Dweller along Don / THU 9-6-18 / Link popular online comedy duo / Blood of gods in Greek myth / Superhero's defining quality / Literally hopeful person / Mosque of shrine in Jerusalem

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (6:48)
                 I    C     E    B     E    R    G

THEME: TIP OF THE ICEBERG (62A: Hidden trouble indicator ... or what you'll need to finish this crossword?) — "tips" of some Downs at the top of the grid (which extend beyond the top of the grid) spell out ICEBERG

Theme answers:
  • (I)SLAM (2D: It's symbolized by a star and crescent)
  • (C)OVER CHARGES (4D: Entry fees)
  • (E)MERGES (5D: Comes out)
  • (B)ARES (7D: Exposes)
  • (E)ASTERN (9D: Like Confucianism and Taoism)
  • (R)ENUNCIATION (10D: Formal rejection)
  • (G)UN IT (12D: Put the pedal to the metal)
Word of the Day: LAPIN (51D: Rabbit fur) —
lapin. 1 : rabbit; specifically : a castrated male rabbit. 2 : rabbit fur usually sheared and dyed. (m-w)
• • •

This doesn't work. On a grammatical level, it is completely broken. I see what the constructor's trying to do, especially with having ICEBERG literally above the grid, the way the TIP OF THE ICEBERG would be above the surface of the ocean, but that's the problem: "What you'll need to finish this crossword" is the tip ... of a bunch of answers. You do not, in fact, need the TIP OF THE ICEBERG. In fact, worse, you actually need THE WHOLE DAMN ICEBERG. So, double fail: first, the tips you need are not "of the iceberg," and second, you've got an entire iceberg on top of your grid, not just the tip. Why go forward with a theme that doesn't stick the landing. We are in the era of "good enough." Someone should be telling constructors when their tricky gimmicks don't actually work. Or (in the case of the A.T.s puzzle ... which apparently literally had 8 "T"s in it !?!?!?!) when their gimmicks are just bad ideas. I think we're supposed to see it as an accomplishment that the "wrong" answers (the tipless Downs) are all actual words in their own right. Maybe you're supposed to be left wondering how all those answers are supposed to work for their respective clues, I don't know.

Picked up the gimmick without too much trouble. There was just so much going wrong at the top of the grid that I knew something was up, and eventually I figured out that 9D: Like Confucianism or Taoism had to be (E)ASTERN, which instantly made me reevaluate the handful of Downs I'd already had trouble with up there. Still didn't know that the "tips" of the answers spelled anything because I Was Solving Online, ugh, so I struggled some to get the NE corner, and I was honestly looking for more answers to be poking out of the grid, possibly along the bottom. Those never came. Never heard of RHETT, possibly because I couldn't name even an unpopular "online comedy duo" (18A: ___ and Link (popular online comedy duo)). I also weirdly struggled with ABILITY—despite the fact that I'm currently teaching a course on early superhero comics. I put in AGILITY. ABILITY is such a banal word, but I guess it's vaguely accurate. Superheroes have "abilities." I think of them as powers, but whatever. NO IDEA that the bomb-riding guy was Major KONG despite having seen "Strangelove" multiple times. Weird. Still don't get how SALSA refers to *two* kinds of dips? Like ... it *is* a dip, and you can ... ohhhhh ... dancing, I bet. OK. I liked the ASPS clue (33D: The snakes in the movie line "Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?") because I just read this comic today, which, honestly, they should still make:

If only Steve Ditko (1927-2018) could still draw it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:15 AM  

SW corner was way harder than the rest of the puzzle. Partially that was because I saw the theme very clearly before getting the full revealer but then the actual western part of the revealer phrase didn't come because it didn't match the actual mechanics of the theme. That plus a lot of finnicky answers/clues in that corner meant that took like half my solving time.

jae 12:17 AM  

Easy-medium. Got the theme very quickly when AirS wouldn’t work for 7d.

A bit of grid art, some interesting fill, liked it.

TomAz 12:25 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Loved it! Average Thursday time, but the quality of the resistance felt just right to me. And clever. Hooray!

Like Rex, I was also solving online, but I do own a pen and some paper -- actually I used the back of an envelope on a piece of junk mail I haven't tossed yet -- and wrote the missing letters and eventually the 'hidden' word, and hence the theme, became apparent.

After that the puzzle fell into place nicely. When I was done I was smiling. Loved the clue for ERIC.

Grade: A

JOHN XO 12:40 AM  

This was pretty easy for a Thursday puzzle. Actually so was that little mini puzzle, that was pretty easy too. This was just an easy Thursday.

How can you watch Dr. Strangelove multiple times and not know the pilot is Major Kong? There's also a General Ripper and a General Turgidson and a Colonel Guano. They all have funny names. You should watch that movie.

Z 12:43 AM  

All you see is the TIP OF THE ICEBERG but you still call it an ICEBERG, so I think Rex is being a little overly literal. That's not to say I much liked this. You can't start with OSLO/OSSA at 1A/1D unless you've got an outstanding puzzle. This doesn't make it. Between the Ese Primers in the NW and NE corners, the reappearance of the CZ tsAR, and SSN/ATE OF/PRATE smack dab in the middle, the Ese really detracts. Add in that the key feature is not even in the puzzle and the only other theme related answer is the reveal and the theme is just too weak to overcome all the crud. I am thinking that the middle section is supposed to be a Grid Art ICEBERG and I might find that charming in other situations. But subject me to OSLO OSSO SLAV EMUS NANA UZIS CZAR SSN TAG and my reaction to the Grid Art is only "ICEBERGs aren't symmetrical."

I got the ICEBERG fairly early, sought out the revealer and popped that in, had no writeovers, a sign that the cluing was pretty mundane. Rolled my eyes at the SATAN clue (I might like that clue if the NW/NE EseFests hadn't soured my opinion already), and finally cracked a smile at the prospect of No BRA Day in five weeks.

puzzlehoarder 12:43 AM  

A very average Thursday. I started putting in the missing letters above the top row as soon as I filled in the NE corner. However I forgot to write in the E of EMERGE and I initially thought 10D was DENUNCIATION. This meant I had to work a little to get the revealer otherwise this would have been well under average.

