Cured salmon / SUN 11-26-17 / Jazzy Anita / 1970s-90s chess champion / Figure skater Sonja / ammoniac / Carne taco option / Principal deities Hinuism / Capital of the world's happiest country / John of Harold & Kumar / Pimp My Ride network

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (would've been sub-16 if not for 32D)

THEME: INSIDE OUT — Two-word phrases are clued as if they were one word inside of another, like so:
  • [22A: Lists about a port on the Black Sea]: ROYAL TASTERS
  • [28A: Neighborhoods surrounded by crime]: THE FAR EAST
  • [43A: Metal pin stuck in parts of sinks]: DRIVE TRAINS
  • [68A: Flourishes around monsoon events]: BRAIN SURGEONS
  • [92A: Fear among underground workers]: MIND READERS
  • [109A: Coming up in vetoes]: NIXON TAPES
  • [116A: Crew found inside again and again]: THROWING RICE

Word of the Day: DULCINEA (84D: Don Quixote's unseen beloved) —
"Dulcinea del Toboso" is a fictional character who is unseen in Miguel de Cervantes' novel Don Quixote. Don Quixote describes her appearance in the following terms: "... her name is Dulcinea, her country El Toboso, a village of La Mancha, her rank must be at least that of a princess, since she is my queen and lady, and her beauty superhuman, since all the impossible and fanciful attributes of beauty which the poets apply to their ladies are verified in her; for her hairs are gold, her forehead Elysian fields, her eyebrows rainbows, her eyes suns, her cheeks roses, her lips coral, her teeth pearls, her neck alabaster, her bosom marble, her hands ivory, her fairness snow, and what modesty conceals from sight such, I think and imagine, as rational reflection can only extol, not compare." (Wikipedia)
• • •
It's Rex's birthday today, so I (Laura) am here to blog for you, giving him a night off and some chocolate cake. I thought this was a perfectly decent theme, though for consistency's sake I would've liked to see all of the "inside" words span the two-word base phrases, whereas our last entry, THROWING RICE, has ROWING only as part of the first word.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Rexident

Some good stuff in the fill; [18A: Cured salmon]: GRAVLAX is supertasty on rye bread with a sprig of dill, just like its cousin Nova lox is supertasty on an everything bagel with a shmear (not a SMEAR [81D: Besmirch]). Sometimes through the MOONROOF [61A: Sliding item on a car], you can SEE STARS [75A: React to a haymaker]. I also particularly liked [30A: 1970s-'90s chess champion]: KARPOV crossing [3D: Does his name ring a bell?]: IVAN PAVLOV. The other day, a patron came into the library looking for a book about Pavlov's dog and Schrödinger's cat; I said that it rang a bell, but I didn't know whether it was there or not.

I'm feeling somewhat FERVID [63D: Ardent] at the moment, like someone has ROUSED [69D: Lit a fire under] me, given that the parent publisher of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, a newspaper called The New York Times (perhaps you've heard of it), has just published an astonishingly positive profile of a Nazi asshole, making him seem like just a normal dude who goes grocery shopping and watches Seinfeld (WTeverlovingF?). I'm glad, for once, that the crossword makes enough independent income that one could presumably keep a subscription to the puzzle without one's hard-earned virtual dollars supporting what journalism has apparently become. However we decide to fight fascism, can we at least agree that "Nazis: They're Just Like Us!" is an ICKY [56A: Unpleasant] take? If the point is to remind us all of the banality of evil, Hannah Arendt already had it covered. [94D: "You shouldn't have done that"]: NOT COOL, New York Times.

[19A: Jazzy Anita]: O'DAY

  • [48D: Another name for Dido]: ELISSA — Classical epic/myth trivia is the best trivia, though still trivial.
  • [86D: Award won by "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time"]: BEST PLAY — Nice misdirect. The clue is referring to the stage adaptation, which won the Tony in 2015, as opposed to the novel, which won the Whitbread Award, among others, in 2003.
  • [32D: Climbing plant in the pea family]: VETCH — This is a series of letters that I usually see only with a K in front of them. 
Happiest of birthdays to my dear friend Rex! May he have many many more.

Signed, Laura Braunstein, Sorceress of CrossWorld

[Follow Laura on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


e.a. 12:16 AM  

VETCH is the name of a great poetry magazine - didn't know it was also a plant.

loved seeing POSSE CUT.

happy birthday to our beloved Rex, and thanks Laura for the on-point-as-always guest post!

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

I had no idea about 16D:
( song with verses by four or more rappers).
And for the longest time I had GAS for 15A:
( conversation interrupter in a car, at times)

But I eventually figured it out.

smoss11 12:38 AM  

Would like to have seen some consistency in the order of the two word themed answers (either the inside word always first or last). Also the two word phrases had no connection to the puzzle at all which left me unfulfilled. Liked the fill a lot better than the theme

GHarris 1:15 AM  

Somehow got it done without quite grokking the theme. I mean I eventually got the idea that the word formed by the letters in the circles was the primary answer to the clue but that was not all that helpful.

SubudNY 2:04 AM  

Laura: Love your reply to the library patron. You can say that one is for the books!

Larry Gilstrap 2:14 AM  

Sundays can be tedious for OFL and others, so beware Laura if he tries to pull the birthday stunt next week. Heads up! That line about the dog and the cat illustrates librarian humor at its very best. I'm no dummy, but every time I'm confronted with Schrodinger's cat and that guy from yesterday's razor, I glaze over. Are some concepts unlearnable to certain people? I hope so. Now, if the Stones had included them in a song...

Pardon my language, but the Rolling Stones song Bitch references the experiments in conditioned response of IVAN PAVLOV: Yeah, when you call my name, I salivate like a PAVLOV dog, Yeah when you lay me out, My heart is beating louder than a big bass drum. Rock and roll, ladies and gentlemen.

More about my denseness; I figure out one themer and then the next one is as freshly baffling as the first. Why are BRAIN SURGEONS and rocket scientists considered smarter than, let's say, urologists or botanists, or librarians?

My hometown is adjacent to SAN Dimas, home of Puddingstone Dam. I drove through the town on my way to Cal Poly, Pomona back in the day. The San Gabriel Valley gets its share of the Santa ANA winds. They make people feel edgy. particularly during fire season.

