Japanese PC maker / WED 2-10-16 / Hobos conveyances / Bodybuilder's dirty secret informally / Celeb parodied by Maya Rudolph on SNL / Exodus hero Ben Canaan

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: INTEGER (37A: The first parts of 17- and 22-Across are always this, the first part of 46-Across is sometimes this, and the first part of 55-Across is never this) — first parts of themers are NATURAL, WHOLE, RATIONAL, and IMAGINARY, respectively ... these are adjectives that (when they precede "number"?) do what the INTEGER clue says they do.

Theme answers:
  • NATURAL DISASTER (17A: Tsunami, for one)
  • WHOLE BEAN COFFEE (22A: Grinder input)
  • RATIONAL THOUGHT (46A: Sound judgment)
  • IMAGINARY FRIEND (55A: Hobbes, in "Calvin and Hobbes") 
Word of the Day: NEC (32D: Japanese PC maker) —
NEC Corporation (日本電気株式会社 Nippon Denki Kabushiki Gaisha) is a Japanese multinational provider of information technology (IT) services and products, with its headquarters in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. NEC provides IT and network solutions to business enterprises, communications services providers and to government agencies, and has also been the biggest PC vendor in Japan since the 1980s. The company was known as the Nippon Electric Company, Limited, before rebranding in 1983 as just NEC. Its NEC Semiconductors business unit was one of the worldwide top 20 semiconductor sales leaders before merging with Renesas Electronics. NEC is a member of the Sumitomo Group. (wikipedia)
• • •

I've heard from at least a couple people already tonight that they set personal Wednesday records with their solving times on this one, but it played only *sort of* easy, not very easy, for me (*last* Wednesday's was very easy—record-settingly so). Something about SEA ROVERS (?!) and STOMA and NEC provided enough resistance to keep things plausibly Wednesdayish, but I'm guessing most people who time themselves will find themselves on the fast side today. As for the theme—I don't care. I look at that Eternal clue on the revealer (INTEGER) and my head hurts. I'm sure that what it says about INTEGERs is true, but this adds nothing to the pleasure of the solving experience. Between the length and tediousness of that damned clue, and the fact that NUMBER is what follows NATURAL, WHOLE, RATIONAL, and IMAGINARY most readily in people's minds, I give this theme a 10 for technical accuracy but a 2 for joy.  In fact ... where is "number" here? "The first parts of 17- and 22-Across" are NATURAL and WHOLE ... but don't they need to be "NATURAL number" and "WHOLE number" to be an INTEGER? "NATURAL" is not always an INTEGER. That just makes no sense, grammatically. So I'm really confused as to how this is supposed to work on a basic, literal level. As for the fill, it is pretty much NYT-average; no great moments, but not much that's terrible either. A placeholder of a puzzle. Adequate and forgettable.

Stupidest move by me was looking at 6D: Herod's realm, seeing the letter pattern --DE-, and writing in ... [drum roll] ... HADES. In my defense ... ugh, I don't have much of one, but when my brain scrolled through "realms" that fit that pattern, and it hit HADES, some part of it must've gone "Herod ... bad man ... sure, go with it." This made the north very rough (the only section that played that way). I wrote TIFF for HUFF (51D: Fit of pique). Again, brain misfired here—seems to have merged SNIT and HUFF and ended up with TIFF. Gonna go back to CNN now and catch the tail end of the NH Primaries coverage. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Zero 12:04 AM  

Me, I give it a 0 for technical accuracy, as 0 is an integer and an irrational number. 0 = 0*i, and as we all know, n*i is an imaginary number. 0*0 = -0, just as does any other imaginary number.

jae 12:04 AM  

Very easy for me. Interesting theme if you like math stuff, some nice long downs, and a pretty smooth grid, liked it.

For a different side of Kristen WIIG, check out the indie films "The Skeleton Twins" and "Welcome to Me".

kozmikvoid 12:12 AM  

Thought the same thing throughout the solve...without 'number' the theme doesn't make any sense. It seems like a glaring oversight somewhere in the process, and it was distracting.

That being said, one thumb down for another poorly themed Wednesday. But one enthusiastic thumb up for the bowling reference. Really enjoyed that one.

Chuckbert 12:38 AM  

natural number
One of the set of positive whole numbers; a positive integer.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition Copyright © 2011-2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved. © 2013-2015 Enfour, Inc.

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

An integer can be an imaginary number, so this puzzle does not score on mathematical accuracy. To wit, 1+0i is a perfectly formed imaginary number and also an integer.

chefwen 2:00 AM  

I could have gotten through this pretty quickly if I had put STOMA and SNIPE where they belonged, instead I reversed them and couldn't figure why nothing seemed to work in that area. DOH! Got that sorted out and then tried to stretch IMAGINARY tiger to fit where FRIEND was meant to be. Had snit in at 51D, wrongo and wanted alcohol at 4D. Sneeze would have been cute for 34D, count the letters lady, not happening.

Finished product was not pretty to look, but it was finally correct.

Cameron Swartzell 2:17 AM  

I'm often week on biblical references (despite having read it cover to cover), so getting stuck with two adjacent downs left me hanging for a bit. While NEC is a big company, it's a parts manufacturer, hardly a known brand.

