Founder of Zoom / TUE 9-7-21 / Country separating Togo from Ivory Coast / Spread on a banh mi / Hazmat regulator

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (just slightly on the hard side *for a Tuesday*)

THEME: CURRENCIES (60A: What the ends of 17-, 21-, 37-, 39- and 55-Across are) — pretty self-descriptive:

Theme answers:
  • PRESS POUND (UK) (17A: Last step in telephone instructions, often)
  • "IS IT REAL?" (Brazil) (21A: "Can this be happening?")
  • HARD WON (Korea) (37A: Not easily achieved)
  • AYN RAND (South Africa) (39A: "The Fountainhead" author)
  • ERIC YUAN (China) (55A: Founder of Zoom)
Word of the Day: ERIC YUAN (55A) —
Eric S. Yuan (Chinese袁征pinyinYuán Zhēng; born 20 February 1970) is a Chinese-American billionaire businessman, engineer, and the CEO and founder of Zoom Video Communications, of which he owns 22%. [...] In 2019, Zoom became a public company via an initial public offering, at which time Yuan became a billionaire. His wealth has increased during COVID-19 pandemic, as Zoom has benefited from the shift to online work and teaching. On September 1, 2020, Yuan's net worth was estimated to be US$16.4 billion, a figure 360% higher than his net worth at the beginning of the year.
• • •

This one didn't work for me, though the theme set is at least interesting. I had trouble with every single one of the theme answers, but that's not really a knock against them. As stand-alone answers, just on their own, they are mostly vivid and original, although ERIC YUAN is not Tuesday-famous, not by a long shot. I guess the idea was that you could work his name out via the theme if you really had to. Anyway, he's a stretch. Also, anything that reminds me of Zoom, or of billionaires profiting from the pandemic, is not apt to be welcome fare in my Tuesday, or any-day, puzzle. AYN RAND, also, not terribly welcome. But that's not why the theme thudded. Mostly it was the revealer that was disappointing. Bland and descriptive. CURRENCIES. Yawn. The whole thing felt very last-century, conceptually, with a very basic "last words have this in common" core idea and then a straightforward, no-nonsense revealer, like TREES or DOGS or, in this case, CURRENCIES. I have "dud" written in the margin next to CURRENCIES. But the puzzle lost me much earlier than the revealer—that happened right away, with PRESS POUND, which ... yes, you are asked to PRESS POUND on automated telephone instructions, but if you pay attention, you'll note "they" (the auto-voice) tend to "say" "Press the pound sign" or "Press the pound key" in order to avoid confusion with the numbers ("Did they say 'one'? 'down'!? [smashes keyboard frantically]). I'm sure some automated instructions say "PRESS POUND," so I'm not mad, exactly. I've just (very recently) heard it differently. Also, "IS IT REAL?" doesn't sound like something someone says very often. I had "IS IT TRUE?" HARD WON is a nice phrase, but still, I had HARD + no idea for a little bit. Wanted HARD-EARNED but, yeah, no room.

[The only good Zoom]

My very first step was a misstep today, as I wanted AGOG for AWED (1A: Truly amazed). I think I could do without SNOT in my grid, ever (36D: Obnoxious sort). I had SNIT there. Then SNOB. Clearly, my brain was like "no, we do not acknowledge the crossword existence of SNOT in this household." Where are these pet shops that sell TOUCANs!?  (47D: You might see a big bill from this at a pet shop). Don't answer. Also, don't buy exotic birds and then keep them in cages in your house. Cats and dogs are pets. LABRADOR, that's a pet. That was my pet until 2020 (RIP Gabby). Maybe a pig is a pet. A rabbit? OK. Everything else, iffy. TOUCANs!?!?! No. I can only picture TOUCANs in trees. Or on cereal boxes, I guess. I did not know there was anything particularly "vivid" about the mere act of "depicting," so that clue on DEPICTED threw me for a bit (38D: Described vividly). NAKED LIES is a very zippy answer (35D: Out-and-out falsehoods), so my feelings about this one were not all negative, not by a long shot. But still, I thought the theme, especially the revealer, kind of fizzled. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:05 AM  

Easy-medium. A fine Tuesday outing. I didn't know ERIC YUAN but got it from crosses. Got most of the long answers without reading the clues. My only major overwrite was YAkS for YAPS at 40D.

Ω 6:21 AM  

Are CURRENCIES PPP? They certainly are crosswordese. Two days in a row where the editorial team accepts a theme set that I find off-putting and niche, although the niche here is crossword solvers because we all gained most of our CURRENCIES’ knowledge from doing crosswords. Blrrrrgh.

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

What a pity that someone believes most people learn about different world currencies via crossword puzzles as opposed to travelling, reading, seeing a movie, coin collecting or any of the many ways people learn things.

Tom T 6:41 AM  

Guess it was a wheelhouse day (although I have very limited knowledge of CURRENCIES)--fastest Tuesday solve ever.

We had a toucan for a while in the sixties/seventies: messy eater, big personality.

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

Tom T,
That's impossible Rex assured me toucans aren't pets.

Michael Page 6:58 AM  

What, no OREO???
But at least we’ll always have ASTO.

smalltowndoc 7:00 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle just fine. Clever theme. However, it blew by way too first, and I set a personal best for a Tuesday NYTXW.

As far as pets go, reptiles are a great choice. Very low maintenance and fun to handle. Over the years, my wife and I have had about six snakes and maybe 10 lizards. People ask what can you do with them? they can’t be very clever or loving. Well, they're a lot smarter than tropical fish and lots of people keep those. And try taking the latter out of their housing to handle them. You will be very quickly fishless. On the other hand, our beautiful Panther Chameleon, Jupiter, who is proudly on display in the breakfast nook, will stick his tongue out at you when you make eye contact, gently asking for a superworm for a special treat, which he snatches from my hand in the blink of an eye with his 7 inch tongue. Let’s see a dog do that!

