Gary Disch is no stranger to crossword construction, but this may be his first New York Times puzzle.
I enjoyed this one...a pretty fine Monday puzzle, with some out-of-the-ordinary fill.
The theme is revealed at 41A: Making out...or a hint to this puzzle's four hidden articles of clothing (necking). The theme answers:
17A: Boardinghouse sign (ROOMS TO LET).
64A: Halifax's home (NOVA SCOTIA).
11D: Favoring common folk (ANTI ELITE).
34D: Daytona 500 enthusiast (NASCAR FAN).
I don't understand the inclusion of a note in AcrossLite...17- and 64-Across and 11- and 34-Down each conceals an article of clothing. It seemed pretty easy to figure out the theme without it. Maybe because it's a Monday puzzle?
Best fill in the puzzle includes:
5A: Mafia bosses (capos).
15A: Japanese cartoons (Anime).
23A: Katmandu resident (Nepali).
25A: Snarled mess (tangle). I think this would qualify as a pretty nasty one.
46A: Perfectly clear (lucid).
54A: Slave (thrall). That doesn't seem like a Monday word, but it was a nice addition to the puzzle.
62A: Eskimo home (igloo).
67A: El __, Spanish artist (Greco).
70A: Church council (synod).
71A: God of war (Ares). That's definitely one to remember...it shows up fairly often.
4D: Church songbooks (hymnals).
10D: Snoopy, for one (beagle).
31D: Lennon/Ono's "Happy __ (War is Over)" (Xmas). We wish. Here they are, along with some beautiful children singing the background.
33D: Language of Lahore (Urdu).
45D: Shaded passageway (pergola)...a great word.
56D: Valley known for its chateaux (Loire). If you didn't know this, and you didn't know the cross at the L (thrall), you could have been in deep trouble.
Favorite clues include 1A: "Miss America" might be printed on one (sash)...although the thought gags me...and 32A: Many conundrums have them (puns).
Elaine and Jesse were here for dinner, so I got a very late start blogging. I had done the puzzle as soon as it was available online...probably should have just done the blog then. Now it's late, and I'd better call it a night.
Here's the grid...
...and I'll see you tomorrow.