Like some truths and flames / TUE 9-29-15 / Railroad engine, in old lingo / Minnesota range known for its mining of metal / Sure winner in blackjack

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Constructor: Kurt Krauss

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: AGES of man -- Each theme answer begins with one planetary age

Theme answers:

  • STONEHENGE (17A: *English rock group?)
  • ICE BREAKERS (24A: *Many party games)
  • IRON HORSE (37A: *Railroad engine, in old lingo)
  • SPACE NEEDLE (52A: *Seattle tourist attraction)
  • BRONZE STAR (62A: *Medal for bravery, maybe)
  • AGES (69A: A very long time... or a hint to the starts of the answers to the five starred clues)
Word of the Day: MESABI (Minnesota range known for its mining of metal)
The Mesabi Iron Range is a vast deposit of iron ore and the largest of four major iron ranges in the region collectively known as the Iron Range of Minnesota. Discovered in 1866, it is the chief deposit of iron ore in the United States. The deposit is located in northeast Minnesota, largely in Itasca and Saint Louis counties. It was extensively worked in the earlier part of the 20th century. Extraction operations declined throughout the mid-1970s but rebounded in 2005. China's growing demand for iron, along with the falling value of the U.S. dollar versus other world currencies, have made taconite production profitable again, and some mines that had closed have been reopened, while current mines have been expanded. (wikipedia)
• • •
Hi, my name is Ben Johnston, and I'm your guest blogger today. Unlike the people who have been ably filling in for the past few days, I have zero experience with crossword construction. I'm a high school English teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, and my only crossword connection is that I got hooked on them last year and solve a lot of them. It's EERIE... almost like there weren't a lot of volunteers to blog a Tuesday puzzle, am I right...?


Actually, this isn't bad for a Tuesday puzzle. As has been noted here before, the problem with Tuesdays is that while they're supposed to combine the cleanliness of a Monday puzzle with the higher challenge of a Wednesday puzzle, AS A RULE they tend to be puzzles that aren't clean enough to be Mondays and aren't interesting enough to be Wednesdays. In this case, the theme works well enough... the answers are nicely varied, they're all real things, and I didn't spot the connection until I got to the revealer. It might have been more elegant to have the ages appear in actual chronological order, but otherwise it works nicely.

Unfortunately, while the theme is fine, the fill is weak. This is a very choppy grid -- except for the themers, there's nothing longer than seven letters. I was honestly surprised to discover that there were only 76 words here, because it sure felt like more when I was solving. I guess once you've settled on IRON HORSE as your only nine-letter theme answer, you're pretty much splitting the grid in half across the middle. And the accompanying string of 3-letter downs (IF IENG, SHE, SOOEON) made for a pretty unpleasant midpoint in the solve.

I don't recognize the constructor's name, but there's an assortment of bad fill: random foreign words (CHERE, TRES, MES, NUEVO), abbreviations (SRS, BVD, RDA, OSS, USMA), and iffy partials (KEPT OUT, URGE ON [which I keep wanting to pronounce like STURGEON], COLOR IN). That last one is almost saved by its clue -- 25D: Fill with a Crayola, say. I'm torn on DOOR ONE (3D: "Let's Make a Deal" choice)... somewhat against my better judgment, I think I like it.


Bullets:
  • 48A: Minnesota range known for its mining of metal (MESABI) — By far the most obscure thing in the grid (at least from my Canadian perspective). And it crosses the terrible ACE TEN (49D: Sure winner in blackjack). Side note: I was in Vegas for the first time this summer, did the math wrong on an ACE, and accidentally hit on 21. And I drew a TEN, so I won anyway. What can I say, I'm not used to drinking free screwdrivers...
  • 40D: Mornings, for short (AMS) & 61D: Evenings, for short (PMS) — Yeah, putting these right next to each other doesn't save them. None of the grid is what you would call clean, but that whole SW section is particularly brutal.
  • 30A: ___ Joe's (supermarket chain) (TRADER) — We don't have these in Canada, but we were at one in Vegas and it's great!
  • 66A: Dillon or Damon (MATT) — What a lovely excuse to include this excellent trailer for the upcoming film version of The Martian.