No surprise that the fill was easy. The only real debut was RENUNCIATION and it's a common word. The other two are just debuts by pluralization. The more interesting debuts we're the debut clues. The ones for RHETT, KONG, and MOD all fall into this category.

ICHOR was familiar enough that I had no trouble with the H when it got down to that. LAPIN was basically unknown. It's interesting that we haven't seen it since 2005. That's the year I started annotating these things in my Webster's and apparently I missed it one way or another back then. I doubt I'd have remembered it anyway. Just another thing to work around in that SW corner.

@Nancy, I hope you were ok with MIATA. I know it's a car but it's a very popular entry.

Mike in Mountain View 12:56 AM  

I'm with @TomAz. I loved this puzzle. Easy for a Thursday, with a good aha moment when I figured out the theme, and yes, I did think it was impressive that long entries such as ENUNCIATION and OVERCHARGES could become totally different with the addition of a single letter at the front and that that letter was not just a random letter but a theme-word letter.

I thought the grid art was a nice touch, too.

And I like the clue for SATAN.

ZenMonkey 1:02 AM  

I liked the grid art matching the theme, my cat TAG in there, and the rare ASPS clue that references great art not of the Cleopatra kind. I had fun with the top row. I can stand some bad fill for all that.

Dolgo 1:21 AM  

Struggles all over the place. Am I losing it, or is it simply a bad puzzle. Got the top (including the gimmick) right away, but somehow enough of the clues didn't really click. I finally had to bail. Or, as we say on this blog, DNF!

Brookboy 1:34 AM  

Add me to the admirers of such a clever puzzle. It is thoughtful, creative and challenging, all in one puzzle.

I am quite surprised that Rex didn’t think the puzzle worked. I fear that OFL begins each review with the mindset that today’s (or any day’s) puzzle is terrible simply because it is published in the Times. On the very rare occasions that he deems a puzzle OK, he usually damns with faint praise. ‘Tis a sad state of affairs.

Chris 1:39 AM  

Knew coming in that Rex would hate this since it’s a Jeff Chen puzzle. Amazing how predictable his grudges are.

Harryp 1:40 AM  

I really didn't need the ICEBERG tip to finish this, so even before the happy tone, I noticed IBC out of the box. IBC was part of IcBerG, but I couldn't see CER. even though the downs didn't make sense as they were. Doh, and a head slap for a Theme DNF! Good job by Jeff Chen, but I am sure OFL will have his say, and I really don't care if he finds things to carp about. Liked it.

Larry Gilstrap 2:03 AM  

Sometimes it's hard to think outside the box. But, indeed, an ICEBERG has more volume on the bottom, than on the top. Hi @Sir Mix-A-Lot. He comments regularly on this blog, so a shout-out is appropriate. JK.

We used to call metrics stats, and one of the joys of following baseball is numerical. Teams with a solid closer have a big advantage and are definitely more fun to watch. The fireman shouldn't be an arsonist. Diaz from the Mariners leads MLB in the SAVE category by a mile. But, who will rule October? Kimbrel, Treinen, Jansen & Hand, attorneys at law?

Boy! Did I bungle up the SW. For some reason, ALIBI evaded me, and ironically I'm working on one right now. Harmless cross involving superheroes throws a spanner in the works.

I am familiar with this room and take advantage of that often. I sometimes use SORTA and Kinda and don't bother to always include a subject for a sentence. Feel free to scroll down when offended.

Does anybody still wear a JOCK? It was the thong of the Eisenhower era and became my nickname for my high school years. Good times! I knew they all liked me because they were constantly reminding me of the fact.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

Started slowly, but picked up a lot of steam when I got TIP OF THE ICEBERG with just a few letters in place. cOVER CHARGES was partners input and we were off to the races.

At one point I thought Mr. Chen was looking over my shoulder, I served OSSO BUCO and Garlic Parmesan ORZO for a dinner party last Sunday. Good stuff as was this puzzle.

Anonymous 4:52 AM  

How is sass the answer to stylishness?

Pete S 5:43 AM  

I rebused in the extra letters to keep track of them, then got the dreaded "something's amiss" message when I thought I'd finished. After wasting a few minutes checking my answers, I finally thought to melt the iceberg out of those squares and at last the site played its merry tune. With all that, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't accompanied by some HTML-assisted* iceberg materialising above the puzzle.

*On the subject of web wizardry, the NYT page now seems to pop up little "half-done" and "three-quarters there" messages as you're filling it out.

Smitty 5:51 AM  

SEA RACE? No. Ocean race, Ski to Sea race. Never heard of a "sea race".

Lewis 6:29 AM  

Slow and steady won this race for me, between the clues that could have more than one answer and the gaps in my wheelhouse, then the emergence of the phantom above the grid. So it was a grind -- the good kind, where you feel like you did something worthwhile, not the boring kind. In assessing a puzzle, my first question is, "How was the solve?" And this one was very satisfying. I savored it.

Two random thoughts popped out afterward, First, that clue for NAILS ("Sticks, as a landing") -- If it were a Saturday puzzle, that clue might simply have been the tougher (and terrific) "Sticks". And second, I wondered if that NINETY at the bottom referred to the percentage of the iceberg that is said to be beneath the surface.

I shall be away for just shy of two weeks, as my youngest son is getting married in Maine. See you on the other side!

Cassieopia 6:47 AM  

Loved it, although easy for a Thursday. I’m always on the lookout for “the trick” and it fell immediately with iSLAM and cOVERCHARGE. “Why are those letters floating above the puzzle? Are there more? Will they spell anything? Will the theme be I. C. rather than A. T.?” Since OSLO and OSSO were a given, it was clear no rebus was involved, at least in the NW. and then the puzzle just flew, giving me close to a Tuesday time. I loved the iceberg drawing. Rex’s rant should have focused on SEARACE which was the only jarring note in an otherwise truly fun and clean puzzle.

@lewis, awwwww, congratulations!

Unknown 7:09 AM  

Liked the puzzle- especially impressive that all the iceberg-tipped clues worked without those letters. The tip of each word is the iceberg, which is cute. I have to say when I first saw the grid, I thought it was a face, so I was slow to cop to the theme. After the theme fell, it was pretty easy— more Tuesday than Thursday. Although I tried three times to make aspirant fit in 46 Across! Never looked at ESPERANTO that way before!

kitshef 7:10 AM  

Jeff Chen has produced a lot of great puzzles but this was a complete dog’s breakfast.

