Silver screen actress known as British Bombshell / SAT 9-27-20 / Philippine port with reduplicative name / Bony projection found just behind ear / Father of Anne Frank / So-called Pearl of the Black Sea

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (not sure why, but it played really slow, esp at first) (~12:00?!)

THEME: "Playing with Food" — four themers have circled squares that contain food items; four other themers are actually cryptic clues that explain why the food in the other formers is presented the way that it is:

Theme answers:
  • BANK OF GUYANA (24A: South American financial institution since 1965)
  • T(O LIVE) AND DIE IN L.A. (31A: 1985 thriller with the tagline "A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose, And the City of Angels is about to explode.") 
    • [2D: TV host with two Peabodys (JOHN OLIVER)]
  • BASEBALL CARD (49A: Collectible item with stats)
  • FOOT PATROL (59A: Elements of neighborhood watch programs)
  • -----
  • BANANA SPLIT (72A: Food depicted cryptically at 24-Across)
  • STUFFED OLIVE (78: Food depicted cryptically at 31-Across)
  • CHOPPED SALAD (98A: Food depicted cryptically at 49-Across)
  • MASHED POTATO (106A: Food depicted cryptically at 59-Across)
Word of the Day: MASTOID (67D: Bony projection found just behind the ear) —
1being the process of the temporal bone behind the earalso being any of several bony elements that occupy a similar position in the skull of lower vertebrates
2of, relating to, or occurring in the region of the mastoid process (
• • •

Today is my 17th wedding anniversary. Glad I solved this on Saturday evening so it didn't tarnish this otherwise joyous day with its particular blend of oldness and sadness. I don't understand even accepting this puzzle. This type of (very rudimentary) wordplay is the stuff of last century. The "salad" isn't even "chopped" evenly. And is anagramming really a good example of "mashing"? And all the cryptic-clue themers, once you get to them, are totally anti-climactic. It's just belated groan after belated groan. Not even groan. Groan would imply that the answer was at least surprising enough to merit an eye-roll. But all these punny cryptic-clue themers are more afterthoughts than revelations. "Oh, yeah, I guess that is what is happening in those circled squares. Huh. OK." Just cornball "humor." There are no good, exciting, interesting, current answers in the entirety of this 21x21 grid. What passes for "colloquial" dialogue in some of the fill feels awfully forced ("OH I DUNNO," "I S'POSE," [grimace]). I think I like I.T. BAND, in that it is a real thing, and a real (tight) issue for many people. But I DARE SAY there's nothing else here to really cheer for. And so much wasted real estate. The whole eastern chunk, for instance—three 7s all line up alongside each other ... and all of them mere filler (super-common letters, boring answers). The worst thing about the theme is the idea that anyone should know what the BANK OF GUYANA is. What in the world? Are all the random banks of the world just fair game now? Awful. And on top of all that, the puzzle played hard, which makes me even more resentful. If I gotta work for something, it should be worth it. But this was just a grind. And a letdown. 

Was the "Star Wars" onslaught supposed to be cute. Because it felt abusive. I knew all the answers, but yeesh. Mostly what you're doing there is screaming to the world that you are using all the familiar "Star Wars" crosswordese all at once. REY? REN? Why are you highlighting these by making them all "Star Wars" clues? Bizarre. I mean, YODA, sure, you've only got one frame of reference for that. But just continuing to throw "Star Wars" clues at the solver betrays a lack of imagination. REDOES, REOILS, rethink your grid. Also, REDOES and UNDID ... same base verb, too close. Also "say" is in the clues (23A: "Hmm ... hard to say") and the answers (DARE SAY). ILO ILO and ODESSA are too very crosswordesey place names and They're In The Same Tiny Section (SE). Ooh, though it may seem ... improbable / contradictory / ironic, I like GO LIMP and ORGIES. CIALIS, I like less. My god, FUDDLE? I'm now remembering why I was so slow up top. The JOHN (OLIVE)R clue is totally lacking in specificity ... and FUDDLE. Are FUDDLEs always "drunken"? I don't know this word, unless it's part of the phrase "in a FUDDLE" (?) in which case I would've thought it just meant something like "lost" or "addled" or "at sea." FUDDLE, wow. FUDDLE only means something to me with a "Be-" in front of it. What else? Oh, ANAKIN ... and ANACIN? Really not trying too hard for lexical variety today, I guess. Disappointing.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart. Your commiseration makes bad puzzles worthwhile. xo

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


dadnoa 12:04 AM  

Happy 17th,Rex. Write-up was spot on. Could add the gratuitous BLM reference, but that would be piling on. Can’t believe I finally commented before Joaquin:)

Frantic Sloth 12:05 AM  
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Bruce Fieggen 12:05 AM  

Have to agree with Rex for once. This puzzle sucked.

Sam 12:07 AM  


Frantic Sloth 12:19 AM  

Oh my word! I just read Rex and he was hilarious. “Was the "Star Wars" onslaught supposed to be cute. Because it felt abusive.”
Immediately, I flash to the movie Chinatown and JJ Gittes repeatedly slapping Evelyn Mulray’s face. Only she’s not doing “She’s my sister. She’s my daughter.” Instead: “It’s Luke. It’s Anakin. It’s Luke. It’s Rey. It’s Luke. It’s Yoda.”

A toast and a Happy Anniversary to you both! 🥂

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

Hated, hated, hated this puzzle. Mostly Rex covered, also Frantic Sloth. Fuddle (20D) about covers it.

Unknown 12:32 AM  

You are right. It's just not that fun to solve this puzzle.

Z 12:37 AM  

Unlike Rex, it was over relatively quickly. This played like one of those Now That’s What I call Music compilation albums. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, but only the hits please. A rebus here, a Jumble there, Oh look, the BANANA is SPLIT in half. All tricks you’ve seen before if you have been doing puzzles for awhile, and the unifying “theme” is food. Alrighty then. I didn’t hate this as much as Rex, but I heaved another mighty meh once I finished.

Started with pEetA before BELLA, mixing up my emo vampire romance stories and my emo dystopian romance stories. Hey, I’ve never watched a single nanosecond of either. I also had to change REn to REY. Hey, Luke trained him, too. Otherwise it was all pretty straightforward, with the crosses quickly filling in any gaps when I didn’t immediately know an answer.