  • 10D: Denali's home (ALASKA— Timely!
  • 54D: Lyric poem (EPODE) — I wanted ELEGY.
  • 1D: One checking you out (CASHIER) — Great clue.
  • 26D: Like some truths and flames (ETERNAL— Another good one. In fact the cluing in this puzzle is solid across the board.
I think that's it. I don't know how to make the right date show up at the top of the post, but hopefully Rex will come along and fix it. Thanks for reading!

Signed, Ben Johnston, Tutor of CrossWorld

[Follow Ben Johnston on Twitter]

47 comments:

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

Nice critique Ben...although I see nothing iffy about KEPT OUT and
URGE ON. They both seem solid.
The word "maybe" in the clue for BRONZE STAR is out of place. The
Bronze Star is a medal for bravery...there's no "maybe" about it.

jae 12:22 AM  

Easy, solid theme, iffy fill and nothing really jumps out at you.  So, just about right for a Tues.  Liked it too.  Thanks for filling in Ben.

Whirred Whacks 1:02 AM  

Wonderful write up, Ben Johnston! I hope you're invited to do more.

chefwen 1:31 AM  

For me, this was a lot more fun than Monday's puzzle, those vowels were just not cutting it. Loved the clue/answer for English rock group, hadn't seen that before and thought it was quite clever. Figured out what was going on after STONE and ICE, kinda helped with the solve, but didn't really need the help.

I spelled CHERE with an I and wondered where ICI was going with ICE BREAKERS, obviously nowhere. ReTITLE before ENTITLE wasn't going anywhere either. Being a former Minnesota neighbor, MESABI came to me easily, but I needed a couple of letters to pull it out of the memory banks.

Good Tuesday puzzle, thank you Mr. Krauss.

Lewis 6:38 AM  

@Ben -- Good job, good observations, and I simply wanted an S before URGEON. Now start making puzzles!

So anyway, you look long enough in a puzzle and you start to see things. Like ELNINO out West, EDGAR by the SEE, a double-E mini-theme (5). Then the imagination starts playing games and you picture things like A TIT behind DOORONE. Then you come back to earth and notice some iffy fill offset by some good better-than-usual-Tuesday cluing (STONEHENGE, EERIE, NAMETAG, CASHIER) offset by an adequate but lacking-spark theme. And you come away with a mixed bag that is still an experience worth doing. Or at least I did!

RAD2626 7:31 AM  

Thought this was pretty challenging for a Tuesday, maybe due to fill. EPODE new to me but EPI helped. Thought the theme was good. Would have liked A Certain as a revealer (just kidding). While dated references do not generally bother me, the fairly regular appearance of ONE A for the military draft does. I know those are good letters but we have not had a draft for 43 years. At least acknowledge that it does not exist with a "once" or "formerly" in the clue.

Lobster11 7:55 AM  

Thanks to all those who responded to my question yesterday about my problem with the NYT site using Chrome. As some of you suggested, the problem was indeed the Adblock Plus extension. Easy fix.

As for today's puzzle, @Ben pretty much said it all. Cluing was pretty clever throughout, but just too much bad fill. I'd rate it "medium," or maybe even "medium-challenging" because some of the aforementioned bad fill was simply unknown to me.

jberg 7:58 AM  

Wow, it's not even 8 AM and 5 comments are approved already. Maybe we're seeing a new phenomenon, where Rex uses guest bloggers (and good ones!) so that he has enough time to review the comments.

As for the puzzle -- except for ANNALS, which took two crosses, everything else went in as soon as I got to it. I think maybe I've done too many of these things if I can get STONEHENGE off the S with that clue.

Ben, nice writeup -- but most of them (except ICE) are not 'planetary' ages, but ages of human civilization.

When I was in the Boy Scouts, we took a two-day bus trip to Ely, Minnesota, in order to spend two weeks canoeing in the Quetico-Superior Wilderness (and experience I recommend to everyone). On the way there, the bus made a side trip so that we could see an open-pit iron mine in the MESABI range. It was big. And in social studies class in school we learned all about why the steel mills were where they were because they had coal and the iron ore could arrive by lake boat through the Great Lakes. I guess it's obscure if you aren't from the region, though.

Leapfinger 8:10 AM  

O rare Ben Johnston, good write-up. I also need wasabi to get to MESABI. Eerily enough, you aren't the first HS ENG teacher from Edmonton that I've come across! Not exactly Innsbruck, but...

