Supermodel Karlie / SAT 12-27-14 / Elaborate underground complex in Lord of Rings / Sister of Cartoon Network / Quaint stage accessory / Comfortaire competitor / Popular pop-up preventer / 2001 video game set in Liberty City / Red three-year-old of tv / Economist who wrote Essay on Principle of Population 1798 / Cliched sequel catchphrase

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Constructor: David Phillips 

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ADAK (56D: Alaskan island or its principal town) —
Adak Island (AleutAdaax) is an island near the western extent of the Andreanof Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Alaska's southernmost town, Adak, is located on the island. The island has a land area of 274.59 square miles (711.18 km2), measuring 33.9 miles (54.5 km) on length and 22 miles (35 km) on width, making it the 25th largest island in the United States.
Due to harsh winds, frequent cloud cover, and cold temperatures, vegetation is mostly tundra (grasses, mosses, berries, low-lying flowering plants) at lower elevations. The highest point is Mt. Moffett, near the northwest end of the island, at an elevation of 3,924 feet (1,196 m). It is snow covered the greater part of the year. Adak, Alaska is its largest and principal city.
The word Adak is from the Aleut word adaq, which means "father". (wikipedia)
• • •

NYT hasn't touched ADAK in 11 years, and no major puzzle outlet has touched it in 10. And you thought NDAK and SDAK were terrible. Yikes. I lead with this sub-tolerable bit of fill because it's at the heart of this puzzle's tragic flaw—a flaw I encountered only at the very end of what was to that point a very pleasurable solve. That SE corner was like … running a great race and being in sight of the finish line and then tripping over your laces, falling on your face, and being knocked unconscious. It's *so* much worse than every other part of the grid, that I have no idea why a. the constructor didn't sense that and fix that whole section, or b. the editor didn't insist upon a rewrite. It's the editor's responsibility, in the end, to get this stuff right. And ATARAXY (?) and ADAK (all the "?"s in the world) crossing a brand (?) of "pop-up preventer" that I've never heard of—that, that ain't right. If the pop-ups are being blocked, shouldn't I be AD-*UN*AWARE? Or is it ADA-WARE (made specially for dentists)? I figured -WARE was a suffix, as it so often is in internet contexts (e.g. malware, spyware, ADWARE!!!). Yeesh and yikes. In the end, I got the -DA- in ADAWARE from guess/inference. It was the best guess I had, despite the fact that ADAK in particularly looked absolutely nutso. Implausible in the extreme. But there it is. ADAK.

If the rest of the puzzle hadn't been so good, I wouldn't have cared nearly as much. It's the sore thumb quality of that quadrant that makes me mourn the Great puzzle this could have been. I mean … MALTHUS! (8A: Economist who wrote "An Essay on the Principle of Population," 1798). I was like "whoa, highbrow!" Nice contrast to the super-lowbrow MTV MOVIE AWARDS, ADULT SWIM, SKYMALL, and GRAND THEFT AUTO / III! I mean, you could see only scant evidence of grid strain before the SE corner came along. MORIA is not great. ETAIL and KLOSS (?), also kind of yuck. But otherwise, everything was pretty shiny and nice.

  • 1A: Clichéd sequel catchphrase ("HE'S BACK!") — This *feels* right, but quick googling is turning up nothing specific. The phrase must be used plenty in ads for, say, Ace Venture sequels or Terminator sequels or, I don't know, Ernest sequels or Benji sequels. But the only "___ Back!" phrase that sticks in my mind is this one:
  • 44A: Ascension Isl. setting (ATL.) — had the "A" and thought "probably ATL" but held off for fear it would be a time zone (AST?) or even possibly a continent (AFR.). The island, it turns out, is in the Dead Middle of the Atlantic between South America and Africa.
  • 6D: Quaint stage dancing accessory (CANE) — my first thought was BOA, which is inapt on several levels.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:11 AM  

Totally agree with Rex about the SE corner.

Never heard of SNELL, ATARAXY or ADAK (tried Attu at first). Luckily knew about the Ad-Aware product, otherwise it might have been a DNF. I wonder how many streaks ended today?

Also not sure how "Verily" maps to TIS. Presumably that's the archaic 'tis, but it still doesn't make sense.

Moly Shu 12:25 AM  

Yep, SE corner ruined it. Missed all 3 of the culprits ADA, ADA and ATA. Did like the clue for LOFTY and the visual of VEHEMENCY. Like Eazy-E said " it's all about makin' that GTA"

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

So, we've got North Dakota, South Dakota and Arctic Dakota?

jae 12:47 AM  

Medium for me too. My three major erasures were DOlt before DODO, Attu @Anon 12:11 before ADAK, and Orlando before ANAHEIM.   Had much the same take as @Rex on the ATARAXY/ADAWARE cross.  Both were WOEs but AD AWARE seemed like a product, so I too guessed right.

Still waiting for KIDDO to be clued with Kill Bill.

This one was loaded with excellent stuff which more than made up for the SE problems.  Liked it a lot.  A fine themeless debut!

Sarah Palin 12:50 AM  

You really can see Russia from ADAK.

Steve J 12:53 AM  

Also agreed that the SE was a mess, and that's where my steady solve came to a screeching halt. But that wasn't the only bit of questionable fill; it was just concentrated more heavily there. And yet elsewhere we have VEHEMENCY (as opposed to what seems to me to be the much-more-common VEHEMENCe), ETAIL and the very bad forced-plural HEMPS (which is like having multiple cottons or polyesters; yes, yes can do that, but it doesn't mean you should).

There was definitely lots of good stuff, too, but the amount and scale of gunk turned what had the potential to be a very good puzzle into a decidedly mixed bag.

Jim Quinlan 1:07 AM  

Actually, NE corner hung me up the most! (had SCENT for TRAIL). Found SE inferable, but granted I got AD AWARE easy, so that helped a lot!

It was a record Saturday solve time for me! By like... a lot.

Very smooth and hip... and HOT TO TROT made me laugh because it's the antithesis of hip, but it's still fun.

Davis 1:15 AM  

100% agreement on the SE, and its effect on the excellence of this puzzle.

