MGWCC #225

crossword 3:45
meta 2:00 

hello, and welcome to episode #225 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Big Money”. this week, matt challenges us to name a currency (hint: it’s not the one in the clue to 60-across). what are the theme answers? well, there aren’t any obvious theme answers, and only one long answer in the grid: the central 15 OVERCAPITALIZED, clued as {Like some companies in financial difficulty}. but that was enough of a hint for me, since i had noticed that the clues contained a whole bunch of inappropriately-capitalized letters. let me just apologize in if my own lowercase-only posting style makes the rest of this post difficult to read, but bear with me. in clue order:

  • {New York City} is TROY? no, TROY is a New York city near albany, home of RPI. but New York City is the five boroughs.
  • {Bits of Hydrogen} are ATOMS, but chemical elements are common nouns and should not be capitalized.
  • {One kind of Ipod} is a NANO, and this is quite famously not how apple has branded these products; it’s iPod, of course. (i don’t believe there’s anything funky going on with the “undercapitalized” p.)
  • {Only Non-Spanish-speaking country in Central America} BELIZE.
  • {Outbid someone at the last second, on Ebay} is SNIPE. another branding issue; it’s eBay.
  • {MicroSoft ___ (graphics program)} PAINT. well, yeah, sometimes people call it MS Paint, but it’s Microsoft, not MicroSoft.
  • {Part of an E-mail program} is INBOX. e-mail.
  • {Index denominated in Yen} NIKKEI. yen is a currency (although, as we know, not the answer to the meta), and hence a common uncapitalized noun.
  • {New England University} YALE. there’s a University of New England, i think, in maine.
  • {“About A Boy” actor} is hugh GRANT. this one is subtle—in song titles and maybe works of art, i’ve seen that a capitalized. not in movie titles, though.
  • {Town North of Des Moines} is AMES.

reading down the list of “overcapitalized” letters, we have the CHINESE YUAN.

this is kind of a nifty meta—a rather deep reinterpretation the “capital”/”capital” trick you sometimes see in crossword clues where {Capital of Italy?} clues EURO or something. the third sense of capital, as in uppercase, is what’s being played upon here—there are no cities, but there is a currency we can deduced from uppercase letters. some of those extraneous capital letters are very well concealed; i probably wouldn’t have noticed the A in About A Boy unless i’d already been looking for it. others jumped out at me—the very first one, for instance, {New York City} at 1-across, had me flummoxed because i spent the first few seconds of the puzzle flailing about for a 4-letter nickname for the big apple. when i finally got that corner to fall and realized that it was just TROY, i was annoyed at the “error” in the clue. so when i got to the middle and saw OVERCAPITALIZED, i knew immediately where i was going meta-wise.

the only deduction i’ll make is that the S of MicroSoft is the only meta-theme letter included in a down clue (34-down, right in the center of the grid); the others are all acrosses in order, in symmetrical locations to boot. i think this might have been more elegantly rendered if matt had just clued OVERCAPITALIZED as {Like Some companies in financial difficulty}. sure, that S sticks out like a sore thumb, but it’s still nicer to stick with acrosses for this.

fill olio:

  • {Before “Be” or “Bleed,” a classic rock album} LET IT. didn’t know about LET IT BLEED until BEQ’s call me, maybe? puzzle from a couple weeks ago. i wonder if that inspired this clue.
  • {Three years ago, casually} is O-NINE, as in ’09. fresh way to avoid the {Cat-___-tails} clue.
  • {Snoop ___} DOGG? not any more; hear him roar!
  • {More of a philosophical bent} is saint THOMAS more. crossword constructors love to pun on this guy’s name. i’ve seen {More work} for UTOPIA “more” than once. edit: typo fixed.
  • {Guilty of vowel play?} is ASSONANT. groan.
  • i thought {Troubles} ILLS and {Suffer} AIL was a duplication, but it seems they’re from different roots: norse illr for ILLS and old french/germanic/gothic agls for AIL.

that’s all for me. what’d you think of this one?

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18 Responses to MGWCC #225

  1. steve says:

    Answered “renminbi” because that’s the Chinese currency denominated in yuan.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    PAINT is down to keep the grid symmetry; notice that all 11 overcapitalized entries have a symmetric twin in the grid. That’s why PAINT had to be where it was.

    221 right answers this week.

