Beekeeper Shavitz who lent his name to a popular lip balm / THU 11-10-22 / Small shell-shaped confection / Dmitri formulator of periodic law / Radisson competitor / Ugluk or Gorbag in The Lord of the Rings / Rupiah spenders

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Constructor: Dan Caprera

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PLOT (62A: What's spelled out, appropriately, after mapping the coordinates indicated  by this puzzle's circled letters) — theme answers contain letter strings (in circled squares) that serve as plot coordinates, and those coordinates (N2, A9, D1, and K7) lead you to the letters P, L, O, and T, respectively:

Though you do need the actual coordinates in your grid in order to "solve" the theme part (my software doesn't show them—here's what the puzzle grid looked like online):

Theme answers:
  • STUNTWOMAN (16A: Lucy Lawless had one on "Xena: Warrior Princess")
  • CANINE TEETH (26A: Fangs)
  • INDONESIAN (42A: Rupiah spenders)
  • BREAKS EVEN (55A: Neither wins nor loses)
Word of the Day: Dmitri MENDELEEV (32D: Dmitri ___, formulator of the periodic law) —
Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev
 (sometimes transliterated as Mendeleyev or Mendeleef) (English: /ˌmɛndəlˈəf/ MEN-dəl-AY-əf; Russian: Дмитрий Иванович Менделеев, tr. Dmitriy Ivanovich MendeleyevIPA: [ˈdmʲitrʲɪj ɪˈvanəvʲɪtɕ mʲɪnʲdʲɪˈlʲejɪf] (listen); 8 February [O.S. 27 January] 1834 – 2 February [O.S. 20 January] 1907) was a Russian chemist and inventor. He is best known for formulating the Periodic Law and creating a version of the periodic table of elements. He used the Periodic Law not only to correct the then-accepted properties of some known elements, such as the valence and atomic weight of uranium, but also to predict the properties of three elements that were yet to be discovered. [...] A very popular Russian story credits Mendeleev with setting the 40% standard strength of vodka. For example, Russian Standard vodka advertises: "In 1894, Dmitri Mendeleev, the greatest scientist in all Russia, received the decree to set the Imperial quality standard for Russian vodka and the 'Russian Standard' was born"[65] Others cite "the highest quality of Russian vodka approved by the royal government commission headed by Mendeleev in 1894". // In fact, the 40% standard was already introduced by the Russian government in 1843, when Mendeleev was nine years old. It is true that Mendeleev in 1892 became head of the Archive of Weights and Measures in Saint Petersburg, and evolved it into a government bureau the following year, but that institution was charged with standardising Russian trade weights and measuring instruments, not setting any production quality standards, Also, Mendeleev's 1865 doctoral dissertation was entitled "A Discourse on the combination of alcohol and water", but it only discussed medical-strength alcohol concentrations over 70%, and he never wrote anything about vodka.(wikipedia)
• • •

[28D: Eliot Ness and co.]
Baffled by this—not so much by the fact that you would go to all this architectural fuss for a thematic element that doesn't affect the solve one iota, but that the end result of said fuss would be so astonishingly anticlimactic. It's like some kind of anti-puzzle, a joke about puzzles, a send-up of puzzles. Is it art? I have no idea. I just know that you *told me* that PLOT was what I would get if I plotted ... so why ... would I bother ... to plot, then? Couldn't I just take your word for it? There should, at the very least, have been *some* element of revelation to this thing—even if we do end up with some non-answer like "PLOT," at least Let *Us* Arrive At It. Make this a contest puzzle or something, where solvers have to actually *find* something. This is like handing a kid a connect-the-dots puzzle or a maze that has already been solved—have fun, kid! From where I was sitting, this was just an undersized, extremely easy (i.e. non-Thursday) puzzle with black bars on two sides ... for some reason. My software was screaming at me "There are notes! We can't replicate some of the grid elements! Do it onliiiiiine!" but as usual I ignored my software and plowed forward, only to find out that I didn't need those grid elements At All except to figure out some post-puzzle thing that the puzzle had actually already figured out for me. Seriously, what are we doing here?

The puzzle was very easy, which I think is the new way of appeasing solvers, of distracting them when there's no there there—when you're high on success, you're far less apt to be critical of the puzzle. I was slow  in only a couple of places. ENTRAP, for some reason (27D: Set up, in a way). Just took me forever to see. And then I still don't know what the hell kind of "exercise" TOETAPS are supposed to be (23D: Core-strengthening floor exercises). I'm tapping my toes right now. [Looks at core] ... Not seeing it. I guess I need to be on the "floor." Anyway, slowish there. And then I couldn't quite spell MENDELEEV's name right. I think I thought he was some other scientist guy. A geneticist, maybe? Ah, here we go: Gregor MENDEL. That's what my brain was thinking. Ah well, not like the answers crossing the end of his name were hard. The doubling of the letter string "INCA" was really distracting, mostly because they are side-by-side just one column apart (in INCAS and INCANT). Since both of them run through the always horrible UNPC, I think I'd've torn allllll of that section out and rethought it. I like MADELEINE (10D: Small shell-shaped confection), and I really like the MADELEINE / MENDELEEV symmetry. Mellifluous. TATAS in the plural, on the other hand: hard no (17D: Farewells). My only true mistake was STORK for OTTER (2D: Animal with webbed feet). Special thanks to the OMNI for being a familiar friend (first thing in the grid!) despite the fact that as far as I know I've never seen  an OMNI irl. It's a mythical place to me. I imagine the fancier ORCs stay there. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. the term is STUNT DOUBLE. Lucy Lawless had a STUNT DOUBLE. Of course that STUNT DOUBLE was (I'll take your word for it) a STUNTWOMAN. But when you phrase it [Lucy Lawless had one ...], the only reasonable answer there is STUNT DOUBLE.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


pray for earth 5:40 AM  

Lamest Thursday ever.