My bearded dragon, Spike, went to Reptile Heaven last week at the ripe old age of 10. A sad day for all, including our cat, who was his best friend and occasional lizard sitter.

JD 7:11 AM  

I See, She, Awed, Ned, Pat, Hard Won, Stars, Awards, and now Madonna ...

They can beg and they can plead
But they can't see the light (that's right)
'Cause the boy with the cold hard cash
Is always Mister Right
'Cause we are living in a material world
And this was a material grid

Lewis 7:13 AM  

You expect no junk answers in a CC puzzle, and you always get it; once again, spotless. In today’s puzzle, there is also the zing of freshness. Look at these lovely NYT answer debuts: CURRENCIES, ERIC YUAN, IS IT REAL, NAKED LIES, and the magnificent PRESS POUND.

I liked ATLAS touching GHANA and LABRADOR, the rhythmic set of OSHA, GHANA, SALMA, VILLA, and the sweet PuzzPair© of LIDS and EYELINERS.

My child’s brain laughed at [Spoke hoarsely, like a blacksmith] for RASPED. It saw “hoarsely” as a fun name for the equine language, and imagined blackmiths, who shoe horses, as using that language.

A puzzle with polish and pizazz – a pleasure. Thank you, CC.

MarthaCatherine 7:14 AM  

I found this miles and miles easier than yesterday's puzzle. Loved PRESSPOUND.

Almost put DEmon for 50D. But better angels prevailed.

Isn't this about the twenty-twelfth time we've seen OSHA in the last several days? I'll munch on an Oreo while I think about frequently used cross words.

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Wondering if there's any etiological tie between WON and YUAN. Any of you language folks have a thought?

Frantic Sloth 7:24 AM  

Pretty straightforward theme and a Tuesdee puzz that maybe didn't tuez as much as usual.
I kinda liked it.
Found it a tad easier than yesterday's, but let's not relive that again.

Okay, so perhaps I'm not the most patient human, but nothing drives me crazier than people on AUTO. Especially on the road, but honestly a n y w h e r e.
And no one kvetches about it better than Fran Lebowitz. "Pretend It's City" could be my mantra or for my podunk, tiny town, "pretend there are people".

TURN RED indeed.

🎶 Somebody's cranky. 🎶


kitshef 7:26 AM  

Any other day, I’d complain about ERIC YUAN being insufficiently famous for a themer. But after yesterday, which somehow crammed six unknowns into its four themers, ERIC YUAN feels like Oprah Winfrey.

Some other potential themers:
Chrysler CORDOBA (Nicaragua)
Rocky BALBOA (Panama)
Marky MARK (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Asher LEV (Bulgaria)
Impacted COLON (Costa Rica)

bocamp 7:27 AM  

Thx CC; mighty fine Tues. puz! :)

Med. solve.

Pretty much on the right wavelength for this one.

Unfamiliar with ERIC YUAN, but the crosses were there, so …


Another enjoyable puz! :)


Two long sessions; found it on the med-tough side. Relished the battle, as always! See you next Mon. :)

yd pg -4 (tabbed; toughest one in ages)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Son Volt 7:29 AM  

Not a real sparkly theme - but such a smooth overall solve it ended up on the plus side. Liked DO SI DO and NAKED LIES - no short glue to be found. The OSHA clue is clunky - as there are multiple regulatory agencies.

Enjoyable Tuesday solve.

OffTheGrid 7:32 AM  

53A was unnecessarily convoluted. The ho(a)rse pun falls flat. This just tries too hard. There's no reason a blacksmith would more likely have a RASPY voice than anyone else. There's no horse connection unless Mr. Ed RASPED. My only nit in a very nice puzzle.

oceanjeremy 7:33 AM  

I get Rex’s complaint that the revealer is a dud, but it didn’t bother me while solving. What bothered me was the choppiness of this made me feel like I was solving extra slowly even though I got most of the answers more or less immediately. So my only complaint about the puzzle is “Should have been a Wednesday.”

I do truly detest AYN RAND and her influence on teenage boys of my generation (as well as Rush lyrics), but she’s so easily the butt of many amazing jokes — meaning she makes it easier to make fun of Capitalist Libertarians, so I get a chuckle from seeing her in the grid. “LoL what a goofy idiot,” I say to myself, filling in AYN RAND. Chuckle chuckle.

@Z: ignore the cowardly Anon who criticizes you without even the decency to show their “face.” It didn’t occur to me that the whole theme is PPP because (drum roll) it’s in my wheelhouse. For eight years I’ve worked in an industry that does a fair amount of business with overseas entities, so I often have to convert estimates from other currencies into the good ol’ USD. What @anon fails to realize is that everything they mentioned is niche. Which is exactly your complaint. Travel is a realm of privilege (it costs a lot, and is only available to those who have time to travel — meaning it’s off-limits to the bulk of us wage slaves), therefore niche. I read voraciously, and have for most my life. Have watched a ton of movies — foreign currencies are almost never discussed in novels or films, so @anon is way off base there. Coin collecting? Niche! “Or any of the many ways people learn things” = “I’m out of examples.”

So yeah, most NYTXW solvers probably know more about currencies from solving crosswords than any other source.

Another thing you’re right about, @Z: currencies are niche knowledge, akin to PPP, and basing your entire them on them is going to fly over the heads of some solvers. In defense of today’s theme, however, it doesn’t require previous knowledge of currencies to solve. The revealer is easy enough to suss out with crosses, and as such today’s puzzle is a great opportunity for solvers to learn more about currencies.

It just should’ve run on a Wednesday.

Loren Muse Smith 7:39 AM  

Me, too, for “agog” before AWED.

I need to read The Economist more; YUAN was unfamiliar to me. I think in the dark recesses of my reptilian cruciverbal brain I knew WON and RAND, but this knowledge is always ephemeral.

(Speaking of reptiles, I enjoyed your description of your pets, @smalltowndoc. Now I have to meet Jupiter and give him a superworm.)

