Odysseus' rescuer / SAT 2-10-18 / Marvel series depicting Tet Offensive with The / Beer pong receptacle / Tracy Jenna's boss on 30 Rock / Serial podcast host Sarah / Backdrop to AMC's Walking Dead / Bauhaus-influenced typeface / Oenophile's criterion

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Constructor: Finn Vigeland

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Finn's adoration of the creator of "Hamilton" ... or, none

Word of the Day: THESSALY (17D: Region near Mount Olympus) —
Thessaly (GreekΘεσσαλίαThessalía; ancient ThessalianΠετθαλίαPetthalía) is a traditional geographicand modern administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia (GreekΑἰολίαAíolía), and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey.
Thessaly became part of the modern Greek state in 1881, after four and a half centuries of Ottoman rule. Since 1987 it has formed one of the country's 13 regions[2] and is further (since the Kallikratis reform of 2010) sub-divided into 5 regional units and 25 municipalities. The capital of the region is Larissa. Thessaly lies in central Greece and borders the regions of Macedonia on the north, Epirus on the west, Central Greece on the south and the Aegean Sea on the east. The Thessaly region also includes the Sporadesislands. (wikipedia)
• • •

My first thought on opening the puzzle was, "Why ... is this themeless 16-wide? Oh, god, it's not *themed*, is it? Please god no..." My second thought was, "Oh, god ... 15 stacks are (often) bad enough, but 16 stacks?" My third thought was "woo hoo, ORGAN, nailed it!" (1A: Player in a baseball stadium). I don't remember the thought order from there. I've never seen a Revealer in a themeless puzzle before, but LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA (29A: Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama) functioned precisely that way, giving me a huge aha moment, as I suddenly realized why the damn grid was 16 wide: Finn's tremendous love for Mr. Miranda. And a. why not? and b. he's certainly not alone there. It's slightly adorable, this puzzle. It's also just very solid, stem to stern, with some really delightful moments (not MOs, though, dear god who says that!?!?!) (11A: "Hold on ___!" => A MO). I somehow struggled all over the place *and* finished in a better-than-average time. Weird.

OK, SO I had trouble with OK, SO, for sure, especially the "K," as, despite the fact that I listened to "Serial" three years ago or whenever that was, I totally forgot Sarah KOENIG's name. Also the "G" was no help with GENET (embarrassingly) (3D: French novelist/dramatist associated with the Theater of the Absurd). My brain kept going "try GODOT!" while my second brain kept going "shut up, first brain!" Spelled NIHAU thusly. Had no idea what two-letter word followed STOOD (23A: Went to bat (for)). Never ever ever heard of GOLDEN PEN. So there was flailing, but I got out OK, and as soon as I saw that 29A clue, I knew the answer and had a crucial, central base of operations from which to solve the rest of the puzzle. Still, forgot LIZ was anyone's "boss" on "30 Rock" and so kept trying to remember Jack's name, and since I had the "L" all I could come up with was LEO, which is somebody's boss's name, right? Maybe on "West Wing" or something (never watched it). Threw down MYNAHS for MACAWS (34D: Colorful birds), so that hurt, but not as bad as throwing down SWISHER for SWIFFER (45A: Big name in mops). Yikes. That one nearly destroyed me in the SE, where I could see neither FLIED nor FOCAL. That NICOLE clue was no help, either (58A: Wife in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Tender Is the Night"). SW was pleasantly pliable. Not too thrilled about the "ha-ha, alcoholism is hilarious" clue on DTS (36D: Letters that come before AA?), but overall I found this immensely entertaining.

Most improbable solving success came when I went at the northern section via successive short Downs and ... got All Of Them Wrong. Starting with 6D, I went LAG / SEAR / MOMA / ABIT. No / No / No / No. And *yet*, the "R" from (wrong) SEAR helped me see REDEEMER (22A: Jesus, with "the"), and I managed to correct everything from there. Lucky. Dumb lucky. OK, bye!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:14 AM  

Easy-medium also. Wow! Terrific Sat. Best 3 stack I can remember, although it took a few tries to spell APOCA....right.

TomAz 12:19 AM  

When I finished I was thinking, damn, this puzzle kicked my ass. But I was slightly under average Saturday time. so go figure.

I got GENET and ANCHO and SANCHO right off the bat, and ONE HALF soon after, but the rest of the NW was quite stubborn. ORGAN, obvious in retrospect, would not come to me. I kept racking my brain for a player named Player. NIHAO I knew I knew except it wouldn't come to me. then.. immediately wanted to drop in base8 at 6A, except it's a Saturday and I knew they wouldn't play games like that, so OCTAL took me a while.

Etc., etc., etc. Had to get significant foothold on the triple stack from the downs, but no idea bout INO and "the" NAM sounds weird to me.

AS IF TO SAY, SOLO CUP, and STATE LINE were all primo answers. NICOLE, SEALER (I wanted primER), and DLIST, not so much. I was surprised to see ISIS show up in Pompeii, her being Egyptian and all. But why not? She also shows up in Iowa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Hoover_National_Historic_Site

So when I was done, I took a look and thought damn that's some good #$%&. But it kicked my ass.

puzzlehoarder 12:25 AM  

Great puzzle. I found this to be on the challenging end. Part of the reason was my own difficulty in coming up with the west ends of the grid spanners. Speaking of which I didn't realize this was a 16 wide grid until I copied it onto paper after solving. It's always convenient to have a reference on paper. Being at the firehouse I had to solve on my phone.

TATE was where I started and the NE filled in pretty quickly. This naturally led into the east end of the spanners. While 29A is quite famous I had one of those mental blocks and had to work for MANUEL and then LIN.

The NW was the last to go in. It was a bit of a standoff. I didn't know NIHAO or KOENIG at all. I'm a little fuzzy on GENET, have no idea on the connection between the clue and entry for 20A, and the 1A clue fooled me for a long time. All this made getting that section all the more satisfying. I hope we get more Saturdays like this.

Unknown 12:37 AM  

Dammit! DNF ~ Had to reveal puzzle to find that OhSO/hOENIG was wrong. Wasn't a big fan of OhSO, but even running the alphabet was no help, because OrSO was worse. Failed to realize that OK was not a non-word pronounced ock, but the abbreviation for okay. Dammit! Otherwise it was just what I want for a Saturday - seemingly impossible at first but eventually crackable.