The KLOSS/MARIANO crossing was also rough--I though A was a reasonable guess for the vowel there. Ah well.

chefwen 1:38 AM  

We had a great time with this until we took a face plant in the SE. MAXIMAL and ATARAXY did us in. @Jim Q - hand up for scent before TRAIL at 11D. New pup Bucky has the nose from hell, knows when Ricey (Avatar) walks into the room and the chase is on. Who need television?.

chefwen 1:57 AM  

Add an s ont to need, I sound like a Rube, Rube, I miss you. Hope all is well.

captainjanny 2:14 AM  

I loved "ataraxy". Any pharmacist of a certain age has dispensed Atarax (hydroxyzine), an antihistamine that usually calms and mellows.

AliasZ 2:20 AM  

Oooff... Where is a MAS or Krozel quad-stack when I need one?

The seed entries must have been the MTV and the video game phrases. They give away the age and range of interest of this constructor. It is not mine, sorry to say. Faddish teen-entertainment media references do not a good NYT Saturday puzzle make, fresh as they may make it appear on the surface.

That does not mean however that there weren't many other lovely entries. Today we have ADAK, a DOOK Award runner-up, MORIA which must have been a gimme for at least three solvers, and ATARAXY from the Greek word "ataraxia" (ἀταραξία) meaning "tranquility." Too bad it sounds too much like anorexia. The Reverend Thomas Robert MALTHUS (1766-1834) is another common name that everyone should know. Is VEHEMENCY more fiery than vehemence? SNELL and SLAKE, and DODO/KIDDO only add to this eclecto-MORONIC collection of cringyness.

My favorite is the ITALIAN dressing AMOROSO, and MARIANO Rivera getting HOT TO TROT crossing the BRICK OVEN. Henry KLOSS (1929-2002), the innovative audio engineer, loudspeaker designer and founder of AR (Acoustic Research), KLH, Advent etc., is a very well known name to me, Karlie not so much.

Let's hear what AMOROSO sounds like according to Mozart, Paganini and Gustav Mahler.

A disappointing Saturday after a fabulous Friday. Enjoy your weekend!

Alan 2:51 AM  

Started at warp speed with HESBACK, HEMPS, and BRICKOVEN, and once the NW corner was done, MTVMOVIEAWARDS from just the VM, and GRANDTHEFTAUTO/III from the clear blue sky (ok, I had the N, but I gunned down enough police on that game to make it a gimme).

Slowed down in that SE corner (of course) until steig LARSSON bailed me out. I have heard of ADAWARE, so the ugly downs seemed plenty fair on the crosses.

After a fast Friday yesterday, finished today's even faster: 14 minutes for my best Saturday ever.

Unknown 4:11 AM  

Breezed through the puzzle until I got hung up on the SE corner. LARSSON* was easy as I live in Denmark, and all of his novels are quite big in the Scandinavian 'hood. Still, I was not ATTUned to ADAK, and kept seeing Atari for ATARAXY. The puzzle took me 18 minutes, with that pesky corner taking up five of those. I felt like I had been whooped upside the head with MORONIC DODO stick.

*"Luftslottet som sprängdes" Is the original title in Swedish which means "The Castle in the Sky that Exploded"

Thomas808 5:31 AM  

Agree the SE was tough, but this was still a very good puzzle. Two fresh 14-letter acrosses with six crossing 9-letter downs with good variety, plus the four / three stacks in each of the corners, and the fill is pretty decent. That's pretty good stuff. People are complaining about ADAK, but that island had the most significant Navy base in the Aleutians and recently went through the BRAC process, so to a lot of folks is a familiar name. My WOE was the cross of AD_WARE with ATAR_XY, both of which I never heard of, and so I ran the vowels starting with A and got lucky.

I liked seeing MARIANO sitting there on top of PITCHES.

MORIA was not a gimme only because it could have be MINES (The Mines of Moria). Then GRANDTHEFTAUTO made it a gimme.

The mundane fill ETAIL was redeemed by the misdirection of the clue "Net Sales". Fun clue for SKYMALL, too.

A very enjoyable and do-able Saturday!

Charles Flaster 5:41 AM  

Hard and not fun on lower right. The first 80% was medium and thought I would complete in due time.Nope!
Downfall was tallest for MAXIMAL which I still like better. OSAMA was the gimme I missed.
Also liked the placement of PINATAS and PITCHES.
Damn Yankees was one of my first Broadway shows and still works today- timeless theme.
Thanks DP.

John Child 5:41 AM  

Very satisfying to complete this cleanly, as I said to myself a dozen times, "self, we are hosed today." The SE was tough, but the NW also went down hard for me.

No one wants to have either ADAK or ATARAXY in their puzzle, but in return we got a dozen excellent debut words and some clever, difficult clues. PB1 is a tough act to follow, but I liked this just fine except for the SE.

Danp 5:56 AM  

If the NYT thinks the manhunt for Bin Laden started in 2001, it's not worth reading.

GILL I. 7:00 AM  

I even got ATARAXY although I'm pretty sure I don't know how to pronounce it. I must have read that word in a Freud something or other...
I had fun with this puzzle. BLOKE and KIDDO are words I use a lot, throw in TIS and MORONIC and I'm on VEHEMENCY.
Didn't know KLOSS and had the same scent for my pups as others. Fun PINATAS took care of that problem.
I couldn't remember how to spell LARSSON because his books (well, his first one) bored me to tears.
Ended up with SKYfALL because my Sister of Cartoon Network was an ADULT WIF....A DNF but I don't care because this felt fresh and FANCY.
Good Job David Phillips...

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

Easiest and fastest Saturday ever for me. I don't see what the fuss is all about.

Leapfinger 7:39 AM  

Why ADAK? Why not?

Anyone else notice how well TRATTORIA fits 4D? With the crossing R and O to confirm? Also had SalvE before SLAKE, OIL paint before OIL COLOR, and my old dog picked up a new TRick-TRAck-TRAce-TRAIL. Of course, it's Saturday, so it's normal to feel like a DODO for also thinking it's ADA-WARE instead of AD-AWARE... KLOSS, but no CIGAR, eh?
On the plus side, I learned why that anti-anxiety medication is called ATARAX.

But: Y the VEHEMENCY ending? That's more 'quaint' than a CANE, gets right into archaic territory, along with that LONGBOW. I think that nowadays we are all TOT 'vehemence'.

The preceding are bagatelles; this was an enjoyable solve, because of the great mix of knowns, unknowns and semi-suspecteds in each section, spiced with some Fancy Saturday cluing. I found this took some standing back and letting imagination ream. With all that on board, no reason to be Fosse about details.

