88A: One with a thick skin (hippo). I think it was clued the same way in the not-too-distant past.
Several fill-in-the blanks. 35A: Santa __ (Ana), 54A: Take __ breath (a deep), 59A: "What __?" (gives), 89A: "...__ saw Elba (ere I), 108A: Broom__ [comics witch] (Hilda), 109A: "__& Stitch," 2002 animated film (Lilo), and 128A: "__ of Destruction," 1965 protest song (Eve).
130A: Words said with raised arm and glass (a toast).
149A: Like the rim of an eyecup (oval).
153A: It's not held when it's used (mayo). Clever cluing.
Then I moved to the downs and was able to get several, opening up some of the theme answers, all clued as "Ambiguous headline about..."
25A: ...a man charged with killing his attacker? (Court to try beating victim)
39A: ...a protest? (March planned for August)
63A: ...school closings? (Teacher strikes idle kids)
81A: ...a California drug bust? (Feds discover crack in LA)
101A: ...a vagrancy statistic? (City's homeless cut in half)
120A: ...attorneys' pro bono work? (Lawyers give poor advice)
142A: ...a stolen Stradivarius? (Man gets year in violin case)
Most of them were easily flushed out, once you had some of the letters in place. The last one to fall for me was 39A. I didn't know 41D: Composer Ned (Rorem) and had guessed Torem. That made Match planned for August, which didn't make me go "huh?"
126D: Silver quarters? (stall) eluded me for far too long. Mostly because I wasn't seeing 125A: Do-do connector (as I). I was thinking Do-si-do, or do-wah-do. And I didn't know 150A: Earthenware pots (ollas). But it was clever.
Other clever clues:
127A: Jump in the rink (axel). That's been clued a lot of different ways, but this was good. I was thinking of jump as a verb, rather than as a noun.
3D: It'll douse a fuego (agua). Two years of Spanish...definitely worthwhile.
98A: Rating of a program blocked by a V-chip (TV-MA), tied to 113D: Reason for a 98-Across (sex).
115D: Not neat (over ice). If I drank Scotch, that's how I'd drink it.
123D: Hip locale (pelvis). I was trying to think of words for clubs, etc. that might be considered hip places to hang out. Can't remember if I got the P or the V first, but it made the answer pretty obvious.
There's so much more to talk about, but the other bloggers will fill the void. Orange returns to Diary of a Crossword Fiend tonight. I enjoyed guest blogging there, and reading what the others wrote, but it's good to get back to normal.
Enjoy your Sunday.