## Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Constructor: Jonah Kagan

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: FIBONACCI SERIES (33A: Mathematical sequence related to a pattern found in a 17-, 29-, 42- or 58-Across, informally) — those things have spirals, I guess, though not spirals that look like a Fibonaaci spiral, exactly.

Puzzle note: "When this puzzle is done, the 11 circled letters can be connected by a curved line to spell a two-word phrase appropriate to this puzzle's theme."

Word of the Day: GOLDEN RATIO (the circles spell this phrase) —

In mathematics and the arts, two quantities are in the golden ratio if the ratio of the sum of the quantities to the larger quantity is equal to the ratio of the larger quantity to the smaller one. The golden ratio is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.6180339887. (wikipedia)

GOLDEN SPIRAL = In geometry, a golden spiral is a logarithmic spiral whose growth factor b is related to φ, the golden ratio. Specifically, a golden spiral gets wider (or further from its origin) by a factor of φ for every quarter turn it makes.
• • •

Just didn't care about this one at all. I know that there are people who will marvel at it, but once I got to FIBONACCI SERIES, all I could think was a. ugh, how do you spell FIBONACCI?; b. it's a FIBONACCI ... something ... number? oh, SERIES, OK; and c. ugh, this is that "Da Vinci Code" thing ("The Da Vinci Code" being something else I care nothing about). I didn't even notice the note on the puzzle, or what the circles were supposed to be doing—they were random letter pairs, as far as I could tell. Wasn't til after I was finished that I noticed (before ever seeing the note) that the circles made a spiral spelling out GOLDEN RATIO. Not all spirals are golden (right?), so the connection between the theme answers and the mathematical concept is pretty loose, as far as I can tell. But I imagine math nerds (roughly half of crossword-dom) loved this, and why shouldn't they? It's imaginative. It did nothing for me, but that's just a matter of taste. I don't like sour cream. Some people do. More power to them. ("Sour cream" is my new shorthand for "puzzle that I don't like purely for matters of personal taste").

• 17A: Food with a heart (ARTICHOKE)
• 29A: Cephalopod known for its shell (NAUTILUS) — this took me the longest of all the theme answers, by far. I was thinking "cuttlefish" or "squid" ...
• 42A: Cochlea locale (INNER EAR)
• 58A: Van Gogh subject (SUNFLOWER)
By far the toughest part of the puzzle for me was the LATIN / LDR intersection. I had HUMAN at 23D: Homo sapiens, e.g. and then scrapped that when I finally put CDR in at 23A: Pres., e.g. (ugh, two "e.g." clues intersecting). Very rare that I stare at one blank square for any length of time on a Wednesday, but it took many seconds for me to figure out that "L." Also went with DOHS over DUHS (24D: Stupidity symbols). Clue fits DOHS much better. DUH tends to indicate something's obviousness / someone else's stupidity, but DOH is a symbol of one's own stupidity. Actually, I don't like "symbol" for EITHER one.

Bullets:
• 21A: Alvy's love interest in a Woody Allen film (ANNIE) — that film was, of course, "Dances with Wolves"
• 20A: Popular online lectures about ideas worth spreading (TED TALKS) — Wow. I know what these are, but I had No Idea they were well known enough to be a NYT answer. I Like ... but I am curious to see how widely known these talks are. Here's a good one that I use in my Comics course:

• 26A: Midsize Kia (OPTIMA) — Went ALTIMA at first. D'oh.
• 36D: "A Clockwork Orange" narrator (ALEX) — was certain it was ALEC. Had to hunt down that little error.
• 61A: Singer Bareilles with the 2007 top 10 hit "Love Song" (SARA) — all the SARAs in the world, and *that*'s the one you go with? Can't place the song. Let's find it ... hmm. I think I heard someone sing this on "Idol" once.

• 6D: They thought C-3PO was a god in "Return of the Jedi" (EWOKS) — Those little critters are about the most important thing to know about the "Star Wars" universe, crossword-wise, after LEIA and maybe ARTOO. DARTH VADER, HAN SOLO, and OOLA the alien dancing girl are also handy to know.
• 26D: Speaker of stupid syllables (OAF) — very clunky attempt to make sequential clue magic. The syllables aren't stupid; the words they make are.
• 37D: Glass behind a radio microphone (IRA) — "Glass" and "radio" in same clue = IRA. No longer tricky.
• 47D: Old-time crooner Julius (LA ROSA) — a Word of the Day, back in the day, so I remembered him ... kind of. It took me half the crosses for his name to finally pop into my head.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Anonymous

Anonymous

I'm guessing you like strawberry ice cream, because my 'sour cream' is strawberry ice cream.

Ted Talks not so popular around here. Nor is Sara whoever. I thought the movie was Dances with Lobsters.

Tobias Duncan

I dont know if I am more disappointed that Rex is not a fellow science nerd or that he dislikes sour cream. I guess the latter since I already knew he was not sciency.

Once again I have so much to say I just may pop. How perfectly was this puzzle created for me? Let me count the ways.
The other place I comment nearly every day is the TED site. If you think I am annoying here, you have no idea...
Artichokes are my favorite veg.
Fibonacci series in the grid? Wha??? So cool I cant even find words.
To top it all off, my buddy Eric Rosse produced the wonderful song by Sara Bareilles!
I tore this puzzle up!!!

Oh and calling the Fibonacci numbers "that Da Vinci Code thing"?If I did not love you so dearly, I would have something to say about that.

retired_chemist
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous

Math nerds will know .. It's a Fibonacci sequence, not series. They mean different things. Half of crossword-dom weeps.

retired_chemist
This comment has been removed by the author.
CY

"Not all spirals are golden (right?), so the connection between the theme answers and the mathematical concept is pretty loose, as far as I can tell."

"...it looked like it was pretty far from a golden spiral."

