WSJ Crossword 12-21-20 Complete

An update on Friday’s contest: My answer was incorrect. Surprise. But there were good signs! I accurately identified that the Z’s had something to do with it.

It turns out that the Z’s were a pattern that highlights the letters of CATNAP when shifted to the other side of the puzzle. Cool.

I pulled out 58A Carrier to Israel: ELAL because, according to sources familiar with the situation, Israel is closing its skies within the next 48 hours due to dangers related to the new strain of the coronavirus. Good times.

The puzzle title is Cold Cuts. I grew up calling cold cuts by their real name. But there are people I know who refer to the meats simply as “deli.” Those people tend to be from the midwest and east coast, so I don’t know if it’s the WSJ folks are using a term they don’t normally use for this to make the theme apply or if they prefer that term. Also I figured out the theme after the fourth circle.

16A Sleight of hand, maybe: SW(I)T(C)H(E)ROO. Got me with the ol’ switcheroo!
20A “All I Want for Christmas Is You” singer: MAR(I)AH(C)AR(E)Y. If I listened to the radio, I’d be hearing this a lot now.
35A One might make a B-9 announcement: B(I)NGO(C)ALL(E)R. I miss regular bingo. But we can make our 2021 bingo cards soon. Who has “PRO GAMES CANCELED/DELAYED DUE TO ILLNESS CONCERNS” on next year’s card?
50A Group of close associates: (I)NNER(C)IRCL(E). If I didn’t have Fave Five from T-Mobile, I’d be out of minutes on the second day of the billing month.

56A Get-to-know-you game, and a description of this puzzle’s theme: ICEBREAKER. Because the letters of ICE keep drifting away.

Finished this one on my phone in 9:39.

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