Princess in Nintendo game series / THU 8-11-11 / Joint US Canada military org / So-called Family City USA / First major publisher board games US

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Constructor: Parker Lewis

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SEQUENCEs (3D: Any of the clues for 17-, 34- or 57-Across) — theme answers are formulae; their clues are the SEQUENCEs that result when the VARIABLE is "replaced in turn by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ..." (37D: In the answers to 17-, 34- and 57-Across, it was replaced in turn by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ...)

Word of the Day: TSWANA (12D: A language of South Africa) —

Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa by about 4.5 million people. It is a Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo language family, and is closely related to the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi language and the Lozi language. // Tswana is an official language and lingua franca of Botswana spoken by almost 1.1 million of its inhabitants. However, the majority of Tswana speakers are found in South Africa where 3.4 million people speak the language. Until 1994, South African Tswana people were notionally citizens of Bophuthatswana, one of the few bantustans that actually became reality as planned by the Apartheid regime. A small number of speakers are also found in Zimbabwe and Namibia, where 29,400 and 12,300 people speak the language, respectively. (wikipedia)

• • •

This is a puzzle that is interesting to contemplate after the fact, but a terrible plodding bore to solve. A stunt puzzle that is more about showing off constructor cleverness than providing an entertaining solving experience. It's all number sequences and cross-references and arbitrary formulae. I just didn't care. Ever. I guess the formulae aren't arbitrary, exactly, in that they've been carefully chosen for their 15-letterness. Anyway, I enjoy doing math during my solving about as much as I enjoy having to draw on my puzzle to figure out some meta-baloney aspect of the theme. I think this is Parker's debut. Considering he has made the lamentable, rookie decision to go for a pangram, the fill is quite decent. BEEST is bad (49D: Ending with wilde- or harte-), and TSWANA is godawful (12D: A language of South Africa), but most of the rest is tolerable to pretty good. Parker spent a lot of time ... somewhere in Africa, if I'm remembering our conversation from ACPT correctly, so maybe TSWANA is somehow dear to him. As fill, it's garbage. Kill your darlings.

I should add that Parker is an exceedingly nice young man who gave me a rebus puzzle at this past year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (an actual rebus, with pictures, written out much the same way as today's theme answers): STORE + BOX - BOOTS + PAW + ROCK - COW + ZERO [written "sin (π)"] - OZ = REX PARKER. It's highly adorable and I have it sitting right by my desk.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: 3, 6, 11, 18, 27 ... (X SQUARED PLUS TWO)
  • 34A: 4, 2, 4/3, 1, 4/5 ... (TWENTY OVER FIVE X)
  • 57A: 8, 1, -18, -55, -116 ... (NINE MINUS X CUBED)
Here's a lesson just for me:
  • EPSON = printer maker (10D: Printer brand)
  • EPSOM = salts and race track
  • EBSEN = actor BUDDY of "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Barnaby Jones"

  • 5A: Princess in a Nintendo game series (ZELDA) — never played it, but guessed it correctly (after waffling for a split-second between ZELDA and ZENDA)
  • 14A: So-called Family City, U.S.A. (OREM) — gimme! I've had to clue it before, I guess, or else I really perused OREM clues at some point. Anyway, this confirmed my first guess of ROXY at 1D: Classic theater name.
  • 22A: Joint U.S. / Canada military org. (NORAD) — no idea about this one, though the acronym is vaguely familiar from that Santa tracker website. How you get from North American Aerospace Defense Command to NORAD, I don't know.
  • 60A: First major publisher of board games in the U.S. (IVES) — really? Never heard of 'em. Composer Charles. Rotund singer/actor Burl. Printmaker partner of Currier. I've heard of those guys.
  • 4D: Bird whose name is a Midwest school's initials (EMU) — that's Eastern Michigan University, which I know only because it was down the street from U. Mich., Ann Arbor.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


CoffeeLvr 12:07 AM  

Tough for me. About the only gimme was EPSON, which was the printer my employer provided.

Nice clue for SLED.

Is BONES the nickname for all (most) doctors on ships or just the Enterprise?

I am of the mind that an occasional math based puzzle is a good diversion. Made me think, hard.

Evan K. 12:08 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle solely as an ex-Math Team maven, as Thursdays are infinitely more approachable for me if I can remotely make heads or tails of the theme.

Can't say I've ever heard of TSWANA, but all the crosses made sense. That would be painful to get NATICKed on.

I suspect that once you have SEQUENCE and an excuse to have Xs all over the place, not finishing the pangram would be mildly depressing. Especially if you want to show off.

thursdaysd 12:16 AM  

If I wanted to do math puzzles I'd do sudoku. I don't do sudoku. I do crosswords, with words. That said, I didn't have too much trouble with the theme answers after a careful reading of 37D, but I got all but the first without doing any math - even to check the answers.

I did have DNF trouble with ZELDA crossing LADE, even though I ran the alphabet twice at -ADE. I was tempted by fOrd instead of ROXY, and had a little trouble with JINXES, which I liked after the fact. And does anybody actually abbreviate GUACamole?

Captcha is picking, maybe I'm nitpicking as a result of LADE...

GILL I. 12:26 AM  

ZELDA - who?...TSWANA - what? MAINER - huh? (Hi Dirigonzo)
Amazingly I got all the 15's although along with spelling I'm miserable at math.
Never heard of USB. Had TACO salad 53D but spoys didn't make sense although I wanted to leave it. I just had my pet spoyed.
Loved MOONS at 24D.
Well my brain got a good working over so that is good.
Off to see "The Help."
Nite all...

Clark 12:35 AM  

I loved this puzzle! Beautiful sequences. Thank you, Parker.

syndy 12:39 AM  

Mainer? oh you mean the MANIACS! MOSSY?? isn't STODGY a adjective? thought FUDDY DUDDY was a noun.ALT-ROCK? ABBY?LADE?CAM? my general opinion was WTF!figuring out the math was a little amusing (I do the suduko)but they weren't very satisfying (besides I mis wrote 34 across as [20 / 5 x = ] so I got some sour grapes

Anonymous 12:49 AM  

Awesome debut! Totally loved it, and I know nothing about math whatsoever, but found this brilliant, fun and doable. The fact that I've also spent time in (and love) Africa probably helped and gave me a couple of chances to grin. And I'm one of those who thinks the pangram is a plus. Bravo, young man, both for the puzzle and your work in Namibia! Hope to solve many more of yours.

Evan K. 12:52 AM  

Hmm, as per my previous comment I should say I enjoyed it largely as* a math guy, not solely as. But I could see how non-mathematicians could fumble at this one, and the sequences are a bit arbitrary.

I wanted to comment again because I forgot to note the clue I really liked!: EMTS (Ones trying to increase circulation, for short?). I was working on newspapers there. MAINER is what felt most awkward in the grid.

Also never knew ZELDA was a princess in that game. Good to know.

SethG 1:06 AM  


You could have used [0, 0, 0, 0, 0...] for all three entries and had, say, FOUR X MINUS FOUR X, ZERO X TIMES ZERO X, and SIX TO THE X MOD SIX. Or lots of other things.

I love math. I love mathematical problem solving. I found this largely pointless.

retired_chemist 1:15 AM  

I liked it - I will be interested in the response tomorrow from the non-science/mathematics (non-S&M?) Rexites.

Used ENID first @ 14A - why not? Ditto MUSTY @ 50D, SLR @ 42A, WORKS @ 51A.

Someone please explain why EMBED is "Journalist on a mission?" I suppose it will be a D'oh moment in the morning, but as of now I don't get it.

