Big online site for uploading photos and memes / WED 5-5-21 / Wyoming town named for frontiersman / Separate into groups that don't communicate

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Constructor: Bryce Hwang and Rahul Sridhar and Akshay Ravikumar

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: NUMBERS (40A: This puzzle's theme) — sigh ... so the theme is *types* of numbers, where each theme answer runs through boxes that are numbered with the type of NUMBERS that the answer describes:

[PRIME (2D) runs through boxes numbered with the prime numbers 2 and 23;
runs through boxes numbered with the squares 9 (3 squared) and 25 (5 squared); etc.]

Theme answers:
  • SQUARE (9D: Like the two 40-Across in the grid for this answer)
  • PRIME (2D: Like the two 40-Across in the grid for this answer)
  • EVEN (44D: Like the two 40-Across in the grid for this answer)
  • ODD (39D: Like the two 40-Across in the grid for this answer)
  • FIBONACCI (34D: Like the two 40-Across in the grid for this answer)
Word of the Day: IMGUR (19A: Big online site for uploading photos and memes) —
Imgur (/ˈɪmɪər/ IM-ij-ər, stylized as imgur) is an American online image sharing community and image host founded by Alan Schaaf in 2009. The service has been popular with hosting viral images and memes, particularly those posted on Reddit. (wikipedia)
• • •

Textbook example of a "feat of construction" that has zero relationship to actual solving pleasure. The concept here is undeniably clever, but on the page it's like being bludgeoned while you wait for your final surprise and then your final surprise is just ... NUMBERS? That's your revealer! That's the Great 40-Across that every, single, clue has been telling me I need to go see? NUMBERS!? I laughed when I wrote that answer in. Look, if all you care about is whether your number types run through the correct boxes, then let's be honest: the only one of these answers that you are going to have real trouble with, the only one that seems genuinely inventive and possibly tough, is FIBONACCI, and since I don't even know what a FIBONACCI number is, the effect on me is nil (I am aware of the concept of a FIBONACCI series ... or is it sequence ... but the actual numbers involved, shrug, no idea, I'll take your word for it). Meanwhile, the theme clues are all identical, ugly and mechanical and dry and cross-referenced ... how is any of that pleasing on an aesthetic level. There's no pleasure here in actual words. The gimmick is merely mechanical. And the mechanics of the theme, again, clever, but solving it was a chore with no payoff. I guess there are some bonus number-related things here (UNO/ONE, OCTUPLE) but I don't care so ... moving on.

I'm going to say about IMGUR what I said about JUUL yesterday and what I would've said about CRAPO the day before if I'd written Monday's write-up, and that is please think about what kind of "fresh" fill you want to put out in the world. I'm only vaguely aware of IMGUR (see "Word of the Day," above), largely because I have studiously and almost completely avoided Reddit for its entire existence (though there are Reddit threads ... subreddits? ... about this blog; I read one once; it was ... something!). IMGUR, however popular, is not great as fill. First, is there an uglier letter string? How do you say it? Do you say it? I think it actually anagrams to "uglier," and if not, well, you see the resemblance. Second, for people who *don't* know it (and I absolutely guarantee you that I'm now talking about a huge segment of NYTXW solvers), every one of IMGUR's letters is meaningless, and there's no way to infer any of them. So it's just letter soup. I think of the tens of thousands of people who are going to "get" that answer and think "well that ... that's awful, that can't be right." The fact that it runs through CUTLET (clued in a really difficult way) (17D: Tonkatsu, in Japanese cuisine) which cuts through LOUIE (28A: King in the "Jungle Book" films) (who?*), which cuts through a very oddly-clued STEREO (4D: Binaural), is only going to make matters worse. That CUTLET area is the only section of the puzzle I really struggled with. The rest was pretty normal. I did have to pause to figure out how [Balance] = REST, but I guess if you're talking about a thing sitting ATOP another thing, then sure. (UPDATE: some people are telling me the REST clue has to do with "Balance" more in financial terms, e.g. "pay the balance (on your credit card)," or ...  just "balance" meaning "what's leftover," and yeah REST is not great in these cases either—"remainder" is the actual word you're looking for—but OK. I like my reading better, even if it's not what's intended)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*King LOUIE is apparently an orangutan, voiced by Louis (!) Prima in the animated movie. King LOUIE does not appear in Kipling's original work. I never saw "The Jungle Book" as a child, and knowing about the imperialism / racism of the extended Kipling universe has kept me away since

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joe 6:17 AM  

The clue for 35 Across could have been: Like the two 40-Across in this grid for this answer. Perhaps not technically, but if one takes “serial” to mean “consecutive”, it fits.

Lewis 6:22 AM  

I love the nerdiness of this theme, and I love the effort that went into creating this puzzle – making complicated programs, figuring out how to design the programs, checking hundreds of grids (see the constructors’ notes on XwordInfo and the blog they reference) – all for the love of crosswords, for reaching for success in a difficult endeavor, and for the joy of the solver. This grid is a paean to giving, to puzzling, to human potential, and to the attraction of this magnificent pastime of ours.

In addition to my awe at what you three accomplished, I had a terrific time solving this thing – theme aside! – due to some lovely rub and some fresh and bright clues (I’m especially looking at you, ENCORES and LAB).

Wow, kudos, and thank you, gentlemen. This was one to remember!

jfpon 6:24 AM  

Dry, dreadful, mechanical, lifeless dreck.

Tom Taylor 6:24 AM  

I read BALANCE as what’s left over after a portion of an invoice has been paid. ie, the “rest” … that could be wrong …

Raven Starkly 6:25 AM  

Rex never saw jungle book as a child. It all makes sense now.

king_yeti 6:35 AM  

SERIAL is also a bonus NUMBER-related answer. Other than scratching my head re IMGUR (and neither groking the theme nor caring), a petty smooth solve. Not as SHODDY as Rex describes.

Conrad 6:35 AM  

I agree with @Lewis. To do all that and maintain symmetry is quite a feat. I enjoyed the solve despite the IMGUR.

David Sinclair 6:41 AM  

10 down annoyed me. Why does the clue have a question mark? The idiom “pulling the strings” gets its meaning from a puppeteer. I laid in puppeteer at first, then erased it because it was too literal for a question mark clue.

Verdant Earl 6:52 AM  

Hated it. Just kept skipping all the clues that dealt with 30 across until I had a decent fill. Once "numbers" became obvious it was a race to the finish. But to get there was tedious.

ncmathsadist 6:58 AM  

The fibonacci numbers are defined as follows.

F_0 = 0
F_1 = 1
F_n = F_{n-1} + F_{n-2} for n >= 2.

Name that tune 6:59 AM  

This was clever and original, and absolutely genius. Rex is petty and wrong.

Court 7:02 AM  

Not knowing King Louie...or wanting to know him. Just sad for you, Rex Parker.

Jess 7:07 AM  

I am super impressed with the grid construction, and with the cluing!

I understand the theme, but don't actually "get" the cluing for it. "Like the two numbers in the grid for this answer" is so hard to read. If I had understood it was telling me to look at the grid-numbering to find the answer, I would have had a blast!

Instead, I read the clue differently. I kept thinking there were two numbers in the whole grid (uno and one), and I needed to figure out something about them to get the answer. Since one/uno are PRIME, ODD, SQAURE, an FIBONACCI, the only entry that led me to think something else was up was EVEN. And at that point, I was like "meh, I don't get this cluing".

I really wish this puzzle had ditched the "revealer" (which was not an aha! moment, and was actually the the first of the theme entries I figured out), and found a way to word the theme clues so that it was clear what was going on. It would have been really fun to understand that I could look at the grid numbers to fill in the answer.