It's a lot closer than you guys realize. It's actually a carefully constructed Fibonacci spiral (cf. the diagrams on the sidebar of that page). Count the squares on the diagonals: you'll see that they correspond to the first few terms of the Fibonacci series: O-I = 1; I-T = 1; T-A = 2; R-N = 3; E-D = 5; L-O = 8. A Fibonacci spiral is an approximation of the golden spiral. You could argue that using a Fibonacci spiral as a stand-in for a golden spiral is a bit of a cop-out, but then again, Fibonacci spirals conveniently involve integers; hence can be drawn into a crossword grid (unlike a true golden spiral).

Overall, I thought this theme was enjoyably clever.

retired_chemist

Loved it. Right on, as we geriatric nerds say. Remarkable range of answers and a nice spiral. I'm not quite nerdy enough to measure, but at first glance I thought it was kinda far from a golden spiral. On second glance, maybe not so bad. Pretty good, actually. One of you übernerds please measure.

Last entry was the L in LATIN. Did anyone else have FDR for Pres., e.g. (23A)? FAT-IN for homo sapiens? Commentary on American dietary habits, I suppose....

Never heard of TED TALKS. Ever. But the crosses were definitive.

LOGIA - totally new. Must remember.

MWAH - totally sucked. Must forget.

Thank you, thank you, Mr. Kagan. More please.

retired_chemist

@ CY the übernerd - my hero!

CY

@retired_chemist: I blush!

@Anonymous (1:29):
"Math nerds will know .. It's a Fibonacci sequence, not series. They mean different things. Half of crossword-dom weeps."

Oh, the cluemaker was careful to cover himself. FIBONACCI SERIES is a "[m]athematical sequence related to a pattern found in a 17-, 29-, 42- or 58-Across, informally". Strict mathematical formality, alas, must bow before the exigencies of a 15 x 15 grid.

Full disclosure: I FAILED calculus second semester of my freshman year. Math intimidates and taunts me, mocks me, makes me feel insecure, helpless, stupid. That said, I have enormous respect and admiration for those who understand and enjoy it. And, I absolutely LOVED this puzzle. Theme uniquity (a word that I believe I just made up) and construction were super(b), and the cluing was just tough enough to make it feel almost Thursday-ish. Bravo!

If any of you want to feel like I do, try reading the Wikipedia entry on Fibonacci numbers. I've tried several times to tackle it in the past. It starts off simple enough, and then rapidly progresses into a language that I will never understand, yet marvel at. I've half thought about ordering one of those DVDs advertised in the Sunday NYT, lectures by well-known/respected professors, in order to better understand the beauty of calculus in everyday life. I worry that I will have nightmares.....

CY

"Did anyone else have FDR for Pres., e.g. (23A)?"

Yeah, I tried that too, albeit reluctantly (FDR didn't really fit the clue Pres., e.g. and FATIN made no sense at all). Took me a while to think of LATIN, even with the ATIN. Still don't like the abbreviation "ldr.", probably the worst clue in the puzzle, imo, although I didn't know all of the pop culture ones.

"MWAH - totally sucked."

Rather aptly put (although I didn't mind the clue myself).

andrea carla mwahchaels

what???????!!!!!!
MWAH I think is the best answer in a puzzle ever!!!!!

I totally have no idea who FIBONACCI is nor the GOLDENRULE, etc. but wildly appreciated this puzzle!!!

Loved the stuff in the grid...NOOGIE, MILIEU, ARTICHOKE, IOLANI, not to mention learning NAUTILUS wasn't just a workout machine...

I had "THATSWHY!" for "Because I felt like it", which I like more than NOREASON...so that screwed me up for a bit.

And despite wordoftheday and reading all about Arthur Godfrey being a prick to LAROSA I still had LAROmA/mARA for half a sec.

Jonah, ITSFUN! MWAH!!!!!

PS I put sourcream on EVERYTHING! Used to order baked potatoes just as an excuse to have a side of sourcream. I had bananas and sourcream for lunch yesterday!

Anonymous

"those things have spirals, I guess, though not spirals that look like a Fibonaaci spiral, exactly."

Half-right, which isn't half-bad for someone who doesn't care about the Fibonacci series or golden ratio. Sunflowers actually do have Fibonacci spirals -- really cool ones actually. If you look carefully at a sunflower, you can see that its seeds form spirals in both directions (clockwise and counterclockwise). The number of seeds in corresponding spirals are found in approximately golden ratio to each other.

But the nautilus shell is a logarithmic spiral, not a golden one.

Cool idea for a theme, but it's stuck in an unfortunate no man's land: the math nerds who would ostensibly love it will scrutinize it and find its faults (see first paragraph), and the Rex Parkers of the world won't care at all.

chefwen

Said to my husband "don't think I can do this one, it's all about math" I can't add 2 + 2 without a calculator. He said "give it a shot you may be surprised." Finished this puppy without a Google. Yeah me! Wouldn't know a FIBONACCI SERIES if it bit me in the ass. Got it all with downs.

Loved 43D NOOGIE and 54D MWAH, I send one of those each to Jonah Kagan. Thanks for a fun Wednesday workout.

syndy

how cool was this puzzle! how could you not love it! the golden ratio -the fibonacci sequence tore through it until the sw corner didn't know larosa or the sara girl and had to keep trying letters til my pencil danced but was so happy that I got fibonacci off of nautilus and the clue I was smiling enough for me and Mr. pencil!but then I'm a fan of the sour cream too!Johan Kagan right on!

protege01

I had FIB and immediately started to put in FIBONACCI SEQUENCE. But it of course didn't fit. Not sure if sequence and series are interchangeable but I think most people refer to it as a sequence not series.

Other than that though I liked it. Was actually surprised to see it rated at medium-challenging since I really didn't struggle as much as I usually do.

Got really tripped up by MWAH which I though was MUAH. And the NW clues weren't much help but other than that it was good.

chefbea

@jaxinLA saw your question from last night. If you e-mail me I will send you Quilter!'s e-mail address.

Haven't done puzzle yet..too early

kjones

I too was annoyed that they used "series" when obviously it is supposed to be "sequence" in order to be technically correct in the mathematical sense. But then I took a look at the wikipedia page there are a few instance in the text where the authors use the word series, just to piss me off I'm sure. Since wikipedia is the ultimate authority on everything, I have no recourse but to accept this usage of the word series... and anyway in common usage sequence and series mean the same thing --- otherwise we'd have to add up those scores of all seven games to find out who wins the World Series.

