Bit of exercise in Britain / SUN 4-19-15 / Rebellion event of 1676 / Candle in wind dedicatee / Aid to Zen meditation / Atari 7800 competitor briefly / Bass role in Gilbert & Sullivan opera / Asian stew often eaten with dipping sauce / Gershwin portrayer in Rhapsody in Blue / Largest coastal city between San Francisco Portland

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Constructor: Don Gagliardo and Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Double Down" — in Acrosses, two consecutive letters are rebused into one box; Downs that cross those rebused boxes have to be read twice to make sense—first with the first Across letter in place, and then with the second, e.g. "Y" and "L" are in the final box of 5D: One way to complete an online purchase because the answer is PAY PAL (i.e. first word takes the Y, second word takes the L)

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: TANTARA (93D: Bit of fanfare) —
a. trumpet or horn fanfare.
b. sound resembling such a fanfare.
2. hunting cry. (
• • •

Harder than usual, but not more pleasurable than usual. Actually, about as pleasurable as usual—it's just that "usual" these days is not what it once was, sadly. At least I had to fight this one a little. Cluing was tough all over, and I found myself stuck, at least briefly, much more often than normal. Very tough to me to get my head around the theme at first because there is an "L" right above the "INEN" in DIRT[YL]INEN, and I thought somehow that "L" came "Down" … and was also somehow supplying the "L" from PAY PAL (!?). Seriously, the "L" in EATS ALONE threw me quite badly for a decent amount of time. I was mystified. Wasn't til much later (maybe KAL KAN) that I "got" it. I had MAD at 46D: Lunatic and that seemed just fine to me. Never occurred to me it was MAD MAN. Actually, now that I think on it, it must've been HOT POT / LAUNC[HP]ARTY that got me on the right track.  This brings me to the one thematic element that I like, or at least admire—all of the "double" squares happen precisely at the break between two words in a two-word phrase (or compound word). This is what I mean when I applaud "consistency"—not doing things in predictable ways that have been done before, but in setting the bar high / making the requirements stringent, and still pulling it off. Makes the puzzle more elegant and professional. Shows craft.

Still, I didn't exactly enjoy this. I've seen the basic conceit before (though perhaps it's applied slightly differently here), and solving ended up being more slog than revelation. I know I'm repeating myself here, but the fill remains substandard in too many places. The whole TITI BAABAA TANTARA ASWE ESSA section—everything in and around ESSA, actually—is really hard to look at directly. To say nothing of your EGERs and ITORs and EAPOEs (yipes) and et cetera. Wish more craft had been put into the non-theme stuff. But why should constructors care about that if the editor doesn't? I mean that. RESEED RESAND recycle. Longer stuff is pretty nice, but longer stuff often is. Weirdest moment in the solve was somehow remembering QOM and using that "Q" to get the QUOTA in IMPORT QUOTA (that answer was gonna be IMPORT [blank] forever…). Only I spelled it QOM, because … that is an acceptable spelling of that place (it's how it's spelled in wikipedia). Thankfully, RONNING A TAB is manifestly not a thing.

My friend Patrick Blindauer just informed me that the WSJ has a cryptic crossword this week! By Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon! And it's supposed to be Great. So I'm gonna go do that now. If you'd like to do the same, Here You Go (.pdf).

Gonna go watch some more NBAERs play now even though no one calls them that. Go Warriors.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


    George Barany 12:16 AM  

    Congratulations to @Don Gagliardo and my Minnesota friend/neighbor @Zhouqin (C.C.) Burnikel on their New York Times Sunday debut. There is much to admire about the original theme and the care of its execution. I worked through many of the same issues that @Rex described, and wow was I glad to have seen TITI relatively recently as it reoriented me in that section. The cluing was definitely on the hard side, and the puzzle took me a lot longer than what I typically commit to a Sunday (technically, a Saturday evening).

    @Hayley Gold chose today's puzzle as the subject of this week's webcomic. As usual, she offers an interesting and fresh take.

    Anonymous 12:20 AM  

    Good theme but a slog. Only thing I really liked was 14D.

    Phaedrus 12:28 AM  

    I've been reading Rex for a couple of years now, and he's always bitched about the quality of the puzzles.

    The only reason I bring this up is because today he says the quality "these days is not what it once was."

    How far back does one have to go to find Rex-worthy puzzles in the NYT? At some point, don't you accept that the NYT puzzles are what they are and quit complaining about them?

    Steve J 12:37 AM  

    Liked the theme quite a bit. Well-executed, something I don't think I've seen before, and featuring good phrases/words both across and down.

    Disliked the rest of the puzzle quite a bit. An excess of fill that ranged from clunky to just plain bad and what felt like more than a fair share of obscurity.

    Is there anyone who didn't have CHAT at 9A? Is there anyone who's ever heard anyone CHIN, whether about NBAERs, E.A. POE or other things no one ever says?

    DebinSac 1:01 AM  

    I liked the theme and the puzzle, which was medium for me because I caught on at PayPal. So here I was, impressed by the symmetry of the theme entries, and Rex points out that they all come at the end/beginning of two-word answers. Wow. I love coming here and learning about things I never saw.

    Gill, Hi right back at you! Now that the weather isn't just good but spectacular, we need to have lunch again -- outside. And to Rex Porker, you cracked me up last week on what had been a very bad day. Thanks.

    Whirred Whacks 1:02 AM  

    Kind of wish this had been done on a 15x15 grid rather than a 21x21 one. Liked the fun gimmick, but filling out the rest of the puzzle was a slog. [I did like HOMO ERECTUS and EBONIES though.]

    @Steve J
    Agree with you about CHAT and CHIN. That was my last change before completion. Also, I think we've had NBAER about three times in the past ten days. The NYT xword puzzle is the only place I've ever seen that word.

    Ken Wurman 1:05 AM  

    Could someone please explain "chin" ???
    Otherwise, I enjoyed this one

    Ken Wurman 1:06 AM  

    Could someone please explain "chin" ???
    Otherwise, I enjoyed this one

    Unknown 1:28 AM  

    I guess chinning is sort of like jawing.

    jae 1:33 AM  

    Medium-tough for me too. NE corner was the last to fall.  Had to correct the CHENEY (the Thurs. Daily Show was a hoot) spelling to see HEART WARMING, THIGH took some staring to figure out, ISIS..., and ROOSTS was a nice misdirect. 