Caught the theme with STONE/IRON, then worried that ICE_AGE wasn't a good fit, since all the other AGES [long though they may be] are one-and-done, but the ICE AGES seem to keep coming back. Maybe I should chillax and just stick to wondering if ENG and ACRE are theme wannabes.

I suspect it was @Lewis dropping the D down to the ON_KEY yesterday, but I also felt the URGEON making the sURGEON bURGEON stURGEON, and a few more that mURGEON vURGEON territory.

My favourite touch of elegance, however, was the wraparound fill ESPO_ITO, but you know how Canadians (even ex-pats) can be about Their Hockey. Extra points if you knew that ESPO (also Canadian) was born in the SOO.

Despite DOOR_ONE/ONEA, I'm rating this an above-average Tuesday, so thanks, Kurt Krauss. Have a super Tuesday, all you DEERE people!

AliasZ 8:16 AM  


It's odd how the word "iron" is avoided in the clue for the MESABI Iron Range because of the theme answer IRON HORSE, yet DOOR ONE and ONE-A are gleefully displayed in all their repetitive glory. Then there is Ante-MeridiemS atop Post-MeridiemS to bring attention to themselves, or to avoid premenstrual syndrome, I guess. I expect HIRER standards in the NYT. I thought the rules state that there ARNO repetitions allowed. Well, this taught me a LESSEN: don't believe the hype. Another myth about the gold standard of crossword puzzles bites the dust, key Mesabi. If you reverse the order of 34 and 35 Down, you get SOO SHE with wasabi. Perhaps a tuna roll.

I keep staring at ATIT and am seeing double. And at URGEON and seeing burgeon or surgeon. What's wrong with me?

MES atop NUEVO also bring attention to themselves to the point that one can't help but look for other foreign words: EL NIÑO, CHÈRE, and TRES. Then there are a bunch of IFI shorts, like the aforementioned AMS/PMS, ONEA and ATIT, then SRS, ITO, RDA, ENNE, NENE, USMA, RANDB (to remind us of B&B, R&R, A&E, S&L, PB&J), and on ANON. None of these are unacceptable by themselves, but so many of them draw unwanted and perhaps unwarranted scrutiny.

TOO bad, otherwise the AGES theme was fine, even if not in the correct historical order.

Have a peaceful Tuesday with the "Lux Aeterna" (ETERNAL Light) movement of the Requiem by Gabriel Fauré.

joho 8:18 AM  

I remember when Kurt was a regular Rexite ... it's so nice to see his name at the top of the puzzle! This blog has been an invaluable springboard for many and one of many reasons to thank Rex for all he's done for the crossword community.

This might not be a puzzle for the AGES, but I thought it a fine Tuesday because of the interesting theme and above average cluing, "One checking you out" for CASHIER being my favorite. I agree that in some places the fill suffered, don't ask me why but STEN stood out to me. I would have liked it if the AGES were in chronological order, too. Regardless, I enjoyed it.

Thank you, Kurt, you get a gold STAR today, congrats for being published again!

Z 8:35 AM  

I'm pretty sure we had that exact STONEHENGE clue in the not too distant past.

@Anon12:13 - Maybe Shortz looked it up and discovered that the BRONZE STAR can also be awarded for meritorious service and decided the "maybe" was needed.

Pretty much what The Tutor (Tudor? Canadian?) of Crossworld said on this one.

Mohair Sam 8:46 AM  

Enjoyed this one more than our guest host. Didn't notice the junk fill, but can't argue with Mr. Johnston there - funny how you hardly notice bad fill when you enjoy the cluing and long answers.

MESABI a gimme for this Yank (who has never been to Minnesota), and I'll bet the unknown-to-us SOO was a gimme for our Canadian critic. Speaking of things Canadian - I wonder how many veteran cruciverbalists who are non-hockey fans tried to find a way to work a nickname off of Orr at 22A.

I'll join @anon 12:13 in wondering why the "maybe" on bravery for the Bronze Star (62A). Last I knew it was a combat theater medal.

quilter1 8:54 AM  

Well, I had forgotten about the MESABI range. We used to mock Little House on Prairie for showing mountains in Minnesota and Pa going to mine when the crop failed, but I guess it might have happened after all. Laura didn't mention it though. Good Tuesday puzzle and I rate it easy for me.

joho 9:10 AM  

I forgot to thank and congratulate Ben Johnston on his excellent write-up!

