07.09.08 -- Digits

The Numbers Book
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Puzzle by Tim Wescott, edited by Will Shortz
HINT (65A. “The first word of the answer to each of the six starred clues describes the number of that clue,” e.g.) is the tie-in entry/clue for six interrelated entries of this mystifying mid-week crossword:
EVENTENOR (4D. *Balance in personality); PERFECTGAME (6D. *Pitcher’s dream); ODDMENOUT (11D. *they don’t belong); SQUAREKNOTS (25D. *Basic Scout ties); REALMCCOY (33D. *It’s no fake); and PRIME TIME (37D. *It follows the evening news).
Well, yes, 4 is an even number, 11 an odd, but only two of many that are so -- same with 6 as a perfect number, 25 as a square number, 33 as a real number, and 37 as a prime number. There is so much overlap in the possible definition of a number that attaching the even, odd, perfect, square, real and prime labels could strike one as fairly weak and confusing, leaving a strange aftertaste to this otherwise agreeable crossword.
The remaining longer entries of the puzzle continue it’s stoicism with such dry verbiage as ACUMEN (22A. Keen insight); ANIMAL (50D. 20 Questions category); ANTITANK (59A. Like some missiles); BLITHE (48D. Cheerful); KINESIS (53A. Stimulus response); NUCLEI (57A. Centers); POMACE (9D. Crushed pulp); RETOOL (5D. Overhaul); SPINOFFS (20A. “Rhoda” and “Frasier”); and SYSTOLE (24A. Part of a heartbeat).
The five-letter entries are a much more PEPPY (2D. Spirited) group with ALERT (52D. Open-eyed); 66A. “That’s AMORE!”; 1D. Jawbone of ANASS (biblical weapon); 17A. “I’m APOET and didn’t know it!”; APTER (1A. More fitting); CADET (23D. Citadel student); EPOXY (36A. Glue); INTRA (55D. Prefix with venous); JAMUP (10D. Clog); LENAS (69A. Horne and Olin); 51A. Sugar MAPLE; 63A. “The Secret Life of Walter MITTY”; 14A. “The NERVE!”; OREOS (38A. They’re often twisted apart); SATON (54D. Squelched); SCAPE (25A. Suffix with moon); SKYES (56D. Some terriers); SNIPE (39D. Marsh bird); TROIS (3D. Number of Dumas’s Mousquetaires); TRUER (41A. More trustworthy); and 42A. Long (for), YEARN.
The subtractible little stuff includes ACNE and ACRE, ADAR, AREA, ATOR, AXES, BARN, BOYS, ELEC, ENES, EPA, ERIN, ETTU, EXAM, EXES, EXPO, FLEE, GIA, HOYT, IBM, ITSA, JOSE, MDXI, NAT, NOAH, PEEP, ONCE, QED (27A. Mathematician‘s “ta-da!”), REAM, SAL, SAXE, TIC, TYCO, TYRA, UNTO, YIN, and this list’s last, but not least, EXIT!
"There was a young fellow from Trinity/ Who took the square root of infinity/ But the number of digits/ Gave him the fidgets/ He dropped Maths and took up Divinity."-- George Gamow, One, Two, Three ... Infinity, 1988
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Search information -- Across: 6. Sound in a hatcher; 10. Mexican muralist Orozco; 15. Major league team member through 2004; 16. Month before Nisan; 18. Stationer’s unit; 19. Year Cortes conquered Cuba; 26. Util. bill; 28. 15-Across now, informally; 31. Where the cows come home; 34. Words to a traitor; 40. Supermodel Carangi; 43. Growing room?; 45. “___ boy!”; 46. “My Gal ___”; 47. Former Notebook maker; 49. Final, e.g.; 60. First word of “The Raven”; 61. Tickle Me Elmo maker; 64. Suffix with origin; 67. Pitcher Wilhelm; 68. Chemical endings. Down: 7. Split personalities?; 8. Waste watchers: Abbr.; 12. Old German duchy name; 13. Land o’ blarney; 21. Take off; 29. Dungeons & Dragons weapons; 30. Banks on the runway; 31. Word before and after “will be”; 32. Side by side?; 35. Quirk; 44. ___ row; 57. Ancient mariner; 58. Gay Talese’s “___ the Sons”; 59. Bad marks?; 62. Feminine side.

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