Hearts minds military maneuver briefly / MON 11-21-16 / Alley shopping area for Harry Potter / Pop with no fizz / Amusement park with Nitro roller coaster / Qs Hostess brand

Monday, November 21, 2016

Constructor: John Lieb

Relative difficulty: Easy (though I solved the online / AcrossLite version, which just had regular old cluing...)

THEME: AGAINST ALL ODDS (60A: How an extreme underdog wins ... or this puzzle?) — in newspaper version of the puzzle, there are *only* even-numbered clues; then there are the theme answers, which begin with non-odd numbers, and the grid shape, which is 14x16 instead of the usual 15x15—so even the dimensions aren't "odd":

Theme answers:
  • ZERO VISIBILITY (16A: Driving condition in a blizzard)
  • TWO THUMBS UP (22A: Approval from Siskel and Ebert)
  • FOUR TOPS (29A: R&B group with the #1 hit "Reach Out I'll Be There")
  • SIX FLAGS (45A: Amusement park with the Nitro roller coaster)
  • EIGHT MEN OUT (50A: 1988 film about the Black Sox scandal)
Word of the Day: Nitro roller coaster (at SIX FLAGS Great Adventure) —
Nitro is a steel roller coaster designed by Bolliger & Mabillard at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey, United States. It opened on April 7, 2001, as the fastest roller coaster in New Jersey and the tallest on the East Coast of the United States. It has been ranked number three in the Golden Ticket Awards Best Steel Roller Coaster every year from 2007 to 2012. It was ranked number four in 2013.
• • •

This is an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type of puzzle. Just throw all non-odd-numbered stuff you can think of in there. Theme answers are not really "against" anything. They're just a basic sequence from ZERO (not an even number, so weird here) going up two at each increment until EIGHT. Grid shaped different. And then (in a move that weirdly can't be replicated online or in the AcrossLite version), cluing is evens only. I don't know if this would've added any difficulty to the puzzle at all. I doubt it—principle of solving is still the same; nothing weird to figure out. Just different numbers. None of this anti-odd stuff really adds anything to the solve. I finished in near-record time (2:31) with no clear sense of theme at all. I guess this puzzle has unusualness going for it, and that's ... something. Fill is pretty boring / cruddy, except for a few of the theme answers, which are quite nice (esp. TWO THUMBS UP).

There are many SIX FLAGS theme parks, so 45A: Amusement park with the Nitro roller coaster seems ... let's say, overclued. That roller coaster is at SIX FLAGS Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. But there are SIX FLAGS all over the place. Per USA Today, "SIX FLAGS operates parks in 19 locations." SIX FLAGS is a fine stand-alone answer. Just not as (so specifically) clued. Speaking of weak clues: 57D: The Bible's Garden of ___ (EDEN). That is a clue that has given up on life. That is a clue that doesn't want to be a clue. That clue suffers from ennui. That clue phoned Phoning It In and told it to phone it in. That clue is the FLAT SODA of clues. That clue exists solely to make the clue [Cosmetician Lauder] look good.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. ADES is the worst please everybody stop stop stop using it. Thanks.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 5:05 AM  

Heinz makes Ketchup, not Catsup. Google Heinz Catsup and it shows you their Ketchup. Many brands do make Catsup; you'd think they would clue it with one that actually calls itself Catsup.

Loren Muse Smith 5:42 AM  

I was wondering if there'll be a big argument about ZERO's inclusion. I can't get my mind around this stuff, but I think you can argue that at least it's not ODD.

Rex – I know, right? Glad to have "The Bible's" there to help out. Otherwise I might have gone garden of "yams" or "peas" or something.

I liked ZERO VISIBILITY crossing SNOW TIRE. Do people with a lot of disposable income really change to snow tires during the winter? We're so strapped right now with tuition bills that just to keep our regular tires plugged and inflated is tough. I can't imagine having extra seasonal tires lying around. Actually, people with extra snow tires probably have them hung neatly on gigantic designer brushed-metal Snow Tire Hooks - purchased from Frontgate - in a pristine three-car garage with shiny floors and shelves of back-up Pellegrino, Bonne Maman jams, and name-brand paper towels. Sigh.

I also liked TURN SIGNALS crossing SLO. Hah! I noticed my turn signal was still on yesterday after several miles. It's just a matter of time before I find myself driving with a signal on, both hands death-gripping the steering wheel 10 and 2, body pulled forward and hunched, eyes squinting, mouth open, head covered by some kind of crocheted tam…

Oh! And FLU crossing EIGHT MEN OUT. Yup. 'Tis the season. Boy howdy you can bet that someone who drives like a little old lady has already gotten her flu shot.

Hey, @Johnny, our newcomer – I looked for a comment yesterday! Don't chicken out, man. Your crossworld will be richer if you get yourself a blue name switch on your mic. And fwiw, I recommend including an email address. I've made some good friends off blog.

John Lieb – nice diversion before a day of catching up on grading. Thanks.

Anonymous 5:50 AM  

Zero most definitely is an even number, in all ways and for all purposes.

"Zero is an even number. In other words, its parity—the quality of an integer being even or odd—is even. The simplest way to prove that zero is even is to check that it fits the definition of "even": it is an integer multiple of 2, specifically 0 × 2.
Zero also fits into the patterns formed by other even numbers. The parity rules of arithmetic, such as even − even = even, require 0 to be even. Zero is the additive identity element of the group of even integers, and it is the starting case from which other even natural numbers are recursively defined. Applications of this recursion from graph theory to computational geometry rely on zero being even. Not only is 0 divisible by 2, it is divisible by every power of 2, which is relevant to the binary numeral system used by computers. In this sense, 0 is the "most even" number of all.[1]

Among the general public, the parity of zero can be a source of confusion. In reaction time experiments, most people are slower to identify 0 as even than 2, 4, 6, or 8. Some students of mathematics—and some teachers—think that zero is odd, or both even and odd, or neither. Researchers in mathematics education propose that these misconceptions can become learning opportunities. Studying equalities like 0 × 2 = 0 can address students' doubts about calling 0 a number and using it in arithmetic. Class discussions can lead students to appreciate the basic principles of mathematical reasoning, such as the importance of definitions. Evaluating the parity of this exceptional number is an early example of a pervasive theme in mathematics: the abstraction of a familiar concept to an unfamiliar setting."