What is the purpose of a FLAP on pajamas? Enjoy your breakfast!

I Am Woman was a big hit for Helen Reddy in 1972 and sparked feminism in that era. Forty-five years have passed and one would think that those issues would have long since been resolved. "No one's ever gonna keep me down again." Fresh as today's headlines.

chefwen 2:26 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex. My yearly contribution to the blog is on its way as it is every year around this time.

Got through a big ass Sunday puzzle by Jeff Chen without a cheat, pretty dang pleased with myself. That said, the easy part of the the rating wasn’t a big surprise.

I’ll bet we’ve all seen plenty of PIE CRUSTS lately.

Fun puzzle, very enjoyable.

Dave Hogg 2:46 AM  

I enjoyed it. Though I had been a Sunday record, but I kept getting the "one or more error" message. Took me forever to realize I had typed I AM WOMAM.

Margaret 3:06 AM  

So amused to see FACE PEEL as an answer. This made my Sunday.

Billy Joe 3:07 AM  

Who was the Nazi who got profiled? Was it Hitler? I didn't know he watched Seinfeld so that's a surprise to me. I'll bet Hitler would have watched a lot of Star Trek and known all the episodes and if you hadn't seen one he would tell you all about it and how great it was and why it was so great.

tkincher 3:15 AM  

@12:30am: Same, I’ve been a fan of rap for a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever heard that term. Odd.

@Larry Gilstrap: Hello to fellow CPP alum (or, at least, former attendee)!

This was definitely on the easier side for me. Got hung up on the V in VETCH the E in DULCINEA, both crossed two other proper nouns I’ve not overly familiar with. I had fun with this one, and enjoyed the theme.

'merican in Paris 4:20 AM  

Happy Birthday, @Rex! And thanks, Laura, for a GROANERS-filled commentary.

Mrs. 'mericans (whose company uses a lot of PETRI dishes) is travelling, so I did this one alone. Roared through most of it, but got stuck at the intersections of HENI_ and _ELISSA, and SA_ and ILLI_I. Finally put a "g" in the first one, and an "n" in the second,but wanted RASHiD so changed the town's name to "SiN Dimas". Sounds more exciting, no?

I really liked figuring out the themers, more than in any Sunday puzzle in a long while. Could somebody please explain, though, the equivalence of "Coming up" and "ON TAP"? That one I don't GROK.

I liked the fill, too, especially DOTTED I, DEER XING, and PIE CRUST.

Apart from the rap music clue, and the APP, DAB and GPS answers (yes, GaS would have been much better!), this puzzle had a bit of a retro feel, populated as it is with a former chess champion, a song and political prop from the 70s, a TV star and a jazz singer from the 50s, and expressions like "YO-YO" from who knows when. Not complainin', just sayin'.

I remember as a kid my Dad occasionally snapping, "Don't SASS your mother!" That was AEONS ago.

P.S., GATS could have been clued as "WTO accord covering international commerce in services" (General Agreement on Trade in Services). Well, in my world, it's a well-known acronym. More so than "heaters" for Gatling guns!

Z 4:49 AM  

Self-imposed struggles with LOAF tin and forgetting how to spell crossworld’s favorite figure skater, Sonja HENIE. FACial was too short and I have no idea why one would want their FACE PEELed (or pealed for that matter). So 95% easy and one little blob of overwritten madness.

I liked the theme quite a bit. Understanding the theme didn’t help the solve even a little bit, but finding the reparsed phrase in the common phrase was pretty nifty (although ROWING THRICE seems a little forced and I think the clue needed one more “again”). I wonder how big of a set Chen was working from. NIXES ON TAP especially got a “nice one” from me.

Kudos, too, for cussing me to ponder that Steph Curry’s younger brother’s name sounds so much like the best known basketball playing Curry. I wonder how much nan and roti that family eats.

I guess being reminded that, yes, they look and act mostly normal bothers me less than the stupidity of Friedman’s piece on the future Saud dictator. Someone on Twitter put together a few decades worth of NYT puff pieces on “reform minded” Sauds. You’d think eventually someone there would GROK that it’s the Saud’s Wahabi propping power mongering that helps destabilize the region and publish some reporting on it. But NOoooo, let’s send a reporter to Ohio to talk to a neo-nazi instead. Anywho - enough ranting about the conservative leaning indiscretions the NYT. Just do me a favor and stop thinking of it as a “liberal” paper. Sure, it’s more liberal than the WSJ, but that’s like calling Bush I liberal because he’s less conservative than Bush II.

Z 4:52 AM  

It’s a typo, but “cussing me to wonder” seems to work so I’m leaving it.

Anonymous 5:59 AM  

NYT ran a must-read column by Maureen Dowd's brother. That sure got the snowflakes' dander up.

Lewis 6:04 AM  

Having no idea how to come up with theme answers like this, I figured Jeff did it with a computer program, and indeed he did. As he puts it -- and it will answer your question, @Z, about the size of his set -- "After coming up with this idea, I wrote a Python script to help me figure out possibilities. That helped, but it still took several hours to sift through hundreds possibilities. Some were cluable in the "X in Y?" format I wanted, some were snappy phrases, but few were both." There you go.

There were some lovely answers: DULCINEA, FERVID, GRAVLAX, IVANPAVLOV, VETCH, DEERXING. The puzzle felt on the easy side of Sunday; would have been tougher without those circles, though I'm not sure if that would have been too tough or not.

Winston Churchill just tapped me on the shoulder to remind me that in the longest grid entries, we had an answer wrapped in a themer inside a puzzle, which is kind of cool.

evil doug 6:25 AM  

No wonder the guy likes Seinfeld:
JERRY: Hey, Elaine, have you noticed your boyfriend has developed an annoying little habit?
ELAINE: (Squints, imitating Puddy) The squinting?
ELAINE: (Stares ahead, again, imitating Puddy) The staring?
JERRY: No. He keeps asking me to give him a high-five.
ELAINE: I thought all guys do that.
JERRY: Slapping hands is the lowest form of male primate ritual. In fact, even some of them have moved on--they’re using sign language now.
ELAINE: Is that bad?
JERRY: What do you think the Nazis were doin’? (Imitates the Nazi’s salute) That was the heil-five.

