Let’s start at the end. The four long horizontal answers are “a somber message for our loyal fans.” 17A, 34A, 40A, 60A: DUETOBUDGETCUTS THENEWYORKTIMES CROSSWORDPUZZLE WILLENDTOMORROW.
Of course there also is a friendly reminder at the top left corner that, “This puzzle originally appeared in The New York Times on April 1, 2016.”
Took me 56 minutes, and I committed six errors in completing today’s puzzle. First, I intentionally answered incorrectly 58D: COBB (His .366 lifetime batting average is the best ever) as Rose, since I love Pete Rose and believe he should immediately be inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame, although Rose’s lifetime batting average of .303 barely breaks the top 150 of all time. (Still amazing.)
My next mistake was 45A: AERATE (Make less flat), which I misanswered as “serate” even though it is a misspelling, “aerate” was my first instinct, and I was pretty sure 23D was UTICA (Capital of the Roman province of Africa). It is.
My other missed answers were more problematic, and cost me time. 8D: FOGGY (Not clear) I mistakenly completed as “fuzzy.” This slowed down my understanding of the puzzle’s key phrase for quite some time.
Next door, I misanswered 7D: OLD (“___ New Hampshire” (state song)) as “ole,” not knowing the song, completely guessing, and thinking myself clever, going with the folksy song title. Not helpful.
29A: CASABA I incorrectly thought could be “banana.” Even though I think I knew better. Seemed too easy, and not entirely correct. (Fruit with a yellow skin.) This mistake caused me some problems in the East.
Clever. Mildly funny. Not overly difficult. A nice Friday jaunt.