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THEME: Face value? — same clue for five different theme answers, each one featuring the FACE and the VALUE on particular denominations of American paper currency (denominations represented by letters—"I"s for ones and "O"s for zeroes):
17A: FRANKLIN IOO
25A: HAMILTON IO
37A: CLEVELAND IOOO
52A: CHASE IOOOO
61A: WASHINGTON I
Word of the Day: AGFA (59D: Big name in photography, once) —
Agfa-Gevaert N.V. (Agfa) is a Belgianmultinational corporation that develops, manufactures, and distributes analogue and digital imaging products and systems, as well as IT solutions. The company has three divisions. Agfa Graphics offers integrated prepress and industrial inkjet systems to the printing and graphics industries. Agfa HealthCare supplies hospitals and other care organizations with imaging products and systems, as well as information systems. Agfa Specialty Products supplies products to various industrial markets. It is part of the Agfa Materials organization. In addition to the Agfa Specialty Products activities, Agfa Materials also supplies film and related products to Agfa Graphics and Agfa HealthCare. Agfa materials is a fantastic part of Agfa. // In the past, Agfa film and cameras were prominent consumer products. However, in 2004, the consumer imaging division was sold to a company founded via management buyout. AgfaPhoto GmbH, as the new company was called, filed for bankruptcy after just one year.The brands are now licensed to other companies by AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH, a holding firm. Following this sale, Agfa-Gevaert's commerce today is 100% business-to-business. (wikipedia)
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I like the theme based entirely on the cluing concept—"Face value" is a meaningful phrase where money is concerned, and here the theme answers literalize the phrase, giving you both the face and the value. I also like that the value is represented by letters (I and O), which work just fine in the crosses. The rest of the puzzle is mediocre and forgettable. Also, pretty easy. The only difficulty I encountered (beyond the initial problem of "what the hell is the theme?") was remembering who was on the $IOOO and the $IO,OOO. I learned about Salmon P. CHASE (who was, among other things, Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War) from crosswords—I think his full name was an answer in a puzzle once.
OLIVE OYL (40D: Toon with size 14-AAAAAA shoes), MR. MAGOO (27D: Toon voiced by Jim Backus), and JEAN AUEL (3D: "Earth's Children" author) form a nice triad of long (and symmetrical) Downs, and OCCUPY has a nice contemporary clue, but most of the rest is the white noise of crosswordese and its close cousins. I had trouble with AGFA (another name I've never seen outside crosswords, and can never seem to remember). Also, SAVE AS (just could've think of it / parse it) (48D: Computer command under "File"). Everything else, a cinch. Finished just under 4. That puts it firmly on the Easy side of the fence. Not much else to say about this one.
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tues.*)
THEME: R AND D (40A: Corporate division, informally ... or a hint to the answers to the eight starred clues) — starred clues have two-word answers where first word starts with "R" and second with "D"
4D: *Numbers fed into a computer (RAW DATA)
20A: *Lead singer of the Kinks (RAY DAVIES)
18A: *Beverly Hills shopping district (RODEO DRIVE)
37A: *It might stretch a seventh-inning stretch (RAIN DELAY)
42A: *Hora, e.g. (RING DANCE)
59A: *"James and the Giant Peach" author (ROALD DAHL)
46D: *1984 Patrick Swayze film set in the cold war ("RED DAWN") (shouldn't "Cold War" be capitalized?)