As a math person, I feel completely let down by the theme. 2/10 for me, without "* NUMBERS", this is poorly worded at best; "NATURAL is always INTEGER"? The set of NATURAL numbers are INTEGERS.

Pretty meh otherwise

Loren Muse Smith 5:00 AM  

Hah. I solved this with CNN on in the background, so I noticed the clue "right-leaning," IOWA, LIE - heck, even NATURAL DISASTER and RATIONAL THOUGHT.

Liked the clue for ASS, but I think I usually say "bass-akwards." Shows to go ya, huh.

Also liked ERUPT crossing HUFF, and AGE crossing GREY (next to SRS).. Oh, and LIP SNARL.

SEA ROVERS put up some resistance. My first thought was "sea rogues." Speaking of which, Hobos go it by RAIL; apparently
octopus hobos go it on foot.

I also was trying to make "syphoning" fit early on.

I prefer more wordplay, but I was impressed with four 15's and a reveal. If something so straightforward were a grammar theme, I'd be delighted, so I have to think not only will lots of people love this, but it's gonna spark a bit of discussion about the reveal and its clue. I'll just watch from the sideline because I don't speak math. Fair enough, God knows I've run my mouth ad nauseam about pronouns, prepositions, particles.

WHOM – pronoun in letter greetings. Yup. See you later, WHOM. Your days are, well, numbered. Don't letteth ye olde door slam you in the rear M, buddy.


Adieu! adieu! thy objective case fades
Past the hither meadows, over the thither stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried, muddy
In the yon morrow-glades:
Was it a vision, or a pedant's dream?
Fled is that pretension:—sayonara, buddy.

Silas 6:34 AM  

We math teachers are guilty of using all of those adjectives as nouns, saying "set of naturals", or simply "naturals". Unfortunately, the central clue could not be reversed to imply that, for example, integers are always whole, or integers are sometimes rational, because those statements aren't true.

fuzzle 7:01 AM  

Rex, your nitpicking the theme here smacks of curmudgeonry. I found it a satisfying stroll down the memory lane of early math education. But maybe that's just me...

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

Being an actuary (one of those professions that Rex dissed in a puzzle that had actuary as a profession), I really enjoyed the puzzle and the theme. Rex, please note that I graduated from SUNY Binghamton and, at the time, it was one of the only schools in the country that had an actuarial program. If you would like to learn more about the profession, please let me know in an upcoming blog and I will be happy to get in touch with you.

Hungry Mother 7:29 AM  

Old Math professor's delight this morning.

Dorothy Biggs 7:43 AM  

There is an internet shorthand for the revealer clue: TL;DR. I still haven't read it. It reminds me of the story problems on the GRE where you're supposed to figure out where Mr. White should live in an apartment building when he must live on the third floor, but Mrs. Gray can't live on the second floor or the sixth, but Mr. Purple is perfectly fine anywhere else but next to Mr. Gray or four doors down from Mrs. White. Yeah, no. Waaaay too much work.

This played like a themeless to me...and as such, it was pretty easy. In fact, by giving up on trying to read that clue, I got things done much faster. (Wednesday is the last day of the week I try to go "fast").

This had a very current feel to it...almost bone chillingly so for the NYT...with IOWA and CBS in there. Also RATIONALTHOUGHT could be a nod to the abuse it's taken in the last several months of the pre-primary process.

ASS backwards? Really, NYT? That ass?

DOM Perignon is a VIN, by the way.

Unknown 8:08 AM  

The reality of Hobbes outside of Calvin's imagination is one of the great unsettled delights of that comic. Will Shortz and/or John Guzzetta cannot just swoop in and declare him an imaginary friend! One of the reasons we don't all own a stuffed Hobbes is precisely because Watterson wanted to keep the true nature of his existence unclear!

/Nerd rant over.

blinker474 8:12 AM  

Now that "ass" is acceptable when it refers to the human one, here is a little joke:

A 6-year-old and 4-year-old are upstairs in their bedroom.
"You know what?" says the 6-year-old. "I think it's about time we started cussing."
The 4-year-old nods his head in approval.
The 6-year-old continues, "When we go downstairs for breakfast, I'm gonna say something with 'hell' and you say something with 'ass'."
The 4-year-old agrees with enthusiasm and they head down stairs.

When their mother walks into the kitchen and asks the 6-year-old what he wants for breakfast, he replies, "Aw hell, Mom. I guess I'll have some Cheerios."
Mom slaps him -- Whack!
The older boy flies out of his chair, tumbles across the kitchen floor, gets up, and runs upstairs crying his eyes out.

The mother then looks at the 4-year-old and asks with a stern voice, "And what do you want for breakfast, young man?
"I don't know," he blubbers. "But you can bet your ass it won't be Cheerios!"

AliasZ 8:41 AM  

I couldn't imagine a drier subject matter than math in, of all places, a game of words. Not that math is unimportant, after all, the mystery of the entire universe is expressed in mathematical terms, it is what holds everything together. Mathematics is eternal, its laws existed even when nothing else did, while language is a very recent invention. My fullest respect therefore goes to math, but when you have to twist language into the contortion that is the clue for INTEGER to express its most elementary basics, the mind goes numb. Adding to the end of the clue "...when followed by the word 'number'" would've made it even number. Odd, ain't it?

JUDEA / JABbed yesterday, JUDEA / JAMS today.