RHETT?? SASS for Stylishness? Plural ECRUS? ATE OF, HES, SEA RACE, No BRA day, I MEAN, GO SEE, SORTA. ORCA as “of the deep”. Japanese roadster my butt. Blecch.

I did like the clue for MAZE and … well, I guess that’s it.

John Crowe 7:27 AM  

Thought it was an excellent puzzle. They teach comics? In college? Can you major in comics?

Dawn Urban 7:56 AM  

Got witches for WICCANS. Failed this puzzle horribly. Best part was reading Rex's summation, the weird song, and the pic of Iceberg Lettuce!

Thanks, Rex!

Hungry Mother 7:58 AM  

So cool. I saw the ICEBERG appearing above the grid and used it to help with some northern entries. Some great wordplay, which I highly appreciate. Very fast for me near the end of the week.

Z 7:59 AM  

@John Crowe - At Dartmouth. At Duke. At Swarthmore. At Penn State. At Tulane.

Seriously, This comment keeps appearing. If you make it you’re not being funny or cute. You’re just exposing that your cultural awareness is more than a little dated.

QuasiMojo 8:14 AM  

I see Rex's point about the floating letters for ICEBERG at the top. It doesn't really make sense, and as I have said many times, it is a pointless exercise to have to fill out a grid just to accommodate a gimmick. That becomes the overriding duty rather than the pleasure of doing a crossword puzzle. It seems to me we need to go back to the basics. All this reinventing of the wheel just gives us a lot of unnecessary conceits that BAREly satisfy. Well, me, that is. I wish this blog would cover other puzzles since it's become a chore to have to discuss puzzles that are SUB-par on a regular basis. And now, to add salt to the wound, they are foisting the afore-mentioned pop-ups into the grid that announce you are halfway done. Well, not really, if you decide to bail a moment later out of boredom.

Chris 8:15 AM  

I wonder if Chen/Short knew they were being political with the clue for WICCANS... my guess is not. In some practices (including mine), a "book of shadows" is a blank journal and which you fill with notes for your personal practice, not a religious text that you passively read. The word "the" looks funny in front of it to my eye. The traditionalists would probably consider Gardner's Book of Shadows to be the referent here, but even then I'm not sure.

Shawn 8:27 AM  

You took the words right out of my mouth. As soon as I saw Jeff Chen constructed this puzzle, I knew Rex would hate it. As I solved the puzzle (which I found enjoyable for the most part), I doubly knew Rex would hate it. Anything that he doesn’t know or slows him down is unacceptable.

GILL I. 8:27 AM  

I like Jeff Chen puzzles but this one left me a bit cold. Ha Ha.
ICE BERG didn't take that long to uncover. Started with the I in ISLAM B in BARES and G IN GUN IT. 9D had to be EASTERN so that was an added E. My only fear was that the reveal might be lurking in the shadows somewhere or maybe under the ocean or whatever.
Flew along with no fear. Got the reveal off the TIP. Sat back and looked at puzzle. Nothing really made me go aha or ooh.
So on October 13, I can finally toss my BRA out the window? Who comes up with this? I think we should have a no JOCK day as well. Make it April 1.
Two entries I liked: ESPERANTO and WICCANS.
Hasta la TUTEE.

Shawn 8:41 AM  

Already replied to someone else’s comment but wanted to further support the positive reviews of this puzzle. Not smooth and clued oddly at times, but still enjoyable. I knew Rex would hate it as soon as I saw Jeff Chen’s name. That’s a shame: Jeff seems like a nice guy who supports the work of other constructors to help make their puzzles better. That’s a win for all of us! Rex just enjoys tearing into any flaw(s) he sees and rarely offers praise. A couple of other thoughts on OFL’s post:

1) An iceberg consists of everything above and below the surface of the water. What’s not seen is still called an iceberg.

2) What’s that, Rex? You teach a course on comic books? Seems like I’ve heard that about A MILLION TIMES!!!

3) Rex: just because you don’t know something or something slows you down doesn’t mean it’s a bad puzzle.

Lastly, am I in a minority who doesn’t give a damn about how long it takes me to solve? I solve while watching the news so my times are a bit slower generally. I notice them but my measurement of the puzzle is the enjoyment of the solving process not how long it took me to get to the happy music.

Brian 8:49 AM  


Nancy 8:55 AM  

One of the best puzzles I've ever done in my life. The "Aha" moment was huge. And when it came, all my intense bafflement went away, Like:

Why was OVERCHARGES the answer to "Entry fees"? I mean entry fees are always too high, but still...

Why was a SLAM symbolized by a star and crescent. Was there something new in the game of Bridge I hadn't been following?

Why wasn't BARES coming in at 7D? And what was 9D? ASIAN was too short and EASTERN seemed to be too long.

Then I got to the revealer and the revealer revealed perfectly. And all was clear. Marvelous!!!!!

A couple of questions, though: Why does SASS = Stylishness? I've never heard it so used. And UZIS don't seem especially "compact" to me. They're very, very big guns. Also, if I scored a NINETY on a tough test, I would hope that a full "A" would not be out of the question. But a great puzzle regardless.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

Puzzle was enjoyable enough to solve, but the concept didn't work. It's the inverse of how an iceberg works: the tip above the surface is the bit you *can* see, not the bit you can't!

So this works as a back-to-front iceberg puzzle where the tip is invisible and you have to work out it's there and write in the letters, but that's probably now how it was intended. Shame.

Whatsername 9:04 AM  

SEARACE? ATEOF? STyLish=SASS? The theme was okay but SORTA disappointing, although the entire time I was solving, I was thinking how much Rex was going to hate it. No disappointment there. Not one of my favorites.

Whatsernsme 9:20 AM  

@Shawn Vondran: Count me as part of the minority(?) who couldn’t care less how long it takes to finish. Taking my morning coffee in front of the fire in the winter or on the deck in the summer while I leisurely solve the puzzle is one of the great pleasures of my day - and one of the nicest joys of retirement to have the luxury of all the time I need. I have never understood the point of placing of an artificial deadline on yourself to get something done in a certain amount of time. Maybe there is some mysterious pleasure in having exceeded your own expectations, but I already have plenty of deadlines and demands on my time without creating my own.