Because it’s CC, a badass constructor, I went back and noted the countries that crossed the CURRENCIES. Briefly had a jolt when I saw INDIA cross POUND, and with magnificent disregard to reality, I briefly wondered if LABRADOR used both the REAL and RAND, GHANA used the WON, blah blah. A low moment.

Speaking of LABRADOR, we watched the documentary Pick of the Litter last night. It’s a terrific movie about the makings of a guide dog and traces the trajectory of five lab puppies bred for service. One of them was named Phil, an epic name for a dog. We were really pulling for Phil the whole time because you just have to pull for a dog named Phil. If at any point a dog didn’t seem to fit the bill, they were “career changed” to a different life. What a kind euphemism. Really, really uplifting documentary.

Took me a minute to get SWEATY. Duh. I never sweat much at all, and I’m convinced that’s why I despise any season except dead winter: my body just doesn’t process heat correctly.

I liked VOLT next to CURRENCIES, in a current event kinda way.

Also liked NAH and YEAH sharing the grid.


I’m still not happy with the dictionary definitions of DREAD. They’ve at least relented and included a definition that doesn’t include the sense of trepidation, but that definition is: to feel extreme reluctance to meet or face. I just don’t use it that way a lot of the time. I can be sitting on the couch dreading getting up to start grading, but the reluctance is just mild, not extreme at all. Maybe it’s just me.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Surprised Rex didn't like it. It was a supremely fast Tuesday.

TPrez 7:51 AM  

Had mute instead of AUTO for thoughtless people - the ? at the end plus having multiple Zoom based answers made mute a fantastic answer. I was sad when it didn’t work with crosses and had to change that to auto - which was far less satisfying an answer. What a wonderful clue that would have been for mute.

Lewis 8:12 AM  

@sonvolt -- ... and your last name is in the puzzle.

Bill 8:13 AM  

Didn't really enjoy, but go fastest completion ever...

gf1fanatic 8:15 AM  

You got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, Rex. It was a great puzzle. Clever fun.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

Knew rial (Iran, Yemen) was a currency from crosswords. Didn’t know REAL (Brazil) was a currency until this morning. I suppose that’s because there are many ways to clue REAL and only one way to clue rial.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

I liked it. Only hangups was wanting to put NEXUS instead of NODES...

Unknown 8:39 AM  

The clue " you might see a big bill from this..." should have a question mark since it used the preposition from instead of on.

getoffofmylawn 8:42 AM  

Anti-billionaire virtue-signaling, nice.

albatross shell 8:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
albatross shell 8:54 AM  

I'm looking forward to the DREAD SNOT AWARDS. The Gavie for the worst decision by the Roberts court in the 2021-22 session... .
The suspense is killing me.

H. Gunn 8:57 AM  

Had 55A been about what Rex referred to as "the only good Zoom," the correct answer would have been creator and executive producer CHRISTOPHER SARSON -- who was also the founding executive producer of "Masterpiece Theatre" and provided the very British sounding voice during the opening credits informing us that "Masterpiece Theatre is made possible by a grant from the Mobil Oil Corporation." (later simply "Mobil Corporation")

Though Christopher is enjoying retirement in Australia these days, I am not aware of any country that uses "sarsons" as its currency.

A pity.

Unknown 9:03 AM  

I had no idea that a banh mi sandwich contained MAYO. Fish sauce? Yes. Pate? Maybe. But mayo? Didn't know.
I was actually delighted that rex kept his AYNRAND rant down do a mere sentence, as opposed to a rambling paragraph. So that was welcome.
Like many (most?) of you, I never heard of Eric Yuan before. I guess if you're a speed solver, you'd be irritated. As someone who likes learning new things from the puzzles, I had no issue with this. And just picture what this never-ending pandemic would like like if it weren't for Zoom? Zoom has made virtual meetings (and classes) possible. I appreciate it. If the inventor got rich off it, that's sort of the reward for ingenuity and being an entrepreneur. The pandemic without Zoom (or Netflix) would have been much more challenging.
To Unknown @ 8:39 (no relation) -- I thin a question mark for TOUCAN on a Monday would have been fine. By the time Wednesday rolls around, I think most solvers grokked that there was some wordplay going on.

bocamp 9:06 AM  

Have learned many world CURRENCIES from xwords.

Added the Brazilian REAL to that list today.

pg -15 (back-to-back toughies)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

CS 9:17 AM  

This felt just right for a Tuesday and was in no way overly challenging. I liked the idea and had no trouble getting Eric Yuan from the crosses. Not a misstep or miswrite for me! (and I am not in any way a super solver).

Overall I thought it was fine fare and no complaints (although yes, Ayn Rand = Devil)

-- CS

pabloinnh 9:24 AM  

This being a Tuesday, I like to try to figure out the theme before I get to the revealer, which should be down in the SE, which is where it was today, so yay for that. POUND should have got me on the right track, but seeing REAL as, you know, REAL, and not the two-syllable RAY-AL was no help. Spent as little time as possible on Ms. RAND, and didn't associate WON or YUAN with money, so the common thread at 60A was nice. Also educational, when it comes to Asian CURRENCIES.

The capitals on "Cross Fitter" had me thinking of a brand name and not an individual.

We were just trying to define DREAD for our three-year old granddaughter, who already has a pretty extensive vocabulary. "Fear" didn't seem quite right, and today's clue reminded me that we were leaving out the sense of anticipation that DREAD implies. I could explain it to her like that, and then I'd have to explain "anticipation", and that would be OK.

No REAL hangups for me. Christina RICCI, Jessica BIEL, and Ms. Hayak were "oh yeahs" after they were filled in but the SELMA vs. SALMA spelling is always a guess.

Thanks for the fun, CC. Another Classy Crossword with Zero Baloney.