Rex, I'm sorry the first thing you think of when you see Fibonacci numbers is the Da Vinci Code, but given that the first thing I think of is "proof by induction", I imagine that sentiment might well be reciprocated. Anyway Fibonacci numbers are a droplet of pure awesome.

Finally, I'll just comment that while I very much enjoyed the theme, I think many parts of the fill were pretty kludgy.

Post-Finally: If you haven't watched TED Talks, you should check some out. They're awesome. The epitome of the promise of the world-wide-interwebs. Glad to see them appear.

DJG

I'm 65% math nerd (the other 35% being super stud), and I didn't like this one. It just wasn't fun. Too much going on theme-wise, not enough enjoyable fill.

I applaud the effort, but it didn't work for me.

Constructor Destructor

I didn't read the note since I like to discover the theme, not be told what it is. The LATIN/LDR crossing was my last square, and the spiral pattern helped me figure it out. Nice AHA in this puzzle built for mathletes (though the end of the 33A clue was clearly covering its own a\$\$).

I thought the theme too clever by half and the grid too cut off by black squares, but it's more forgivable in a puzzle with 11 triply checked letters. The clues scream "I'm young!" and the grid tells me IT'S FUN (a made-up phrase to my INNEREAR), but the best part is an answer like TEDTALKS, which proves that the editor isn't *completely* out of touch (or at least has constructors/assistants who make it seem like he isn't).

The Bard

The Merchant of Venice > Act I, scene I

ANTONIO: I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano;
A stage where every man must play a part,

GRATIANO: Let me play the fool:
With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come,
And let my liver rather heat with wine
Than my heart cool with mortifying groans.
Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
Sleep when he wakes and creep into the jaundice
By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio--
I love thee, and it is my love that speaks--
There are a sort of men whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
And do a wilful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dress'd in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
As who should say 'I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips let no dog bark!'
O my Antonio, I do know of these
That therefore only are reputed wise
For saying nothing; when, I am very sure,
If they should speak, would almost damn those ears,
Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools.
I'll tell thee more of this another time:
But fish not, with this melancholy bait,
For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.
Come, good Lorenzo. Fare ye well awhile:
I'll end my exhortation after dinner.

CFXK

You can pick up some sour cream at the Stop and Shop at the intersection of Routes 9 and 30 in Natick

retired_chemist

Truth table hypothesis:

________Love MWAH______Hate MWAH

Nerd________F_____________T

Not nerd____T_____________F

Orange

I was horrified by sour cream until I was at least 25 years old. And then? I discovered it was delicious. Num, num, num.

My mind has not been sullied by "The Da Vinci Code" and I'm not mathy enough to criticize the theme on technical grounds, so I liked the theme.

efrex

Other than getting tripped up in the proper-noun/crosswordese-heavy SE (LAROSA/IOLANI, EERO/SARA), I enjoyed tremendously. Didn't remember which consontant was doubled in Fibonacci, so it took a while to finish 33A despite figuring it out pretty quickly. No problems whatsoever with MWAH, loved seeing TEDTALKS (one of my other favorite sites out there on the intertubes), and the clue for NOOGIE was the Best Clue Ever as far as I'm concerned.

Like many others, had to run through the alphabet to get the LATIN/LDR cross. Only other problem spot: wanted EVE for EEN and SUB for SCI, but the circled letter sub-theme sorted that out for me.

This felt more Thursday than Wednesday for me, but this nerd won't complain. Bravo, Mr. Kagan!

tptsteve

This was smack dab in my wheelhouse. Had my 5th grade daughter not done her math fair project on "Fibonacci in nature" about 6 weeks ago, I'd be singing a different tune today, but she did, so I'm not.

Lots of good stuff in addition to the theme entries too.

Great Wednesday puzzle!

jesser

I can save a lot of time today. Please see Rex's first sentence and Chefwen's first paragraph. Except I don't have a husband. That's not allowed. But my ex was a math wizard who would have either loved or hated this, depending. By the comments, I'm left unsure.

While I like MWAH, I've never seen it spelled that way online. I always see MuAH. That did not hold me up, thanks to Sweet Vincent.

Oxentiv! (What you offer the poor beast to get him to help plow that last acre) -- jesser

dk

Forget the math this puzzle is a homage to suburbia. What with SEDAN, EGGOS, RAGU, AHOY (as in Chips) and the most assessable Woody Allen or Broadway show ANNIE.

Ok forget the above and note the ceremonial entry to IOLANI Palace is with a Conch shell. More of a bwah than MWAH but close enough. I will also look into POLLEN as its structure may be described via Fibonacci sequences or series.

Overall a fine Wednesday. We have themes that test our knowledge of sports, 60's TV shows, etc. So why not a puzzle on the golden spiral.

And what ever happen to poetic license. Sequence, series sure they are different but this is a puzzle not a dissertation.

Andrea and I had a fine conversation on the nature and difficulty of theme construction. To that end this puzzle is over the top. A couple of clunkers for fill like LDR, OPE and LATIN. But when you consider where Leonardo of PISA lived even LATIN makes sense. Hmmm let us look at the structure of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

*** (3 Stars) If only this puzzle had eddy in the grid.

M07S

At first I was like the little engine that COULDN'T...I DON'T think I can, I DON'T think I can. Then, suddenly, it fell like a house of cards. Beautiful puzzle. I stand in awe of the mind that can pull all the elements of this puzzle together. IMHO: quitcher bitchin about the small stuff and realize the cleverness of the entire construct.

evil doug

"But I imagine math nerds (roughly half of crossword-dom) loved this...."

And they're also more shameless self-promoters than any other group here, Michael. I had hoped to get posted quickly enough to beg all nerds subsequent to the first to post "I absolutely loved this", or "right in my wheelhouse", or "as a mathematician, I....", or "...annoyed that they used 'series' when obviously it is supposed to be 'sequence' in order to be technically correct in the mathematical sense" (and that doesn't even include the one whose Fifth! Grade! Daughter! is tackling this esoteric topic when she could be doing something useful like beating up sissies) to simply say "ditto" or perhaps even (dream big, Evil) not post their quasi-scientific and redundant musings at all.