Dolgo 1:53 AM  

I had the same block as @Randall Clark with OK SO. I guess I should have guessed KOENIG, even though I never heard of her. Knew all the rest, though. Pretty easy for a Friday.

chefwen 2:00 AM  

Never thought I’d say this Rex, but it might be time to bring back the moderator, things are getting pretty raunchy here lately.

Finished with A TAD bit of help from my Great Uncle Google (not a shock on Saturday) but I had fun nonetheless.

Thomaso808 2:42 AM  

LINMANUELMIRANDA and ZOMBIEAPOCALYPSE in a triple stack? I would predict INALLPROBABILITY a total fail. Amazing!

I tried uhSO first, then when I got ORGAN I left it as OhSO, because hOENIG looked like a name. DNF.

I did not think this was easy-medium, but looking back on the answers there’s not much to complain about, except...

FLIED? FLIED? I am a huge baseball fan, so I get it, FLIED (out). But that was a tricky one.

Robin 2:53 AM  

Man, I must have gone to college with a lot of inebriates. We always used a pitcher for beer pong rather than a SOLOCUP.

Struggled with this one just a bit, but please with myself for getting ZOMBIEAPOCALYPSE, with just the Z and LY crosses.

Harryp 3:54 AM  

OhSO hOENIG got me too. DNF

Lewis 6:26 AM  

That triple stack in the middle is simply gorgeous. This puzzle put my brain into first gear throughout, grinding my way up the hill, battling tough clues and trying to make intelligent stabs at things unknown. Can brains sweat? Ok, so, if they can, mine did. "Whew!", as if to say, "Wow!"

Marty Van B 6:28 AM  

LIZ Lemmon was my first answer in the grid. She's a great boss! She even let Tracy google himself in her office. That Z turned the corner to ZOMBIEAPOCALYPSE and while I wasn't exactly off to the races, I did have a solid beachhead across the center of the puzzle to branch out from.

Even for someone like me that doesn't enjoy musical theater (and most theater actually), Lin Manuel Miranda's name was hard to avoid. And I do avoid. When I lived in the NYC, family, friends, girlfriends all wanted to see Broadway shows. Shirley MaClaine once had a line "Why would I go to the theater when I can sleep at home for free?" I've slept through a dozen Tony winners at the cost of hundreds of dollars all because some of the people in my life would rather sit next someone sleeping than go alone.

Loren Muse Smith 7:28 AM  

Finn Vigeland – terrific puzzle this morning. Challenging and engaging. One of those themelesses where you think you’ll get nowhere and before you know it, you’re almost done.

Not one of the fill-in-the-blanks was gettable for a toe hold, so I did look at 1A and immediately dismissed ORGAN since it’s a Saturday. Too easy.

I finally entered the grid with “cds/champagne.” Oops.

Had exactly the same “moma/sear/a bit” deal as Rex.

After a huge struggle, I still ended up with a dnf on multiple fronts:

*I never questioned that Don Quixote’s sidekick was “Pancho.” Wrong sidekick.
*I misspelled THESSALY as “Thessely. Dumb. Should have seen MIRANDA.
*I guessed wrong (e) on the brutal INO/LIN MANUEL. Playwrights and Greek mythology are not in my wheelhouse, so I had not idea he was the guy who wrote Hamilton. And Ino saving Odysseus… fuhgettaboutit. I didn’t even get ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE for a while.

My longsuit is mainly Real Housewives shows (yes, Ms. Whitfield’s first name went right in the other day), Top Chef, and Million Dollar Listing. And Survivor. And The Bachelor. I tell ya – The Bachelor has to be the most vapid, contrived, shallow show on tv. But I’m so beyond hooked. It’s like the Cheez Whiz of television.

@Bob Kerfuffle from yesterday – sure wish you were still here as a regular. I’m a full-on singular they gal now, in both speech and writing. And whereas you still don’t use it on paper to avoid offending someone who thinks it’s wrong, I use it to stick my finger in their eye. See you on March 23!!!!!

The price of admission for me this morning was writing in FLIED. I spend a lot of time thinking about expressions with irregular verbs (and plurals), playing around with them using the standard inflection. Did you buy two mice or two mouses for your laptop? To sit and imagine an announcer saying the batter flew out is just delicious.

A couple of years ago, I was standing in the hall with Kevin C, waiting for class to start. I didn’t really know him that well yet, so the conversation was almost forced...

Me: So what are you going to do this weekend?
Kevin: Weed-eat.
[polite pause while we both look at the floor and nod]
Me: I’ve never weed-eaten.
Kevin: [pause, then smiles]
Me: I guess you say weed-eated, right?
Kevin: Yeah. I guess.

The next week, though, he said, Mrs. Smith, I weed-ate yesterday. My cup runnethed over.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

@LMS - that weed-eatin' ain't legal some places, tho

kitshef 8:03 AM  

Thought this would be a breeze after ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE was such a gimme, but I was very, very wrong – thanks to that devilish SE.

Late at night when they're gone away,
Les boys dream of Jean Genet
High heel shoes and a black beret
And the posters on the wall that say …
Les boys do cabaret.
-Mark Knopfler

QuasiMojo 8:06 AM  

I really disliked this one. There is just way too much TV trivia in it for someone who hasn't owned a television since the internet bubble burst. I also had OH SO which seemed fine. I have no idea what a "Serial" podcast is and don't try to tempt me. I can't stand podcasts. Never have. Listening to Ted Talks and NPR and any kind of talking thing is the equivalent for me of nails on a chalk board. (Cousin Brucie excepted.) Never saw nor heard of 30 Rock (except the real one.) I DESPISE (emphasis mine) zombies and this country's obsession with them, so I had no clue it would have something to do with an Apocalypse (which I did get.) I see Walking Dead in the puzzle all the time but I keep thinking back to Walking Tall, the sequel to Billy Jack OH SO many years ago.

I cringe when people say "Ok so..." You hear it everywhere now (which is why I feel like an idiot for DNF today.) You ask a question and the other person says "Ok, so... right... like... sure..." and then they say whatever it is they want to say, all of which does not need a prelude.