The Bard 7:04 AM  

IRIS: Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of wheat, rye, barley, vetches, oats and pease;
Thy turfy mountains, where live nibbling sheep,
And flat meads thatch'd with stover, them to keep;
Thy banks with pioned and twilled brims,
Which spongy April at thy hest betrims,
To make cold nymphs chaste crowns; and thy broom -groves,
Whose shadow the dismissed bachelor loves,
Being lass-lorn: thy pole-clipt vineyard;
And thy sea-marge, sterile and rocky-hard,
Where thou thyself dost air;--the queen o' the sky,
Whose watery arch and messenger am I,
Bids thee leave these, and with her sovereign grace,
Here on this grass-plot, in this very place,
To come and sport: her peacocks fly amain:
Approach, rich Ceres, her to entertain.

The Tempest, Act IV, scene I

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

This Sunday puzzle reminds me of a recent Roy Leban's "Not So Secret Message" crossword puzzle (Thanksgiving Day)

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

Anyone else remember the old crossword standard “Bitter vetch” = ERS?

- Jim C. in Maine

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

I didn't like the last two theme answers as much. However, I am sure there was very limited possibilities to work with so kudos to Jeff for a fun theme. Laura, I suggest not reading the NYT and your mind will be at peace more.

sf27shirley 7:53 AM  

Vetch is a rather beautiful weed that thrives in Northern California in spring. It's a vine (related to the pea plant) with purple flowers and gardeners hate it.

Birchbark 7:54 AM  

I had I before E at the end of DULCINEA but caught it in time to get the PAVLOVian "Congratulations" music, which may well be the reason I wake up so easily and begin each day with this puzzle.

Wanted CIRCE for ELISSA (an abandoned quasi-love interest in the Odyssey, rather than the Aeneid -- on the dartboard, but way off the triple-20). That led to some nice harmonics off of @Bard's description of Ceres garden, VETCH and all, from the Tempest. The unusual word GRAVLAX has its own harmonics with Sycorax, the witch-mother of Caliban from the same play. But the former is better with poached eggs on toast.

@Laura, the PAVLOV/Schrodinger retort is a double-GROANER masterpiece.

@Z 4:52, best STET of 2017.

sf27shirley 7:56 AM  

Have you ever read Chandler's description of the Santa Ana winds? Perfect.

QuasiMojo 8:15 AM  

This puzzle did feel like it was written by a computer rather than a person who actually cares about the enjoyment level of the people filling it in. Dry, dull, boring and ICKY.

Is THROWING RICE really a thing? The other theme answers are all nouns (I guess, since I have no idea what a Royal Taster is.) But is there something called Throwing Rice? I'm gonna throw some shade and say that was the weakest link.

Let's go back to puzzles that exercise the mind and imagination rather than force us to regurgitate FILL from a machine. NOT COOL.

Montreal Xword Diva 8:34 AM  

Easy as pie....crust. Love Dido - especially her duet with Eminem - never knew her real name was Elissa. Off to the snowy woods with the pup.

Hungry Mother 8:35 AM  

PR today. Loved the thems and went on from there.

Teedmn 8:38 AM  

I had just a few writeovers today: my pajamas had a snAP, not a FLAP. Don Quixote was dreaming of Dante's Beatrice before DULCINEA chased her off. I was blank on Phylicia RASHAD's name (asSHAD would NOT be a good last name) and I called "mIne" before DIBS.

Otherwise, this was a pretty easy Sunday with no real trouble spots, evidence of Jeff Chen's constructing skill. I thought the theme was interesting and the title sufficed to give me an idea of what was going on. My favorites were THE F[AR EAS]T, NIX[ONTAP]ES and TH[ROWING]RICE.

Thanks, Jeff!

Rob 8:42 AM  

I thought the fill and cluing were solid, but the theme was weak tea.

Robert A. Simon 8:56 AM  

Working the SE corner, I had filled in NRA, GIS, GOODSPORTS, ONICE, and the "S" from the plural of the Costa Rican clue, so for one, brief, shining moment, I had NRA crossing ASSES.

mmorgan 8:57 AM  

Thanks Laura and happy birthday Rex but I came here expecting to find a rant against this puzzle. I rarely dislike puzzles but the themers on this left me cold -- they felt too clever by half with no heart. It was interesting to see complete phrases form that had nothing to do with the clues but it didn't really connect for me and I just couldn't feel the love. One of those "nice concept on paper but not much fun" puzzles.

EdFromHackensack 9:21 AM  

QuasiMojo, ever been to a wedding?

Anonypuss 9:23 AM  

Laura is upset about the NYT's coverage of Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew who Laura thinks is a Nazi too. But he is merely a conservative with strong opinions and an effective way of presenting them.

Although I vehemently oppose many of his views, calling him a Nazi is the kind of empty-headed, knee-jerk reaction that's making liberals look foolish (except in their own echo chamber).

Winning the argument is going to take a lot more than name-calling.

Today's puzzle was good for me...

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

That actually happened to [in 1,000 feet, turn left] me yesterday.

Unknown 9:24 AM  

in my opinion this was a bad puzzle. the west (like around idaho/utah, say) and then again around ohio and indiana; all that was tedious and unnecessary. i guess VETCH had a little to do with it. HATHAYOGA, PAVLOV's full name, SHIVA, SAL, LOAFPAN, ELISSA/YIN/ASADA/ANA? nah. then again we all have days where it comes easy and days where it comes hard, maybe this was just a day that i caught wrong. yall have a nice sunday.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

9:23 - no, it’s a different piece. not the one on Shapiro.

QuasiMojo 9:35 AM  

Yes zero have. But my question is about the term Throwing Rice. Is that a kind of rice? All the other themes were things, not actions.

QuasiMojo 9:37 AM  

Lol. That should be “Yes, I have, @Ed...” Sorry.

Glimmerglass 9:40 AM  

Re VETCH. When I was about fourteen, I got work once in a while helping to bring in hay bales (50 cens / hour, I think). One field had a lot of vetch. A bale of vetch is half again as heavy as a bale of any other crop, which made each one weigh more than 100 lbs. I remember vetch.

kitshef 9:44 AM  

Overall, a normal dull Sunday, spiced up by a couple of ?what the?s (GRAVLAX, POSSECUT) and an audible groan at BRITCOM again.