@Frantic Sloth - I always always always wonder what the hell they were thinking with the two bath tubs. For me it’s Liberty Mutual and their Emu campaign from hell. Besides TV it is often the featured ad on YouTube.

okanaganer 12:45 AM  

Puzzle theme was OK, pretty neat. Weird that half the themers are explaining the other half of the themers?

And the NW corner is atrocious. All the downs are names!!... all of them! Crossing the Norse god TYR, for Norse god's sake.

Rex I share the hate for Star Wars... enough already.

Re THE NHL... I am right now watching game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final!! Tampa vs Dallas (two epic hockey hotbed cities!?) on PVR with about an hour's delay so I can skip commercials--wait don't tell me if you know who's won--and it's so weird. No fans, finals in September. September?

Frantic Sloth 12:53 AM  

@Z 🤣🤣🤣 The two bathtubs are obviously an ill-conceived attempt to harken back to the halcyon days of 1950s television and the wholesome purity of the twin-bed boudoir. Because if CIALIS is anything…

BTW, the wife shares your Emu animus. So do I. Well, who wouldn’t?

Anonymous 1:02 AM  

Frantic Sloth, your post gives me a headache. Too many words, dude! you even stuck a little play in the middle of it. Holy guacamole

N 1:53 AM  

As my partner and I did the crossword today we kept turning to one another and saying "oh god, Rex is going to hate this." So happy to have been right. It was the only time we were happy during this puzzle.

What a mess.

RAD2626 1:59 AM  

Unlike Rex and the commenters so far, I liked it. Clever concept, well executed around a food theme. Thought fill was fine, although did not know ANNA LEE. Really liked STUFFED OLIVE. Pretty much thought the POTATO was scrambled rather than MASHED but minor nit.

chefwen 2:26 AM  

OH, I DUNNO, I kinda sorta liked this one. A little sloggish at times, but it was food, glorious food. Loved the little STUFFED OLIVE, although I had a hard time stuffing it into that little circle. Hi @Nancy. I always urge puzzle partner to order a Martini when we go out for dinner so I can swipe his anchovy stuffed olives that he always gets. Mmm mmm good.

Oh, as far as Star War clues go, you can CAN those, some of us are over them. BASTA!

Anonymous 3:11 AM  

Having ONE rebus, and putting it in a theme-answer, seems like dirty pool to me.

goofytakemyhand 3:15 AM  

First of all, happy anniversary, Rex!

@Frantic Sloth - I feel the same way every time I see this constructor's name. I admire anyone who can construct a crossword puzzle - I sure as heck cannot - and he may very well be a great guy, but some of his submissions would not have made the cut during the peak years of the Shortz regime.

Joe Dipinto 3:36 AM  

I don't think the constructor realizes that STUFFED OLIVE means that another food, such as garlic or pimento, is placed within the olive. Not that the olive is stuffed inside of something else, which is what the grid seems to be illustrating. Realistically, the Stuffed Olive should look the same as the Split Banana.

So there's that, then there's the singular PANINI that the Times insists on serving up, and, speaking of things that are old and sad, the always unwelcome presence of "Star Wars", in triplicate no less, to make this an unfun Sunday.

White people listening to black music in black and white.

jae 3:56 AM  


Easy ✔️
REn before REY✔️
Liked it more than @Rex did (this is clearly a paraphrase)✔️
Wondering WOE the two bath tubs were all about✔️
“Emu campaign from hell”✔️

jae 4:12 AM  

....and if you’re running out of things to watch during COVID season, Gilmore on Netflix and Maisel on Amazon Prime are both excellent.

Charles Flaster 4:37 AM  

EZ and uneventful.
Did like clues for THE NHL and DELETES.
Thanks AES.

Dave in Ancaster 5:55 AM  

Fuddle without the duddle just isn't the same...

Lewis 6:11 AM  

The title is “Playing With Food”, and yes it is, with its slicing and dicing, but it’s also a paean to playing with words. Not only in theme answers, but in the clues for BRACKET [Collection of seeds?], IRS [Part of a return address?], IDO [Bit of swearing in church?], DELETES [Has away with words?], and HOTEL [Quarters costing dollars].

Not to mention three palindromes [OTTO, EVE, EYE] and the lovely-to-me-but-not-Rex neighbors ANACIN and ANAKIN.

Said wordplay plus some sturdy opening resistance, and the fact that the first four theme answers presented riddles that were fun to crack, made this a solid Sunday hike. Grateful for all you put into this, Alex!

Xcentric 6:20 AM  

What Rex and FranticSloth said.

LD 6:40 AM  

Got thoroughly naticked at the crossing of STP and REP, still don't understand what either of those clues is supposed to mean ("Indy inits." & "Good name, informally" respectively). Thought the theme was a harmless, fun bit of word jumble, but the fill was fairly grim.

46D was a very odd clue. Trying way too hard to sell me something unsolicited, in addition to being sloppy (the activity in the answer is much narrower than the range of activities allowed by the clue).

Greg 6:53 AM  

PANINO = 1 sandwich
PANINI = 2 or more sandwiches

BarbieBarbie 6:55 AM  

Well, I don’t like the emu ads either, but I have to admit it took a zillion of them before I finally went “oh. LibertEMUtual.” Probably someone who did the NYTX every day would have gotten that. Oh wait, that’s me [covered with rue].
I agree with @Rex and everyone today. What a random mess, glued together by... Star Wars clues?!?!

Andrea 6:55 AM  

Not an enjoyable solving experience, AT ALL.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

OH I DUNNO, it's a puzzle. Fill it in, move on to the next one.

Hungry Mother 7:08 AM  

Misspelled PANINI and didn’t know what PWN is, but otherwise OK. Started like a Saturday with lots of white space.

sf27shirley 7:15 AM  

Could someone explain 5D? What is PWN?

Liz1508 7:16 AM  

Where is bracket?

Z 7:16 AM  

@LD - REP as in your good REPutation and STP as in The Indianapolis 500 sponsor.