GAC 5:45 AM  

Stupid puzzle.

Conrad 5:46 AM  

Super easy. Only overwrite was riata before LASSO at 1D. Maybe it would have been better if this had been a Sunday grid with the code spelling out something longer, like MENDELEEV. Or better yet, TURING, since he was involved with codes.

Anonymous 6:04 AM  

I always look forward to Thursdays as the start of the real puzzles. Shame to get a boring Monday solve with a lame reveal.

TTrimble 6:13 AM  

Agreement all around: this was very easy. I almost matched last Thursday's time, a PR for me, also very easy, and I wasn't even trying to go fast. And the theme did seem a little pointless. I think it's almost like Jeopardy!: here's the answer, now what's the question? Although it's more like: what's the instruction? But that too was pretty easy, and the whole thing just fell flat. It wasn't so much a PLOT, more like a PlOp. It sunk, sadly, like... that's it, like you've lost a listless game of Battleship, which is how the grid now appears to me.

Rex made me laugh out loud twice. The first was handing a kid an already solved maze -- have fun, kid! The second was imagining Rex TAPping his TOE and looking at his core to see if it worked.

Also agree with Rex that MADELEINE and MENDELEEV were the standouts. Of course MADELEINE causes me to remember Proust and In Search of Lost Time, and to reflect on the fact that the few minutes spent on this puzzle are now lost time that I'll never get back.

I got nothing else. Too bad there are probably no noteworthy ass sightings to enliven this event. I'll wait to see what others say.

OffTheGrid 6:37 AM  

The only reason I even look at Thursday puzzles is to marvel at the new low to which they have sunk.

Joe Welling 6:42 AM  

CANINE TEETH seems redundant. We don't say "molar teeth," do we? And the clue isn't talking about any tooth that belongs to a dog. "Fangs" are CANINES.

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

I agree with Rex completely. There needed to be either a lot more coordinates in the puzzle (at least 8), or a reveal that was interesting. This was a lot of setup for a minimal payoff.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

I am 70yo. My mother started me on puzzles when I was a kid. I love the NYT crossword and continue to do it daily. This is the worst piece of ---- in 60 years.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

I solved it with a cat on my lap. It was quite enjoyable.

kitshef 7:04 AM  

Nice idea for a puzzle; grid has some interesting fill; completely let down by Monday-level cluing. And an undersized grid to boot, so the whole thing was over in five minutes.

Eirnc 7:10 AM  

@rex. Stunt double is so right that I wasted time looking for rebusses/rebusi. Total Thursday let down.

Son Volt 7:12 AM  

Kept on thinking there was a sexy Thursday trick here - huge let down. Solved as a themeless - Monday level time and had no interest in the after party. Why include a theme that has zero connection to the puzzle?

There was some decent fill - DEMEANOR, CONCOCT, MADELEINE were all solid and I always like to see OTTER in the grid.

Commander Cody’s Lost in the OZONE has always been one of my favorite records. We’ve seen Hot Rod LINCOLN before so today I’ll go with this tasty nugget.

As we would say on the south shore of LI - worst week of puzzles evah

Craig B 7:13 AM  

Couldn’t agree more. Lame theme, too easy, and it had one of those “appropriately hidden” clues that I loathe (25 down).

pabloinnh 7:13 AM  

First I tried printing this and with all the border coordinates the left hand side of the page was cut off, eliminating the numbers for half the Across clues. Not a happy start, because we're supposed to solve on paper. Yes, yes we are.

And then it was too easy and then the revealer was awful, even though there was an OTTER. Not even a STUNTWOMAN could not save this STUNT puzzle.

My wife would tell you I like pretty much everything and never complain, but I really didn't like this one and I'm complaining. Where's my Thursday?

Well, someone decided to run this Dud Clunker, DC, so maybe not your fault. Please try again.

Aaron 7:22 AM  

Real "Be sure to drink your ovaltine" vibes to this one. What a letdown.

SouthsideJohnny 7:26 AM  

Cryptic gimmick puzzles are way toward the bottom of the list for me, so fortunately I pretty much ignored the unconventional grid and lame revealer and just filled in what I could - it felt like I was solving a kludged up Tuesday grid. I feel bad for those individuals who actually look forward to a well done Thursday gimmick and slogged through this only to find a big fat nothing burger.

Harry 7:26 AM  

Had this been a "Wednesday", I suspect most would be copacetic and reason PLOT was reasonable cause for not being positioned earlier in the week.

But serving this up as a Thursday? It's like stepping up to a bar and ordering a stiff drink and being served a pina colada.

Bob Mills 7:27 AM  

Couldn't get the SW, so I got a DNF. I didn't bother with the theme, and after reading about it, I'm glad I didn't bother. Totally contrived.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

I should have printed this one so I could use it as a placemat for the grandkids.

Roberto 7:34 AM  

if this dreck fest was what was chosen by the editors to run on a thursday, I wonder what was on their in-pile that they rejected. I finished the puzzle and no idea what the theme ( or joke) was. I, too, had trouble printing the puzzle. I had to hand enter the clue numbers after I printed the puzzle.
Usually , I look forward to something clever on Thursday, This wasnt such,

Wanderlust 7:37 AM  

@TTrimble, AMEN to all of your clever comments, from PLOp to laughing at Rex tapping his toes and checking his core to the Lost Time on this puzzle.

I don’t generally like “meta” puzzles, but I gamely looked at the coordinates, and after the first one turned up a P, I thought, “Oh no, it’s not just going to be PLOT is it?” I confirmed the L and refused to go any further. What a letdown. @Lewis, good luck complimenting this one.