SJ Austin 9:21 AM  

I tried to enter the top line clues as rebuses and the web app rejected them. Oh well.

My kids will be psyched to learn that RHETT and Link were in there NYT Crossword… except no, they won't, because they think the puzzle is irrelevant.

Critics can either a) complain that the puzzle is old-fashioned and outdated or b) complain that it contains really fresh clues that they're too old to know. Pick one. Personally, I threw that answer in way faster than any Gone With the Wind reference.

Z 9:23 AM  

"It's Chen so Rex will hate it" is actually something you can verify or disprove.

I read the last nine Chen reviews.*. One was written by a guest blogger. Five were panned. Two were neither panned nor praised, just descriptions of Rex's solve and discussions of his personal tastes (he hates the word "knurl," for example), and one puzzle theme he praised, In fact, I never saw the pattern until I hit the revealer, and then something weird happened, something good that's supposed to happen all the time but rarely does. Well, two things. A. I had an honest-to-god ...{spoiler removed} aha moment at the revealer, and B. it made all my earlier frustration melt away into something like admiration. It's a good theme. In short, "hated" 62.5%, neutral on 25%, "loved" 12.5%.

My conclusion, you believe what you want to believe, but the evidence leans towards "it's the puzzle not the constructor," meaning the prejudice lies elsewhere.

*Feel free to click on "older posts" at the bottom and see if the numbers vary much with older puzzles.

Amelia 9:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:01 AM  

No. The schools you cite have classes in comics. There is no major in comics.
And you're kidding yourself more than usual if you think Michael Sharp doesn't have an animus toward Jeff Chen.

Sir Hillary 10:04 AM  

I liked this puzzle but found it quite hard for a Thursday. The out-of-grid letter thing was easy enough to suss out, but I struggled filling in much of the rest. Part of that was because I had [D]ENUNCIATION up top, so the out-of-grid letters looked random for a long time.

@Rex dismisses it, but I love that the theme answers are real words both with and without their top letters. That's great work.

Nice clues for ERIC and ESPERANTO. But Stylishness for SASS -- huh?

I never ATEOF anything in my life -- Jeff ought to purge that one from his list. But SAWFIT and STRETCHY and NOTAGAIN are very good.

Glad to see CZAR rather than the more typical tsAR.

TUTEE is often the most annoying word in the NYT Magazine's Spelling Bee puzzle, but this is the first time I recall seeing it in a crossword.

@Lewis -- Congrats to you and your family. Hope the IDOS go well!

RooMonster 10:07 AM  

Hey All !
Well, it seems I'm the only one so far who totally missed what in tarhooties was going on. I guess the ole brain just wasn't working this morning. Never cottoned to missing letters above the grid, just put in the Down answers with a "Huh?" and continued on.

Solved online today, what was up with those pop-up "Half-way" thingamabobs? Was that supposed to be a hint? Didn't help. Was looking for some kind of theme throughput puz. Nothing. That might've been what threw me off. Sure, that sounds good! Also, some of the cluing seemed Day level.

Apparently it was a good puz, after all was said and explained, I can GO SEE that. I didn't hate it just because I didn't grok it. I DOS SORTA like it. Just no brain ABILITY today. Oh well, win some, NO IDEA some.


John Child 10:09 AM  

I really liked this one. Saw the I off the grid with SLAM but left most of the north blank and worked down to the reveal. Nice AHA moment. The rest filled in pretty easily. Like @Rex I wondered about other off-grid letters until finding the reveal. Nice concept, just Thursday difficulty.

I find the complaint about the concept to be weak. The I C E B E R G off grid is the tip of the down answers; works for me.

@Z, I don’t think your stats justify your conclusion. 12.5% positive isn’t anywhere near balanced.

gruffed 10:21 AM  

Why ruin a clever puzzle with "stylishness" as a clue for "sass"? You won't find that connection in a stack of thesauri, yet synonyms for sass abound, e.g. cheek, lip, impertinence, impudence, insolence, mouth, back talk, etc.

Unknown 10:26 AM  

Sorry to disagree with many commenters, but this puzzle for me was complete dreck, simply based on "tutee".

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

No for Shakespeaare and Pinter, they've been dead too long for the adjective late. But yes to Simon who became deceased only very lately.

FLAC 10:37 AM  

Like many, I thought this puzzle was clever and I enjoyed the reveal. So what if it wasn't "perfect"? And jeez, Rex, don't you get tired carrying that load of bad karma around all the time?

Suzie Q 10:39 AM  

This one kinda flopped, for me anyway.
It sure seemed weird that the missing letters formed a word that was already in the grid.
To look on the bright side, ichor was new to me. I like ancient Greek things so I'll be looking that up.
Agree that sea race doesn't sound like anything anyone would say.
The cover charge wasn't worth it today.
@ Nancy, If you ever see a picture of an Uzi it is rather compact as the clue says.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

Can someone explain how sass is the answer to stylishness?

QuasiMojo 10:45 AM  

I just did the LAT puzzle and it’s a real treat, clever, literate, and while it has a gimmick, it’s one that makes sense and has several aha moments. The Monday New Yorker puzzle also was excellent. I mention all this to show that I am not weary of puzzles in general. I still love doing them and usually do four a day. I just wish I could be as enthusiastic about the NYT offerings of late. Oh.. and @Lewis have a great trip. Maine in Sept is absolutely gorgeous.

pabloinnh 11:04 AM  

I'm with the non-speed, do it for the fun solvers. The few times I am forced to solve online are nerve wracking, with that little clock ticking away. This may be a function of age--I used to time my miles when running but now am happy to finish a mile.

Best part of today was discovering @Larry Gilstrap's nickname was Jock, which is altogether predictable but nevertheless got a smile out of me.

The puzzle had crosswordese? What next?

pmdm 11:08 AM  

Z: It's not about percentages. It's how accurate (non-subjective) the reviews are, and how close they come to evaluating the puzzle on a non-biased basis. You read read through Sharp's comments about Chen in previous blog entries and come to the conclusion he doesn't much care for Jeff, for whatever reason. If so many people get the same impression, there really must be something to it. [On the other hand, only 5% of the population like jazz or classical music.] When so many of those posting comments communicate positive feelings about the puzzle, the statement "This doesn't work" is a biased false observations. :This doesn't work for me" would have been quite accurate. The statement "You've got an entire iceberg on top of your grid" is so absurd that is suggests something, and that something is not good. You defend Sharp a lot, often correctly. But today his animosity towards Jeff got the better of him. His anger blinded him from seeing the positive side of the puzzle. Too many of those commenting seem to recognize that, so I would think that there is something to what's being aimed at him.