62A: *Fertile area where a stream empties into an ocean (RIVER DELTA)
Word of the Day: Brendan BEHAN (2D: "Borstal Boy" author Brendan) —
Brendan Francis Behan (/ˈbiːən/bee-ən; Irish: Breandán Ó Beacháin; 9 February 1923 – 20 March 1964) was an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in bothEnglish and Irish. He was also an Irish republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. Born in Dublin into a republican family, he became a member of the IRA's youth organisation Fianna Éireann at the age of fourteen. However, there was also a strong emphasis on Irish history and culture in the home, which meant he was steeped in literature and patriotic ballads from a tender age. Behan eventually joined the IRA at sixteen, which led to him serving time in a borstal youth prison in the United Kingdom and was also imprisoned in Ireland. During this time, he took it upon himself to study and he became a fluent speaker of the Irish language. Subsequently released from prison as part of a general amnesty given by the Fianna Fáil government in 1946, Behan moved between homes in Dublin, Kerry andConnemara and also resided in Paris for a period. // In 1954, Behan's first play The Quare Fellow was produced in Dublin. It was well received; however, it was the 1956 production at Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in Stratford, London, that gained Behan a wider reputation - this was helped by a famous drunken interview on BBC television. In 1958, Behan's play in the Irish language An Giall had its debut at Dublin's Damer Theatre. Later, The Hostage, Behan's English-language adaptation ofAn Giall, met with great success internationally. Behan's autobiographical novel, Borstal Boy, was published the same year and became a worldwide bestseller. // He married Beatrice Ffrench-Salkeld in 1955. Behan was known for his drink problem, which resulted in him suffering from diabetes, which ultimately resulted in his death on 20 March 1964. He was given an IRA guard of honour which escorted his coffin and it was described by several newspapers as the biggest funeral since those of Michael Collins and Charles Stewart Parnell. (wikipedia)
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An ancient theme (or so it feels to me), but one that's both dense and well executed. This puzzle definitely has far more sass than your average Tuesday puzzle. Yeah, the bar's a bit low, as Tuesday is often an embarrassment, but by any standards I think this puzzle is a bit above average. Theme isn't exactly interesting, but the grid manages to be, and as I say, the theme density is impressive. RAY DAVIES is probably my favorite of the theme answers—he is also the most likely to be unknown to solvers, although he's pretty damned famous, having been the lead singer of The Kinks for so many years. I don't think I've seen the word VIDIOT (67A: TV addict, slangily) since maybe the '80s ... but that only endears it to me, somehow. Also from the '80s—"RED DAWN." I seem to be just the right age for this puzzle (adolescent in the '80s), which may be why I tore through this thing far faster than most of the times I'm seeing posted on the NYT applet. A full minute faster than the bulk of the people I consider my solving peers. Some days everything just clicks. I finished in a normal time, but I think that overall it's going to play somewhat harder than average.
Things that have thrown me in the past today just didn't. I remembered BEHAN! For once. That's a name I've never seen outside crosswords, but now I've seen it quite a bit. I also got ERIEPA easily—that's a letter string that I have failed to parse correctly in the past (ERIE, PA). Misspelled HAILE Selassie as HALLE, but the White Rabbit fixed that (49D: Repeated cry from the White Rabbit => "I'M LATE!"). I balked at "AW, GEEZ," thinking of "GEEZ" as short for "Jesus" and more of an exclamation of frustration (a la "DRAT") than an exclamation of humility (a la "Shucks, you're too kind"). I don't quite get the clue on RHYME. I see that Wynken *and* Blynken RHYME, but the clue reads 19D: Wynken or Blynken, e.g., but not Nod, so ... no, I don't think that works. Also don't like that "Watteau" has the word EAU right inside it (16A: Water, to Watteau). And in what universe is "O." short for "Ohio?" Was that a typo? (15A: Port ENE of Cleveland, O.)
Yesterday I mentioned the phenomenon of Scrabble-f*cking, and the NE features a textbook example of what I'm talking about. That "Q" is completely gratuitous. It doesn't even get you a *word*. Just two abbrevs., one of them ugly as hell (QEII) (11D: Long-reigning English monarch, informally). Speaking of ABBR.—seems at least mildly unfair on a Tuesday not to have anything in the clue indicating that the answer is, indeed, and ABBR. (1A: Self-descriptive crossword answer). Compare this to the "Z" in the SW, which is not at all gratuitous. You get a common last name (with a nice contemporary clue) and then a short form of ZINfandel (69A: Fruity red wine, familiarly). All surrounding fill is clean. Lesson: use the high-value Scrabble tile only if there will be no collateral damage. Otherwise, try something else.
