It's Friday the 13th, but nothing scary from Manny Nosowsky. This was the best puzzle I've seen in a long time.
There are so many superb clues and answers in this grid that I hardly know where to begin. And if you didn't take the time to look at the blank grid, print it out and just gaze at it. The symmetry is remarkable.
In case you haven't guessed, I liked it big time (37D: Very much).
It was such a treat to guess correctly right off the bat. 1A: "On the other hand..." (but then). It was also such a good laugh to see it again and again as BUTT HEN!
It took me a little longer to get 8A: Quaint cry from a caught crook, with "The" (jig is up). I was able to get 8D: What to do if you can't beat the suckers (join 'em), but the J didn't get me anywhere until I had a few more downs.
Manny was on a roll (16A: Hot) with this one. Check out some of these clues and answers:
15A: Between here and there (en route).
17A: Go for, as a ball (swing at). I was thinking along the lines of going for a ball that had been hit, so I had IT...making it hard to figure out what the second letter should be. Once I got it, though, I had to admit it was good.
31A: Spandex and Lurex (textiles). I wanted something about the elasticity, or something like that. And I just loved the X-crossing. 3D: Certain multiscreen cinema (triplex), although I initially read it as Triple X and was sure it was wrong...so I erased the last two letters. 2D: Backtrack on, as a rug (unweave) was probably the only bad clue/answer in the puzzle, resulting in its being absolutely no help whatsoever. Now that I've written that, I see where they were going with it...okay, not as bad as I thought. If you're weaving a rug, and you backtrack, you unweave...sort of.
24D: What X + Y signifies (male sex). Without a doubt, the best clue and answer in the grid. I'll bet I wasn't alone in trying to get an answer that had something to do with algebra. The X crosses at 50A: Ohio city whose name means "hospitality" in Greek (Xenia). I did not know that.
42D: 1983 Randy Newman song (I love L.A.). I didn't know that one, either. Got it from the crosses. The only Randy Newman song I can remember is the Randy Newman song I hate...Short People. If you were/are 4' 11" you didn't/don't find much humor in that song.
It was very funny to see 40A: 1940s fashion (zoot suit). I remember my father talking about them, but I couldn't tell you what one looked like, so I'll have to look it up. Here's one for you. Its Z crossed at 40D: Greek philosopher who founded Stoicism (Zeno).
Women's names were needed for two of the answers...both related to novels. I wasn't sure about either and made educated guesses, which both turned out to be right. 39D: "__Daughter," 2003 Judi Hendricks novel (Isabel's) and 45A: 1938 Daphne du Maurier novel (Rebecca).
28D: Having learned a lesson (wiser) reminds me of another song from "The Music Man" -- yesterday we had It's You. Today...The Sadder But Wiser Girl For Me. I cheer, I rave for the virtue I'm too late to save. The sadder-but-wiser girl for me. Here are the rest of the lyrics, but you really need to hear Robert Preston sing it.
Don't know how I knew 25D: Cassava product (tapioca), but I got it with just the first A. I guess I'd heard it some time and managed to retain it.
I'm sure my fellow bloggers will have much to say about this one. If anyone didn't like it, though, I'd be surprised.
So, do you have friggatriskaidekaphobia -- a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th? Here's a test you can take to find out if you do. But just to be on the safe side, stay away from those black cats!