No WSJ puzzle due to holiday (official observance of Christmas Day). Expect the same next Monday (January 2nd).
Jules P. Markey’s New York Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
37aR [Present time in England? … or a hint to each set of circled squares] BOXING DAY.
- northwest: LEAP
- north: ELECTION
- northeast: SNOW
- southwest: GAME
- south: PATRIOTS
- southeast: HUMP
They are all symmetrical, they all start in the lower left. They seem a motley bunch.
- 63a [Literary critic Broyard] ANATOLE. This is the ANATOLE for a Monday? What the France?
- 66a [Bruno Mars or Freddy Mercury] POP STAR. Planetary stars? A stab at panache. I’ll add here 60d [Part of a wolf or a lobster] CLAW for quasi-randomness.
- 58a [Lobster __ diavolo (Italian dish)] FRA. Thank goodness for the explanatory parenthetical!!!!
- 2d [Country whose currency, RUBLES, is almost an anagram of its name] BELARUS. That’s ALMOST interesting. Беларусь, рубель (fwiw).
- 7d [Suffix with valid] -ATION. That’s … terrible.
- 10d [Proportional to the surroundings] IN SCALE. That’s … also rather terrible.
- 40d [Batting helmet part] EAR FLAP. Am genuinely surprised to learn that the rigid, molded protective feature is called a flap, but so it is.
- 45d [Theologian Reinhold who wrote the Serenity Prayer] NEIBUHR. He doesn’t seem Mondayish.
Because the theme isn’t overly demanding in its requirements, there’s muscular flexing in the grid. Observe the triple-stacked sevens throughout: EDAMAME/BELARUS/BAPTIST, ERECTED/SILOING/SEE NOTE, IN SCALE/POWERED/ARMLESS, EAR FLAP/STORAGE/STEAMER, GET RICH/ANATOLE/POP STAR, NIEBUHR/ATTEMPT/NASTASE.
Gail Grabowski ad Bruce Venzke’s Los Angeles Times crossword — pannonica’s write-up
An unusually cultured crossword. Sort of.
- 20a. [Fabric with a slight sheen] POLISHED COTTON.
- 25a. [Sophisticated-sounding hair treatment product] SUAVE SHAMPOO. (This is a brand name.)
- 46a. [Coffee sweetener] REFINED SUGAR.
- 55a. [Plowed ground for crop-raising] CULTIVATED LAND.
4d [Most stylish] TONIEST seems allied to the theme, but as its symmetrical partner 45d [Shrinking Asian lake] ARAL SEA is unrelated, that’s just a distracting coincidence. Ironically, I guess.
- 19a [Longfellow’s “The Bell of __”] ATRI. WOW.
- 3d [Like old bread] STALE, 36a [Like old apples] MEALY, 50a [Apple or pear] POME.
- 9d [Kiss] SMOOCH, 43d [Long kiss] LIP LOCK.
Have’t got anything else to add to this. Mostly Monday smooth.