@okanaganer -I assume you’ve finished the game by now. I caught the end of the game. It felt like the Lightning were on a perpetual 5 on 5 power play so of course Dallas won on their only very short stretch of possession and a bit of a goal mouth scramble. Being firmly neutral, my strong preference is for the better team to actually win so I was a little miffed at that goal.

Let’s see - @Frantic, @Mrs. Sloth, @jae, @BarbieBarbie, @me ... Is there no one who will defend the Emu from hell? I mean, besides Satan? I wonder if they offer insurance against dual bathtub accidents.

@Dave in Ancaster - 😂😂😂 I missed the FUDDLE duddle incident.

@Greg - are you sure it ain’t PANINOPODES = 2 or more sandwiches?

@anon late last night - You will never guess what lists among the synonyms for “bias.”

Z 7:18 AM  


Kevin Bowser 7:20 AM  

PWN ???

ChuckD 7:21 AM  

I usually take Rex’s review of this guy and others on his list with a grain of salt - just as I do with his friends’ puzzles like last weeks mess of a Friday that he gave glowing marks to. However - I think he nailed this one. We get this huge, Sunday grid of unpleasantness. I don’t mind the theme idea - but maybe make some of the food items interesting at least. I do like how each of the themers has it’s own little trick - but when the fill is this flat it’s tough to get thru.

I don’t mind all the Star Wars trivia but understand that some may. BANK OF GUYANA is brutal. Snickered at GO LIMP over BANANA followed by CIALIS. Liked the clue for THE NHL - at first thought we had a redundant THE because it’s usually not used but as I was watching the Lightning game last night the promo blared “the NHL on NBC”.

Not an enjoyable solve for me.

ncmathsadist 7:23 AM  

Now that Disney has taken over the Star Wars franchise, I am totally over it. THREE star wars clues? And why the lonely rebus? Ugh. Just plain ugh. This was a slog. For some reason, I got it in a faster than average time.

Colin 7:25 AM  

Good morning, everyone, and Happy Fall! Happy Anniversary to you and your wife, Rex!

While I didn't find this puzzle to be overly difficult, for once I also have to (largely) agree with OFL and others. Look, I still enjoyed this (as I do all these puzzles), and I appreciate the time and effort put into this. But this one hardly "subvert[s] many different crossword conventions as possible." Pretty standard themer, with questionable fill (agree on OHIDUNNO, THENHL, the singular MASHEDPOTATO, etc.). I much enjoyed Frantic Sloth's write-up! - Your MASHEDPOTATO dialogue, LOL.

OTOH, I learned that PWN is actually a word. And a perusal of Anna Lee's bio revealed interesting tidbits: She was the goddaughter of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and mother-in-law to Don Everly of the Everly Brothers, and played Sister Margaretta on The Sound of Music. I suspect my father would know Anna Lee.

Be well and enjoy the autumnal weather.

Kiki 7:47 AM  

Thought I'd visit after dropping this Site of Darkness six months ago to see if Rex had had a revelation about joy, but apparently not. And it appears that most of his minions are in the same "woe is me" camp. Life is short, folks. Being such Eeyores all the time, especially in the time of COVID, must be so draining!!

hieutonthat 8:08 AM  
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Sioux Falls 8:15 AM  

@Liz1508 and @Lewis... BRACKET was from yesterday’s (Saturday) puzzle

Unknown 8:40 AM  

5 down PWN????
Definitely should be OWN.
Will someone confirm an error or explain what PWN is.

Lewis 8:41 AM  

@sioux falls -- I just caught that when I read Liz's post, and oops! Looked a bit high on my "clues I liked" list. I'm sorry about that!

pmdm 8:42 AM  

My reaction, unlike that of many who have already posted a comment, was not one of hate. To be certain, not one of love. But for me it just seemed to be another Sunday puzzle with a theme I actually appreciated, if not loved.

I would make one observation. "I don't understand even accepting this puzzle." On the face of it, that statement displays a problem with the person who made the statement, not the puzzle. It's easy to dislike a puzzle intensely, and there are a good number of puzzles in that category (despite the typical reaction of Lewis). The puzzle like this one are accepted because some (maybe a smaller proportion) of the solvers do enjoy this type of puzzle. And if that is true, it becomes the justification for publishing a puzzle that many long-time solvers dislike but others respond to. The real problem for me is that many solvers expect for Will to bend to their demands rather than publish a wide array of puzzles that appeal to a widely diverse population of solvers.

If I say I hate a puzzle, it usually means one of two things. Either I feel there is an excess of PPP out of my wheelhouse, or the cluing is not to my liking. Or both. Can't say this puzzle got to that point for me.

Colin 8:44 AM  

@hieutonthat, 8:08AM: I thought as well, and almost pointed this out... Until I looked up "PWN". It is an actual word, used especially by gamers. Derived from "own", yes. But "PWN." Not an error.

SouthsideJohnny 8:57 AM  

Wow - this is awful. I could not muster up any enthusiasm or energy for this “whatever-it-is”. (One thing it is not is a NYT Sunday-worthy crossword puzzle). Right out of the gate:

1D: Name of a rodent
2D: Name of a TV host
3D: Name of a sports brand
4D: Name of a sculptor

As soon as I realized that we were in for yet another trivia quiz where the crossword puzzle is supposed to be, all of the wind went out of my sails. I no longer utilize my old friend Mr. Google for assistance - I’d rather struggle with a puzzle that gives me a fighting chance (which obviously is not the case today). I simply am not in the NYT’s target demographic, so rather than beat my head against the wall with this slogfest, I’ll see if I have more luck at least getting to Genius level on SB.

kitshef 8:59 AM  

Yes … this absolutely worked for me. Sunday themes are often dull, but this one had life to it. And ANACIN/ANAKIN was nifty.

The multiple Jedis issue I blame on Will. At a minimum, there are other ways to clue REY.

Happy anniversary, Rex.

Off topic, I really enjoyed today’s acrostic, too.

LonMan 9:06 AM  

How could NYTXW. editors miss OWN/PWN?? I had a DNF cause of that

Blue Stater 9:09 AM  

Worst Sunday in quite a while. Horrible, horrible, horrible, for all the reasons stated by OFL, and more.