Lewis 6:07 AM  

Nice grid with no stranded islands. Mini-theme of five double-E's, and a lovely double cluster in the mid-East. Didn't know DIAGON and threw in the fire-breathing creature at first. I love the word MOBIUS; I actually, as a kid, went through a phase of making mobius strips and tormenting friends and relatives with my astonishment at how they had only one side.

And, speaking of that non-even number, sorry to say, in the answer EIGHT_MEN_OUT, you'll find a backward ONE.

Anonymous 6:26 AM  

Zero is an even number since it is a multiple of two.

Lobster11 6:28 AM  

Mostly thought it was a satisfactory, typical Monday puzzle, at least until I was finishing up in the SE corner and happened on the SEGO/OSSA cross. Fortunately -- or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it -- I happened to know from crossword experience that the crossing letter was O; otherwise, it could plausibly be any vowel and is utterly uninferable. On a Monday? Seriously? Makes me wonder whether the comically over-clued EDEN was supposed to somehow compensate for this. (It doesn't.)

Tim Pierce 6:52 AM  

Zero is an even number. What makes you think it isn't?

TomAz 7:02 AM  

Rex, I love your blog, but you swung and missed on the zero comment.


This kind of innumeracy amongst otherwise intelligent and educated people saddens me.

Hungry Mother 7:21 AM  

Very fast solve today. Numbers divisible by 2 are even. 0 is divisible by any non-zero number. 0/0 is undefined.

kitshef 7:37 AM  

Perfectly normal Monday, some nice themers, a couple of tricky bits (the aforementioned SEGO/OSSA and the Harry Potter non-reader trap), and an epic fail on the reveal.

Glad to see several comments already on why zero is even.

browN before UPENN and poorVISIBILITY before I got the theme slowed my down a bit in the NW, but othewise all went smoothly.

Inclusion of MOBIUS sort of defeats the theme - it has only one side and only one edge.

Dorothy Biggs 7:45 AM  

Hunt's makes CATSUP, Heinz makes ketchup. I think technically they are the same thing, but Heinz is the brand I grew up on and it isn't nearly as sweet as Hunt's is...for whatever that's worth.

PSYOP was trying too hard.

Didn't we just have a bunch of NOGOs in a puzzle last week? NOGO areas?

Given the recent unpleasantness, the letters ALT, put together in that order, make me shudder.

As for Rex's take on the EDEN clue, I gotta say that video falls into the same category. The establishing shot of the messy interior of a van on a snare drum with sticks neatly arranged on the drum head...it isn't that I would expect uber-realism in a video like this, but seriously...they're not even trying. Two thumbs down. The music wasn't bad, I guess...but still. I give it props for what I'm sure was a drone mounted camera, but still still.

This puzzle was cute....internet kitten meme cute...and it's a good example of a puzzle that, as a Monday, was fine. Take this cuteness and turn it into a Sunday and you've got problems. /RANT on Sunday puzzles

Ω 7:50 AM  

My first thought on noticing the odd clue numbering was, "will the apps replicate the paper version?" Again, only Puzzazz seems to manage to get the electronic version to mirror the print version.*

Is ZERO even? That whole "divisible by 2" argument just reeks. 0 is also divisible by 3 (something not true of any other even number), so I suspected the mathematicians came up with something better. "n=2k where k is an integer" says the same thing, but in a way that invites fewer quizzical looks. Odd numbers are n=2k+1.

*@Roy Leban - I'll have my people call your people about that paid spokesman fee.

thfenn 7:54 AM  

I'm still trying to fathom sub-3 minute solves, but yes, certainly got through it below my average (which now hovers below 15). I guess zero's an even number, tho had to pause on that one (along the lines of even numbers have to be integers and integers have to be positive or negative, but turns out 0's an integer so am back to it obviously being a multiple of 2).

Siskel and Ebert, the Four Tops, and Eight Men Out all have fond associations for me, as does the need for snow tires and driving with zero visibility, so I enjoyed this one. (Loren, I'm not sure snow tires belong among a list of luxury playthings for the wealthy and brand conscious - that was a tad below the belt for some of us that need them, no?).

A nice, fun, easy solve, completed with no checking or googling, and before this blog was even up (a first for me). Even had some down fill I didn't know, like DIAGON and MOBIUS that came from getting the acrosses - always nice.

Ω 8:11 AM  

@Leapfinger from late yesterday - I have loved all Bryson I've read. His A Short History of Nearly Everything is very readable. I'll be picking up his Lindbergh book.

@thefenn - I've managed to break 6 on a Monday once. Mostly I try not to worry about it. I'll never hit a 90 mph fastball. I'll never run a sub 4 minute mile. And I'm never going to solve a NYTX in under 3.

1820 Stone Colonial House 8:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 8:25 AM  
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QuasiMojo 8:27 AM  

Zero Enjoyability. Heinz has 57 varieties but none of them is "catsup." This puzzle seemed like it had been written twenty years ago. "Siskel and Ebert" are not relevant today. I give the puzzle "two thumbs down." It's a Monday, I know, but that's no excuse for tired clueing and a tortured theme.

evil doug 8:28 AM  

Those movie review shows haven't been watchable since Siskel went ten toes up--presuming he didn't suffer polydactylism....