Carola 9:25 AM  

A solid. polished Tuesday - I thought this one could serve as a "This is how it's done" demo puzzle - and I'll be lazy here and say, "See @Lewis 7:13 for why I think so."
Do-over: me, too, for Agog; alba before BIEL. New to me: ERIC YUAN and WON as a currency. Post-solve moment of "Wait, what?": NAKEDLIES popped out of the grid, as if it were a genre akin to funnies or girlies.

@smalltowndoc 7:00, I enjoyed reading about your reptiles.

Glen Laker 9:33 AM  

I’m pretty sure the pun referred to blacksmiths using a rasp to shoe a horse. They could have clued it with farrier, instead, I suppose. More accurate, but probably less known.

RooMonster 9:37 AM  

Hey All !
Couple of CURRENCIES I hadn't heard of before, but gettable from crosses. Nice to see CC again, it's been a while. (Note to people who might ask: Zhouqin goes by "CC" in other puz venues. She used to here (IIRC, which I probably don't), but Will wants full names for his puzs.)

39 Blockers, although 4 of them are Cheaters. So 35 net. Looks like a chopped up grid, but doesn't feel like one, with the longer answers in every spot. Nice. Light dreck, an EPS here, a DIS there. DIS could be clued as "GIs trainers", or something. Short for Drill InstructorS. Maybe too obscure. For a TuesPuz, anyway.

Sorta stacked themers, well, three letters in first two, last two stacked. Too bad the Long Downs couldn't have been Incorporated. Are LINERS and LIES CURRENCIES somewhere? Har.

No F's (DISsed!)

Brian 9:39 AM  


gregg 10:08 AM  

I believe you are using "dread" to mean "reluctant ". IMO dread does connote trepidation not just reluctance.

JC66 10:08 AM  

Is CC the new Bruce Haight?

jberg 10:14 AM  

I usually look to see who constructed the puzzle right away, but for some reason I didn't today, and found myself thinking "this puzzle is by someone who knows a lot about Zoom!" I don't, and I was grilling with my mitts on, so it took me awhile to get into the swing of things.

And I learned a lot. If you'd asked me I'd have said that REAL and YUAN were former currencies, but it turns out that YUAN and renminbi are used interchangeably (per Wiki), and the REAL is used in Brazil. (@anon 7:22, again according to Wiki both the WON and the yen are called 'yuan' in China; I'm guessing all three countries use the same character for their currency, but pronounce it differently.)

I also learned how the Atlantic Ocean got its name. ATLAS was a Titan, so don't know if he's really a god, but close enough.

I do have a usage question. We say 'the Atlantic' and 'the Pacific,' even 'the Mediterranean' and 'the Caspian,' but if I told you that when I visited Durban I stuck my toe into the Indian, I think you'd wonder about me.

Whatsername 10:20 AM  

Must agree with Rex today that the theme/revealer fizzled big time for me. That’s mostly on me because world CURRENCIES are about as far out of my wheelhouse as Calculus. Still, aside from POUND, these were not widely known currencies which would be familiar to the average person from an average background, which is to say a “basic” college education and limited exposure to global markets.

*However since we’re not discussing the currencies of those global markets in general, but the fact they appeared in a crossword puzzle, it’s also relevant that as a seasoned NYTXW veteran, I know euro, peso, yen, rial, riyal, riel, rupee, ruble, dinar, franc, baht, lira, krone, and even kwanza - but I don’t recall ever seeing any of the other four in a grid, at least not in recent memory. And before the statisticians bombard me with facts, I freely admit I am no doubt wrong about that. I’m just saying that even with what you might call specialized crossword knowledge, these were not familiar to me. For that reason, it seemed IMHO unfairly difficult on a Tuesday and especially for less experienced solvers,

*@Z is absolutely right. The knowledge I possess in this particular niche is primarily a result of solving crossword puzzles.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

I stand corrected. Your experience is surely the data that affirms Z's claim.

jae 10:31 AM  

Easy. Smooth with an aha reveal for me. Liked it and Jeff gave it POW.

Nancy 10:36 AM  

Sorry I'm late. I was just in the pet store. I bypassed the adorable LABRADOR puppy and instead bought myself a pet...TOUCAN!

Well, actually, this answer was the biggest surprise in the whole puzzle and, therefore, not entirely unwelcome. Much of the puzzle could be done on AUTO, though the AUTO clue (56D) may be the best in the whole puzzle. Followed closely by PRESS POUND, my favorite answer in the whole puzzle. (Sometimes I'm not thinking clearly and I mix up my POUND key with my STAR key. And then I have to start the whole awful phone-tree process over again. Does that ever happen to you?)

Most of the cluing was dull. And there has to be a more interesting revealer than CURRENCIES, no? This puzzle had its moments, but, alas, not many.

GILL I. 10:38 AM  

Well heavens to Betty Crocker....CC had to find something interesting to come up with last names of CURRENCIES. She did.....Because I have nothing better to do, I kept thinking Freddy Krone and then Ann Franc and maybe Rod Sterling...but all of you would've called me a Real Zloty Rupee Shekel for trying too hard. Did Won lose his TON?
A fine Tuesday....I'm not sure about the TOUCAN perching in a pet shop, though. Well...maybe if you're in Brazil somewhere. I'm not fond of pet shops unless you're buying pet food. I think we've had a little bit of everything because we were lovers of critters. I've had some favorites....our goat Chichi who was our lawnmower in Cuba. Then I fell in love with a rabbit that I named Thumper. My grandmother had a bunch of them in her back yard that I used to feed. One day I asked her why the chicken she told me we were eating tasted like carrots and my shitty little fat cousin told me it was Thumper. We even had a toad that my son named Glubbslyme and a lizard named Godzilla. Oh...then there was our goldfish (that lived for like 10 years and got big as a bazooka) and her name was Myrtle Sue.
You give me a fun puzzle that let's my mind wander and I will be happy as a bayou crocodile waiting to eat a Cajun Po'Boy.