Pamela 9:23 AM  

I’m with Rex and most of the rest of you today, with one small exception: I laughed out loud when I discovered the ‘stuffed’ OLIVE.

Nothing clicked for me in this puzzle. I started last night, but once I’d gone through the grid and had so few squares filled in, I gave it up and went to sleep. This morning I was a little brighter, but the puzzle was not- Naticks everywhere. Star Wars. Tryr. Other PPP’s. Made up phrases. FUDDLE? Made up words! Just couldn’t believe RONNIE, so insisted on crosses before filling it in, finally looked it up.

The rebus hit me very near the end, and I thought it was hilarious. When I stopped laughing, as far as I was concerned the puzzle was finished. So I came to Rex to check the last couple of squares, filled them in and was done. Is that cheating? Yep. Do I care? Nope. Unfair puzzle, unfair tactics.

@Z- Thanks for the PWN link. I also had no idea what it meant.

As for olives, they’re a favorite. For years I drank Dirty Vodka Martinis, and always asked for extras. Once, on a location trip to a resort town with a particularly inharmonius group, we stayed in a rather lovely hotel a couple of miles away. There was a vehicle for crew, and one for the client group. After work the first day, when it was clear that the models (who usually preferred to get their beauty sleep) and I were not included in dinner plans in town, I ordered room service and included a double martini. The next morning, the client, whom I liked, mentioned not seeing me, and asked what I had for dinner. My reply: “Marinated olives!” After that, I rode with them.

TTrimble 9:28 AM  

Everyone claiming that PWN is a mistake: please read @Colin 8:44 AM.

I find it surprising how many people haven't heard of this. It's no longer confined to the gaming world; by now it's standard internetese. BTW, it's pronounced "pone".

Pamela 9:28 AM  


Colin 9:30 AM  

PWN is stirring up some emotions!
For anyone who's mad about PWN... Please see Z's 7:18 post and others.
This is not an error. It's not OWN.

Sixthstone 9:31 AM  

Ugh. Sigh. Yawn.

At least I learned PWN.

Unknown 9:33 AM  

For all those freaking out over the "error", PWN is absolutely a thing. As soon as I had the PCP crossing, it was a gimme.
Surprised nobody noticed the answer THE NHL crossing the clue "puckish". Thought that was cute.

That was about all that was cute, though. OK, maybe STUFFED OLIVE, but just barely.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

"I subvert convention," says AES. (EVE - bible pun, IDO - pun about cursing, fills out word list by gluing RE- prefix to random verbs and padding answers with the definite article)

Deathtohemingway 9:34 AM  

PWN — to own (heartily defeat) someone IN A VIDEO GAME.

NOOB — an inexperienced person, in the realm of computers or VIDEO GAMES

the only way to get a DNF at that intersection is to believe OCP is a drug.

pmdm 9:34 AM  

After reading kitshef's comment, I realized I forgot to mention something in my comment, something I obliquely said yesterday. For the vast multitudes who despise today's crossword puzzle, if you have access to it, solve today's acrostic puzzle that gets published every other Sunday in the Magazine section. (No, the same puzzle is not published every other Sunday, but the format of an acrostic puzzle is what I'm talking about.) If you don't smile at some point during the solve, well ... I wonder if you are truly human.(Some say to be risible is to be human.)

pabloinnh 9:35 AM  

Well, any puzzle that starts with AJAR and then asks for a five-letter sculptor starting with R (quick, name another one) is OK with me. I liked that the food tricks were all different and had fun trying to decipher them before I got to the bottom of the puzzle and saw that was part of the exercise. Got BANANASPLIT, of course, and MASHEDPOTATO but was looking for something like "tossed salad", and OLIVE being stuffed into the circle was not readily apparent, so fun there.

I don't look for a masterpiece every Sunday, half an hour or so of diversion is acceptable, which is what I found in this one. Unlike @Roo and @M&A I don't do a specific letter search, but any puzzle that has an OTTER in it makes me smile.

Thanks AE-S. I usually like your stuff and today was no exception.

Jim Lemire 9:43 AM  

Not an error. PWN is a slang term, basically meaning “own” in the sense clued...though my sense is PWN is more humiliating

Jim Lemire 9:44 AM  
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RooMonster 9:44 AM  

Hey All !
No time to read y'all. Gotta get ready for the (new) old grind of work.

I liked this puz. Neat "cryptic" answers that are real things that you have to figure out to get the second set of clues. Bah to Rex for thinking it unimaginative.

One-letter DNF. Argh! Had at REn/BANKOFGUnANA. Never heard of GuNANA (for obvious reasons), but was never gonna get REY. Even though i know of GUYANA. Drat.

Got stuck in a few places, but preserved and finished with just that one error. Found North part of puz tougher than South part. Actually got some of the "cryptics" before some of the "foids". Weird.

Well, gotta run. Will read y'all later. Happy Football Day!

Six F's

Z 9:45 AM  

That’s a link to the Urban Dictionary definition and at least two other explanations. If you don’t know what it means by now you’ve been PWNed.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

Beyond awful.

This is the second puzzle in a row I RAGEQUIT and threw against the wall in disgust. This is not good for my mood and it certainly isn't good for my wall.

I'll go back now to reading the NYT to discover the many ways the world has gotten even worse since only yesterday. It's all supremely depressing...and yet somehow actually more enjoyable than this puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 10:11 AM  

@Anon 102am Too true and apologies to everyone. Allow me to edit my 1205am post...

The theme is okay. It’s been done before and probably done better, but that’s not the worst of it.

DRAPE is tiptoeing on that SOC border for “Window dressing”
OLIVE twice in the grid
SOFARAS? Or asFARAS? One seems more righter than the other….
IGOTYOU? Or IGOTit or that? It’s an offer to pay, not an affirmation of understanding.

And some clues/answers had me thinking I was back in the incubator. I’m looking at you, VIPaboveveep/PRES and Usedtobe/WAS. Get outta here.

What does it say about CIALIS that someone who would never imagine having any use for it or even knowing anyone having any use for it can just plop it right in without thought or hesitation? It says this: Stop with the commercials already!! Big Pharma advertising. The devil’s workshop.

If MASHEDPOTATO isn’t an SOC, I don’t know what is. Really?