Proud that I spelled MENDELEEV right on the first try. Mystified by Rex’s comment about STUNT WOMAN. I misspelled the bee guy as BeRT, and when the down cross became clear, I was wondering what the eNSURE drink had to do with a lack of confidence.

Yay OTTERs. My favorite animal.

Harry 7:38 AM  

btw, what's with the recent frequency of "name in the clue" and "missing letters as the clue" in the grids lately?

Am I suffering the onset of dementia in that I don't recall such a reliance on cheap fill prior to this year?

This is the type of fill that I might expect of the pulp crossword magazines I cut my teeth on in the 70's/80's. But I really look for a NYT editor to say to the constructor, "You can do better".

Johnny Laguna 7:40 AM  

Embarrassingly dumb puzzle. Tuesday-level difficulty. Betting absolutely NO ONE worked out the theme, let alone used it to help solve the puzzle. (I still don’t understand how it was supposed to work, mostly because I couldn’t even get thru Rex’s explanation.) There must be literally dozens of puzzles they could have chosen to publish. Who could possibly have found this worthy of a NYT Thursday?

Joe R. 7:43 AM  

When I opened the puzzle and saw the coordinate edges, I was sure we were going to lay a game of Battleship, and I was interested to see how that was going to work. When I saw the first themer had a coordinate, that reinforced my expectations. When that coordinate didn’t lead to anything. I figured it would be a miss. By the time I got to the revealer, I had lost hope for a fun game woven into the puzzle, and when I got the revealer, I was angry that we’d gone through all these contortions for such a lame theme. *sigh*

One highlight that Rex didn’t call out - I loved the clue for 18A. I tried to think of a three-letter word for a toady, and couldn’t come up with one. When I got the answer there, I smiled at the misdirect.

JJK 7:44 AM  

I’ll join in the chorus - this was a dud, although I actually thought the theme was more clever than others here seem to. It was the revealer that was a problem, it just tells, takes away the mystery.

I totally agree with others on STUNTWOMAN, it should be STUNTdouble. One could say that someone works AS a STUNTWOMAN, but an actor HAS a STUNTdouble.

Had pilates before TOETAPS, although laying on your back with your knees bent and held up at 90 degrees, then tapping each toe to the floor in turn IS a core-building exercise. Rex tapping his toes while sitting in his chair and wondering how that could exercise his abs was hilarious. And it was a lame answer to the clue for sure.

Crunchy 7:47 AM  

So no one has pointed it out yet but it's making me crazy "I just no that you *told me*[...]"

Unless I'm severely uncaffeinated this morning, it should be know, no?

Otherwise, I agree.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

Has anyone noticed how much more exciting and fun the WaPo/LA Times puzzles are with Patti Varol at the helm? Just sayin'. In case the NYT decides their crossword needs someone new in charge or something.

The puzzle itself was ridiculously easy, with pedestrian fill and no legitimate theme to spice it up. Boring. BORING! So attach a "Highlights for Children" puzzle to it and that makes it OK? I commend Rex for working out the dopey code. I didn't bother.

This Shortz penchant for making the crossword into an unholy hybrid of lame crossword and stupid kids' game is really annoying. Especially on a Thursday, which used to be my favorite puzzle day of the week.

Joaquin 7:57 AM  

Note to those who solve on paper when the puzzle doesn't print right: Instead of printing directly from the site, download the puzzle and open it on your desktop, then print it. It will print in its entirety.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

So did I!

Unknown 8:00 AM  

Plot twist?

Sue Merian 8:05 AM  

That day of the week difficulty seemed really off on every puzzle thus far this week - as if Shortz had four theme puzzle for the week to which he randomly assigned days.

J.W. 8:08 AM  

Weak week so far. It's felt like four Mondays in a row.

Whatsername 8:20 AM  

It started off badly for me with printer issues. (Hi @pablo.) No matter what I tried, this came out as a shrunken version of the normal grid - squished into the NW corner of the page and worse, with the numbers and the first few letters of the clues cut off on the left side. So before I could even begin, I had to take a pen and squeeze tiny little numbers and letters into the nonexistent left margin. What a mess! I suppose that was a glitch but I couldn’t help wondering if it had something to do with the unusual grid structure. Anyway, apparently it wasn’t just me.

As for the solving experience, I could just repeat the words I had scrawled in the massive white space remaining on the page but I really hate to pollute the blog with that kind of language. I did the puzzle last night because I have an early dental appointment. But I’m still trying to understand why I went to all the trouble of correcting the print problem, reading the shrunken clues, filling in the shrunken boxes, looking at the circled letters and trying to decipher what to me was a rather convoluted revealer, only to end up with one four-letter word which has already been revealed. Sigh.

When I was married I would occasionally try a new recipe just because. My husband was always very thoughtful with his responses but I could tell when he said “It’s really good of you to try something new,” that I probably should throw that recipe away. Pretty much sums up the taste this puzzle left in my mouth. It’s nice to try something new occasionally but let’s not make this one again.

Paul Fisher 8:25 AM  

Got to the revealer, saw how long it was, and immediately decided just to get it from the crosses rather than read and/or consider it. It was a record Thursday for me, as I suspect it will be for many others as well.

Dan A 8:29 AM  

This puzzle lost the Thursday plot

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Could’ve been a... Tuesday?Monday even?

Rich Glauber 8:33 AM  

I thought this was the NY Times Crossword, not the 'Weekly Reader'

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Totally agree. They should just pre-fill the answers for us at this point. They’re not challenging or clever.

Lewis 8:35 AM  

I did have an amazeballs moment in the doing of this puzzle, which I’ll get to in a moment. But first, a couple of things that stood out. I liked the Boggle-style TED in the southeast corner to go with LASSO, and I enjoyed running into the O-tag clan, LOCO / ECO / CREDO / ORZO / LASSO, along with cousins ALOE and MAO.