Nancy 10:51 AM  


BTW, if Jeff Chen gave this his POW, I dread what's in store for the rest of the week.

Mikey from El Prado 10:57 AM  

At first it seemed slow, but my time was faster than Monday, which was at average - so an easy/medium Tuesday (that’s Tuesdee to you, Frantic Sloth ��). I think what helped is 1. I entered AWED right away, and not AGOG, and 2. I worked mostly the downs, so didn’t get caught up in the more challenging across themers.

Oddly, I didn’t recall WON as a currency. I’m surprised it isn’t clued that way more often,

Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

This puzzle was right on the money. Had no idea what the theme was until I got to the revealer and then had a big “Ah, gotcha.” Learned two new CURRENCIES in the process: REAL and WON. So thank you for that, Zhouqin. Enjoyed the solve and appreciated having a little resistance on a Tuesday without an OREO in sight.

I’ve been working on Zoom for the past year and a half and didn’t know that it was ERIC YUAN who made this possible. So that was another lesson as well. So was the news that we have ATLAS to thank for the name of that ocean east of New York. Gee, I feel like I just got out of class.

High point of the fill for me was NAKED LIES. Low point was the tortured pun for RASPED..

TTrimble 11:04 AM  

I don't have negative feelings about Zoom, neither the PBS program nor the communications technology. Zoom enables getting together with collaborators without the ginormous carbon footprint, and this should be seen as the huge deal that it is.

I think I've heard "PRESS POUND to speak to a representative". Here, it may be they don't necessarily want you to understand clearly that they mean "press the pound sign" or "press the pound key", because human agents cost more money and have higher turnover. Having the consumer stuck up in the menu tree for longer means lower cost to them. Oh, "PRESS POUND for more options" also sounds familiar.

I think I agree with Rex about SNOT*. Although, related to "snoot" which resides in the same semantic neighborhood as the clue. Also to snout, snort, schnozz, sniff, snivel, ... Sneeze? Seems not.

(If you think it's butter, but it's SNOT...)

SWEATY. Huh, all sorts of excreta and exudations today.

Changing the subject. Yeah, I think the flirtation of Rush (Neil Peart, specifically, and particularly on 2112) with AYN RAND was shorter than may sometimes seem. (I guess there was also Freewill.) Aside from the politics, my main beef with RAND (self-named after a typewriter, allegedly; original name was Alisa Rosenbaum, born as a Russian subject) is that she has zero sense of humor.

Excellent comeback from @oceanjeremy this morning. Scrabble would be another reason to bone up on CURRENCIES.

yd pg -3 (tab still open; fellow feeling with @bocamp)
td pg -6

*"Fart" would be similarly arresting in a crossword. It took me forever to get used to that word, as I was trained to think it was a bad word when I was young. My family would never use it. Any bathroom humor was strictly verboten. And now look where I am.

A 11:26 AM  

Wow, Rex, medium-challenging? (Love the LABRADOR DEPICTED in your photo!) I flew through this one. Easy but not boring. Learned a couple of CURRENCIES - looking at YUAN, DWON. Same experience as OFL on DEPICTED, and SNOb-SNOT.

AS TO OSHA, I’m ready for a reversal - how about AH, SO for a change?

Interesting how much REAL estate CURRENCIES occupies. Also interesting the relationship to CURRENt. From
currency (n.)
1650s, "condition of flowing," a sense now rare or obsolete, from Latin currens, present participle of currere "to run" (from PIE root *kers- "to run"). The notion of "state or fact of flowing from person to person" led to the senses "continuity in public knowledge" (1722) and "that which is current as a medium of exchange, money" (1729).

I’ll probably walk by Wright’s “Fountainhead” at least once this week. Sadly, the current owners don’t seem to be keeping it in the best shape. At least the outside - they don’t allow visitors. Noticed AYN RAND on top of ATLAS. Sad that her upbringing made her blind to the pitfalls of basing a society on money. Oh, just REALized that tie-in to the theme - nice extra layer there, Zhouqin!

Thank your lucky STARS for Heinrich David Stölzel, horn player and inventor of early valves for brass instruments, born September 7, 1777. For Bach, Mozart, Haydn, even Beethoven and Brahms up to a point, horns and trumpets had no valves to help change the notes. Stölzel’s work significantly changed the world of western music. Here is the inimitable Dennis Brain briefly demonstrating the hand horn and the valved horn, using Beethoven’s Sonata for Piano and Horn.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  


you do know that lizards carry salmonella and other noxious wee little critters?

blacksmiths/farriers use a RASP to shape the hoof.

Joe Dipinto 11:37 AM  

What drugs are Yuan?

At least today's avoids yesterday's lack of theme precision. No Marks or Francs or Złotys hanging around the beginning of answers to dilute things.

Silasxl 11:58 AM  

Atlas was a Titan, not a god (and he supported the heavens, not the earth).

Masked and Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Not quite easier than snot TuesPuz. Seemed fairly enjoyable, but nuthin especially new to offer, as far as its last-words-are-such-and-such theme mcguffin. And coulda used an ahar moment with a little more richness to it than CURRENCIES, I'd grant. Somethin like CASHCROPS OR CAPITALIZED, maybe.

staff weeject pick: WON. As CURRENCIES go, it was kinda a HARDWON to get, at our house. Most of the 16 real weejects were very wespectable today, btw. Part of CC's usual smooth fillins MO.

Had no earthly idea on zoomdude ERICYUAN. Considered AGOG before AWED, but not to the point of splatzin it in there. Nuthin else hogged the nanoseconds much, other than maybe that there slightly-made-up-soundin NAKEDLIES. M&A tried Googlin a leadoff "NAKED L", to see what was in the popular lingo. Google anticipated the followin stuff:
Wow. NAKED LUNCH. M&A wants to go to there.

Thanx for the nice cash flowers, CC darlin.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

test solvers say "biter":

Liz 12:05 PM  

Super easy today.