Most people of course know that Sonja HENIE won three Olympic gold medals, but almost nobody knows the other skaters who have – Gillis Grafstrom (men’s) and Irina Rodnina (pairs, but with two different partners).

'mericans in Paris 9:45 AM  

@QuasiMojo: People throw rice at the bride and groom (usually as they are leaving on their honeymoon) at traditional weddings.

Nancy 9:47 AM  

A puzzle with a theme made up entirely of wordplay, and wordplay is always very welcome in my puzzle world. Easy, yes, but not boringly so. It went down smoothly and enjoyably, like a well-made ice cream soda. After suffering through yesterday's torture-fest, this was just what the doctor ordered.

RJ 9:52 AM  

I thought Laura was upset by the article on the regular ole guy next store in the Midwest who's also a neo Nazi. The one with the fiancée who stated that girls around there aren't interested in politics

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Ben Shapiro is a mainstream conservative who opposes Donald Trump and Roy Moore and the alt-right. Laura Braunstien calls him a Nazi. No informed person will take that charge seriously. She and her alt-left friends are doing the Republicans’ bidding for them. Liked the puzzle.

RooMonster 10:11 AM  

Hey All !
@mmorgan 8:57 and @Rob 8:42 pretty much summed up my puzzling today. NIXES ON TAP and RIVET DRAINS are things, eh? If you say so.

HATHA YOGA is a big Huh?, had a hell of a time in NW corner. GRAVLAX doesn't even sound like a thing. Maybe a laxative... Most of fill OK, though.

@Laura, awesome joke on the books. Literally LOLed! And, Happy Birthday to Rex! A Valentines Day baby! ;-) :-D

BRITCOM again, nice to see ECRUS, missed it. ANA and ANNA ICKY.


TomAz 10:16 AM  

I was hoping to read a savage critique by Rex about how #$*&ing stupid this puzzle was. Color me disappointed.

I finished in exactly -- to the second -- my average Sunday time. That was the most memorable thing here. My brain just wouldn't get the theme. I see it now, so I suppose that's on me.

The whole thing seemed to come from some different universe than the one I inhabit. The universe is closely parallel but not the same one, not quite. It made me feel mildly disoriented.

Maruchka 10:17 AM  

I would vote to canonize Jeff Chen were I in the constructors' pew. Alas, this congregant struggled to suss it (not GROK - again). Finished, dog tired..

Liked VETCH (k', @Laura!), PAVLOV/KARPOV, GRAVLAX. Do pussy cats dig a POSSE CUT? Snidely Whiplash and STETSONS rang a sweet Jay Ward bell. Do-Right, you Mounties!

Feliz Cumpleanos, @Rex! Reminded me to mail it in, too.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

@anon 10:05: She was probably referring to the article about some ignorant loser in Ohio. I still don’t know what it has to do with today’s puzzle. She is kind of loopy .

BarbieBarbie 10:20 AM  

“Dulcinea” is the most beautiful tune in Man of La Mancha. Easy one. Puzzle as a whole was easy-ish.

Clever concept. Once I grokked it I had fun unpacking the rest of the themers.

Went digging for the Nazi article. Finally found it and it’s not about a Nazi and not worth ranting about. But more to the point, it’s a boring article with no obvious journalistic purpose. Maybe it’s of a project-piece with the Vallejo one from yesterday? (Which did seem to have a point) -maybe there’s a project at nyt to profile Americans? If so then this one could have used a little more baking time.

Knitwit 10:23 AM  

Happy Birthday Rex!🎂🎊 Did like this one and had an aha moment with 3D.

Soozey 10:31 AM  

Good grief! Are there no sports fans here? Stephan Curry’s nickname is abbreviated as STEPH or STEF. Never Seth.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

So you think information should be censored because you don’t like it’s content. Exactly who is the fascist. Ironically, I DID cancel my NYT subscription but kept my puzzle subscription for exactly the opposte reasom: the rag has become unhinged by the rise of sanity in this nation, and caters too much to globalists whackos.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  


dont want you yo think im unliterate

JC66 11:01 AM  


@Z 4:52

If you do something and then do it again, you've done it twice. If you then do it again, you've done it three times*


Charley 11:06 AM  

I so agree about that Nazi profile. What is the Times thinking?

Brums 11:09 AM  

@soozey Seth Curry plays for the Dallas Mavericks. Chen head fake.

QuasiMojo 11:12 AM  

I’m so sorry, yes I know about throwing rice at weddings. I’ve done it myself a few times. My point is that the phrase is off-point vis-a-vis the other themes. That is all. As for Nazis being profiled, better to know who they are and what they represent than to ignore or censor them.

Two Ponies 11:13 AM  

Dab is a dance?

Rivet drains? Is that a real thing? I'm obviously no plumber.

I really dislike grok. That doesn't seem like a real word at all.

Did like the Godzilla clue/answer.

Pimp My Ride? More cultural erosion.

Clue for ear was unique.

Ben Shapiro is an interesting man. Cool in the face of spittle-spewing fanatics. Extremely articulate, educated, and logical. Whether you disagree with his conservative views or not you probably would agree that he is an effective communicator.

thefogman 11:36 AM  

There were quite a few misdirects in this one. The theme was challenging, clever and fun. I DNF'd on just two squares where I was Naticked by things outside my wheelhouse. I had aLLISSA not ELLISSA and RASHAt not RASHAD. Tipso seemed like a good answer for 73A but DIPSO is a legit word and tipso is not alas. Still feeling ROSY about almost completing this one which I found to be quite crunchy.

Frank 11:43 AM  

Yes but there is Seth curry who plays for Dallas it had me to

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

The theme was a mess. Rex would've ripped it to shreds. No consistency!

Frank 11:46 AM  

As I replied above I am not a NBA fan but I do know Steph Curry and had the same reaction as Soozey then it filled and I googled only to learn there is also a Seth Curry in the NBA

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Thanks for the heads up on the Nazi guy. I missed that one will take a look now.

Masked and Anonymous 12:03 PM  

The circles! Nothin says "Hap B-day, @RP!" like the circles.

