Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Numbers (HINT = 65A: "The first word of the answer to each of the six starred clues describes the number of that clue," e.g.)

Trying to write this during puppy nap, which is already half over. This puzzle seemed ingenious, but maybe the Math folk (NDE?) can tell me if I'm right or not. I don't know what a "perfect" number is (though apparently "6" is one of them), and I'm not sure why "33" is any more "real" than other numbers (perhaps because it's on every bottle of Rolling Rock beer ...?), but no matter. This is a smart theme, and there were very few groaners required to achieve it. Huzzah.

Theme answers:

  • 4D: *Balance in personality (EVEN tenor)
  • 6D: *Pitcher's dream (PERFECT game)
  • 11D: *They don't belong (ODD men out)
  • 25D: *Basic Scout ties (SQUARE knots)
  • 33D: *It's no fake (REAL McCoy)
  • 37D: *It follows the evening news (PRIME time)

On the non-theme front, SYSTOLE (24A: Part of a heartbeat) and POMACE (9D: Crushed pulp) gave me some trouble. I know the word "systolic," but couldn't think of the nominative form, and I wanted to spell POMACE something like PUMICE, which is also a word. Happier experiences included:

  • 10A: Mexican muralist Orozco (Jose) - the only "Orozco" I know is former Mets pitcher Jesse, but I'm happy to learn this one (if only because he didn't violate the NATICK Principle - see sidebar under "Important Posts")
  • 15A: Major-league team member through 2004 (Expo) - I like how EXPO has gone the way of ALERO, SST, and SSR (among others), in that it continues on in the puzzle despite only fairly recently achieving "bygone" status.
  • 16A: Month before Nisan (Adar) - hey, I finally got this without blinking, after years of encountering it and thinking "oh ... starts with 'A' ..."
  • 19A: Year Cortes conquered Cuba (MDXI) - thankfully, a Roman numeral year without a pope clue. More of these!
  • 20A: "Rhoda" and "Frasier" (spin-offs) - very nice. "Why won't SITCOMS fit!?"
  • 25A: Suffix with moon (scape) - took me way Way too long to get
  • 27A: Mathematician's "ta-da!" (Q.E.D.) - I just like the "mathematician-as-magician" angle here.
  • 40A: Supermodel Carangi (Gia) - like ADAR, she finally went down without a fight.
  • 47A: Former Notebook maker (IBM) - I live nextdoor to the original home of IBM. Not that that helped me here.
  • 53A: Stimulus response (kinesis) - nice sciencey symmetrical pairing with SYSTOLE
  • 1D: Jawbone of _____ (biblical weapon) - this seems wildly desperate, and yet I love it.
  • 12D: Old German duchy name (Saxe) - Didn't anything happen in MDLI that could have made this SALE (or MDVI / SAVE)?
  • 13D: Land o' blarney (Erin) - the puzzle loves the Irish; the "E"-words alone would fill a small satchel or whatever it is Leprechauns carry their gold in.
  • 58D: Gay Talese's "_____ the Sons" ("Unto") - this guy is the oft-omitted name when people speak of "New Journalism"; Hunter Thompson and Tom Wolfe tend to get more credit.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of waiting on a damned mouthy puppy hand and foot


Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Ditto your comment, Rex, on 33 not being distinctively "real." Re. 6 being perfect, the only thing I came up with is that 6 is a perfect score from a judge in figure skating competition.


Anonymous 9:07 AM  

6 is a perfect number in that its factors (i.e., the numbers you can multiple by a whole number and get 6) add up to 6. 1,2 and 3 are the factors of six. Add them up and you get 6.

(And, don't ask my why I remember this from sixth grade!!! It has no practical use.)

dk 9:10 AM  

More a medium than over easy for me.

Sugar MAPLE wanted to be mamma or babys (misspelled I know), keep thinking SNIPE is not a real bird as in a snipe hunt and my knowledge of baseball begins and ends with Mantle, Ford and Marris... so the lower left coupled with ANTITANK and SKYES in the right caused a JAMUP in the lower level.

Liked the hard words like SYSTOLE and KINESIS that tested my neurobiology ACUMEN and my misspelling of TROIS gives a HINT to my grades in French.

Bat-free for the second day in a row, I guess I can stop sneaking up on my shower curtain (bat hang-out).