Anonymous 7:08 AM  


SouthsideJohnny 7:10 AM  

Didn’t enjoy this one - other than the terms all being related to numbers, the theme never clicked until I read OFL - even then it was like, yawn. So that was boring - in addition to the IMGUR/Japanese pork chop disaster. I’m never a fan of items that are just “parse together a bunch of crosses and hope” - such as SHURI - I have no way of knowing if that is a legitimate word (English or god-only-knows what other random language, or if it’s just some random PPP that the constructor got stuck with and was lucky enough to get a hit on Google, and viola - a clue !).

I see a member the REI, ROI et al contingent made an appearance today - I haven’t committed them specifically to memory yet - question for others - Does anyone jot these things down on an index card for future reference ? If so, would you consider that cheating ?

Fitzwillam Darcy 7:13 AM  

Liked the originality of this puzzle. Liked the debut entries of IMGUR, JUUL, and CRAPO this week. Keep up the good work !

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

Can't wait for TT to explain it all.

Sioux Falls 7:19 AM  

Fibonacci series/sequence: (0) 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 ... each number I equals the sum of the two preceding numbers...

OffTheGrid 7:20 AM  

A theme this forced, however "clever" it maybe may be, belongs on Thursday where such wonkiness is expected.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Loved PUPPETEER right over OLLIE. Never heard of IMGUR.

I’m a math-obsessed guy, so when I say that’s a weak theme, you have a problem.

Christopher Walken voiced King LOUIE in the recent (and excellent) remake of The Jungle Book. Also had Bill Murray as Baloo.

Cristi 7:23 AM  

Naticked at NAVI-IMGUR...forgot the movie when I walked out of the theater, never heard of the site. Ticked off because I had FIBONACCI even though I had no idea what it was. After laboring through the theme clues, that’s what I get? Has anyone watched Avatar in the last ten years? (I hope not.) Starting the day with a chip on my shoulder.

Cristi 7:33 AM  

Disney+ tags the The Jungle Book for containing racist imagery and cultural stereotyping because of the King Louis sequence:

Joaquin 7:35 AM  

I'm pretty good with words; numbers not so much. So grokking this puzzle was an interesting challenge.

But who cannot be impressed with the final result here? Oh yeah. @Rex. Now I'm feeling kinda sorry for him.

Baloo 7:37 AM  

Great solving experience here. Thanks Messrs. Sridhar Ravikumar and Hwang. Don’t listen to Mr. Sharp. Haters gonna hate.

Richard Stanford 7:41 AM  

I’m surprised. Medium? My times for all 3 days this week have been in the same ballpark (I enjoy breaking 5 on a good Monday so I’m not super speedy, but 6:46, 6:00, 6:35). This certainly felt like an easy puzzle for a Wednesday.

NUMBERS was a good theme for me too. Not immediately obvious but then actually useful after I got it. The rest was somewhat meh, although I did enjoy VINCENT.

Unknown 7:41 AM  

"Second, for people who *don't* know it (and I absolutely guarantee you that I'm now talking about a huge segment of NYTXW solvers), every one of IMGUR's letters is meaningless, and there's no way to infer any of them. So it's just letter soup."

It's a site that hosts IMAGES. There's a way to infer 60% of the letters, which is more true than in a proper name the solver hasn't heard of.

Unknown 7:45 AM  

I think you should look up the meaning of Fibonacci Sequence and also
check out how important it is in many processes - it's mathematics in
case you were wondering!

albatross shell 7:46 AM  




Best pair I thought it might be while solving: VINCENT crossing PRIcE.

Best reminder of Fran: PUPPETEER OLLIE.

Best change in the puzzle vaguely reminiscent of the previous observation: Change EUR to EAR. Hint: lambchop for Ollie. Does anyone under 50 know?

INSIDEOUT and outsidein are synonyms when describing clothing, antonyms when describing direction. Is there a name for words like that? Is there a name for single words like that?

Best answer I always love in a puzzle: FIBONACCI

Son Volt 7:49 AM  

Cool, nerdfest of a theme - but it lost me with the cross referencing. I just zone out when a clue calls out another one and it usually tends to bring the whole thing down. Liked the OLLIE x OTHELLO cross and the doubled up CCs in FIBONACCI x PUCCINI. Learned IMGUR, SHURI and NAVI.

Liked the idea but not an enjoyable solve.

Frantic Sloth 7:56 AM  

One for the mathy people! With three (3!) different constructors? Is this a crossword or a Hollywood movie script? And I believe this is NYTXW debut for each of them. Holy cheese!

I caught on to the theme pretty early which was miraculous enough, but it also flew by a lot quicker than my usual Wednesdee effort. What a goofy week this has been difficulty-wise.

I was especially proud of recognizing and understanding the FIBONACCI NUMBERS because that means I was actually able to retain something learned here from all of you beautiful smart people. Thanks!

Speaking of...

RINGS FIBONACCI sounds like a gangster who overdoes the finger jewelry. The result is brass knuckles at the lux level.

I enjoyed it and I have a feeling it was quite a feat of constructioneering, too.
Nice work, Mssrs. Sridhar, Ravikumar, and Hwang!


Peter P 8:07 AM  

This one went in real easy, near my Wednesday record and faster than my average Monday time. Like some others, I skipped over the theme clues until I had more of the fill done (which is what I do with theme clues typically, anyway.) A breezy solve, but I could have used a little more fight with this one.

Question: isn't the superlative form of "DRY" DRiEST and not DRYEST? I fairly quickly plopped down the Y, but I thought only the -iEST form was considered correct. That's probably where I had the most hesitation in this grid. Ah, actually Merriam-Webster does give "dryer" and "dryest" as alternative comparatives. It just looks a little odd to my eyes

The FINBONACCI sequence pretty cool and has all sorts of uses and is also observable in nature (for example, in the geometry of plants -- how many petals they have). To expand on @ncmathsadist's symbolic representation of the sequence, all it means is start with 0 and 1, and to create the next number in the sequence, add the last two numbers. So 0 + 1 = 1; now you have 0, 1, 1. Add the last two numbers (1,1) and you get 2. Now you have 0, 1, 1, 2. Add the last two (1,2). Now you have 0, 1, 1, 2, 3. Then things start getting interesting. 2+3 = 5; 3+5 = 8; 5+8 = 13, and so on. It's also usually the first thing you code up in computer science when learning about recursive algorithms.

64yo 8:14 AM  

Absolutely dreadful

crackblind 8:17 AM  

I really enjoy reading these reviews of the puzzles but c'mon Rex, just because it isn't something you are familiar with doesn't make it bad fill. IMGUR is an immensely popular site, even for people who don't use Reddit (though you do have a point about the pronunciation - it was years before I found out the G is soft like in "image" as opposed at hard like in "gif"). Same thing with King LOUIE. There are plenty of answers I wasn't aware of that you have praised. That's not on the constructor, it's just a fact of life.

albatross shell 8:17 AM  

@me 746am
Forgot ONE:

Best description of puzzle suggested by the puzzle:

bocamp 8:20 AM  

Thx @Bryce, Rahul & Akshay for a very crunchy and challenging Wednes. puz.! :)

Smack dab med. time, but the solve felt tougher.

A very different route for this one. Started with OLD & CODY and moved down with LEER, SERIAL and INSIDEOUT. The remainder was hit and miss, finishing up in the NW.

Not a big fan of this type of theme, so just ignored it and figured it out post-solve, which even then required parsing of the clues, understanding what they wanted me to do, then looking carefully at the NUMBERS in the themers, i.e., PRIME (2, 23), EVEN (44, 48) and ODD (39, 43). I don't mind this exercise after the solve, cos it's like a bonus puz within a puz. Just won't let it interfere with the actual solve (unless obviously needed or useful).