Waiter: Would you like your potato baked or mashed?
Diner: I’ll take the MASHEDPOTATOes, please.
Waiter: POTATO
Diner: Excuse me?
Waiter: POTATO. Singular. You said MASHEDPOTAToes, but it’s just the one.

Never happened.

There were some nice things, but I’m too exhausted. Go on without me – save yourselves! I’m sure there will be many here who enjoyed this and I’m happy for them. Alas, I do not count myself among those people. In case you were wondering.

Finally, I’m a Star Wars fan and even I’m getting pretty sick and tired of the absolute overkill of it in all these puzzles lately. It seems to get worse every week. Is there some sort of brainwashing conspiracy to be uncovered here or what? Holy guacamole! (Hi, @GILL!) Give it a rest already!

Whew! What a FUDDLEup!


Teedmn 10:14 AM  

Geez, I DARNED well did a number on this one. My lack of knowledge about nail polish brands, old laundry brands and the creator of "Gilmore Girls" brought me down in the end. Plus never questioning once that 80D was "bib".

Oh well, AE-S often does this to me. I thought the finds here were great. I especially loved the STUFFED OLIVE but it took having most of 31A in place before I saw T[O LIVE] AND DIE IN L.A. Love it!

I'd say there three too many Star Wars entries here but otherwise, I found this very clever. Thanks, Alex.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

At first I was delighted with the stuffed olive rebus and assumed this was going to be a fun and clever food-related rebus puzzle. Boy was I disappointed!

Joaquin 10:27 AM  

Personally, I enjoy all those BANK OF GUYANA commercials featuring their mascot the AGOUTI.

Unknown 10:30 AM  

Is there a difference between a meme and a fad? Is eating Tide Pods a meme?

Frantic Sloth 10:33 AM  

@Kiki 747am Welcome back! And if you're unacquainted with the concept of escapism and the catharsis of hyperbolic criticism, then maybe this isn't the place to look for your joy.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Thanks, never heard of fuddle duddle, but didn't like clue as one can be befuddled or in a fuddle and just confused, but not drunk.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Yes! ???

BobL 10:35 AM  


Give it a rest!

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Re BLM, true!

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Wow. Never heard of this. Is it said as an abbreviation (then what do initials stand for?) Or a word? Just do not get this.

Carola 10:39 AM  

Easy to solve, not quite as much fun as actually eating. The first theme answer I got involved the STUFFED OLIVE (I'd seen the 31A movie not too long ago,) and I looked forward to more such cleverness, but then the menu moved to regular Wednesday fare and enthusiasm fLAGGED. I ended with a DNF, unable to accept either PWN or oCP.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Well said!

thefogman 10:43 AM  

Not great but not quite as horrible as Rex makes it out to be. Although the editor did let a ton of crap slip through. Time for a change.

egsforbreakfast 10:49 AM  

Man, I feel like I’m on oCP reading these comments. PWN has rapidly become the OPPORTUNITY to repeat an answer endlessly.

@Nancy. A nice room with padded walls could be just the place for your RAGEQUITs,

I’m constructing a 100% Star Wars puzzle, as there is clearly demand for it from Will. My first three tries were a bit lame, but my most recent rejection said, simply, “May the fourth be with you”.

Turn The Rex comments down from a rage to shrug and you’ve got my opinion.

GHarris 10:57 AM  

Was a slog until I grokked the theme. Thought salad should be mixed, loved the stuffed olive which was the last to fall, had to Google the spelling of agouti to get the last letter which gave me irs which made me smile ( an acronym that usually brings a frown)

Frantic Sloth 11:02 AM  

@Joaquin 1027am Yer killin' me here, dude! 😂😂😂

@Unknown 1035am Your 2 word invitation is in the mail. 😘

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Not an abbreviation. It’s pronounced “pown”.

albatross shell 11:17 AM  

I DUNNO. I SPOSE it must be over-reaction Suday.

OMG they put a Twilight name in my puzzle. I watched a half-hour of one movie. A name! But the BEL WERE gimmie clues. So most probably BELLe or BELLA. Next clue a straight forward lose stiffness for the amusing GO LIMP which has a nifty mate CIALIS a few lines below. (IRS mates with TAX as well). And the final A is given to you by the circles above in BANK OF GUYANA and part of the always welcome BANANA SPLIT. Un-knot your knickers, folks.

OMG glued together, littered with, bunched STAR WARS clues. All of three filling all of 13 squares. And look: all united by cluing, with two at the top parallel downs of the better known characters in recent movies and the third, one of the most iconic figures of the series, placed far below as if footnote to the first two.

I found that except for the NE where it put its first and worst foot forward, everywhere there was difficulty a little attention to detail would bail you out. Making in some ways for pleasing solve.

The theme was well executed, I thought. The salad was chopped, the potato was mashed-up, the olive was stuffed, the banana perfectly split. And no, you do not have to use the word stuffed in the same way. Its wordplay, remember? And no, OLIVE is not used twice in the puzzle: It's an optical delusion. HAROLD does not repeat the occurrence of OLD.

SO FAR AS is of common usage and means exactly what the clue gives you. @ Frantic Sloth, does it really matter what your ear tells you? It does seem odd to me that the two words inSOFAR AS means the same as the shorter three words SO FAR AS. Puzzle that out.

I could go on but guest coming for the Eagle game. Stuffing to do. My POINT or GIST is a puzzle with flaws but much to appreciate. Many are just trying too hard to hate.

AGOUTI is no more a name than OTTER. Not a proper name. And who did not guess RODIN right away? Quit faking FUDDLEment.

Newboy 11:18 AM  

Happy Anniversary you dynamic puzzle couple.

Today’s grid seemed STUFFED in, MASHED down and CHOPPED up to stretch a cute idea into the large grid. More $$ for the constructor? Have to agree with Rex’s “ just a grind. And a letdown.“

hieutonthat 11:27 AM  

Got it. I should have googled first, but it seemed so ridiculous (and so close to OWN). In my defense, even my high school and middle school age daughters had never heard of PWN. None of us are gamers, I guess.