    @Steve J - I never put in CHat because the crosses clearly wouldn't work, but CHIN didn't come to me until I got the  NOTNOW rebus.  

    @Kenneth - As an intransitive verb CHIN is slang for "talk idly" 

    Like @DebinSacA I caught the theme at PAY PAL, although that did not make it any easier.

    Thought it was clever and crunchy, liked it.

    Anonymous 1:41 AM  

    the most frustrating Sunday puzzle in my 25 years of doing it...and NOT in a good way! cf 13 and 14 across. disgraceful

    paulsfo 1:43 AM  

    I got Naticked at TITI/TANTARA. Since no one else has mentioned it, which one of those words should I have known? :)

    I liked the theme and there were a few clever clues but, overall, it was hard.

    MDMA 2:22 AM  


    TITI, GOREN and TANTARA were a potential double Natick for me, not to mention GOREN crossing ODILE, but I played it by ear and was happy to guess right.

    For his daily music video, Rex missed a golden opportunity to feature The Fall -- Free Range

    Deja vu 2:25 AM  

    @paulsfo - As @George mentioned TITI showed up recently, in fact one commenter pointed out that the name was derived from Lake Titicaca.

    Anonymous 3:34 AM  

    I don't get THIGH for "Mini revelation." Other than that, it was fair enough. As in there was enough crunchiness to make up for the awful fill that has already been identified.

    Even though I got the trick early at PAY/PAL, I had to redirect myself several times to remeber this twist.

    Also, what Phaedrus said. Someone appears to be going through a mid-life crisis. ;-)


    Unknown 3:55 AM  

    To anon. A mini skirt reveals thigh.

    Doris 6:23 AM  

    Everything comes in handy sooner or later:

    Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes!
    Bow, bow, ye tradesmen, bow, ye masses,
    Blow the trumpets, bang the brasses,
    TanTANTARA! Tzing, boom!

    "March of the Peers" from G&S's "Iolanthe" (a work of genius, BTW)

    Lewis 6:36 AM  

    I caught on to the theme right away, but Rex's first sentence describes my experience of the puzzle -- harder than usual, but not more pleasurable than usual. The cluing was difficult, but not in the way that when the answer came it was a happy aha; it was more like "Oh. Yeah. Okay.". If I were a martini drinker, that's what I would have called for after this solve.

    I did love the theme and it was fun figuring out the theme answers. I was going to call foul on EBONIES, but at some point I remembered the phrase "ebonies and ivories" describing the piano keys.

    I did have one scary moment. On 61D (APRONS) I had the ONS, and in my mind flashed "TAMPONS", and then I looked at the clue, and I thought, "No, NYT, no!!!"

    Thomaso808 6:42 AM  

    I liked the theme, especially the symmetry, and also that the theme featured the double threes - you little guys are not always dreck, so you can have some self-respect!

    But DNF because it was just too difficult for me. ETRE / EGER was a NATICK. QUM / ALONSO / ROTI stacked kept me from getting QUOTA. I had THROb instead of THROE and did not know ALBEE or ARB, so no chance. Same for GOREN / ODILE. I haven't been doing the NYT crossword for 25 years like @Anon 1:41, but I don't remember being stuck like this for a long time.

    Plus three French phrases?

    chefbea 7:28 AM  

    Took a while to get the theme but DNF

    Hand up for having chat and not getting thigh..thanks for the explanation.

    Now to read Haley Gold

    Anonymous 8:25 AM  

    "E.A. Poe and Johnny Johnson ... " lyrics from a Rickie Lee Jones song.

    "E.A. Poe" was a U.S. Navy ship.

    "" is the web site of the Baltimore Edgar Allen Poe society.

    E.A. Poe - 15 million results from a Google search

    "chin: slang meaning talk, gossip" from a Google search for "chin definition"

    This is a note to people who are using a device connected to the internet and can't figure out how to do anything with it, like find the definition of a word.

    Trombone Tom 8:26 AM  

    Enjoyable and medium challenging. I got the theme at PAYPAL but it took me forever to suss out the NE corner and THIGH. Expecting mid to high 80's here in Northern California, but no rain in sight.

    Questinia 8:27 AM  

    Was like doing petit-point.

    F.O.G. 8:28 AM  

    I like my eggs from FREE RANGE chickens, and not from those caged in ROOSTS.

    Started this puzzle last night, didn't get very far, and resumed over coffee this morning. Was struggling mightily, even after figuring out the Double Down theme.

    DNF. I called it quits because time is limited today, and the NYT Acrostic is awaiting me.

    Hope everyone has a great Sunday. I will check back later to get Rex Porker's take.

    Teedmn 8:53 AM  

    I got the theme at PAY PAL but I think that just made solving harder because then I didn't know when I was going to be NIPPED AT by another of those puppies :-).

    There weren't many fun misdirects - Mini revelation? and Old Man? were nice as was Plus-size Model? but that' sa out it.

    The symmetry was nice and even helped me figure out the SW, when I thought ROO might be a rebus but realized the rebus had to be at NIT WIT due to the spacing.

    Glad to use my new knowledge of TITI monkeys again so soon. Like @Rex, wanted QoM first. And naan instead of ROTI. As I write about it, it seems more fun than when I was solving it.

    So thanks for a fun Sunday puzzle, Mr. Gagliardo and Ms. Burnikel.

    Lewis 8:54 AM  

    Factoid: Brought out 24 years after the original that honored Marilyn MONROE, Elton John's re-do of Candle In The Wind, honoring Princess Diana, is the second best-selling single of all time, after Bing Crosby's White Christmas.

    Quotoid: "I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a TREE. Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all." Ogden Nash

    Nancy 9:15 AM  

    A puzzle like this is why I do puzzles. Not quite as hard as last month's PI = TT puzzle, but almost as much fun. I'm surprised at the many so far who didn't enjoy it. As opposed to yesterday's horror, there were almost NO proper names, and the few that there were -- MIKADO, GOREN, E.A. POE -- were from my era and in my wheelhouse. (Well, I wasn't around when G&S were writing MIKADO, mind you, but my generation listened to and attended many G&S shows. (My brother played the Mikado in his Riverdale School production, while his best friend, Bobby, played Nanki-Poo).