Finished that cryptic with one laughable error; I'll email you with a couple a questions on the clues. Overall, a very grueling, but enjoyable experience.

yd 0

Peace ~ and Good Health to all 🕊

David Manderscheid 8:25 AM  

Figured this one would be polarizing. As a professor of mathematics who studies number theory I loved it. Some fresh answers so I struggled a bit until I hit Fibonnaci and then it was smooth.

Andy Feinberg 8:31 AM  

I enjoy your take on the puzzles Rex but, with respect, you missed the mark on this one a bit. Not everyone is an English major, and there are plenty of scientists, mathematicians and engineers who love NYT puzzles. RARELY they treat us to a mathematically inventive puzzle. I cannot remember EVER when the number itself in the clue figured into the answer, and it is not necessarily the clue number itself, just in one of the boxes! And Fibonacci numbers are extraordinary, a mathematical jewel in the Renaissance. The "golden ratio" is the limit of the ratio of the n+1th number to the nth number in the sequence, and it is the key aesthetic ratio of the Parthenon sides, e.g., but also the distance between spirals of seashells, and even our own DNA spiral when viewed from the top down!

Frosty Flake 8:35 AM  

Rudyard Kipling was a wonderful storyteller. Refusing to read him because of what you think you might find is the epitome of closed-mindedness.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

I agree on the blandness of actually doing this puzzle, though I did enjoy, and find to be good clues, both tonkatsu and binaural. Neither are particularly obscure and displeasure seems to come from not knowing rather than any actual problem with the clues?

mmorgan 8:45 AM  

I solved this but didn’t get the theme/conceit of the numbers within the answers. I just thought they were different types of numbers. Oh, I see, interesting construction, but not central to the solve. But again I wonder… if I get all the answers right and don’t fully see the theme, have I really “solved” the puzzle.

No trouble at all with IMGUR.

Wayne 8:48 AM  

Rex: "NYTXW: Stop publishing middle-of-the-road puzzles with clues and answers that don't advance the state of the art."

Also Rex: "NYTXW: Stop publishing innovative puzzles that will only appeal to a small segment of your users."

Pick a lane, dude. Complain about kids playing in your yard, or complain about kids playing in the street. If you can't decide, maybe you should just freaking move.

daveyhead 8:51 AM  

I was chasing down an “error” or “errors” and when I gave up and hit REVEAL, my errors were not (errors). The L in LED and the S in SEETHE. Unless I’m losing my mind (a possibility)

Anyone else ever have this trouble?

jberg 8:51 AM  

Sigh. I've never seen Avatar, and certainly never heard of IMGUR -- I can't even remember the name of the photo-sharing site I occasionally use, let alone one I never heard of -- so I took a stab at NAVu/uMGUR for that cross. I think the thud of the paper hitting my porch this morning disabled the little thing that's supposed to pop up and tell you you're finished, so I went with that and came here. (I think Navu came from vague memories of Nauvoo, the place the Mormons abandoned when they moved to Utah).

Once I got a couple theme answers I could see that they were types of NUMBERS, and I was off and running -- but I never managed to parse the clue; I even thought it could be "like" as in Facebook, but that didn't make sense either. TBF, if I had figured out that it referred to the NUMBERS in the grid, I would have admired the puzzle -- but that was one unknown cross-reference too many for me.

As for "The Jungle Book" I had it read to me as a young child, read it myself as an older child, but never saw the movies, and so had no clue about LOUIE -- especially since the book has characters named things like Ka, Shere Kan, Baloo, and, of course Mowgli -- so I was trying to think of a name within that linguistic universe, until I finally got it from crosses. Ugh (my general reaction to Disneyfication--it makes me sad that most people's mental image of characters from Winnie the Pooh or Alice in Wonderland are Disney's, not Shepard's or Tenniel's).

I looked at O_HEL__ in 63A and spent hundreds of nanoseconds trying to remember a scene in which OpHELia might have spoken that line. Especially odd in that my wife and I are in the midst of viewing an online quarantine version of OTHELLO by the Actors' Shakespeare Project. I did finally get that one, at least. Nice concept overall, but a frustrating solve for me.

Z 8:59 AM  

The solve was easy here since PRIME and SQUARE went in early, making NUMBERS easy to see. As I solved I was annoyed at the choppiness of the grid, with all these single black squares littered about, which was a big neon sign yelling at me to look at the answer numbers for the theme revelation. But I’m with Rex, this is a feat of construction, but not a particularly interesting solve. I think this would have been far more interesting if it had been clued as a metapuzzle. That is, clue all the theme answers properly, preferably non-mathematically, then clue NUMBERS in such a way as to point solvers to the construction feat. This same boring lookie loo clue for all the themers… I just found it incredibly off-putting. So off-putting that the good stuff in the grid, like PUPPETEER and INSIDE OUT, was hidden by the annoyance of the theme clues.

I also like PUCCINI OTHELLO and REY LEER in the puzzle. Stepping back from the grid, it really is pretty well done. While solving, though? The ugly theme cluing really brought this down.

@unknown7:41 - -MGUR in the grid and a solver is supposed to “infer” that the UR is irrelevant and the I will give you IMG as in “images?” Nope. If you don’t know Avatar and are not aware of IMGUR that I is a W.A.G. That crossing skews “guys of a certain age.”

I do find the puzzle’s argument over colonialism fascinating, with NAVI and King LOUIE in the puzzle. I have never seen Avatar, but I read somewhere that they borrowed heavily from LeGuin’s The Word for World is Forest. I have no idea if that is accurate, but I do know that LeGuin is worth reading.

I had a hard time coming up with DRYEST. Meaning least precipitation, this makes sense. But my image is of a place covered in snow and ice, that is, buried under water.

Carola 9:01 AM  

Well, I got half of the idea: that is, I saw that the clue numbers fit their answer (2 a PRIME, 9 a SQUARE...) but never thought to look further down in the answer for the one other number that appeared in it. I'm not crazy about puzzles that leave me feeling like a half-wit, but my fault for not looking harder. Very nifty construction feat.

Liked: NOTORIETY over LOIS Lane: as I recall, she was a more a model of propriety. Help from previous puzzles: NED. NO idea: IMGUR.

Mikey from El Prado 9:06 AM  

The one thing that bothered me about the puzzle was the lack of symmetry of the theme answers’ locations in the grids. I realize that would have made the puzzle even more challenging to pull off, but the randomness just didn’t work for me. For example that FIBONACCI, a theme answer, is opposite PUPPETEER, not a theme answer, just doesn’t work.

Z 9:07 AM  

@albatross shell - Private WELSH IDAHO maybe?

albatross shell 9:10 AM  

Did no one post between @Peterp 8:07am and @Z 859am? I did or at least thought I did.
@me 746am
Forgot one:

Best description of the puzzle suggested by the puzzle: My Own WELSH IDAHO.

Z 9:11 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - If Z’s Placebo and Tentacle Pub ever needs a bouncer we’re hiring RINGS FIBONACCI. He can also run the upstairs Adobe Abodopodes.

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

the thing about the FIBONACCI clue/answer: you get no 'help' from the clue, since you have to know the FIBONACCI sequence to know that 55 is the sum of 21 & 34, the former of which is neither in the answer letter/box number of the answer nor the answer directly above, nor, further, is the 21 clue/answer in any way related. to the extent that FIBONACCI series exist in nature, not so much. exponentials, on the other hand, show up scads of places in the real world. HELLO Covid-19.

G. Weissman 9:19 AM  

The juxtaposition of these two reviews is a thing of beauty:

Lewis 6:22 AM
This grid is a paean to giving, to puzzling, to human potential, and to the attraction of this magnificent pastime of ours.

jfpon 6:24 AM
Dry, dreadful, mechanical, lifeless dreck.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I had a hard time coming up with DRYEST. Meaning least precipitation, this makes sense. But my image is of a place covered in snow and ice, that is, buried under water.