Finally got the PRE-OPS that I wanted the other day when PRoffer was in the puzzle.

Alcoholics Anonymous is usually abbreviated as A.A. so I cry foul on that bit of editing. And these days very few people who enter A.A. have experienced Delirium tremens. That is a late development in the progression of the disease. Luckily today people seek and get help much earlier on before they develop.

Now to put the final nail in my own coffin, let me add that I can't quite grok the appeal of the musical Hamilton or what snippets of it I've heard so far. So I struggled a bit to figure out the first name of its divine creator.

SANCHO/ANCHO? If I had tried that in a puzzle it would have been sent back immediately.

I had THAT'S A RIP before WHAT A TRIP. Finn's is better.

I don't think of a CUP as a receptacle. The garbage can you put it in, yes. (Do those things ever disintegrate?)

I wanted Temple of IRIS. I had a vision of Vestal Virgins dancing half-naked with garlands under a rainbow.

As a TAURUS (and NIPping on a TORUS as I type this) I at least figured that one out without any trouble or misgivings.

Thank you for slogging through this, if you did.

Glimmerglass 8:07 AM  

One error, which I consider a successful Saturday. Never heard of the podcaster, so I went with Oh SO? Very tough puzzle, so I loved it. Took me a long time (another good thing, unlike OFL). The Hamilton author came almost entirely from crosses (my bad, I should know him). On the other hand, I knew both SWIFFER and SOLO CUP. What does that say about me? Good review, @Rex. The nasty, off-puzzle comments are annoying, but no more than other kinds of juvenile graffiti.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

@dolgo: ummm...

RJ 8:28 AM  

Like TomAz, I got Sancho/Ancho right away and got misdirected. Also, because of ancho/sancho/nihao/one half i had "ifso" for 1D and just gave up.

Like the other Robin (I'm Robyn), I definitely went to college with a bunch of inebriates and filled in pitcher In the mid to late 70s when the drinking age was 18, there was a keg on every floor and a party all the time,

I'm still looking at "flied" with a squinty eye and think that "primer" is a better answer than "sealer". This puzzle kicked my ass but when done I loved a lot of things like the center stack.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

@quasimojo, shorter version: "I am ignorant and proud of it."

Sarah 8:33 AM  

I beat my streak today - I'm at 21 days. But I didn't think I was going to, and still have some mixed feelings, because I'd never heard of RARAAVIS and did not in a million years think it could be right. As soon as I saw the AA I was sure I was wrong, but I stared at it for awhile and couldn't fix it, so I just figured I'd go back later and stare at it some more. Was shocked to get the message I'd completed the puzzle.

Z 8:34 AM  

Mostly easy once I saw LIZ Lemon and ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, but I had no chance at KOENIG. Oh, SO or OK, SO combined with whack-a-vowel at both G-NET and N-HAO meant I only had a 1 in 72 chance of finishing correctly. I finished 0-3 and I am not buying a lottery ticket.

I just don’t do podcasts. Reading is so much more efficient than listening that I just can’t bring myself to devote time to a podcast. I say this despite the fact that I often have nattering talking heads going on about sports opera (like soap opera only for (almost exclusively) dudes, “Is Le Bron trying and who is wooing him for next year? Does Tom Brady or Giselle wear the pants in that family? Oooh, did you see what that 18 year-old player did to his mom on national signing day?) on TV. The difference is that the nattering talking heads do not require my full attention, I can “watch” them and do other things. A podcast, on the other hand, combines your full attention. After dabbling in a few I found myself constantly thinking, “give me a transcript and I’d be done already.” So, even though I like the Freakonomics podcast, I have a two year backlog. Whenever I’m sick I might knock of 5 to 10 in a day, otherwise they just sit there. Serial was a widely popular podcast a couple of years ago, so I had heard of it, but the whole “is he guilty or innocent” thing was nowhere near interesting enough for me to bother to see what the fuss was about.

@Robin - Inebriates? Maybe. Cheaters? Definitely. That’s sort of like using a basketball hoop for putting practice.

@Quasimojo - The PPP didn’t seem all that excessive to me. Back in A MO with a count.

jberg 8:35 AM  

This one almost killed me. I thought Miranda was the lead, rather than the author—maybe both, I guess? So it took a lot of crosses to get it, after which the rest went quickly.

I thought backdrop meant the scene behind the titles, which I’ve never seen, so I had it ending with LILY PAD for too long.

Plus RARe bird before RARA AVIS, Son of God before REDEEMER, seAR, lag, etc. saved from MOMS because no one ever says “The MOMA,” even thought it would be correct, but I needed the E to get TATE. most of Rodin’s works we’re cast several times, and thus are in more than one place— is this an exception?

As most said it was a great feeling to finish this one, so I’m happy now.

Joel Palmer 8:37 AM  

Flied is not a word

BarbieBarbie 8:52 AM  

@Quasi, I hear people use “so...” as unnecessary prelude, but not “OK, so.” That’s used more as a substitute for “settle in, I’m about to tell you a story.” Glynn Washington uses it to start Snap Judgment, and it always gives me a little frisson of anticipation. In fact, if I’ve accidentally fast-forwarded past that part of the podcast, I back up just to find it.

But I’m with you on the rest of it.

Average difficulty for me. Liked the stack, of course! SOLOCUP brought back some (pretty hazy) memories, and in the same neighborhood I messed up by using OHCEDAR (which isn’t even spelled right) instead of SWIFFER. Took awhile to see the source of my mess.

Kitty 8:53 AM  

Very raunchy
Totally offensive
Unpleasant to read
They don't seem to have anything to do with the puzzle
Just using this forum to offend
REALLY wish they'd be edited out
Not what I want to encounter.

'mericans in Paris 8:53 AM  

Completed most of the puzzles this week (but still stuck on Friday's), but starting with Wednesday's finished too late to bother to post.

As for today's -- WHAT A TRIP! ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, which I entered without any crosses, was the REDEEMER for me. But the very audacity of three 16-square answers stacked on top of one another ... wow! Took Mrs. 'miP and I two hours to complete (no HASTE there!), but in the end it was very satisfying. JuS'WAT we needed.

Write-overs: Oh SO > OK SO, base 8 > OCTAL, LyN... > LIN, nazarene > REDEEMER. Finally finished in the south-east after we changed SWIFtER to SWIFFER.