    I had PAY PAL first, but didn't know what I had, just didn't see it. I caught on at GET SET, then all the other trick answers came in smoothly. With one exception. I had cAL cAN instead of KAL KAN (NYUc made about as much sense to me as NYUK), so I DNF. Wouldn't you know that a product name would be my downfall? (Hi, OISK).

    Even so, I loved, loved, loved this puzzle. Thanks, Will, for giving us a welcome respite from yesterday's trivia nightmare.

    Loren Muse Smith 9:23 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Loren Muse Smith 9:24 AM  

    Just like others, I saw the trick very early with PAY PAL and crossed it with DIRTY LINEN lickety split. I usually air my dirty laundry, though.
    Agree that this was hardish, and I shamelessly counted squares across and down so I could outline with my pencil the corresponding downs that were part of the trick. Hey, @Thomaso808.

    @Steve J and @W Whacks - yep – we "chat" guys are legion today. I bet a lot of solvers had "a rut" before A JAM first, too. And I had "embargo something" before IMPORT QUOTA and "beasts" before ROOSTS. Hi, @jae.

    Oh, and off the final _ _ CE I had "last chance" before FINAL NOTICE very early, again, feeling all clever and smart because I figured the clue was avoiding the word "last." You can't fool me, buddy.

    I liked NOT NOW right next to I'M READY and the clues for LIFTERand BACONS that protected those entries from scorn. (Maybe "Grim _______" would have put some lipstick on REAPER?) And all the body parts: KNEE, THIGH, HEART, CHIN, EAR, TETE, HEEL, BUN, PROBE…

    Don't you hate all the tata tantara that happens when you try to leave a family reunion?

    I really appreciated three things about this. First – the rebus squares were all part of the longest acrosses. That's probably a given in a Sunday grid, but still. Also – there were no circles, shading, asterisks to alert the solver of the shenanigans afoot. Thank. You. Will. Getting PAYPAL/DIRTY LINEN so quickly made me feel quite clever. Lastly, as Rex pointed out, the rebus squares all mark the break in a two-word phrase. So we have DIRTY LINEN ("Belly laugh" would have been fun there) instead of SHERYL CROW and PAPER TRAIL instead of REPORT CARD.

    I've all but hung up my constructor's hat- too many rejections - but I bet this was a hoot to construct.

    BOY TOY coming down out of BOOB TUBE
    down from SMARTPHONE or even
    DOG DOO dropping into yourSPRING ONION

    I'm with @jae and @DebinSac - I really liked this puzzle, the title, and its trick.

    Maruchka 9:26 AM  

    Same issue as @Rex. Alas, I didn't suss the correct layout until much later. Till then, a HOT mess. Looks like a scribbly midterm blue book.. or a badly stitched piece of needlework.

    LOL, @Questinia!

    EUREKA is a sweet little city. Lots of meth heads, tho.

    @Doris - Nice. Two G & S solves today. More Topsy-Turvy-ness, please.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:41 AM  

    To those who had "CHat" at 9A. I'll go you one better, I had CHi/aT...chit chat seemed plausible and the placement of the rebus seemed like a place that was tricky, so therefore it seemed correct. That made the 11D answer I/aMREADY, which also seemed right. So I got hung up there for a while. Finally let go of my mind's stranglehold there and saw NOT/W. Reluctantly, I gave up on CHi/at for you know, CHIN.

    My major problem (what some of you consider a DNF) was the ALBEE/ARB crossing. I don't know what an ARB is even with the clue, and ALBEE could have been ALgEE or ALmEE or AL(lots of other consonants)EE. No way of knowing. In fact, I had a G there in that crossing and didn't know it was wrong until I did the spell check. From there I just started entering letters...fortunately, B was one of the first ones I tried.

    A shout out to my good friend SAPOR! I met Mr. SAPOR in a crossword several years ago and he shows up here occasionally. I've never seen him anywhere else but here. In. My. Entire. Life.

    Otherwise, the puzzle took me much longer than normal. Fortunately, I had enough coffee to get me through.

    Z 10:02 AM  

    Some constructors just don't click with me. Nothing wrong, just a lot of stuff that feels off to me. I got the theme and the "off" feeling quickly. DIRTY Laundry, yes. DIRTY LINEN is not a phrase that comes naturally to my mind. CHIN? NBA-ER? How do you spell NYUK? NYUcK? Just a lot of stuff that's not wrong, but isn't the way I would frame it. This isn't really a criticism of the puzzle, just an explanation of why I didn't enjoy it all that much.

    Unknown 10:04 AM  

    @NCA President, my experience exactly wrt chit/chat/I aM READY.

    r.alphbunker 10:16 AM  

    A challenging and enjoyable Sunday puzzle.

    Philosophers must love 83 {Venus}. "The morNING STAR is the EVENINGSTAR" is an often used example of a posteriori knowledge, whereas "Venus is Venus" is an example of a priori knowledge (which is unacceptable in crossword puzzles).

    Carola 10:17 AM  

    I thought it was a super puzzle. And I liked that it was tough - nice on a Sunday. I made only patchy progress with no theme answers until HOT POT; then, like @Teedmn mentioned, it was a challenge for me to figure out just where those Downs were going to be doubled. In fact, I didn't - DNF at GOOD[NA]TURED x SHERA SHERN. That a Princess of Power would have a last name did seem a little sketchy at the time, but I'd accepted MAD as perfecty adequate, so shrugged and went on.

    Add me to those who hadn't noticed the doubles came at the word breaks. I'm agog.

    Aketi 10:17 AM  

    @lms, I've learned to always set the coffee cup down before reading your posts.

    @nancy, we may be on opposite ends of the puzzle solving spectrum since I'm content with the beginning of the week and you like the end, but I'm in total agreement about yesterday's horror.

    @dejavu, I'm hoping to say TATA to TITI. It may mean certain types of monkeys in South America and be half of Lake TITIcaca, but it also means something else in LiNgala referring to a female body part. If Rex knew what it meant he might have either more or less of a problem with TITI's being MOIST than TEAT's.

    barryevans 10:21 AM  

    Had to wiki Goren, then dictionary for tantara, kinda Natick there. Otherwise a fun-but-lengthy challenge.