I'm familiar with psyops, but don't believe I've heard the singular term. SOC?

chefbea 8:33 AM  

Didn't even notice that all the clue numbers were even!!! Easy Monday puzzle....MWAH again!!!

Glenn Patton 8:35 AM  

Seems kind of 1950s to do something that is evident only in the newsprint version.

pmdm 8:35 AM  

The problem with zero is one of semantics. Whether zero is a number or not depends on how you define the word "number."

In high school, we studied Paeno's Postulates, which define our natural number system. A postulate is basically an assumption that you accept as true. You can define natural numbers using a different set of postulates, but those systems ten to tuner out to be fairly uninteresting and not very useful. You can expand the natural number system by adding other definitions to the postulates. For example, defining i as the square root of minus one expands the natural number system into the world of complex numbers. But even in that world, Paeno's Postulate hold true.

The main rub is how you define the first postulate. You can define it in two ways. First, "Zero is a natural number." Second, "One is a natural number." With either definition and the other postulates, you wind up with the same system. Those who lived in ancient Rome might find this difficult to fathom, as they had no way to represent zero in their system of numbers. Work it out for yourself. If you define a number as a vector of a given length, zero is simply a number whose corresponding vector has no length.

This is perhaps more involved than a discussion in this blog should be. So I should shut up about the number thing and comment on the puzzle, which I enjoyed. What really would have impressed me is if each answer in the grid had an even number of letters. I suppose you could have added the constraint that each clue had an even number of letters in it, but that is simply a gimmick that probably few would notice anyway. But if you decide to use this type of theme, why not go whole hog. I thought about also limiting the puzzle entries to refer to an even number of things (for example "taste and touch" rather than "taste or touch" but the resulting abundance of the letter s in the grid would be quite ugly.

I am thinking about this all too much.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Zero, catsup, ule aside (they're just wrong and/or bad), it's nice puzzle. Maybe fell a tad short of it'goals, but it aimed high for a Monday and I liked it. 1.25 thumbs up (for a Monday).

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

No even numbers are divisible by 3?
6, 12, 18, 24, 30, etc. beg to differ. The number of integers divisible by 3, or any other odd number is infinite.
0 is not an even number because mathematicians are being annoying. It is even because of the core definition of what even and odd numbers are. Take a look at that "Parity of Zero" article.

Nancy 8:46 AM  

Aw shucks. Just about everyone has beaten me to the observation that Heinz makes ketchup, not CATSUP. So, as others have said, why on earth clue CATSUP with Heinz? TWO THUMBS down. And does anyone wear a TEE that says "I'm with stupid"? If so, "stupid" would be well advised to head for the hills with nary a backward glance. What an obnoxious clue.

While I generally don't notice much about grids, I noticed the even numbering immediately, and therefore hung around to finish the puzzle so that I could find out the reason. And when I did, my reaction was: Is that all there is? Yawn. Although I did like this more than last week's Monday puzzle, but that's not saying much.

jberg 8:47 AM  

We had our first snow overnight, so it was nice to see all the blizzard clues. That aside, the only tough part of the puzzle was that I tend to write in the answers in a way that obscures the numbers. No problem, I just look for the nearest unobscured number and count backwards or forwards. So maybe 7 times I went looking for an odd-numbered clue in the list.

@Loren, the need for snow tires depends on the severity of the climate. No one in Boston would dream of them -- and modern tires are pretty good in snow, anyway. Growing up in Wisconsin, we used to put on tire chains in the winter. They made a nice sound, and you could drive right across a snowy field if it wasn't too deep; but I think they're outlawed now, due to their destructive effect on the roads.

Hartley70 8:54 AM  

Wow! The price of admission today was well worth it. The MÖBIUS strip has entered my world and I'm loving it! I just watched a short video and I'm thinking I might provide the entertainment at Thanksgiving dinner. Move over, Big Bird. All those miserable hours spent in boring math classes and no one bothered to show me this. I would have been hooked. Much more fun than my yellow slide rule.

As to the rest of the puzzle, I've been robbed. The theme I got online was okay in a rah rah "2,4,6,8 who do we appreciate" way, but it would have been better in the print version. If Puzzaz can manage it, why can't the NYT app? I'm trying to be loyal, but they're making it difficult.

I love a tough Monday which is an oxymoron because I got the solve from the crosses, but I'd like to shout out to SEGO, OSSA, PSYOP, SUZY, and of course to my new best friend MÖBIUS. I may name my next dog MÖBIUS, @Malsdemare. BTW you might consider a Barkbox order. The stuffed turkey sandwich toy is adorable this month and very popular here.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

I think "Candle in the wind" was actually written for Marilyn Monroe, not Diana, Princess of Wales. Elton John did perform a modified version of the song at Diana's funeral, but it is misleading to say it was written for her, as the clue says. Just a small quibble.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

With the comment of question whether 0 is an even number, I am more than convinced of the existence of "Two Cultures" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Two_Cultures even in this blog world!

Hartley70 9:03 AM  

Reading the comments now, I am appalled that I have never given a moment's thought as to whether zero is odd or even. I can't imagine how I would form an opinion. I shall read you all again very closely while I play with my MOBIUS strip.
The Village Idiot

mathgent 9:21 AM  

Gimmick for the sake of gimmick. Extremely annoying. The grade is D.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

Relax, @Hartley (9:03). I, too, have never given a moment's thought to whether ZERO is odd or even. To me, it's like asking how many molecules of oxygen there are in a vacuum. (Now, see what I've done -- I'm going to have the chemists and physicists sternly correcting me, along with the mathematicians, since it will be obvious I don't know what in hell I'm talking about on any of these subjects.) But @Hartley, please womansplain to me the seductive attraction of a MOBIUS strip, which seems to have transformed your life for the better. I don't even know what it is. If I found out, would it transform my life for the better, too? You can tell me on-blog or off-blog, as you prefer. I'm easy.