Perhaps this might be a good thing to do. Mr. Sharp should pay someone else to do a second review of any puzzle Jeff is name as the composer or collaberate with, with neither blogger reading the other one's review. Then publish both reviews. I would love to read the results.

My own subjective feelings? After finishing the puzzle, I felt many would either love it or hate it. I didn't have the time to struggle to get the gimmick, so I never really figured the gimmick out. Part of the reason is that the abbreviated entries are all valid words themselves, which fooled me. But it was a good deal of the fill that put me off, a very subjective reaction. So, without really liking the puzzle, I judge that all the elements of the theme worked together very well, and think Jeff should be loudly applauded for being able to construct the puzzle at all.

Lewis: My congratulations also. Given that Jeff did not mention the NINETY entry, it might just be coincidence. For some reason I remember the figure as 95%, which would further suggest there is no connection, but I might be wrong. But thanks for the point. It never crossed my mind. Perhaps I never woke up this morning.

Some who commented did not see the point of the ICEBERG. Normally, you don't see the part of the iceberg that is under water, only the tip that is above the surface. Today's puzzle presents just the opposite: you see (or should see, according to Jeff) the part that is underwater, but you don't see in the grid the part you would normally see. You could object that the part you do see should be wider than the tip of the iceberg, but it isn't. But crosswords are supposed to be fun puzzles, not logic puzzles.

gfrpeace 11:14 AM  

What's with nips = EDGES? And what's 'culinary' about A LA? Yeah, it's in the names of some recipes, but geez.

Took me a long time. I guess I enjoyed that I knew ICHOR, and I liked the word (R)ENUNCIATION.

Mr. Benson 11:19 AM  

I'm familiar with Rex's historic hostility to Jeff Chen, but in this case he's not wrong. There's no TIP OF THE ICEBERG here. There's an iceberg that's at the tip of something. And the part that's at the top is hidden, while there's a big puzzle underneath in plain view -- pretty much the opposite of how an iceberg appears. It's fair to say that it's all subjective, but it's equally fair to say Rex has every reason to hold the subjective views he does (which I share).

Leslie 11:30 AM  

Good puzzle. I think Rex needs to lighten up, although it's SORTA fun to anticipate his rants and see how close one's predictions are.

Banana Diaquiri 11:32 AM  

there is no Japanese roadster called MIATA. in the USofA there was such a car, but no more. for the rest of the world and Japan, it's been the Mazda MX-5 (and various others) since the beginning. it's been the MX-5 even here for some years.

True Grits 11:43 AM  

This was fhe *worst* puzzle in the history of crosswords. *The* worst. First of all, the word TITANIC appears nowhere in it. Nowhere. Not across. Not down. Come on, people. You cannot have a puzzle about ICEBERGS and not include the TITANIC. This is just sloppy editing. This is nobody-gives-a-@!#*! editing.

Second of all, there are too many old words. ITTY? ALIBI? FEN? I could go on and on, but I haven’t got the time. These words have been around *forever.* They are so old they creak. Can somebody please pay these constructors more money so they can come up with some *new* words? But not so new that I’ve never heard of them.

And, third, there’s the revealer. Why is it at the #%!%#ing bottom of the grid? It’s the TIP OF THE ICEBERG. It goes at the *top* of the grid. Tip? Top? Get it? Anybody who cares about crosswords knows this.

And yet they call it the World’s Greatest Crossword Puzzle!?!?!!?

Banana Diaquiri 11:47 AM  

Can someone explain how sass is the answer to stylishness?

well... Sarah Vaughn was known as Sassy. and she sure did have style

Ethan Taliesin 11:53 AM  

People take turns on a MAZE? I object.

Ethan Taliesin 11:54 AM  

MAZE take turns...I get it. Little slow today apparently

Banana Diaquiri 12:00 PM  

What's with nips = EDGES?

commonly used to describe the end of a race where the difference between first and second just a hair, or thereabouts. red or otherwise.

Stanley Hudson 12:02 PM  

@Lewis, congratulations to all concerned, particularly the bride and groom.

Put me in the could-care-less-about-time-to-puzzle-completion camp.

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Um, no. In Japan the Miata was called the Eunos. Not sure if that's still the case today, but it was many, many years.

Z 12:11 PM  

@John Child - What I really said was that Rex did not pan 38.5% of the last 8 puzzles he reviewed. The “he always pans Chen” hypothesis falls apart if he doesn’t, and he doesn’t. That one of those was a rave is just the QED in my whole “no, you’re wrong” argument.

@pmdm - I agree. Rex’s comments are blunt, sometimes hyperbolic, demanding, and spot on more often than not. If you go back and read the comments you will find “most people” is a hard thing to pin down. I just tried to classify today’s comments so far. The “loved it/hated it” comments are leaning slightly “loved it” (although even those comments point out some indelicacies)(but then again, the “hate it” crowd point out one or two nice elements), but the largest group of comments aren’t clearly in either camp. Also, one’s impression of reaction can be skewed by when you read the comments. I have noticed (and today’s comments fit this pattern so far) that it is not unusual for early comments to tend to roward agreement and then comments tend towards more balance as the day goes on. So, yep, I think it is fair to say that Rex is about as unbiased in his reviews as one would expect given the inherent subjectivity of the topic, and is at least as unbiased as the commentariat.

Okay - I’ve wasted way too many electrons on this topic already. Shutting up for at least a few days on the whole psychoanalysis of OFL motif.

BTW - SASS has a second definition whose use is rarer than a Rex rave of a Chen puzzle.

Chris 12:17 PM  

Pretty rare DNF for me, done in by the RHETT/ICHOR/TUTEE morass. Raised my eyebrow at SASS, but decided it was OK by me.

NIPS=EDGES like in a close sports score.

Nancy 12:51 PM  

@Lewis -- Congratulations!

@puzzlehoarder -- I got MIATA...but I needed all the crosses :)

@Suzie Q -- Didn't Rambo carry an UZI? Or was it something else? If it wasn't Rambo's gun then it's quite possible that I've never actually seen an UZI. If that's what Rambo carried, though, the movie posters made the gun look very big.