Okay, that moment. I finished the grid, read the clue to PLOT, and for the longest time stared at the circled letter strings without seeing the obvious – that NTWO, say, was the coordinate N-2. There it was, right in front of my eyes, I’m staring at it, and don’t see it! That blew me away, how that can happen. It’s like looking at a penny and not realizing it’s a penny. Stunning! Oh, and it led to a most satisfying aha when the curtains finally lifted.

Anyway, Dan is now two NYT puzzles in, and his first puzzle was literally a treasure hunt, where the theme also employed the grid-as-spreadsheet motif (in a different way than today’s), which is something we don’t often see in Crosslandia. Dan, thank you for keeping things different, and I look forward to what you come up with next!

Liveprof 8:37 AM  

TTrimble: I agree it's not very noteworthy, but there is a hidden tuchas in LASSO. And TATAS clanged around in my head a little, but that's slang for a different body part.

pabloinnh 8:38 AM  

@Whatsername-I've tried the approach of writing in tiny letters and numbers to replace what was missing and I feel your pain. I gave up today and solved online, and now I feel like a heretic.

Diane Joan 8:40 AM  

I do the puzzle on my phone on The NY Times App but I didn’t have the grid on my puzzle. Anyone else have this situation? It was easy enough to get the word from the clue and crosses though.

Johnny Mic 8:44 AM  

Also totally ready for a battleship theme. Kinda felt sad when it wasn't.

Unknown 9:00 AM  

Wait, I just noticed that this puzzle was not only a record Thursday for me, it was 5 seconds faster than my fastest Wednesday.


NYDenizen 9:11 AM  

Wordle 508 2/6*



Unknown 9:16 AM  

Toe taps? Evidently, you have never been to a Barre or Pilates class and are uninitiated to the hellish rituals conducted during these sessions. Give it a whirl and you, too, can know the agony of toe taps.

Aaron B 9:17 AM  

I agree that the theme was much ado about nothing. I ignored it and had a PR, better than my (admittedly not scorching) Tues and Wed times this week.

Bekkieann 9:19 AM  

Sorry to all the complainers, but I thought it was fun. And nice to have an easy one on a Thursday. The "PLOT" was elementary but cute. I dunno, I felt like I got my money's worth.

Rachel 9:23 AM  

PLOT was so boring! And it practically wrote itself in, so I just used it to fill in the rest of the coordinates.

Adding that there was also symmetry with OPEN and EXIT

Carola 9:26 AM  

I'll give the theme credit for keeping me in the dark until BREAKSEVEN, where I finally cottoned on to the coordinates. But the "Oh, boy, let's see what happens" moment didn't last long: PLOT? Followed by another PLOT? I felt like it was April Fool's Day, with me unable to get the joke. Agree about the fine MADELEINE-MENDELEEV pair.

@Unknown 8:00 - Maybe!
@Harry 7:38 - I agree with you on both counts about the creeping infestation of these sorts of clues.

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
My experience was exactly that of @Paul Fisher 8:25, only I missed my record time by 16 seconds.

Seemed a bit excessive having A-N/1-15 on the edges just to get a four-letter Revealer. Almost made me utter other four-letter words.

Technically, grid is both undersized and oversized. The actual solving area is 14x15, but with the Edges, it's 15x16. Swirl that around in your noggin.

Not the best ThursPuz out there, but did appreciate finding Bingo-type phrases. KSEVEN, i.e. Although, K isn't in Bingo. But you know what I'm trying to say. If you've been reading me for long enough, you can either figure out what in tarhooties I'm saying, or you just think I'm an incoherent babbling moron. Hey, I'm cool either way. 😁

One F (or Two, if you count the Edge)

pmdm 9:31 AM  

Some things remain constant. This blog is constructed by a person who compoases very specific and demanding thoughts about the puzzles (although rants can be a bit meandering) and consequently the blog attracts many who are not exactly Shortz fans. Yet the puzzle income for the NYT seems to increase (as does the number of crossword puzzle constructors. Jeff is less caustic and demanding than Mike, as exemplified by today's commentary. Lewis always finds a silver lining in the puzzle construction (which I usually agree with). So nothing about today's comments adds to my knowledge.

And about the puzzle. A bit too much PPP for me, but I though the crosses were quite fare. Yes, I felt disappointed by the theme, but I can deal with that. Objectively, I don't know which day of the week I would run this puzzle if I were the editor. As a daily diversion, I thought it was fine. If the main goal is to add to the universe of puzzle constructors, I think the goad is achieved. I guess my goal would be to define what all goals are currently for all the puzzles printed in the paper (which we have Shortz to thank for, I think). Of course, NYT income has to be at the top.

TTrimble 9:33 AM  

Clanged around! Aw man, that's gold. :-D

For a moment I thought @Lewis might have taken a day off. Gotta admire both the kindness and the consistency.

Diego 9:38 AM  

All of the above. . . except @Lewis, I’m guessing, since I skip his daily rhapsodies.
BTW, @TTrimble, I thought you’d given up the ass search?
Following the Tuesday/Wednesday delights, this effort played particularly grim.