Themers weren't exactly funny, but were all sorta interestin finds of stuff within other stuff that make new overall stuff. The only thing missin is why we care about the resultin overall stuffs very much. The themers were kinda easy and did help a lot with the solvequest, tho, sooo … ok.

fave entry: VETCH. Old pre-Shortzmeister puzs often used to have a clue of {Bitter vetch} = ERS. Nostalgia!
staff weeject pick: VCS. Vietcongs? Start-up investors? [Confuses the M&A]

Fairly easy SuPuzn. Thanx, Mr. Chen.
Enjoy the chococake, @RP. And yer (appropriately circled) day.
Nice write-up bullets, @LauraSorceress.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

GILL I. 12:04 PM  

Laura...Are you really talking about Ben Shapiro? He's certainly not a Nazi. He's a very bright and very devout Jew. Lot of people don't like him but calling him a Nazi? Is it Moore you're talking about?
Oh...dang. I promised not to get into politics and I lied. The puzzle wasn't my favorite Chen. It felt a bit contrived. It didn't have much of a sense of humor and Jeff always has one. Didn't feel the love here.
Had to look up the meaning of haymaker because SEE STARS was an ICKY answer as far as I was concerned. So I see it also means a forceful blow. I prefer the man tossing some bales around. Also never heard of POSSE CUT or HATHA YOGA but I didn't bother looking those up because I'll never use them in everyday speak.
Is a lush a DIPSO maniac?

Stanley Hudson 12:09 PM  

Laura wasn’t referring to Ben Shapiro

@Two Ponies, here’s the skinny on “Grok.”

Isaiah Berlin 12:23 PM  

Stanley Hudson, thank you for the simple act of using Google to address issues that any sentient being could have addressed for themselves within two minutes.

I get so sick and tired of the inane questions posed on this blog by people either too lazy or too inept to find the answers.

Joseph Michael 12:27 PM  

I usually like Jeff Chen puzzles, but this one is kind of ICKY due mainly to the tortured and inconsistent themers.

Still trying to come up with BURGEONS RAINS in a sentence that makes sense. Don't like that some themers are "inside out" (YALTA ROSTERS) but others are "outside in" (THEFT AREAS). And just how many shades of ECRU are there?

I think my favorite moment was discovering that the sliding thing on a car is a MOON ROOF (which also enables you to SEE STARS as you drive around in your RALLY CAR).

Some good fill here and there, such as I HEAR YA, NOT COOL, IVAN PAVLOV, FACE PEEL, DIPSO, and FERVID and liked the new clue for our old friend OREO, but overall this puzzle was more upside down than inside out.

TomAz 12:27 PM  

I wonder if Will Shortz ran a Jeff Chen puzzle on Rex's birthday on purpose.

Canon Chasuble 12:33 PM  

Destruction's our delight
Delight our greatest sorrow
Elissa dies tonight
And Carthage flames tomorrow

Nahum Tate's libretto for Purcell's opera "Dido and Aeneas"

Anoa Bob 12:34 PM  

Kept looking for some connection both between and withing the themers. What's the connection, for example, between RAINS and BRAINSURGEONS or RIVET and DRIVETRAINS? Or is there anything that holds all the themers together? No luck. Nothing beyond two-word phrases that just happen to have a single, unrelated word somewhere inside the phrase. Seemed arbitrary.

Recently did an archived puzzle (NYT, 4/25/06) that had famous, misquoted lines from movies like Casablanca's "PLAY IT AGAIN SAM". Today we have a similar example of misinformation that has become part of folk lore. The clue for 3D IVAN PAVLOV, "Does his name ring a bell? is wrong. PAVLOV did not use a bell in his lab demos of conditioning. He said the sound of a ringing bell was upsetting to the dogs, so he used the sound of a ticking metronome as the conditioned stimulus.

So even though some of the intro psych texts I saw over the years got it wrong and showed a bell as being paired with food to condition salivation, (I'm shouting here) PAVLOV DID NOT USE A BELL! Betcha a six pack of Lablatt Blue on that.

For those who appreciate the humor of self-serving euphemisms, and I know from recent experience you are legion, check these out:

Choose Your Own Public Apology.

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

The fact that many here think Laura was calling Ben Shapiro a Nazi should cause those who did it to question their assumptions and their blind spots. Of course Ben Shapiro isn't a Nazi (although he is wrong, almost always). If you would quit assuming that those us concerned about the medium-motion train wreck our country is undergoing are flinging around the other N word willy nilly we might get somewhere. And your jump-accessed conclusion that she was referring to Ben Shapiro shows that somewhere, deep down, you know that much of what Ben Shapiro espouses is ugly and wrong, although calmly expressed. Not a Nazi, of course, but that is lowest possible bar.

Liked the puzzle ok but naticked at KARnOV.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

@Isaiah Berlin 12:23
What does inept mean?

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I thought the article on the White Nationalist was interesting and informative, Clearly the guy is not very bright and is ignorant of history. I’d love to see similar articles about an ISIS member or one of those Antifa guys. Don’t bury your head in the sand Laura.

GILL I. 1:11 PM  

@Isaiah...I don't get The New York Times. Our guest blogger brought it up so it's fair game for discussion. Don't like to ever discuss politics here but this one piqued my interest. I wouldn't have a clue as to how I could go about finding out what person she was talking of. My bad was believing the poster who said it was Ben Shapiro. I'm glad @Stanley Hudson cleared it up.
Very interesting piece. I'm naive sometimes and forget there are many people who think the way the White Nationalist do. I don't live in that world but scarily many do.
I agree with Anonymous 12:41. head in the sand.

ghkozen 1:14 PM  

A lesser-known name for Dido crossing a figure skater who died more than 20 years before I was born and hadn’t been relevant since before my parents were born? That ELISSA/HENIE cross sure seems fair Will Shortz.

old timer 1:26 PM  

This was for me a very tough Sunday puzzle but maybe for that reason satisfying to finish without looking things up on my phone. It took me forever to remember DULCINEA, but once I did all the other problem spots fell in line. Isn't it interesting that the same era produced two immortals, Shakespeare and Cervantes?

I thought Laura was talking about or esteemed President, and was going to remind her that every time people insult him and call him names he gains supporters or (in my case) defenders at least. Turns it it was some other dude. I will go read the Opinion section and see whom she was talking about. I always do the puzzles first before reading the other sections.

