As a treat, we’re getting well threaded entries today and no rebus in sight. There are seven entries – 26-, 41-, 49-, 71-, 91-, 100- and 114- wide – containing a series of shaded squares. Within these squares is one letter enclosed in a circle. There’s also a detector at 119-Across and a gentle hint as it enters the mirror, 24-Across.
Topic guides range from straightforward trivia to some really nice puns, and each is assigned a different country, which appears at the end of the guide in parentheses. After reading the title of the puzzle, “In the Money,” and then noticing some of these countries – Qatar and Rwanda – my heart sank a little. international currencyI believed. I’m overwhelmed.
The first couple of objective clues did nothing to assuage my fears, but I got lucky with the 49-Across, “Give up all at once (Ecuador).” I had a few crossword clues and enough clue here to find out the answer, quit cold turkey. The shaded squares occur at the beginning of the guide, and the circle is in the fifth position – C in COLD. Turkey kicked me out for a moment. (What do Turkey and Ecuador have in common? Not money – Turkey has lira, and Ecuador uses U.S. dollar.)
After that, I got 100-Across, and there was meaning to the highlighted letters. “An activity for Santa (Rwanda)” resolves to make a list; The shaded squares start at K and end at I, and the circle surrounds N in MAKING. Those shaded letters, KIGALI, spell the capital of Rwanda; Going back to 49-Across, QUITO is now jumping in a way that makes me wonder how I missed that.
This is one of those topics that go from zero to 60 when you get it, I think. In each of the subject entries, the shaded letters denote the capital of the country in question. It helped me a lot with trivialities that I didn’t even remotely know about, although I still failed my “98 Masters Tournament (Italy) golfer” in 26-Across (as I’ll explain in a minute). It also helped me understand the taurine. I particularly liked the 114-Across, “The One Who Walks to Work? (Qatar),” where one’s career includes movement, as a dog handler: Doha is shaded, and G is in the circle.
This revealer, at 119-Across, “What are the letters of this puzzle circled in relation to the shaded surrounding squares?” Makes a great punch. These additional letters represent capital gains, i.e. increases per capital. However, those circled letters found me in a spot of trouble.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”