Thanks, Mr. Lewis.

lit.doc 1:18 AM  

Wow, finished another Thursday puzzle, and it only took half an hour. Progress. Wish the difficulty had come more from daemonic cluing and less from the dribs of drecky fill Rex commented on. [I see from the comments that this was a debut. Double wow.]

Actually enjoyed puzzling out the theme device. As doing so yielded letters, it felt like an integral part of the solve.

Best clue/answer by far was “Hindsights?” = MOONS. Caused me to jot a note in my puzzle ideas file: “Chamberlain’s Men conscripted into the Queen’s navy?” = PRESSED HAMS.

@thursdaysd, yes. Lived my whole life in Colorado, Arizona, and Texas, and “guac” is way in the language of TexMex.

BTW I totally owe finishing to whatever constructor(s) within the past few years forced me on first encounter to google “Down Easter”. Though if all Mainers are Down Easters, doesn’t that mean Main is mainly antireligious?

thursdaysd 1:27 AM  

@retired_chemist - a journalist officially traveling with a US military unit on a combat or other mission has been called "embedded" since the start of the Iraq war. See, eg.

@lit.doc - the only place I've lived in the US is NC, and TexMex isn't spoken much in these parts...

Mossy Gen Xer 1:31 AM  

NORAD was in the 1983 movie "WarGames."

[Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy]
AS: "He wasn't very old"
MB "No, he was pretty old. He was 41"
AS "Oh yeah? Oh, that's old."

retired_chemist 1:34 AM  

@ thursdaysd - thanks. I don't think I had heard EMBED as a noun before.

sanfranman59 1:46 AM  

ZELDA turns up in both the NYT and the LAT puzzle on the same day. You can't tell me that there's not some kind of crossword constructors' conspiracy.

Tobias Duncan 1:48 AM  

I can see how this would really slow down a speed solver. Since I am not at all fast on a Thursday the math did not seem to be a stumbling block at all.
Still do not get Front for Font?????
Was happy to have a decent time after sucking it up at Pub Trivia....ugh I actually combined Charles De Gaulle and Marc Chagall to answer "Charles Chagall"... thank God it was a slow night in the bar and just a few people snorted into their martinis. Was not even drinking.Actually that may have been part of the problem.

jae 1:59 AM  

Clever but arbitrary. Didn't really need to do the math to solve this one. I did do it post solve to double check answers. I had this on the easy side of medium. I liked it but not as much as the last couple of Thurs.

@ thursdaysd -- GUAC also very much in the language in SoCal.

plastic cards 2:01 AM  

great post. so nice

plastic cards 2:03 AM  

great post. so nice

CoolPapaD 2:43 AM  

Parker Lewis Can't Lose! (someone had to say it!) This was a terrific puzzle, and a clever debut. This from someone who failed freshman calculus. I really loved the challenge.

@Tobias - FOREfront

My kids/niece/nephew are glued to the Santa Tracker site on X-Mas eve. I'm old enough to remember the term from War Games, but too old to remember that exchange!

Never knew PERT = smart. Pert, in my mind, refers either to a shampoo or ....... something else

chefwen 2:43 AM  

@thursdaysd took the words right out of my mouth, if I wanted to play with numbers I would do Sudoku. Really did not like this one at all. I am not a numbers person I am a word person. My dad could not understand how he was so brilliant with numbers and I was not. I think it's called intimidation, dad.

Anyway, got the darn thing done, but it took two of us, husband is good with numbers and passing it to and fro about 10 times did the trick. We both wondered if Mr. Lewis is a Mensa member, that would explain a lot.

George NYC 3:02 AM  

I am impressed but also depressed.
In the end, I felt like I was playing against Watson, the IBM machine that beat Jeopardy. It's almost too smart to be part of the world I live in.

Welly 3:19 AM  

Sudoku could be done with symbols instead of numbers if desired. There's no math in it, just logic. I enjoyed the puzzle a lot, but didn't understand the math until I finished it. Nice!

Glen 3:57 AM  

Finished-No problem. But, also, no fun. "moon" answer was highlight for me.

Gill I.P. Digital cameras come with a USP cable for downloading your pics

Paka 3:59 AM  

Thanks to all for the comments so far, both scathing and complimentary! I'm very excited to have my debut in the NYT and that I finally have something to contribute to this great community of puzzle people! Also, a big thanks to Deb for such a nice write up about me and for allowing me to share my story over at the NYT blog:

After solving my own puzzle and seeing how much it changed since submission, here are my thoughts on the final product:

As for the theme, I realize that the mathyness does not appeal to all solvers but I think it's a nice change of pace from the drop-a-letter add-a letter themes that we see over and over. Yes the 15 letter answers are a bit arbitrary but here are some supporting arguments:
-I did not repeat any numbers or mathematical operations.
-There's a variety of sequences in the theme clues: positive numbers, fraction, and negatives.
-3D and 37D give the theme a more complete feel (Isn't this better than just three 15s?)
-A semi-bonus theme answer can be found at 28D

Wow, Will changed ~70% of my original clues! Some definitely turned out better, but specifically I wish these three had been left the way they were: 21A: No __ about it, 23A: Plant a bulb, perhaps, and 4D: Figure seen in aboriginal rock art. Never heard of the embed/journalist connection. Of the few clues that Will didn't change, I am happy that 62A, 18D, 29D, and 36D were left as is. Also 24D - that little gem was all me!!

When I submitted the puzzle, I supplied some alternate fill for some sections and I'm glad I did because Will did end up changing the bottom middle area. My original fill is below. You can obviously see why it was dropped, huh?


I know that TSWANA is not so common but I chose to include it because I've traveled in Botswana and am friends with some Tswana people. BEEST (Afrikaans for cattle) is in that same category and having seen both beests on several different occasions, I'm proud that I worked these two words into my puzzle. As you can tell, I'm a little biased towards all things Africa, but it seems that Africa doesn't get nearly as much as much puzzle coverage as it should. I have to counter all those East-coast-specific clues somehow! One person's pleasure is another person's pain.

That being said, note that MAINER was definitely not mine. I had BAINES (as in LBJ) and the other PEST in the top right was originally PAST.

Lastly, I forgot to mention that I constructed this whole puzzle by hand on graph paper because where I lived in Namibia, there was no electricity for 10 miles, let alone a computer with crossword software!

Keep the comments coming! I am waiting to hear back on another puzzle (no math this time!) so hope to see you all again soon.

Paka 4:22 AM  

Rex, I suspected this puzzle might not be your cup of tea, but I'm glad you at least liked the specialty rebus!

shrub5 4:35 AM  

Did not care for this solving experience but am duly impressed with this puzzle's construction. I think I just wasn't in the mood for math.

GUAC is commonly heard in these parts (No. Cal.)

Down East and harteBEEST were new to me. Loved the clues for EMTS, MOONS and LOCO. I was familiar with the term for reporters who travel with the troops but thought it was IMBED. And MOSSY for old-fashioned? Who knew? At the clue 'printer brand', I just looked up at mine, an EPSON, so said to self, "Hey why not? It fits." Googled for TSWANA as I was stuck in that area and had the incorrect LAPELS before jacket LINING.

Nice work, Parker!! And thanks for stopping by with your comments. I would not be pleased if 70% of my clues were changed. Think I would rather have had a rejection. Anyway, just a hypothetical for me and very likely to stay that way.

jae 4:50 AM  

@Paka. -- Thanks for the insight. Apparently puzzle making and sausage making have something in common. And hey, this was a solid Thurs. !

