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48 Hardest Clues

I regard this particular puzzle, which ran in The Kansas City Star on December 26, 1987, as a standout of the first order, possibly never equalled for sheer difficulty in the long history and eternal future of New York Times crossword puzzles.

It was a Saturday puzzle, which means it was supposed to be the hardest one of the week, but let me tell you just how hard I found it: I started it at around nine in the morning and I worked on it continuously, literally without stopping to consume any solid sustenance orally, until after dark.

I won't reveal the theme in case you still want to work this puzzle, but I will tell you that there were four theme answers, each extending across the entire 15-character width of the grid, which is an achievement all by itself.

This puzzle contains an extraordinarily large number of obscure relationships between clue and answer.  In the sidebar at right are those clues, with the number of characters in the answer shown in parentheses.

This is a total of 48 relationships I regard as quite obscure out of a total of 78 answers in this puzzle, which is, in my experience, an astonishingly high ratio of over 60%.

I dare you to complete this puzzle.

No thanks, just show me the answers to the 48 hardest clues.

Clue (4): Levantine coffee cup
Clue (4): Coloratura Mills
Clue (5): Vale of -----, near [Thessaly peak]
Clue (4): Lavabo
Clue (5): Hills
Clue (3): Midianite ruler
Clue (4): Oswego tea
Clue (6): Direction from Levine
Clue (4): Defunct Russian parliament
Clue (4): Prada offering
Clue (4): Beanie
Clue (4): He was: Lat.
Clue (5): Kepi part
Clue (4): The Cornish Wonder
Clue (4): Trammel of baseball
Clue (5): Catfish
Clue (4): English river
Clue (5): Georgian Aryan
Clue (4): Thessaly peak
Clue (4): Rigoletto's forte
Clue (5): Leaflet-base appendage
Clue (6): Buddhist sect
Clue (4): Schoenberg's "Moses und -----"
Clue (3): High fashion
Clue (4): He played Big Daddy
Clue (3): Abstract being
Clue (4): Japanese kombu ingredient
Clue (5): Annuli
Clue (5): Father of King Hadad: Gen. 36:35
Clue (4): He, in Tarantao
Clue (5): Dispatch boat
Clue (5): Great Wall town
Clue (5): A U.N. member: Var.
Clue (6): The raisin capital of the world
Clue (5): Remnants, in Roma
Clue (5): Author of "The Augustan Ages"
Clue (5): Honshu port
Clue (5): Cubiti
Clue (6): Portuguese dollar
Clue (3): Rosary bead
Clue (4): Eastern Roman
Clue (4): Roman family group
Clue (4): Poetry of a people
Clue (4): Sights on the Atl.
Clue (4): One-man shows
Clue (4): City having a casbah
Clue (4): Ancient wall word
Clue (3): Have, in Haddington

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