Too late. The flood has begun. Batten down the hatches and prepare to be inundated with Scientific American wannabees.

Evil

David

I liked the puzzle just fine, didn't know (and still don't understand) what a Fibonacci Series is, but fortunately I've seen the term enough times that I got the answer easily. Still, I guess I didn't get the "theme", as I didn't realize until reading Rex's comments that ARTICHOKE, SUNFLOWER, et al were "theme" answers. So that's my disconnect, and I guess it's a pretty big one.

It has been nice to see more challenging puzzles thus far this week, after some really easy Mon-Wed (Thurs. too)entries of late.

Loved the NOOGIE clue too!!

quilter1

I'm with Chefwen as far as math is concerned--when I run out of fingers and toes I'm in trouble. Yet, sewing involves math and I do OK there. Also I can add columns better horizontally than vertically. Hmmm, I think it is a brain thing. Did not love or hate this puzzle. I say MWAH frequently over the phone to the grands and have never seen it spelled. Happy day, folks.

Kurt

@Evil Doug

Welcome back, my friend.

Now isn't there some middle ground between your "shameless, self-promoting math nerd" and everyone else? How about well-balanced geezer math nerds who feel no need to post on "their quasi-scientific musings" ... those who simply enjoyed the puzzle.

Count me in that group. For me, this was the best Wednesday puzzle in memory. I've studied Fibonacci Sequences (or Series, I'm not that picky) and find them fascinating. And artichoke, nautilus, inner ear and sunflower and close enough for me. And then the Golden Spiral. WOW!

I'm not a Scientific wannabee but I truly loved this puzzle.

Kurt

Make that Scientific American wannabe. I got in a hurry.

quilter1

@JaxinLA: just saw your comment of yesterday. We will actually be making three round trips to LA this summer so having coffee does not seem out of the question. Sadly, my son and DIL's coffee shop is for sale. But there are others. I'll be in touch on this.

kjones

Dear Evil Doug,

Thanks for taking a big dump on my day.

I apologize if my quasi-scientific musings don't meet your standards for originality, but you'll be happy to know that I've been justly chastised. Oh wait, being crass and insulting, and whining that other's aren't quite as cool as your are on an online forum isn't particularly original either, is it?

Sincerely,
Scientific American Wannabe.

..why, why do I always have to take the bait?

Arundel

Hmm. As a once very math-resistant student, what I know of the FIBONACCI onstant/number/sequence comes from the Car Talk Brothers. I've never even heard of TEDTALKS, and the word LOGIA is completely new to me. I still thought this was a very satisfactory Wednesday.

As far as I'm concerned, if there's nothing to wonder over or learn from, the puzzle is just too damn easy to be fun.

jackj

Easy enough to solve and even a few fun entries, NOOGIE, PROLE, LATIN.

No doubt an orgasmic treat for the math geeks but a simplistic, sophomoric presentation has been forced on the rest of the solving world.

A five air kiss rating for this one.

MWAH, MWAH, MWAH, MWAH, MWAH.

Lindsay

Well, Dan Brown's father gave me a D- in high school trigonometry. So this was not on my wavelength. At all.

Never heard of Fibonacci; needed all the crosses. Although I did manage to fill in the letters correctly.

Not so lucky in the Old Time Crooner corner. Ended up with kAROlA (why not?) crossing IOkANI (doesn't Hawaiian have lots of Ks?) crossing lARA (why not?).

Ick.

John V

Yep, multi postings for this early in the day. I'd have been in earlier, save for an 8:00 appointment with the periodontist. He and I did not discuss Fibonacci.

Like @Rex, stared at 23D/A for WAY too long, but it finally fell.

Had fun with this one, which felt more like a challenging Tuesday to this semi-math nerd software engineer.

Captcha bramanes: progeny of Johannenness, I suppose.

Two Ponies

Too bad I had to have this explained to me. Now that I understand I am amazed.
I only remember golden rectangle from art appreciation and a Disney educational film called Donald in Mathemagic Land.
Lots of stuff I've never heard of today. Prole? Ted Talks?
Mwah is terrific.
Genius puzzle that was lost on me but still fun to solve.

Bob Kerfuffle

I loved it (and, FWIW, also love sour cream; never read nor watched “The Da Vinci Code.") Quite mathy enough to impress a dropout like me.

When I first looked at the grid, I noted how it was divided into three sections connected by single openings at blocks 34 & 37. Could there be a connection to 29 A, perhaps a chambered NAUTILUS?

Also, I sensed a minor sub-theme at the other end of the class ranking with OAF, NOOGIE, NO REASON, DUHS, and SNEERS.

Karen

Hated this puzzle. Never heard of this guy Fibonacci. Also, where the heck did ira come from? It's not listed in Dictionary.com as the glass behind a radio microphone.

Ira Glass

@Karen - I have my own Wikipedia entry:

Ira Glass (born March 3, 1959) is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.

retired_chemist

@ Karen - capitalize it. Ira Glass. If that was a joke, sorry but it was too subtle for me.

miriam b

At lunch time, having mixed bean soup followed by strawberries with sour cream.

Loved this puzzle, thougb I do consider it non-PC to call a blue-colla worker a PROLE. It just sounds condesceding. CTTOI, the blue-collar workers I encounter most often (plumber, electrician, etc,) make more money than I ever did.

TEDTALKS? Not around here.

Anonymous

I haven't read all of the comments, but the Fibonacci sequence is made up of numbers, each of which is a series.

pizzatheorem

Like math and really liked this puzzle so I was disappointed in myself for not finishing it cleanly. The southeast was natique for me with IOLANA, LAROSA and SARA all connecting. MWAH is the most outrageous fill I've ever seen and I loved NOOGIE and TEDTALKS. Great theme density (something I would have despised if the theme had been actors or writers) with FIBONACCISERIES, INNEREAR, SUNFLOWER, NAUTILUS, ARTICHOKE and a golden spiral. Would have liked a symmetrical entry where SARA was, to match PISA.