Ellen in Amsterdam 5:43 AM  

To Paka: yup, speaking as another math person, I liked it! The Tswana and beest questions were no problem either. It's helps if you can speak Dutch, though, something which is not normally an advantage for an NYT puzzle. The embed clue was tricky enough that I never got moon, alas. I was glad to get the explanations I just read above.

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

Rex, I'm not sure if I agree with you. I want to think about it.

removal company oxford 6:59 AM  

paka, I'am agree with you. I want to think about it.

exaudio 7:13 AM  

Loved it, and don't think it was necessary to be a math person as long as you know basic math lingo, Knew "tswana" from the Number One Ladies Detective Agency books, which are set in Botswana and are very popular, according to the "common interests" feature on Facebook.

jberg 7:24 AM  

My first reaction on seeing both math and a pangram was "this guy is sending Rex up." I guess not, no one would do that with a first puzzle. Anyway, I loved it. I guess you could get all the theme clues from crosses, but it's a lot more fun if you try to solve them mathematically - you get a nice back and forth.

BONES for a ship's doctor goes with SPARKS for the radio operator. I don't know if that carries over to other specialists, though.

PERT=smart in the sense of "pert appearance" or "pertly dressed."

As for TSWANA, come on, folks! It actually appears in the name of a country, how hard can that be? I admit I've been in Southern Africa a few times, and my son lived in Namibia for 2 years, but I think I knew it before any of that.

I agree that 13D is a bit wrong, though. I had STODGe until the last minute, when I saw CAe there and wondered how that had been clued.

Keep up the good work, @Paka!

Jeffrey 7:24 AM  

As noted above, Sudoku is not a math puzzle. Neither is this. It has math references, as well as music, bible, comic strips, military, Star Wars, African languages and loads of other stuff. Just like every other crossword puzzle.

Great job, Parker.

Smitty 7:38 AM  

I'm with Rex and those who don't like their English served with Math...
Or math served with anything for that matter - except a calculator.

Sorry Parker, just whining -I know this must have been a beest to construct.

Merle 7:48 AM  

I found the puzzle a sail-through. And fun. I was a poor math student, failed a math course or two, but the words associated with the math stuck! Sequence, variable -- easy! Squared, cubed, plus, over, fell right into place. Thought Tswana and beest were interesting clues. What's not to like? Four down was a gimme -- three letters, school designation had to end in u, hence emu. Thought guac was a fresh, cute answer. Loved sled, answer to vehicle to Calvin and Hobbes. Four letter answer to Uncle____, rather than three letters, refreshing.

Jamie 7:58 AM  

I disliked this puzzle. Not because "I was told there'd be no math!!!" You can solve it even if you're incapable of solving the formulas, once it becomes clear that numbers and math terms are involved.

I agree with Rex - great plodding bore, with poor fill and worse cluing. I don't know whether the constructor or editor is responsible for that.

@Paka: Congratulations on your debut. Next time, and I'm sure there'll be one, try to entertain the audience. No snark intended, just advice.

Glimmerglass 8:12 AM  

I agree that EMBED is a verb. No one says, "Did you catch the report from the embed?" PL's clue was better than Will's. I'm not a numbers person, so all I did was build formulas from the crosses (starting with XSQUARED...). Solving the numbers in the clues (with 37D) wasn't my way to any answer except 17A (I had ...PLUSONE for time). The NE was the last to work out; never heard of TSWANA (for a while I was afraid it would be "banana").

evil doug 8:19 AM  


9-(x times x times x)=


r.alphbunker 8:20 AM  


I really enjoyed the puzzle and your comments made me appreciate it all the more. We are always getting hit with the names of tests, e.g. LSAT, PSAT, GRE, SAT. It is nice to finally get some questions from them.

BTW, I have to make up some questions for a beginning programming test. Inspired by your puzzle, I have decided to make one of them:

"A Lewis sequence is defined as follows. The xth number in the sequence is nine minus x cubed. Write a function named isParkerSequence(int[ ] a) that returns true if a is a Parker sequence."

Furthermore, the students will have to use graph paper instead of a computer to write it!

Arna D 8:24 AM  

Fun puzzle! I'd rather do math go completely blank over pop culture any day of the week. Thanks, Parker for letting me use that side of my brain.

Gareth Bain 8:24 AM  

TSWANA is an official language in two countries, if it's to be out of bounds then so should, for instance LAO. It's also the name of the people who speak it, and I can't see any difference between it and say XHOSA.

efrex 8:34 AM  

This one landed smack dab in my wheelhouse somehow: even the odder fill (CAM, MAINER) came quickly. Once in a while, it's nice to throw a bone to us math/science nerds, and this one had a lot of meat on it. Thursday puzzles should be somewhat divisive, methinks, since that seems to be the day when we get crazy ideas, and I liked this one a lot. Absolutely cracked up over the MOONS clue. Agree with whomever noted that "fuddy-duddy" is a noun, and hence unfair as a clue for STODGY. Otherwise, though, a great debut, Mr. Lewis!

jackj 8:48 AM  

This puzzle took no longer to finish than a "normal" Thursday but, when finished, I couldn't help but ask myself, "Why did you bother?".

The math junkies will be crawling out of the woodwork with over the top praise and reveling in this "Son of Fibonacci" but, perhaps, we can send a message to Will Shortz that it be titled "Son of Fibonacci: The Last Sequence".

Parker, appreciate hearing from you; Will did you no favor by redoing 70% of the clues, especially with MAINER. Yuck!

Pete 8:48 AM  

I hated this, twice, for completly different reasons than those expressed. As a math guy, I was annoyed at the use of X instead of N in the equations, as equations that take only integers as arguments are always expressed with N as the argument, X is reserved for real values. Last night, when I got to TWENTYOVERFIVEX I quit, as I would have failed a High School freshman for not reducing the equation to 4/X, and for the use of Xs rather than Ns.
This morning, I decided I was being way, way too petty, and started over. The ambiguity of NINEMINUSXCUBED (as noted by ED) revived my pettiness.

jtam 8:52 AM  

I've been doing the NYT crossword with the help of the blog for about 6 months and this is the first Thursday I ever finished on my own! 24 minutes. I can now die happy (or attempt to do Fridays).

jesser 9:00 AM  

I'm (happily) astonished that I finished this puzzle with no errors, and only two writeovers. I never paid attention to the number stuff. I dance better than I do arithmetic/math. But I know the mathematical terms, so CUBED, SQUARED, MINUS, PLUS and VARIABLE appeared in pieces then made their ways in, and that helped me a lot.

Writeovers were huRT before PERT and X SQUARE minUS TWO before, well, you know.

I thought the cluing was playful most places, particularly at 24D, 13D and 46D.

Rex JEERED, but I ain't gonna.

Happy Thursday!

GLR 9:25 AM  

Thought this was pretty good puzzle - medium challenging for me. Finished with one wrong letter, at ZaLDA and aMEND.

Don't mind a little math in a puzzle, but I didn't really do any of it here (other than to check after the fact). @Pete and Evil Doug - I don't see any ambiguity in 57A. Absent parentheses, you do the exponentiation before the subtraction.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Don't comment here much, but have to agree with those who don't do crosswords to work out math formulas. For me, crosswords are away to put away my work and worries for a while. This thing was work -- without pay.

chefbea 9:36 AM  

The only thing I liked about the puzzle was all the food..Quac,tuna salad, uncle bens rice.

Did not understand the puzzle at all. DNF and why is journalist on a mission embed???

Z 9:37 AM  

Loved it.