Tita 9:27 AM  

What y'all have said about the EDEN clue.
EARLY ON I THOUGHT..."Ha! The theme is NOONE!)...verified the lack of clues 21, 31... You see where that got me.
Didn't notice the even-sized grid...nice touch, that.
Not sure I get the revealer...AGAINST doesn't really make sense.

@lms... thanks! You've saved me tons of money this season...I was wondering where I was gonna find the cash to replace my 10-year-old snows this season...now I realize I've just been scammed all my life... And I'm putting my hand-crocheted tire covers...you know...the ones that make the stack of tires look like a Willie Wonka's top hat...on eBay.

I remember a snowstorm in Dallas...4" fell in the morning after everyone was at work. Panic ensued, and companies closed, sending everyone into the snowy streets without those unnecessary snow tires, and without those unnecessary snow-driving skills. There were more accidents in a 2 hour period then there had been all year.
By 5pm, the snow had all melted.

A friend wrote TANYA Tucker's biggest hit...San Antonio Stroll. It became a crossover hit. So that was a gimme in that Monday-naticky SE.

Unknown 9:30 AM  

So many interesting comments about @John Lieb's puzzle, which really should have run on a date comprised entirely of even numbers, no? And surely the FOUR_TOPS had a hit that did not reach #1.

My favorite entry in the puzzle reminds me of this joke, which also spills over to yesterday's theme: Why did the chicken cross the MöBIUS strip? Answer: To get to the same side.

As already noted, @Roy Leban was pleased today because the Puzzazz format is ideally suited to duplicate the on-paper solving experience electronically.

RooMonster 9:56 AM  

Hey All !
Just looked up MOBIUS strip. Wow, too complicated for the ole brain to comprehend its uses. The strip itself is rather simple, but the ways to use it requires waaay to much thinking!

Puz was cool. Even thigamajigs. I printed the puz from NYT site, has regular numbered cluing. How did the Even-Only Cluing look? Did the odd numbered clues not have a number?

Zero for me has to be an even number, as 10, 20, etc. are evens.

Did like smoothness of puz, only potential problem was the SEGO/OSSA cross someone already mentioned. Give this puz FOUR TOPS. Oops! I meant TWO THUMBS UP! :-)


Anonymous 10:05 AM  

@LMS Ha Ha! Your comment was funny as it struck so close to home. As we will be moving to Toronto area soon, we must have snow tires to get a discount on insurance. Many people here have snow tires even in BC where the weather is so mild, but they just sit in a pile in a dusty garage. Even though our income is not so high (less than 25K per year), we still buy Pellegrino from Costco and occasionally Bonne Maman jam.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Disagree with Anon on catsup/ketchup. Ketchup was (still is?) a brand name of catsup. But because the word came into such common usage, it lost its trademark protection. Kleenex isn't far behind.

One more/other thing. Can Will Shortz NEVER and I mean NEVER clue anything Harry Potter, or RAP!!!!!?????

r.alphbunker 10:14 AM  

A MOBIUS strip has an odd number of sides and doesn't belong in this puzzle. {1D ___ Q's (Hostess brand)} SUZI doesn't belong in this puzzle either but I put it in anyway. Details are here.

QuasiMojo 10:15 AM  

To anon from 10:05, ketchup may have been trademarked, I really don't know, but its origins go back to early Chinese (or some say Malay). Google it. The sad truth today is that most of it is corn syrup, not tomatoes.

old timer 10:24 AM  

I was amused by @LMS's imaginary, pristine garage, with name-brand paper towels, Pellegrino water and Bonne Maman preserves. So happens I like all of those -- but have no garage at all. There used to be a garage but it was only big enough for a 1910-era electric car, so previous owners allowed it to fall down.

I liked the puzzle myself. Thought my time would suffer a bit from the all-even numbers on the grid but at 13 minutes pen on paper definitely a Monday time.

Zero is neither odd nor even but it is useful to think of it as even, if you teach your children to count by twos and then to count backwards like this: 8,6,4,2,0,-2,-4,-6 etc.

andy 10:40 AM  

I tuned in today to see Rex's abuse column on a day when it had been truly earned. Rex must be on meds; this puzzle theme was dumb, and deserved a more scathing review.

JC66 10:52 AM  

@ Hartley70

"If Puzzaz can manage it, why can't the NYT app?"

At least they could word the note better, i.e.

Although this puzzle can be solved in AcrossLite, the print version clues are all numbered evenly, which AcrossLite can't replicate.

Carola 10:53 AM  

Liked the reveal. Duncecap moments: "50 so early in the grid? Huh, that's different" and "Wow, an unusual number of clues."

@Loren - The SNOW TIRES in our garage are stacked in black plastic trash bags and get traded out in November for the regular tires, with the trade-back in April or May. Except this month after my husband took them in to the garage to have the exchange made, he got a call saying, "The SNOW TIREs are already on." Oops.

@Numinous from last night - I got a laugh out of Della's Street clothes :)

dramawritcomp 11:09 AM  

A decent Monday puzzle with a novel theme and not too much crosswordese glue (hello, Mwah). Using even numbers of rows and columns was a nice touch.

In regards to zero, from a non-mathemetician's perspective, it seems neither odd nor even. What's important to the theme is that it is not odd.

10D reminded me that it's time to bring my fake poinsettias out of storage. Not usually an advocate of artificial houseplants but these have sentimental value and actually look quite elegant. They also never die.