ROIDS are indeed the dirty secret of bodybuilders. They all develop them eventually with all that squatting, heavy lifting, and grunting.

Let's say hello to HORNS at 1:10 of the following video of the overture to Der Freischütz by Carl Maria von Weber.

Have a fun Wednesday.

jberg 8:50 AM  

The big problem for me was calling Hobbes an IMAGINARY FRIEND. No, no, no --
the whole point of the comic is that Hobbes is just as real as you or I. My son once had a long intense argument with my sister about this very point, and concluded that she was overly RATIONAL.

I'm no mathematician, but I can't see why 1Xi, 2Xi, etc. aren't INTEGERs. They have all the properties of same -- is this just some weird convention?

However, it took me some time to see that this was math -- I had NATURAL and WHOLE, and thought I was looking at food labels (in which case the thing they always are would have been 'meaningless.') RATIONAL gave it away though.

The greatest suspense in this puzzle, though, came with 58D -- I had E_L, and spent a delicious 10 seconds pondering if it would be EeL or ELL. Then I looked at the clue.

Oh yeah -- Nautilus is from a Greek word, not Latin; the plural is nautiluses (see 43D).

Unknown 8:54 AM  

I have two complaints about this puzzle:
First, there is a category of integers called Gaussian Integers that are imaginary.
Second, I do not consider Hobbes to be an imaginary friend. To me, an imaginary friend is one with no corporeal substance at all. Hobbes has substance so he is not imaginary.

TomAz 8:55 AM  

Record time for me today too.

Note to anonymous: a+bi is the form of a complex number, not an imaginary number. Imaginary numbers are the subset of complex numbers where a=0. (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imaginary_number). Therefore, integers are not imaginary numbers.

Note to another anonymous: I am also an actuary. What are the odds? hehe.

Pete 8:56 AM  

@Anon 1:36 - You're confusing complex numbers ( n + i*m) with irrational numbers (i*n). Complex numbers have a rational component, irrational don't. @Zero was right, 0 is unique as both an integer and an irrational number.

kozmikvoid 9:07 AM  

Before this gets out of hand, 0 * i is NOT an imaginary number. If the imaginary part of a function is zero, the function is real. Please stop misinforming people. 0i, 1+0i, 2+0i...those are not imaginary numbers. Not one of them is imaginary. You wouldn't say 0*(-1) is negative would you?

Background: Master's Degree in Applied Physics

Z 9:29 AM  

Whether zero is IMAGINARY isn't so much a matter of debate as a matter of definition. What seems most sensical to me is that zero is not IMAGINARY but is complex, and what @zero and @anon1:36 are referencing is the definition for complex numbers. What is neither a matter of debate or definition is that Hobbes was not an IMAGINARY FRIEND. No, he is as real as Calvin.

@LMS - Hand up for Bass Ackwards. I don't know about you, but my ASS is already backward, so the phrase ASS backwards never actually made sense to me.

@kozmikvoid - re: watching the entire video yesterday: You caught me. I could only stomach half of it. After your comment I went back and watched the rest (on mute). She changes outfits in the latter half. Still a deep plunge, but with straps, less two-sided tale required, I suppose (@Ladies - Ow). I have no idea how the images (people writing their secrets(?) on unfired vases then throwing them off the side of a building so the explode in flames) has anything to do with the lyrics I half listened to earlier.

Jon Alexander 9:31 AM  

Really easy...theme was blah (and inaccurate) but the fill was adequate (after Sunday's trash the bar has been set reeaaaaal low).

John V 9:33 AM  

I and some others found this the easiest of the first three puzzles at Westport, way easy for a Wednesday.

FWIW, this senior solver especially liked 55A, IMAGINARYFRIEND clued to Calvin and Hobbs; I simply wrote this one in with no crosses. That never happens with a 15 slot.

Like this one a lot.

OldCarFudd 9:33 AM  

@Anonymous 7:21 - Me, too! Retired from Prudential.

DJG 9:42 AM  

I love math and math related puzzle themes, and still, I'm mostly with Rex, this one just came off as more than a little flat.

As to the accuracy of the revealer, it's fine. I'm seen one commenter say 0 is irrational (not true), and I've seen others say 1 + 0i is an imaginary number, which is also not true. The common convention is that anything of the form a + bi is a *complex* number. If b = 0, then we have a real number; if a = 0 and b does not equal 0, then we have an imaginary number.

In general, before people complain about math clues in an NYT puzzle, I would do some research. I have yet to see a case in which WS definitively got it wrong.

quilter1 9:44 AM  

I thought this very easy since I read the revealer, thought "huh?" and moved on to swiftly solve. Not a math person. When I run out of toes I reach for the calculator.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:45 AM  

@NCA President - If I understood Will Shortz's remarks at Westport correctly, he understands the ASS in "ASS backwards" as a reference to an obstinate animal, not to a part of any human or animal anatomy, and therefore acceptable in a NYT puzzle.

Don McBrien 9:49 AM  

I've spent the last four days trying to figure out why I didn't get a perfect score at Westport. I turned each puzzle pretty confident there were no errors. And now I see WIIG. I remember being pretty sure that Senator Hatch's name was spelled with an "I," but there was no way the 44D actress' name could have two I's in a row. So I talked myslef into ORREN / WIEG, which now looks completely absurd. Ah, well. I had a great time and won't make that mistake again.