Barbara S. 9:38 AM  

I’m relentlessly enthusiastic about most puzzles but I have to agree with Rex today. However, everything’s an opportunity and here’s what I learned from solving this puzzle and doing a little research afterwards:

1) That I love the expression [Out of one’s gourd]
2) The pronunciation of ophicleide
3) That I’ve been making weak-ass MIMOSAs all my life and that a nice addition to the white wine and orange juice is a tablespoon of Grand Marnier
4) That ALP has been an answer three times in the past week and ditto AMEN or AMENS
5) That beekeeper Shavitz spells his name BURT rather than BeRT (damn!)
6) That Daniel Day-Lewis is one of only 6 people to have won 3 or more acting Oscars, the others being Frances McDormand, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Ingrid Bergman and (surprisingly) Walter Brennan
7) That although the 100,000 INDONESIAN rupiah note looks like it should be worth a fortune, it is in fact equivalent to 8.63 CAD and 6.37 USD.
8) That Eric ANDRE looks like he’s [Out of (his) gourd]
9) That American PIE is both a film series (which I’ve never been able to work up any interest in) and a song (which I love)
10) That Timbuktu is a place of many spellings: “French spelling often appears in international reference as 'Tombouctou'. The German spelling 'Timbuktu' and its variant 'Timbucktu' have passed into English and the former has become widely used in recent years. Major English-language works have employed the spelling 'Timbuctoo', and this is considered the correct English form by scholars; 'Timbuctou' and 'Timbuctu' are sometimes used as well.” (Wikipedia)
11) That MENDELEEV predicted the properties of 3 elements that were yet to be discovered: what he called ekasilicon, ekaaluminium and ekaboron (germanium, gallium and scandium, respectively). I like the seeming spookiness of this and am glad I have little knowledge of chemistry, which would probably make the spookiness disappear
12) That [Strawberry Fields] in the clue must refer not to the song but to this
13) That TOE TAPS look deceptively simple, but placing your hands under your butt is crucial because you mustn’t let your pelvis rock
14) That I’d never heard of MADELEINEs until this morning and they look cute
15) And that Dan Caprera has novel ideas for puzzles (his previous NYTXW was a pirate’s treasure map which led us to an X), and I love the originality of his thinking, but feel he needs to go just that one step farther to achieve a solving experience that shines.

[SB: Yd: 0 (really happy with this one because it was 59 words)
Dbyd: -1. Missed this imposing specimen.]

Lance 9:41 AM  

I can't believe Rex didn't comment on 45 across.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Fastest Thursday ever for me.
Worst Thursday puzzle ever. I’d rather have a DNF because the Thursday was inscrutable but clever. This was a waste of my time.

andrew 9:43 AM  

If the payoff had been “What this way too easy Thursday turned out to be” was SLOG, the landing might have stuck.

Beezer 9:51 AM  

My comment is pretty much the third paragraph of what @Pabloinnh said except substitute “husband” instead of “wife.” Don’t care to go back to look? That’s how I felt while solving.

MarthaCatherine 9:53 AM  

I tried to make more of it: the N in NTWO was D3 in the coordinates; the A in ANINE is E6, and so on. But, nope, it wasn't anything. Kinda surprised that PLOT was all of it.

Had fun nevertheless. As Rex says, we like it when it makes us seem like a badass (how's that, @TTrimble?)

Steven W. 9:54 AM  

At least I set a new Thursday record, so there's that.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  


Anonymous 9:54 AM  

I will confess to just going to the video tape (Rex Parker) to give me the plot to this puzzle. Imagine my relief that I didn’t spending another minute on this puzzle realizing that the plot was plot. Thanks Rex, a plot.

Joe Dipinto 10:00 AM  

So am I understanding this correctly? The puzzle is plotting a flight course from Providence to Little Rock to Oshkosh and finally to...what does the T stand for? The Bermuda Triangle, where the plane disappears without a trace?

Waiter, I'd like the madeleines please. And an espresso with a shot of Rhombi.

Pete 10:09 AM  

At least the MADELEINES served as a prompt for me to ask a question of the cooks among you all - When did burning breads and pastry become de rigueur? The latest baking magazines we get features charred breads, charred cheesecake, and charred MADELEINES. I've seen chefs insisting that if your taco or burritos aren't actually smoking burnt they're not done right.

Call me old fashioned, but I don't like ashes in, not just the above mentioned foods, but any of my food.

mathgent 10:20 AM  

My wife and I solved it together. When we finished, we saw that the coordinates led to PLOT. We thought that there had to be more to it than that. We couldn't find anything. I went to Jeff Chen for illumination. No. That's it. There's no there there.

I checked Crossword Fiend a few minutes ago. Readers there rate puzzles from one to five. This one was about 1.9. The lowest I've ever seen.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Color me sad...when I see circles I hope for some fun. This was...useless.

bocamp 10:26 AM  

Thx, Dan, for this excellent adventure; the PLOT definitely thickened post-solve! :)

Easy (somewhere between Tues. & Wednes. dif).

First impression on seeing the unusual grid: uh-oh, we're in for trouble!

Very smooth, despite not knowing: MADELEINE, BURT, ANDRE, TOE TAPS, MEL & 'orphicleide'.

Took a few minutes to grok 'mapping the coordinates'. Finally, saw the numbers TWO, NINE, ONE & SEVEN in the circled cells, and Bob was my uncle.

GOT most of MENDELEEV, knowing element 101, MENDELEVIUM (thx to my mnemonic scheme). PIE & AXE came to the rescue for the extra 'E'. lol

Enjoyed Daniel Day-Lewis's performance in 'LINCOLN'. May have to queue it up for a re-watch today.

'The Untouchables' with Robert Stack was one of my faves back in the day.

MALI has shown up enuf in xwords, that I can connect it to 'Timbuktu' by now. Also know the general location thx to Sporcle quizzes.

Fun puz; liked it a lot! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

The plot sickens…..

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

This xword belongs in Highlights magazine...

GILL I. 10:38 AM  

A STUNT puzzle which brings me to Lucy Lawless. She NEEDED a STUNT WOMAN. Saying she "had one" sounds like she birthed her.
I looked at this and said I wasn't going to bother. I'm not a fan of fancy schmancy, put that in your pipe and smoke it puzzles. Because I got tired of watching election returns, I did it anyway. was easy. Too easy. Like a child, I went ahead looking for my lollipop prize. I finished this just as you told me to, and you give me a PLOT??????? I would've preferred a MIMOSA.