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Beloved word - EXPO

Hated word - NAT

I will not get over that move.
Took me longer to figure out the theme than to do the puzzle.

SethG 9:20 AM  

Perfect numbers are the sum of their proper (i.e. less than itself) factors. 6 is perfect because its factors are 1, 2, and 3, and 1 + 2 + 3 = 6. The next would be 28 (1 + 2 + 4 + 7 + 14), then there are more.

Turns out, every even perfect number is of the form (2^n - 1) * (2^(n-1)), and every number of that form is perfect if 2^n - 1 is prime. So 2^5 - 1 = 31 is prime, so 31 * 2^4 = 496 is perfect. It's unknown whether any odd perfect numbers exist, but if they do they're pretty big.

So yeah, more than anyone cares about perfect numbers, but if we can't talk about them today I'm not sure when we'll ever get another chance. Also, you'd think that the fact that I can just rattle off something like that off the top of my head would mean I might do well on this puzzle. In fact I did not. I never used the hint, it took me forever to figure out what the HINT clue was saying, and in fact all of Texas stayed blank for several minutes after everything else was complete. Maine was tough but gettable-couldn't think of SAXE, and it crossed both the random-but-inferrable JOSE and the random-but-inferrable MDXI.

And I do not understand ACRE. Room?

JannieB 9:34 AM  

@sethg - room as in space to grow??? I guess it works.

This was definitely a medium+ for me - the SW and NE corners drove me nuts. I finally figured out Noah, guessed at Hoyt. I had damup for 10D and never did see the mistake until I looked at RP's grid. Orozco could have been a first name, I guess. Totally my WTF is that clue.

The "hint" to the theme clue was more difficult to get than any of the theme answers. I easily filled in the starred clues (got square knot with NO crosses) but never did see what they had in common.

Very clever theme, very low "ick" factor. Lots of head scratching. Nice job!

janie 9:34 AM  

"growing room?" -- as in *space* for raising/growing crops...

d'oh, right? welcome to my world!



Unknown 9:34 AM  

@ sethg You should write Tim Wescott and apply for a job. He has a great company and could use someone who has your memory. My math prof dad would argue that the formula is flawed and spent some time writing about it, but I can't pick up his mantle. NDE should explain all of this when he arrives.

Loved the puzzle and what I hope is a good discussion of numbers to follow. I am back from a week with my grandchildren and am suffering from the latest virus/bacteria cultivated by children and previously unknown to mankind. Raising dogs is much easier.

RodeoToad 9:34 AM  

A friend of mine just published her third novel a couple of weeks ago--"No One You Know" by Michelle Richmond. It's a literary mystery about high-brow math stuff and coffee. I get a shout-out on page 272. Check it out.

I did an experiment today. I got up early and did the puzzle on paper this morning, and when I got to work I did it again on the computer in AcrossLite. Took me 3:13! I can't break three minutes even when I've already done the puzzle once!

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

33D is not uniquely real, but then 11D is not uniquely odd and 4D is not uniquely even and so on and so on. (Although it's true that every number on the grid is a real number, so there's some truth to the nit Rex was picking.) Fun puzzle.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

@ Rex
Jesse of Mets fame was Orosco with an S. We all remember him being on the mound at the conclusion of the '86 World Series defeat of the Red Sox. The Mets used to have fan appreciation day (maybe they still do) where fans were allowed to march around the infield with banners, placards, etc. My favorite sign: "Jesse Orosco is a pitching mound." He was a little heavy at the time.

What's up with side by side = AREA? Just not getting it.


Joon 10:00 AM  

loved this puzzle, but did not find it to be easy-medium. for whatever reason, there were lots of little hangups. the NW went down without a fight, but i couldn't figure out what was going on after EVEN at 4D. i wanted KEEL or perhaps STEVEN, but neither would fit. then POMACE ruined any momentum i had going east.

the NE was just a bear, even though i knew JOSE and could infer at least MD__... probably because i stuck my old nemesis, ELUL, in where ADAR should have been. (damn you, ELUL! i'll get you yet!) i also tried APERCU for ACUMEN, which led me to PLEBE for CADET, etc.