    Nancy 10:30 AM  

    @Carola -- I was just coming back here to report that, OMG, I was wrong on GOOD (NA) TURED, that I had accepted MAD as a synonym for lunatic (as an adjective) and that I had thought 30D was SHERN SHERA or SHERA SHERN (since I had never heard of the Princess of Power, it certainly could have been.) Anyway, I came back to offer my mea culpa for not being nearly as smart as I had thought I was in my earlier post. And there I found your post just now, saying you had done exactly, but exactly the same thing!

    Our solving experiences seem to be so very similar so very often. Are you sure we're not the same person?

    'mericans in Paris 10:37 AM  

    Pretty much share @Rex's take this week. Was a real struggle without much pay-off, except for the theme.

    Hands up for wanting to put CHat for at 9A. Actually, just like @NCA President I had that originally, but then thought it had to be CHIt so that "I'M READY" would fit at 11D. But then I thought, "Aha! This is a double-[a]cross." The constructors want an I and an A here, to make it CHIt-CHat across, and I aM READY going down.

    To @Anonymous 8:25 AM, I did look up definitions of CHIN on Google afterwards, and the first three that popped up for me did not give me the same definition. Only "CHIN wag" did.

    Could some carpenter out there tell us why RESANDS is needed for 27D (Smooths over) and why SANDS wouldn't suffice?

    On Matt Esquare, I'm having a hard time catching up. Just posted the episode ath end of the comments for last week's puzzle.

    I'll try to be quicker with this week's episode.

    P.S. to Rex: the slash is not a universal punctuation mark. I would have used a comma instead, or set off the clause between two dashes in this sentence: "... not doing things in predictable ways that have been done before, but in setting the bar high / making the requirements stringent, and still pulling it off."

    Steve J 10:42 AM  
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    Anonymous 10:43 AM  

    The connection I made with "chin" was the phrase "chin wag." As for thigh, that was a groaner!

    Steve J 10:46 AM  

    @Anon 8:25 a.m.: Next time you're on your fancy interwebs device, you may want to check to see if "hyperbole" is listed anywhere. (Also, "E.A. Poe" gets 422k results, not 15 million; you have to search for the exact phrase, or else any page that contains poe and EA is going to get counted, even if they're nowhere near each other.)

    @Nancy & @Aketi: You may want to check the constructor's post late yesterday about his thoughts on whether the puzzle was too trivia-laden. I don't know that I completely agree, but he has a good counterargument.

    @Z: I have the same experience, both with one of these constructors and with this puzzle. I make it a point not to look at the byline until after I'm done with a puzzle so not to start it with a bias based on my past enjoyment (or lack of) of that constructor's work, but I was not surprised when I finished this up and saw the constructors' names. I just do not click with one of them at all.

    @NCA President & @'mericans: I considered CHI/AT for a while, but stopped because I realized that the split part of the rebus only worked down.

    @'mericans: You'd need to RESAND if you did a poor job of it in the first place. Or, if you're like me, because you always seem to miss a spot.

    Unknown 10:51 AM  


    AliasZ 10:51 AM  

    After I finished the puzzle, I looked at the completed grid and thought, what a GOODNATURED romp this was. I liked all the themers. KAL-KAN came a little slower, and MAD MAN didn't occur to me -- MAD alone was correct for the clue -- until I found no other square where the GOODNATURED rebus could go. Similarly, GET SET came harder because strictly speaking SET is "Go!" preceder. I thought the singular "preceder" was cheating. GET and SET are preceders, no? But I can forgive. Nonetheless, I loved the theme and the mental exercise required to figure out where they all belonged.

    The fill was mostly interesting and varied, and the lack of pop-culture trivia made it quite pleasant. RUNNING A TAB and especially HOMO ERECTUS sticks out, as does SEASONS and SEESAWS next to each other. An opera role crossing a ballet role was too much for my heart, especially with the ROYAL Opera House, Covent Garden, or the ROYAL Ballet in the same corner.

    However, knowing many four-letter Hungarian cities (EGER, Győr, Pécs, Baja, Pápa, Tata, etc.) made that a little tougher for me, but common sense dictated the first one. It couldn't have been Tata, since we already had TETE and TITI in the grid. Wait, we also have TATA. Wow! Two Hungarian cities in one NYT puzzle. Must be a first. And TANTARA too, which was TAMTARA at first, because GOREM made as much sense as GOREN.

    Fill-wise ITOR, KAYO, ASWE, ASTO, RESEEDS and RESANDS was as low as it got, but I liked the HAIG-HAAG pair, as well as WHATAMI, which at first sounded to me like Japanese flooring mat, and SAYIDO, the tiny Japanese island near Hokkaido where MIKADO sang.

    Today I decided to cause everyone a little musical agony by presenting the second half of the ballet AGON by Igor Stravinsky. The agony is not as much in the music itself, although many of you may think that, but rather the live performance by the BBC Symphony conducted by the composer given in an auditorium full of coughers. (If NBAER or the grim REAPER is allowed, why not cougher?)

    My coffer just became empty. I need more coffee. (COFFEE: the person upon whom one coughs.)

    Nancy 10:52 AM  

    @Steve J -- I read DJG's defense of his puzzle on his blog and wasn't convinced. I wrote a comment to him in the comments section he provided, but said I thought he'd be sorry that he asked. You can read my comment there, if interested.

    To you, Steve, and others, who have reactions to constructors' bylines, positive or negative: I can barely remember what I had for dinner yesterday and CERTAINLY can't remember which constructor is which and whether I like him/her or not. There are so many constructors! How do you remember them all?

    @Doris -- Iolanthe is one of my very favorite G&S operettas, too, and we both live in Manhattan. Want to go sometime if they ever revive it?

    Unknown 10:59 AM  

    I enjoyed this puzzle as I got the theme at PAYPAL. No trouble with THIGH either. My only quibble is 3 French phrases in one puzzle is tres facile!

    Norm 11:04 AM  

    I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. Had the confusion as Rex with L above DIRTY LINEN and MAD as a perfectly good answer for LUNATIC (adj.), so I had some backtracking to do when I finally caught on. A very enjoyable 20 minutes. Thank you, gentlemen.

    joho 11:07 AM  

    It's funny that @Rex longs for the "good old days" of NYT times when I'd say today's puzzle is a perfect example!

    I hate easy fill-in-the blank Sundays and love a struggle like this one provided. Plus, it has a really clever rebus trick which is beautifully executed. No complaints from me only kudos!

    Way to go, Dan and C.C.! Well done and congrats on your Sunday size debut!