@QuasiMojo: I do listen to a lot of podcasts, but what makes me cringe is how so many speakers (especially those under the age of 40) pepper their dialogue with "kind of, sort of". I find it very distracting, because sometimes they actually do mean "sort of", but more often it's just filler. As filler, it can make the speaker sound unsure of him- or herself, and make a true statement sound less true, which when talking about current events is not helpful!

Note to Will Shortz, if you're reading this: Could you please indicate people with dual skills with a hyphen -- i.e., novelist-dramatist, not novelist/dramatist. You are spreading the infection of the English language by the virgule virus.

Z 9:06 AM  

How did “commands” become “combines?”

Pop Culture, Product Names, and Other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. Experience suggests that anything over 33% is sure to be problematic for some subset of solvers

At most, the PPP is 22 of 69 answers, or 32%. I say at most because there are four answers that I could talk my way out of including, which would take the percentage down to 26%. Either way, below my threshold for saying the PPP is too high. The list with asterisks next to the four I could argue aren’t really PPP:

Jesus the REDEEMER
*E COLI (CDC clue)
*YES (Magic 8-Ball clue)

I will note that having two of the three grid spanners be PPP means that more grid space is devoted to PPP than the percentages suggest, so if you include all four of the marginal PPP an argument that this puzzle exceeds the 33% threshold is sustainable. In short, I don’t think there is too much PPP, but wouldn’t want to have to defend that position too strongly.

pabloinnh 9:17 AM  

Too much tv stuff for me today, if my tv is on it's news or sports, the end. So when I got most of the ending for 39A I stuck in "calypso" and wondered what the first part of that might be. Some Caribbean country?

Hand up for the OHSO/OKSO conundrum, and for guessing wrong.

"Flied" out is perfectly acceptable when describing a batter making an out. "He flew out to center field"? I'd pay a dollar to see that.

ColoradoCog 9:21 AM  

Got ZOMBIEAPOCALYPSE without any crosses! I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything that long with no crosses before.

As someone who has spent a few years in Asia, the clue for NIHAO threw me for a bit. That is Manderin Chinese, and while it is of course spoken in Guangzhou and the standard Chinese dialect, Cantonese is what you would typically associate with Guangzhou. It is sort of like using “Greeting in Hawaii” to clue HELLO.

msh 9:24 AM  

I’ve got a problem with 12 Down. Mimed is not copied. Not by any definition I’ve seen. Am I missing something?

Birchbark 9:26 AM  

This puzzle rewards no matter where you look.

@Quasimojo, "Billy Jack" could be a clue for RARA AVIS. I know of no other film in which bone-crushing martial arts are so earnestly deployed in the service of a utopian commune for troubled kids. Not a shred of irony. Great stuff.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

OK, SO there's a KOENIG Street (Ave.?) here in Austin; that helped. Wasn't getting anywhere and then some longer entries, or parts thereof, begin to fall seemingly miraculously. My idea of fun that. Love a shout out to Jesus.

QuasiMojo 9:34 AM  

@anonymous above, yes, ignorance is bliss.

@mericans in Paris, I forgot about those. True that! How do you create that bold effect?

@kitshef, love the quote!

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Quasi nailed it. All trivia, no wordplay. You know what you know and you don't know what you don't know. I didn't know the podcast host; the greeting in Guangzhou; the mop; the beer pong receptacle; the "Tender is the Night" wife (OK SO maybe I should have known her); the game sheet (RULES is really the answer to that? It's a "sheet"?). And the one PPP clue I thought I'd gotten at 39A, about "The Walking Dead", I didn't. I had ZAMBIA APOCALYPSE -- which sounded a little too international-minded and too "seriez" for a title like "The Walking Dead". (If I ever watched zombie movies, I would have seen it, but I don't watch them. I figure if zombies leave me alone, I'll leave zombies alone. It's the same way I feel about the Mafia.) Anyway, at the end, my entire SE was mostly blindingly white. DNF and DNC.

Kimb 9:50 AM  

@puzzlehoarder 12:25 AM
20 across - the number of the clue is ONEHALF of 40. Which I didn't figure out - though I had it filled in from crosses - until you pointed it out as a *WTH does that mean?* Went back and looked at it and thought "OH! I get it. The arrow is pointing at 20 and 20 divided by 40 is ONE HALF!!" Doh.

mathgent 9:53 AM  

Guessed wrong on the OKSO/KOENIG and SWIFFER (even though we own one).

I'm trying to understand why I didn't like it more. Good crunch and an average amount of sparkle for a Friday. Learned something (seriez, nihao, that The Kiss is in The Tate, that Ino the water nymph saved Odysseus, neat line by Emerson, inspiration for FUTURA).

But no wordplay. Clumsy attempt to use 20, the number of the clue, in the clue.

I liked yesterday's more.

Lewis 10:00 AM  

@joel palmer -- In baseball, it is common to say that a batter flied out to left field, say.

Old Lady 10:01 AM  

If you cringe when you hear "OK,SO", be alert while watching anyone answer a question on tv. Inevitably the answer starts with "well". This comes from seasoned interviewees. I guess it's better than "OK,SO". If you start listening for this, it will make you crazy.

Wm. C. 10:02 AM  

@Glimmerglass8:07 --

OK, the profane comments up top can be described as ... Nothing but juvenile graffiti ... But personally I'm very annoyed to see this kind of stuff. I've seen @Rex post here a few times, but don't know if he always reads these comments. And I guess he very infrequently, if ever, removes stuff because I've seen some posts that are insulting to him above one of his posts. However ... I wish he'd remove vulgarity, perhaps "deputizing" some friends to assist him in this. Just sayin' ...

The puzzle: like others, hesitated a long time, running through the alphabet before putting in the "L" in the fliedout and solocup cross. Only when I came here did I see the legitimacy of flied out in the Baseball context.

In the 16-Acrosses, got "in all probability" with just a couple of verticals. Took quite a few to get Lin-Manuel, though. And Zombie Apocolypse? Fuggedaboudit! Thanks, Mr. Google! Three or four other unknowns here for me, but managed with the crosses. What the heck, this is what Saturdays are for!