Anoa Bob 11:22 AM  

There are also 36 black squares.

I agree with those who say zero is neither odd nor even. It's nothing. Nada. Zilch. To be odd or even, you gotta have something, anything, but it has to be something. No amount of sophistry will convince me otherwise.

Two of the themers, TWO THUMBS UP & EIGHT MEN OUT, have an odd number of letters, 11. There are also several odd-numbered non-theme entries. So the puzzle wasn't really AGAINST ALL ODDS.

Davis 11:36 AM  

Former mathematician stopping in as another voice noting that zero is even. Two ways of seeing this: the first, noted above, is that an even number is one of the form 2n, where n is an integer. 0=2*0, hence zero is even.

I think a more intuitive way to see it is this: Think about negative numbers. -6, -10, -20--those are all even, agreed? And if I take an even number and add 2, I should get another even number. Thus we have this sequence of numbers that should all be even:

-6, -4, -2, 0, 2, 4...

If zero were not considered even, you would have this odd asymmetry where -2 and 2 are 4 apart, but all other consecutive even numbers are 2 apart. Ultimately it's about how you define "even", but this intuitive view should suggest that any definition of even that excludes zero is not a "good" definition.

RAD2626 11:56 AM  

Bunch of often misspelled words today: MÖBIUS, PSYOP, CATSUP, POINSETTIA, even SUZY. Always want to stick an e in MÖBIUS, which are still fun to construct and play with. Liked the simple cluing forvTURN SIGNAL and thought there was less bad fill than usual for an early week puzzle.

thfenn 12:07 PM  

@Z, thank you, feeling a bit less inadequate. Breaking 10 minutes on a Monday remains a thrill, though yes, I enjoy the solve more than the time thereof (smiles, just as I do hitting a baseball regardless of pitch speed, and simply being able to run a mile).

AliasZ 12:31 PM  

Is ZERO an even number? ZERO is not even a number, it is a lack of one. It is the imaginary gap between +1 and -1.*

Favorites today: POINSETTIAS -- very festive, SNOW TIRES -- very seasonal, MOBIUS (actually MÖBIUS or MOEBIUS) strip, whose Euler characteristic is zero -- very mathematical, TURN SIGNALS that keep blinking -- very annoying, but the RESET button was NO GO.

Who do we appreciate?
John Lieb, that's who.

Why was Five afraid of Six? Because Seven ate Nine.

A big MWAH to you all

*Just my opinion -- mathematicians need not get all bent out of shape.

chasklu 12:32 PM  

Zero IS an even number as it's divisible by 2: 0/2=0.

SEGO crossing OSSA doesn't belong on a Monday where it is a Natick.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Mathematicians are weird. Zero "isn't", is nothing,nada. Is nothing even?
Base ten: 1-10, 11-20, etc.. Where is zero? Zero is an anomaly. A construct. There is no 0 AD or 0 BC.

RooMonster 1:11 PM  

No mathematician here, but the argument for zero being even because it can be divided by 2 seems off. Zero can be divided by anything. 1÷0=0, 2÷0=0, 1587643905677÷0=0. No?


nick 1:18 PM  

Flat soda (84d) said it all, mostly due to ancient pop culture. Siskel and Ebert's last show was in 1999, Suzi Qs have been discontinued, Tanya Tucker's heyday was the 1980s and yeah, catsup? It's a strange time warp, the NYT xword.

Malsdemare 1:21 PM  

@Hartley70. Oh, dear, a dog named Möbius, which is very cool, would soon be Moby, which brings us to Dick and right now I think there are way too many dicks in this world. Yup, still fuming . . . .

Only here will you see a deeply serious discussion of zero's place in the world of math. Loved the discussion, understood none of it; I would try, but I think I'm in the zero-is-even crowd, except it's not a number, and that makes me think of Schrödinger's cat and it's just Monday. Oy!

I solved in the times app and feel a little cheated that a puzzle I have to pay for, even though I subscribe to the digital NYT, isn't replicated accurately in the app. I expect better, NYT.

My own nit is that people don't call the university UPENN, they call is Penn. I found myself a tad put out about the archness of that answer.

Best Bryson book ever is "Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid." If you were a young midwesterner during the fifties, it will make you hurt with laughter.

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

Super fast for me today - 5:40 may be a new record for me. And yet the cluing didn't play over easy (okay, I'll grant you the EDEN clue was practically filled in for you.)

SNOW TIREs - I know people who have the hand-embroidered tire cosies (that looks wrong but the Internet tells me it is correct and we all know the Internet is never wrong; bonjour!) on their extra four tires (just kidding, hi @LMS) but we take our chances with "all-weather" tires, as they are marketed. We do have one 4WD vehicle for the worst weather. Though tomorrow I may regret not having the special tires - I have to drive my dad to Rochester Mayo Clinic and snow/freezing rain is forecast. Yay, let's hear it for white-knuckled driving.

POINSETTIAS - I have killed a number of them in my day. As soon as blooming season is over, they start dropping their leaves. I know you're supposed to let them go dormant but for me that usually means "out of sight, out of mind, dry as a bone = dead." So sad when I come across the remnants in the basement months later - oops.

I will have to look up "fun with MOBIUS strips" - if @Hartley70 can have an life-changing event due to discovering one-sided curiousities, I think I need to investigate further.

Nice Monday, thanks JL.

Numinous 1:32 PM  

I never liked Huntz Catsup, Probably because it is too sweet. If it has to be catsup or ketchup, I prefer Heinz. Generally, like my mother, I prefer Heinz Chili Sauce. It seems to have more pep than the average NYT Monday puzzle: brings a litttle extra to the table.