THEME: POP UP (69A: Easy-to-catch hit ... or what 1-, 21-, 26-, 48- and 55-Across all do) — self-explanatory
1A: Breakfast bread (TOAST)
21A: Plains animal that tunnels (PRAIRIE DOG)
26A: Fast-food rival of Wendy's (JACK-IN-THE-BOX)
48A: Vehicular antitheft devices (CAR DOOR LOCKS)
55A: Purchase from Google (INTERNET AD)
Word of the Day: AARE (3D: Swiss river) —
The Aar (GermanAare), a tributary of the High Rhine, is the longest river that both rises and ends entirely within Switzerland. // Its total length from its source to its junction with the Rhine comprises about 295km (183 miles), during which distance it descends 1,565 m (5,135 ft), draining an area of 17,779 km2 (6,865 sq mi), including the whole of central Switzerland. (wikipedia)
• • •
I liked this one much more after I got to the revealer than I did before. Not that I was actively disliking it while I was solving, but CAR DOOR LOCKS didn't feel like ... a thing. I mean, obviously, they are a thing, but I've never heard of them referred to as an "antitheft device." That's a term solely reserved for alarms, or lojacks (do they still make those?), or whatever those bars are that go across the steering wheels ... something above the very ordinary, standard thing that is in every car door in every car ever made, at least in my lifetime. That answer is redeemed somewhat by POP UP, because the image is very specific and there's not a better way to describe what's popping up. I think it's the clue I'm objecting to. Also, the clue on INTERNET AD was really vague (I love the answer, though). Do Google Ads POP UP? Not to my knowledge, but I could be wrong. I don't think most INTERNET ADs involve paying Google, but rather paying the owner of some website or another. Again, the clue isn't *wrong*, just ... odd. The bottom was certainly the harder part of the puzzle for these reasons. Also harder because I couldn't spell AVOCADOS—I went with AVA- :( at first.
Overall I enjoyed this, and admired the attempt to make a Monday grid interesting, even beyond the theme answers. There's a *little* bit of Scrabble-f*cking going on in the NW and SW—where great answers w/ Scrabbly letters (SQUEAK and KOOKIER, respectively) are inserted into small corners, to the apparent detriment of all the surrounding fill. Constructors will sometimes pursue the high-value letters at the expense of overall grid smoothness. But — it's a Monday, and as I say, I appreciate the attempt to liven up the grid, and it's not like we don't get crap like ORIG. and OGEE and AARE and KITER and ON RYE and OTERI in far less imaginative puzzles than this one, so today I'm merely pointing out the phenomenon of Scrabble-f*cking (which is always a judgment call), rather than condemning the constructors for it. It's hard to stay mad at SQUEAK and KOOKIER.
Relative difficulty: Medium (times at the NYT site are astronomical—not sure what's happening there. Maybe people aren't reading the note....?)
THEME: "Question Box" — theme answers form a riddle, the answer to which ... oh, I'll just let the (prodigious) note explain: "When this puzzle is done, take the answers to the 10 starred clues and arrange them across and down in crossword fashion in the central 5x5 box. Due to software limitations, Across Lite and our other apps can only accept one solution, but two possibilities exist. The resulting five-letter word spelled out diagonally by the circles will answer the question asked at 23-, 34-, 91- and 107-Across."
The Riddle:IF A GIRAFFE HAS FOURTEEN / MORE THAN A WALRUS AND / A SQUIRREL HAS HALF AS / MANY AS A PIG WHAT ARE THEY?
Word of the Day: MALABAR Coast (67A: India's ___ Coast) —
The Malabar Coast is a long and narrow coastline on the south-western shore line of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, especially on their westward-facing mountain slopes. The term "Malabar Coast" is also sometimes used in reference to the entire Indian coast from the western coast of Konkanto the tip of the subcontinent at Kanyakumari. (wikipedia)
• • •
An interesting puzzle that feels like it came straight out of 1985. Well, I think I say that mainly based on the riddle (not a premise you see very much any more) and the fill, which is a lot of wince-y 3- and 4- and occasionally 5-letter stuff. Also ELOPERS and GIBERS and ASSYRO-, yuck. I find riddles (generally) corny and old-fashioned and not interesting/funny. I knew the answer to this one with just some of the first part of the riddle filled in. An animal has this many ... I mean, what the hell else is it going to be? I just wrote TEETH straight into the circles. Is it even a riddle? No, it's a fact. Or ... hell, I don't know. Anyway, it was easy—that part, anyway. Grid itself had some toughish moments. I wonder why the posted solving times at the NYT website are so high. Maybe people had trouble figuring out how to fill in that middle section (esp. since it can be done two ways but the applet accepts only one (!?!?!)). Whatever way I picked worked (TTOPS across instead of TTOPS down). I came in in the 13s, which would've made me #1 on the applet by several minutes, which makes noooo sense. Oh, looks like someone has posted a time in the 8s now. That's more like it.