Bonus items:
DAY SINN, occasionally known as a Nooner (right, @Jackson Heights?)
Very Bad Cases of heat rash -- HOT TOT ROT

TIS OIL SHE wrote. Time to LEG IT.

evil doug 8:33 AM  

You could draw a vertical line through 'heiress'; to the west, very few changes (sterile before sternly--leap is right about the y in vehemence--and stave before slake); but look east to the mysterious orient, and it's a bloodbath of ink blots. I was so sure of 'ABCFamily', some kind of saw instead of a bow, some kind of bear or star instead of a maple leaf--and zero chance on Malthus, amoroso, Larsson, ataraxy (eat me, pharmacy pukes) or the video game. Didn't even get SkyMall....


Leapfinger 8:42 AM  

'Say that you'll be mine, INAMORATA'

Nice to have INAMORATA followed by AMOROSO, even moroso when that leads to a triple treat.

Can a day be better than to start early with Vladimir? And Gustav der Mahler? otoh, I suspect it was an ADULT'S WIM to pair a violin with a guitar. First time I've come across that dyad, I think.

evil doug 8:57 AM  

I see why I struggled with the game: I started with G_, and I was sure the next letters were for 'and the' rather than grAND THEft.


Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Great puzzle, lots of fun... Until the SE.

DBlock 9:12 AM  

Agree with the group re SE (and like Evil Doug, also had ABC Family first) but lots of gimmes (Malthus, Mariano, Larrson) and the clue for ESSO made this historian of late 19th Century US a bit misty-eyed--

Dorothy Biggs 9:18 AM  

I wouldn't exactly say this puzzle was a breeze. The entire puzzle had its challenges.

In the SW I insisted on sMS, which made the dressing of 57A invisible. The clue of "Common canvas coater" was excruciatingly difficult. Looking in retrospect I see why: it's ridiculously and absurdly elementary. OIL COLOR? Seriously? What else would you put on a canvas that started with the word oil? What other kind of oil is there? So yeah, the SW sucked.

Oddly, the SE was less difficult. Had ADblock to start, then went to AD-WARE. Thought maybe it was AD-b-Ware or ADAWARE. I confess to having googled ADAK...because, really, ADAK? Ferreted out MAXIMAL which led to ATARAXY...another one of those words lodged in the back of my mind...filed right next to inamorata, I think.


As a musician, I can see how you might play a "love ballad" AMOROSO. But these days, you don't. You might play a ballade AMOROSO, but modern love "ballads" a) do not have the old-timey passion that a romantic ballade would have, or b) are never described in old timey Italian musical terms.

A love ballad, like something from the latter part of the previous century until today, would never ever be described as amoroso unless it was done ironically or for pure camp. It's like saying Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" is andante. It might be that, but no one who does it would ever say that.

A better clue for that would have included the in a "love ballade."

And the entire NW was ugly. HEMPS, ETAIL (again), SLAKE, HESBACK (Who is he?), and ANAHEIM (had Orlando first).

TL;DR: I finished, but I didn't like it.

RooMonster 9:25 AM  

Hey All !
Med-Challenging here. Started slow, then it felt like my brain clicked into a higher gear, and managed to go on a little solving run! Lasted all of six answers or so... Then back to slogging through. Solved online today, so of course, ample use of the Check Puz feature!!

Was going to question LEGIT clue, but thanks to @evil, now know it's LEG IT, not legit! (Too legit to LEG IT). scent fot TRAIL first here also. Nice misdirect on ANAHEIM, had orlando. SNELL still a mystery.

Overall, good SatPuz, happy about the Check feature! :-) On to Sunday.


RooMonster 9:27 AM  

Oops, no offense @evil, but it was @Leapy with the LEG IT! Need to read the comments before I comment on the comments!


Z 9:39 AM  

GTAIII - Bah! Humbug! Take your RRN to Artic DAKota and leave it there. Don't try to make it seem somehow better by cross referencing to a "modern" video game (GTAIII was released 13 years ago, which is like 169 in video game years).

Speaking of ArticDAKota, one wonders if it is a Pewit sanctuary, Pewits with MAXIMAL ATARAXY, perhaps.

MALTHUS, proving once again that making predictions is hard, especially about the future.

Mon AMIE causes dissonance waves to go off. It's ma petite amie but not m'amie. Apparently the French care more about sound than gender.

ATARAXY, the opposite of AtaREXy?

Me? It was the entire south that made this a 45 minute tussle. OIL paint didn't help, nor did russIAN dressing (obviously thinking Reuben there). I did manage to change E to Y early on when I got SAIL and deduced that the adverbial ending would be -LY.

Had up with viewing the SE as a clusterf^#k. SNELL? ATARAXY? ADAK? I got ADAWARE pretty early because I've been forced to use Window machines, but it's a brand name so I couldn't be sure some bored schmuck in marketing hadn't gotten creative with some iteration or other.

Whirred Whacks 9:41 AM  

Last to fall for me was SAIL for "Junk mover," because I was locked in on having a SALE to move the "junky items." Ah, discovering how I fool myself is one of the chief reasons I enjoy doing the puzzle.

Liked FOSSE and LARSSON as answers but not III. (It would've been interesting to have clued the latter as "Often-injured Redskin RG.")

Nice misdirect with the clue "11-pointed national symbol." The base of the Statue of Liberty is an 11-pointed star. MAPLE LEAF.

MIXED NUTS was my favorite puzzle of the week.

Doug Landman 9:55 AM  

Nice puzzle, DP - enjoyed solving and learning a new word - "ataraxy"

Tita 10:11 AM  

@Alias...back in my college days, I probably read the Lord of the Rings about 20 times. MORIA was in fact a gimme! FWIW, I pity the generation who knows it only through the movies, which surely have Tolkien dining.

I found few toeholds, then got a bunch, then stopped dead. Had to reveal wrong letters several times in both NE and SE to get to the finish line.
cepu before appu before ADAK.

Agree in general about most of the good and the bad.

Thanks Mr Phillips.

Blue Stater 10:12 AM  


joho 10:13 AM  

Liked LEGIT crossing HOTTOTROT. Made me wonder if that's why the reference to a LEG instead of the word LEGIT.