REAL struck me as being by far the least interesting of the theme answers, because when was the last time you saw a crossword puzzle with complex numbers in it? (by the same token, RATIONAL would also have been pretty weak.) the others were fantastic, especially PERFECT, which could apply to only two different numbers in the grid. there were slightly more option for SQUARE, more still for PRIME, and a whole bunch for EVEN and ODD.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

If you multiply two (particular) sides of a rectangle together (or any two sides of a square), you get their area.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

"the only "Orozco" I know is former Mets pitcher Jesse, but I'm happy to learn this one"

Rex -- come on! Didn't you ever eat in Frary Dining Hall? Prometheus? Ring any bells?

Scott 10:32 AM  

I Really enjoyed today's theme. I had two empty squares despite a quick fly through the puzzle. I guessed correctly w/ the SAXE/MDXI cross but went w/ MITTE/SKEES in the southeast. Both were unknown to me :(. Still, a very fun Wednesday.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

I'm new to RP's blog. can someone please tell me how the system works for grading the difficulty of a puzzle? (i've seen easy, easy-medium, challenging--are there others: e.g. medium rare, maybe? or over-easy?) is it by the time one takes to finish the puzzle or % of completed answers? thanks

Pythia 10:53 AM  

I'm enjoying reading the math discussion. I think I used to know these things, but the use-it-or-lose-it factor is high, alas. Thanks to all for the explanations!

Love and admire the puzzle. An intelligent, beautiful construction. Couldn't have been very easy to line up the theme answers with appropriate grid numbers, especially using six of them. The theme answers are so good that it would have been an enjoyable solve without a theme.

Nice strategy for providing the HINT to the theme. Lots of fun clues. Was annoying to have BOYS in the fill and "boy" in the 45A clue.

Learned POMACE, JOSE Orozco.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I agree with jannieb:
"This was definitely a medium+ for me - the SW and NE corners drove me nuts." The SW eventually came to me, but it was a struggle till nuclei popped into my head. In the NE the cross of SAXE and MDXI would not come to me, that X eluded me.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

I think this puzzle could have been really cool if the author had simply used PRIME numbers for the theme, and parsed theme answers containing the word PRIME. For example, in this grid there are 19 PRIME numbers between 1 and 69, ample opportunity for a great theme puzzle.

And think of all the great words that have PRIME in them:
PRIME minister
PRIME example
Optimus PRIME

Just my two cents. I thought this puzzle was pretty easy. Got the theme answers with little to no fiil, before I even realized what the theme was. Being a former Boy Scout made SQUARE KNOT a real gimmee. REAL MCCOY came to me with little fill. ODD MEN OUT was a little tough because I originally put down ODD COUPLE without thinking. Fortunately I corrected this from crosses, particularly the NATs clue.

Ronathan :-)

alanrichard 11:26 AM  

I was surprised at how easily I got most of this, mostly because perfect game and spinoffs opeded everything up. There was at least 2 easy ones in each area so that anything I didn't know I got contexturallly.

alanrichard 11:26 AM  

I was surprised at how easily I got most of this, mostly because perfect game and spinoffs opeded everything up. There was at least 2 easy ones in each area so that anything I didn't know I got contexturallly.

Bill from NJ 11:30 AM  

Took way more time than it should have to get. I was hung up everywhere!

EVENTENOR ANTITANK ODDMENOUT SQUAREKNOTS KINESIS held me up forever. This turned out to be an overnighter (the first time on a Wednesdsay).

I was about to declare this puzzle solved but had too many white squares - it would have been embarrassing! I eventually solved this thing but I had a real hard time

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Absolutely love that this puzzle has both EXPO and NAT -- it would've been so much better had they been clued in tandem. And why make NAT and abbreviation? Even if you choose not to go the short-for-Washington-Nationals route, there are enough Nats out there to avoid this hideous [Util. bill] clue.

I've been staring at ANASS for the last 5 minutes, trying to figure out who it is. Damn parsing! It's a stretch, but all the crosses are pretty easy. Yay NATICK!

Another bonus for this theme: AXES (as in plural-of-"axis").

Unknown 11:50 AM  

@ anon at 10:46
Welcome to you and I think you will enjoy this banter more if you sign up on Blogger and join the blue and orange world with an identity. On Rex's site the side bars are full of relevant information. The answer to you question is in the FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) link which is sort of appropriate, heh? Or here is the direct link--->

Doug 12:06 PM  

@anonymous + Grading

Our friendly blogmeister benchmarks the puzzle based on his assessment of the puzzle vs. the "average" difficulty of puzzles on that day of week. So an EASY on Wednesday might be MEDIUM-CHALLENGING if the same puzzle was printed on a Monday.