RooMonster 9:51 AM  

Hey All !
Don't know INTEGERS from ASS____, seems that different forms of Math other than the basics have gone the way of the dodo. I am looking forward to Chuck McGregors rant, though!

Nice puz, four 15's are always nice to see. Not too high on the dreck count. SNARL seems like a word you have to say by doing one. See also: Grrrr. :-)

Agree with the Rexster on the rating, went through this fairly simply. Had SYPHONING, isn't that it with a Y, not an I? Oh well. With Hobbes and LEROY Brown, took me back a few years! Also, ASS but no Eel.

Feel I need to add to the vernacular of this blog. We all know what a RRN is, how about a RGL? Which would be a Random Greek Letter? Today we get ETA. As I've seen these quite a bit, I'm going to refer to them as that til it catches on!


DJG 9:56 AM  

Quick follow up to my previous post, which is somewhere above.

There is some ambiguity over whether or not 0 counts as an imaginary number or not. It seems as if most mathematicians do consider it imaginary, as otherwise the imaginary axis of the complex plane would be discontinuous.

So if you want to say WS got it wrong because there is an imaginary number that is also and integer (0), then that's fine. But the counterargument is that this puzzle is just using a different definition for imaginary numbers.

chefbea 10:06 AM  

Pretty easy but no fun at all. On to Thursday

butt slayer 10:08 AM  

sofa king easy.

Unknown 10:12 AM  

jae said to see "The Skeleton Twins" and "Welcome to Me." Are you in earnest recommending those films? I've read about them now, though they were not on my radar before.

Sir Hillary 10:15 AM  


Nancy 10:36 AM  

@quilter 1 (9:44) -- I also looked at the revealer and went "Huh?" Then I solved as a themeless. The theme is completely unnecessary to the solve.

@blinker 474 (8:12) -- Now THAT is funny!

@Bob K -- It must have been interesting to hear WS explaining use of ASS at the tournament.

The crosses were fair and the phrases were familiar, so I don't think the math experts among us actually had any advantage. On 1A, I was trying to remember whether it was VERBS or nouns that end in -are. With what I remember from taking Latin being more of an IMAGINARY than a RATIONAL number, I often wonder why I took it in the first place.

puzzle hoarder 10:39 AM  

After a nice streak of clean grids I'm back to making mistakes again. Two of them. Spelling WIIG as WIEG is just out and out ignorance. She's a new part of the the crossword lexicon so I have some excuse. ORRIN is another story. That one not being set in stone is a prime example of my weak spelling. The phonetics can be interchangeable and it doesn't help that it's closely associated with OREM.
DON for 61A was more of a momentary lapse. Normally I'd spot that with the crosses but I was trying to go "fast" and N/M are easy to confuse at a glance.
Stupid thoughts and misreads are sometimes the best parts of the puzzle. Filling in 43D from the bottom before reading the clue had me looking for a type of pasta. Seeing "shelled" in the clue just kept the whole misconception going. I honestly thought gee, it's strange that I've never seen that form of pasta before. It wasn't until I looked for it in my Webster's that I realized how stupid the whole idea was. That I've been coming away with mostly clean grids on Fridays and Saturdays for 26 years is something of a miracle. Pardon the TMI.

Leapfinger 10:39 AM  

@jberg, thanks for clarifying why NAUTILI looked so wrong to me.

All this number talk is anesthetizing me. Mr Batt (HS) at least captured the IMAGINAtion.

ROIDS (hi @Alias) is well-placed, below that backward ASS. Hope that doesn't earn me a SPLIT LIP.

A coworker just got rid of her protruding STOMAch by giving BIRTH, so must head out to cross-cover.

Glad this wasn't another DIS-aster, or I woulda hadda FALLON my 'sword.

Rabi Abonour 10:48 AM  

Wednesday PR for me, too. Totally joyless theme. Puzzle gets +5 points for Kristen WIIG and -infinity points for the jaw-droppingly bad SEA ROVERS.

Mr. Benson 10:49 AM  

I had the same thought as Rex on the theme revealer being both (1) overly long and (2) in need of a reference to the word "number." The puzzle could have just used NUMBERS instead of INTEGER in the middle and been more satisfying with a cleaner theme-revealing clue.

xyz 10:51 AM  

The Beige puzzle

Unknown 10:52 AM  

Posting without reading @Rex or comments –

If it was this easy for me, and it was, I’ll bet a few speed solvers set Wednesday records for themselves.

I was born and lived most of my life in Connecticut, well-known at one time for its SNARL of blue laws.

Made some WHOLE BEAN COFFEE this morning -- Organic “Wicked French Dark Roast,” procured and roasted by Wicked Joes Coffee Roasting Company in nearby Topsham (TOP-shum), Maine. I can SAFEly say it’s “wicked (not WICCA*) good!”

* That would be EERIE.

I often play in jazz JAMS. However, in the big bands I’ve played in and for which I have mixed the sound, there were normally 8 HORNS and 9 other instruments: piano, bass, drums, guitar, and 5 woodwinds [saxophones]. So “most” in the 23d clue has to be read as the most prevalent type of instrument.

Instrumentation does change for particular song arrangements, such as a wind player switching to clarinet or flute, but what I listed is the core instrumentation for a “standard” 17-piece big band. It is tons of fun to play in one as the bass player!

