Constructing puzzles is a quick way to easy riches and Lynn Lempel fattened her wallet with a nice payment from the NYT for the Monday, June 30 puzzle (answers.) It looked lucrative on paper but unfortunately she forgot to specify the currency for her found money. As of today, the South African RAND is worth 12.6 cents, the Italian lira is obsolete but the Maltese LIRA brings in $3.41, the Japanese YEN is worth less than a penny, and the Mexican PESO is about a dime.
Unless you forget whether MOSUL was in Iran or Iraq, this was a straightforward puzzle. The only awkward spot was 13 Down, "reasons for special ed." I suppose a special edition comes out when there's breaking news that Dewey Defeats Truman or something and you need to crank up the presses one more time. One needs to parse "ed" correctly as education or know that Iraq is the country in question to get that last letter.
This is the 24th Monday puzzle from Ms. Lempel out of 32 total. The more I learn about puzzles the more I admire early-week specialists who can make the simple seem smooth. I would have missed my favorite clue if I weren't writing this blog since I got "as well" just from the cross clues. The answer is TO BOOT which is a phrase I love and need to use more often to boot.
Here's a deep philosophical question. Can the upper half of Venus truly be said to be NUDE? Sure, she's disarmingly topless but I would have thought that nudity is an all or nothing affair. Am I nude from the neck up if I'm not wearing a hat?
I'll be adding a new post later on this weekend's diagramless puzzle by Mike Nothnagel. If you're a Times subscriber you can try it here. That will open the puzzle in Across Lite. You can print it as a diagramless or if you prefer you can convert it to a regular puzzle and solve it normally, but try the diagramless even if you've never done it before. Here's a tip that is published in the magazine: 1 Across starts in the fourth square from the left in the top row. Here's a tip that isn't mentioned in the magazine: the puzzle uses regular crossword symmetry. This is usually but not always the case for diagramless puzzles.