Now, having said that you also have to consider what "average" means! If you know all the Jewish months, conduct idle chit-chat about Dante and can rattle off names of vowel-heavy opera singers, you are on par with the grading. If however, you are like me, get used to struggling through a puzzle and then finding it graded "EASY-MEDIUM" like today.

On the puzzle, I really enjoyed this one. I usually do them the night before but I was invited to Cirque du Soleil (Corteo) here in Vancouver so I took one of the 4 boys and had a great time. I love this troupe, and would like to see the LOVE show in Vegas that the Beatles worked on.

I admit I had to google for HOYT and was on the verge of a "Natick rationalization" for googling ADAR, SAXE or MDXI but I figured that out. Very nifty puzzle, and actually used the theme to get PRIME which then opened up the whole bottom half.

Parshutr 12:36 PM  

Does ACNE pass the breakfast test?
Lots of fitting-properly guesses: ATTA instead of ITSA; DYMO instead of TYCO; TWAS instead of ONCE.
Favorite answer: ETTU
We get the term SAXON from the old German duchy of SAXE.
Very enjoyable.

mac 12:46 PM  

Thought this was a wonderful puzzle with great clueing and good words, until I came to Rex's blog and discovered the masterful theme! Good thing I didn't need it to solve.....

Orozco was just mentioned in the comments a few days ago, and my husband is a Dartmouth grad and knew the first name(s). He was impressed that I figured out expo and nat by myself! Saxe wasn't very hard, there are a lot of Saxe-Coburgs running around Holland.
Know McCoy because I have a small ceramics collection with their pretty logo underneath the pieces.

Rex, reading your blog I couldn't help visualizing you fighting an anorexic Gia.....

@Doug: any recommendations on sightseeing in Vancouver? I'll be there for a few days in August, before getting on a slow boat to Alaska.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle even though I'm mathematically challenged. To marcus ... I, too, couldn't figure out what "anass" was. Then when I did, I felt like one.

dk 12:58 PM  


Rex our puzzle and puppy master sets the grade and the rest of us get to talk about the grade and how we may be able to wax poetic on perfect numbers or Neurobiology and still miss the point that AREA=side x side.

You may also find certain digressions (e.g., a fondness for beets and Jasper Fforde speaking of The big Over Easy) as well as typos in the blog posts.

Go blue and orange as @phillysolver suggests as sometimes the reaction to anonymous posts resembles the bedroom scene from the Godfather where the horse has/is a cameo.

A refined (for a 14 year old) sense of humor helps as well.

Welcome and enjoy the "she's on the rug, she's on the rug" comments and any other obscure references you may come across.

And, for God's sake do not do more than 3 posts in a day.

dk 1:06 PM  

@mac, Saw Butchart Gardens and went to Victoria's China Town 30 some years ago and still talk about it.

Setting aside that I am a boring guy with little to say both were great.

While in Alaska find out why they call it calving when pieces fall off a glacier.

jubjub 1:21 PM  

This puzzle and me must be on the same wavelength, I breezed through this one. Only struggled with the Y at the cross of MITTY and SKYES.

I once took a math class in college in which every student was assigned one day to tell a math joke to the class. As I recall, there were no tests in this class and the homework was never graded, so I got the impression that our grade was based solely on this joke. Having sat through an entire semester of math jokes (i.e. I am now a math joke connoisseur), I did not really appreciate the theme. Probably I am just bitter because of the summary theme answer HINT. HINT seems pretty generic -- I was expecting more. I did like the QED clue. That is my kind of math humor.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

HINT was more of a summary clue than we had Monday. With all those circled squares and words like "iota" and "trace" hidden in longer answers, I was scouring the puzzle for a clue to tie it all together. I looked for longer than it took me to do the puzzle, and found--nada.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

HINT was more of a summary clue than we had Monday. With all those circled squares and words like "iota" and "trace" hidden in longer answers, I was scouring the puzzle for a clue to tie it all together. I looked for longer than it took me to do the puzzle, and found--nada.

jae 2:20 PM  

This seemed pretty easy for me. No real hangups other than guessing at the X in SAXE but with roman numerals what else could it be? Lots of great fill in this one but like Mon. getting the theme didn't really aid in solving. I guess I like themes more when they are helpful like ACM's yesterday.