    Aketi 11:20 AM  

    @Steve J, I did go back and read the blog. Thx.

    I stared at it blankly yesterday and decided I'd rather spending the day outside and went back to it later. I finished with a struggle. By comparison today's puzzle was so much easier.

    In retrospect, I actually DID more OK than I thought I did immediately post abundantly cheating solve. Can't really hate a puzzle that has IROBOT in it.

    mathguy 11:41 AM  

    Great theme, beautifully carried out. Bravo!

    It took a little too much time to complete, as Sunday 21x21s do, but that was a small price to pay for side-by-side long themers.

    Rex seemed to be saying that he was finishing up his comments so that he could see the Warrior game. It started at 3:30 pm. When does he get the puzzle?

    @Fred Romagnolo: I miss seeing your comments here. I hope that you're feeling OK.

    demit 11:43 AM  

    Nancy @10:52— I found the constructor's defensiveness about his puzzle extremely off-putting. Both in his hostility to legitimate criticism by longtime puzzle solvers, and in his faintly ridiculous use of google hits to prove popularity, as if people never look up names they've never heard before. 225K google hits is his rationale for asserting that Ella Raines is "pretty well-known."

    Lol! I looked up Ella Raines' filmography and, despite being pretty old-timey myself, didn't even recognize the titles of most of the movies she appeared in. I'd posit that a lot of those google hits are precisely because Ella Raines is obscure.

    I don't retain the names of constructors either, but I'll remember this one's condescending attitude for a long time.

    Norm C. 11:49 AM  

    Seeing ISIS in the puzzle was something of a downer, and to see it clued as merely "Mideast grp." made it worse. Like a kaffee-klatsch or book club?

    Surprised no one brought this up, so maybe I'm being a little too sensitive. I'm all for "if it's a real word, it can be in a puzzle," but can we at least clue it more accurately?

    GILL I. 11:50 AM  

    Hand up for PAY/PAL giving it away....
    Thought this was very very clever but it took me a loooong time to finish.
    HOMO ERECTUS hmmmmm, I could have fun using that word in a story.
    @Questinia...Do you use Penelope canvas? NYUK NYUK
    @Maruchka...EUREKA pot heads for sure. They are very happy, sweet people.
    @DebinSac. Yes, yes! We're leaving in about an hour to go to Swabbies on the river for brunch. They're overpriced but they allow for pups and they make a killer Bloody Mary. Maybe Chevy's on the river? I'll e-mail you and Ellen....
    Enjoy the sun everyone.

    old timer 12:03 PM  

    Like almost everybody but Rex, I knew the answer had to be DIRTYLINEN, but I actually did not figure out the trick until I saw the next one: MAD/MEN to make GOODNATURED. At that point, I knew that these double-word double-letters would all be doubled down words. Since I do it on paper, the meaning of the title ("Double Down") became clear.

    The puzzle was super-tough, but each time I saw another rebus was an AHA moment for me. RAG/TAG! GET/SET! NIT/WIT! I used to have a couple of cats, though we used a better brand of wet food than KAL/KAN. But I knew the brand, which I think started in California.

    Still, a DNF for me, because I was sure the double would be at the C in LAUNCHPARTY. So I never guessed HOT/POT, though I should have.

    The best misdirect: ROTI. I bet most people put down "naan" as I did then had to change it. The most satisfying discovery: HOMOERECTUS. I kept looking for a father figure, and only got it because ALBEE had to be right (one of the best-known dramatists of the 20th Century) therefore "throb" had to be THROE and my original "beasts" had to be ROOSTS, and after all, and ARB is a good answer for "hedge fund pro". (An ARB is someone who practices arbitrage, simultaneously buying and selling options to lock in a tiny but sure profit -- don't try this at home, folks, you'll lose your shirt).

    Joseph Michael 12:03 PM  

    Hmmm. HOMO ERECTUS, PROBE, TITI, THIGH, HOT POT, I'M READY, WHAMO, RESEEDS, and DIRTY LINEN. Do I detect a hidden theme here?

    Hugh 12:23 PM  

    Agree with Rex this week - last week I had DNF but had fun. This week, DNF and not much fun. As always, very much respect and admire all constructors, for whatever reason, this was just not my cup of tea. I thought the them was clever and the symmetry and construction solid - just not up my alley. The fill was challenging for me - a good thing, but it didn't make me smile.

    I got the theme at EVENINGSTAR and got stuck for just a minute or two in the NW for the same reasons Rex did but then it all fell quickly.

    NE (and this is a recurring theme with me) was just brutal for me, had virtually nothing (HEARTWARMING was the one theme answer I could not get). That entire corner killed me. Though when I came here, unlike some, I REALLY liked THIGH for "Mini revelation".

    Like others, had CHAT for the longest time, CHIN is fair though.

    This one seemed to have a few more unfamiliar (to me, anyway) proper nouns in crucial places - not a criticism, just made it more difficult for me.

    No groans for me but no real "AHA" moments either - they were more "Oh yeah, right" moments.

    There were several "likes", however:

    I thought the Ewe/Yew clues were cute.
    Mini Revelation - THIGH (as I mentioned)
    HOMOERECTUS - though I did not get it (darn NE) I really liked the cluing - clever.
    STATIONWAGON - cute clueing and liked the NITWIT theme gimmick.

    All in all, I more respected this puzzle than enjoyed it, but I'll take that for a Sunday.

    jberg 12:31 PM  

    I had the same problem as @Rex, thinking you somehow took the L from ALONE to get PAY PAL; and I stuck with CHat too long, thinking aM READY might be right (if not good -- never thought of the chit/chat idea, though that would have broken the 3-letter consistency). So I was stuck in A rut; but somehow not knowing the monkey made me see HOT POT and got me out of the JAM, even though I initially put the rebus in the last square instead of the first. I enjoyed the struggle, so I enjoyed the puzzle.

    But let's extend our sympathy to Charles GOREN, once one of the most famous bridge writers in the world and now apparently obscure to many. Not to mention Edward ALBEE, whose play "A Delicate Balance" played Broadway within the past year, with Glenn Close and John Lithgow.

    But I should resist self-righteousness (always hard to do!); if you got ALBEE without knowing who he is, it's a testament to your solving proficiency.