And to mention, that MESABI always reminds me of Bob Dylan ... which is always a great thing.

Sven 9:20 AM  

Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range isn’t obscure to someone like me, who’s from the region, where so many cars and trucks carry the deep red dust on their tires, license plates and fenders. It was sometimes said in Minnesota that the Mesabi was the only visible sign of human existance on earth that could be detected from the vantage point of outer space. (Because it was so big.) I believed that, until I recently discovered an image of myself on what was supposedly Google Maps' satellite imagery. I was only three or four pixles, but I knew it was me doing some work on the roof.

@ quilter1 — it’s an open-pit mine, which doesn’t require any mountains, so you may still have had a point about Little House on the Prairie. One box had me stumped, at the intersection of Nene and Nuevo. I enjoyed the puzzle, it had a fun quality, and so did the write-up.

mac 9:26 AM  

Easy Tuesday, and I enjoyed it. Great start with Stonehenge as the first word filled in!

After "stone" and "ice I figured out what the theme was, helpful especially at the "bronze" answer.
Mesabi is new to me, nice learning moment. The short fill didn't particularly bother me, this puzzle
was easy enough to start with the long answers. I never saw "too" in the NE.

Thanks, Ben and congratulations, Kurt!

Ludyjynn 9:29 AM  

Am I the only one who used my fingers to count/sing the first five words of our national anthem to get SEE? Admit it; you did, too!

Whenever I see/read about the Seattle SPACENEEDLE, I immediately think of Warren Beatty's film masterpiece, "The Parallax View", whose opening scene is there. takes I will say no more except you should rent, stream or whatever it to re/watch this flick.

Like @mohair, I did not object to the fill because of good clues overall. BTW, thanks, Ben, for filling in while Rex is taking R&R. Your comments were A-ONE.

Somebody yesterday asked about the ages of this blog's contributors. To me, age is 'just a number', totally irrelevant to constructing or solving puzzles, or living life in general as long as we stay connected to the world around us. I don't think the gripes about rap music or opera for example, have to do with one's age; rather they show one's personal, idiosyncratic preferences. Plenty of old folks like (or detest) rap music, while many young-uns go to classical music venues (or mock those who do). My take is to be well-informed. Period. As the inimitable Martha Stewart often says, "Learn something new every day". That keeps us ALL young.

Thanks, KK and WS, for a fine Tuesday.

Your friend 9:35 AM  

@AliasZ, there's historical order, and then there's hysterical order. Seems that you're in line for the the latter. Sorry ATIT was making you see double, but it's as well you didn't end up parsing ASS.ORT

chefbea 9:35 AM  

Fun puzzle. Liked how AMs was above PMs. Never heard of the mesabi mountain range. Love Trader Joes...go there all the time
Thanks Ben for a great write up

Nancy 9:50 AM  

Pleasant puzzle. I agree with @Lewis that there was some nice cluing for a Tuesday, and I liked the same clues he did. @Ludy, yes I also counted on my fingers to get to SEE in the anthem, but I'm feeling no guilt. That's what fingers are for. @Alias -- Years ago, my brother burned a CD for me of Lux Aeterna, and it has become my most played and re-played piece of music by a mile. Just gorgeous. Those of you who've never heard it -- even if your taste runs more to rap and heavy metal -- do yourselves a favor and click on @Alias's link (8:16 a.m.)

Joseph Welling 10:12 AM  

DOOR ONE really sounds wrong. At least in the Monty Hall version of the show, it was uniformly "DOOR NUMBER ONE."

Masked and Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Cute theme, but those 5 themed -ages are pretty U's-less.

How'bout: USPOSTALSERVICE, to produce the Usage? It'd be 15-long, so would make a dandy middle entry.

Altho... the long vertical side stacks of 7's in the NW and SE were a nice TuesPuz bonus. NE and SW had to bail, ever so slightly, on the stackfest, but it was worth it, to get AMS+PMS Siamese weejects in the SW, thank U.

Other Weeject Cafe featured treats: IFI and MES (son of MES ABI).

Portal of Desperation: DOORONE. Primo elidin of the whole NUMBER word. Nice doorage.