Crimson Devil 11:27 AM  

Good cluing TATS and IRS.
PWN not so much.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

pwnd was a like 2001

Chippah 11:38 AM  

THENHL... ugh

What? 11:39 AM  

Kind of meh but I liked “stuffed olive”. Took me awhile to get it and gave me an aha. These days, even one aha is welcome.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Z (7:16)
No. Preference and bias are not the same.
Consider preferring right to wrong, virtue to vice, health to illness. I employ reason not bias to arrive at my choice.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Frantic Sloth. Limit your posts to 3 per day. Thank you, the rest of us

Doc John 12:02 PM  

For once I completely agree with what Rex said. This was a real stinker, for the reasons that he outlined. My one exception is that I didn't mind all the Star Wars clues.
MASHED POTATO was the worst of them. If the author wanted to depict a potato as mashed, he should have mashed it into the last square of the answer, not scrambled it.

Barbara S. 12:07 PM  

Not much to say about this puzzle. It just sort of lay there on my tablet screen. Some good, some bad, ultimately solvable.

IfPOSs before ISPOSE was unfortunate and messed up the North-center for a while.

More fun with food: another take on stuffed olives. If you watch this (and you really should -- it's only a minute and a half), be sure to stay to the end for the punchline.

Both my husband and I have had I.T.BAND trouble. Out of defiance, we've changed the name to the "silly old tibial band".

"You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time ELAPSEs."

OK, bad humor getting worse. Over and out.

Oh, except -- happy anniversary, Rex! You have the anniversary date as Google.

Joaquin 12:08 PM  

@Anonymous (12:00 PM) - Why do you care how many times someone posts? Is your scrolling wheel not working?

sixtyni yogini 12:09 PM  

Loved it after figuring it out! 🧩❤️🤔❤️🧩
And it’s my (birthday) anniversary too.
Cheers 🥂 to all of us 😎 crossword geeks/cool peeps 😎!

GILL I. 12:28 PM  

@Anony 12:00...Go take some CIALIS and have fun with yourself. Anony 1:02, please join him.
I started this last night and wanted to do a @Nancy boing boing on the wall. I wrote: "I absolutely hated this but hate is a word I despise." I thought I was being so original only to find everyone else agrees with me.
Well here I was all giddy because Alex was going to prep us with food. Instead he gives us chopped liver.
What didn't I know? OH I DUNNO....The only thing I do know about GUYANA is that Kool-Aid Jonestown People Temple and then I got in a severe funk. Then @Z makes me go look up that damn EMU AD and then Anonies go and be nasty to our whimsy, funny friend, @Frantic and I want to shout I FEEL ATTACKED!
I've never done the SB but I'm so depressed, I think I'll do it - just so that I can come here and annoy everyone with an ******SB ALERT******

Paul & Kathy 12:32 PM  

It seems as though every time NYT publishes a crossword from Alex Eaton-Salners, Rex has a bad time. I checked the last three. All rated as challenging and all complaining about the quality of the puzzle. Not that I had a very easy time with this specific one, but one might note a pattern and wonder if either party has spent any time thinking about why this happens.

Frantic Sloth 12:34 PM  

To all unidentifiable snipers and others making personal attacks on this blog and the commentariat and/or individuals:

Why don't you give it a rest?

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

in recent memory, it was GEICO that invented the light-hearted insurance teeVee advert, and remain the most effective but still haven't topped the Maxwell ones.

which is worse:
- those emu degradations
- those Flo abominations

old timer 12:45 PM  

As Sunday puzzles go, this was a good one. Not so much of a slog, and did not start off Easy, but instead presented a challenge at the beginning. BANKOFGUYANA was, I thought, absolutely brilliant. I was looking for some big commercial bank in the region. But the date should have given me the answer. You see, every country creates its own national bank -- Bank of England, France, Italy and the like, but of course there is a BANKOFGUYANA, and a BANKOFURUGUAY, and a BANKOFBOLIVIA, and so forth -- Banco de Uruguay, etc., for Spanish speaking countries, but it so happens GUYANA is a place that used to belong to England and so they speak English. And the country did not gain independence until the Sixties.

Was consuming Tide Pods really a MEME once? Sounds like something Trump would suggest (I know, I know, he didn't, he just wished there was a cure out there that worked as easily as a cleanser, but the image has become an indelible metaphor for Trumpian foolishness, all the same).

Actually, looking back at the clues, there are a dozen or so I would mark with an appreciative colored pencil, especially the one for PROTEGE.

GILL I. 12:45 PM  

@Barbara S 12:07....WHO EVER THOUGHT PEPIN COULD BE SO FUNNY. Thanks for a morning picker upper....

GB Bartley 12:46 PM  

Another interpretation: OPP is included in some lists as a synonym of PCP. That makes 5D “own” and 6D “pan.”

CuppaJoe 12:53 PM  

As a newish Sunday solver, I enjoyed this. It was very slow going at first but then had me at John OLIVE r; hilarious to equate him to a stuffed olive. How will he comment on this puzzle, what visuals will he use; stay tuned.

Mohair Sam 12:56 PM  

@Joaquin (12:08) - Thanks! I've been using mice since the first Macintosh and have never figured out why somebody added that silly wheel in the middle. (OK, tee off trolls - have a blast).

Kinda liked the puzz. Then read Rex and y'all and can't really argue with your specifics, but still enjoyed the thing.

@Rex - With you all the way on that complaint about the unevenly chopped SALAD. Yup. Why I was having lunch at the St. Regis just the other day and they brazenly served me a SALAD that clearly had several uneven cuts (mostly in the lettuce, but a bad slice or two in the tomatoes as well). I complained and they apologized, gave me the lunch for free, and fired the chef on the spot.

GILL I. 1:22 PM  

@Mohair 12:56. Way to go! Did it include fennel?

Jett 1:25 PM  

Sometimes I'll be in the middle of a puzzle on Sunday that is so bad that the only motivation to finish is to see how bad Rex hated it. This was one of those days.

I felt like I was solving something that I should have used a quill pen on rather than a laptop keyboard.

Jim Spies 1:25 PM  

Personally, didn't like the cross of "Black Lives Matter gathering" and "Neighborhood watch". Little too close to the bone, there.

bocamp 1:31 PM  

@ Alex - thank you for this trip down memory lane! Right on my wave-length and most enjoyable. Loved the "food" theme; very creative. :)

Below ave. time.