Here’s an amazing Woody Herman big band video, taped by the BBC. I call your attention to several things:

1. It’s a standard what is called 12-bar blues, but the tempo is an amazing. 426 beats or 1/4 notes per minute. That means, each 12 bar phrase (12 measures) is played in 7 seconds and there are 7 beats (1/4 notes) each second (approx. nos.). Try tapping your finger, hand, foot, any part of your body, 7 times in one second….and then keep that up for over 7 straight minutes.

2. With a couple of minor breaks the bass player does exactly the foregoing. I play bass. I play jazz, I would call what he does absurd, as in I wish I could do that. He is also my namesake. Chuck Andrus! His nickname was, “the Arm.”

3. The second sax solo (Sal Nistico*) is equally prodigious when it really ERUPTs. For musicians in the know: he is tonguing, not slurring, most of those notes. For those not in the know: that means he is starting and stopping the air into the sax for each note with his tongue. Try making your tongue do something, anything, for say an even a slower dozen times every second and you’ll get the idea. This is not to say the other musicians are not doing equally amazing stuff. The HORN players have their counterpart: great LIPs.

* Weird trivia -- One of the best big band arrangers (and my favorite – great bass lines) is Sammy Nestico: I’m sure Nistico played Nestico many times:

4. The audio is first rate. It’s the BBC. That’s what they do.

5. It’s great jazz.



Z 10:54 AM  

@DJG - I hate it when my axis is discontinuous. I hear two-sided tape helps.

archaeoprof 11:01 AM  

FWIW, Herod was not a bad man. Augustus put him in charge of Palestine, as Rome's client-king, and he was an excellent ruler. He was the longest-serving client-king in the history of the empire, and the only one whom Rome allowed to hand his territory on to his sons. There is no historical evidence for the massacre of children in Bethlehem. So "Herod ... bad man" is not just wrong in the puzzle; it is historically incorrect as well.

Unknown 11:05 AM  

@Roo Monster 9:51 -- No rant from me about the math. I've been accused of being overly technical regarding audio stuffcl. If that ever happens again, I can now always point to this day's comments regarding the math theme. At least I usually try to explain what I'm talking about in somewhat accessible terms.

Those are not IMAGINARY hands up for those of you WHOM [sic] find this math discussion way over their heads or off the RAILS as it were.


Carola 11:07 AM  

Well, the puzzle did start out with VERBS for those of us who turned to language study when math began to resist all attempts at RATIONAL THOUGHT (when calculus clearly became a NO GO, I switched my major to German). Apart from reminding me of the calculus trauma with DISASTER, the puzzle nicely made the theme palatable with WHOLE BEAN COFFEE and the endearing IMAGINARY FRIEND. I liked the step-downs BLUE LAW-SIPHONING and SEA ROVERS-NAUTILI.

Lewis 11:12 AM  

@lms -- Nice catch on AGE/GREY/SRS!
@rex -- Subtle shout out to you on the backward 48D.

This was easy, despite the math (these math posts are clouding my mind over), with some nice clues on ITALIC, ASS, and NOON. There's also a mini-theme of double vowels (5). The grid is clean. There's also a hidden command: IMAGINARY FRIEND, FALL ON HILDA.

Maybe the puzzle has spark for the mathematicians, but for me, not much. Yet I'm not SNARLING in an ANTI mood, as the puzzle engaged my RATIONALTHOUGHT and memory; it got my brain flowing. So I'm grateful, John!

Andrew Heinegg 11:14 AM  

I solved this as a themeless because I find, most of the times, sussing out the theme does not add more enjoyment to the solve. That said, I found the math stuff with the imaginary clue about Calvin and Hobbes to have certain amount of charm to it. And, the discourses on the blog as to whether Hobbes is imaginary are interesting.

Molson 11:30 AM  

I would have gone with "NUMBER LINES" as a revealer. "What 17-, 22-, 46-, and 55-Across are, or where to find their first parts." Since they're 15s, they make "lines" across the grid - more apt and elegant. An 11 as an answer length puts weird strains on the grid, of course, but it could have been done. Maybe on a Sunday with an additional "COMPLEX..." added to it as a themer.

Unknown 11:33 AM  

Well. I see @DJG 9:56 AM has finally made it all perfectly clear to everyone. Just like Hobbes, zero is our IMAGINARY FRIEND because, if he or it were not, "the imaginary axis of the complex plane would be discontinuous." Imagine that!

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

was easy for me. Really, really easy. They all are. That's because I'm really, really smart, and I want everybody to know it, so I post a comment on this site every day. Just bear in mind that I'm really, really smart and you're probably not.

Lewis 12:09 PM  

Aargh! I always confuse Rex's last name, which is Sharp, with Smart. So ignore that comment in my last post.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

@Zero 0 is not an irrational number, neither is it complex. The reals are the set of rational numbers, including 0, which is both an integer and a rational number, joined with the set of irrational numbers.

As for 0 not being complex: complex numbers are two-dimensional, and 0 lies on the real axis of the complex plane. Writing it as "0+0i" is no more meaningful than expressing 3 as "3+3*0"

Math over mind!

John V 12:30 PM  

Neglected to note what @Rex said about clue for 37A. Westport solvers consensus was, No time to suss out that clue, esp. as it was not needed to solve. Bad clue, bad, bad.