I didn't have a prayer in the SE but don't feel like a DODO or totally MORONIC reading today's comments ... you all truly are a support group!

I misspelled it LARrSON, had Attu, only know ADWARE (ADA?) and never heard of either ATARAXY or ADULTSWIM making this corner the perfect storm for the ultimate snafu!

Teedmn 10:18 AM  

I quite FANCY this puzzle! It was the quintessentially toothy Saturday solve I love. I LEGged IT around the grid like a lost KIDDO, chipping away at the vast amounts of white space. A major aha at HE'S BACK gave me BRICK OVEN and finished the East side.

Smaller ahas were MAPLE LEAF and HOT TO TROT, which made the NE possible. LARSSON was a gimme, even if I haven't read the books, And SLAMS was an early guess. But do ATOMS get excited? I thought it was more the electrons. Even so, I guessed MAXIMAL. ATARAXY was a total WOE, as was ADAK, like so many.

So I finished with a "check all" and had guessed wrong at the "DA" of ADAWARE. Once I plugged in the right letters, it was a doh moment. So an official DNF in 63 minutes, but no googles and a sense of satisfaction. Thanks, Mr. Phillips, for my favorite kind of Saturday puzzle - Challenging but doable.

mathguy 10:19 AM  

I only got ATARAXY by putting ATAR--- into my word finder. Then I was able to guess my way through. I had forgotten SNELL and ADAK and hadn't heard of ADULTSWIM and ADAWARE. I got faked out by the nice clue for SKYMALL. Since I was having so much trouble in that corner, I got annoyed that the clue for SLAMS had a question mark -- no reason for it and it made me question SLAMS in my guessing frenzy.

I totally agree with Rex's criticism.

On my beginning survey of the grid, I put in YEA for "'Verily!'" as a gimme. But no. TIS?

wreck 10:22 AM  

I tried to post last night, but had major internet connection problems in the mountains of Colorado. Like most, the upper half went pretty smoothly and came to screeching halt in the SE. ADAWARE should have come easy, as I ran it for several years - but I was looking for a "mis-direction" such as a toaster or jack-in-the-box or the like.

Nancy 10:30 AM  

SE section got me, too. Until then, it was fun.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:34 AM  

Very good puzzle. Played as an overall Medium for me.

Got off to a flying start in the NE with gimmes at MALTHUS and MAPLE LEAF. Slowed considerably in the SE, where ATARAXY only filled in letter-by-letter. Only write-over was in the SW, VEHEMENCE/Y. Which left the NW to fill last, helped a lot by having the _OVEN in place for the end of 4 D.

We've seen SNELL fairly recently, with lots of discussion. I've seen all the recent movies, but don't think I heard of MORIA.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Moira is from the Lord of the Ribgs. The mines of Moria

mac 10:43 AM  

Medium-challenging for me, with the SE also the hardest and last. Other stumbling blocks: wanted some form of "dulcet" for amoroso, and my dog picked up a scent. Plus at 62A I started with stonily.

He's back makes me think of Freddy/Elm Street.

We continue to celebrate, anniversary today.

jberg 11:00 AM  

I saw the clue for 56D, said "first rule of crosswords: 4-letter Alaskan island = Attu" and put it in confidently. this gave me MT for the start of the high point, which was puzzling because EVEREST wouldn't fit. I figured it must be the high point of some state, province, or county and waited for the crosses to give it to me. No such luck.

Actually, I liked this puzzle, despite the OIL COLOR (come on, it's paint, green or not!). I had to stop and do some other things before coming back to the SE, but somehow I saw MAXIMAL, and eventually SKYMALL.

I put in SNELL, and then looked it up. I've bought plenty of SNELLed hooks for fishing, but I always thought it referred to some particular kind of barb. So I learned something today.

I've read Lord of the Rings maybe 15 times (or maybe 30), but since I'm old enough to have done that, I also had to wait a few minutes for MORIA to come bubbling up.

I looked up ATARAXY after writing it in, too, just to see what it actually meant. According to my dictionary, Ataraxia is the preferred spelling -- if it had been properly clued as (var.), I'm sure a lot more of us would have got it right off.

I don't have a TV, so had MusIc awards before MOVIE, and got ADULT SWIM purely from plausibility (and slowly).

So eally, aside from ETAIL, not too much boring fill. I don't mind difficulty and obscurity half so much, as long as there is a way I can get it eventually --and I did like MALTHUS and GRAND THEFT AUTO, so all in all I enjoyed this one.

Steve M 11:05 AM  

SE dead duck

The Hermit Philosopher 11:16 AM  

When is Rex going to stop campaigning for Will's job? I mean really! Nothing is ever good enough.

Get over yourself, Rex.

Unknown 11:26 AM  

72 min. 6 errors, all in SE. Medium challenging. Undoable.
ATARest for ATARAXY (new word --good one, if unsussable)
SNare for SNELL (snare was a decent guess; snell is new word here, unsussable)
Attu for ADAK (some certainty with my guess)
MtsIMAr for MAXIMA (residents of Mt Simar do feel above it all)
SutMALe for SKYMALL (random brand name, ugh)
AteWAra for ADAWARE (random brand name, ugh)

Glad to know two new words. :)

Ludyjynn 11:31 AM  

DNF at the O in KLOSS and the DA in ADAWARE. Otherwise, for a Saturday, I fairly TORE through this one. Learned a new word: ATARAXY. AYE for one am as likely not to remember anything to do w/ "The Lord of the Rings" as I am a rapper's name. Don't appreciate folks' fascination w/ either topic.

Overall, a fairly painless Saturday. Thanks, DP and WS.

quilter1 11:32 AM  

DNF although I got ADAK. My dad was stationed there during WWII. He said one of his commanders went mad because of the lack of green and had to be transferred. Did not enjoy this one because of the many names/words I didn't know and I pride myself on having a broad vocabulary. FOSSE and ATARAXY were totally unfamiliar. Back to quilting.

Joseph Michael 11:38 AM  

Didn't know ATARAXY but liked learning it. Also liked HOT TO TROT. But who knew that ATOMS get excited?

Unknown 11:41 AM  

@danp Excellent point about the bin Laden man-hunt! Didn't Clinton's guys have him in the crosshairs but got the stand-down at the last second?