And since we had a reference to C.P.Snow the other day, all you mathphobes should pick up The Two Cultures. It's a quick read. I had the pleasure of reading the book and discussing it with a math professor and a music professor. That first week really helped me make sense of my liberal arts education.

Anyway, I truly enjoyed the solve. Got EMTS right away, and the clue made me smile. My barber started with a trIm, then I asked him to clIP my bangs before I finally settled on just a SNIP here and there. Cleaning that section up got me my first full theme answer and helped out a lot as I was struggling in the north. For whatever reason EMU was blocked for me (oh - I know - I should really finish that Ed.D. and become Dr. Z). Loved the clue for MOONS, was amused that we have gone from AABA to ABBA to ABBY, loved the Calvin and Hobbes clue.

And I have to agree that if you have all those Xes, SEQUENCE and VARIABLE, you might as well go for a pangram.

Great Debut @Paka. Looking forward to more.

Howard B 9:38 AM  

@Evil doug: GLR beat me to it by a nose. Without parens, exponents are solved first, and the equation is correct.

I thought that aside from BEEST being a rather beestly partial fill, the mathy part of me enjoyed this puzzle for the reasons Parker cited; it was a nice changeup from the more frequent wordplay themes. Although I can see how the math involved would polarize the solving community as well. To the puzzle's credit, the math was not required to solve the puzzle.

The sticking point for me wasn't the math, but more some of the fill such as MAINER and the aforementioned BEEST. TSWANA is interesting and a widely spoken enough language to merit an occasional peek in the grid. Doesn't hurt to expand our horizons a bit.

So I'd say that I enjoyed this more than the usual for its originality, warts and all.

Nancy in PA 9:56 AM  

I really enjoyed this. Actually used a few dormant numbers skills in the solve. Kept thinking I had seen other puzzles by Parker Lewis and then realized his name was familiar because I met him at ACPT! @PAKA, I gave your contact info to my son Evan (Lewis and Clark '10, now a PCV in Burkina Faso) and I know he read your blog before he left. Great debut and looking forward to more.

Lois 10:04 AM  

I've never been good with sequences, but I admire this puzzle in retrospect. The puzzle was made much harder by the fill, which I wish would have been easier with such a hard theme. I don't mean beest (easy) or Tswana, but the odd parts of speech and some other things. Yes, fuddy-duddy seems to be an adjective (looked it up), but who uses it that way? And embed (a journalist embedded with troops) must also be used as a noun, but seems to be unfamiliar to others as well as to me. Didn't know "dips." "Lade" was very tough.

But some others here found the puzzle easy! So you can't please everyone.

Tobias Duncan 10:04 AM  

I love it when the constructors stop in to give us the inside scoop.Thanks Parker!

Just looked over this puzzle again and found NO SPORTS!!! huzzah! I need to come up with a clever name for sports free puzzles. Not feeling very clever today though so I could use some help...

@CoolPapaD If I misread a clue the first time, I am doomed to misread at least the next ten times. I somehow read 32 down as Font for "front" for some reason and could not shake it till this morning.

No one can say they were forced to do math today. Math terms are very finite and numbers are easy to get with just a few crosses so quit the whining!

600 10:05 AM  

Well, I'm no math whiz, but I liked this puzzle a lot. Maybe that's because I finished in under half an hour--an astoundingly good time for me on a Thursday, and a real ego boost after a string of DNF's lately.

I loved hearing from the constructor and am most impressed to think he constructed on graph paper!

Hate to disagree, but fuddy-duddy is a noun OR an adjective meaning stuffy, old-fashioned, and conservative, at least according to

@Glimmerglass--I have heard an anchor introduce a story from the war zone with something like, "Let's hear from our embed, (insert name.)" I never liked the term nor its origins (at least as far as I know) during the Iraq War, but it's certainly legitimate whether I like it or not.

@Tobias Duncan--did you misread the clue as "font"? I hate it when that happens!

Lastly, often by the time I type my comment and enter it, someone else has already made my points. It makes me feel really dumb when that happens, so if it does--well, I guess I'll just feel really dumb. I'd hate you all to think I don't read all the comments before I comment. I do. I really do!

joho 10:09 AM  

I admire the construction and applaud the constructor (bravo Parker!) for his NYT debut but all the math left me out in the cold without an equation. I know, that means nothing to you just like this theme meant nothing to me. I was amazed that I finished with no errors, but even that feat didn't float my boat.

I do look forward to more puzzles from Africa, though, and hope the next is filled animals or something that roars!

Confused 10:09 AM  

I understand those who don't like change in their puzzles. I also understand those sick of the same old, same old. What I don't understand is why these seem to be the same people.

quilter1 10:10 AM  

Blogger ate my comment so I say again, medium-challenging indeed! I finished in spite of not being a math person, then came here and found that I did not finish after all, having the Zalda/amend error. Sigh.

Off to buy the grandboy a Big Wheel.

600 10:10 AM  

See? Tobias got on here with his misreading before I finished the post. And Lois was way nicer in her reponses to adjective fuddy-duddy and noun embed. Bah! Hanging my head in shame.

But hands up for if I read the clue wrong the first time I will read it wrong another dozen or so.

Ted of Albany 10:28 AM  

I like crossword puzzles because I detest math.

Mel Ott 10:43 AM  

Finished, but it was a joyless slog.

Kudos to Parker for coming here to face the mob.

I still miss Calvin and Hobbes.

David 10:47 AM  

Why does "Journalist on a mission?" = "Embed"?

Matthew G. 10:48 AM  

I'm not a math person, but I got a kick out of this. I enjoyed trying to spot the pattern before getting all of the long acrosses. I also like the subtle use of GIVEN as a bonus entry in the exact center.

There's probably an unfair (pro-puzzle) bias here -- it ran on a Thursday, when I'm expecting Weirdness. That made me more receptive to the goofy theme than if this had been yesterday's puzzle. I agree with the Medium-Challenging rating -- I was just over my usual Thursday time.

I didn't notice the pangram, and I can't find a spot in the grid where it seems to have adversely affected anything, so I almost wonder if it was accidental. There are Xes everywhere in the theme, the Q is also part of a theme entry, and the Z and J each start two common, pleasant words. So perhaps "beginner's luck" rather than a "lamentable, rookie decision"!

Paka, at least one mathphobe enjoyed your work! I like goofy when it feels unforced, so I look forward to your next puzzle.

Chip Hilton 10:49 AM  

Lovely that we all can agree to disagree about the merit of a puzzle.

I truly enjoyed this. Thursday is my favorite day of the week and working out the SEQUENCEs was a blast. Also, I thought the fill was creative and challenging (excepting MAINER....ugh).

@Paka: Thanks for the behind the scenes information. 70%? Really?

@Confused: Yup. Me, too.

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

First, in my little corner of the universe when you are totally baked you are stoned not insane.
I really did not enjoy this puzzle.
I just didn't care.
Last, I really enjoyed reading Parker's input. I love it when constructors stop by.

Kurt 10:52 AM  

I liked the puzzle a lot. And I totally agree with Parker's comment: "... it's a nice change of pace from the drop-a-letter, add-a-letter themes that we see over and over."

@Evil Doug - Nice catch on the math. Did you spring for a paper today or do it in your head?

Congratulations, Parker. And thanks for a fun solve.

Lindsay 10:53 AM  

Greetings from Down East! Or, more strictly speaking, greetings from the northern suburbs of Boston. Where we have an eatery called GUAC 'n' Roll.