Hartley70 12:35 PM  

When I saw WHOLE and NATURAL I expected a healthy food theme... so much more in my wheelhouse than math. I initially spelled SIPHONING with a Y so I mentally slotted in "Younger" as the reveal, thinking that was the result of a diet of nuts and grains. I would have been last at Westport apparently, but I was having a merry time until I saw RATIONAL and IMAGINERY.

Clearly the reveal should be "numbers" but I settled on INTEGER even though it felt like a cowbird had laid her egg in a robin's nest. So rude.

Pete 12:39 PM  

I can't believe what I wrote earlier, using irrational when I meant imaginary. I imagine I was irrational at the time.

There are dual definitions of imaginary floating around the internet, some saying 0 is an imaginary number, others not. The ones that say 0 is an imaginary number have the benefit of mathematical rigor, the ones saying 0 isn't imaginary not so much. The later though do have cuter graphics, and pleasant site titles such as "mathisfun" so they have that in their favor.

Z 12:58 PM  

The link I posted earlier is pretty accessible to the most math-averse person. Not a lot of big words and examples that you can mostly use your fingers and toes to follow. If you're not into math you can still do a little googling and see the descriptivist/prescriptivist debate peeking around the corner. Now where's my tweed?

Has anyone bothered to verify the source of the ASS backward phrase? Or are we just going to take Shortz' word for it?

RooMonster 1:00 PM  

Oh, sorry Chuck McG! Confusing my people here! :-)
I enjoy your passionate rants, BTW.


kitshef 1:02 PM  

Every dictionary I checked (we have a half dozen) has NAUTILI as an acceptable alternative to NAUTILuses, so I'm OK with that.

Loved having a puzzle full of math, and while I agree 'number' should have been fit in somewhere, it certainly worked as is for me.

Tremendously easy for a Wednesday - very comparable to last week.

Hobbes most certainly IS imaginary, in the same way that Calvin is imaginary, or Ahab or Susie Salmon or Rex Parker, MD. He is a fictional character in a comic strip.

Jarring to see ORRIN Hatch right below RATIONAL THOUGHT.

Don't like the definition for WICCA. WICCA is a system of beliefs, or a religion, not a belief. I would be like calling Lutheranism a Christian belief.

Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  

har. Comment from PuzEatinSpouse, this mornin: "They got M and A in there -- at 55 Across!"

@009: yep. Revealer is kinda twitchy-wobbly. "A NATURAL is always an INTEGER" is kinda like sayin …

* "An ATOMIC is always a PROTON COUNT".
* "A MASKED is always a WEIRDO."

Weeject stacks in all the corners! Now, that's what *I'm* talkin about. fave stack: DOM/SRS.

{Many Latin ones end in -are}…? Just to burn up precious hours of M&A's teenage life, he took 3 day-um semesters of Latin class. Cannot recall this -are-endin tell, at all. But then again, M&A cannot even post comments on the right day, anymore. Speakin of Latin … Went to see Coen Bros' "Hail Caesar" yesterday; more precious hours down the Roman water closet. But, I digress.

LEROY = {Decent Jack Scott rocker, from the 50's}. U tube it, immediately.

{Right-leaning} = ITALIC. Superb clue. This completes the "Italic Puppymonkeybaby" perfect description of Ted Cruz, that M&A was frantically searchin for.

Solvin quest trouble: Mostly caused today by LATERAL DISASTER, which sealed up the NW for M&A, quicker than snot.

NAUTILI = Best in Show fillin. Now, that *there* is some kick-ASS Latin, dude. None of this "-are?" bull-nonsense. Is PREP-ARE Latin? MEDIC-ARE? SKINC-ARE? Confuses the M&A. I've got to think ...

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Teedmn 1:12 PM  

The comments today are delightful, with @Rex's surreal RATIONALization for Hades vs. JUDEA, @LMS' ODE to throwing WHOM under the bus, @blinker474's welcoming ASS into the crossword lexicon and @AliasZ's numb numbers and his explanation of weight lifters' ROID issues. Thanks, all, I had everyone in my office wondering about the source of my giggles.

I'm a big fan of math so I really liked this theme and the rest of the execution of the puzzle. I do find ETA RAT next to each other, especially not far from the URGE of "the munchies".

Still tired from the late night at yesterday's Syndie party!

Thanks, John Guzzetta, for a fun Wednesday!

dick swart 1:21 PM  

I don't know an integer from a whole in the ground.

Chronic dnfer 1:35 PM  

Bitter sweet. Fastest Wednesday in a while but changed Orrin to orren at the end because I didn't think wiig could be a name. Ended with wieg and a dnf. Btw I solve in pencil. Get the nyt digest at my gym sort of mid morning. Don't know if the fill is correct til I come here. Anyway off to the driving range before the polar vortex sets in.

Chaos344 1:40 PM  

Excellent puzzle. As others have noted, it was a tad easy for Wednesday. When I saw the long crosses, I ran through all the downs first, simply allowing the theme entries to fill themselves in. Like Leapy I don't speak math, so I'll just add a few replies to the comments.

@jae: Apropos comment on your observation regarding a different side of Kristen WIIG in "Welcome To Me." I'm betting the reverse side is just as enticing!