I have lunch at my local Chinese restaurant 2 or 3 times a week, and always greet the staff with a "Nihau." Never thought about how to spell it, though .. I'd guess tat there are several variants.

Two Ponies 10:02 AM  

This felt like a reoccurring dream I have where I arrive to class only to realize there is a test today that I did not know about and forgot to study for.

QuasiMojo 10:04 AM  

@Nancy, thanks. And @Z very helpful. @Birchbark, good one! Still better than "Gymkata" though. :)

GILL I. 10:37 AM  

I saw SANCHO ANCHO ASADA and got excited. That was about it. Took A TRIP to the kitchen, pored me some Peet's and zipped through the upper section. Smiled. For just a while.
I mosey on down. I feel ignorant, dull-witted and vacuous. HAD to call my best friend, Google to get me started on the stacks (which I love) beginning with the never watched 30 Rock LIZ. So, I say to myself, whoever won the Pulitzer in 2016 has a name that starts with L. The Z from LIZ gave me ZOMBIE because I watched all of The Walking Dead" until some idiot thought it would be clever to bludgeon to death, Glenn. I stopped watching after that. At least there is something here that I knew. Ignorance pops into the head again because I'll grudgingly admit to never having heard of LIN MANUEL MIRANDA nor do I know what a Bauhaus-influenced typeface is or what a podcast is or a "Seriez" or that GOLDEN PEN is an actual thing.
OK SO I learned something. I'll probably remember NIHAO because that's a nice word. I'll forget FLIED because if it doesn't have LICE after it, I won't remember it. I did smile at IN ALL PROBABILITY because I wanted to ended it with "I won't finish this unless I Google a lot."
I have a very hard time saying and spelling APOCALYPSE. I want it to be acopalypse. My bad.
Nothing wrong with the puzzle. I think that if I had know Finn's seed stack entry, I might have enjoyed it more.
MLB DRAFT? OK, if you say so.

Unknown 10:39 AM  

I was racking my brain trying to figure out where in the Bible Jesus is described as “the Red Eeler.”

I felt like an idiot when I finally got it.

Teedmn 10:39 AM  

So they play CALYPSo music as a backdrop to "The Walking Dead"? Who knew? ZiMBabwbean CALYPSo, no less! Nah, I never actually put in the Zimbabwe part but I did have 37D as AYo for far too long. It wasn’t until I changed the hospital sections from thE OrS (Eww, I thought) to PRE-OPS that the APOCALYPSE arrived. Saved by ZOMBIES, yay?

I finished the puzzle and took a little break which saved me from a OrSO/rOENIG DNF. Just as I was about to go to read xwordinfo! I realized OR..SO? was not as good an answer as OK, SO? Close call.

I first wanted Adobo at 4D and thought, "No, that's the sauce the chilis are in" (why does auto-correct keep trying to make chilis a possessive?); then I wanted Adobo at 25A, "ah, there it is!" Luckily, I had learned asada from a roadside sign in Vieques, Puerto Rico advertising pollo asada.

I guess I have a sick mind because I got the DTS (puzzle-wise, not in actuality) from the clue with no crosses whereas clues like 48D now have me entering E____ and waiting to see if it's COLI or BOLA!

Thanks Finn, this was definitely not DLIST, but rather a RARA AVIS Puzzle.

Mike Rees 10:42 AM  

1A had me completely beat, and I didn’t know 2, 3, 4 or 5D so that corner kicked my butt. Did not know Liz, Ino or Nam so even though I dropped in the Walking Dead clue easily, I couldn’t suss out the west end of the stack. Not a theatre fan, so even after I dug up INALL, I couldn’t get that end either.

Too much PPP in this one for me, I’m afraid.

The player in the stadium is an organist. The organ is the ... playee?

Ando 10:50 AM  

I'm lukewarm on the clue for 1A. Shouldn't that be ORGANIST? Would anyone describe a piano or a guitar as a 'player'? Would 'Player in a rock band?' be 'BASS'? That just seemed odd to me, linguistically, so I left it partially filled in til the end, wondering if there was a ballplayer named Orban Player. (I wasn't sure of the French name crossing it.)

clk 10:52 AM  

Podcasts are perfect for housework, yard work and driving.

Steve M 10:55 AM  

Hold on a mo!

Loblolly 10:57 AM  

Octal? Looks like hexadecimal to me.

emily 11:00 AM  

Glad I finished reading to the end of the comments. I totally agree, however like most BULLIES trolls usually eat up whatever attention they receive.

'mericans in Paris 11:07 AM  

@QuasiMojo: To put text in bold write the following, except eliminate the spaces: < b >text for bolding< /b >. Similar for italics: < i >text for italisizing< /i >. And if you want bold & italics: < b >< i >text< /i >< /b >.

Two Ponies 11:11 AM  

I really would hope that there is enough maturity and self-restraint among this crowd to ignore the pests. That's all they are.
Doesn't Rex have enough to do?
I don't know anything about the mechanics of blog moderation but if it involves only allowing "blue name" comments then we would also lose some of the spontaneous humor that I really enjoy.
Maybe if we go cold turkey for what, a week, we'd all be happier.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

I didn't like pre-ops at all. That is a bogus plural. Also, I believe they speak Cantonese (as well as the local dialect) in Guangzhou, not Mandarin. Thus, they do NOT say 'nihao' which is Mandarin. That clue seems clearly wrong. Too many names in this puzzle so I had to google a lot.

DBlock 11:15 AM  

Yes I do the puzzle as my escape from real world
Comments about the puzzle are great
Could we please limit to those
Plenty of other places to post about politics if you wish

DBlock 11:19 AM  

NW killed me
Wanted Bookerman as my British prize and just refused to budge
Also wanted Sarah Vowell for my podcast
And stuck instead of stood up
Nothing worked

Dolgo 11:26 AM  

I have been baffled, too, about the popularity of zombies. Then I realized that brainless dead people walking around eating other people's grey matter is s great metaphor for (wait for it!) who are enjoying by stories about zombies

Wm. C. 11:28 AM  


Re: 64 decimal "looks like hexadecimal 100"

Nope, 100 in hexadecimal would be 16x16x1, or 256.

In octal, 100 is 8x8x1, or 64, as clued.