Oh, I briefly had PERKY for PEPPY and POMADE for POMACE.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Certainly agree on Gay Talese and new journalism. Do you think anyone can construct a puzzle containing 'Jimmy Breslin'?

Two Ponies 3:56 PM  

Please, where is the puppy photo?

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

I loved the theme and side x side = AREA. The cross I had trouble with was JOSE/ERIN, and I also didn't know ADAR..

For Dungeons and Dragons weapons, my first thought was DICE, which would have been much more clever than AXES, I think.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

@jae, it couldn't been a "C," because that's what I had there. Duh, once I SAXE I knew it was correct.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  

You might want to rewrite your take on 40A

miriam b 4:42 PM  

@mac: I was the one who mentioned the Orozco panels at Dartmouth. My son - and his wife as well - are alums. He was in the class of '81; she's a few years younger.

Re yesterday's mention of a spaetzle gadget: I bought nine at a yard sale. It seems to be tin, is sort of old, and was made in Austria. It works great: consists of a cone-shaped bottomless container which slides back and forth over a perforated track designed to perch atop a pot of boiling water, cutting off bits of batter as you go. You have to develop a consistent rhythm in order to get uniform spaetzle. I imagine your gizmo is something like that.

@jubjub: Tell us a math joke - please?

miriam b 4:50 PM  

OOPS. I didn't buy nine spaetzle makers - should have written "mine"!

As long as I'm back, here's my favorite joke, not really mathematical, but...

Descartes walks into a bar and asks for a Kir. After he finishes it, the bartender asks, "Would you like another?" Descartes replies, "I think not," and disappears into thin air.

chefbea 4:52 PM  

was a somewhat fun puzzle but I did have to google several times. I too had no idea what anass was til i wrote it horizontally. Roasted beets are mentioned in the Greenwich and Stamford food section today but I think I'll go twist an oreo!!

Ulrich 5:09 PM  

We have gotten to a really great start this week--I wonder if the standards set by the first three puzzles will be maintained for the rest of it.

My enjoyment of today's puzzle was further enhanced by the fact that I did it lying on a beautiful beach in Truro on Cape Cod. Favorite clue: "side by side" (continuing the math theme). "Ancient mariner" wasn't bad, either--but didn't we have this one before?

chefbea 5:19 PM  

just read the food section of the new york times. I think for our next get-to-gether we should have Garlic fried milk and the chocolate chip cookies for dessert

fergus 5:25 PM  

Excellent puzzle today. Along with the math references I was reminded of a favorite literary passage. Late in Anna Karenina, off in the marshy woods of Levin's estate, he and Oblonsky are not very successfully hunting SNIPE, while having amiable discussions about everything trivial and important on a fine Russian summer evening. The puzzle often does this for me, more so than just casual reading -- I think because puzzling puts one in a sort of trance with greater openness than normal consciousness for summoning bits and pieces of shelved memory.

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

I have one;

A high school math teacher storms into the teacher's lounge, obviously in a huff. His friend, the English teacher, asks him what's wrong.
"It's these students", he replies. "Every year they seem to get dumber and dumber."
"What makes you say that?" the English teacher asked.
"I had a student drop my General Calculus course. When I asked him what the problem was, he said that he didn't see why he had to do math in order to learn about a Roman general!"


Anonymous 5:45 PM  

It's not quite a math joke, but . . .

Why was 10 scared? Because 7 8 9.

mac 5:47 PM  

@miriamb: that's a wonderful joke! Had to read it twice and remember my latin.
My spaetzle press really looks exactly like a potato ricer, but my husband's aunt made the dish by putting a spoonful of eggy batter on a wooden board and very quickly scraping bits into boiling water with a large knife!

JC66 6:00 PM  

My father used to try and stump the kids by asking them how to divide 7 apples among 4 people:


Anonymous 6:05 PM  

"Thank you for calling the Mathematics Department. The number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate the phone by 90 degrees and try again."

Or this one:

In a dark, narrow alley, a function and a differential operator meet.
The operator says "Get out of my way, or I'll differentiate you until you're zero!"
"Try it. I'm e^x".