@blinker474: LOL. That's an oldie but a goody blinker. It still makes me chuckle no matter which curse word is used. Speaking of that, and of your assumption that "ASS" is now acceptable when it refers to the human form, I have to ask myself if doggie butts are now fair game as well? Yesterday, I had suggested to LMS that I had a little poem which might amuse her. Now that you have encouraged me,(something that people who know me better have warned against) I may just post it below.

@LMS: "bass-ackwards" for me too. Loved your TERSE/ODE to WHOM. Twas very prosy and thought provoking. Perhaps more of a eulogy than an ode? At any rate, I shall attempt to return the favor.

"Trigger Warning" To WHOM It May Concern: The following material contains profanity and deals with subject matter that some may find offensive or objectionable. You may wish to take your crayons and adjourn to your "safe space" or Wordplay at this time.

Here then is my canine version of A PAEAN IN THE ASS:

The Dogs Once Held A Meeting,
They Came From Near And Far.
Some Arrived By Dog Sled,
While Others Came By Car.

But Before Inside The Hallowed Halls
They Were Allowed To Look,
They Had To Take Their Assholes Off,
And Hang Them On A Hook.

Hardly Were They Seated,
Each Mother, Son And Sire,
When Some Little Son Of A Bitch
Began To Holler fire!

Out They Rushed All In A Bunch,
And Had No Time To Look.
So Each, At Random Grabbed,
An Asshole Off A Hook!

Well They Got Their Assholes All Mixed Up
And It Made Em Awfully Sore,
To Have To Wear An Asshole
That They Never Wore Before!

That Is Why You Will Spy
As You Walk Down The Street,
Each Dog Will Stop And Swap A Smell,
With Every Dog He'll Meet.

And That Is Why A Dog Will Leave
A Nice Fat Juicy Bone,
And Stop To Smell An Asshole
Cause He Hopes He'll Find His Own!!!!!!

I hope that bit of "doggerel" has solved the age old mystery to your satisfaction?

Tita 2:00 PM  

Well, the advantage to speed-solving this at Westport is that I liked it alot - maybe because I didn't give myself the time to fully parse the revealer and realize that it was maybe a bit convoluted.

In fact, forgetting that I'm supposed to use every advantage to solve as fast as possible, I did my usual avoid-the-revealer-till-the-end thing.
(Sigh - that's why I'll never be up at those easels at ACPT.
well, there are many other reasons too, but...)

Hey - with all the puzzle airtime that pop culture gets, let's allow a day or so to math, no?


@Nancy - Will also explained how Maleska (or was it Weng - do you remember, Bob?) censored "bellybutton" from a puzzle...

Liked he clue for SAFE - Something behind a painting.

Puzzle-inspired trivia... Jesse OWENS got a chance to run in 1936 because 2 other athletes were pulled at the last minute. (It is said, because they were Jewish.)
One of those was Marty Glickman, who wound up becoming a sportscaster in NY.
My mom and dad bought his house in New Rochelle. Now you know.

Thanks, Mr. Guzzetta!

gifcan 3:30 PM  

Funny, funny, funny

gifcan 3:44 PM  

Ok, I naticked at WIEG and ORREM. I have a friend named Oran but WIAG didn't look right. Neither does WIIG, for that matter.

I was happy enough with the puzzle but I ignored the math stuff.

Thanks, John.

Lewis 3:44 PM  

@chuckmcgregor - Thanks for posting the Woody Herman band piece. Amazing -- beyond amazing.

jae 5:55 PM  

@Unknown - re: WIIG films - yes I am recommending them. She is excellent in the non-comedic roles and the films scored 87% and 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, respectively.

Masked and Anonymous 6:12 PM  


Ahar! Found one of them -are jobbers. Portare is an imperative passive form of the "to carry" verb, in Latin. Documentation:
The imperative present of the passive voice is rarely used, except in the case of deponent verbs, whose passive forms carry active meaning. Portāre can be translated as "(You) Be carried".
Have also heard of "volare", in an oldie song title. Not sure if that's anything in Latin, or not. But, M&A will take all the extra credit he can get.

Have decided that a natural **is** an integer, in the sense that 7 or 11 is a natural, when shootin craps. So, OK … you're faded, Shortzmeister.


Clark 7:01 PM  

@jberg: "Nautilos" is Greek, "nautilus" is Latin or English. "Nautili" is a legit plural.

Nancy 8:46 PM  

@Alias Z (8:41) -- I got so enmeshed in the brain-numbing mathiness of the comments today, that I almost missed your hilarious ROIDS comment. Glad I saw it on my second trip to the blog. Very, very funny!!

Diana,LIW 10:24 PM  


Thanks for bringing the Almaden lst night. Have you ever tried Black Box - it's my fave boxy chard - great for a picnic.

Lady Di

Geo. Bernard Pshaw 11:13 PM  

And here I thought an actuary was a place where aspiring thespians go to hone their professional skills.

@All the nice people who went for SYPHONING -- I think y'all were conflating with SYCOPHANT, which is the technical shorthand for a pachyderm run amok.

@Loren Muse Smith, to whom all plaudits flow:
Americans despise the English language, and will not teach their children to speak it.

WHOMp There It Is

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

@kitshef, those dictionaries have gone over to The Dark Side, are officially descriptivists even unto the suede elbow patches. If you peek inside the shell at the occupant, you'll notice a strong resemblance to the short-armed Octopodes, so Me, I'm holding out for NAUTILODES.