  3. Paul Coulter says:

    Sometimes, Matt nails the difficulty level, and I thought this one was perfect for Week 3. I agree with Joon about the elegant construction, and the MicroSoft deduction as the only one in the Down clues, though I appreciate Matt’s explanation about the symmetry. I liked the nice subtle hint in the title, and the strong one in the only theme entry. As a biologist, the Hydrogen bothered me and tipped me off. Also, the fact that Matt used Yen when he could have just said an Asian exchange for Nikkei, then highlighted its use by saying it wasn’t the answer. So what was it doing there? It had to be part of the trick. MicroSoft, along with Ipod, E-mail, and Ebay, no doubt also worked as tip-offs for many solvers.
    Joon: By the way, a Mork work would be Nanu nanu.

    • joon says:

      due to the symmetry requirement, i think OVERCAPITALIZED itself is the only candidate. it’s quite possible that there is another way of writing the clue that disguises the S a little better, but i haven’t thought of it. unless microsoft itself is overcapitalized? a matter of opinion, i guess, but they seem pretty healthy financially.

  4. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    I’m glad once more that is the final answer that counts. I submitted “Chinese Yuan”, but noted in the comment box that for the life of me, I couldn’t find the “S”. In part this was because Matt had all of the other letters precisely in order in the Across clues. And to add to my disgrace, I thought 21 D, End of the London Blitz, also had a gratuitous capital — until later, when I Googled and found that the “B” is routinely capitalized.

    BTW, could someone conversant with the matter tell me what OVERCAPITALIZED means? Is it a problem to have too much money?

  5. ===Dan says:

    This one defeated me. I figured that it had to do with OVERCAPITALIZED. I noticed MicroSoft, but not the others. But I did see what seemed to be a plethora of double letters (12 sets), and tried to make something out of them, like “gdzless Krone.”

  6. James Schooler says:

    Ha! I missed MicroSoft, and thought the two Es together worked into Chinees, which worked for me. Matt must have been confused by my comment that his use of two Es was very clever!

  7. DR O says:

    I only sent in YUAN even though I had sussed out the entire theme. I never thought about there being other YUAN’s out there. As a chemist I was confused by Hydrogen. When I first went to school we learned that atoms were capitalized and molecule names were not. But then that abruptly changed at some point in literature and now it is vogue to have elements uncapitalized. I still forget which is which. As for the other capitalization rules… I leave that to the people who help edit my stilted attempts at writing.

    • Andy says:

      There are no other countries with a yuan, so Matt may accept it if he’s generous, but the meta clearly spelled out CHINESE YUAN.

  8. davidb says:

    I can’t decide if the fact that one “S” in the meta answer is the sole vertical entry, thus suggesting a $ sign, makes the fact that there was just the one odd relevant down clue more or less elegant.

  9. Neville says:

    I noticed that this puzzle had more capitalized entries than the usual Gaffney fare, as well as a few TLAs. I barked up that tree all weekend before reopening it in AcrossLite, seeing 1a highlighted and thinking, “Hey! ‘City’ shouldn’t be capitalized!” Whew. Last minute get for me. Nice one!

  10. Cole says:

    I have no idea how overcapitalized companies are in financial difficulty unless there is some double meaning that escapes me. As someone who pretends to speak the language of finance, too much debt and too little equity might indicate a company (or a bank) is undercapitalized, but too much equity and too little debt would not seem to be problematic (other than in the sense of inadequate utilization of a company’s resources…see here for a typical usage ).

  11. abide says:

    I missed the symmetry and just wondered why there was one down clue. Now that I see it, I like the sole down answer as opposed to advertising it in the main across answer. Two (or four) additional symmetrical downs would have ratcheted up the difficulty level, and probably made it too hard for Week 3.

  12. I googled “overcapitalization” and the first result says:

    “When a company has issued more debt and equity than its assets are worth. An overcapitalized company might be paying more than it needs to in interest and dividends.”

    Sounds like it fits the theme clue reasonably enough for me.

    • Cole says:

      Sorry but that “definition” makes no sense in any language. I defer to Google on many topics but this is silly.

  13. MM says:

    I can’t be the only one who routinely misses the metas that are in the clues. I read “overcapitalized” as “over capital I’s” and circled all the letters above the I’s in the grid. Surprisingly, that got me nowhere!

  14. CY Hollander says:

    I liked how Matt went to some effort to make the overcapitalization subtle (for instance, as the “Soft” in Microsoft stands for a word of its own, one might imagine capitalizing it; in fact, the company was originally conceived as “Micro-Soft”, per Wikipedia).

    The clue in 15A was clever, but I felt that there were more hints than necessary here. With 11 miscapitalizations in the clues, surely at least one was bound to jump out at the reader, and from there it’s only natural to keep one’s eyes open for other anomalous capitals. I didn’t need the hints of the title or 15A for this one. (To put my solving prowess into context, I missed Week 1 this round entirely. Of course, peoples’ mileage does vary.)

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