My apologies to anyone who doesn't get it. I'll stop now.

SethG 6:37 PM  

Best math jokes at a couple different levels:

Q: What did 0 say to 8?
A: Nice belt.

Q: What's the difference between the diameter and the radius?
A: The radius.

Q: What do you get if you cross a mountain climber and a tsetse fly?
A: Nothing. You can't cross a scaler with a vector.

Q: What do you get if you cross an orange and a banana?
A: Orange banana sin theta.

Q: What's purple and commutes?
A: An Abelian grape.

Q: How can you tell if a mathematician is extroverted?
A: He looks at your shoes instead of his own when he's talking to you.

Okay, now that I'm way beyond annoying Rex, ACRE still bothers me--it seems like saying "Living room?" could be SQFT.

Michael Chibnik 7:08 PM  

As a former math major and baseball fan, I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. But I'll join many others in decrying "real" for 33. Even "rational" would have been better...

jubjub 7:10 PM  

@miriam b -- great joke! have you heard the one about the statistician?
answer: probably.

Here's an apt Dinosaur comics entry to perhaps bring the nerd pun pain to an end:

ps if you just haven't had enough, there's an entire article devoted to them in the journal of the american mathematical society:

fergus 7:24 PM  

Since I've randomly returned to orange and blue, instead of the insignificant chesspiece, I thought I'd perform a few keystrokes and see what happens. Normally I'm fairly competent with computers but my submissions in public spaces often seem to be haphazardly cursed.

Leon 7:35 PM  

Nice puzzle Mr. Wescott.

One of the answers tonight on Jeopardy was SPINOFFS.

14 across made me think of BERT LAHR'S "If I Only Had the Nerve."

He pronounced it NOIVE.

jeff in chicago 8:49 PM  

Too many prefix and suffix clues for me, but otherwise quite fun.

And these math jokes are cracking me up. More please.

Anonymous 8:59 PM  

Cortes conquered Cuba? He was a lowly notary allowed by Governor Valezquez to accompany Narvaez to the defenseless island. Cortes was years away from becoming the conqueror of Mexico.

David 9:13 PM  

Great puzzle---I found that I've dabbled just enough in all the right subjects to keep a fairly brisk pace throughout this puzzle.

SYSTOLE came fast once I had a cross or two, as I could imagine characters from ER or House shouting it. KINESIS feels like a weird answer, but as it's a cool word I like the clue anyway. ACUMEN, NUCLEI, and EPOXY are great words, happy to see them. And I have a soft spot for Walter MITTY, too, so I was happy all over the place. I did practically had to walk through the alphabet to get my last letter, the cross of REAM and POMACE...clearly, REAM should have come a lot faster.

As for the theme, it's great. I had the exact same reaction to 33D, because...I mean, of course the crossword uses real numbers. But looking at the theme answers as a whole, I can't fault him for taking a gimme there; six theme answers, with self-referential clues, that are arranged perfectly symmetrically. It's amazing that they held together so well! The balance of PERFECT and SQUARE alone is a little bit crazy, so I can only imagine what it was like constructing this so that the clues' numbers lined up properly.

Oh, and while I probably couldn't have told you off the top of my head what a perfect number was, once I saw that 6 was an example, it all came flooding back to me. Thanks a ton for the Euclid refresher, SethG, you've triggered a bunch of (surprisingly) happy flashbacks to a number theory class from a few years ago.

Kudos to Tim Wescott, I hope to see more puzzles from him. I definitely dig his wavelength.

janie 10:05 PM  

jc66 -- my polish-born grandfather used to ask that same riddle at family gatherings -- and take great pleasure in doing so! he'd be, oh, about 120 or so if he were still alive. thx for the reminder!



Beth 12:14 AM  

A real number is a normal (positive, zero or negative) value. In addition to the set of all real numbers is a set of imaginary numbers (, for example the square root of negative one, commonly denoted by an italicized lowercase "i."

John Hoffman 1:21 AM  

I'm cranky about the way that crossword puzzles have evolved. The themes are getting more and more clever, but so many words aren't in common use. This separates crossword solvers from real people and real language. Who says APTER? This isn't some odd fill here and there -- this is #1 across. I've gone my whole life and never said APTER. How about "Suffix with origin" = ATOR? What is the point of parsing words like this? I'd rather that the crossword creators worried less about clever clever clever themes and worried more about using normal words.