I guessed HESBACK and the NW was done in 5 min. Then MALTHUS, tHen AMIE, then I got dizzy, then I had near constant wrongness for 45 minutes. There's no telling when or where I will go south, just that I will. Fortunately, most of the puzzle was salvagable.

I got HOTTOTROT from the crosses. Only now do I see how [Turned on] works. Doh! VEHEMENCY was another requiring nearly every cross. excellent cluing with those two.

John V 11:47 AM  

What @rex said about SE. Not wild about low brow seeds, but an easy puzzle, crosses all good. Any time I ace a Saturday, I'm happy.

Sigmund 11:52 AM  

@Evil --

Every time I see your initials, I can't help but think of some kind of Disfunction,

Ah-h-h, I get it now. That explains a lot about your compensating over-aggressive posts.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Once again, @Rex confuses gaps in his knowledge with flaws in the puzzle.

retired_chemist 12:05 PM  

Challenging. DNF on the ADAK/ADAWARE cross but a lot of the rest was just brutal. Agree the SE corner was a killer, but there were a lot of other obscurities for a geezer. Never having played ANY video game, GTA III was only apparent after a LOT of crosses. Don't watch or even think about MTV, so ditto MTV MOVIE AWARDS. MOVIE was MusIc for too long.

DODO was Dolt, DOpe, after fOol and maybe others I can't recall. OIL paint instead of COLOR for 46D.

Ah, the SE. ADAWARE, ADAK, ATARAXY (née nirvAna), LARSSON - never heard of them. Lucky to get almost all of that right by just seeing what made phonetic sense. Had ADULT ???? and almost thought porn was going to be the answer. Fortunately I had seen ADULT SWIM ads somewhere so that went in correctly after a while.

Summary - nothing others haven't said. Lose the SE and it's a great puzzle.

r.alphbunker 12:07 PM  

I was confident of my answers except for

ADULTSWI[t/m] and SKY[t/m]ALL

Wanted ADULTSWIt and SKYMALL but couldn't have both so chose the "t" as in too bad. Rex's remark about seeing the finish line and then tripping on a shoelace described my experience perfectly.

BillyC 12:09 PM  

Aw, c'mon, @Anon11:55....

I'm not saying OFL is flawless, but ...

Adak, Adaware, attract????


BillyC 12:12 PM  

Oops, that last one was (obviously) meant to be Ataraxy. I should've checked before posting. The spell-checker has problems with this word -- go figure!

Mike 12:15 PM  

Same for me. NE, but because I put ICE instead of USA and I always forget AMOROSO. and similarly, it was one of my fastest Saturdays.

Anoa Bob 12:34 PM  

ADAK & ATTU should be in every xworder's bag of tricks. If you do puzzles regularly, you'll see 'em again.

I know an ex naval aviator who was stationed briefly at ADAK before they closed the base and turned it into a town. He said it was the assignment from hell, little sun, no green (hi @quilter1) & few women. Definitely no fun.

There are two general ways that nature controls population levels. One is "steady state", where there is little change in numbers over time. The other is "boom & bust", where population numbers grow exponentially, reach a critical mass, & then crash.

MALTHUS (HE'S BACK!) theorized that humans are in the second category. I think he was right. It's just taking a little longer to play out than he anticipated.

Not a whole lot I can do one way or the other. Might as well remain ATARAXical about it all.

Mr. Benson 12:44 PM  

Jeez, you can't win with Rex. He's constantly harping on crosswords not being contemporary enough for his tastes. And now there's a contemporary term, ADAWARE, a well-known brand to anybody who's spent any time on the Internet, and he harps on it because he hasn't heard of it?

Sometimes, when a crossword has a phrase you've never heard of, the problem isn't the crossword; the problem is your knowledge.

Lewis 12:47 PM  

As Leapy brought up, I like AMOROSO following yesterday's INAMORATA. And Leapy, hand up for trattoria.

@stuart -- If Rex became NYT crossword editor, I believe he would have to lower his bar; I don't believe he would get enough puzzles to pass his current bar. But his current bar is acceptable to me as one coming from a critic, who weighs all puzzles against what he considers ideal.

I liked the clues to SAIL and SKYMALL. I wanted "trick" for 11D and that held me up. I also wanted "cat toy" for 19A. I was lucky on my SE guesses. I stuttered in some areas and zoomed in others. Good one David -- I look forward to seeing your name again.

Masked and AnonymoUUs 12:53 PM  

Nat-tick at:
ATAReXY/AD e-WARE. Seemed perfectly reasonable.

Knew ADAK.
Had PITCHES in two places, for quite awhile. Made me feel real uncomfortable.
Learned about MALTHUS. (Also known to M&A as the Mysterious Keeper of the U.)
Wanted VEHEMENCe, like most of the civilized world.
This puz poses an important wordsmithy question: Is LEGIT legit?
fave weeject: III. Always refreshin, when a weeject gets to be part of the game.

Great schlock movie lineup, last night:
"Day of the Triffids"
"The Funhouse"
"The Master Key" (chapters 10-12)

Happy Weekend to everybody except today's SE puz corner, which was an Unhappy Weakend, I reckon...


p.s. Congrats to David Phillips, for his first themeless rodeo. And his first and last ADAK, probably. har

Unknown 1:16 PM  

Glad I'm not the only one who tanked in the SE. Never mind 'Adak' - what about 'snell'? Ok so I get now that it's a fishing knot but how does that make it an 'accessory'? A line and a hook are accessories but you can't just pull a 'snell' out of your tackle box can you? I dont think so but perhaps I'm looking at it from the wrong 'angle'.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Bad French grammar: MON AMIE. MON is masculine adjective (MY in English), while AMIE is a feminine noun (female FRIEND in English).

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

In other words, the clue for 9-down should have been MA ____ not MON ____.

circle of ass 1:38 PM  

Yeah, Rex sets the tone by being an ass, then the daily ass-kissing begins from all of the people who FANCY him, then they kiss each other's asses, and before you know it it's a circle of brown noses and clean asses. Repeat tomorrow, as the asses require daily licking to stay happy and clean.
Great Saturday. Crushed it like a bug.

mon amie 1:41 PM  

French criticizers are wrong. AMIE starts with a vowel. Go look up the rest. You look stupid.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

For me, SE was the second section that I completed. Hardest for me was NE. Adaware, Larrson and Adak were first. Then it was easy. Ataraxy was new to me, of course. But, one reason I like crosswords is to learn new words. And, for crossing proper nouns, at least Adak and Larsson are more well-known than many pairs one encounters.