Wow!! I finally get to offer remedial education to @Z. Australia is the DRYEST inhabited continent (although it was still just an island when I first encountered it in grade school). The snow/ice on Antarctica has been accumulating for millennia, drop by drop.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

There's a point in a puzzle like this when I can sense that it's trying too hard and the finish will be less than satisfying. It was.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

For the nerdy types in the group (who haven't stumbled into this corner already), here's a wiki article on why ice cores, from Antarctica in particular, aid in understanding climate change.

"The physical properties of the ice and of material trapped in it can be used to reconstruct the climate over the age range of the core."

Since Antarctic ice has been laid down for millennia, and, mostly undisturbed, it provides a very long term data record.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

I echo your expletive!!!! We’ll said!!

Frantic Sloth 9:43 AM  

@Tom Taylor 624am Yep. That's how I saw it, too.

@Z 859am W.A.G.?
@Z 911am Good choice. He's kinda headstrong, so he'll insist on a free hand. 😉 Also, don't make him (or me, or anyone) have to say "Adobe Abodopodes" aloud. Ever.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Absolutely brilliant concept. Executed to perfection. 100% disagree with Rex. Sorry you don't like math bro.

I don't use Imgur either, but a quick search shows it has been in the top 100 most visited websites for the last decade. Seems pretty relevant to me. "Blah - this grid feels 100 years old" *uses more modern fill* "Blah - what is this new age crap?"


albatross shell 9:46 AM  

I wanted that implied but was thinking of the movie. Maybe should have thought of the song. Thanks.

GILL I. 9:46 AM  

I think IM GURgitating my Tonkatsu CUTLET. Does POLLY want a cracker?
NUMBERS are good for exactly two things in my book: Remembering your street address and counting how many remaining teeth you have.
So Bryce, Rahul and Akshay walk into a bar.....I need vodka.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

An extremely clever and original design for a puzzle, and a beyond exasperating solve for me. I would have thrown it against the wall -- except that I just broke my wall yesterday, just had it repaired, and I can't afford to keep doing this.

So I soldiered on, and I actually finished -- including that PPP-riddled NW corner which I'd despaired of ever completing. Remember, I didn't have the theme yet, so there was no way I could know PRIME, and I didn't know NAVI, ARI, or...

IMGUR!!!!???? What kind of a website is IMGUR????!!!!

And while we're at it, this is how you clue CUTLET (17D)?????!!!!! Of all the mean, underhanded, lowdown tricks!

I think if the NW corner had been switched with the SE corner and I'd sussed out the theme by the time I got to all the unknown PPP, I would have hated this puzzle a lot less. Or liked it a lot more. Or something. It's clever and it deserved to be surrounded by much fairer non-theme clues and fill.

JOHN X 9:55 AM  

This puzzle took three guys to make?

I never once noticed the theme because I was filling it in so fast.

Tim Aurthur 9:56 AM  

I thought the wording of the theme clues was misleading at best. To me "for" isn't right; it doesn't obviously mean "contained in" or "appearing in." "For" suggests an external relationship. So like @Jess I hunted around for prime numbers etc. planted around the grid. So the cleverness of the construction was lost on me until I came here.

Canon Chasuble 9:57 AM  

Solved this from the bottom line going upward to the top, with very few stops on the way. In other words, easy. But found the puzzle dull, though the theme itself was interesting and clever. My wife ( a mathematician) iis a great Puccini fan, but his only work I really like is Turandot. But I like Busoni’s version even better.

KnittyContessa 9:58 AM  

What a horrible puzzle. I'm trying to think of one nice thing to say about it. I did feel a little bit proud of myself for getting FIBONACCI from the F. Here's a fun fact. The FIBONACCI sequence is used in knitting patterns. It can determine color changes or increases.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

What or who is “TT”?

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Giuseppe Verdi composed “Otello”.

Amelia 10:02 AM  


I couldn't agree with you more. I hate question marks. They insult my intelligence. If I can't figure out the answer without one, I'm not a good puzzler. And as you point out, this one doesn't make sense.

A marvelous construction of a puzzle. A fail of a crossword puzzle. There wasn't a single thing I needed to know about the trick to fill in the clues. I recognized the name Fibonacci. I know the Fibonacci seriesi. I've seen artwork about it. Didn't see the numbers. Didn't need the numbers. Nor did I need them for the words Prime, Square, Even or Odd. I'd bet that no one here needed to see those numbers to finish the puzzle.

As for Rex and his cancel culture, normally I don't pay attention to it. But lately I've seen more and more rightwing conservative talking points that include the word cancel. And that makes me nervous. (Just saw Senator Hawley do that.) The more this stuff enters the mainstream (No Roth! No Roth biographer! No Kipling! And on and on!) the more foolish we look. Those rightwing assholes who will take Congress again in months? This amuses them. This EMPOWERS them. Their constituents are more concerned with more egregious things. Like shutting down democracy. Maybe if Rex spent more time making sure his students actually VOTE in a midterm election (college students famously don't) and less time frothing about the use of corporation names in puzzles, we can keep this country afloat.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I just wanted to be done with this one. Meh.

danindc 10:04 AM  

Rex, I'm starting to get tired of you railing on fresh and modern answers. You often harp on NYTXW for having old fill, but then you complain when they put something new and interesting in there that appeals to a younger audience of puzzlers. Imgur (pronounced image-er) has a daily user base of 100 million (and as high as 300 million) and is ranked in the top 100 by Alexa for global internet engagement. You know how many times I've struggled with an obscure actor or musician from the 50s? Maybe it's time the oldy moldys in the NYTXW audience struggled with an answer...

Maybe 10:04 AM  

After Rex’s most recent petty tantrum about Will Shortz, and his general over-the-top snarkiness, I was ready to stop reading him. But then I discovered these comments, which are mostly not “Rex-y”. Anyway, I quite enjoyed today’s puzzle and thought the theme was clever and well-executed.

Akshay 10:14 AM  

Akshay of Akshay, Bryce, and Rahul here! LOL the day has finally come. This is fun to read.

Interestingly, we originally had [Like this grid's two circled numbers] as our themer clue, and SERIAL NUMBERS as the revealer. But the editors ended up ditching the circles, ignoring SERIAL, and doing the cross-reference instead.

TTrimble 10:15 AM  

I'll just weigh in briefly because I have other things to do, but the real pleasure was wrapping my head around what an engineering feat this was from a constructor's point of view. Very impressive. While solving, being in a bit of a hurry, I virtually ignored the theme and just methodically filled in letters, finishing in a time that is I think a bit greater than recent Wednesday times, but about 75% of my historical average. I was too lazy and/or hurried to work out the theme before reading Rex's write-up, but hat's off to him for taking the time every day to explain. Thanks, Rex.

A certain amount I did not know (NAVI, SHURI, LOUIE, CODY -- Wild Bill, that last one?). I put in iriSH before WELSH -- how was I to know? These Gaelic languages always intrigue me. So exotic-looking. I like the cluing "Price for a horror film?" (VINCENT).

Rex is wrong about "binaural" being an odd clue for STEREO. Took me a little while, but it's completely fair.

Anyway, well-executed puzzle. I'm also enjoying the comments. I'm glad to see for example that @ncmathsadist got the indexing of the Fibonacci numbers right. If you get it wrong, then you miss out on some of the cool properties of the sequence, such as: F_{gcd(m, n)} = gcd(F_m, F_n).