Anonymous 3:09 AM  

Two mathematicians are in a bar. The first one says to the second that the average person knows very little about basic math. The second one disagrees, and claims that most people can cope with a reasonable amount of math. The first mathematician goes off to the washroom, and in his absence the second calls over the waitress. He tells her that in a few minutes, after his friend has returned, he will call her over and ask her a question; all she has to do is answer, "One third x cubed." She agrees, and goes off mumbling to herself. The first guy returns and the second proposes a bet to prove his point. He says he will ask the blonde waitress an integral, and the first laughingly agrees. The second man calls over the waitress and asks, "What is the integral of x squared?" The waitress says, "One third x cubed." Then, while walking away, she turns back and says, "Plus a constant!"

Anonymous 4:12 AM  

no math jokes, tho the extrovert/shoe one reminded me of the Swedish joke about the swedish man who loved his wife so much, he almost told her!

Anyway: re puzzle I had POMADE and ODDMANOUT and have owndered all day what was wrong with MOON SDAPA.
Neil Sdapa, maybe...but moon sdapa?

Also thought 10 should be the perfect number, but I never got past finding X in math.
Despite taking pre-calculus, I think the most math I've ever done the past 30 years is to divide a check and figure out 15%.

David 8:15 AM  

Three statisticians go hunting. The first one shoots and misses 10 feet to the left. The second one shoots and misses 10 feet to the right. The third one jumps up and down and shouts "I hit it!"

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Enjoyed the blog more than the puzzle. Wasn't aware of all the humor in the math world.

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

After reading 65A (the HINT to the theme), I lamented once again that my newspaper does not often take the time to italicize ANYthing in the puzzles (plea to the puzzlemakers: use CAPS for selected clues!!!) So I took it upon myself to find (and circle) the six "italicized" clues. So far no one has mentioned what I noticed: that 3D (TROIS musketeers) could be a SEVENTH italicized clue. (I did not see what was perfect about six. I mean, you have to pitch at least nine innings for a perfect game, right?)

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

Found this puzzle fairly easy, maybe because the San Diego Union neglected to italicized clues. Thus, 65A just seemed like a funny " hint" to something that could occur in any puzzle, and I wasn't left with all the numerical fun you all had.
As a long ago math major, I enjoyed all the talk about perfect numbers and such. However, I totally don't get the Descartes joke-maybe because I don't have any Latin beyond the obvious as hoc and such?
Don't know where ACMe lives, but here in California where the tax in 7.5%, all you have to do is double it to figure the tip! Tho I note that restaurants are now pushing for 20%!

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

A chemist, a physicist, and a mathemitician are stranded on a desert island. A crate filled with canned baked beans washes up on shore, but the trio can't figure out how to open the cans.

"Build a catapult and launch them into the air, the cans will split open when they land," suggests the physicist.

"That will never work," says the chemist. "We should build a fire, then put the cans in it, and they will expand and explode."

"That's ridiculous," says the physicist. They both turn to the mathemicician.

The mathemitician says, "Assume a can opener ..."

Julie 4:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julie 4:53 PM  

Hi, CA Lady - I know you do the puzzle 5 weeks later like I do, so there's some hope that you will actually read this! The Descartes joke wasn't a math joke, which is why you didn't get it, hahaha - it was a philosophy joke. Descartes is the guy who said "I think, therefore I am", thus when he said "I think not", he disappeared.

Now, if you were being facetious and actually got all that, and I've just embarassed myself by explaining what Basil Fawlty calls "The bleeding obvious", I apologize...


Anonymous 5:38 PM  

I wait tables (we're not ALL doctors here) in a place that thankfully includes an 18% tip in the bill. While I would love to wait on someone as brilliant as Ms. Michaels I'd be heartbroken to know she won't come off more than 15%:) Most servers are required to tip a percentage of their sales to their bartender and their busser regardless of what the actually make in tips. Plus they have to pay a percentage (up to 2.5%)every time someone pays with a credit card. Add that to the fact that they make $2.13 an hour...well, you do the math. Anyhow, I'll get off my soapbox.

I really liked this puzzle despite the fact that Noah stumped me again. I keep expecting some obscure term for ancient mariner. All those years of Christian school at least payed off with 1Down. Anass was a gimmee.

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