Speaking of puzzles, I always love Split Decisions, and there was one area I could not finish to my satisfaction last week. If you had the same experience, I discovered I forgot the letter W in one of the crossings.

evil doug 1:41 PM  

The Times is under the gun for the article, so their national editor responded. Here's part of it:

"Our reporter and his editors agonized over the tone and content of the article. The point of the story was not to normalize anything but to describe the degree to which hate and extremism have become far more normal in American life than many of us want to think."

Two points: 1.Typical progressive response. "I don't want to be exposed to anything that generates free and open discussion!" And 2: Nice job, Laura, of placing your own interests/opinions above the puzzle, thereby generating a majority of (often humorously confused) posts about the article instead of the crossword. Michael's trained you well....

Suzie Q 1:42 PM  

@ Isaiah Berlin 12:23,

Two days in a row you have been such a little ray of sunshine.

Little as in sub-atomic!

AW 1:45 PM  

My mother introduced me to the joys of the NYTimes crossword puzzle fifty-odd years ago. We used to do them together and I remember a lot of great "Aha!" moments or groans at clever misdirection. Now I find them mostly frustrating and not much fun. The misdirection often veers into being just plain wrong or ridiculous and the gimmicks are so far out there, so forced that there's no "Aha!" moment, just a head-scratching "Huh?" Where'd the fun go?

Unknown 1:45 PM  


Ross T 1:48 PM  

HENIE crossing HATHA YOGA and ELISSA was pretty egregious for me.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

@Anonymous 12:36. Perhaps the reason people assumed Laura was referring to Shapiro is that another knee jerk liberal, Debra Messing, publicly excoriated the Times for that article, and said she would cancel her subscription as a result.

In any event, it's kind of ridiculous to bring that up in the course of blogging on the crossword puzzle.

Cyclist227 2:08 PM  

I didn't know Vetch, but it was easy enough to figure it out. Not a very challenging puzzle at all.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

@anonymous 1:51, well, I guess you would know from knee-jerk. Have a nice day.

RJ 2:29 PM  

Would someone please explain the rivet drains? I've replaced some drain pipes/parts and don't remember any rivets. The parts either swage or are soldered. What am i missing here?

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

I prefer "sChmear," not "shmear." Otherwise a nice Sunday and a great guest post. Happy birthday, Rex!
Wikipedia offers both spellings:

RJ 2:37 PM

JFe 2:42 PM  


Never a big fan of ACME. But, you know, she was right. You're a jerk.

Fred Romagnolo 2:55 PM  

I didn't vote for Trump, so I'm not a tea-partier; but I didn't vote for Bill Clinton's enabling wife, either. To someone with a fanatically closed mind lie Laura I'm probably a male-chauvinist Nazi. I avoided this blog for a long time because I disliked the way the political extremists were using it; but I've become inured, and now get a schadenfreude kick at the expressed discomfiture of some of them.

Fred Romagnolo 2:58 PM  

that's "like Laura;" oops!

Isaiah Berlin 3:00 PM  

On August 20, 1939, the New York Times wrote an article profiling Hitler's daily life in his mountain chalet, featuring such details as, "Though Hitler is a strict vegetarian and teetotaler, he is not indifferent to meals."
Twelve days later, Hitler invaded Poland.

@Suzi Q: 👍👍👍👍👍👍

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Would smne please explain GROK?

Carola 3:17 PM  

Nice Downs. I agree with @Anoa Bob about the theme.
Thank you to @The Bard and @Canon Chasuble for the quotes.

Norm 3:22 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 3:26 PM  

@RJ -- dRIVETrains = rivet inside drains
@anonymous 3:07 -- see Stranger in a Strange land by Robert Heinlein

Unknown 3:27 PM  

Think of weddings for throwing rice... Not sure if there is technically a thing called throwing rice.

'merican in Paris 3:32 PM  

@Suzi Q: As quantum physics attests, rays of sunlight (i.e., photons) behave in bizarre ways at the sub-atomic level!

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

The White Nationalist profiled by the Times is a welder. He’s not invading Poland anytime soon.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Another whiny snowflake who could never cut it in the private sector.

GILL I. 3:58 PM  

@Isaiah B... On my computer I can't tell if you're giving @Suzi Q the middle finger or the thumbs up. I hope it's the thumbs up.

Joe Dipinto 4:15 PM  

@Quasimojo -- I see what you mean about THROWING RICE. One might be led to believe that there is "Cooking Rice," which is used to make pilafs, risotti, etc. and then there is "Throwing Rice," which is cultivated for the sole purpose of being tossed at weddings and is never to be cooked or consumed under any circumstances.

I kind of liked this puzzle. I perked up at the prospect of a 1972 #1 hit but then had to go through the whole year chronologically ("American Pie"? "Horse With No Name"? "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"? etc.) before arriving at "I Am Woman", which hit #1 in December -- that wasn't the most iconic lyric from the song. Also, I was a little dubious about ANISE OIL being an actual thing. (extract yes), but apparently it is.

As for the NY Times article mentioned by our guest blogger, I didn't find its tone excessively positive or negative. The headline certainly didn't project positivity.

Nancy 4:25 PM  

Re: the Nazi NYT article that has caused such a firestorm on the blog today. I subscribe to the NYT. Yesterday and today, the entire weekend edition arrived with a large thud outside my door. Do you have any idea how many sections, how many pages, how many articles are in a single weekend edition of the NYT? How much verbiage in just the Saturday and Sunday first sections alone? But this was not a small article. The "Nazi next door", who is a total nonentity I've never heard of and neither have you, was described on p.2 as "A White Nationalist, Yes, But Why?" and on p.16, in a humongous full page piece: "In America's Heartland, the Voice of Hate Next Door".