Jonah

Hey everybody,

Thanks so much for all the love and hate! All of it is justified.

Yes, I know it should be SEQUENCE, but the grid is 15x15 so I had to make the sacrifice and hope that not too many people would notice. Unfortunately, when we used this puzzle at the Brown University Crossword Tournament, two TAs for a number theory course took up arms against the inaccuracy, hence the "informally" in the clue.

I know it's not completely mathematically sound, but I made the puzzle because I think the connection between all the different theme elements is awesome, and I wanted to put it in a crossword. As somebody pointed out, the circles in the spiral are actually arranged in the correct proportions according to the Fibonacci sequence (count the squares!).

To all the mathematicians, I apologize for my lack of rigor. To all those who had no idea what this puzzle was about, I apologize as well, but I hope you learned something cool. To everybody else, I hope you enjoyed it, and I offer you as a bonus my rejected clue for 17-Across:

"Eat one's heart out?"

Matthew G.

Definitely challenging for a Wednesday. Hardest part for me was the SE, where I'd never heard of SARA Bareilles, Julius LA ROSA or Danny AINGE, and couldn't remember how to spell IOLANI. Also struggled horribly with that LATIN/LDR crossing. Is "LDR" really a valid abbreviation that ever gets, you know, used anywhere? Never heard of TED TALKS, either.

The theme didn't really present any difficulty, including NAUTILUS, which I knew and enjoyed as an answer. The challenge today came mostly from unfamiliar proper names.

Karen Munson

My apologies to Ira Glass for not having heard of him before. Mea culpa.

dk

Jonah, thank you. Your puzzle is wonderful but you should have used mathematicians from Pomona College. They are much more informal

Evil Doug, I know you are engaging in attention seeking behavior like the rest of us but I have to say your approach is... so much fun.

@karen, IRA put Rex on the radio, did he not.

Back to developing log linear models - chips AHOY

miriam b

@Jonah: I prefer your rejected clue. "Food with a heart" sounds carnivorous, and I don't usually go there, so it wasn't entirely breakfast-worthy.

FWIW,I had a banana, some pomegranate juice, a bunch of vitamins, a toasted slice of homemade Hungarian potato bread with caraway, some Manchego, and finally black coffee enjoyed while solving your excellent puzzle.

Shamik

Totally meh.

syndy

1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 55 89 144 233 etc.

Paula

I think I read all comments and my "puzzlements" were answered except for who,what, when/ why connection between ldr and Pres., e.g. ? Couldn't find answer on Google or explanation in crossword tracker.
@Rex love your blog (+ all these comments) and look forward to it daily. The TED talk you featured was genius!
Thank you

MWAH makes its NYTPuz debut today. And it passed thru the straits of TRex unscathed.

Could conceivably do a whole puz chock full of weird sounds. Breaking wind would hafta be a must to include. But how to express that just right in crosswordese? PFFT and SSSS are out; they've already been milked by other classic clues.

I like math OK. Thumbs up. MWAH is my new word for puz themes I like that 31 didn't like "just because". (It was either that or NOOGIE.)

Sparky

Had SERIES but only the ___ON_CCI as 26,27,28D eluded me. Brain stuck on ass for OAF. Natick at ALIG-/AD-N.

I saw the spirals and went with that. I failed college algebra. When there is something in a puzzle that is completly off my chart I just soldier on and get what I can do done. Pretty pictures in my head. Was thinking fo the swirls in Starry Night but SUNFLOWER fit.

TEDTALKS new to me but will check more out in the future. Thanks @Rex. The example Lincoln-Penny-Marshall-Plan-Nine very close to form of yesterday's puzzle.

@Quilter1. Lovey baby quilt.

Sparky

So, a horse walks into a bar and says "Gimme a drink." The bartender serves him and says "Why the long face?"

Shaggy Dog stories were very poppular in the 50s. I knew a ton of them. Have a good day.

william e emba

I am in the math nerd who did not like it camp. I'm willing to let FIBONACCI SERIES [sic] go by--right or wrong, it is in the language (besides, sequence was in the clue, MWAH hah hah)--but the list of four examples is the kind of mathematical popularization I simply cannot stand. Just random facts, so to speak, and not any real point.

Feynman in his Surely You're Joking book describes how he kept blowing his top over possible introductory science books that began making a deal about "energy". "Energy makes it go!" and the like were attached to instances where the phrase made sense, but at no point was it possible to discern if the authors even knew what the word "energy" meant, let alone did the students learn anything except one new buzzword.

I realize this is only a crossword puzzle, and I believe Jonah Kagan (and Will Shortz too) "get" the theme. But still, it just feels like a showoff theme that's not a theme.

Besides, the GOLDEN RATIO has been done mathematically accurately in a puzzle before. See "Implicit Proof" in The Mathematical Intelligencer vol 26#2 (2004), pp 68-69 for a puzzle that on completion gives you instructions for how to physically use the puzzle to prove the golden ratio is irrational! As a hint, the puzzle is 21x13 (two consecutive numbers from the Fibonacci sequence).

For better or worse, half the cluing is for the high end math/science geek, so the puzzle is simply impossible for most people.

(I cannot tell if this link is usable to the outside world--here we have a subscription, but maybe the puzzles are freebies?)

TimJim

Yuk.

gigbatters

Are you kidding? Nothing about the godawful MWAH? I wanna punch Jonah Kagan in the cochlea for that lameness.

Anonymous

I'm also in the, "What does 'LDR' and 'Pres., e.g.' have to do with each other?" camp.

Anyone kind enough to explain for the un-enlightened?

Paula

P.S. @Jonah great job :-)IMO

retired_chemist

@ anon 12:34 - LDR for leader, pres., e.g. for president.

Matthew G.

I eventually got LDR correct by figuring out that it was an abbreviation of "leader." But I take the confusion of several others here as further evidence to fuel my doubts that this is a "real" abbreviation that gets used in the language. LDR is an abbreviation for "leader" the way that -- I dunno -- WTR is an abbreviation for "water." It gets the job done, but has it earned any common currency?