    We've had a doctor from GHANA staying with us the last two months while he studies nephrology at the Brigham & Women's Hospital (weird hospital name, but not as weird as the one where my daughter works, Beth Israel Deaconess), so I was happy to see his country closing out the puzzle as a soccer powerhouse!

    jae 12:53 PM  

    @lms - I did have A rut before A JAM.

    Unknown 1:03 PM  

    Can't keep blaming Rex for quality of all the puzzles. They used to be more intelligent and not so "gimmicky" can't Even get my kids interested tho I tried. I learned from them growing up! Readers revolt! At these prices!

    Ludyjynn 1:19 PM  

    Same response to this puzzle as Rex. And once again, @Z expressed my gut reaction better than I can! Thanks!

    Esp. irked by CHIN. Yes, I was one of the unwashed masses who had 'chat'. Why? Because the correct word is chinwag or chin-wag, a quaint British expression. For the same reason, I disliked ROOSTS, an incomplete word, IMO.

    Enough bitching. I broke up the tedium of this solve by a lengthy frolic in the garden w/ Honey the dog. My newly reopened pond/waterfall is so Zen. Fed the goldfish and shebunkins who had babies over the winter! Came back in a much better mood. Did appreciate Charles GOREN making an appearance, as both parents played Bridge weekly and he was the ultimate authority of the game. Recall Dad in his recliner reading Goren's NYT weekly(?) column aloud to Mom as she cooked in her APRON in the kitchen.

    Also, liked the shout out to EAPOE, one of our literary greats.

    @Norm C, I'm with you.

    From what I've read in the above comments, I guess in EUREKA, they have found 'it' in the form of meth and pot.

    TA TA, all.

    Anonymous 1:21 PM  

    Naticked at KOAN/NYE cross.
    What the heck are those??

    Wanted to like this, but the fill was AGONy!

    TATA, TETE, TITI? Where's TOTO and TUTU??

    MDMA 1:22 PM  

    @ 'mericans in Paris

    RESANDS = Smooths over

    The "over" here is in the sense of a "do over" (do once more, do again).

    DJG 1:27 PM  

    @Steve J: @Anon 8:25 a.m. is being a bit overly snarky (and this is coming from a snarky person), but I think he/she is actually right about EAPOE. It looks ugly, but it appears to be legit shorthand. In addition to his/her references see this recent headline from the Baltimore Sun.

    I also don't mind NBAer. It's somewhat prevalent in mainstream media: Deadspin, NY Post, Home, etc. Again, hardly good fill, but acceptable if used sparingly.

    @demit: Where do you see "hostility" in my response on my blog? There is some very minor sarcasm in there, but that's about it. Defensive? Maybe. Hostile? Not at all.

    And also if you have a better quick measure of popularity than a search engine, I'd like to hear it. You denouncing Google and then claiming Ella Raines is obscure because you personally have never heard of her movies is precisely the fallacy I'm trying to address.

    Happy Pencil 1:53 PM  

    If it makes you feel any better, @DJG, I greatly preferred your puzzle yesterday to this one. And I say this as someone who knows Pantera only from crosswords, has never seen Boogie Nights (but knew Dirk Diggler almost instantly because I, you know, live in the world), and has never even -- gasp -- watched the Simpsons. It took me almost an hour to finish it, but anything unknown to me was easily gettable from crosses. A little perseverance was all it took.

    I do think it's a shame when I read comments that are a variation on "I saw a bunch of proper nouns and so didn't even try." Isn't the whole fun of doing crosswords that we get to puzzle things out and occasionally learn new things? If we only did ones crammed full of information we like, I think that would get pretty old pretty fast.

    And by the way, I give full props to any constructors who come here and take the time to read even the negative comments -- presumably with an eye to improving their skills. And I also read your blog post and didn't see a hint of hostility. That's called projecting.

    Fred Romagnolo 2:28 PM  

    @mathguy: I'm well, and thanks for asking; I almost never do Mondays and Tuesdays, and blog about Wednesdays only if they're interesting enough; I generally chime in Thursday through Sundays, but not if anything I have to say has already been said. I missed the gimmick on this one, but thought I'd finished since I had every space filled in - but, as I say, missed the gimmick so DNF. @Alias Z: I'm almost always with you on your comments, and your taste in music is awesome. In fact, I like all you "z's."

    Anonymous 2:29 PM  

    You have to go back about 20 years before you find Sunday NYT puzzles really fun and challenging. These days the closest puzzles to the old NYTs Sunday puzzles are those in the Friday WSJ. But they really don't compare to the older NYT's ones.

    demit 2:39 PM  

    DJG, it's your need to find ways to make people wrong, and then to make sure they know it, that is hostile.

    And I would say a better measure of popularity (or being better-known, which is more accurately what we are discussing) is when a lot of people know a name without having to look it up.

    Not one solver said, "Oh, right, I forgot about Ella Raines! She was really a star in her day!" (or something similar), which should be a clue for you as to how popular she is now or was then. She is a trivia answer, and if you needed it to solve your grid, fine. But whatever claim to fame she might have, it is not for being "popular."

    Steve J 2:45 PM  

    @DJG: Yeah, headlines are a whole little world of usage of words that are hardly ever used in any other context (when's the last time you heard anyone refer to an NBAER as a "cager" outside a headline?). Amazing what space constraints will do. And E.A. POE is a bit more common than I expected, although still relatively rare compared to the full name (422k matches on Google for the initials, ~20 million for the full name). It struck me a bit like filling with Thomas Stearns Eliot, rather than T.S. Eliot. Technically correct, cases to be found in the wild, but not what's really in use.

    Had the overall quality of the fill been stronger, I probably wouldn't have cared about either of these.

    I'm still not buying CHIN as anything anyone ever uses in the sense it's clued.

    Anonymous 3:30 PM  

    Steve J. "@Anon 8:25 a.m.: Next time you're on your fancy interwebs device, you may want to check to see if "hyperbole" is listed anywhere."

    I used quotes to search "straw man argument" and found your post.

    DJG 3:35 PM  

    @Happy Pencil: That does make me feel better! Thanks! And I love the exchange between constructor and solver.

    @Steve J: We are mostly in agreement -- below average fill, but acceptable in an otherwise strong puzzle.

    @demit: We obviously have vastly different standards of hostility. I think everything I've written is well-within the lines of "good-natured debate."

