MONDAY, Oct. 5 2009 — Dance craze of the '90s / I Spy co-star Bill famililarly / Hotpoint products / Ice house Var.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Constructor: Mark Feldman
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging
THEME: RIGHT ON THE MONEY (35A: Exactly ... or where to find 17-, 25-, 43- and 57-Across?) — theme answers are people on large bills ($USD)
Word of the Day: SALMON P. CHASE (43A: $10,000) — Salmon Portland Chase (January 13, 1808 – May 7, 1873) was an American politician and jurist in the Civil War era who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as Chief Justice of the United States. [...] Chase served as Secretary of the Treasury in President Lincoln's cabinet from 1861 to 1864, during the first three years of the Civil War. That period of crisis witnessed two great changes in American financial policy, the establishment of a national banking system and the issue of a legal tender paper currency. [...] Most recently, in order to honor the man who introduced the modern system of banknotes, Chase was on the $10,000 bill, printed from 1928 to 1946. Salmon P. Chase was instrumental in placing the phrase "In God We Trust" on United States currency. (wikipedia)
This puzzle probably broke somewhere between Easy-Medium and Medium-Challenging depending on whether you had any idea who SALMON P. CHASE was. I did not. Oh, it rang some little bell deep in my brain, sort of, but only enough that when I got the entire name through crosses, I believed it to be correct. Still finished the puzzle in a reasonable Monday time (i.e. fast), but definitely felt held up by Mr. CHASE. I'm not criticizing the answer at all, just describing my experience with it. Puzzle has nice theme density and interesting premise, but it's slightly unfortunate that the bills don't/can't appear in ascending order of value. It's also unfortunate that the theme density forced a lot of icky fill like IGLU, ETH, ALIS, KAI, COS, and OSH. Also ISH crosses DISH, PRORATE crosses PROV., TAFT crosses NAFTA, and ALLIS crosses ALIS. No one of these words / crossings is taboo, but the cumulative effect is a bit AARGH-inducing (14A: Cry of exasperation).
- 17A: $500 (William McKinley)
- 25A: $5000 (James Madison)
He thanked me and hung up. I wondered who could have given me the plug. I thought it might be Sewell Endicott and called him to find out. BUt he had been out of town all week, and still was. It didn't matter much. Even in my business you occasionally get a satisfied customer. And I needed a job because I needed the money — or thought I did, until I got home that night and found the letter with a portrait of Madison in it. (Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye)
- 43A: $10,000 (Salmon P. Chase)
- 57A: $1,000 (Grover Cleveland)
I had minor trouble / hiccups / stumblings in and around
- PRORATED (52A: Divided into appropriate amounts) — which I just noticed has ORA right on top of it, come on!
- SNORE (49D: Cause unrest?) — good trick clue of the type not often seen on Mondays
- ALL IS (11D: "_____ well" ("Don't worry")) — I was thinking OH, well
- CANAAN (10D: Ancient Palestine) — I wrote in JORDAN :(
- 1D: Fancy marbles (taws) — mildly surprising answer for a Monday. Hard to believe marble types still appears when no one but no one plays marbles any more.
- 38D: Dance craze of the '90s (Macarena) — I often say the '90s were the worst decade ever. Since some of you still don't believe me, I am forced to give you this, Exhibit M:
- 43D: Hotpoint products (stoves) — haven't thought of this brand in years.
- 58D: Hitter's stat (RBI) — both wife and I initially read this clue as "Hitler's stat." Not a clue I want to know the answer to.
- 59D: "I Spy" co-star Bill, familiarly (Cos) — this one irked my wife no end. "COS? Really, [mockingly] 'Hey, COS' ... who calls him 'COS?'" "It's valid" "When? When did anyone ever call him COS?" "I don't know, but they did" "'COS' ... pfft." Etc. He did host "COS: The Bill Cosby Comedy Special" in 1975, featuring Loretta Lynn and Tony Randall ... I'd love a clip from that show.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]
P.S. Caleb Madison has just started publishing a monthly online crossword for his school newspaper (!). They are generally geared toward younger, inexperienced solvers and are never harder than a Wednesday NYT. First one is school-related, but after that they will all be general interest. Here's the link.