How much more NAUTy can the ODE folks get?

Longbeachlee 10:31 AM  

Well Kozmikvoid, my Masters is in Engineering, which trumps physics, at least in that it pays better, and I say imaginary numbers can indeed be integers, so there.

Burma Shave 10:36 AM  


It was a NATURALDISASTER and EERIE in the end,
no BLUELAW could tell her with WHOM to LIE.


spacecraft 11:37 AM  

@Geo. Bernard Pshaw: love your handle. To the puzz: easy-peasy for me. No SNARLs--except first trying SNARe. I'll necessarily be brief today; early app't. Don't know Ms. Wiig to fall over, but I'm surer I'd enjoy the experience. She wins the daily Y.B. award by default--and most likely the hearts of many constructors, with that double-i.

Simple theme, original, and not much to get in a HUFF about fill-wise. B.

rondo 1:32 PM  

And in those corridors I see figures, strange figures, weird figures . . . or INTEGERSs I guess. Kinda zipped through this without really trying to decipher that revealer clue. Let’s see if anyone gets my opening reference.

All it takes is that one bad experience SIPHONING gas and you know you won’t do that again.

24d also Jessie OWENS (as played by Brooke Burns) on Baywatch. Why’d they do that?

Former SNL yeah baby Kristen WIIG gets the NOD today. Ever see her version of the Sia expressive dance video? It must be on youtube. ADELE gets runner-up for tremendous pipes, I bought “19” before anyone really knew who she was.

Nuthin’ to SNIPE at today. Rikki don’t lose that INTEGER . . .

leftcoastTAM 4:20 PM  

@blinker474 (way above, real time):

Joke of the day, new to me. Very funny!

Diana,LIW 4:30 PM  

Such a fitting puzzle for PI week (starting with 3.14...)

I was going to argue that a FRIEND (Quaker) is not an integer. I read the last part of that interminable clue as "the last part of 55 across." Then my old eyes looked again. Guess I wanted the clue to finally change. So never mind.

But I must take umbrage with 19 down. One hides one's fuse box behind the painting. Just come look in my laundry room, where otherwise the fuse box would stare out into the kitchen when the cats leave the door open. So there. Proof (geometry reference) positive. That's my theorem. I'm shocked no one else noticed! Although if they had, they'd probably be divided on the true answer.

Yesterday (cue music):

@Rondo - WRECKSPARKER - too clever. How about "BBQ burner" - WRRECKSPORKER (an old reference to a past "contributor"

@Cathy - not many people know that I helped train Ms. Nyad, so I can understand your confusion. ;-)

Diana, Lady of Many Hats

Diana,LIW 7:48 PM  

@Rondo - Sounds like a "long days journey" into "In the room the women come and go, speaking of Michelangelo"

However, that is IR'ELEPHANT. Your quote CRACKed me up you ANIMAL.

So. Hello, I must be going. I'm off to listen to Ravellis' "Somewhere My Love Lies Sleeping" with a male chorus. I understand it is highly recommended by Mrs. Rittenhouse. Should beat living with your folks, listening to hideous, stumbling footsteps.

I can't think of the finish...

Diana, Waiting for Duck Soup

PS - Take that, pop culture!

Waxy in Montreal 8:05 PM  

Met Jesse Owens in the 60's when he came to our local suburb to help hand out various sports awards - a nicer, more courteous man you'd never meet.

Got NATURALDISASTER from SIREE and - speaking of Mr. Owens - was off to the track right after that. May well have been my fastest NYT crossword solve ever - though I don't log times, completed the grid during the consumption of one Lipton's Cup-A-Soup. And that doesn't take very long.

Fun math theme though IMHO it would have been better employed in a tougher puzzle. And was there a secondary transportation theme involving RAILS, CREWS, TRAMS, CLANGs and, of course, VIN Diesel?

Cathy 9:02 PM  

Wait. DOM perignon, GREY goose, Calvin and Hobbes, (Hobbes is not IMAGINARY. He's real.) HUFF HUFF LEROY Brown and broom HILDA? Oh come on, this is my wheelhouse.

INTEGER. Is that Shakespearean? I looked in my trusty dusty dictionary. Oh crap. I'm going to look like an idiot. Yes, I know numbers. Been doin my own taxes, still write checks blah blah blah.

Guess I should have gone to college. Quite obvious by now:)

Broom Hilda- Wikipedia- It depicts the misadventures of a man-crazy, cigar-smoking, beer guzzling, 1,500-year old witch and her motley crew of friends. My hero!

Cathy 9:09 PM  

Oh oh oh, @rondo, Rikki don't lose that INTEGER. That rocked:)

Anonymous 11:25 PM  

Mathematician here. Just did this puzzle today, June 6.

There is no ambiguity in mathematics about what imaginary means. A complex number is one of the form a + bi where a and b are real. If b = 0, it is real. 0 is definitely a real number. If a = 0 and b is not 0, it is called "imaginary". (An unfortunate misleading term left over from centuries ago when these things were not well understood.)

The term imaginary absolutely DOES apply to integers. 5i, for example, is an imaginary integer. The clue to 37 is INCORRECT.

Unknown 12:05 AM  

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