OISK 1:51 PM  

Ad me to the brutal SE club. Puzzle contained plenty of what I don't like - the name of a video game, a computer program, skymall??? What the heck is a skymall? What is Adultswim? And that was near Ataraxy, and Adak. Fortunately I fish, so I got snell, and finished correctly. Lucky guesses. Some rapper named Gerardo ruined the week on Tuesday, but got through the rest.

Fred Romagnolo 2:00 PM  

Where to start? No knowledge of Karlie KLOSS, ADULT SWIM, ATARAXY, AD AWARE, I M'S, or MTV anythings. To boot, I wanted "deadpan" for STERNLY, and Atka for ADAK, I'm with @Leapy & @Lewis on trattoria before BRICK OVEN. @Anon 7:10 must be a god, no one else could be as contemptuous of mere mortals.
@Anon 11:58 & @Showalter: don't read Rex's commentaries, then the rest of us don't have to read your dismissal of the founder of this blog.

M and A Help Desk 2:01 PM  

@Cynthia Garcia:
SNELL is one of them loosey-goosey terms, kinda like "enhanced interrogation".

SNELL can be a short gut line that holds the lure and hook, which in turn is tied to the main, usually thicker line. And the snell line is maybe tied to the hook with a snell knot. This is all because it would be too day-um easy, to just tie the main line to the hook and use a worm. A setup introduced by Herr Maximilian Snell, 1959, btw.
Fortuitously, all I knew was that SNELL had somethin to do with fishin, so it just slid right on into the grid, off the SN-.


Fred Romagnolo 2:07 PM  

@Circle of ass: yes, you are.

GILL I. 2:10 PM  

@Cynthia Garcia...I see our knowledge guru @M and A came in first. Let me add my three cents because I didn't understand a word our friend upstairs said....hee hee.
The SNELL here is used as a noun. It's a little line usually made out of gut that you use to tie your fish hook onto. After you've tied your favorite lure with the SNELL you then tie it on to a longer line...See? Wasn't that easy? Thank you dad for teaching me to fish and to throw the fish back into the lake so that others can enjoy the thrill....
Why does Saturday bring out the snark in some people?
Peace on Earth and all that....

okanaganer 2:13 PM  

Re AMIE vs AMI... even I had the "that's wrong!" reaction until I looked it up. And I had 5 years of high school French!.. of course that was about 125 years ago.

(Basically MON is used instead of MA simply cuz it sounds better).

Lewis 2:28 PM  

Factoid: The Romanian government is considering the protection of the FERAL horses and transforming them into a tourist attraction, after it first approved the killing of the entire population.

Quotoid: "Let me tell you something that we Israelis have against Moses. He took us 40 years through the desert in order to bring us to the one spot in the Middle East that has no OIL!" -- Golda Meir

M and A Help Desk II 2:34 PM  

@Gill I. Help Desk -- Even better SNELL explanation. I easily understood every word, of yours. The M &A Help Desk always strives to pose its explanations in the form of a metapuz.

Not knowin any French, I feel like I am in a unique position to impartially rate AMIE intros. Top picks, rated from worst to best:
10. Orig AMIE.
9. Sal AMIE.
8. My AMIE.
7. Yo AMIE.
6. Ahso AMIE.
5. Adak AMIE.
4. Salvation AMIE.
3. Mon AMIE.
2. Ma AMIE.
1. M&A AMIE.


Mohair Sam 2:42 PM  

Disagree with @Rex (and most of you) on the Southeast. LARSSON and OSAMA were gimmes worthy of a Wednesday. MORAL quickly sussable off the O, as was SLAMS off the L. What else by ATOMS off the OM, and the crosswordy SNELL making a return visit. I didn't know ADAK or ATARAXY either, but it is a freakin' Saturday folks and we had two gimmes in one corner - rare. As far as the complaints about ADAWARE and SKYMALL. Anyone who has had a popup problem knows ADAWARE (Rex's gripe simply wrong there, btw), and anyone who has flown commercial in the last two decades has seen SKYMALL - excellent clues for both, btw. Sheesh you guys, quit yer bitchin'.

Played medium for us. Might have been tougher but we had a gimme in every corner (MARIANO, MALTHUS, FOSSE, plus the two in the SE). Have never watched the MTVMOVIEAWARDS but 32A was sussable as all hell from the wonderful clue. Never played (or seen) GRANDTHEFTAUTO either, but that name's all over the place.

Had ebay before SAIL for 54d Junk mover, don't ask why. I like supermodel clues because I learn a new-to-me name every time. Only complaint - thought OIL COLOR was kinda wet painty.

I thought the cluing was excellent throughout and had a ton of fun with this one. Thanks David Phillips and WS.

GILL I. 2:51 PM  

@M and A...MON DIEU!

Z 3:08 PM  

If mes AMIEs read the comments before posting they might have read, "Mon AMIE causes dissonance waves to go off. It's ma petite amie but not m'amie. Apparently the French care more about sound than gender," posted at 9:39 a.m.

@defenders of the SE corner - you're missing the point. It's the combination of obscurities and brand names that makes the corner sub-optimal, not ignorance of any answer(s). If you read through some comments various people had issues with ADAK, ATARAXY, ADULT SWIM, SNELL, spelling LARSSON, AD-AWARE, and SKYMALL. Let's look at those, an Aleutian island, a term from Epicureanism, a late night cartoon aimed at the 16-24 age group, a fishing term, a foreign last name, commercial software (AD b-WARE seems more than reasonable) and a catalog found in the pocket in front of you next to the barf bag. That's three examples of trivial trivia and four proper names colliding in a 28 square area.

Z 3:29 PM  

@Mohair - I beg to differ - I've never read Stieg LARSSON - most people haven't, and it is a foreign name with an atypical spelling. Not a gimme. Neither is OSAMA - maybe you missed that the "man-hunt" was a few years longer than 10 years (beginning not long after the 1993 WTC bombing), so an einstein for lots of people (i.e. - if you know too much you immediately ruled OSAMA out as an answer).

Paul 3:51 PM  

Adult Swim is not a sister of the cartoon network. It is a block of shows ON the cartoon network.