I guess I've always assumed that ZERO was an even number if I ever thought about it. I have no interest in defending that notion.

Oddly I didn't notice MÖBIUS when I was solving. I just went through with the across clues, only checking the downs when I was not absolutely sure of the word required. I like that there was a bit of a trick on a Monday. Especially since it didn't really make the solving more difficult. I don't think DIAGON Alley is a bad clue for Monday. I think more people are aware of the "Harry Potter Universe" than we generally imagine. I got SEGO easlily with the instant thought that it is Utah's state flower which we have seen only recently. In the garden of an apartment house I lived in in Los Angeles there were POINSETTIAS growing along with the birds of paradise (or should that be bird of paradises?). I'm not sure how to use FLAT SODA in a sentence other than to say I sometimes drink it when I've left a can open for five or six hours, It used to be thought that FLAT Coca Cola was good for stomach ailments, the syrup was even for sale at Rexal Drugs.

I've driven in ZERO VISIBILITY when trying to pass semis on the freeway in a heavy snow storm. The only option was to look to the right and try to maintain the same distance from the side of the truck. On that same trip, when crossing Donner Pass in California, the Highway Patrol was requiring chains on all the cars. I was in a car with Minnesota plates and had SNOW TIRES on. They let me go without question. That winter, in Minneapolis, I was glad for them except where the roads had iced up for lack of plowing. In that case, ice skates are as good as any tires.

Re yesterday @Carola, what else could DELAWARE?

And for @Leapy, yesterday:

there once was a girl, Anne Huyser,
Who swore that no man could surprise her
Til dirty old Pabst
Found a Schlitz in her pants
And now she is SADR Budweiser.

Passing Shot 1:46 PM  

I just did a spit-take at "That clue phoned Phoning It in and asked it to phone it in." Thanks, Rex!

Record time, didn't notice the theme until coming here. Solved on-line so had no clue regarding the unusual box numbering. Whatever.

Numinous 1:50 PM  

@Loren, I like Bonne Maman preserves though I prefer Hero. I'd rather Drink Crystal Geiser than Pellagrino but it can't be found this far east. I've found that as long as the people in the house can be educated to use one sheet rather than four or eight sheets to dry their hands, one sheet of brand name paper towels usually does better than multiple sheets of Dollar General bargain paper towels. I'd say they work out about equal in price considering how many more are needed for simple wipe ups (or is that wipes up?).

I agree that in West Virginia, SNOW TIRES are a waste of money but if you lived in Minnesota, you would be budjeting for them.

How do you know if you're a redneck?
If your car is up on blocks in the driveway and the turn signal is still on.

Thank you Jeff Foxworthy.

Ω 1:53 PM  

@Roo Monster - Other way around 0÷1=0, etc. 1÷0 is going to give you problems. You are correct, though, about using division to define even numbers being less than satisfying. (@anon8:39 - you're right, but missed the point - I should have changed "any" to "all" in my parenthetical before hitting publish). That's why using the multiplication formula is better. A number (n) that can be used in n=2*k where K is an integer is even, while a number that can be used in n=2k+1 is odd.
-2 = 2 * (-1) even
-1 = 2 * (-1) + 1 odd
0 = 2 * 0 even
1 = 2 * 0 + 1 odd
2 = 2 * 1 even
I should point out that lots of math sites do use the "division" definition. When I said it "reeks" I didn't mean to imply that it is wrong, only that it invites more questions, is not a truly "clean" definition.

@thefenn - I still do a "who me" when someone points out that people who comment here are "hard core" solvers or "elite" solvers. Relative to the people who comment here I'm hardly elite or hard core. Relative to your average 50+ year old American - most of whom know nothing about Yma Sumac, I guess it fits.

Carola 2:02 PM  

@Numinous, I'd thought that the only thing in Della's closet was a new jersey.

kitshef 2:22 PM  

Another way to think of even versus odd (for those who just can't get enough!).

Take any integer. Divide it by 2. If you get a remainder of 1, it is an odd number. Otherwise, it is even.
137 divided by 2 is 68, with a remainder of 1: ODD
4096 divided by 2 is 2048, with no remainder: EVEN
1 divided by 2 is 0, with a remainder of 1: ODD
0 divided by 2 is 0, with no remainder: EVEN
-11 divided by 2 is -6, with a remainder of 1: ODD

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

Saying "I'm not a mathematician, but in my opinion zero isn't even" is kind of like saying "I'm not a biologist, but in my opinion cats aren't mammals". It's not so much about the opinion of the public, it just is.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

Well, hurrah for outrage. The NYTimes chanced the front page link to their Stone op-ed discussion from The Stone: There's no such thing as "Nonconsensual sex." to The Stone: "Nonconsensual sex" is violence.. I guess clarity does eventually win out (usually, discussion here of whether zero is a number notwithstanding).

Mohair Sam 3:54 PM  

About the even/odd ZERO argument - I never went beyond calculus in math. But I do remember my calculus professor (who went far beyond) enjoying telling us about things like number theory, and how important it was to her that we understand that ZERO was a concept and not a number. When the answer to a problem appeared to be "ZERO" she insisted we use the term "does not exist" rather than ZERO.

Just sayin'.

Numinous 4:40 PM  

@Carola, even if all DELLA has is a new jersey, she still has to put it on a Street!

jedlevine 4:47 PM  

Didn't Elton John write "Candle in the Wind" as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe?

aging soprano 4:58 PM  

I kept looking for ten something instead of AGAINST ALL ODDS. I so would have preferred a ten to a ZERO. But then, we wouldn't have had anything good to blog about.

Don McBrien 5:01 PM  

@jedlevine: Jed, he did, but then he re-wrote it (take another look at the clue) for Diana.