Barbara S. 12:17 PM  

I thought this was a good, solid Tuesday. Unfortunately, the names of currencies seem to be XW answers that I forget as soon as they get filled in from crosses. The only one I’ve committed to memory is the Thai baht. And I have no idea how you could clue it in a puzzle like this. Perhaps in relation to bahseball? My favorite currency, hands down, alas no longer in circulation, is the shinplaster. Paper money from the 18th and 19th centuries worth almost nothing, it was used by soldiers to protect their legs from chafing inside their boots. Now there’s a currency that’s worth more than the paper it’s printed on!

I made all the errors but still came in with a good time: “alba” for BIEL, YAkS for YAPS, SNOb for SNOT. I liked I SEE and ICIER, AMP and VOLT. I kinda wished SWEATY and NAKED (LIES) had been closer together, but sometimes my mind goes in regrettable directions. AYN RAND sat directly above half of one of her books, ATLAS… I liked the Greek god who was lying low, PAN. And, yeah, I thought that was a strange clue for DEPICTED, a word used quite neutrally in art historical writing.

sharon ak 12:25 PM  

@Anon 6:32 Agreed, despite Oceanjeremy's essay a bit later. I did not recognize real as a currency, but don't think knowing the currencies was needed for solving, did bring a sort of ah ha wen I got to the reveal

Anon 6:52 LOL

Anonymous 12:44 PM  


perhaps unfairly (?), but I box up RAND with Patricia Highsmith at the personal unpleasantness level. as writers, always the latter.

Beezer 12:55 PM  

I thought this puzzle was a better than average Tuesday but I tend to be a CC fan. I really do not know how the Rex brain works when it comes to CC and Bruce Haight puzzles, I just know that I will find a pan by Rex…just a matter of the depth and breadth of the panning.

@Unknown 9:03, you took the words right out of my mouth! Many people have become “Zoom weary” but thank goodness for the technology that has allowed us to keep on keeping on! Hmmm, Pfizer and Moderna profited from the pandemic…I know, they are PPP, but would Rex dis the use due to bad memories of injection site pain?

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

@Barbara S:
The only one I’ve committed to memory is the Thai baht. And I have no idea how you could clue it in a puzzle like this.

Ooh, ooh, call on me teacher!! There's scene(s ?) in one of the Moore Bond films, shot in shopping canals, where a kid tries to sell Bond some elephant carving, for ever lower Baht with no success. I think Bond eventually pushes him into the canal and resumes the chase. don't recall who was chasing who.

chance2travel 1:01 PM  

Wow, didn't expect currencies to engender such animosity. These all seem like reasonable currencies to be aware of in the world, simply as part of global or cultural literacy.

British Pound - London is a major financial marketplace
Chinese Yuan - frequent discussions regarding its valuation
Korean Won - major US trading partner and home of Samsung and Kia/Hyundai to name 2
South African Rand - remember the boycotts of the Apartheid era?
Brazilian Real - largest GDP in South America, recently part of the BRIC-M emerging economies

Side note - on my first visit to Brazil in 2011 I learned that the plural of REAL is "Reais". Also that the "R" is pronounced as a nasalized "H" sound.

Now imagine a theme where the currencies were

Thai "Baht"
Ghanaian "Cedi"
Polish "Zloty"
Malaysian "Ringgit"
and my favorite, the Vietnamese "Dong"

Shout out to Ghana - a delightful country to visit, although their "Cedi" currency makes me think of music CDs. When I was there in 1995, the currency had plunged to about 1,000 Cedi to the $1, but the biggest note that was widely available was the 500 Cedi. So when I exchanged $50 I walked out with a brick of 100 bills of the 500 Cedi notes. Very surreal experience.

Back in the US now, dealing with our very boring green currency after spending brightly-colored Euros for a month as if they were monopoly money. Also shout-out to the Euro for the accessibility feature of each note being a different size so they can be distinguished by feel, not just sight.

JD 1:03 PM  

@TTrimble, Here's the one I get, "Please enter the last four digits of you Social Security Number (code, birth date, etc.) and Press Pound. It seems to signal that you're done entering the numbers.

Lyn 1:13 PM  

I'd like to add "Pretend it's just water." On the rare instances it rains in Southern California, people cancel appts, don't show up for work, and drive on the freeways like their car is about to melt. Pretend it's just water!

old timer 1:16 PM  

I'm so old I still think Brazil's currency is the milrei. Which meant 1000 reis. A rei, I suppose, was the equivalent of the Spanish REAL, the historic coin of Spain. Spain's pre-Euro currency was much debased over the years, but it seems Brazil's was so debased that there were 2.75 quintillion modern reis in the old REAL.

Life was much simpler in the 19th Century. A British POUND was equal to five U.S. Dollars, and $20 got you an ounce of gold. There were 20 shillings in a POUND, so a shilling was worth a quarter of a dollar. A French franc was worth, I think, 20 cents American. FDR changed things: an ounce of gold was revalued to $35 and ounce. When I was first in Europe, the (new) franc was worth 20 American cents.

But the Brazilian currency may set an inflation record.

Ω 1:23 PM  

@JC66 10:08 - You're kidding, right? Here's Rex's opening sentence from her May puzzle, Nice to see Zhouqin Burnikel's name back on the byline again. Feels like it's been a while, and her work is always solid, often dazzling. August did the one before that, but for the one before that Rex opened with, The theme concept is very cute and clever. The theme answers themselves aren't exactly scintillating, but that's OK; the fill is clean enough and the theme concept strong enough to make the solving experience sufficiently enjoyable. The puzzle before that got a "meh" review but the one before that opened with Ms. Burnikel is one of my favorite constructors. She's prolific and her puzzles have gotten better and better over the years, to the point where I now consider her one of the top, let's say, five constructors working today. Rex actually liked this more than I did, singling out the bland revealer clue where I find the whole theme set suboptimal. My take is even the best sometimes have a clunker.