Of course the movie posters were themselves very big. So there's that.

Banana Diaquiri 12:53 PM  

Um, no. In Japan the Miata was called the Eunos. Not sure if that's still the case today, but it was many, many years.

quoting my humble self in what I posted: "it's been the Mazda MX-5 (and various others)

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, more than many Jeff Chen puzzles, mostly because it has some great clues, but also because it put up a fight. I got the "trick" right away, at [I]SLAM and [C]OVER CHARGES but writing a D over the top of 10D, giving me @puzzlehoarder's [d]ENUNCIATON meant the ICE BERG remained hidden in the depths and kept 62A from [E]MERGing readily.

Not seeing ICE BERG meant that I was leery of filling in the bottom, thinking perhaps answers also hung off the lower grid. I had no idea what "No ___ Day" was so I tried "meA[t] day. I had all SORTs of trouble with 35A, (S_N = ?), "Nips" for EDGES? "Recount" with N_ReAT_ in place was a "huh?". _EARA__ for "The Admiral's Cup, e.g." wasn't helping, but eventually that did give me the ABILITY to finish. SEA RACE to WICCANS to ITsY and SAW FIT, OLE!

I circled the clues for "It may involve dips, in two different senses" = SALSA, "Leader of the land down under?" = SATAN, and my favorite of all, "Puzzle in which people take turns solving" = MAZE, which is just wonderful, in my opinion.

On the other hand, I put ? next to 34A's "Apex predators of the deep", which seems an awkward way to clue ORCAS, and also 40A, "Tasted" = ATE OF. The latter seems like it should have been modified to "Tasted, like Eve's apple". ATE OF sounds very biblical to me. Kind of fun but weird.

I did see the grid art, so that succeeded for me, though I did note what Rex notes, that it really should be at the TIP of the puzzle. I do understand why it isn't so no big deal for me, in the end.

Carola 1:39 PM  

I thought the puzzle was really nicely done, and I enjoyed solving it. I'm guessing that it helped to solve in the newspaper, where I could write the TIP letters in the margin: iSLAM went right in, and soon the rest of the BERG eMERGEd. Thanks to coming here, I now can also appreciate the grid art and the fact that the entries below the waterline are all words on their own.
Special nod to @kitchef for jogging my brain on the MAZE clue.
I understand the objections to SEA RACE, but it is nice that theme-related SEA is in the center of the grid.

Masked and Anonymous 1:42 PM  

M&A, copin with this ThursPuz theme mcguffin:
"yep, that sorta makes sense … oh, but wait … nope, that doesn't quite work … well, it sorta makes some sense … @RP's got a point, tho … maybe if U speak like Yoda, it works … nah, I still don't … well, but then, if U … day-um ..."


1. If the ICEBERG is the seven Down answers with hidden tips, then that is one shredded-up ICEBERG ... but maybe the ICEBERG just has lotsa little peaks on it? … Or maybe the ICEBERG is wearin a nametag? Overall, M&A prefers the shredded-up ICEBERG wearin a nametag theory.

2. "TIP" can also be double-entendre meat, to be interpreted as "hint". So, the revealer is maybe just givin us solvers a "hint" involvin the word "ICEBERG", which is hidden [and shredded]? i.e., HINT OF THE ICEBERG. M&A can kinda buy off on that. Has a nice, desperate aroma to it.

3. East-west symmetry pic in the grid middle kinda looks like an ICEBERG. … Or is it the underside of the other ICEBERG? … Or a Devo hat, maybe? Confuses the M&A, just when he was startin to figure things out …

staff weeject pick: MOD. Luved the number theory clue. har. That probably immediately melted off the iceberg tips on half the solvers, tho.
MOD is sorta like yer remainder, after dividin. Sooo … 14 mod 4 = 2, for instance. [14 divided by 4 gives 3, with a remainder = **2**.]

Thanx for the Devo hatful of cryptic fun, Mr. Chen.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Matt 2:16 PM  

For those confused about the SASS answer, I believe it's coming from "sassy", defined as "distinctively smart and stylish" here:

cyberkyle 2:19 PM  

Did anyone else think the tip of the iceberg referred to letters directly above the iceberg-shaped black squares at the center of the puzzle? Kept trying to insert the "S,S,R,S,E,N,N" into the puzzle somewhere.

Anoa Bob 2:22 PM  

When I first saw the unusual arrangement of black squares in the puzzle I thought there would be some kind grid art [sic] and wondered what it might be. Orion's Belt? An Indian tepee? An upside down slingshot? No idea.

Upon completion I wondered if anyone had seen the arrangement as an ICEBERG before they solved the puzzle. I would bet not.

A few minutes into the solve last night as I was flailing around, trying to get some footholds, I typed a letter in one square, the S in WICCANS I believe, and something balloon-like popped out and floated up on the screen, just for a mo, not long enough to see what the message was. I thought it might be one of those annoying little gif thingies or maybe a little micro-burst from the LSD I took back in the 70s. I deleted and typed again and saw something like "You're halfway there!" What? I just got started!

Later, I forget where, another one came up with a similar message. Never did figure out how those related to the puzzle.

I had rEgatta for 36D for the America's Cup, e.g., clue. It surprised me when it turned out to be SEARACE. Aren't most America's Cup contests held in bays and harbors? SEARACE looks more like a line of Italian handbags. Is that being STRETCHY?

Anonymous 2:28 PM  


Here's what you wrote: "for the rest of the world and Japan, it's been the Mazda MX-5 (and various others) since the beginning."

You are simply wrong. The Miata was called the Eunos in Japan in the beginning of its production run. It may still be. As for the Alphanumeric designation, that has always existed. I'm looking at the owners manual of 2000 MX-5 Miata ( American delivery). All those words are on the front cover. Saying that MX-5 is what it was called in the rest of the world is wrong on both counts. That is, it always had that designation at home and abroad. That Miata has been dropped for the last two iterations isn't what you wrote.

What on earth is wrong with you?

ZenMonkey 2:47 PM  

To what is turning out to be a daily comment on this blog: "Gee whiz, what's with those losers who care about their solving times? I do the puzzle correctly, that is, not caring at all about my time."