I'm the least mathy person in the universe, but as others have pointed out, no math required to complete the grid. Liked it in an offbeat way.

re 24: A couple of weeks ago I was behind car with the vanity plate "MOON ME". Granted, it was a Maine (ME) registration, but I still have to think someone was asleep at the DMV.

*** derook = verb, to capture a castle

Matthew G. 10:53 AM  

@David, @Paka, and others who asked about "Embed," see here:Embedded Journalism.

Both the term and the practice were much discussed and debated in the early days of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- I found the clue to be a gimme.

Lindsay 10:55 AM  

re: 24D, I meant.

Arundel 11:11 AM  

Yeay, @paka - I'm not very mathy, but I loved this one. Just tough enough!

And, speaking as a resident of Maine, I liked 44D. What exactly do people think you call those of us who live here?? There is no other part of the country, as far as I know, that is said to be Down East, which is a term originating in the days of sail, when ships leaving Boston for Maine generally had the wind at their backs, sailing downwind to the East.

While not all Mainers (Mainahs) live Down East, which is, roughly speaking, from the area of Acadia National Park to the Canadian border, all Down Easters (Down Eastahs) are definitely Mainahs.

Stan 11:15 AM  

Anyone know what's next in this sequence?

14, 42, 59, 86...

archaeoprof 11:17 AM  

Wow, we've got a real outbreak of crankypants and math-o-phobia today.

I loved this puzzle. Clever, substantial, and off the beaten path.

Way to go, @Paka!

Beadola 11:29 AM  

I just finished reading the Wordplay blog and I wanted to tell Paka I love him.
I am definitely math challenged, but I have no complaints about the puzzle. It was thoroughly enjoyable because I could do it without the math (and maybe learn a thing or two).
BTW, @Chefwen, although math is NOT my thing at all, I am in Mensa...

Nancy 11:32 AM  

Couldn't get EMTS because I couldn't get EPSON (I had NARAD, not NORAD)and I had ASWANA, leaving me with -MAS for EMTS, tho I was sure the A was wrong. And...
Will someone please tell me why "uncool sorts" are DIPS? I got this, guessing at Zelda, but wasn't sure and am not happy about it.
A really tough puzzle, even though I got all but 3 letters.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

With respect to 57a, in Australia, we were taught in high school the BODMAS rule for the order of maths functions.
Brackets, next Of (ie. to the nth power) then Division, Multiplication, Addition and last Subtraction.

phillytony 11:41 AM  

first time posting...
puzzle was tough with a variety of fill that i just didnt get.
LADE 7D is a put on? like to ladel something on? maybe i'm missing the obvious.
i liked GUAC. used here in Philly.
i didnt finish, but i wish i had spent a little more time trying to figure out the math, but i suppose i gave up prematurely.
good change of pace

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

For you constructors out there, an additional clue for "Orem" would be "Original home of WordPerfect."

stonymed 12:01 PM  

i liked it! no rap/hip-hop 'stars,' and as mentioned earlier, no sports. and the formulas were a nice extra brain nudge. congrats parker.
p.s. we even say guac in vermont!!

Cheerio 12:09 PM  

Really enjoyed this and found it very refreshing. The sequences made it easier, but it was the fill that seemed so refreshing. I loved Beest, and Tswana and Guaca and Bones. Would rather see Tsawna any day over Lao.(Aha moment with "botswana" to "tsawna" connection. Does "bo" mean something?) Also renjoyed Mossy and Lade and Mainer. The wikipedia entry on NORAD has a photo of a command room and a protective door that look like they come out of a Mission Impossible movie.

David 12:13 PM  

@evil doug, thanks for the math explanation on the 3rd themed clue! I was racking my brain to make this work, and simply forgot the basic order of operations. Now I can sleep tonight....

I really enjoyed the puzzle, thanks paka and congrats on your NYT debut....

one writeover, CAM over CAP, but this was a very challenging Thursday, which has seen some pretty funky puzzles of late. Loved, the inclusion of SEQUENCE and VARIABLE, didn't mind TSWANA and BEEST, didn't like FISHER (Casting director) at all, though I suppose it fits.

Z 12:22 PM  

@Arundel - Thanks for the history on on Down Easter. I had no idea. I'm a Michigander, but have no idea where the term comes from.

@phillytony - welcome. To LADE is a verb.

We eat GUAC in Michigan as well. I use serrano peppers, red onion, cilantro, a roma tomato and lime juice in my recipe.

hazel 12:25 PM  

i too liked this puzzle's off the beaten pathness - good descrip, @archaeoprof! i liked its non-formulaic (!) quality - the fact that is was so original.
@seth g - your comment is a puzzler, but im going to try to solve it. bonus!
we eat Guac in Atlanta too....

nice debut, Parker!

Matthew G. 12:33 PM  

@stan: 125. Also, you skipped 23 and 34.

BigSteve46 12:34 PM  

"I'm a Gnu
I'm a Gnu
A g-nother gnu
I wish I could g-nash my teeth at you
I'm a Gnu
How do you do
You really ought to k-now w-ho's w-ho's
I'm a Gnu
Spelt G-N-U
Call me Bison or Okapi and I'll sue
G-nor am I the least like that dreadful HARTEBEEST!
Oh, g-no, g-no, g-no,
G-no g-no g-no, I'm a Gnu
G-no g-no g-no, I'm a Gnu"

Flanders and Swan

foodie 12:40 PM  

@Paka: great puzzle (albeit challenging for me- I kept wanting each number to build on the previous number, but the starting number seemed random). The clue for 37D set me straight.

And definitely a great change of pace. A puzzle is supposed to puzzle you and triumph comes from feeling like you've disentangled something. This was nice and knotty and lovely to disentangle.

Great self-review! Good for you for making the case for the stuff you love!

Keep'm coming.

Y equals MX plus B 12:47 PM  

So, a chemist, a physicist, and a mathematician are stranded on a desert island. They find a crate of baked beans on the beach, but they don't have any way to open the cans.

"Easy," said the chemist. "We build a fire, throw in the cans, and the heat will cause the cans to burst."

"That's ridiculous," said the mathematician. "How can we eat the beans when they're in the fire?"

"I know," said the physicist. "We bend that tree down and launch the cans into the air. When they hit the rocks, the impact will cause them to burst open."

"How can we eat the beans when they're splattered all over the beach?" asked the mathematician.

"What's your idea, smart guy?" asked the chemist.

The mathematician thought a moment, then said, "Well, first we assume a can opener ..."

Noam D. Elkies 1:00 PM  

Lots of traffic here this early in the day. That doesn't surprise me 28D:GIVEN the theme, though all the kvetching over 12D:TSWANA is unexpected — I didn't know it, and the TSW- start seemed impossible, but "Botswana" is familiar so it made sense once the whole thing was filled in (unlike any number of random commercial misspellings of DJ's and whatnot that often litter the NYTimes grids these days). I actually like it, as well as the even stranger-looking XSQ- start of 17A. I noticed the pangram, but it arises naturally out of the theme, which has most of the tough letters, particularly FQVWXY (and also the three-pointers BC), so only JKZ required extra work. Nice too that the Q and V also appear in 3D and 37D which are part of the theme and each cross two theme answers; the central bonus 28D:GIVEN crosses a theme answer in a rare letter as well.

As for the theme itself, I recuse for obvious reasons (though yes, the unreduced 34A:20/5X felt strange). But for those who *do* like math puzzles, KenKen is more interesting than Sudoku, and the NYTimes provides two of those each day.


P.S. For this of all themes, and with 11D:METRIC already in the grid, 50A:MILLI should have had the 1/1000 clue (or 1000 as in -pede). It's pathetic that (going by xwordinfo) this entry has now appeared six times, and each with the same silly Vanilli clue when milli- is available.