Cool clue: {One checking you out} = CASHIER.

French invasion scare: CHERE. Didn't end up runnin the entire vertical width of the puz, so tres ok. Didn't she sing "Halfe Breede"?

fave fillins: Headless SURGEON. (yo, @Alias Z) (and E.T. Al). Honrable mention to: ASS ORTS.

Thanx for a fun and funky solvage, KK.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Nancy 10:28 AM  

Oops! I just went online to look up more about Lux Aeterna, only to discover that there are several pieces of music with that name. @Alias Z's link is a piece by Faure that I've never heard, but I will go listen now. MY Lux Aeterna is by Morten Lauridsen. That's the one I was raving about. Why not check that one out, too?

Roo Monster 10:32 AM  

Hey All !
Fun TuesPuz, can't ask for more. Some dreck, but willing to overlook with nicer longer answers. Great cluing, hopefully mostly Kurt's and not Will's. (If Grammar Nazi still reads here, sorry if apostrophe's's are wrong!)

Had aone for ONEA! TORnaDO for TORPEDO! (Yes, I know tornadoes are on land!) Few other missteps.

IFI
RooMonster
DarrinV

Joseph Michael 10:46 AM  

Enjoyed the theme and the great cluing. Would have been nice if the ages were in chronological order, but it's OK that they're not.

Hard to look at ASSORTS without thinking about scraps for the donkey.

Andrew Heinegg 10:54 AM  

Thematically this is OK but, the junk fill spoils the party. I thought it was more Mondayish and I would have liked to see all of the theme clues have an appropriate ? after them to make for symmetry in the theme. But, as a first effort, this is pretty impressive.

Jamie C 11:00 AM  

I like to out mesabi on my unagis.

Anon@ 1213: the "maybe" is not for the meaning of the BRONZE STAR, it is "maybe" you will get one if you are brave in the right setting.

Non-sequitur in the write-up: "I don't recognize the constructor's name, but there's an assortment of bad fill..."

Pete 11:04 AM  

Me, post solve: STONE/BRONZE/IRON Ages - yup, those are the three. ICE/SPACE? No no no no.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:10 AM  

Frankly, I haven't seen a Xword Puzzle quite like this in AGES!

William Palmer 11:32 AM  

I like to download the puzzle, print it out and solve on paper. Some sort of glitch at the NY Times has disabled this function on their puzzle page since Saturday. Two emails to them about this have gone unanswered, a phone call to customer support reveals it is a "known issue" and that it "may be fixed by Wednesday." WTF?

Norm 12:19 PM  

Found this one pretty blah. Hoped that all the theme clues would have a bit of cleverness to them, but only STONEHENGE did so. Meh.

aging soprano 12:55 PM  

I thought that this was a good Tues. puzzle of medium difficulty. Figured out the theme from ICE and IRON and then the revealer, and thought that there was plenty of good fill interspersed with the necessary poorer initials and abbreviations, etc. I smiled at AMS over PMS which made me think of the AMPM Stores which we call In an Out Stores here. Since I have lived abroad for AGES, DEERE and MESABE didn't just write themselves like for some. @JBerg, my sister and her husband canoe in the Boundary Waters of Minn. for 2 weeks every year. I think I'm the only one in the family they never took on that trip. My loss, but now I couldn't handle it. Age does matter sometimes, I'm afraid. Compliments to Kurt and Ben and all you bloggers out there for puzzle and blog enjoyment.

Teedmn 1:44 PM  

@Ben Johnston, I agree with @Lewis that you should start constructing, since you obviously know how to critique a puzzle without having done them for AGES like many of us on the blog. Nice job.

Lots of lesser fill that didn't affect my enjoyment at all. Loved seeing MESABI. In 24A, I had the EBR and stuck IN in front - my party games were going to be inEBRiating. Perhaps they still are if they're just BREAKing out the ICE for cocktails.

@Leapfinger, you mURGEON vURGEON territory is making me feel cURmudGEONly.

Mr. Krauss, thanks for the Tuesday diversion.

Bill L. 1:55 PM  

Had to take out InEBRiAtoRS at 24A, otherwise a nice smooth solve. Like others, I thought the cluing was very good today. Mesabi was new to me and I am glad to learn about it. Thanks for filling in, Ben. I enjoyed reading your take on the puzzle.