@ Rex - Happy 17th anniversary, and don't forget, "Everything Old Is New Again".

Mom was famous for "playing with her food", taking forever to finish. She'd poke at it, size it up, move it to and fro, before eating it. She was meticulous about "eating around her plate." She'd kindly excuse us from the table while she leisurely enjoyed finishing her meal. God Bless you Mom! 🙏

Was out with friends on a Friday night in Walla Walla; we went bowling and afterwards to a restaurant for treats. I ordered a "banana split" and as we were all yakking away, I sensed something was not quite right with my "split". After some investigation, I discovered that they had left the "bananas" out. True story, cross my heart! :)

Many a rainy day in '50s Eugene was spent spreading out my collection of "baseball cards" (and football cards) on the bedroom floor. Sis would occasionally join me, and I'd reciprocate by doing "paper dolls" in her room.

Loved our "spinning tops", too. :)

@ sixtyni yogini 12:09 PM - Happy Bday! 🎂 🎉

Peace Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

Leslie 1:33 PM  

First of all, what the heck is wrong with anonymous? As far as I care, @Frantic can post 100 times a day; at least she's funny and clever, not mean and underhanded like some.
The puzz: well I thought the theme was cleverly done, and I actually smiled at OLIVE. But what left a horrible aftertaste was the thoughtless(?or maybe not) cross of BLM PROTEST and FOOTPATROL, remembering Trevon Martin. Sorry to even bring it up, but it was either insensitive or blind or something else.

Masked and Anonymous 1:39 PM  

MASHED OOTPAT was a new concept to the M&A.

Other OHIDUNNOIT's: PWN. FUDDLE. BANKOFGUYANA. AGOUTI. ITBAND. Mostly spread out, tho -- sooo … ok. NW corner was probably the most contentious.


staff weeject pick: PWN. Theme-conscious clue: {Half-eaten prawns??}. See that? Now, this is why they say don't play with yer food.

Thanx, Mr. E-S. Kinda different theme set, with half antics with The Circles [Always an @RP pleaser] and half answers to the other half. M&A always approves of different.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

p.s. Happy anniversary, to the really Sharp couple.


jberg 2:10 PM  

I enjoyed this theme. The whole point was to play with food in different ways -- so the single rebus square was a feature, not a bug.

As for BANK OF GUYANA, c'mon -- once you get the theme you know that it has to start with BAN, so it's a BANK, and it has to be in South America and end in ANA. Havana would fit, but it's not in SA, so what else is there?

Apparently PWN was actually an error -- but one made by a proofreader for an early version of World of Warcraft, who didn't notice that it was supposed to be "own." It caught on with gamers. We did have it in a puzzle a few months ago, which is how I knew it.

I think the puzzle needed those 4 "explainer" themers. You could get the first four entirely from crosses, or at least from crosses plus plausibility--so without the last four, you could finish the puzzle without understanding the theme, which would be a lot less fun.

I have to admit that I haven't memorized the books of the Bible in order (except for a few short runs like Genesis-Exodus, or Matthew Mark Luke John), but I had the E ans it was six letters, so there you are.

Long ago in a galaxy far away there was indeed an informal rule against posting more than three times in a day -- but that has fallen by the wayside long ago, mostly because the people who post most often tend to be the most interesting, and because allowing unlimited posts makes it possible for dialogues to occur. I think the change has been good.

acjones 2:11 PM  

one of my fave things to do - especially on Sundays - is to start the grid upper left and within getting a few clues checking my vibe and see how close it is to Rex' take on the puzzle... that way I don't even have to bother with finishing a dud and have a nicer Sunday morning.. so thank you Rex for saving me from having to completely solve this utter brain/soul drain.. switching right over to American Values crosswords today!

Music Man 2:19 PM  

I agree... and happy anniversary to Rex and his wife.

Colin 2:24 PM  

@Gill I., 12:28: We understand your meaning (and also goes to the retort, "What am I, chopped liver?") - but many folks, including me, love chopped liver! Sometimes, the simple, low-brow foods are among the best.

Music Man 2:24 PM  

2 clever clues/answers today:

93A: Bit of swearing in church? I DO
107D: Layer of farmland? HEN

Pamela 2:50 PM  

@Barbara S12:07- Cute! Always loved Jacques Pepin for his recipes almost as much as olives. And today, for that wicked little smile at the end.

KRMunson 3:02 PM  

Emu is far worse IMHO

albatross shell 3:33 PM  

@jberg 210pm
Amen to each and every paragraph.

Amelia 4:02 PM  

I can explain the Cialis ads, God help me. I was doing Cymbalta at the same time, so knew the ELI LILLY marketers very well. In fact, I used the director who shot the Cialis ads (John Francis--made a fortune) for Cymbalta and Sara Lee. I asked him about the bathtubs and he admitted it was his idea to get a little sex appeal in for a very, very, very conservative company from Indiana.

But here's the answer. A bunch of research done on Pharma advertising proved that people could barely remember the names, because they were brand new, or complicated. Makes sense. And if they asked for a drug, nine times out of ten, they would get it. (If appropriate, of course.) So if they asked for the drug with the two bathtubs, they got Cialis. They didn't need to know the name. In my case, if they asked for the anti-depressant with the words Depression Hurts, they got Cymbalta. I made billions for Eli Lilly. I was thanked personally by Alex Azar. Don't get me started on him.

It was about branding, for sure. But mostly it was to get them to say something that the doctor would recognize.

Z 4:46 PM  

@Spelling Bee-ers- They want your feedback. Be kind. 😎

bocamp 5:01 PM  

"I invent nothing, I rediscover" - Rodin

I Got You Babe - Sonny and Cher Top of the Pops 1965

I Got You, Babe - Groundhog Day

Ginataang Tulingan is a Filipino dish wherein fish is cooked in coconut milk along with eggplant and other ingredients. I caught bonito from the dock near the bow of our ship, and traded them to the EM club for free meals. 😋

Mike Epps Talks Marriage, Fatherhood, New Netflix Special + More

Iggy Azalea - Fancy ft. Charli XCX (Official Music Video)

"Chopped salad" is kinda my go-to supper; it's more of a veggie platter, but "chopping" does come into play. LOL

Otto Frank

"IT band"

Love Star Wars stuff any time. Haven't memorized all the characters, but working on it. Kylo Ren was a gimme.