Dolgo 11:29 AM  

Check your Wikipedia fictionard for that one.

Hartley70 11:31 AM  

I found this puzzle easier than yesterday because I didn't get hung up in a corner. I adore stacks and the long triple center was a beautiful example of why. It's a thing of beauty. I had never heard of Serial or Koenig so I needed the crosses there. It sounds like a good listen. Maybe on my next long car ride.

Dolgo 11:35 AM  

When I was very young, my friends and I went through a phase where we made prank phonecalls. It was great fun when we got a ride out of out victims. Those who just hung up were no fun, so we stopped calling them. I think the best thing to do with trolls is simply to ignore them.

Dolgo 11:38 AM  


'mericans in Paris 11:49 AM  

On the popularity of ZOMBIEs: ZOMBIE flicks started out scary, the scariest perhaps being one of (if not the) first, "Night of the Living Dead", because it was made on a low budget and seemed so real.

Eventually, however, ZOMBIE flicks became ho-hum, and so film-makers started with making spoofs, starting with "Sean of the Dead" (a play on "Dawn of the Dead"). That was followed by the "Juan of the Dead", which was filmed in Havana by a Spanish-Cuban team and is EXCELLENT -- not really scary, and very funny. I recommend it highly. There has since been the very low-budget "Bong of the Dead", which is about a couple of potheads who discover that zombie brains are super fertilizer for marijuana plants. I don't recommend it unless, like the actors, you are also stoned.

In short, seeing an earnest ZOMBIE movie is good prep for then appreciating a ZOMBIE spoof.

puzzlehoarder 11:49 AM  

@Kimb 9:50 am, Thanks for the explanation. After the initial reading I don't think I looked at that clue again. The "arrow" really put me off. My assessment was "Mathematic formula I'll never understand." However I already had the _LF at the end so between that and the division sign _HALF was a no brainer. As far as the ONE goes, what else could precede HALF? Nothing facilitates solving like brute ignorance.

mbr 11:58 AM  

@jberg: The Tate is home to one of Rodin's copies of the Kiss. The original is in - of all places - the Rodin Museum in Paris. Also in that museum is the Thinker, which always reminds me of "Dobie Gillis". :-)

Joseph Michael 12:09 PM  

Love the triple stack in the center. Nice blend of topics throughout: theatre, sports, literature, TV, etc. Challenging but fair. Thanks, Finn, for a RARA AVIS among puzzles.

TubaDon 12:09 PM  

Zoomed through the top and bottom except for OHSO? and a podcaster I never heard of.
Came to a screeching halt in the middle, exacerbated by my mis-spelling APOCALYPSE and unwisely shivering from an NBA DRAFT.

Anoa Bob 12:11 PM  

I first tried DUI at 36D for "Letters that come before AA?".

Down here in Tex-Mex land ANCHO (4D) and ASADA (25A) are muy común. SANCHO refers not to Don Quixote's sidekick but rather to the guy who is at your house doing your wife while you are at work or out drinking with your buddies. You might hear someone say "I'll have another cerveza. Can't go home yet. SANCHO might still be there." Or "I got home last night and SANCHO had left me a new pair of shoes under the bed", humorously suggesting that as you were coming through the front door, SANCHO was making a hurried exit out the back!

I fill you UP
LIBATIONS all around
YES, let's have a party

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Flies and pop ups are not the same in baseball. They're CLOSE, but not really interchangeable. And to whoever had a beef with organ, I'm with you. And for the reasons you cite.
Fwiw, troll is thrown around way too loosely for my tastes. There's definitely some trolling here, but there's also people who really disagree with others, especially when it comes to politics. But in all fairness, there are regulars who post their opinions all the time. Just because they sign a name, or a letter, doesn't mean they aren't blockading.
Civility is important, but, I'd rather have a few raunchy posts than a moderator.

Joseph Michael 12:21 PM  

A burrowing animal is a vole
Which lives its life inside a hole
And has no friends to make it whole.
It's almost as sad as an Internet troll.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Bloviating.Not blockading.My apologies.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  


Nice 16 stack, in the center, tho. With yer ex-quisite crossin weeject stacks, at each end. Masterful grid-piecing work.

staff weeject pick: HEH. H's of convenience! Like.

Think I put in and took out EATATHOME about six times, before I finally believed in MIMED.

Too hard for m&e, due to the NW corner, but fun solvequest, otherwise. Did research and learned stuff, tho. Sooo … thanx, Mr. Vigeland.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Mary McCarty 12:36 PM  

@Dolgo- OK, SO “dictionary” is autocorrected to “fictionard”? That pretty much sums it up: it’s the end of the world as we know it.

Carola 12:37 PM  

This was a real workout for me, and I was happy to finish. The top 25% went pretty fast, but the drop-downs FUTURA, LATE APRIL, and THESSALY didn't provide enough cracks to open that central wall, nor did adding ELBOWS and MACAWS OK, SO I went down and mopped up NICOLE's corner and then, with silent thanks for enforced childhood Bible study, worked out URIAH's surroundings. Then I had to face that wall again. A felicitous placement of B-B-L got me the central one, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to see LIN MANUEL MIRANDA. ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE came entirely from crosses. Favorite answer: STATE LINE.

Alison 12:46 PM  

Love that song! Thanks for the reminder

Marco Polo 1:01 PM  

A ball caught in the air by an outfielder is a fly. When a batter makes an out this way, he has FLYED out. You can look it up.

JC66 1:08 PM  

Really tough Saturday for me, but I enjoyed the workout.


It may be of interest to you that you can “speed up” the podcast when listening on a smart phone.

Various speeds are available. I use the Outcast app on my iPhone. OK SO, by speeding up the playing and fast forwarding through the commercials, I can listen to an hour and a half program in 45 minutes..

JC66 1:13 PM  

And thanks for the formatting tips

QuasiMojo 1:19 PM  

Thanks for the info @Mericans. And @Anonymous 11:52, to answer your question. I do.

Unknown 1:25 PM  

NIHAO is clued infelicitously. In Guangzhou it would be "nei hou" unless you were not speaking Cantonese, but in that case why localize it to Guangzhou? Not technically incorrect, but definitely infelicitous.