JC66 5:05 PM  


You probably misread "rewritten" in the clue for 47A.

@ all Mathematicians

I have zero interest in your arguments/rationales.

Tita 6:02 PM  

In Europe, the ground floor is "0". If you have to walk up 1 flight, you're on the 1st floor. Here our ground floor is 1. We have no zeroth floor.

Yesterday, had a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with three Chinese Students at LIU. One of them told me that here, he is 26, but in China, he is 27. I learned from him that while we in fact don't count a person as 1 until they have lied out that 1st year, in China you are born 1.

Ω 6:15 PM  

@Mohair Sam - I did not realize that Magritte also taught math.

jae 6:19 PM  

Easy and ZERO of the options I tried on the NYT site had the double number clueing. Had to go to Xwordinfo to see what was going on. Frustrating!

Kind of an odd puzzle, mostly liked it.

Mohair Sam 6:22 PM  

@Z - Very good! Interestingly, she got us lost in philosophy when she discussed the meaning (or meaninglessness) of zero. She would have loved the Magritte.

pdevlinmath268 7:54 PM  

True. ---Mathematics professor

pdevlinmath268 7:57 PM  

Zero is divisible by 2, and that's a perfectly good argument. In fact, saying "n is divisble by 2" is literally the exact same thing as saying "n =2k [for some integer k]"

pdevlinmath268 8:01 PM  

Do you believe in numbers that are close to 0? Like 1/1000?

pdevlinmath268 8:02 PM  

That's the majesty of it. 0 is a mulitple of everything, and it can be divided by everything.

pdevlinmath268 8:04 PM  

I've never heard of this "zero does not exist" notion, but it's really fascinating.

Numinous 8:20 PM  

@pdevlinmath268, how can nothing exist? The notion of nothing as a thing is a construct.

If even numbers are separated by one, as are odd numbers, 0 holds a place, otherwise either -1 or 1 would be even. I guess that would make -2 an odd notion.

Tita 9:18 PM  

@pdev et alia...
Seems to me that some folks are saying 0 is not a number - not that 0 does not exist.

From a common sense perspective, numbers count things. You can't count no things. It's not a counting number.

As long as you are measuring real stuff, you can almost kind of get by without it.
You really don't need to say 5 apples plus zero apples = 5 apples.

Think of zero as a Number of Convenience - it makes arithmetic a whole lot easier. Zero, and negative numbers too, turn out to be very convenient once you've run out of fingers and toes.

(Have I mentioned lately how much I love this blog?)

Ω 9:44 PM  

@pdevlinmath268 - First, The "reply" function you're using only works on phones. Anyone reading your comments on a tablet or computer has no idea of the exact context of most of your comments. If you want anyone not reading on a phone to know what the heck you're talking about the blog standard here is to use @ followed by the nom de blog of the person to whom you're replying. Second, there's a loose general rule limiting comments to three. It's not a huge deal if you go over (this is #5 for me today) but you'll notice that many will combine replies into one comment. Again, not a huge deal that you made 5 comments in 10 minutes, but when I first saw all your comments in my email I thought you might be a spellcaster (don't know about spellcasters? stick around and get email follow-ups. You will).

Also, sorry again if I seemed to suggest that the division by 2 definition is wrong. Although we could arm wrestle at length and to everyone else's great annoyance about your "literally the same thing" assertion.

@Mohair Sam - For some reason I have in my mind an image of your math prof that is remarkably similar to Karen Allen in Animal House.

Mohair Sam 11:02 PM  

@Z - She was Chinese by birth, and well over 50 at the time - not your picture of good old Karen Allen.

@pdevlinmath268 - (Assuming your 8:04 was in reply to me) - I'm getting a kick out of folks ruminating on the meaning of zero I may have kicked off here. I went into that course hoping to find a way to calculate the effect of variable wind speed on fuel consumption in jet aircraft and trucks. She was quite the theoretician, I came out pondering Descartes and Spinoza. Its been nearly half a century and the course has stuck with me, speaks well for her.

James 11:30 PM  

I started out a little annoyed at the puzzle, now I'm just aghast at all the people who think zero isn't an even number. I mean, English is a fluid language, so, sure, you can use whatever definition you want, but arguing that zero isn't an even number is like arguing that Yemen isn't an Asian country. By the commonly accepted definition it is, by every definition accepted by any expert in the field it is, and if your definition is different, you'll have difficulty communicating with the rest of us English speakers.

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Leapfinger 6:29 AM  

Never, in all the years I've done crosswords, has ZERO VISIBILITY garnered as it has done on these boards today. Just fascinating. I'd always heard that we owe the ZERO to Arabic invention, but learned today [after delving further] that's based on the published mathematical codifications of Al-Khwarizmi (the source of the word "Algorithm"). Apparently, with that incentive, the Middle Ages were ready to think about the nature of nothing, though India had already been codifying nothing for a few centuries, and China had been counting on nothing even longer. It seems that making something out of nothing began almost two millennia BCE in Egypt and Babylonia, and even the ancient Olmecs in the New World had a use for nothing. So
nothing is left to chance. After poring over all that, I just a little number myself.

Re the puzzle theme, it's obvious (isn't it?) that you can't have EVENs without ODDs. Since you can't [by definition] eliminate them, the only thing to do is, AGAIN and AGAIN, STALL ODDS.

See, that's what happens: U PENN, then I PENN.

@Numinous, there's an Anne Huyser bush in my garden. Have to thank you it's been a while since a fella sent me a poem.

btw, I always enjoyed the name "DIAGON Alley". I just learned a couple of weeks ago that the Grandboy [on whose account I read those dang Harry Potters a decade ago] had never noticed it can be read "diagonally". InGENEious we skip a generation.

Double MWAHs to all.