1. Why do you care how others solve? I don't care that you don't pay attention to your time. Why isn't it okay with you that for some people, timing themselves is part of THEIR fun?

2. Are you aware that there are many crossword competitions out there, in which speed is a factor? And that some people who do the same puzzle you do enjoy being in these competitions? And that solving for speed is a way to practice for these competitions? (Myself I've only done the ACPT once, at home, and it was great fun; I hope to do it again some day.)

3. One of the biggest areas of discussion on this blog is difficulty. For some people, their own time is their objective measure of difficulty, and therefore relevant.

4. For myself: I speed-solve Mondays and Tuesdays for practice, because otherwise they're usually too boringly easy for me. If that offends you, I'm not going to apologize. My fun comes in seeing how fast I can solve them. Other days, I don't pay attention to the time, but I do have an interest in it. It's notable to me personally if I solve a Thursday wildly fast compared to my average, or painfully slow. (I believe I've only made one comment with my actual time on this blog, which was this Monday, because someone else had such a similar solving experience I thought it was interesting.)

5. You are making an incorrect assumption based on your own experience that solving for speed precludes fun. That the two can't happen at the same time. Well, they can, for some. For others, they can't. Neither side ought to sneer at the other, although frankly I can't recall speed-solvers being as snide and high-horsey as the anti-speedsters have been to them.

Enjoy the puzzle the way you enjoy it, and let others enjoy it the way they do. Otherwise, you're just a jerk.

Adam Lipkin 3:06 PM  

Put PUPIL down immediately instead of TUTEE, and that threw me for a good long while. Otherwise, RHETT felt like the most obscure choice, and ABILITY really wasn't a good clue (speaking as another comics geek). ASPS was good, and I really liked the clueing for SALSA (although, to be fair, while it was clever, it was probably too easy for a Thursday -- then again, I'm bad enough at solving that I like getting an easy answer late in the week).

Unknown 3:28 PM  

(Primal screams)

jberg 3:34 PM  

I'm always happy to see an ICEBERG, or any other kind of Berg, in the puzzle. But it took me a long time to see it, because I thought Mom's mom must be either 'gran' or 'gram,' which strongly suggested that 10D would be some kind of negation or something -- so I had an N sticking up there, and wrong first letters for 16, 19, and 22A. Sure slowed me up.

On teaching comics -- FWIW, you can make a lot more money with a career in comics than with one in Elizabethan drama, I bet.

I saw the clue for 64D, had NO IDEA, and then got it from crosses without noticing. I'll definitely observe the day, though.

@true grits, thanks for the comment! Keep 'em coming if they're all as witty as that one.

What I learned today: that UZIs are compact. No idea there, either -- I was guessing maybe the name itself was short for Uzinikoff or something. Now I know!

OISK 3:46 PM  

Like @Zenmonkey, I don't time myself on Thursday. This one went very slowly! But I eventually got it, and felt good about it . No idea why Rex often prates about Jeff's perceived weaknesses. Perhaps he has too often eaten of the bitter herbs. (I actually know "prate" from a song..."though your professors prate boys, that you'll flunk because you're drunk don't hesitate ..Though you get D minus, it isn't on account of shyness, you cut the lectures for their dryness boys, in drinking you will honor graduate..."

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

Loved the puzzle. Had to think through the clues and looked up "lapin" to confirm my guess. Lapin is french for rabbit so it seemed like it might fit well there. Islam gave away the game, so I caught the trick early. Some of the cluing was difficult, though. Some dreck, but overall thought it was a good theme. When I saw Jeff's name in the byline, I knew immediately that Rex would savage the puzzle. But that's par for the course as they say.

Banana Diaquiri 4:38 PM  

What on earth is wrong with you?

nothing, but apparently you can either not read or not comprehend.

once again, I say: quoting my humble self in what I posted: "it's been the Mazda MX-5 (and various others)

what part of *various others* do you not get????????????

Shawn 5:03 PM  

It’s nice to know I’m not alone! Thanks for the response and keep enjoying!

GILL I. 5:21 PM  

You go....Could NOT have said it better.
To each his own and all that. I LOVE peas and everyone else here hates them.....

Anonymous 6:10 PM  

5A is correctly MIATA. Read the clue. Miata IS a Japanese roadster. Period.

Nobody would have thought the grid looked like an iceberg if the theme had been anything else.

Charles Flaster 6:28 PM  

Liked it and very clever.Broke the theme immediately.
ISLAM was the giveaway.
Thanks JC

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri,
What various othrr names? I've raced them, been a member of the club, I even sold a couple, but I've never heard a name other than Miata and Eunos?

Teedmn 7:06 PM  

@Gill I, you noticed that about peas also! I've been scratching my head for some time now, wondering how poor peas got such a bad rep. Maybe the haters have only been exposed to the canned, mushy variety, was my only hypotheses. Fresh out of the garden, they can’t be beat.

Joe 8:48 PM  

I really do think this puzzle fails to notice the gap between people solving on paper (where you could pencil in the missing letters at the top of the grid) and (I think, by now, most) people solving online, who would somehow have to remember all of the missing letters in order. If you want to play with these off-grid tricks, I think you need to make the online version of the puzzle more supple.

newspaperguy 9:36 PM  

I rarely enjoy Jeff Chen puzzles. And I think I always admire them. Having people in my life who are more clever or more creative, or just differently so, does not offend me.

justme 9:56 PM  

Hi, Everyone--I managed to finish this puzzle with help on NETS (not a sports fan)and UZIS(my husband assured me they were compact--I thought they were big as did someone else here) and that Aristotle taught Alexander.
And I love how everyone thought ERIC was clued so well. Except I still don't get it.
Could someone help me?
Thank you

JC66 10:05 PM  


re: 25A (Idle on the set) Some people may be misdirected into thinking Idle is a verb.

Z 10:07 PM  

@justme - ERIC Idle is a member of the British Comedy Troupe Monty Python and author of the Broadway play Spamalot.

Unknown 11:00 PM  

Not just you. I had to take ERIC out myself. Is it ok that I can’t lose my deep distaste for TUTEE?

Unknown 11:01 PM  

Oops. ERIC is good. But I still don’t like TUTEE.