Tom T 10:49 AM  

The only thing that really slowed ne down today was the trepidation that this puzzle was going to have some indecipherable Thursday trick. So I started out not trusting the first answers that came to my brain, sure that it couldn't be that straightforward.

I saw the K/7 gimmick at BREAKSEVEN, and realized that was all we were going to get. OVALTINE rides again!

I would have been impressed if one of the theme answers included JTHIRTEEN.

jae 10:50 AM  

Easy. Meh, or pretty much what @Rex said.

Carolita 10:58 AM  

I actually liked the puzzle and thought that its only weakness was placing it as a Thursday. The PPP made it harder than a Monday or Tuesday, IMO. Really weak gimmick for a Thursday, and I greatly look forward to Thursday puzzles, my favorites. Big disappointment here. Where is my Thursday???

Wanderlust 10:59 AM  

Lots of people have relayed their peeves about comments to this blog - too political, including your Wordle grid, etc. Here’s mine: making reference to an answer or clue just by its number (as in, “I can’t believe the NYT published 22 Across!”) Nobody’s going to remember it by its number in the grid, so to see what you’re talking about we have to scroll up to Rex’s post or look at wherever we solved it. Save us the trouble and name the answer or clue you’re referring to. Thanks!

Newboy 11:02 AM  

I’m happy enough even though I initially had mixed feelings about today’s puzzle. Gotta agree with Rex & those who said “Meh!” But that disgruntlement sent me searching the commentariat for @Lewis, @Barbara S and others whose abilities to find silver linings in even roiling thunderheads continue to amaze. Any grid that sparks the blog as Dan’s did today is a fine start to my morning.

Joseph Michael 11:03 AM  

After getting the last themer, I stopped to decipher the secret word only to find out later that it’s not secret at all. It’s spelled out right there in the bottom corner. So why did I have to go to the trouble of deciphering it? I didn’t. And finding out that the word is PLOT just added insult to injury.

In other words, B2-N6-L14-E7 A4-H15-G6-L8-I13-E15!

Amie Devero 11:04 AM  

Lately the puzzles are so easy that half the time I walk away and forget to go back and finish. This one was both easy, and wanted me to do all kinds of stupid work after the fact—which I decline to do. Maybe it’s just me, but when I start a crossword, it’s a crossword I want to do—not a scavenger hunt.

egsforbreakfast 11:12 AM  

I think that if your lap dancer is doing TOETAPS to Shirley Temple, you’re in the wrong barre.

20A reminds me that I’ve started taking some OTC pills to help me sleep. Every single time I pick up the bottle, I say to myself “Actor Gibson repenting”. Maybe I should cut back on my puzzling.

The problem with this puzzle isn’t how easy it is. Yeah, I solved in a slow Monday time, but the constructor probably didn’t demand that it run on Thursday. The problem is that the coordinate/revealer conceit could have been used for something interesting and/or fun. Instead we got Ralphies decoder ring. But grassy-ass for trying, Dan Caprera. BTW, I hope you drive a Carrera.

TTrimble 11:18 AM  

Hey @Diego,
I never did it much myself, but I sometimes find the searches of others entertaining for their silliness quotient. But it has to be an organic thing; otherwise it loses its luster. (Note that I said "noteworthy".)

I do think that if the NYTXW is trying to be transgressive, either overtly or slyly or smirkily, then it deserves to be called out. TATAS is a good example: since the plural form [in the goodbyes sense] would hardly ever be used by anyone, it's possible that it's not there purely innocently, and they know they are getting away with something. If someone sees the word TATAS by itself, nakedly as it were, chances are they will think of the bodacious sense first. Hence my appreciation of @Liveprof's excellent quip.

Peter P 11:24 AM  

When I saw the coordinate grid on my iPhone app, I thought I was going to be in for a treat. Unlike many here, I love gimmicks. This is what I live for on Thursdays. And this was one I don't recall seeing before.

However, the payoff was far more prosaic than the expectation. Whoever said this was like a "don't forget to drink your Ovaltine" letdown captured exactly my deflation at the end of the puzzle. That's it? All that extra graphic decoration and PLOT is the pay-off?

Add to that the easy fill (clocked at between an average Tuesday and Wednesday) and I couldn't help but being a bit disappointed. I like the general idea -- it's fun -- but I feel there must be a more satisfying way of executing it. I give it a D+ for a Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

The PLOT thins.

CDilly52 11:45 AM  

@Lewis, I cannot possibly thank you enough for admitting that at first you did mot read NTWO etc as the verbalized coordinates. I went one level of lameness and thought I wasnto plot eac circled letter and they would spell something that would distill down yo meaning “PLOT.” All I can say is thank the crossword gods that all my lunacy occurred after I’d finished the puzzle which itself was almost ridiculously easy for a Thursday. My time was mire Tuesday. But if I were to include all the time trying to figure out why defg, efgh, cdef and ijklmn could be decided to mean PLOT. So there you all are. Have a good laugh. I sure did. Actually, My brain engaged at K SEVEN. Total head smack. Enjoy a good laugh everyone; I know I had one!

Chip Hilton 11:47 AM  

Don’t feel too bad about the comments, Dan. Your puzzle was published in The NY Times. I’m guessing 90% of the commenters are incapable of such an achievement.

Blog Goliard 11:59 AM  

I think for some of us, there are things we’re just so tired of that we can’t bother defending them anymore.

For instance, I used to be, if never quite pro-UNPC, at least anti-anti-UNPC…now I just want the whole concept gone from grids completely for a while thanks.