Nevertheless, Laura, I would have completely missed it. I don't know why it was in the paper anymore than you do -- it seems completely gratuitous -- but there's nothing about either headline that would have made me read the article. Then, after experiencing the contretemps on the blog, I decided to go back and read the articles. I found I couldn't. My eyes glazed over before I hit the second paragraph. I plain don't care about who Tony Hovater is or why he's a bigot or how he became one. (FWIW, I don't read Mafia books, watch horror flicks, and I completely skipped the long Charles Manson page 1 NYT obituary. That bothered me at least as much as this, to tell the truth. You don't put Charles Manson on page 1 as though he's FDR, that's what I say.) Nevertheless, like the Rexblog, the NYT is a smorgasbord. You take what you want from it and you ignore the rest. I find that ridiculously easy to do. Especially since I figured out that it would take 1,183 hours just to read every section of the Saturday and Sunday editions of the Times from beginning to end.

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

@Nancy: yes, Laura and others of her ilk brought attention to an article which would have otherwise gone unnoticed by you and me and others, but why are you buying the dead tree edition ? Ecology aside, the online edition is much easier to navigate and updates regularly.

Isaiah Berlin 4:55 PM  

@Gill, it’s thumbs-up. And since you seem to require explanation, they’re meant to be ironic.

John 5:14 PM  

You’ve got the wrong article. Laura’s Nazi was a skinny, tattooed dick from flyover country who “just wanted to be proud of his heritage.”

Aketi 5:19 PM  

@Nancy, leave it to you to leave me snorting coffee out my nose. I had to look hard for that article too. Within seconds I thought, wow someone actually thought it was newsworthy to write an article about someone who resembles some of my Idaho cousins.

@Gill I, I had my refresher exposure to the white nationalist element that exists in upstate New York, now that my son has followed in my footsteps and is going to college up there. That element has always existed, but seems empowered to be more vocal now.

@Evil Doug, I think you need to look up your definition of "typical" progressive. A true progressive actually does want free and open discussions as well as solid evidence (not just opinions) to support those discussions. You should replace "typical" with "pseudo".

Isaiah Berlin 5:28 PM  

@Gill, they’re thumbs up.

Joe Dipinto 5:30 PM  

@Nancy -- I didn't even see the unnecessary "explanation" on Page 2 by the article's author. I guess the NYT couldn't just let the piece run on its own merits (or lack thereof, if that's how one sees it).

Airymom 7:21 PM  

Could someone explain 80 across—VCS? Thank you!

semioticus (shelbyl) 7:38 PM  

A Sunday puzzle that doesn't make you groan! Yay!

Fill: Very decent fill, but I had one huge problem which bugged the frak out of me. That HATHAYOGA/HENIE/ELISSA xing was brutal. Just brutal. Double Naticks grind my gears so bad I can't even. I also thought the corners could improve in general (not that they had a glaring issue, but they were just meh). The trivia quiz feeling was mostly OK, or maybe because the hatred threshold so so fraking high after yesterday's disaster it didn't bother me that much. 20/25

Theme/long answers: Impressive theme. If there was an extra touch of something, I would have given it full credit. Maybe if they were all clued in a certain way, some consistency or something. But even this was refreshng and way above average for a standard Sunday puzzle. 21/25

Clues: Mostly nice, can't complain. Although I guess I can complain a little bit; I felt like it lacked the pizzazz of the Thursday/Sunday puzzle a little bit. That doesn't mean they were bad though, they were just not full credit-worthy. 19/25

Pleasurability: It feels weird and counter-intuitive when this category gets the lowest rating of all four, but this puzzle just wasn't super fun. It was more like reading a well-written article when you appreciate the effort but it just doesn't feel memorable. Or maybe you finish it and you say "wow, I learned this cool thing" but not during. I guess I don't know how to quite explain it, but I hope you understand. 17/25

TOTAL: 77/100, B+, 4 stars.

PUZZLE OF THE WEEK: November 22nd, 2017, Timothy Polin.

jberg 8:23 PM  

@airymom, VCS = venture capitalists. Those are people (or financial corporations) who fund start-ups until they get to the point where they can sell their stock on a stock exchange in an initial public offering, or IPO.

I got back from a weekend in Provincetown to find that the Sunday Times had been delivered, so I solved it late in the day. Unlike many, I loved the theme! I don't care at all about THROWING RICE being an action rather than an object; I care a little more that ROWING is not spread across two words, and that both it and BRAIN SURGEONJS don't change the pronunciation of the inner word -- but all the other theme answer DO change the pronunciation, which is a tremendougs positive. And for those of you kVETCHing about the order of the inner and outer words in the clues, you are missing the point. Each clue has a word that indicates which is which --"about," "surrounded," "in," "around," "among," "in," and "found inside."

I thought it would have been better without the circles -- knowing where the inside word went, and how long it was, made the puzzle a little too easy.

One of my distant ancestors in Norway was a taster for the king,, so I like that one. And I used to plant hairy VETCH as an over-winter cover crop (aka green manure) in my garden, so those helped.

Overall, a fun puzzle. I thought ELISSA would have been better clued as the Lebanese singer, but I could be wrong.

Now I'll go read that article Laura mentioned. No opinion until I do.

jberg 8:30 PM  

Ok, I read the Hovater profile. Laura, I think you got it wrong -- as I read it, the article isn't normalizing him -- it's actually showing how dangerous Nazism is, because otherwise normal-seeming people are pushing it.

Rex Parker 9:55 PM  

Thanks for the birthday wishes, folks.

And thanks to Laura for covering for me.


Anonymous 10:42 PM  

Fun mostly. Two sets of names I'd never heard of crossing at vowels (something I hate) -- HENIE/ELISSA and DULCINEA/LEN. I had HENIA/ALISSA and DULCINIA/LIN. Otherwise I finished fine and enjoyed the theme.

Unknown 12:38 AM  

I thought this was a blog about the crossword puzzle, but if the NYT as a whole is fair game, what's with their whitewashing of the most murderous ideology in history? (It's communism, btw.)

tkincher 1:39 AM  

“GROK” generally means “to get, or understand at a deep or intuitive level”. It has more nuance than that in its source— it comes from Heinlen’s novel “A Stranger in a Strange Land”— but has since entered the modern vernacular as such. It’s been used a lot in the programming field, in particular.

Girish 3:58 AM  

Happy Birthday, Rex... 😀
and thanks, Laura, i enjoyed learning about Schrödinger's cat...

thefogman 11:21 AM  

Did anyone get a chance to try the Acrostic puzzle in the Sunday NYT magazine? Now THAT was a puzzle!