This fact could in turn be used to give a goofball* proof of the infinitude of primes: it suffices to give an infinite sequence of mutually relatively prime numbers, and for this you can take G(1) = 13, G(n+1) = F_{G(n)} for n greater than or equal to 1. I leave it to the reader to supply the remaining details, using a proof by induction. You are so welcome!

*In math, we call this type of proof "nuking a mosquito".

johnk 10:21 AM  

I have a math degree. So NUMBERS are easy. I EVEN celebrate my PRIME number birthdays: "I'm back in my PRIME!"
I don't enjoy number puzzles like suduko, but I liked this puzzle's theme.
What I disliked was the NW, with 3 utter Naticks: NAVI, ARI and IMGUR. The horror!

RooMonster 10:22 AM  

Hey All !
Have to give props for the construction. To get all the NUMBERS to line up with the appropriate themers is crazy tough enough, but to have them in a symmetric grid, And come away with light dreck is spectacular.
I'm surprised at the IMGUR pushback. I'm in no way computer savvy-anything, and even I've heard of it. ☺️

My nit is the phrasing of the Themer clues. Whassit? It didn't make sense in the ole brain to me. "Like the two NUMBERS in the grid for this answer." *Blank stare* I think "in the grid" should've been taken out, cause that's confusing, making you think of the entire grid, not just that particular answer. Maybe something along the lines of "Like both 40 Across in this answer." That seems a little clearer.

Surprised Rex didn't complain about two OUTs, or his Scrabble#@&ing of the NE. (Which is just happenstance, so maybe that was why.) Surprised @Lewis didn't mention the double-L fest in SE. 🙂

Didn't cotton on to theme, as I said before, the phrasing was confusing. But major notches up for the construction after Rexplained NUMBERS. Awesome job, gentleman.

Two F's

jbh 10:22 AM  

This was a fine puzzle.

I'll never figure out Michael's odd and exacting (?) standards.

Just because I've never heard of IMGUR doesn't make it a bad fill. Knew FIBONACCI but couldn't remember what constitutes the series. I looked it up and (re)learned something.

Had OPHELIA before OTHELLO but fixed it with the crosses.

mathgent 10:28 AM  

I usually dislike puzzles like this. Where the theme requires a nearly impossible grid. Because almost always the fill is very weak to meet the needs of construction. But the fill here was quite sparkly. I had 13 red plus signs in the margins, high for a Wednesday. Great clue for ENCORES. My wife had to explain that the bows weren't pieces of ribbon.

The constructors said on Jeff Chen that they tried to get PERFECT into the grid. They came close. 6D had 6 and 24. The two smallest perfect numbers are 6 and 28. (A perfect number is one those whose divisors, excluding the number itself, sum to itself.
28 = 14 + 7 + 4 + 2 + 1. The next one is 496.)

Happy to be reminded of Vincent Price. House of Wax was the best of the early 3-D. movies.

Whatsername 10:30 AM  

I’m not a NUMBERS person so didn’t love this. Start off in the NE with an indecipherable website and an unheard of menu item. Then bombard me with lookee clues and I’m glancing toward Nancy’s Wall. I saw SQUARE and thought the theme was going to be Sponge Bob. That’s how much out of my wheelhouse I was. No, it never hit the Wall but SHURI came close.

EVEN after seeing the theme, it was like trying to navigate a maze and hitting a dead end every time. After the first few u-turns, I’d had enough of the game and just wanted a way out. I understand this was a complex feat of construction, but is that the SOLE purpose here? I imagine the mathists in this crowd will be in their element so to speak, but for this wordist, not so much. ONE which won’t REST ATOP my favorite list anytime TOO soon.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

OK. Was meaning to elide this, but... a BINAURAL recording and STEREO recording are completely different. The former can only be heard, as intended, with proper headphones. The latter doesn't care. Moreover, whether one hears the former in a more encompassing STEREO effect is mostly determined by the nature of the listeners ear/brain processing, IOW for some it's better than STEREO through speakers or phones, while for others it's not much better than MONO.

tea73 10:32 AM  

One of these days I'm going to sit Rex in a room and give him a class on all the fun parts of math. Fibonacci series, the golden mean, Pascal's triangle, Sierpiński triangle etc. There's so much beauty there.

Despite being fond of math it took me a while to cotton on to the theme, but I thought it was very clever.

Saw Avatar and thought it was the best example of 3-D imaging I've seen in a movie. The story? Well it's just Pocahontas with the white guy saving the day. But beautiful to watch. Anyway IMGAR was only vaguely family and I can never remember the last vowel for the NAVI, for some reason I always want a U there.

“A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?”
― C. P. Snow

EdFromHackensack 10:33 AM  

Finished no errors. didn’t really “get” the theme until I got here. you have to admire the brilliant construction. to call it “dreadful”? I like that it was different . Well done guys!

Newboy 10:37 AM  

As @Lewis said, “a puzzle to remember.” Unfortunately, I will recall it for Rex’s reasons! Sorta like a shaggy dog puzzle to get FIBONACCI into play? I never understood my math nerd friend’s dissertation on “imaginary numbers” either, but that’s on me. Hope today’s New Yorker is more fun.

Soyen Shaku 10:43 AM  

I'll try to interpret an old Zen Koan here:

Three young men sit in a room and say "wouldn't it be cool if we .....". What's the outcome?

Those who somehow manage to resolve 99.99% chance of disaster with .01% chance for progress in the human condition proceed.

PS: IMGUR is bad fill because hardly anyone knows of it, and it's only one step removed from being a word-salad. Worse, that one step is deliberate obfuscation of Imager.

JD 10:46 AM  

Hopped around the grid, until eventually Umbers and some parts of Fibonacci came into view and things became somewhat easier.

Of course the difficult parts were Louie and Imgur and Shuri, proving all along what I've said about U words. I don't like them and they shouldn't be allowed in crosswords. Finished but had to check.

Octuple was a coincidence. Had a few minutes before had a conversation with one of the kids about people who are Polyamorous. Poly is a thing.

Be prepared for this word when it shows up, "Throuple." Because it will, but most likely in The New Yorker first.

pmdm 10:46 AM  

This is a puzzle that predictably generates extreme polar opposite reactions. If you enjoy numbers, you will probably love the theme. If not, you will probably hate it.

That I did well in an NYU grad school math class in Number Theory (so long ago I forget my grade) suggests I enjoy number games and such. So I read the blog entry on how the grid came to be (a link is on the XWordInfo site). Can't say that I studied the treatise or can't say I would recommend reading it (TTrimble's comment above is better). Hopefully the trio of first time constructors will turn their attention to less esoteric themes. I'd like to see what they would come out with if they use a theme that allows a more pliable grid pattern.

The thorniest problem with this puzzle was not the theme, which I pretty much ignored during the solve. And you don't have to know what a Fibonacci sequence actually is to suss out the solution to the entry. (And I seem to remember STEREO clued similarly in the past.) The real problem was the PPP in the NW corner of the grid. Simply not possible to assuredly guess the correct entries unless you are familiar with them. Perhaps fair enough later in the week, but somewhat rough (seems to me) on a Wednesday.

Eldreth 10:51 AM  

The way the theme clues were written was definitely the problem. “Like the two 40 across” should have been written “like two of the 40 across.”

albatross shell 10:51 AM  

To me filling in the whole grid is solving the puzzle. Getting the theme is more about understanding the puzzle. Just like not knowing the definition of a word in the puzzle or perhaps more analogously understanding how every clue works to the answer you have filled in. The solve is an objective measurement of your entries and does not involve further testing to determine that the solve was a success. You do not need to know single words from DOOKs, you do not need to undersand the definitions of all words, which are words and which are PPP, the logic of every clue, or the theme. My judgement is based on how I understand crossword competitions to work. I have never been to one. Your personal definition may vary. To me, it's like a test. You put down the correct answer everywhere you got it. Does not matter if it is a guess or if you got the right answer for the wrong reason.