Masked and Anonymous 1:12 PM  

African math quiz pangram. Challenging, but a fun and mostly fair fight.

Fave clue: "Apt name for a nun?"
Next most fave clue: "Hindsights?" (Nice keeper, Parker)
Fave fill word: TSWANA. Don't speak a word of it, but anything that starts with TSW- deserves honorable mention. Made me mighty nervous about my crossin' EM?S answer, tho.
Fave rebus picture: That OZ one. Didn't realize there was a wolf-man character in that flick.

Nice debut, kid. Admirable U-count. Thumbs up!

foodie 1:13 PM  

@NDE, as I was doing the puzzle, I thought of you and wondered whether the patterns jumped right out and you could come up with the formulas just by looking at the sequences.

I agree KenKen is fun. I try to speed solve the online version. My best time for a really easy one is 22 sec.

I also agree about MILLI, especially GIVEN METRIC and the quantitative nature of the puzzle. Although, I don't want to think of MILLIpedes-- they're all over the place these days, around where we live.

@Yequals, I like your story.

ksquare 1:21 PM  

@Stan 11:15 The next number is 125 for the street stations on the 4 and 5 Lexington Ave. subway express stops in Manhattan. The next three are 138, 149, 161 on the 4 and 138, 149, 149 on the 5 in the Bronx.
I've ridden these lines since the 1920's.

KarenSampsonHudson 1:25 PM  

Congrats on your debut, Parker. I've never found joy in math, although I do appreciate its formulaic beauties. I'll need my husband nearby to consult if you serve up any more number-heavy puzzles! :-)

JenCT 1:48 PM  

@TwoPonies: Yup, my first answer for 31A Totally Baked was HIGH.

Sorry, found this puzzle to be a real slog.

Speaking of MILLI Vanilli, why didn't the real singers behind the hit songs go on to become famous???

Masked Game Player 1:52 PM  

P.S. @31: Ives made the board game "Mansion of Happiness" in the 1840's. Can certainly sympathize that you might not have a copy sittin' in your den closet. Beautiful board, but fairly simpy "follow the path" game. For my money, the old board game to find a copy of is "Cabby: the game with rules made to be broken". Gets the whole fam pissed at each other, kinda like with "Sorry". M&A

fvigeland 1:52 PM  

Congrats, Parker! I really loved this puzzle. I think it serves as a good reminder that not all puzzles are meant for speed-solving. This one is quite enjoyable when you take it in and figure out the math and use that to solve the puzzle, as opposed to letting the crosses fill in the theme answers for you. I have to disagree with @Rex -- it is an entertaining solve, if you're solving it back and forth between fill and theme. If you don't ever take out the time (from speed-solving) to look at the theme and try and figure it out, then it would be kind of a slog.

While I don't think the pangramness of this puzzle interferes with the fill quality, I would have changed ZELDA to HELLA just to get another NoCal expression in there! (FYI: GUAC is totally in-the-language in NYC, too.)

Anyway, as many have said, Parker couldn't be a nicer guy. Many congrats!

Badir 2:00 PM  

As a mathematician, I enjoyed this one. Yes, it was a bit odd to use x instead of n, but math is flexible that way. It was kind of fun to come up with the rule to give the sequences. Also, it was my seventh-fastest Thursday ever, even though I carelessly put in Four for FIVE at first.

captcha: molsin: Canadian beer made out of material for padding your toes. Ick!

retired_chemist 2:03 PM  

Hand up for thinking, with @Pete, that X really should be N and that 34A really should have been reduced. But it caused no confusion - no harm, no foul.

Congrats on a nice debut, @Paka (Bostonian pronunciation of your first name, I presume). Glad you got many fewer irked responses from the non-math crowd than I feared.

evil doug 2:04 PM  

"With respect to 57a, in Australia, we were taught in high school the BODMAS rule for the order of maths functions. Brackets, next Of (ie. to the nth power) then Division, Multiplication, Addition and last Subtraction."

Yeah, but your cyclones spin the wrong way down there, so can I really trust you?

(I was going to say "toilets", but snopes says that's a myth. Damn! I trusted that Simpsons episode....)


George NYC 2:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
larkamlady 2:31 PM  

I found this puzzle clever and pretty do-able, although I didn't get EMBED even after it was explained. Wrong spelling, coined word -- but this is to be blamed on Will. Maybe because I'm a little long in the tooth, none of the "older" notions bothered me -- I learned about NORAD in grade school, and wildebeest and hartebeest were familiar animals, though I've never been to Africa. I am a math/computer person, but I hate Sudoku -- BORING!! And to that math teacher who wants n's instead of x's, get a life! If I can solve a puzzle without a single Google, it's a good one -- and this fell into that category. Kudos to our rookie Parker!

larkamlady 2:32 PM  

I found this puzzle clever and pretty do-able, although I didn't get EMBED even after it was explained. Wrong spelling, coined word -- but this is to be blamed on Will. Maybe because I'm a little long in the tooth, none of the "older" notions bothered me -- I learned about NORAD in grade school, and wildebeest and hartebeest were familiar animals, though I've never been to Africa. I am a math/computer person, but I hate Sudoku -- BORING!! And to that math teacher who wants n's instead of x's, get a life! If I can solve a puzzle without a single Google, it's a good one -- and this fell into that category. Kudos to our rookie Parker!

Stan 2:43 PM  

@Matthew G. and @George NYC: Correct!

(I went with just express stops on the East side IRT.)

George NYC 2:46 PM  


How about:

5, 10, 101,....

Noam D. Elkies 2:48 PM  

@foodie: I saw 4/1, 4/2, 4/3, 4/4, 4/5 more-or-less immediately. For 3,6,11,18,27 I soon noticed (after ignoring red herrings like 27 being 3 cubed) that I'm adding 3,5,7,9 so it's some quadratic sequence, but didn't know what to do with it until running across some of the other theme entries and clues. I didn't know what to make of 8,1,−18,etc. until NIN... appeared at 57A and I saw 9 minus 1, 8, 27, and then confirmed that the remaining two numbers worked the same way with 64 and 125.

GILL I. 3:03 PM  

@Glen - thank you. I now have something else to screw up the neural cells.
@Pete from last night 10:57 pm.
Bravo - you couldn't have said it better...
@Paka - En hora buena! Thanks to you I know all about USB and that this puzzle really isn't about knowing math...

Greg 3:04 PM  

I liked the math. Parker needs to reread 1001 Nights though. Aladdin was from China.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Good theme, but not so good fill and a few clues were just wrong.

MAINER (i guess), GUAC (really?), EMBED (not a noun), PERT (=perky or sassy so maybe it works), CAM (is not short for camcorder).

Never know NORAD was joint op with Canada. Has the TS for TSWANA and thought TSETSE - I was close;-)

Glitch 3:22 PM  

Wow 100+ coments b4 3pm EDT --- congrats Parker Lewis!


Despite NOT being "math challenged" had no problem with the concept / execution, and the "verifications of the results" were "left to others" AFAIWC.

My only disappointment [not your fault] is that with so many comments, only the diehards will read them all, and others will miss some really interesting "stuff" [not only about the crossword].

And, re: the preceeding paragraph, I don't think I saw any significant mentions excusing any perceived faults of your offering as a "First Timer".

Good work, on many levels!


Stan 3:31 PM  

@George NYC: Buses?