    As to your comment: "Not one solver said, 'Oh, right, I forgot about Ella Raines! She was really a star in her day!' (or something similar) ... " How could you possibly know this? There are thousands upon thousands of NYT crossword puzzle solvers. You and everybody else who comments on this blog is a tiny fraction of the solver population. To presume to know what most NYT solvers know and don't know, based on your knowledge is illogical.

    I had never heard of Ella Raines before. I did not know if Ella Raines was/is popular or not, so I Googled her, and she gets a surprisingly high number hits. (And also Wikipedia says she twice appeared on the cover of Life magazine.) If Google is misrepresenting her popularity, okay, I'm willing to hear that case. But your claims that you've never heard of her and that nobody else remembers her as being popular is not a case.

    (PS -- This is probably my last comment on the matter. All good things must come to an end.)

    Z 3:40 PM  

    @demit - "And I would say a better measure of popularity is when a lot of people know a name without having to look it up." I don't know what people have to look up. Google, on the other hand, knows how many times a string of letters appears somewhere on the internet, so is a fair indicator of how well known someone or something is. That an actress who died the decade before the world wide web was born manages to appear 225,000 times makes her popular enough for a Saturday. Heck, here's a random link from the 14th page of her search results. Pope Leo X appears on a regular basis and only generates 459,000 hits. Is he twice as crossworthy? I say no (actually, half as crossworthy in my book but I have this thing about RRNs). The issue is usually not whether or not I know someone, but whether or not there are too many someone's and whether or not the crosses are fair.

    Anonymous 3:50 PM  

    Thanks Brett Chappell.


    paulsfo 4:02 PM  

    everyone, please remember that two of the unwritten(?) rules for commenters here are to not postmore than three times (whether anonymous or not) and to *NOT* give spoilers for previous puzzles.

    Thomaso808 5:14 PM  

    Anon 1:21 I got KOAN from the crosses because I knew that Bill NYE the Science Guy debunked the Bill Belichick explanation for the controversial under-inflated footballs after one of the Patriots' playoff games. Believe it or not, it was actually a big deal at the time.

    Rug Crazy 5:54 PM  

    I agree with Rex (gasp)
    Go Warriors!

    Phaedrus 6:32 PM  

    A koan is a riddle-type question that you're supposed to meditate on.

    Some examples (I remember these from a Simpsons episode years ago):

    If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? (Bart says yes)

    What is the sound of one hand clapping?

    Fred Romagnolo 7:25 PM  

    I have a healthy memory of Ella Raines; I liked her. I was a teen-ager.

    OISK 8:03 PM  

    Doris and Nancy - I love Iolanthe as well, (tantara). I don't think it is being done in NY this year, but Patience is, (April 25th, 2 PM at the Museo del Barrio on 1230 fifth avenue) and NYGASP are doing Gondoliers , and we are going on May 16th, 2 PM. Would love to meet you there.

    I loved this puzzle, and disliked yesterday's. Different strokes...

    Anonymous 8:40 PM  

    And then real scientists debunked Bill Nye the media guy.

    Carola 8:59 PM  

    @Nancy - Funny coincidence! I know we're not the same person, though, because you're in Manhattan, and I'm not (WAH!). I'd love to be at least within reach of theater, opera, museums....

    Nancy 10:02 PM  

    @OISK -- Glad I came back to the blog. I'd love to see The Gondoliers and to meet you and Mrs. OISK on May 16th. Is the NYGASP theater at 302 W. 91st? That's what their website says. Anyway I also got their phone # off the web and I'll call them tomorrow. If it is on W 91st, that's very convenient for me! I'll let you know on this site tomorrow or Tuesday. Thanks for letting me know.

    @Carola -- Location envy is an interesting thing. Yes, of course I love NYC, but I've spent the last few months envying @Whirred Whacks, as he blogged about sitting at the top of a California hill with his dog watching the sun come up at a point when it was about 39 degrees in NY. Then this a.m., when @Ludyjynn was talking about her very own pond and garden and frogs, I felt a twinge, because I have to walk to Central Park to get my Nature fix and then share it with thousands and thousands of other people. So the grass is always greener...right?

    Blackeyedsusan 10:12 PM  

    I'm happiest with puzzles that use language cleverly. I don't want even to be tempted to Google. Proper names seem like a crutch to me because the cluing doesn't take much imagination for the constructor. Compare "Bridge writer Goren" with "mini revelation." I suppose all the cluing can't be great, but too many proper names diminishes my pleasure in solving (even though I knew Goren).

    I'm relatively new to this so if anyone has a reason why proper words are good fill (besides learning something newm which was mentioned), I'd appreciate hearing it.

    Steve M 10:25 PM  

    Ugly tuff

    RnRGhost57 11:02 PM  

    Once again, Hayley Gold sets the gold standard.

    Anonymous 9:01 AM  

    I'm surprised anyone had difficulty with this one. Like most people here, I got the theme from Paypal, and it was within a minute of starting the puzzle. From that point it was easy to see whether the other rebus squares were. Surprised Rex didn't blow through it, must have been one of his off-days. Nothing serious to complain about here, and bravo for the absence of pop culture and paucity of proper nouns! Agreed with most that "chin" and "thigh" are a bit of a stretch, but they aren't all that objectionable. Basically a puzzle with no flaws except for being too easy to get its theme and the clueing not being terribly interesting. But at least it's a genuine crossword puzzle and not a pop culture trivia contest.

    Unknown 10:17 AM  

    I hated it! Clues were odd, perhaps a note to say you may have to read some downs twice to get it would have been a good hint. Seasons for tv units, could they have added the word schedule or episodes, maybe? I have been doing these puzzles for years and did not enjoy this one, eventhough, I knew it had to be pay pal early on, but there was no ? or * at any other spots with 2 letterss and they weren't placed in any design through the puzzle.

    rose 3:47 PM  

    I have suss fatigue from these comments. Please try to be more original with your verb choice.

    Z 3:59 PM  

    @rose - puzzled out? worked out? realized? deduced? I don't know... "suss" seems the most accurate and least tired or over-used of the verb choices. Do you have any better suggestions? Granted, you'll see "suss" here more than just about anywhere else (twice today), but that's because it fits well with puzzle-related writing.

    kitshef 8:22 PM  

    Had ALBEE tentatively in place, but the rest of the region wasn't coming together, so I took it out.
    Eventually got to THROb, then could not come up with anything for the cross of AR- and AL-BE, so a narrow DNF today.