Not trying to harp needlessly -- I liked much of this puzzle. But I don't buy LDR as a crossworthy abbreviation.

I didn't mind MWAH. But then, I know a few people who regularly use that exact word to communicate an air-kiss via e-mail, letters, etc., so I didn't even question it.

Tom S.

Have no idea what a "Ted Talks" is. Something Ted Turner does with his mouth? Maybe it's before my time. Loved the Ira Glass clue, though.

CoffeeLvr

I had trouble in the same areas as many others: the L needed in the circle at square 23 saved me there, but truly lost in the south east corner. So, a DNF on a Wednesday. I will be interested the times/ratings from SanFranMan.

I like that puzzles have themes that appeal to people from a variety of backgrounds and enthusiasms. I would hate for them to all be sports and opera, personally.

POLLEN is so seasonally appropriate, sniff, sniff, sniff.

I love the beauty of spirals in nature, despite knowing nothing of the math behind them, so the mental images here were the best part for me.

pizzatheorem

I think it sometimes happens in crossword puzzles that we get less than perfect abbreviations but I'd take an inferrable LDR over an arcane acronym any day.

pizzatheorem
This comment has been removed by the author.
pizzatheorem

For those of you who don't know TED talks:

http://www.ted.com/talks

Easily digestible and widely varied mini-talks by people of note, some of them quite famous.

william e emba

I don't know if LDR (=leader) gets "used" in the language or not, but it is in RH and W3I, and it wasn't all that challenging to figure out. Acceptable, if not interesting. I suspect LDR may have had its day in the sun and has disappeared. Either that, or it was one of those Woosterisms that made reading Wodehouse so over the top charming.

But, yes, it is kind of clumsy, considering that LDR also stands for Long Distance Relationship.

On the other hand, it could have been a lot lot worse. Immediately after LDR, the W3I lists "ldry". Meaning "laundry".

Gil.I.Pollas

I couldn't even understand the GOLDEN RATIO or the Golden Spiral explanation. I even have a hard time figuring out a 20% tip at a restaurant.
Best part today was the write-up,MWAH (I do lots of those), Jonah stopping by and ED's comments.
@REX try Mascarpone. It's sweeter and creamy.
@Miriam b: I could eat Manchego every day of my life...

joho

Wow, lots of comments already which means this puzzle has stirred up the blog, love it!

I also loved that this proved to me that I can come up with an answer that makes absolutely no sense to me i.e.FIBONACCISERIES. So that means that I must be brilliant!

All the mathematical stuff is over my head but I still enjoyed the puzzle. Kudos to Jonah and thanks for stopping by!

chefbea

Absolutely hated the puzzle. Never heard of fibonacciseries. Still have no clue what it means or what is has to do with artichokes, nautilus inner ear or sun flower???

I do love artichokes and sun flowers.

Dont have time to read all 75 posts so will someone e-mail me and 'splain the whole thing to me? Thanx

mexgirl

If you haven't seen a Ted Talk, you should start right away.
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/scott_kim_takes_apart_the_art_of_puzzles.html

Anonymous

Showed this one to my Algebra II students who took a series/sequence test yesterday. Disappointed it was used incorrectly, though.

Jace Harker

When I picked the puzzle up this morning, I read the puzzle note, and immediately, without filling in a single clue, I was 95% sure that the circled letters were going to be "GOLDEN RATIO". Not to brag or anything. And yes, I'm a science nerd.

The other theme clues followed easily, although I forgot how to spell FIBONACCI and had a SERIES/SEQUENCE moment. Couldn't figure out NAUTILUS without some crosses, that was the toughest of the bunch.

The SE was the hardest corner for me, as I knew none of the proper names or place names. Plus, "MWAH"? Really? Worst. Answer. Ever.

Other than that, great Wednesday puzzle!

Now off to lunch...

Anonymous

Loved MWAH. Other good ones: LOGIA, REPARTEE, PROLE.

Despite NPR, so never heard of Ira Glass. Got the answer, but didn't know what it meant.

PuzzleNut

Great puzzle, IMO, and glad to see Jonah stop by. I was an aspiring math nerd who finally sold out and studied engineering. Unfortunately, that was so long ago that I can't remember a series from a sequence (although I do recall the golden ratio).
Had alTIMA for OPTIMA and had no idea on LOGIA (but do know LOGGIA, which is completely unrelated). Only read the first two words for the Annie clue (Alvy's love) and knew it right away. I guess on a Saturday the rest of the clue wouldn't have been given.
Put me in the "don't like MWAH" camp, as well as the "don't like sour cream" camp.

jberg

I did enjoy it, and I'm not a math nerd any longer (see below); but I had a few quibbles.

Is an artichoke really a spiral? I don't have one on hand at the moment, but I think the leaves are arranged in something more like concentric circles. Not that I noticed that part of the theme, anyway - I knew what a fibonacci sequence was once, even knew that it ought to be sequence, but I can't remember anymore. (Well, someone supplied the opening items above, which made me remember: every numbber is the sum of the two number immediately preceding it). BTW, if you say it out loud you realize it has to be the C that is doubled.

Spirals, huh? I'd have enjoyed it more if I knew.

Anyway, the theme was fine, but I thought some of the fill clued a little too loosely. at 34D, OPE is a verb, so should be in the past tense-which would be ugly-to agree with barred. And ATRA (50D) is not a brand of razor, it's a model of a particular brand (Schick or Gillette, I forget which).

Somehow, I got LATIN/LDR right off. ON the other hand, MWAY/SARA had me stumped - I'd never have got it without the aid of dependable EERO.

I watched a TED TALD video once; it was Arianna Huffington saying that if everyone got enough sleep, it would be a better world. Funny, but it didn't inspire me to go back.

Anonymous

Dances with Wolves???? Don't you mean Annie Hall, Rex? Guess that was a joke?

JenCT

@Constructor Destructor: mathletes - good one!

@Rex: great writeup.

I remember my Mom listening to Julius LAROSA.