What an interesting contention, that the Titans weren't "gods." I'm curious what makes them not gods in peoples' opinions.

@Unknown 9:03 - That MAYO clue got the arched eyebrow here, too. But the (unsourced) answer provided by Uncle Google was The spread on a banh mi is not aioli (as it contains no garlic), nor does it contain pork or fish sauce. At its most basic, it's mayonnaise. More often, it's butter cut with mayonnaise. Alrighty then.

@oceanjeremy & @whatsername - Thanks for the explicit support, but such anonymous "replies" just make me laugh. It is why fremdschämen has replaced schadenfreude as my favorite German word.

@anon7:22 - Are you saying money is a disease or did you just pull the wrong "study of the origin of..." word because it was early in the morning. If the first I'm jealous that I didn't think to use it first. If the latter, no biggie. It happens. But you did make me double check and I got a chuckle.

Mme Laffargue 1:34 PM  

Totally agree Anon 06:32. I know these currencies from life not some xword.

Mr. Alarm 1:40 PM  

The only good thing about this puzzle - in my book - was it afforded you, Rex, a chance to put in that link to the GREAT 70’s PBS TV show, “Zoom”. Loved it as teen.

A great show, that needs to be resurrected. Fun, entertaining and informative (where I first learned about kids who work on their family’s sugar cane field in Louisiana, for instance).

Jill 1:42 PM  

Don't forget OSHA!

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

There's no awkwardness-- the sine qua non of fremdschamen--- nor is there any proof that your assertion that all crossword solvers learned world currencies from crossword puzzles. You are twice wrong.
No one would dispute that a lot of currencies show up in crosswords puzzle. So does Oreo, area and Ono. I didn't learn any of those words from crosswords. I'm guessing you didn't either.
All of which is to say, well, the mods wont let me say it. But you know.

Mr. Alarm 1:45 PM  

Yes! I also remember hearing those recordings say (constantly) “PRESS POUND for more options”.

Jill 1:46 PM  

Toucan as a pet reminded me of Wings of Hope, Werner Herzog's documentary on the sole survivor of a plane crash in the jungles of Peru. Juliane Koepke lived with her parents at a research station where she had a pet toucan. The knowledge she gained there helped her survive the jungle! Such a fascinating story, pretty sure it is still on YouTube.

JC66 1:50 PM  


My comment was referring to today's write up by @Rex. His past write up's seem to confirm it.

Mr. Alarm 1:52 PM  

Sorry, I’m confused: the constructors’ name is Zhouqin Burnikel. Who’s CC?

bocamp 2:21 PM  

Let's not forget the old xwordese, the Romanian leu and the Albanian lek.

Bottom line for me: learned many currencies via travel and media, but also many via xwords.

C.C. Burnikel on Blogger

pg -2

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Mr. Alarm
CC is Zhoquin Burnikel. The Times doesn't publish puzzles under nicknames.
The real question is why so many people here refer to her that way. I don't believe for a second that they're her friend or even acquaintance. My guess is that people who drop the name C.C. are doing it to mark themselves as in the know. The kind of inner ring nonsense C.S. Lewis wrote about in his fabulous essay of the same name.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Mme Laffargue,
Yep. A lot of comments here suggesting the wet road causes rain.

Phaedrus 3:10 PM  

How can you do a currency theme and not include a dong? Where’s JohnX when you need him?

bocamp 3:19 PM  

@Anonymous (2:24 PM)

That would be one way to look at it. Another would be that some may consider CC or C.C. a show of respect for what appears to be her preferred moniker. :)

Why not live and let live, without judgement? 🤔

pg -2

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

Who is CC to whom you all are referring? ZB was the constructor.

I have no doubt I'm gonna feel really stupid when someone answers this...

DGD 3:37 PM  

The same person.
The New York Times requires her to use the Pinyin system of spelling for her given name.
She is from Taiwan and for most of her life in the US she used an older format, Chou-Ch'in, C.C. for short Lewis and other bloggers here got to know her as C.C. and continue to use it.

tea73 4:00 PM  

I did not know REAL was a Brazilian currency, and could not have told you for sure where the WON came from. RANDs were in the news all the time in Apartheid days. I'm kind of surprised people haven't seen YUAN before. I didn't know Mr. Zoom's last name, but the currency clue made it easy. The revealer could have been zingier, but I thought this was a good solid puzzle. I know lots of currencies from travels, but far more from crossword puzzles. Not sure that's something I should be proud of or embarrassed by!

CDilly52 4:03 PM  

Any time I see Zhouqin Burnikel byline, I am happy to expect a clean, nearly 100% junk-free grid with polish and just the right resistance for the day of the week on which it appears. As I sped through this one today I thought I was going to be disappointed for the first time by one of her puzzles. Oh me of little faith!

Seems like I can never get very far without needing to switch from Across to Down (not that it matters), but today, I correctly filled every Across through VETS. I kept wondering what was up and even flipped back to see if I read that this was in fact a Burnikel opus and gave myself a bit of a metaphorical bead scratch.

And then I moved on to the bottom third. This section wasn’t difficult, but I did not know ERIC YUAN (but had picked up the CURRENCIES theme) and needed to check to verify DEVIL over DEmon and did not believe that NAKES LIES was correct. I have often heard of a NAKED TRITH, but. Ever it’s opposite, so felt odd and double checked everything over there. I also thought it odd that a regular pet shop would have such an exotic bird as a TOUCAN (and of course thought immediately if the cereal commercial).

Overall a speedy and enjoyable Tuesday - as expected. I’d be honored to meet Ms. B. sometime and envy those in the neighborhood who are able to participate in some of the big puzzle tournaments.

okanaganer 4:17 PM  

@bocamp 3:19pm, nicely put.

I always cut AYN RAND a little slack because her bent was largely influenced by her experience growing up in early Soviet Russia.