And I’ve been known to roll my eyes at “eek! that’s such old musty fill! c’mon folks we’re in the 2020s now fercryinoutloud” type complaints—including old things in puzzles along with new things is good! heck, I positively miss old friend ABBA EBAN these days—but any willingness I ever had to defend AOL here and how it’s clued with MSN is long long exhausted. That wasn’t even a particularly great clue back in the ‘90s.

Something like “Erstwhile dial-up giant” would at least make it clear we’re remembering internet eras gone by here, rather than leaving the solver wondering if there’s a pile of promotional CD-ROMs sitting on the constructor’s and/or Mr. Shortz’ desks, as one or both of them ponder whether they should switch to Prodigy or CompuServe in the new year.

Ray Yuen 12:01 PM  

What a total let-down.

I've stayed an Omnis! They're wonderful!

Masked and Anonymous 12:05 PM  

My PuzEatinSpouse's one-word review of this rodeo, as a ThursPuz: "dorky".

Yep. No doubt about it, I think this puz was misplaced, day-wise. I did kinda like it, as a different "Always Drink Yer Ovaltine" type of theme mcguffin. Maybe about a TuesPuz, I'd reckon.
For it to be a ThursPuz, the PLOT needed thickenin, somehow.

staff weeject pick: C-3, F-5, G-8/11. Bingo.

Thanx for the easier-than-plot-snot ThursPuz, Mr. Caprera dude. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

p.s. Lookin forward to all the secret messages y'all gleaned outta today's NYTPuz.


68Charger 12:06 PM  

Agree completely!!

melrose 12:07 PM  

Agree with Rex. Finished it quickly, though I didn't realize how the theme worked until I read this blog. I hate it when that happens.

Gary Jugert 12:13 PM  

Well, the puzzle was fun and in my wheelhouse. Except for that MENDELEEV character. So yes, I loved it.

However, what I love more, is knowing that as I'm heading off now to read the comments from y'all, I am sure somebody (most everybody) will be losing their mind over the grid architecture. Don't let us down crank pots. All of that fancy stuff to spell the word plot. Plot! There are two other definitions of plot readily in my mind that didn't show up in the puzzle.You could literally use this fancy grid to spell almost any word in the world and we get PLOT. I am so excited to read your thoughts on such a glorious moment.

It's delightful AOL continues to be a competitor of anything in the minds of cruciverbalists. I still receive emails from AOL addresses owned by grammas and grampas, and people who once owned Myspace accounts.

In the last few weeks we've ended up owning an old dog missing almost all of her teeth. Kind of rude they've named teeth after dog canines, and yet she has none. Doesn't stop her from wolfing down a bowl of food like a prisoner.

I'm debating about adding SOFTY to my favorite word list.

Yesterday, we had tap dance that many of us thought was a lap dance. Today we have toe taps. Put them together and you get lap taps or toe dance and either way it's a topic mainly for adults.


1 Don't know who she is, but I bet she's in pain.
2 Where babies come from.
3 Surprised puppeteer's response when PBS finally sprung for a new doll after the old one started smelling.
4 Result of leaving a ham sandwich in a luxury vehicle on a hot day.
5 "Got yer toe."
6 Are they squares, rectangles, diamonds, wha?
7 Star Wars villain tries cannibalism in Peru.

3 "A NEW BURT? AMEN!" (~)

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Umbrage is not with the constructor, but with the editors, who should’ve ran this on Monday.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Amen (they say in xword world too frequently).

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

I did this puzzle very very high last night and fast enough (cycling through mostly Down clues) that i finished correctly and had no idea what the grid or circled letters were for. I think that says enough about it.

SharonAK 12:19 PM  

@REX I've heard stump man FAR more often than shut double. In fact I would say that STUNT MAN is the term. So stunt woman is right for Lucy Lawless.

68Charger 12:20 PM  



Pepé Le Pew

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

Rex it it on the nose.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Who doesn’t know Mel Gibson?

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Eliot Ness men were FBI - Gmen not Treasury agents- Tmen

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

A shaggy plot puzzle. At least Oz didn’t win.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

A gift for those who like to complain about things that deserve it.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

After seeing puzzle was all jacked up for a new and challenging Thursday experience. When that did not happen I looked to Rex to unveil the mystery. There was none. Not only disappointing for a Thursday but an even bigger let down given the unique layout.

Teedmn 12:58 PM  

This reminded me of using an atlas - looking up in the back the place you were interested in, going to the page indicated and running your fingers out from the Letter and Number grids, squinting to see, where they met, what you were looking for. Fun stuff!

But otherwise, I had to agree with Rex on it being anticlimactic. When I filled in PLOT, I raised my eyebrows in mild disbelief - that's it?

Funny how the grid intimidated me - I panicked seeing the side bars and went skittering around looking for a foothold. Once I found one (my guess for M&A's moocow easy or weeject is ATE, 25D), I started filling in everything very easily. So it was only the perception of complexity that had me stymied. Odd.

Thanks, Dan Caprera, for an original puzzle.

Z 12:59 PM  

I thought people here might be interested in this article. And OMG - One look at the top of Rex's post today and I gotta say I'm not missing the NYTX... I don't even want to know what was going on. I have not sworn at a puzzle entry in weeks.

Glorianne Cody 1:10 PM  

Came here to say that I enjoyed Rex’s takedown of this puzzle more than the puzzle itself.

William Hickman 1:10 PM  

Stunt Double is the more common phrase. However, without a rebus it doesn't fit 16 across, 1:44 PM  

Am I the only one here who is willing to cut the constructor some slack for at least attempting something different? I liked the idea; I liked the fact that the fill was decent; and I agree it was super easy.
You guys are a tough audience!