If any one is wondering about my post starting with "did anyone post between ...". I hit refresh and Z's 859 post directly followed Peter P's 807 post. I assume it was an accident of timing with many posts being approved at once. Never happened to me before.

Bax'N'Nex 10:52 AM  

Lewis: reading your posts always takes the poison out of my head after reading Mike’s vitriol. Such a little island of positivity and warmth. I would read your blog...

jb129 10:58 AM  

This puzzle was for the (3) constructors - to show how smart they are, that is....

jae 11:01 AM  

Easy-medium. I ignored the theme and didn’t have much trouble solving it. The trouble came when I went back to figure out what was going on. Staring helped. Novel and clever but also a tad annoying. Fortunately it went pretty quickly. Liked it, interesting debut.

Nancy 11:06 AM  

Please help. I can't figure out today's NYT Brain Tickler. It's a letter-arrangement puzzle. The clue is "What familiar two-word phrase (10,5) does this arrangement of letters represent? Here's the arrangement:


(Note: The C and G are centered over the N of the ENT, but my computer may end up making everything flush against the margin. But the C and G are not flush.)

Thanks for the help. I don't think I can bear waiting until tomorrow! You might want to write "Spoiler Alert".

Nerdy Numbers Guy 11:11 AM  

With such a detailed construction required in order to achieve the appropriate layout, I suspected that there may have been more to the theme than was actually published - was sorry to hear that the editorial staff felt that it was necessary to dumb it down in order to make it NY Times-worthy.

@Newboy. One interesting thing about imaginary numbers is that they are no more or less “imaginary” than any other numbers.

wrollinson 11:13 AM  

This math teacher is impressed

JD 11:17 AM  

@Eldreth, Agree with that completely. That wording held me back for the longest time.

Chip Hilton 11:18 AM  

NAVa and aMGUR. Knew neither. That corner was pretty much the lone stumbling block for me. One question: Isn’t 34 a FIBONACCI number rather than two NUMBERS, as clued? I quibble. Fun Wednesday puzzle.

misterarthur 11:23 AM  

Stop dissing your readers. I'm a "typical" NYTimes reader - I'm 66, and I know exactly what Imgur is.

pabloinnh 11:27 AM  

Oh good, NUMBERS. Never my strong suit, and here we are in a new place, and I've had to learn a new street address and a new phone number and a new cell phone number, because I just acquired my first one, and I just filled the car up and the pump wanted me to put in my zip code, which has changed, and I had to go inside and ask someone what the zip code is for where I live now. So my recent experience with numbers perhaps colored by take on this one, whose construction was impressive but otherwise did not delight me.

I'm a little surprised by all the trouble folks had with LOUIE, as the OUIE part of it went in pretty easily, and if you have a king named _OUIE 'and don't ask for an "L", well that's the end of your turn and somebody else spins the wheel.

I did get the NAVI IMGUR cross on my first guess. I had forgotten NAVI and will now forget IMGUR, popular as it may be.

Hoping Tursday is a rebus that does not involve numbers, with no offense intended to all the number lovers out there.

Anonymoose 11:28 AM  

The theme clues read "Like the two 40 across in the grid for this answer". "Like the two 40 across in this answer" would have been so much better by making much more sense. There. I fixed this puzzle.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Kipling is sublime. Your politics is hamstringing you. Again.

Unknown 11:35 AM  

This was a clever, clever puzzle and a really good fill. I enjoyed it thoroughly!
Rex, you hate too much, dude.

Frantic Sloth 11:41 AM  

@Akshay 1014am Hi! Always nice to have the constructor(s) stop by. Even nicer to see them take the crankiness of this lot in stride. And congratulations! 😊

@Nancy 1106am Centrifugal Force?

@pabloinnh 1127am Isn't your zip code the one that's on your billing address (for credit card, etc.)? Don't even know why I'm asking, so feel free to not answer. 😆

Doctor John 11:44 AM  

Bravo, gentleman!

Nancy 11:51 AM  

Delightful post today, @pabloinnh (11:27). Your first paragraph is funny (though, alas, perhaps not so funny to you as you were experiencing it) and your second paragraph is even funnier.

When I was going through my own move (and for heaven's sake, it was only a block-and-a-half from where I was then living and only three-and-a-half blocks from where I grew up), I was totally stressed out. Someone who had gone through a move a few years earlier said to me: "I've always thought that there should be a Support Group for all people in the process of moving."

I agree completely. Moving is off the charts in terms of how the psychotherapists rate its stress level -- right under going through a divorce, I think. Hope things settle down and get easier soon for you, @pabloinnh.

Blitzkrieg Bop 11:55 AM  

@Chip has a good point. I think most people would consider 34 one number with two digits. The clue very clearly indicates “like the two numbers”. Is there such a thing as a correction/retraction for crossword puzzles? There are probably some middle school pupils who can tell you that 4 is not a Fibonacci number (and surely the constructors knew). Sharp’s favorite crossword editor probably changed the clues and forgot to retrofit the rest of the puzzle or check it for accuracy. He should own it, isn’t that his actual job after all ?

R Duke 11:55 AM  

CODY is the name of our GOLDENDOODLE

JC66 12:04 PM  

@ Akshay. Thanks for stopping by.

I had the same problem with the themer clues as many others and like @Roo's suggested replacement best (Like both 40 Across in this answer).

Whatsername 12:06 PM  

@Southside Johnny (7:10) Does anyone jot these things down on an index card for future reference? When I was first starting out with NYT crosswords, I did that very thing. And no, I don’t consider it cheating, just smart. As Einstein said: “Paper is to write things down that we need to remember. Our brains are used to think.”

Joe Dipinto 12:18 PM  

Brooklyn has an IMLAY Street in the Red Hook section. Also, Staten Island has ISMAY Street, and the Bronx has ITTNER Place. I think IMGUR Parkway would go nicely in Queens.

MBI 12:20 PM  

The number of people on this blog complaining about "Imgur," one of the most popular sites on the Internet, is genuinely embarrassing. All you're doing is revealing your out-of-touchness, it's like complaining about a fill that references the Brooklyn Nets because no one watches basketball. A giant ton of people watch basketball, a giant ton of people use Imgur, you just exist in a tiny world.

Gene 12:21 PM  

Rex cracked me up even more than usual with his hating on this theme. As a math guy, I loved it!

pabloinnh 12:30 PM  

@FroSlo--I'm sure our zip is on our mail, but we haven't been here long enough for me to check. Also, I think we have received some mail here, but where it might be is currently a mystery.

@Nancy--Thanks for your compassion, and I wish you the best with your wall repair, however temporary it may be.

Nancy 12:43 PM  

@MBI -- Oh, right. So incredibly popular. Not.

How popular is Imgur?
Popularity. In 2013 Imgur overtook other image hosts in interest, such as Photobucket, ImageShack, and TinyPic, according to Google Trends [warning: non-statistical]. In April 2016, it was ranked 16th among Alexa's Top Sites in the United States but by April 2021 it had dropped to #51.

Please don't feel embarrassed for us, @MBI, and we'll try not to feel embarrassed for you.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Most unsatisfying puzzle I've completed in a long time. And it took three people to construct it? Only a nerd would know the intersection of 1D and 19A.

Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

yep -- What the hey, this puztheme is definitely different. Kinda like different. Sure was wonderin what 40-Across was while tryin to solve that NW corner [with the mysterious PRIME/IMGUR in it], tho.

Woulda been super-cool to have a Down answer of RANDOM somewhere in this puzgrid. Have it run through a big pile of unrelated numbered squares. Maybe over where WASHER is, or somesuch?