Matthew G. 1:32 PM  

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA was the author _and_ the composer _and_ the lyricist _and_ the lead actor of “Hamilton.” Which had the most Tony nominations in history in addition to being one of the very few musicals ever to win a Pulitzer.

Recommended even to those who (with some justification) are accustomed to thinking of musicals as less serious than regular theater.

Carola 2:10 PM  

@Joseph Michael - Could he not befriend a mole? Thanks for the laugh.

Larry Gilstrap 2:20 PM  

Nice Saturday effort, complete with misdirection and those monster grid spanners. I finally found a foothold in the NE and then the SE, but that broad stripe across the middle of the grid fell last. Hamilton is a phenomenon, but for some reason 29A as clued had me looking for the name of a play.

After reading the incomplete Emerson quote, my mind came up with HASTE and I took a chance with no crosses. Funny how that works sometimes. Truth be told, I have been know to sit at a bar. I love to watch the restaurant work and interact with the clients. Patience is a virtue and displaying desperate impatience is a very bad look.

My puzzle was printed last night; a morning solve is a RARA AVIS around here. 20A was clued ". ÷ 40". OK, SO there's that.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

I thought for sure UH SO, which made me think (Keith) URBAN may have played in a baseball stadium; no idea about Pulitzer Prizes, not into 30 Rock, no idea who saved Odysseus - DNF after a streak of 70+

Natick city (pun intended)!

Wm. C. 2:27 PM  

@Anon3:20 --

Re: "Natick city (pun intended)"

Natick, MA is a town. ;-)

Kimberly 2:38 PM  

We don’t need a moderator because we are adults who have the ability to just move past stuff that doesn’t interest us, and have no need for kindergarten teachers to come make the internet safe or pretty for our special, tender eyes. The whole purpose of moderators is to censor “offensive” voices and it isn’t long before uptight anus-lipped sensitive sallies start declaring everything they don’t like “offensive.” Once that door is open, most fora become untenable.

Instead, I suggest we all continue to be adults and let the things we don’t like slide by. Those who find themselves incapable of doing that should stay away from the internet until they sufficiently mature enough to learn how. Little boys saying naughty words are not dangerous and nobody’s eyes will melt from seeing those words. Mine, in fact, just roll a little as I ponder the sad little lives behind them.

On to more interesting (or at least relevant) topics: is there any place in the US where “mo” is a common colloquialism? Because I’ve never heard it outside off a crossword puzzle. I’ve only ever heard “sec” for a brief instant of time.

GeezerJackYale48 2:52 PM  

I’d pay a dollar to see it also, but listen to baseball broadcasts and you will hear it often.

GeezerJackYale48 2:56 PM  

But Lewis: when you say he flied out, are you sure you’re not saying he flyed out?

GILL I. 2:58 PM  

@Kimberly....Good post. I actually ponder them sitting on the John...with their difficulties!

Girish 3:02 PM  

@Sarah 8:33 AM Congratukations on your streak! Obviously, I need to know my mops better.

Unknown 3:25 PM  

@Kimberly Beautifully put, and I heartily concur!

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Forget the grammar. Pop ups are different than fly outs. Pop ups don't travel a great distance for home plate. Fly outs travel to the outfield. Pop ups are in the infield or very shallow in the outfield.
That are both in the air true, but not synonyms.
Is there not another ball player among US?
Mohair Sam?!!?

Bob Mills 3:56 PM  


Charles Flaster 4:01 PM  

Loved it.
Just enough of a challenge to all my powers of inference.
Thanks FV

Missy 4:04 PM  


Nancy 4:18 PM  

Anyone else notice how much @Hartley's avatar (11:31) looks like @Randall Clark's avatar (3:25)? Beagles RULE!

Canon Chasuble 4:45 PM  

Rodin''s "The Kiss" is in the Rodin Musum in Paris. Rodin's first COPY of the Kiss is in the Tate

Birchbark 4:59 PM  

In re mole/VOLE:

This morning I looked at 51D and wondered, is it a mole or a vole? It was a vole. This afternoon some sort of non-mouse nosed around in the snow under the bird feeder. I wondered, is it a mole or a vole? It was a mole.

Life may imitate art, but it inverts crosswords.

Joe Dipinto 5:07 PM  

Another show-offy attempt at (failed) cleverness. LATE APRIL? You've got to be kidding.

Anonymous 9:36 PM  

I think that this puzzle was hard, not easy-medium. I had to consult with Professor Google four times, but with those answers, gave me enough letters so I could finish it. But easy? Nope.

Also, this group should be moderated. Comments that are racist, sexist and homophobia just don't belong here, and the hostility doesn't either.

We're doing puzzles here and discussing them. Don't need trolls and their hostility.

Anonymous 9:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Regretfully 10:29 PM  

Rex-- the Sickos have taken over and turned your blog into a festering cesspool. They come here because they can. They don't go to xword and Wordplay. I should think you'd really want to stop them. Much as it pains me to say it, it IS time to moderate again.

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:33 PM  

Very good puzzle. Some slightly bumpy patches, but any time you give me a smooth Saturday, I'll appreciate the frak out of it. Also, I read the constructor's note and it was Will Shortz who turned into a worse puzzle than it was, so I don't want to punish the brilliant constructor here. The original clue for ZOMBIEAPOCALYPSE was dope.

Some 3-letter words would have been better avoided, and I can see why some people would think some parts were simply unsolvable. The trivia was right up my alley, but if the phrase "Hi this is Sarah Koenig" hadn't been permanently etched in my brain, or if I weren't an enthusiastic consumer of Mexican (or Tex-Mex) cuisine, this would have been rough.

But yeah, the triple stack at the center is amazing. My hiccup was the RARAAVIS part. I had MOLE for the burrowing animal, and the word "informally" in the MLBDRAFT clue threw me off (there is another MLB event that has an informal name?) I decided to frak all, put in MLBDRAFT in pen and played the alphabet game for the rest of RARAAVIS and voila, finally I was done.

GRADE: A-, 4.2 stars.

Rex Parker 10:53 PM  

Applications for blog moderator positions now being accepted. Let me know.

MDS / Rex

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:17 PM  

I will gladly help moderating comments. I'm a newbie here, and I'm sure there are people who spend more time on the site than I do so they can be first in line, but I've dealt with trolls for 8+ years now on my other blogs so yeah, I will come prepared.