Ludyjynn 3:52 PM  

@Quilter1, Bob FOSSE (1927-1987) was a dancer, choreographer, B-Way and film director, screenwriter and actor, nominated for and recipient of numerous entertainment industry awards.

He met and married 3rd wife, Gwen Verdon, who won Tony award for best actress in "Damn Yankees", which he choreographed.

Fosse is remembered for his distinctive style, particularly "jazz hands", and use of hats and gloves. His legacy is ever-present in the world of dance. Worth remembering!

abstractblueman 4:12 PM  

I was elated to see ADULTSWIM. All theses years of watching cartoons filled with toilet humor have finally paid off!

Thomas808 4:13 PM  

@OISK every time I see that rapper name that starts with G, my teeth start grinding. Some may remember, and I will never forget, that his name was at the top center of the infamous 9/11/14 NYT puzzle that for most of the crossword-solving world induced the absolute opposite of ATARAXY!

OISK 4:17 PM  

Now that someone has explained it, I retract my objection to "Skymall." I fly frequently, and am sure I have seen the term many times - certainly a fair Saturday clue. Just blanked on it. "Adultswim", on the other hand...

Tita 4:24 PM  

Oops...rereadingmy post...
' which surely have Tolkien dining...'
Let's try 'which surely have Tolkien spinning.'

On to the other literary reference...
@Z...Larsson;s series was incrediby widely read,,, On a trip back from Prague, in the Zurich airport, I was looking for reading material - picked u The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, thinking I might avoid the general drivel one might accidentally grab in an airport kiosk, by snobbishly thinking - 'A Swedish author - no one will have read this'...

I TORE through that one, then borrowed the other two from 2 different American friends who were already done with the whole series.
Chilling, and disturbing, but I couldn't put them down.

Mohair Sam 4:42 PM  

@Z - Disagree. First, you don't have to read the book to know the author (especially on Saturday), Larsson's name has been all over the place for about a decade - and tied to movies. Secondly - I see your point on OSAMA, but given the "S" from Larsson it seemed obvious the clue referred to the period of the intense (and very public) manhunt. Most American's didn't even know his name until 2001.

evil doug 4:48 PM  

Unreadable. Maybe it was the clumsy quality of the translation from Swedish, or maybe it was the tiresomely long descriptions. Always enjoy a good sex scene, but Dragon Tattoo included the most laughably gratuitous assault depiction I've ever read. Still, no question that it was read by millions, so the author's name is leg it....


Hartley70 5:19 PM  

Does Bob Fosse/Chorus Line/ choreographer help you out?

Unknown 5:27 PM  

For what it's worth, AMIE is indeed feminine, but when you have a possessive pronoun (of a noun beginning with another vowel) with no consonants at the end, you do not use the liaison and drop the vowel, the masculine form of the possessive is used instead.
Ceci explique cela. Ne cherchez point à comprendre, c'est la joie de la langue française, mes amis.

Hartley70 5:29 PM  

Z while you're correct because most people don't read a lot of fiction, I think that most of those who do are familiar with Larsson. That trilogy was a world wide phenom, like an adult version of Harry Potter. And for those non-readers there were English and Swedish movie versions. I thought the books were great and Larsson's back story could make another great movie!

Z 5:43 PM  

Not arguing about "LEG IT," just whether LARSSON is a "Gimme." My initial thought was "damn, how is that spelt?" I disliked that damnable III more than any single answer in the SE, but the conflagration is sub-optimal. Okay, I think that horse is sufficiently dead now.

Also, a simple truism, there are always more people who haven't read a book than have read it. I saw a stat at 538 that there were 1.4 million books published last year. I'm behind on my reading and getting farther behind every day.

Clark 6:00 PM  

@Tita -- I am in the MORIA was a gimme camp. When I read your comment about Tolkien dining . . . I figured you meant to say something like, well he probably hated the movies but the royalties should at least be allowing him to dine out in style. Not that that makes much sense with his being long dead and all. So, thanks for the explanation. AND, I started in on the LARSSON books in just the same way. Chance purchase in airport leads to compulsive three book read.

When I was a teenager I had a case of chronic giant hives that went on for years. The only drug they found that could stop it without knocking me out was ATARAX.

Hartley70 6:16 PM  

There was a lot I didn't know video games in my life, the SE was brutal but I loved HOTTOTROT and it was my first guess. The Terminator gave me HE'S BACK even though I think it was "I'll be back". I was lucky to know all the people who were clued, but I really had to dig for Mariano. It was a good Saturday.

Z 7:13 PM  

Oh boy, oh boy, there's a picture of l'il Douggie beside his AF trainer plane. Too bad he washed out and ended up flying C-130 Trash Haulers.

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

Well, we all know the dick-lover who posted as Z@7:13 pm is not the real Z. Do us all a favor, get over your massive jealousy of Evil, apparently he was a MUCH better pilot than you, and then step in front of a semi-truck and put yourself out of your misery.
Thank You.

Arlene 8:15 PM  

It's the real Arlene posting here at this late hour. I didn't get to the puzzle until this evening - did all the Googling I needed to do to finish. Actually did finish with only one wrong square in the SE. YAY!

One poignant crossword moment - I did a reverse-Google - had the answer and wanted to check if it was right - so I looked up ATARAXY - not really believing that could possibly be correct - but lo and behold, the definition was the exact crossword clue - "Serene calmness". What a surprise!

jj 8:19 PM  

Good thing you're not an ass.

Teedmn 9:39 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z-imposter 11:19 PM  

Oooo, @Anon7:42, so-o-o much anger. Chill, buddy ...

Unknown 7:25 AM  

@M&A Thanks for the clarification! I fished a bit as a kid but obviously not enough to know about snelling. I guess my issue is that you can't really have a snell without a hook or lure attached to it so it seems a bit loose to call it an accessory on its own. But that's just me being nit-picky :)

quilter1 10:29 AM  

Ack! Of course I know Bob Fosse, but I read the wrong clue. Damn bifocals.

Unknown 3:37 PM  

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Chicago Loop 9:40 AM  

What about CLSES as a way of "suddenly" bringing the word CLOSES to a questionable end? SLAMS is straightforward and undeserving of the '?'.