Didn't knows: IMGUR. SHURI. LOUIE. Also, "Diolch yn fawr iawn" [but luved how Otto Correct just lost its marbles].

staff weeject pick: ONE. Sorta theme mcguffin related … cuz it passes thru one number.
Honrable mention: Using EUR/SHURI, instead of EAR/SHARI, especially with SHARI Lewis bein a gimme PUPPETEER person. Primo desperate U splatz. My heroes.


Thanx for formin a whole mob to come gang up on us, Bryce, Rahul, & Akshay dudes. We was clearly out-NUMBER-ed.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


Teedmn 1:01 PM  

I didn't take the time while solving (well, I sort of kicked around looking at some grid numbers but after they didn't make sense, I quit) to figure exactly what the cross-references were referring to but I went back and figured out which numbers were being referenced and was very impressed with this. I don't have my FIBONACCI sequence memorized so I Googled that to see 21 comes before 34 to get to the 55; that was fun.

I enjoyed OLLIE next to POLLY.

Rex calls IMGUR a letter soup (I knew NAVI so not a problem). Yesterday I did a puzzle that had word salad as a clue. So when is the sentence entree and the paragraph dessert due out from the kitchen?

I had trouble parsing TERSE as "cut short" but finally realized "cut" was not acting as a verb there. Tricky.

Thank you, Bryce, Rahul and Akshay, and congratulations on your tri-debut. It's always fun for me to get a little math with my words. Numbers are the amuse-bouche of the menu.

Chip Hilton 1:05 PM  

Forget my earlier complaint. I just looked at the red circles on Rex’s explanation and realize the error was mine. Thanks @Blitzkrieg for your support, but my mistake.

CDilly52 1:12 PM  

@albatross: I got a kick out of your nod to Shari Lewis. Her show was on public television ages ago - when we had to have a special little box hooked to the TV to receive the local PBS station - on our 24” (at the most) black and white 1948 era tv! I adored Lambchop and even had beautiful Lambchop, Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy puppets. For quite a while I wanted to be a PUPPETEER. Ended up a lawyer and local politician. . . hmmmm.

What? 1:16 PM  

I finally figured out why sometimes I read Rex. It’s when I brain fog on an easy one. Then I need Rex to tell me it’s not my fault.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

anybody else go to the Reddit thread Rex mentions? I foolishly trusted Rex's implied criticism of it. But, It's pretty accurate. And as a small bonus, someone absolutely nails two of our regulars to boot. It's worth a read imho.

Schuly 1:39 PM  

So, is Louis Prima cancelled because he's an Italian guy singing scat? Because the King Louis character is he, full stop. Look out Joe Cocker, Mick Jagger, and by extension Nat King Cole.

Bruce Fieggen 1:39 PM  

What? No comment by Rex about the article describing the new(ish) games editor for NYT? She’s Rex’s wet dream. Young, Black, female. She even echoes Rex’s statement about not needing to do a week of Black crosswords since they will be spread naturally throughout the year.
I’d paste the link from if I was more tech-savvy so maybe someone else can do that. An article well worth a read. It’s on page two for the people who bother to buy the paper.

JC66 1:46 PM  

@Bruce Fieggen

I emailed you my Embedding Cheat Sheet. Hope it helps.

Blitzkrieg Bob 1:47 PM  

Thank you @Chip. I stand corrected as well. Score one bonus point each for Rex and Will S.

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

In my world 'binaural' is a specific kind of stereo recording technique. All binaural recordings are in stereo, but not all stereo recordings are binaural. Now, binaural does have a generic definition 'relating to both ears' but given the specific application of the word within the realm of recording technology, that is a clumsy way to clue STEREO. Which is a long way of saying, I agree with Rex on that one.

I agree with him on little else today, however.

I don't understand people being opposed to NUMBERS or a number-themed puzzle. Disliking numbers is similar to disliking three-dimensional space or reflective symmetry -- these things just are. But, numbers have some really interesting patterns and properties and are also very useful for making sense of the world. Perhaps some of you had a bad math teacher when you were young; that's not numbers' (or this puzzle's) fault.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

I second that emotion.

JD 2:21 PM  

@ Akshay, Thanks! Enjoyed it.

Robert Friedman 2:23 PM  

Kipling claimed a daemon took hold of him when he wrote, channeling characters. Interestingly, the result was often nuanced and transcendent above his personal views and politics.

His earliest stories are often more empathic towards Indians than the British.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Rex is the guy who is popular only to the extent that his basement is available to parties.

Robert Friedman 2:25 PM  

Kipling claimed that a “daemon” commanded him when he wrote. Interestingly, the result was more nuanced and empathic than the man himself. His earliest works are quite satirical and teasing towards the British Raj, while sympathetic to the locals.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

This puzzle was insane & inane, and definitely NOT worth the time it took to solve.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

100% = double
200% = triple
700% = octuple

Just saying.

GILL I. 3:23 PM  

Ay @Pablito....Sympathies and chatos being sent your way.
I remember well, when my husband and I decided to downgrade. We had a pretty large house; swimming pool, spa, all the bells and whistles in our back yard and then....the kids did what they always do.....They moved out. I got tired of wandering empty corridors and empty bedrooms and so we did the unthinkable. Sold just about everything...(I did cry a lot) but we found a luscious 2 bedroom 2 bathroom little condo in a gated senior dwelling. Best thing in the world. Your trying to remember the zip code made me laugh hard. I still have trouble with ours and we only moved 3 miles from our original dwelling.
A new life....and a brand new beginning.......

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

@Anonymous 3:00

No. The clue reads "Expand to 800%". If it had read "Increase by 800%" then you'd have a point.

A 3:31 PM  

Perfect puzzle for World Math Day!

Had to whack-a-vowel at NAVI and IMGUR because I didn’t see Avatar and WOE is IMGUR? Guessed “I” because it’s a common pluralization vowel.

Couldn’t remember the princess and had SHURa, but the ERIE shone a light on SHURI.

Normally I’d complain about the trivia, but this theme is well worth it. Plus it’s also Great American Grump Out Day, so no grousing allowed. (I see OFL didn’t get the memo.)

I was just thinking about VINCENT Price yesterday. I was not thinking about PUPPETEERs, or that Price sang with the Muppets.

Thanks for the NUMBERS game, Math Tag Team!

Lewis 3:44 PM  

@roo -- That L-fest in the SE was fun, but I liked even better the two double-C's in the SW, both in Italian names.

Hungry Mother 3:47 PM  

I’ve been AWOL for a while. My wife and I just are completing our fourth move this year. We are now in a new home in a new community. We’re building furniture, shopping, making phone calls, and sleeping on the floor using the bunk bed mattresses from our cargo/camper van. I finally had enough today and decided to try a puzzle. It was a bit painful, but so much better than using an Allen wrench. I’ve been keeping up with SB, but that’s all. We’re now located near Lake Monroe in Central Florida.

Birchbark 3:51 PM  

@Tea73 (10:32) re C.P. Snow and NUMBERS vs. Shakespeare -- I read that essay ("The Two Cultures") a few months ago. Elements are dated and Brit-centric, but it continues to make sense in an age where browser cookies maintain the intellectual SILOS. It's as good an argument as any for a broad liberal arts groundwork for whatever specialization follows. And better conversations across the disciplines at cocktail parties and the like.