Monty Boy 12:29 AM  

This was a Saturday for me. I got the top half all correct and got the gimmick of missing letters. I was sure it must be dENUNCIATION, and I expected all the acrosses to have a missing a letter. I just couldn't parse ICEBERG, so I couldn't get the revealer. Spelling a word with spaces between just seems wrong.

Bottom half had a bunch of bad (or for some, good) clues. I had DEVIL, and none of the crosses got me to change that. Everyone has abilities, not just superheroes. They have super abilities, like faster than a speeding bullet, able to sling webs, etc. Look up Admiral's Cup and you get regatta,which fits nicely, but wrong. Never heard of a nickname called a tag.

All of that spells "out of wheelhouse" and we all experience that. No hard feelings, but disappointed I couldn't get the AHA. I'll get 'em next time.

Anonymous 4:13 AM  

SEARACE is not a thing. No one who races sailboats or power boats has ever used the term SEARACE. No one. I've done ocean races, buoy races, distance races, pursuit races, match races. The lot. SEARACE is not a thing.

You might as well put "baseball match" in the grid.

And the Admiral's Cup hasn't been a thing for years.

So, something that doesn't exist clued by something that no longer exists.

Azzurro 10:41 AM  

I give it a NINETY. Not perfect, but Rex is being too harsh.

Burma Shave 10:09 AM  


CHER SAWFIT to GOSEE some men,
IMEAN she had NOIDEA, and then,
was THE ALIBI for doin’ it


thefogman 12:32 PM  

It took a while for the aha! moment but it was most enjoyable when it happened. RENUNCIATION of everything that is not 100 per cent accurate is a rather SATANIC pursuit. I say OLE to Jeff Chen for his devilishly clever theme. You have to cut him a bit of slack. Rex is correct that is doesn't correspond exactly to what the reveal stipulates. But it's a riddle. And they can be SORTA STRETCHY and not absolutely perfect in every way. A hint or a flavour is all that's required sometimes. As a bonus, I learned about NOBRA Day which is this Saturday. Consequently, I SAWFIT to grant Jeff poetic license on this one and gave him a NINETY out of 100 for this one.

leftcoastTAM 2:57 PM  

After some time got the gimmick, competing the top row of otherwise incomplete answers, with the outside-the-grid I C E B E R G. Good, but expected some more ex-grid letters elsewhere.

So continued to work on the puzzle, thinking I hadn't finished. Found an apparently theme-related CAP in the SW, which would have extended the superhero's ABILITY to outside the grid. Finding no more such strays, ditched the CAP and dropped the search.

In the NE, wondered about SASS for "Stylishness" and UZIS as "Compact" weapons, and MOD in the SE, but let them go as is.

Actually enjoyed figuring this one out. Thanks, Jeff Chen.

Diana,LIW 4:04 PM  

Got the gimmick early and enjoyed the solve, but didn't know a few of the PPP answers, as usual. I agree that SASS is odd.

At first I thought GUNIT came from the silent G of EMUS, but no, that's gnus. Wake up, Lady Di.

Had dance before SALSA. (went well with the devil)

Didn't remember KONG. Good Thursday, but must admit that @Rex has a point about the iceberg tip.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 4:10 PM  

Please help me. I got the non-rebus ICEBERG early from figuring out the top tiers of answers. No problem there, except I don’t care for writing outside the box. Proceeded down and got TIPOFTHEICEBERG with no crosses. Fine. But I started thinking, “Wait, that ICEBERG is a repeat, and a big one at that.” And then, “Wait up AGAIN. That’s not a TIP of an ICEBERG, that’s the whole thing up there, just the TIPs of words sticking out.” Unless the TIP (hint) is that the letters you need to finish off other real words are ICEBERG. Anyway, the help I need is that it seems that I’m starting to think like OFL. Is there a cure?

I’d like to see some evidence of this so-called No BRA Day on Saturday. I remember when it could be most any day. Leeann SAWFIT to make it every day. Wonder how yeah baby CHER will celebrate.

SORTA meh on the gimmick. Just get OFL outta my head.

rainforest 5:12 PM  

Interesting and notable that not only are I C E B E R G outside the grid but they precede actual words that are therein. Also interesting that the nature of an ICEBERG has consumed much of the commentariat, to the point that the SASS of the theme was completely lost. Look, it's a bit of frivolity in a crossword puzzle for Pete's sake.

For my part, as I did the North, I briefly went rebus searching until I "saw" that E would make EMERGES, and that I - Islam, and C - COVERCHARGES. Nice. So, anyway, right away I thought I might see T I T A N I C sticking out of the bottom of the grid. Good idea, I thought, but no such luck.

Perhaps the idea here was that the word ICEBERG *is* the "tip" and the rest of the puzzle is the rest of the iceberg. I dunno. I just know that, visually, the theme worked for me and I liked the puzzle.

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Rex,I never knew you were a Steve Ditko fan. You should join some of his groups on Facebook. I am big fan.


thefogman 5:47 PM  


Coming soon to a theater near you... The Silence of the EMUS. Starring CHER and ERIC MIATA. Co-starring RHETT GUNIT


There ain't no cure for love - or Rexitis.

PS - Some are suggesting Rex has a thing against certain constructors including Jeff Chen. While that may or may not be true, maybe it would be a good practice to avoid knowing who the constructor is at least until after the review is written - like a blind taste test.

Diana,LIW 7:50 PM  

@Foggy - "All the gnus that's fit to print" is the NYT motto, after all.

@Rondo - 'tis ok to agree with @Rex now and then (see my post above). As I say to Mr. W, even a broken clock is right twice a day.


Lady Di

leftcoasTAM 8:22 PM  

@Rondo -- As you say:

"Unless the TIP (hint) is that the letters you need to finish off other real words are ICEBERG."

Yes, I think that that interpretation is most persuasive.

spacecraft 12:24 PM  

Well, I liked it, and OFL is being WAY too fussy. The visual impact makes the whole thing work--and it's doubly clever in that the TIP-less entries can all stand on their own. I think it's SORTA like a pun: bad only because YOU didn't think of it first!

Good fill, and maybe just a tad easier than a normal Thursday, with a boffo DOD: CHER. What's not to like? Okay, maybe TUTEE. Eagle.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Came here to see if you posted this


But no.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

This "tip" = "clue" of the iceberg is what is needed to complete this puzzle. Surprised that there are so many literalists.

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