I skip M-W 3:32 PM  

It helped to know math and I found it refreshing fun. Never been to Africa, but got Tswana. Twenty divided by five threw me off for a bit.
I've heard embed used as a noun fairly often by now,and I'm on Medicare.

Does anyone know the next term in the series 0, 1, 2 ?
spoiler alert:
it's 720 factorial:
0, 1!, 2!!, 3!!!
Moral: a sequence isn't always what its simplest version suggests....

thursdaysd 3:33 PM  

"Down east" is not confined to Maine. From wikipedia:

"In North Carolina, Down East historically refers to the group of communities east of Beaufort in Carteret County in the Coastal Plain region of the state"

Cool Dude 3:35 PM  

Good job blacking out Parker's e-mail address.

skua76 3:36 PM  

Well, I enjoyed it...although I was daunted a bit at first by the sequences, since I'm somewhat a math person and couldn't figure out how they'd ever fit into the grid. And I'm certainly enjoying all the comments here. Thanks, @paka for the puzzle and the activity, I look forward to another one soon.

I worked for awhile in the '70s at a NORAD site in Greenland (back when it was the North American Air (defense) Command. The military isn't alone in struggling to come up with ear-catching about many of the NASA and astronomy projects looking for funding.

ledis: something that the guac is served on...

George NYC 3:56 PM  


Major freeways that pass through LA...
Sort of a west coast version of your sequence....

santafefran 4:01 PM  

Gotta love those GUAC DIPS which we have a lot of here in Santa Fe--they go great with New Mexican food!

I know NORAD from having lived in Colorado Springs briefly but mostly from the Stargate series which I still miss. Thank goodness Torchwood is back.

My years of being a math whiz are long gone but the familiar terms helped with the solve. Write overs included FLY right, AS A rock and SERE for totally baked.

Congrats on a challenging debut puzzle, @Paka and the clue for MOONS rocks!

@Arundel--appreciated the explanation.

denouslu--an improvement over de-old slu

Lewis 4:01 PM  


"I don't know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is to try to please everyone." -- Bill Cosby

Keep up the good work!

sanfranman59 4:10 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

The 19:37, 19:10, 1.02, 60%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:04, 9:19, 1.08, 70%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

My problem with this puzzle was not that it required math, but that it didn't. I suspect most everybody solved the theme entries solely with the crosses, plus the realization that there were a limited number of words that could make up the themes. If there had been more theme entries, and the rest of the puzzle had been clued more difficult, then some of us mathies might have been driven to solve the sequences rather than the words. As it was, I solved the puzzle solely as a crossword, and checked the sequences afterwards with only mild interest.

Still, Will promises to give us something different on a Thursday, so I appreciate the attempt.

michael 4:35 PM  

Perhaps my favorite puzzle of the year. I knew Rex wouldn't like it.

Aside from the math, I liked the fill.

I had a double major in math and anthropology many years ago and have never seen why some people seem to think that one is good at either words or numbers but not both. I think most of the good scrabble players are math-types (or at least many of them are).

Sfingi 4:48 PM  

Aladdin was a lad
From old Bagdad
Had a lotta luck with a lamp he had.
Rubbed that lamp
A man came flyin
Served him up some Ballantine.

@JenCT - they were probably short, fat, pale and over 65.

@Thursday - Sudoku is not math; it's logic.

This kid musta got 800 in both SATs.

jackj 5:04 PM  

Most people are probably familiar with NORAD without even knowing it.

On Christmas Eve, TV newscasters around the country tout the "fact" that NORAD is tracking the path of Santa Claus as he makes his rounds in the USA.

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

I had no problem with BEEST, maybe because I read lots of Wilbur Smith as a boy. I'm amazed by the number of people who slept through the Iraq war and didn't understand EMBED. STODGY was fine too, fuddy-duddy is also an adjective.

I've never been good at math but always loved it, so I enjoyed that aspect. I googled one clue, so technically a DNF for me. Nice puzzle.

chefbea 6:22 PM  

@thursdaysd.. Did not know that and I am in NC. Thanks for the info

Modesty Blasé 6:33 PM  

@Paka: I was very KEEN on this puzzle! Too bad Will changed so many of your clues.

I have worked in a few restaurants and "I need a side of GUAC of the fly" is a pretty common request.

(BO)TSWANA seemed intuitive.

Took me the better part of an hour to finish, but time well spent.

Laurie Anderson's Let x = x has been running through my mind today.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:41 PM  

Already 124 Comments! Please excuse me if I violate one of my own rules and comment before reading all the preceding, but all I was going to say anyway was:

I did this one at the beach today, and it is hard to imagine a less beach-friendly puzzle. But I did like it - not averse to a little math.

chefwen 7:01 PM  

It took me longer to read all the comments than it took me to do the puzzle last night. After doing that and reading about Mr. Lewis over at Wordplay I have a new found respect for both this puzzle and Paka.

126 comments and counting, well done!

R. McGeddon 7:32 PM  

I cast my vote emphatically with the Fors for this puzzle. It forced me to exercise my long-atrophied math skills.

And I see nothing wrong with TSWANA and BEEST. Introducing a little Bantu and Afrikaner was a nice change from the usual French and German.

Clark 7:45 PM  

What is the next string in this sequence?

Precious Ramotswe 8:06 PM  

Being from Botswana, I enjoyed certain clues. I am not No.1 at solving math problems tho. I do the puzzle at my desk when I don't have any other solving to do.

hazel 8:18 PM  

@Precious - do you drink bush tea while you're solving?

Detour 8:24 PM  

I love crossword AND math/ logic! Enjoyed figuring out the sequences but DNF due to (what I felt) difficult fill in the north and NE.
7yr old son supplied me with Princess Peach (Mario) and neither of us knew Zelda.
Fill I did not find difficult: guac (common here in MI - Hi Z), Mainer (my nickname for a time having lived there). Also really enjoyed SLED.

@Arundel: beat this exYorker to the explanation.

@? (I forget): there may be other down east but none as prevalent as NE Maine

@Evil: the toilet thing is a myth?!! how can this be?!

Generic Advice: Get up and use the computer when posting a comment vs lying in bed (embed?) posting from an IPod. Takes an eternity to type...

skua76 8:33 PM  

131 comments and counting, gee is this the record?

plotoast: what folks in certain Arab areas have for breakfast

Anonymous 9:11 PM  

The actual formula in Parker's picture does not say sin(n) as posted - it is sin(pi) of the picture. Just being a nit-picking math major, the puzzle was quite enjoyable.

Not sure how embed works as a journalist on a mission?

The Free Dictionary 9:25 PM  

EMBED n. (mbd)
One that is embedded, especially a journalist who is assigned to an active military unit.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:12, 6:51, 0.91, 16%, Easy
Tue 8:27, 8:55, 0.95, 39%, Easy-Medium
Wed 10:07, 11:51, 0.85, 21%, Easy-Medium
Thu 19:38, 19:10, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:33, 3:40, 0.97, 41%, Medium
Tue 4:27, 4:35, 0.97, 46%, Medium
Wed 5:15, 5:51, 0.90, 28%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:29, 9:19, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Sam Donaldson 10:08 PM  

"If I wanted to do math puzzles I'd do sudoku."

We have a new entry in the Crossword Blog Comment Hall of Fame!


I thought Parker did a great job with the puzzle! I love a bit of math tossed into the puzzle every once in a while.

Even better is knowing thta Rex will be whining about the puzzle later in the day.