I had a tiny scare in the NE when I couldn't find the handle on TRINARY. I had TRINITY for a bit (33A: Three-part). Scarier still was the SE, where I came to a dead stop at the junction of 104A: J.F.K.'s historic ___ Flight Center (TWA) and 104D: Old satellite-launching rocket (THOR) / 105D: Gave out (WENT). No idea on the JFK thing. USA? NSA? TSA? As you can see, I really wanted "S" in that second spot, as SENT was the answer that I came up with for [Gave out]. I eventually took it out and replaced it with what I was sure was a better answer: LENT. Only after I realized -HOR really, really couldn't be anything but THOR did I put it together. SW was the last of the tricky spots. Somebody's *name* is AGAR? (111A: Journalist/writer Herbert). I inferred the "R" because even though I've never seen "ASSYRO-" anything, I know that "Assyria" is a place name, so ... done. No, wait. I also had HOP ON / TOY and then HOP ON / POM (!) in the NW before I figured out it was HOP UP / PUG (18A: "Climb onto Papa's lap!" / 4D: Lap dog breed).
39A: Joint czar with Peter I (IVAN V) — no idea. Russian name + Roman numeral.
85A: Tammany Hall problem (GRAFT) — I got this easily enough, but the two Downs coming off of it—ARGUING(86D: At it) and FRINGES (87D: Features of some cowboy shirts) took many crosses to see. I'd just call it FRINGE, no matter how many individual FRINGES hung off the damned shirt.
102A: Company whose logo has a diagonal red arrow (SUNOCO) — great, more "shapes in a corporate logo" cluing. No idea.
5D: Channel starting in 2003 (SPIKE TV) — clue should've added "and ending in 2006" (it's just "Spike" now).
6D: Tennis great Tommy (HAAS) — To my credit, I remembered him this time. To my discredit, I remembered him as HAHN.
102D: "Pursuit of the Graf ___" (1956 war film)) (SPEE) — My brain was having trouble deciding which S-EE this was, SNEE or SMEE ... turns out: neither! Forgot about SPEE! (as I wish constructors would—not the best fill).
I don't know. This puzzle had one fancy answer (VUVUZELA) (17A: Buzzer sounded during a match), and I'd seen it before, so overall I'd say this is just ADEQUATE (15A: C-worthy).ARNHEM (62A: Site of a 1944 British Army defeat) and BECHET (9D: Saxophone great Sidney) were just random letter strings to me. I've followed baseball for 35 years and have never heard the term "LOUD OUTS" (28A: They result when solidly hit baseballs are caught)—completely baffling. I see that it's a thing, but not a thing that googles well at all. Not sure where people have been using this term. Somewhere, surely, but nowhere near me. I had LINE OUTS, of course. Never heard of an AQUAPLANE either. Had AQUA and then ... I think I had PLANK at one point. Not much to say about the rest of it. It's fine.
DUZ does not fill me with joy, but I've seen it in crosswords before, so it didn't annoy me much (5D: Old brand that promised "white white washes without red hands"). There are some good clues here and there, like 40A: Four French quarters? (ANNÉE) and 1A: Place to pick vegetables (SALAD BAR) and 10D: White sheet insert? (AS A) (bad fill, but clever clue). Overall it felt like a very crosswordy puzzle—there's a lot of odd stuff that old hands will have seen before. Stuff like ULTIMO (45D: Last month) and ATLI (7D: Hun king, in myth) and ESSENE (16A: Ancient abstainer). That's a polite way of saying there's a good bit of crosswordese and near-crosswordese in the grid. When that's the case, you want a Lot of payoff in the longer stuff, and there wasn't quite enough for me today. I mean, I just can't get that excited about ALIMENTS, for instance (63A: Nourishing stuff).
Anyway, it's late—I spent my normal solving/blogging time watching Jacques Tourneur's "Nightfall" on TCM. It was not great film noir, but for me, even bad film noir is (almost always) worth watching. So ... to bed.SEE YA (48A: "Until next time").