MOBIUS Dickensia

Tim Pierce 7:33 AM  

Another way to think of it is: when there are ZERO seats left in a Broadway production, it has been Sold Right Out.

Davis 5:37 PM  

Man, those of you who are questioning whether zero is a number are going to have your minds blown when you hear about irrational numbers.

spacecraft 11:28 AM  

I don't see a post from @M&A yet--I hope everything's all right; you'd be greatly missed--but I'm sure this 7-U offering would get TWOTHUMBSUP from him. Had to finish the whole thing and look back over it to notice the (four) long across themers--only to come here and find that ZERO was included! But that would make, er, five. Hmmm. Is ZERO even? The question seems to fascinate nearly everyone on this page. Well, it ain't odd, so there you go. Zero is the tree that falls in the forest that no one hears. That's as far as I'm gonna go with it.

First look at the first square...huh? Where's 1? Hey, they're ALL even! When I get thrown out of my comfort zone, I go looking for a special clue that might shed some light, and I found it at 120-across. Well, there it is: AGAINSTtheODDS! Thus did such an easy puzzle generate a writeover.

I share OFL's frustration with NON-word ADES; also no one says UPENN; it's just Penn. The rest of the fill is pretty clean, IMO. I liked it. No doubt about DOD TANYA Tucker. Birdie.

P.S. With the censor off, now we're getting ads from call girls!! Whose English is fractured, to say the least. Spellcasters, anyone?

rondo 11:59 AM  

What others have said - ZERO is not odd, so it works, and Heinz makes ketchup, Hunts makes CATSUP. Finished this one quickly.

TWOTHUMBSUP for yeah baby TANYA Tucker. Saw her live at the Cabooze music club in Mpls when she was still a teen and was promoted as the "female Elvis". Still remember the sparkly tube top and leather pants. Yeah baby. May EVEN still have her album from that time, "TNT".

Lightning fast Mon-puz. GDAY.

rondo 12:24 PM  

Let's not forget a shout out to @DIANA fofr making the puz.

Burma Shave 1:10 PM  


SON, the FOURTOPS are gods, like EIGHTMENOUT on stage
IWISH AGAINSTALLODDS those CATSUP there won't age.


leftcoastTAM 2:16 PM  

Controversy of the day: Is zero a number? Is it ODD or even? Maybe addressed by the Math guy way above.

Neat theme and revealer. The numbering did look ODD at first, then made sense.

AMUSED by this one.

Sailor 2:28 PM  

Fake news rears its ugly head on the RexBlog:

"ZERO an even number? Dumb! Obviously a construct. So sad!"

As someone has said, we are entitled to our opinions, but not entitled to make up our own facts. All numbers are constructs, mental concepts that we use to bring order our experience of the world. To note that I have zero coins in my pocket (which is true) is just as important and valid a piece of information as to say, on another day, that I have three. And if zero is a number, it must be odd or even: the rules of mathematics are clear that it is even. This is so regardless (irregardless?) of whether that seems intuitively obvious to me.

Diana,LIW 3:13 PM  

A SEGO, or saga, of the paper. Prior to Thanksgiving we received a hand-written note (Happy t-day) from our paper carrier with her name and address. hint, hint Then, pre-X-mas, we get a card with a note and a SASE.. HINT, HINT!! Thought I might send her this tip - "please don't throw the paper into the garden where it gets wet and I can't reach it. And while you're at it, please close the plastic bag when it rains so it doesn't become a water holder." Good tips, methinks.

Yesterday, X-mas, no paper - the message at the circ. desk said production problems killed the paper, and we would get Sunday along with Monday. Santa did manage to get the puzzle to me yesterday, but I started it late, so I wrapped it up this morning. (Get it? X-mas? Wrapped it up? Ho, ho, ho)

Today - no paper. Called. On hold 1/2 hour. Yes, paper is coming - late - by 11. Seems the carrier quit, and Sunday was to be her last day. Wonder if other customers had sent a "tip" like the one I thought of. (No, I'd never actually send such a tip.)

Yesterday's puzzle was quite odd - but not against all of them. Enjoyed the mirror images. Amusing, but not scintillatingly so. BTW 0 my cats both enjoy mirrors - "How do you get into THAT room?"

Today was typical Monday - but did think OAS/PSYOP was a potential Natick for a Monday.

What will Tuesday hold? Hope I'm not SOL again.

DIANA, Lady Tired of Waiting

rain forest 4:13 PM  

I had tried to comment earlier, but right near the end, the comment box slid over to the left and only half of it was showing. As a result, I couldn't do the robot thing and send. But anyway, I came back, two hours later. Hi.

I had ZERO concerns about this puzzle, and thought it was an appropriate Monday effort. Contemplating ZERO approaches philosophy it seems, but in the controversy at hand, I think it is a number, but I think it is odd, er, unusual. Consider the following:

even number + even number = even number
even number + odd number = odd number
odd number + odd number = even number
ZERO + odd number = odd number
ZERO + even number = even number

The same is true of subtraction, which is just addition with a negative sign. So here, ZERO acts like an even number. However with multiplication and especially division, ZERO is an oddball. I'm probably oversimplifying things, and my brain hurts, but that's what I came up with. I think @Spzcey hit the hail on the head about ZERO being like a tree falling in the forest.

Aside from that the puzzle was almost completely across-only doable, but was a competently constructed diversion today.

Oh yeah, I must Google to see what the song Elton wrote about Marilyn Monroe. I thought it was Candle in the Wind.

leftcoastTAM 6:15 PM  

Okay, so after all that, here's an outcome on the ZERO controversy: Zero is the concept we end up with if we add, subtract, multiply or divide 1 and -1. Zero is either or neither odd or even depending on your preference.

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