Re CURRENCIES... I enjoy useless trivia, eg this page on Origin of World Currency Names.

Interesting how many relate to weight: peso, pound, baht, drachma. Surprisingly, Rial (arab countries) comes from Spanish for "royal". Also won, yuan, and yen all come from Chinese for "round".

Unknown 4:31 PM  

Oh, I guess today Rex is going with his hot "only cat and dogs are pets" take. My cousin had a pet parrot and it was a fantastic pet. He loved it so much he got the bird tattooed on his arm after it died. We rescued a pet African Grey Parrot and had it as a pet for a few weeks till we returned it to its owners. It was also a fine pet. African Grey's are among the smartest animals in the world, and if well trained can perform amazing feats in captivity.

Anyways, this puzzle was on the very easy side for me. My only real snag was the whole SNOB/SNOT fiasco. Otherwise, it would've been record time.

Ω 5:45 PM  

Regarding Burnikel - The NYTX is just about the only place you will see “Zhouqin.” She started the LATX Blog and you will note she goes by C.C. there. So, yes, if one has been doing crosswords long enough you will learn that she goes by C.C.
There is this odd thing where we tend to go by surnames for men and first names for women, so I try to remember to go with “Burnikel,” but I often forget.

@JC66 - Gotcha. Personally, I thought Rex and everyone else was too kind for the longest time, but she mostly turns out high quality stuff now. And you all know I agree with Rex more than all of you about the other person you mentioned, so need for me to pile on here.

@Anon - As usual, you misunderstand. We all know you feel no shame.

Exotic pets are not appropriate. Just a guess but if you search for similar stories locally you will find them. The link just happens to be recent and local to me. As for lizards, please stick to dogs. Yeah Yeah - you may be a responsible animal owner who would never release an animal or have it escape, but it happens all the time. As for TOUCANs, I don’t know of any pet stores that carry $10,000 pets that it may be illegal to possess. At least the clue works on two other levels (the “big bill” part in case it’s been awhile since you read the clue) even if finding an actual pet store that sells TOUCANs seems unlikely.

Whatsername 5:51 PM  

fremdschämen: secondhand embarrassment; to feel ashamed about something someone else has done; to be embarrassed because someone else has embarrassed themselves (and doesn't notice).

It was worth the time to do the entire puzzle and read all the comments just to learn that. Thanks @Z! You outdid yourself today. 😊

Ω 5:57 PM  

I won’t link to it here, but if you want a good cry go look at what Rex just posted on Twitter. Today at about 5:30.

JC66 6:19 PM  



Anoa Bob 7:00 PM  

I was a little surprised that the "last words of ___ entries are all ___" theme made the cut. Gives the puzzle an older generation look.

The 37 black squares, including two cheater/helper types at the end of 1D AMP and before 41D DIS, lessen the remaining open squares left for interesting fill. Filling the grid also gets significant help from the liberal use of the plural of convenience (POC). There are several of the fun-of-the-mill, single POCs such as 10A LIDS, and at least two of the grid fill friendly two-for-one POCs at the ends of DELL/AWARD and EP/NODE.

I say "at least two" of the two-for-one POC variety because the ends of TWEENS/ATLAS and DIS/VETS could count as a third, virtual two-for-oner.

The POCs that stood out the most for me were the ones that enabled two 8-letter Downs to fill 9-letter slots, here with EYE LINER and NAKED LIE. I think that's too easy. Several other Downs like DEPICT, CRUISER and SWEAT got some grid fill helpful letter boosting from letter count maninulations (LCI).

Overall I think the grid relied too much on higher black square count and letter-count boosting (POCs and LCIs) and that brought down the degree of difficulty in getting the grid filled and with it the overall rating of the puzzle. The theme didn't save the day for me.

Yikes, I read AYN RAND when she first published and remember her as promoting enlightened self-interest and now I see she has curried disfavor with a number of the commenters. What happened? Maybe it was her interpreters and reinterpreters and promotors and detractors who made her into a DEVIL.

smalltowndoc 7:30 PM  

@Z and @Anonymous 1132, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Lizards purchased as babies from reputable, licensed U.S. breeders are parasite and Salmonella free. Regardless, responsible reptile owners know to wash their hands after handling their pets. This is especially true if you own several, in the off chance that you may transmit a disease from one to another.

@Z, your links are to articles that talk about cobras and wolf-dog mixes! Not really in the same category as small harmless lizards and snakes. I agree one should not own tropical animals with voracious appetites if you live in a tropical climate like Florida. If they escape, the results can be disastrous, like the Burmese python crisis in the Everglades. However, my lizards are indigenous to the Sahara, the Australian outback and Madagascar (although all bred in the U.S.) In Pennsylvania, where I live, if they escaped, they would die. And my snake is indigenous to the U.S. He’s small and if he happened to escape, he’d have an occasional meal of fresh mouse al fresco . Hardly an environmental threat.

TTrimble 7:55 PM  

@Anoa Bob
I didn't think you were that old. AYN RAND published Anthem in 1936.

Also: are you serious, or just kidding around? I can't tell.

I wonder how she would have reacted to the pandemic. That we all pitch in and roll up our sleeves and get vaccinated, for the common good. If she is consistent, she would have rejected that. But then again, she wasn't always so consistent. Philosophically, she rejected Social Security, but then took advantage of its benefits.

yd pg -2
td 0

Anoa Bob 9:22 PM  

TTrimble @7:55 PM, I first read AYN RAND in the 60's, as I recall, so I thought that's when she first came on the scene. The 30s? Holy cow! How'd I miss that so far? [slinks away, mumbling to himself]

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

Saw all the proper names and panicked - I don't know people, that is my nemesis.

I never got the theme.

Still solved this in my best Tuesday time due to the fill and educated guessing on the names.

Why so much Zoom trivia?

Mr. Alarm 10:39 PM  

Thank you, DGD.

sasses 2:28 AM  

CC lived in Xian and Guangzou in China.

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