It is a vivid quote, and as one more comfortable on the Shakespeare side of the room, I spent a few hours of Wikipedia reading/YouTube watching to better understand, in non-specialized terms, why people care so much about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

A takeaway for me (if I have it right) is we have a law that when hot and cold meet, hot will never get hotter and cold will never get colder -- there needn't be an exchange at all, but if there is it will go to balance and release energy. What I don't understand is why there isn't more discussion of this law as applied to weather, which pretty much comes down to all the things that happen when two different temperatures happen to meet each other.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  


I wanted to be a PUPPETEER. Ended up a... local politician

what?? there's a difference?? :)

Hungry Mother 3:59 PM  

I was a member of the Fibonacci Association for a few years after I got out of the Army and got back to finishing my BS in mathematics.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  


Now you've got me hooked on the Brain Teaser too. I've tried all sorts of things and gotten nowhere. Compressed natural gas, the Enter key. Nothing.



The Joker 4:16 PM  

So anyway, this Republican asked me if Cinco de Mayo always occurs on May 5th.

Z 4:17 PM  

Regarding IMGUR, I think several are missing the problem. IMGUR is crossworthy, it is definitely popular enough to be included in a NYTX. BUT, as with many product names, it is essentially a made up word. That means if you don’t know it you can only get it from the crosses. Today the most problematic crossing is NAVI, because you can only really clue that through Avatar, and they cross at a vowel to boot. We’ve seen several DNFs today precisely because of that crossing.

@Akshay - Thanks for dropping in.

@Frantic Sloth - In this case, Wild Ass Guess. I’ve also seen it used for Wives And Girlfriends in relation to men’s sports teams.
And don’t let Adobe Abodopodes scare you. Adobe is easy - Uh Doe Bee. Abodopodes isn’t much harder, Uh Bode Oh Poe Deez. Full credit to @albatross shell.

@tea73 and several others - The concept here is undeniably clever and later And the mechanics of the theme, again, clever - I read the blog and agreed - it’s not the math that’s the problem, it’s the cluing - the language part - that made this less than it could have been.

@JC66 and @Roo - What clarifies for you would have been worse for me. The NUMBERS are in the grid, not the answers, exist independent of the answers. I see why that wording helps you, but I’d have been yelping.

@Anon1:52 - Thanks for the info. The “All X are Y but not all Y are X” is a pretty common thing to run across in clues, so if all binaural recordings are STEREO the clue works just fine.

@albatross shell - I’ve never seen that but I have seen comments replying to earlier comments in the day, and then go back to read a comment that I swear was not there when I first read the comments.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  


but they're not. play a BINAURAL CD on your speaker system, and it won't sound like STEREO. play that CD through high quality open-back headphones, and it won't sound like STEREO. I've done all of those things. the defining quality of BINAURAL is the '3D' aspect, not planar 2D STEREO, of the sound. while a high quality STEREO recording (there are a couple of labels that do so, none doing pop music) may give a hint of depth, up, and down it can't match what a high-quality BINAURAL recording does. needless to say, BINAURAL recordings are as common as hen's teeth.

just because a recording is presented through two devices, speakers or ear cups, doesn't mean that what you're hearing is STEREO by definition. it all depends on how it was recorded.

Z 4:43 PM  

@4:31 - Take it up with @1:52.

Here’s that article about Everdeen Mason. OMG the shade the shade. Also, if you look at the numbers mentioned it’s pretty clear constructors are underpaid.

Anonymous 4:56 PM  

Thank you for the refresher. If I'm not mistaken, Fibonacci series makes many things in nature beautiful. Such as snails, for example.

JOHN X 5:04 PM  

It’s Cinco de Mayo!

I’m celebrating by riding a bus from LAX to downtown L.A.

Anoa Bob 5:10 PM  

I thought something unusual was afoot when I opened the puzzle and saw the grid. Having 41 black squares, 6 of which are of the "cheater square" variety, gives it a choppy, segmented look. I figured it was due to demands of a difficult-to-execute theme and that the fill would suffer as a consequence.

To my surprise, the fill proved to be quite pleasant. There's some nice stuff for the non-math crowd, such as PUCCINI and OTHELLO and the word-nerd in me enjoyed NOTORIETY, PUPPETEER, OCTUPLE, USURY, FIBONACCI and INSIDEOUT. I think that's a nice line-up for any 15X15 themed puzzle.

I don't care if I'm the only person on the planet who doesn't know IMGUR, it's still one of the butt-ugliest made-up words I have ever seen. I'm sure someone somewhere thought it was a clever play on "imager" but no.

I got the math award at H.S. graduation for the highest four-year math GPA and was a pre-engineering student in Junior College daze, so I appreciate math stuff, just not in my crossword puzzle. That said, I do think today's trio of constructors pulled it off about as well as could be expected, given the meta-constraints---the NUMBERS in specific grid squares---that the theme imposed on the grid.

Crimson Devil 5:55 PM  

My sentiments, zactly re: IMGUR.

Anonymous 8:54 PM  

Congrats on winning the math award. You’re a retire psychologist right?
May I ask what kind of guy announces to a group of people he’s never met that he won more than four decades earlier?
The puzzle? Fantastic! That Rex doesn’t appreciate is a bonus.

Anonymous 10:19 PM  

I agree with Lewis!

Richard Stanford 10:28 PM  

Amen. I’ve never intentionally used the site but it’s far from obscure.

Richard Stanford 10:30 PM  

It’s been one of the top 100 most visited internet sites for a decade or more. It’s far less obscure than, say, a Bronte sister.

RyanSem 8:33 AM  

Absolutely fun puzzle. Shame so many people here seem to hate anything that gives them a challenge. I feel we only get a couple posts a year actually extolling a puzzle, very tiring to read so much negativity every morning.

Imgur is such a huge site that a majority of the internet-using population must have stumbled across it before. If you've ever been on reddit you've seen pictures hosted by Imgur. My autocorrect even capitalized Imgur when I typed it out. Can't get angry when new fill is used if half the time you complain about old fill.

Also, the Jungle Book is an absolute pleasure of a movie. Maybe if you watched it you wouldn't be so cranky.

sixtyni yogini 10:39 AM  

RED STATES and the RACIST right wing ? NW corner.
RIGHT ON, (as in go!) RED ? SE corner

This puzzle may be both a LEFT and RIGHT wing conspiracy. 😂

Fast and easy ambiguous (?) puzz

thefogman 10:14 AM  

Textbook example of a "feat of construction" that has zero relationship to actual solving pleasure. Bingo. Nothing more needs to be said. I actually figured out what the theme was but thought “That can’t be it. That’s too lame.” Did it even please the math geeks? This begs the question: How do you EDITOUT an editor?

rondo 11:05 AM  

EDITOUT INSIDEOUT. ONE more OUT and the inning's over.
A couple dozen 3s is more than ONE too many.
Apt USE of TAR.
ARI? Do they call her that?
Tues/Wed flip-flop seems to be confirmed.

spacecraft 11:25 AM  

DNF, for the SHaRI/EaR cross. Having PUPPETEER right next door fatally influenced me; I was all set to make SHARI Lewis my DOD. Oh well. At least the Knights won--finally!--in Minnesota.

Burma Shave 11:29 AM  


for ONE TOO many ENCORES, no doubt:
she CONQUERs men by NUMBERS and variety,
and EVEN turns them INSIDEOUT.


Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Clue for 36 down should be "everted" not "inverted."

Diana, LIW 1:05 PM  

Now here is a puzzle with mathematical terms. Very, very clever by half.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for you to get the fractional joke

leftcoaster 3:35 PM  

Tough but fair puzzle. Enjoyed the theme and the solve, after some struggle.

Might add a few strays outside the numbers theme: ONE, UNO, SERIAL (numbers), and OCTUPL(ing) to 800%.

Word of the day: FIBONACCI, of course.

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

Is Lewis (way above) for real?

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

Not a bad puzzle. Once the theme is determined the whole puzzle falls into place.

However 1 down and 19 across appear to be Natick-ish. Saw Avatar many moons ago, and have never heard of IMGUR.

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