Didn't know IOLANI, PROLE, or TEDTALKS.

I make a great sour cream fruit dip.

william e emba

There's an excellent web page devoted to all things FIBONACCI. It includes pictures of ARTICHOKEs with the distinctive Fibonacci spiral clearly visible. And if the picture isn't good enough, well, heck, buy one and peel the leaves off, one at a time.

0,1,1,2,3 and out!

Anonymous

I've never left a comment before, but feel compelled -- to those who have never viewed a TED Talk before, you must! They demonstrate the best the web has to offer. Easy to find, at: www.ted.com (and no, I'm not affiliated with TED in any way, tho it would be an honor to be)

JenCT

Neville

I had an eerily similar puzzle for a puzzle that was rejected (not by WS) last year. My concept had FIBONACCI spelled out in boxes 1,2,3,5,8,13,etc. - the other theme answers were similar.

Won't lie - the use of SERIES really dropped the value of this puzzle for me. :(

I do like the spiral proportions, though, even if they gave the theme away. And I much prefer your 17a. clue, Jonah.

1. The spiral's proportions.

santafefran

Put me in the camp of loved it even though I am not a math nerd. ITS FUN!

As did others, knew it was fibonacci but couldn't quite throw the consonants down right the first time. Also stalled on FDR; agree LDR for leader is lame but hey, worth it for the rest of the puzzle.

Johnny Hodges

Learned a new word: LOGIA.
I'll always associate it with Eggos. Jesus said "Blessed are they that leggo thy EGGOS.

1a. STEM signals that this puzzle will appeal to math nerds.

50% are math nerds? I'd like to see a Venn diagram of crossworddom.
What percentage of crossworddom are both musicians and math nerds? What percentage are neither? And how many are literature-lovers? What about half-mad anagrammers?

chefbea

Sfingi

Am a NYS certified math teacher who dislikes sour cream, okra and peppers. EGGOS are a far cry from waffles.

Got FIBONACCI and LA ROSA right away. Julius ("Julie") La Rosa is a Sicilian American who was fired on air (radio) by Arthur Godfrey because he moonlighted (moonlit?) and dated a fellow worker. Godfrey announced LaRosa was about to sing his swan song! He's 80, has been a DJ, and performs occasionally. I like "Eh, cumpari," a Snitzelbank type song about musical instruments.

@Chefbea - It's a series of numbers that is found in nature. In the sunflower, it is more obvious, counting pieces from the center. In the artichoke, or even cauliflower, cut across the top, not through, and you'll see the arrangement. If you're lucky enough to get a chambered nautilus, that is the best. this time, slice sideways.

@GIPOLAS - do 10%, then double it. If you can't do that, it's psychological and we'll work on that. Relax all the muscles in your body starting at the fingers...

Was afraid that "blue-collar" was going to be dROnE, but calmed down
when it was the Brit, PROLE.

So I when finished, I looked at 3 words I didn't know: LOGIA, TEDTALKS and AINGE (sports). I should have known the first. It means words in Greek, but something else in Japanese Manga. TED TALKS sounds interesting.

Thanx, Kagan, for educating me.

Gil.I.Pollas

Sfingi:
Thank you. My problem though is when the bill is \$86.09.

PIX

Any puzzle with a math or science theme is a good puzzle. The Times has a complete Science section on Tuesdays; it seems that Tuesday Science Section level material is fair game for the puzzle and there should be more of it.

Tobias Duncan

@Jberg That Arianna Huffington talk was bollocks.
try this one.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_dangerous_memes.html

jberg

Thanks, @william e emba, I guess I was wrong about the artichokes!

Noam D. Elkies

I was delighted both by the theme and by much of the incidental fill (and even happened to know one of the happily few bits of pap-culture detritus because one of our students recently mentioned another song by this 61A:SARA singer as a rare example of 11/4 time in popular song — though to my ears it's just a few 3/4 bars interspersed in an otherwise familiar 4/4). I don't even mind "series" instead of "sequence" in 33A. And FWIW Fibonacci's original bunny puzzle works just as well with the "partial sums" of the series 1+1+2+3+5+8+13+...

Thanks to Wm.Emba for the link to "Implicit Proof", which I'd not seen before. (Googling "implicit proof" and "kevin wald" takes you to URL's from which you might download the puzzle and solution without paying an exorbitant fee.) Yes, that puzzle wouldn't fly in the NYTimes... I think I also saw a more recent Fibonacci-themed puzzle in the Intelligencer(?) that was 9 by 15 with "golden rectangle" as one entry, but I cannot locate it now — any idea?

NDE

Gil.I.Pollas

Tobias Duncan:
That was incredible.
I had never heard of the TED site before. Thanks for converting me!

michael

While doing this puzzle I had the following thoughts:

(1) I really think is a clever, wonderful puzzle.

(2) People uninterested in math might not think this a clever, wonderful puzzle.

(3) Rex is uninterested in math.

(4) Rex is not going to think this is a clever, wonderful puzzle.

william e emba

NDE:

I tried to find a free link earlier and failed. I tried now again and failed again, but this time confirmed that "Implicit Proof" was for sale at a--you said exorbitant--remarkable price: \$34. Why, that's the 9th FIBONACCI number, and the grid is 21x13, and 21+13=34. Springer is obviously doing everyone a favor. (Come on, think like Ramanujan, not like Hardy.)

Rather lamely, the free "abstract" consists of all the clues, and the answer is also available for free as an "abstract".

Kevin Wald (whom we saw in the NYT with that ultraweird 9/9/10 puzzle where the shapes of the black squares were part of the clues) has a large collection of his highly bizarre puzzles on his webpage. But not this one, nor his other Intelligencer puzzle (the ∞x13 cryptic). (The journal can be searched for "crossword" on its on-line search. The smaller puzzles are entirely free, as they fit inside the abstract.)