CLSES set me up for SPYWARE and ESTIMAL for 'above all others' which looked wrong but was the best I could do as I einstein-ily insisted on CLSES!

spacecraft 11:48 AM  

Rats. Stacy just took a day off. Isn't it about time for a vacay there, Stace? Take a week. Take two. In fact....oh nevermind.

Today's was...uncomfortable. In the NE I assumed PITCHES, only to amend with PINATAS--but there my PITCHES were, over in the NW! Just a bit inside. ATARAXY is a variant of the more common (!) ataraxia, but VEHEMENCY?? Oh, now that's gotta draw a hankie. A word? Yes, but outnumbered by the -E ending by about a trillion to one. It does nothing for my ATARAX-whatever.

Saw this poem once; don't remember where, though it looks very Nashian:

The Hottentot
And so begot
A rotten tot.

I just assumed ADAWARE, as pop-ups are usually ads. ADAK, though unknown to me, fits the Inuit language patterns. I did have to make some guesses, but they turned out fine. One was _ORIA; I went with MTV for the awards thing because it seems in character for them to give a Best Kiss award.

Somewhat lucky to finish, but I'll take it. B.

rondo 1:13 PM  

Now that's a puzzle!
Kinda agree with OFL re: SE, but the Swede gimme LARSSON, then OSAMA (cmon, how many other names second letter S?), SNELL not hard, and SKYMALL just in the news for closing shop. That SE eventually just filled itself in.

Just went to a Punch Pizza joint in St. Paul, so BRICKOVEN came easy. Great Naples styl pie.

Karlie KLOSS a winged yeah baby. Makes mr HOTTOTROT.Would like to take her on an ADULTSWIM.

Most of the puz fill top-notch, minimal 3 letter answers = 2 thumbs way up.

rain forest 2:29 PM  

Well, DNF, down in flames in the SE, but mainly because of my own obtuseness. I had SLAMS, OSAMA, MORAL, and LARSSON, yet couldn't get the rest.
What's a SKYMALL anyway?

From what people have described above, SNELL is a leader in my ken, but I'm not much of a fisher.

The rest of the puzzle was a joy, the only stumbling blocks being COLOR after "paint", and putting the Y at the end of VEHEMENC, but I got those. The SE: Waterloo. Pout.

ecanarensis 3:04 PM  

I'm with those who consider ADAK a gimme, tho I was surprised to learn it had a town. Dad was stationed there in the 50s for (an eternal), so I've heard many ADAK stories. My fave is the guy who got so crazed from boredom he attacked the beach with a shovel, screaming "I'm gonna shovel this %*&*#ing island back into the sea!!"

Couldn't remember how to spell LARSSON, never heard of ATARAXY, & I'd add HEMP(S) to the list of words which shouldn't be pluralized.

"ADAWARE"?! I thought everybody was aware of popups, the idea is to get rid of 'em.

ecanarensis 3:06 PM  

that shoulda been "for (an eternal) year..."
because time went so slooooowly there.

rondo 4:19 PM  

@rain forest - SKYMALL is the magazine/catalog in the seatback in front of you when you fly commercially. It usually has some unusual and/or some overpriced items for sale in it. Kinda reminded me of the Sharper Image catalog the first time I saw it. SKYMALL just announced last week that they were going out of business after 25 years.

DMG 4:26 PM  

Really big DNF today. Got a lot of the "common knowledge" types of answers, MALTHUS, ELSINORE, ADAK and such, but totally went down on the more contemporary trivia. No knowledge of the awards show, the video game, and a cartoon network sister combined with other gaps in my sphere of awareness and did me in!
See you Moday.

leftcoastTAM 5:36 PM  

Saturdays (and Fridays for that matter)have always been a struggle for me. This one I pieced together, after a lengthy struggle of course. As many commenters have said, the SE was the hang-up. It would have been mine, too, except that I knew ADAK, having lived in Alaska for a number of years. That made the rest of the SE inferable.

Teedmn 7:58 PM  

@rondo, I didn't mention this in my original comments because I knew it was a MN regional reference, but is a SNELL equivalent to a Lindy rig? If so, I have dozens of them in my tackle box ( I'm a sucker for new lures, come spring) but I didn't know the term in today's puzzle.

rondo 8:35 PM  

@Teedmn - I'm not much of a fisherman anymore, but a Lindy rig or some sort of leader was what I was imagining.

Vincent L 9:06 PM  

Doing the syndicated version, it's funny to see SKYMALL, which just filed for bankruptcy, clued as it was.

It felt nice to put MALTHUS down as my first answer. Thank you, first year of college. For MAPLE LEAF, I first had Malta Star, which was silly, but that made MALTA in the next column, a gimme.

Fun solve, marred only by the terrible corner that Rex has already excoriated. ATARAXY!

Bananafish 11:19 PM  

I didn't really have any problem with the SE - I solved it before the NE and SW. Then again, LARSSON is definitely on my gimme list (the guy did sell over 50 million books after all, and they were made into movie trilogies twice) and I have been well aware of ADAWARE for about a decade.

As far as OSAMA goes, although he was definitely someone we would have liked to locate prior to 2001, I am not sure you would use the term "manhunt" for that pre-2001 activity. For example, the wikipedia page for "Search for Osama bin Laden" starts listing specific events in, you guessed it, 2001. See

Greg 3:41 PM  

Two complete Naticks for me. MARIANO/KLOSS. Why why why must constructors cross 2 proper names at an arbitrary vowel? I had Mariana and Klass. That certainly looked plausible to me. Also the whole ADAK ATARAXY ADAWARE mess.

Michael 12:23 PM  

Today was my revenge after I found yesterday bloody impossible only to come here and see everybody talking about how easy it was. So please pardon a little gloating - not only did I find today's easy to the point of worrying it'd been mislabeled, it's also my very first perfect Saturday.

Weirdly, the SE corner came first for me. All the Across clues were quick to make up for the tough Downs. But what's so unfair about ADAK? At least it's a real place and not an abbreviated mess like NDAK.

Toughest spot was DODO/ESSO - I was stuck on DODO being either DOPE or DOLT.

I do have to smile at so many of the comments tut-tutting the "modern" clues. The person who wrote that "Faddish teen-entertainment media references do not a good NYT Saturday puzzle make, fresh as they may make it appear on the surface" made me laugh out loud, so thank you.

(By the way, I'm typing this in 2018 because I'm working through a day calendar, and likely shouting into the void. Hello from the future!)

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