Carolynne 9:40 AM  

Rare DNF for me. The proper nouns in the Northwest killed me. I knew *none* of them!

Steve f 2:57 PM  

Re: one half. I got the answer but do not understand the reference. Can anyone explain? Thanks

Steve f 3:04 PM  

Can, and did, look it up. You can fly out. But every game report on the past tense of fly out, and discussion on it supports flied out. Or flew out.

Foamfollower 3:31 PM  

And the next time a baseball aficionado says a batter “popped” will be the first time.
The term is popped-up.

Unknown 3:33 PM  

Duh!, found the explanation of one-half.

Unknown 12:02 AM  

The arrow points to the number 20...20 divided by 40 = 1/2.

Ben 3:55 PM  

The clue is for 20A. The left arrow is referring to the number of the clue, thus implying that the clue should be read as “20 / 40”, which equals one-half.

Unknown 10:22 PM  


Anonymous 12:32 AM  

You're right, but the puzzle is right too.
64 hex is 100 decimal, but 64 decimal is 100 octal.

rondo 12:04 PM  

Nope. DNF in the NW. Nothing N or W of STOODUP/GOLDENPEN. Due in large part to the clue for ONEHALF having a ? instead of a left arrow in the St.PPP. So I will leave the blame there. INALLPROBABILITY, ZOMBIEAPOCALYPSE was the REDEEMER for the rest of the puz which was totally clean except for the short-lived Har for HEH.

Not knowing of Ms. KOENIG, yeah baby NICOLE Kidman gets hers today.

Just checked the Mpls. Star-Trib and they had the left arrow pointing to 20 instead of the ?. Hate to give them props, but the Pioneer Press puz page has had its issues lately. I think they OWE me. Nice puz otherwise.

spacecraft 12:36 PM  

DNF: #%(&^%$%#@%^ NW again!!!!! No earthly idea about ANYTHING in that section except gimme SANCHO. They apparently can't print a left arrow in my paper; don't know if I'd have gotten that it pointed to the clue number (!) anyway. The first symbol I saw was a boxed X. They shoulda put TWO X's, then maybe I'd have had a chance.

No clue who Sarah is; hell, I don't even know what a "podcast" is. I was never going to get OKSO, GENET, or NIHAO. Or, ROANS off that clue, either. Multiple naticks; totally unfair. And STOODUP? For? I guess: Stand up, stand up for [the REDEEMER]. But really, STOODUP usually means just the opposite, as what used to happen to me on dates.

I asked this one girl out in college; we made the date; I showed up at the arranged time (5 minutes early, even) and her roommate came down and told me she'd left for the evening. Seems I didn't "call to confirm." That idea was foreign to me. I make a date, I'LL BE THERE. I'll call if an emergency came up and I CAN'T be there. I had no idea this was a "thing." Absurd, by the way I was brought up. Your word is your bond, or you are nothing.

Digression over. INALLPROBABILITY, RARAAVIS NICOLE would win DOD, pending a look at this Sarah chick. Yessir, I'd take her across the STATELINE. WHATATRIP!

Diana, LIW 12:58 PM  

Arrow? What arrow? Try a dot. A period? Decimal? Partial ellipses? Piece of dirt? Like the fake man-bump of a Ken doll, it holds the "space" but is otherwise lacking. And no help in puzzle solving. It did not "stand up" to puzzle-cluing scrutiny.

OTOH, I am prouder than proud for the bits, pieces, and areas that I did complete. Especially the middle stacks, which were the "easiest" part for me.

Easy? Yeah - like understanding Stephen Hawking's (RIP) explanation of the universe. Just sit there and nod, 'cause you are pretty sure it's all in English.

What a puzzling week!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 1:04 PM  


"OWE, WHATATRIP, but are we LATE?"
te AMO, AYE like how your ORGAN TATE."


Diana, LIW 2:08 PM  

OTOH - forgot to mention:


How often do you get to say that?

Lady Di

rainforest 2:49 PM  

Oy vey, a single letter DNF here. In the NW, natch. I reasoned that Oh, SO worked for 1D. Didn't even consider the 'K' even though I realize that KOENIG is a name I've heard. One person's KOENIG is another's hOENIG. Don't know who that is in any case.

I had no arrow for 20A, but immediately wrote in ONE HALF anyway. I was also lucky with the Pulitzer prize winner, vacillating between LIN and LeN and just guessing.

Coupla side-eyes: oenophiles always have "bouquet" as a criterion. Never heard a true wine expert use the term AROMA. Also, to me, LIBATIONS are part of any round, not just celebratory ones. Kinda green paintish there.

Despite the DNF, I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle.
Oh, one other thing I had to fight through. I knew that ORGAN was called for at 1A, but the "player" would be the ORGANist, not the ORGAN, no?

leftcoastTAM 3:07 PM  

Tough spots all over the place, including:

In the NW -- OKSO/KOENIG cross.
In the NE -- AMO/OPERA cross.
In the middle -- FUTURA/PREOPS/ETRE crosses.
In the SW -- RARAAVIS.
In the SE -- SWIFFER over SOLOCUP.

DNF, but got more than ONEHALF of it before ditching.

Anonymous 9:59 PM  

To WC - Popped out is acceptable in baseball jargon. "Out" was in the clue. But yes - popped up is probably more common.

DNF - I must disagree with Michael that this was on the easy side but of course that depends on the experience of the solver. I would give it a difficult rating. Difficult, but good construction.

Zombie Jesus the Redeemer 5:04 AM  

A fun, tough, satisfying Saturday. Got it eventually, NW was the last to go. KOENIG, ANCHO slowed me down. 20a.didn't work for me. I got ONE HALF with the crosses. The "<" less than sign and two dashes wasn't necessary. I solved online. Maybe it looked better on paper. I like the NICOLE ECOLI crossing—it sort of mirrors the SANCHO ANCHO crossing in the opposite corner! 61a. I had HEE for HEH, so URIAH gave me a "heep" of trouble.

I have no "LOVE" for A MO. {or ammo for that matter!}

Vinniegret 7:11 PM  

Well, I would have finished this easily if ancho and adobo didn't both fit so neatly into the NW corner. Dang it.

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