Joseph 2:49 AM  

@Rex, I am stunned at your remarkably harsh and borderline ad hominem attack ("more about showing off constructor cleverness") on a young constructor who looks up to you. You don't deserve his praise. Your dislike of "stunt" puzzles (or perhaps your inability to solve them with sufficient speed in search of your meaningless "fastest Thursday") has no bearing on the objective quality of this puzzle. This puzzle requires the solver to use skills other than those normally associated with solving crosswords, like math and logic, and there should be more like it. You should be ashamed, and when you return that gift he so fondly bestowed on you, you should remember to include with it an apology.

Phil/Marc 4:20 PM  

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. The math addition was fantastic.

Although I solved everything, I never heard of Tswana, and got it solely off the crosses. I found the bones clue a little misleading. Jinxes and pert were extremely clever clues; even after solving the puzzle, I had to go back and try to understand why those were the right answers.

Looking forward to your next puzzle Mr Lewis.

cody.riggs 12:48 AM  

@ Z 9:37 am: Thank you for bringing up C.P. Snow so that I don't have to yet again! I am always saddened to see when people close their sense of curiosity to all but a narrow range of subjects.

I loved this puzzle, and echo everyone else who found criticism of it extremely unfair and closed-minded. ("TSWANA" is indeed in the name of a country, and totally inferrable.)

What's wrong with a little variety? I enjoyed the algebra tremendously, and the crossing down theme answers almost made the puzzle TOO EASY for my taste, but glad they were there!

Two thumbs WAY up. And not

And not at all a bad pangram.

Portland, Ore.

MartyK 8:12 AM  

Although I completed this puzzle accurately, I still do not understand the math. For example, could someone please explain what the clue for 17A has to do with the answer? Also, what variable has been replaced in each of the answers to the sequences?

AySz88 2:44 AM  

As more of a math/logic guy than a word person, this is the only NYT crossword puzzle that has attracted enough attention from me for me to attempt solving it. And seeing ZELDA+ZEROES+ALL in about 10 seconds gave me enough confidence to start trying it out. Thank you, Parker!

(Though, I think my reaction to "Twenty over Five X" was like Rex's reaction to TSWANA. Not reducing your fractions? Seriously?)

Glad to see that this was "medium-challenging", because it was certainly challenging for me. My poor spelling threw me off at "BEaST" and "UNIsEF", and almost all the crosses for "jeeRed" and "millI" threw me for a loop (and those two themselves, of course). Oddly, saw NORAD instantly (NORth American Defense). In all, I tallied 20 grid squares where I had to cheat and look things up to get things going again. (Sorry, but it was my first attempt at solving.)

MartyK - The variable X was what was replaced by 1, 2, 3... Thus 14-across was:
3 = 1^2+2,
6 = 2^2+2,
11 = 3^3+2, etc.

Pet Sitting Mckinney 8:20 AM  

Cool there is actually some good points on this post some of my friends might find this relevant, will send them a link, many thanks...

Pet Sitting Mckinney

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

I agree with other comments. If I wanted to do math, I wouldn't be doing crosswords. I didn't understand any of the math even after I got the answers. A lot of these puzzles seem to be a competition between the constructor and the solver to see how far out they can go to make the puzzle unsolvable. Why don't constructors make the puzzles more "user friendly" so more people can participate and enjoy them instead of just the "die hards?"

SW syndiland 2:00 PM  

I know it's a late comment, and therefore no longer very meaningful or even likely to be read, but I have to cast my vote with the favorable comments. I'm particularly mathematical, and I cringed at first, but I soon appreciated the puzzle-within-a-puzzle as letters began dropping into the theme answers, and even for me the "math" was not difficult. Yeah, I was looking for n's but I liked the x's. Thought the cluing was also clever.

SW syndiland 2:04 PM  

Shoot. There's a critical "NOT" missing in my second sentence--I'm not particularly....

Red Valerian 2:46 PM  

I thought this was a great puzzle. Lots of fun and with some interesting fill. Thanks, Parker. And thanks for your comments--they made me appreciate the puzzle even more than I already did.

We even say "guac" up here on the west coast of Canada.

I've been away from this blog for a while (darned job). Where's Andrea when there's a pangram? (unless I didn't see her in the long list of comments)

Right--back to work...

Deb 3:01 PM  

@Anonymous 12:50 - If you want every day's puzzle to be as easy to solve as a Monday's, try something other than the NYT. I very, very, VERY rarely can finish a Saturday puzzle, but I'd be bored to tears if each day was as simple as the last.

I'm really surprised so many were thrown by EMBED, but I was a serious news junkie for most of the last twenty years. (Now I find it's just too damned depressing.)

@Red Valerian - I was really surprised not to see acme chime in, too!

I didn't tumble to the theme for awhile. Having written in MOuSY for "old fashioned" and seeing NU(U) there, I thought at first it was going to have something to do with the Greek alphabet.

@Arundel - Thanks for the story behind "Down Easter." Being a life-long Stephen King fan, I knew the term but was always puzzled by it.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

Math helped me with the solve, liked the puzzle, seen worse fill in many non-pangrams. Haven't seen many worse drawings of lions though.

@Anonymous 9:11 PM I believe the 'n' you refer to is just the unfortunate representation of pi in this particular font. Search for string "(n)" and you'll see that Rex's posted equation is not among the results.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

@thursdaysd: Let's clear the air on an important point: Sudoku has NOTHING to do with math! If you doubt me, substitute the letters A through I for the digits, and the puzzle remains what it is: a LOGIC exercise.
If this is a first effort, this Lewis fella has a bright future. Yeah, some of the fill was a little rough; in fact the square at 12 was a near Natick for me, until I hit on the play on "circulation" and thought of EMTS. Yes, I did look up TSWANA to confirm, but like yesterday, if I had no reference I'd've shrugged and inked in the correct letter anyway, so it wasn't really a true "cheat." Still, I've seen far worse fill in grids by people who should know better. Even though I have already stated my personal distaste for written-out numbers, I liked this one. And with words like ROXY, (the legend of) ZELDA-- man, does that take me back!--JINXES and CATNIP, you have made a very PERT beginning. --Spacecraft

wermi: if it _____I'd have thrown out TSWANA.

Dirigonzo 6:05 PM  

First, how could I not love a puzzle with that big shout-out at 44d (those who have viewed my blogger profile will understand). I'm a little stung though by all the criticism of that clue/answer so I was glad to see @Arundel rise to give a spirited defense.

In a case of extreme syndication synchronicity today's paper also published the obituary of country music pioneer Wade MAINER who died recently at age 104, so it was also a tribute puzzle of sorts. I like it when weird stuff like that happens.

Selfish reasons aside, I loved the puzzle and I love that it inspired over 150 comments which made for some very entertaining and educational reading - great job, Parker Lewis!

Pippin 7:25 PM  

Well, this just wasn't in my ballpark. Hated Math, found this very hard work and DNF. All those x's and y's and brackets and^s - it's all Greek to me. Strangely enough, I aced geometry in high school but could not get a grip on algebra at all.

But I did love the clues for MOONS, ABBY and JINXES. And BEEST and TSWANA came easily as I lived in South Africa for several years.

Despite the dictionary definitions quoted above, I still feel STODGY is an adjective and Fuddy-duddy a noun - in general usage anyway. You say someone is A fuddy-duddy not "he is fuddy-duddy".

Never heard of MOSSY as old-fashioned but it is in my OED so it must be so!

And I got MAINER - thanks @Dirigonzo!

Mark M 7:20 PM  

I loved it. For those in the "If I wanted math, I would be doing Sudoku" group, I think I'll come out here every day and comment "If I wanted proper nouns, I'd be playing trivia games".

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