    I absolutely recognize that THROE is a better answer than THROb for the given clue.

    Came here yesterday really hoping to find No. 2 of 43 explained, as for me that came entirely from crosses. Not until now, more than a day later, has the penny dropped.

    Fun puzzle for me, though I don't like how NYT is 'trying to make "fetch" happen' with NBAER.

    Anonymous 5:08 PM  

    I had chit chat! I thought that fit the theme and was pretty proud of myself!

    Anonymous 8:56 PM  

    Finally finished. What a great puzzle.

    Definitely a two-brainer here. The NE was tough; even after getting the theme answer, the section would not fall. ISIS turned out to be the critical answer. Also had THROB before THROE and WIG before HAG to slow down the solving.
    Will look forward to more puzzles from these authors.

    D and A

    Nettie 2:22 AM  

    First post, as I am in syndication. Until a couple of months ago we were two weeks later, now just one. I noticed at pi day. Why the change? No idea.

    Usually no matter what I am wondering/thinking someone else has asked/expressed it. This is a banner day! I had a terrible time with the south-west: 109, 110 and 111 were all mystifying to me. Even after google I have to ask:

    Does KAYO mean K.O. as in boxing? Is this a thing?

    I did love ROYAL for "Kind of pain"

    Unknown 9:40 AM  

    We don't mind some agony in puzzles, but this was too much Agony without much Ecstasy. Not enough of those fabulous "Ah-ha's" like the "good old days." Just "OMG, we're done!"

    spacecraft 12:33 PM  

    Bad weekend. Another DNF, or more accurately, DNBTF. I got the trick early with PAYPAL, and branched out from the NW, to get in AJAM with The biggest fakeout I've ever seen. Come on, EU_E__: a city between SF and Portland, and it's NOT Eugene??? Oh no, my friends. EUREKA. I don't even want to tell you how much time THAT one cost. (Admittedly, I'm not up on my west-coast geography, which might have helped.)

    So, things were already getting miry, and I was getting hungry for breakfast. Then I work down to 85d, "Go" preceder, which is SET. You hear the starter all the time" "SET...[bang, which is gunspeak for "Go!"] He doesn't say "GET SET." But that left me with not enough spaces for EVENINGSTAR, the popular but scientifically inaccurate name for Venus. It wasn't one of my rebi, because ALL the previous ones were at the end of the word. Oh, but wait. If I DID put the double in there, it would work. So now, I not only have to look for them at random locations, I have to look for both beginning AND ending rebi. That was groan #2, and NBAER was #3.

    And now I'm faced with a whole string of obscurities. So I just said (mentally, I don't actually talk out loud to my puzzles--but the day is coming fast, I fear): Take your Iranian pilgrimage cities and your aids to Zen meditation Indian breads and your stupid long-tailed monkeys and shove them all where the EVENINGSTAR don't shine.

    Oh yeah. EFS, for the second day in a row--and earning the same grade! See you fight week.

    rondo 1:22 PM  

    I write this not having seen one other comment. I hated this puzzle.
    Examples: we had TATA, TETE, and TITI. Why not just go for broke and find room for the ever more popular TOTO and TUTU? HIAG, HAAG, HAGS, where’s the Hague? On just one line there is ROTI, TITI ESSA. All over is IBE, ASTO, ASWE, etc., etc., etc. And more effin’ French than should be allowed all week.

    Got invited into EARL Scruggs’ tour bus one day long ago near downtown Minneapolis. Turns out they needed directions to the Cabooze nightclub where they were pickin’ and grinnin’ that night. Offered me free tix and backstage access and drinks. Cool folks.

    Other than that trip down memory lane, this was a waste of time.

    rondo 1:30 PM  

    Almost forgot, Elke SOMMER, yeah baby.

    Burma Shave 1:41 PM  


    at the LAUNCHPARTY for this EVENINGSTAR.
    Then, WHAMO! That GOODNATURED NITWIT needed a cab,
    but he got the ROYAL STATIONWAGON for a car.


    BS2 1:51 PM  


    It’s HEARTWARMING, so let’s have no quarrels,


    Unknown 3:14 AM  

    Can anyone explain to me how THIGH is a mini revelation?

    Also, I am new here. What is the source and meaning of Natick?

    Unknown 3:21 AM  

    Rondo, I agree. Apparently, Den Haag is the Hague in Dutch, tho. (Had to Google after I wrote it in because I was aftaid I was screwing up.) This puzzle was ridiculous. I majored in French, so those words didn't bother me, but I did think, for the usual English-speaking crossword fan, more than one French clue was unreasonable.

    Unknown 3:33 AM  

    Also, I just realized, apparently, for years, my local paper (Philadelphia Inquirer) has been giving me the NYT Sunday puzzles a week late. This puzzle is dated 4-19. Do most papers that print the NYT puzzle do it a week behind schedule? I notice a good amount of people who just recently left comments, so either most national carriers do it that way, or a lot of people take their time commenting. If it's the former, anyone know why that is? I'd have thought newspapers could strike some kind of deal so they could get the new puzzle when it is printed. I understand if a paper wanted to publish the NYT puzzle every day, that would not be okay as it'd probably cause people to not bother buying the NYT. But would they really lose a significant amount of readers just by letting the puzzle be syndicated on Sundays, on time? Maybe so, and I'm just dumb.

    paulsfo 4:03 AM  

    @Gloria Fontayne: A THIGH is revealed by a woman wearing a mini skirt.
    For the definition of Natick, and much else, see the FAQ button at the very top of the page, in the center.
    I believe that all (or almost all) all papers carry the NYT puzzles a week late. I assume it's a money thing but I don't know. BTW you can pay a yearly fee (still less than $50, i think) and have online access to every NYT puzzle, one day *before* it's published, plus all the puzzles from the previous ten years in case you get bored. :)

    Anonymous 1:29 PM  

    THIGH I still puzzle over: how I'd that a "mini revelation"?

    As you did, I liked this construction.

    paulsfo 7:40 PM  

    A THIGH is revealed by a woman wearing a mini skirt.
    BTW, this explanation is (now) in the comments three times. :)

    flip 11:40 PM  

    Am I the only one that jumped straight to LADYDI for MONROE? Never knew til now about the earlier version or rededicagion!

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