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

Rex asked you to do a puzzle review, and you flattered him most sincerely by using the crossword puzzle as a launch base for your own dull outrage. Since you are demonstrably a Very Good Person, this is not only permissible, but admirable in the eyes of those who would turn recipes into Jeremiads. Did you know that eating turkeys contributes to climate change?

Mimi 11:10 AM  

Why bring politics into it? I don't like the guy the NYT featured, but he is an American phenomenon, like it or not. Bad job, Laura, and inappropriate beyond belief.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

Our puzzle did not have circles or anything to identify inner words. So monsoon events ("rain surge") made no sense with flourishes ("bons"). Also “the far east” sounds derogatory and offensive when talking about an area surrounded by theft. Also, I thought crosswords were supposed to identify slang (grok???) and abbreviations (dipso, gps, iou). I guess there's no law, but it seems lazy. Reluctantly slogged it out.

rondo 12:01 PM  

Semi-interesting clues/answers reminiscent of some found in the Harper's puz. I have a nit to pick with the clue for MOONROOF; I was always under the impression that a MOONROOF was fixed, not sliding, though might be hinged to open a few inches on the back side to act like a vent, while a sunroof slides open. Have had both.

Former MN Vikings WR Ahmad RASHAD (formerly Bobby Moore) famously proposed to his yeah baby Phyllicia (then to be a RASHAD) on national TV, pre-game show as I recall.

To me VETCH is a gimme as some types are used in roadside seed mixes as an erosion control plant. Some members of the VETCH family, such as Crown VETCH, are considered noxious weeds as smother other plants.

Easy enough puz to GROK, though I am not AGAPE.

Burma Shave 12:14 PM  




BS2 12:32 PM  




spacecraft 12:49 PM  

Crunchier than a box of granola bars. I mean, GRAVLAX?? Yikes! Two people out of a thousand know that--and they're both chefs. Tons of WOEs today. HATHAYOGA? Hey, he HATHAYOGA mat. POSSECUT? On and on. W/Os at ANISEtte and TInOS. Doesn't matter what that middle letter is; the word probably contains offensive potential. Oh, it's C. Whatever.

A clever theme in the Chenian tradition. It was fun to GROK the word sandwiches. DOD is ANNA Kendrick; surely she could own "IAMWOMAN!" Yeah baby, ALL woman.

I put this at medium; some DROSS but not much. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 1:33 PM  

I'll address the Synderiate.

@Rondo - I have a moonroof (in my fixed-head, coo pay, Civic by Honea). It is fixed. The MOONROOF cover slides. Not the MOONROOF.


@Spacey - you hit upon the most glaring issue in this puzzle. Clearly, and w/o any question, NOVALOX should have been in the puzzle. I can assure you, it's in your grocery store. Just go look.

I left one square blank (my bad for not cleaning up properly). And, Like @Foggy, had Alissa INSTEAD OF EL...

Just another name for Dido, I always say.

Belated birthday wishes to @Rex!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 1:42 PM  

Obviously, Honda, not Honea.

Lady Di

rainforest 2:29 PM  

Jeff Chen seems to be a constructor who ROUSES conflicting opinions. I don't care that he uses computer programs - it's the final product that counts. I like his work.

I had fun working out the themers. Interesting concept well done. So many commenters seemed to miss the point. My favourite was NIXONTAPES. The fill was fine, too.

Certainly not a slog. Kept up my interest throughout.

AnonymousPVX 3:09 PM  

No circles in my puzzle so nothing made sense....even after I finished I didn’t get it until I came here.

Which is the trouble with this type of puzzle. No circles = no sense.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

agreed. no circles = no sense because the clues didn't fit the fill.

Unknown 3:30 PM  

Jeez Mimi. It's not politics to say that writing "just like us"profiles of Nazis/white nationalists is not cool. Cuz it's just a fact that it's poor journalism. Take your inappropriate beyond belief reaction down a notch.

Unknown 3:32 PM  

Jeez Mimi. It's not politics to say that writing "just like us"profiles of Nazis/white nationalists is not cool. Cuz it's just a fact that it's poor journalism. Take your inappropriate beyond belief reaction down a notch.

strayling 7:42 PM  

The italicized clues were like half-finished cryptics. They had the instruction part of the clue but not the definition, which made the answers arbitrary and unsatisfying for me.

Either do a cryptic properly or don't do it at all.

BS3 8:07 PM  

@Diana,LIW - Thank you for recognizing the BRAINSURGEONS/MINDREADERS intent. It's not just all doggerel.

Sharonak 9:48 PM  

My puzzled did not have circles so I cheated to get some idea of what was going on.
Still found the themes less than satisfying because it was hard to tel what order to rea the words in. Yalta rosters,, the inner word is first. Theft areas the outer word is first. Rain burgeons is a strange phrase etc. Still, some fun fill.
Oh yes, after readingJBerg at *l:22 I read through the themes again. His description did not make them work better. Though it was true that the clue did sort of describe where the inner word was, I could not see that it clarified which should be said first.

On the political side. I agree with those who said best to read about people like the neo-nazi and know they exist, how they think, etc than to be unaware. Contrary to one comment, i thought it was good journalism.

sharonak 9:51 PM  

My puzzle did not have circles so I cheated to get some idea of what was going on.
Still found the themes less than satisfying because it was hard to tel what order to read the words in. "Yalta rosters",, the inner word is first. "Theft areas" the outer word is first. "Rain burgeons" is a strange phrase etc. Still, some fun fill.
Oh yes, after readingJBerg at l:22 I read through the themes again. His description did not make them work better. Though it was true that the clue did sort of describe where the inner word was, I could not see that it clarified which should be said first.

On the political side. I agree with those who said best to read about people like the neo-nazi and know they exist, how they think, etc than to be unaware. Contrary to one comment, I thought it was good journalism.

Unknown 7:47 AM  

“...would have been tougher without those circles”. My Sunday paper that runs the NYT Puzzle did NOT print the circles. Thus I really struggled. Got through it but definitely didn't breeze through like some of you. But satisfied in the end.

Brave Astronaut 9:47 AM  

This might be the best thing that I have ever read: "The other day, a patron came into the library looking for a book about Pavlov's dog and Schrödinger's cat; I said that it rang a bell, but I didn't know whether it was there or not."

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