Sfingi

@Gilipollas - I guess I round it first, so they get a little more. But, I admit I can do a 20% to the mil in my head. Or you could round it up, take 10%, double it, then subtract the difference between 18 and 20 - (now it's getting too complicated! Mathy people do all of these, and, I admit, can be very annoying. I also told my students that as soon as they passed the GED, they could forget about it as I forgot about how to pass the Red Cross swimming test.
As long as you aren't the check out at any store I go to, I won't be your Life Saver.

mac

I enjoyed this puzzle, even though I'm not mathy either. Happy to learn all the little details of this theme, could never have figured it out myself.

This afternoon I picked up and checked out two large artichokes. No similarity to the nautilus or any shape mentioned today. Circles. I also know that from carefully cutting the barby tips off the leaves. You go from row to row, nothing continuous about it.

Mwah is excellent, probably my favorite word in the puzzle, but I do have a friend who says it when she means to say: "not great, soso".

mac

P.S. LaRosa is a perfect example of what I learn from this blog! Never saw, heard or read of the guy, but there was a serious discussion of his experience on this site, and I remembered.

CY

@mac: Your friend is thinking of meh.

cody.riggs

Ok,I love reading this blog, and I've developed quite an affection for our venerable host, whom I've never met. But he Really needs to expand his horizons. As soon as I figured out this puzzle's theme (which I find brilliant) I thought "Rex is going to pooh-pooh this one".

I mean Really....the Fibonacci sequence is something every educated person should be familiar with. It is integral to biology. What has happened to the concept of a "Renaissance Man" these days? I'm trying to recall the essay from about 100 years ago, calling on the carpet the "false dichotomy" of science vs. the humanities..."Two Worlds" it was...arrgh can't remember the author's name...White? I did a Google search and all I get is video game palaver...

The thing Rex should have complained about was that Awful "Mwah" in the SE, Not the theme.

And ALL the theme answers Do demonstrate the fibonacci sequence, so criticism of theme consistency is unfounded. Mario Livio wrote an excellent book, "Phi" about this concept. It is totally accessible, even to you non "math" people.

Rex, Please stop dissing puzzles with "scientific" themes. It's like criticizing Shakespeare: it says more about your narrow-mindedness than, well, Shakespeare. The golden ratio is a beautiful concept and shouldn't be dismissed offhand.

There were things to criticize in this puzzle. The thematic execution was Not one of them.

By the way, I've found every one of the puzzles constructed by Michael Sharp to be excellent in all respects.

Portland, Ore.

cody.riggs

...of course I was thinking of C.P.Snow's "Two Cultures" essay. At least when I thought "White" I was picturing "Snow." :)

Anyhow, being someone who is just as interested in the arts as the sciences, it is inconceivable to me to not admire Erdos along with Elgar; Hawking along with Yeats; The Decembrists along with the Decemberists. Just sayin'. Expand your horizons, everyone!

Portland, Ore.

CY

By coincidence, I just saw a pretty, short film that relates to this puzzle's theme.

Andy

Actually, I don't think the words OAFs speak are any stupider than the syllables they speak. But the context in which these words are spoken, or the phrases made up of these words, are.

Why am I so nerdy and anal that that I feel compelled to make this point?!

Stan

What a well-executed theme!

Also, count me in on liking MWAH and sour cream. I'm sure there's a connection, but do we have a large enough sample to achieve statistical significance?

Paula

@Jonas -

Tita

One need not be a math geek to enjoy this intersection of the elegance of natural beauty with our joy in being able to articulate it through scientific expression!
It's like we're some little kids who just got let in on a really cool secret... ;)

Tita

Oh...and so amazingly coincidentally, a package arrived 2 days ago from a dear friend - "The Golden Ratio" by Mario Livio...anyone here read it?

Anonymous

Where are the puzzle grid and a few pics? - not showing up here

Jeffrey

I thought this was a brilliant theme. It should be "sequence," not "series," but where else have you ever seen "Fibonacci" in a crossword puzzle? One of the best ever!

Lurking, Just Behind You

I guess that I am a Dork and not a Nerd, cuz I totally hated MWAH...even more than I hate RandomRomanNumerals.

Being the Dork that I am, I would have made NOOGIE the word of the day.

I may steam up an ARTICHOKE for lunch...

Red Valerian

Greetings from syndi-land. I enjoyed the puzzle, except for the same Natick as @pizzatheorem.

@retired_chemist--loved the truth table. Does that alone make me a nerd?

Did not like "Mwah" as clued, but would have loved it if it have been clued as @william e emba used it--"MWAH hah hah!"

TED Talks are addictive, in a mainly good way. Like this blog, I suppose.

@cody.riggs--the author is C.P. Snow, and it was called The Two Cultures

Red Valerian

@CY--I just watched that short clip (the link for which) you posted. It is absolutely amazing. Maybe if Rex saw it, he'd appreciate the puzzle (and math in general) more. Anyhow, thanks!

Waxy in Montreal

MWAH. Loved this puzzle but then I'm a charter member of the nerdy math crew. However, count me in the FDR - FAT-IN camp - seemed to make sense at the time. Also, never having heard of TEDTALKS, had TEATALKS and ESTA thinking that maybe some Tea Party types actually had come up with what they considered "ideas worth spreading".

Dirigonzo

Wanted the circled letters to spell "golden shower" instead of "golden spiral" because that's what it felt like the puzzle was doing to me during the solve. Lots of things I just did not know but ultimately gettable from the crosses, so fair enough. Never heard of Ted so finished with TEaTALKS which seemed peerfectly reasonable given the times and ESTa seemed legit enough to convince me it was right.

Nice to see cheerleader in chief Andrea back to her old self.

@Waxy just posted - I see I am in good company with the teatalks.

NotalwaysrightBill

Syndi-late solver.

I'd send lots of MWAHs out for sour cream, but all I get are one spit bubble after another. Probably have to go to Africa for the correct phoneme, although it seems to be prevalent in Dog Trainese also.

PHI! PHI! PHI! on all those who would dis math nerdism merely because they can't "do" math. I can't either, but I respect the bloody hell out of those original Greeks and Egyptians who observed the remarkable incidence of the golden ratio in nature and then discovered a way to convert what they found into mathematical symbolism. For a little relevence, I think PHI is what they use for the graduated income tax also.