I'm not sure if Charles Barasch's Saturday puzzle was extremely tough...or if I was just extremely tired. I know that I was exhausted by the end of the day, and I could have crawled into bed at 7:00 without guilt. In retrospect, I probably should have.
I dozed off while trying to work the puzzle and some areas just weren't making any sense. I finally set it aside at 9:30 and went to bed. This morning I tackled it again...with new (or at least better-rested) eyes, and the northeast corner (which had been fairly empty) started to come together. I still questioned a couple of the answers, but I just checked the grid against Donald's, and that wrong-looking cross turned out to be right...15A: Mideast royal name (Faisal) and 10D: Repeated musical phrase (ostinato). Faisal worked in my head, but I've never heard of ostinato. It actually comes from the same word as obstinate...hence the meaning.
I do enjoy the appearance of identical clues, and I got more than one today. [One taking a shot] at 1A and 1D proved to be one of my areas of undoing. I wanted heckler and hitman and wouldn't give them up easily...but eventually yielded to guesser and gunman. At least I wasn't far off on one of them. The other...[Split] at 7D and 8D resulting in rend and dashed away, respectively.
One pair was close to identical...54A: Went (off) and 56A: Went off...with veered and erred as the answers.
In that wicked northeast corner, I so wanted 12D: Horror movie character to be monster. I should have remembered slasher from previous puzzles...we're talking a real horror movie. The clue at 17A: Second in court?: Abbr. forced me to choose between a tennis court and a courtroom. I chose tennis...which was wrong...even though I couldn't come up with an answer for it. Had I chosen courtroom, Asst DA would have come to mind more readily. 8A: Worthless stuff was dross (not trash), and 9D: Gamble was referring to a noun...not a verb...risk.
Before I go on, I should add that I enjoyed the puzzle, despite all of the above. The fill was fresh, with some good long answers. I was just...bone tired.
Favorites include 16A: What some patches provide (nicotine), 18A: Like a family man (married with kids), 21A: "To you, Antonio, __ the most": Shak. (I owe), 34A: One of the Blues Brothers (Elwood), 37A: Counterpart of "pls" (thx), 38A: What most couples try to have together (quality time)...because quantity just doesn't happen, 43A: Slow runner in the woods (sap), 45A: '60s theater ('Nam), 46A: Be like Clark Kent (lead a double life), 57A: Girl with a future? (seeress)...I had heiress at first, 15D: It's stuffed with dough (fat wallet), 26D: In a daze (astounded)...I had awestruck but finally let it go when nothing was working, 32D: Beer brand since 1842 (Schaefer), 33D: One with a duty (taxpayer), 35D: Song from Bernstein's "Wonderful Town" (It's Love), 41D: They have family units (Mafias), and 51D: "There was an old man..." poet (Lear).
Awards for the best clue and answer go to 23A: Pitch between columns (newspaper ad) and 25D: Area of interest to Archimedes (pi r squared).
A long weekend is upon us, and we have thunderstorms (rare) and cooler weather in the forecast for today and tomorrow. It looks as though our quality time will be spent indoors...at least until Monday.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.