Alison 4:56 PM  

Puzzle felt really creaky and old to me. No dazzle or razzle, even for a tuesday

Bill L. 5:12 PM  

BTW - there's an Easter egg for the Monday puzzle in the "Let's Make a Deal" video at about the 11:50 mark. Yes, I watched the whole damn thing.

Martel Moopsbane 5:16 PM  

When Let's Make a Deal was hosted by Monty Hall (another Canadian), it was always DOORnumberONE, etc. Never heard it without the word "number" in between, never saw it without the lovely Carol Merrill standing nearby.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

Shout out to Edmonton! My great grandfather got there in 1893.

spacecraft 11:58 AM  

No one has mentioned the WOEness of "Prickly ASH." Have I been living under an English rock group? That doesn't make the remotest sense to me. Prickly ASH. Must be a species of tree that has burrs, I certainly don't know.

An OK theme with a few fun clues and corner stacks, but the fill suffers more than accordingly. I have long since lost my battle against [letter] AND [letter], so have learned to accept it. Don't have to like it, though! Ditto [written-out number] + [letter]. In addition, there's a general lack of crunch, Cap'n. The Z stands out like a sore thumb, and we have crutchy entries such as LESSEN, EERIE and DEERE. Very ho-hum.

Ahem, @Ben, if you were even ALLOWED to hit a soft 21, you must have been playing a blackjack machine. No live dealer would give you a card on that, unless you were at a specialty table where they pay double for a five-card charlie--in which case you'd get the card without asking. They WANT you to win. Winning creates a positive atmosphere and encourages more--and higher!--play. They know the longtime odds will pay the bills. You'll lose enough even when they do help you.

Bottom line: C. The fill just drags it down.

Burma Shave 12:02 PM  

TRES CHERE

ASARULE if SHE IGNORES you, you should try some ICEBREAKERS.
SHE may TORPEDO a few, but SHE may URGEON effort-makers.

--- ARNO MESABI

rondo 12:21 PM  

This was one for the AGES. A bunch of ‘em. Pretty decent for a Tues-puz, considering some of the less than stellar stuff that often shows up.

Shout out to MN and the Iron Range. There’s one range that’s key – MESABI.

I guess CHERE is the yeah baby substitute for the day. ERIN could’ve been clued sportscaster Andrews.

I’m all in favor of ELNINO if it is the cause for the weather lately in MN. Great yesterday and record highs predicted in MN today with blue skies. Hiking and biking in the PMS.

Off to enjoy the great outdoors and LESSE my vacation time after a quick puz.

rain forest 3:15 PM  

@rondo--your pun reminded my of the punch line of an old joke, "what do you mean 'we', Kemo Sabe?".

Just as yesterday's puzzle was appropriate for Monday, this worked well on Tuesday, despite my age. I really didn't notice the fill to which people have referred, other than AMS and PMS. The 7-letter downs added a little spice, and I liked the themers, not caring whether they were in chronological order.

So, I gather the Mesabi is not a mountain range (to myself I asked, "does Minnesota have mountains?), but a huge open-pit mine? OK.

Liked it. Also liked a fellow Canadian as the pinch hitter today.

leftcoastTAM 5:51 PM  

An itinerary of my life, no less:

Minnesota, with its MESABI iron range;

ALASKA, with its ICEBREAKERS and aptly renamed Mt. DENALI;

Hawaii and its NENE goose and beckoning breaks from Alaska winters;

Los Vegas and its blackjack tables where ACETEN always wins; and

Seattle, home of the SPACENEEDLE and close family.

So I kinda liked this one.



rondo 8:16 PM  

@spacey - if you see this, prickly ASH is a menace in northern climes, it's a (w)itch to remove and will scar you at every moment. It will overgrow like southern kudzu given the opprtunity. Think of rose stems except prickly ASH will wind around your limbs and cut you to the bone if you're not wearing protective clothes. 10X worse than raspberry bushes.

leftcoastTAM 8:24 PM  

@RP: in re your post Tuesday--I may need to blow a bit more with the wind below your wings. Hope you don't mind too much.

Roxy 5:34 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle, probably because I did it all without any help which usually only happens on Monday puzzles. Really liked the blog commentary today and always love reading the posts, although I could do with less negativity.

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