James Brown - Mashed Potatoes U.S.A. (1962)

**** SB ALERT ****

Still working on yesterday's; 5 to go 🤞

Ernonymous 5:24 PM  

@Frantic I had to look up SOC, and here I thought I had nerd cred knowing about PWNING people since 2006.

bocamp 6:18 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Z 4:46 PM wrote:

"@Spelling Bee-ers- They want your feedback. Be kind. 😎"

Done; thx 😊

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

G. Weissman 6:44 PM  

This puzzle was a turd.

TTrimble 6:57 PM  

@Frantic Sloth
Keep the posts coming -- they always make me laugh! I had to look up the famous scene between Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

(I suspect the Anonymous who wanted you to stop was the same who wanted me to stop a few weeks ago. I'm glad there's pushback here against this three-post restriction of yesteryear.)

Speaking of SOC: what's a single grain of rice called? A rouse?

kitshef 7:43 PM  

@Mohair Sam - thank you. I wanted to say something similar, but it would not have been as funny.

Pamela 7:44 PM  

OK, I’ll bite: What is SOC?

bocamp 7:53 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

Finally packed yesterday's SB in. Fell 5 words short of QB (knew all but one of them). Also, had 2 "scrabble friendly" words not accepted by SB; alas, on to today's puz. :)

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

Michele 7:59 PM  

This is not relevant to anything much but Natick shows up in this article--

Mohair Sam 8:22 PM  

@Amelia (4:02) - Neat stuff, thanks.

Z 8:22 PM  

@Pamela - Singular Of Convenience.

Myuen88 9:16 PM  

Are we just ignoring ANNAL crossing with ANNALee?

Joe Dipinto 9:31 PM  

Here's a hyperlink to the Times Business Section article that @Michele posted above at 7:59 pm. I like this sentence:

"This was a determined, systematic effort by a peevish crossword puzzle blogger to destroy the lives of the entire populace of Natick", said the U.S. Attorney in Boston.

(Just kidding, it doesn't really say that.)

Anonymous 10:00 PM  

I take it you concede the point that preference and bias are not synonymous.

TTrimble 10:08 PM  

---[SB Alert]---
-->> spoilers from yesterday <<--

I had kept yesterday's open, being only four short. But two of the words are virtually unrecognizable to me: GALLEON and LONGAN. Particularly, the latter, I have no clue, don't even have a guess about its meaning.

The other two: AGELONG and LLANO. I suppose the latter was gettable. I'm not sure how I feel about AGELONG. At first blush it looks old-fashioned, and I can't swear I've ever seen it in print, much less have it in my own lexicon. Yes, it looks like a plausible word, and the meaning is easily inferrable, but for the hoi polloi like me, this seems pretty obscure. (I'm not, after all, a world-class Scrabble expert.) Feel free to disagree if you think differently.

TTrimble 10:11 PM  

---[SB Alert]---
Sorry, but to continue --

(Of course now GALLEON is just now jarred into my recognition, yes. Whoops, a daisy.)

Nancy 10:16 PM  

@kitshef and @pmdm -- I normally don't do Acrostics since I find the process of filling in letters so tedious and tiring. But based on your dual advice, I did today's. It's absolutely charming, of course. Very hard -- or at least I thought so -- but well worth the struggle. SPOILER ALERT below.

Going from KNOWLEDGE to EDUCATION and only belatedly to the right answer at Clue K made this a LOT tougher for me.

Pamela 10:31 PM  

@Z- Thank you! That’s hilarious- I wish I’d figured it out myself, but glad to be in on the joke!

NY Composer 11:26 PM  

This. Puzzle. Sucked.

bocamp 11:45 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ TTrimble 10:08 PM

Still 9 words off for today. Will work on it tomorrow.

-->> spoilers from yesterday <<-- (below)

longan was the one that totally slipped my memory. I wanted llama for the double "L", but, again, lack of mental toughness, not sticking with the double "L" to see what else might come of it. :(

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

bocamp 11:50 PM  

@ Nancy 10:16 PM

I might give the Acrostics a try. I've also felt they were way above my pay grade, but then, I thought the same about the NYT crossword when I first started in on it in the '90s. :)

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

Photomatte 12:35 AM  

This was probably already said, but 17D is incorrect. A grilled sandwich is a panino. Two or more grilled sandwiches are panini.

CS 12:48 AM  

Well I liked it.

-- CS

RobertM 2:23 AM  

+1 for enjoying @Frantic Sloth’s comments. @Anonymous, if you don’t l8ke it, don’t read

Joe 7:26 PM  

Loved this puzzle. Although I never want to see another Star Wars or Harry Potter clue again.

Burma Shave 12:10 PM  




rondo 2:54 PM  

SOFARAS/ASOF crossing on the A in both ASes, LISTENUP/UPPER crossing on the U, ANAKIN and ANACIN on top of and adjacent to each other, a coupla blankOFblanks, IDO UNDID REDOES. An OLIVE STUFFED rebus square, circled letters, one of which is an anagram, wacky explanations; this puz has it all AND it is too much. Don't know the bombshell ANNALEE, but the always annoying Kelly RIPA can get a yeah baby. THE NYT OTTER do better.

Phillip Blackerby 4:47 AM  

Check the dictionary.

Phillip Blackerby 5:01 AM  

PWN, verb, "to own," as in "You got PWNed" means "you got owned," or soundly beaten in a video game (or other competition), particularly by a noob. Such noobs aren't careful enough to reread their tweets before sending, thereby missing the typo, having hit the P rather than its neighbor, O. Stupid noob.

Phillip Blackerby 5:25 AM  

All these complaints, and no one commented on the incredible structure of the themers. All the explainers were in the upper half of the grid, and all the circle answers were in the bottom, and in the same order as in the top. All the answers were left justified with their corresponding partner, and all had the same number of letters! Pretty DARNED amazing construction, in my book.

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