Perry 1:48 PM  

Why in god's name would anyone care about and/or waste their time on such a stupid, pointless theme? I thought yesterday's was stupid and pointless, but this tops that by several orders of magnitude.

johnk 2:51 PM  



johnk 3:01 PM  

E1 K2 F11 H9 J14 etc.

Masked and Anonymous 3:12 PM  

K-11, N-6, H-13, I-2, C-6!

aka: H-1, A-2, R-3!


Day-um ... this stuff must be extra hard work for the comment auditin folks.

mathgent 3:33 PM  

I think I know why Nancy didn't come today. She wadded up the puzzle and threw it at the wall hard. It bounced back, hitting her squarely in the forehead, and knocked her out.

Mohair Sam 3:37 PM  

My mother taught me that if you can't say something nice about a puzzle - don't say anything at all.

ghostoflectricity 4:01 PM  

It was easy and pretty anticlimactic, as Rex said. And I agree also that the term for a professional used in an acting star's place is "stunt double," not "stunt man" or "stunt woman," which is why I initially thought 16-Across (have to spell it out, so as not to confuse "A" as in "across" with column A of this silly puzzle) might be "STUNTSTUNT" ("stunt double," get it?) when I only had the left half of the answer solved, and didn't realize the (lame, half-baked) theme of the puzzle, and that this might have something to do with the theme. Instead, I solved and got "STUNTWOMAN," which simply left me baffled until I completed the puzzle, did the little zigzagging connection (I solve in print) and realized the whole thing was a disappointing shaggy-dog story of a puzzle. Oh well.

pussywillow 4:33 PM  

41D is wrong and I will point it out every time. Incas were the kings, not the people. The Emperor's people were the Quechua. The Inca was the emperor!

Phillyrad1999 4:57 PM  

Now I know how Ralphie felt in A Christmas Story when he decoded “Be sure to drink your oval tone”

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

Great theme and concept. Clever. Just fell kind of flat. Standard fill. And not difficult at all. Not sure why it ran on a Thursday; was kind of a letdown. Would’ve liked it better if it was a Tuesday.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

I’m just pleased that at least there were no weird double letters in a box or similar Thursday gimmicks. I’ll take this type of gimmick any time, please leave the grid itself alone!

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

CANINE TEETH is correct usage. The other tooth names like molar and incisor refer only to teeth so they do not need the clarifier. The term canine refers to dogs, so the descriptor TEETH is added when making reference. If you were already talking about your teeth, then sure, you would just say CANINEs.

Son Volt 5:35 PM  

@Z - thanks for the link although I’m not sure how much this week’s puzzles have contributed.

Nice to hear from you.

Anoa Bob 5:51 PM  

Well, this was different. Didn't work for me but I commend the constructor and editor for daring to be innovative. I agree that it was a bit of a SOFTY and would have been better received on a Monday or Tuesday.

I rarely am thrilled by themes anyway and typically go looking for something else for entertainment such as, you know, interesting words crossing one another. Today several caught my eye. Liked DEMEANOR and CONCOCT. Learned MADELEINE is a food and not a STUNT WOMAN. MENDELEEV crossing LINCOLN is first rate stuff. I'm UNSURE OF the ordinarily found in-the-language status of INCANT. I'd be more likely to intone INCANTations. And I always enjoy seeing TATAS.

The plural of convenience (POC) made a few appearances including when one of the themers, INDONESIAN, needed some help to fill its slot. (Did yous know that the Anoa, the smallest of the buffalo, is native to INDONESIA?) We also see the rare case when a POC allows a word to fit a shorter space when RHOMBUS is too long for the 6 Down slot.

I say a vociferous AMEN to @Wanderlust's 10:59 comment that it would be super helpful to readers if the actual grid entries themselves would be specified in comments rather than just the number and direction (like 6D, 22 Across, etc.) of the word or phrase being referred to. When I see only the number in a comment I usually just skip right on by.

dgd 7:05 PM  

That was my reaction exactly. All those extra letters and numbers for so little purpose. P-L-O-T


Anonymous 7:44 PM  

Yay! First Thursday solve without googling anything. Well, according to this blog it was Monday or Tuesday level, so I guess that explains it.

Knew MEL Giedroyc from Taskmaster rather than The Great British Bake Off. She was a great contestant.

Had ENO instead of ONO for a while, which made LINCOLN tricky to parse. Checking Eno's Wikipedia page, it seems that him working with The Beatles was just a false memory of mine.

Since I'm not the best at crosswords, I actually had to use one of the coordinates to break into the top right. My version was also missing the letters and numbers, but it didn't take too long to understand the theme. The P from P-L-O-T made me realize that Finsteraarhorn is probably an ALP, and that A finally gave me MADELEINE, which had been on the tip of my tongue. So, not *everyone* found the theme useless.

Hmm, what else? The clue for AXE was fun. I like Eric ANDRE, though I feel like many on this blog may not. I liked the inclusion of MENDELEEV too. Ophicleide is a fun word. Okay, that's it.

Timothy G 9:47 PM  

The only things enjoyable about this puzzle were Rex Parker's withering analysis and all the entertaining online comments. Thanks everybody, but no thanks to NYT.

albatross shell 10:36 PM  

I thought a wednesday would be OK or maybe a Tuez. Monday, no.

@Barbara S
Am I missing something or did you miss Katharine Hepburn? And if so how could you ever?

Thanks for the fly-by cameo. Last I saw learning a new language and new physical activity was far better than crosswords. Firing up new synapse connections? I do not have a lot of faith in these studies anyway.
The puzzle on the day after you quit us was a jewel of a puzzle. Filled with gender benders too. Hope you took a looksie.

OZONE LINCLN (Sun Volt's excuse for Commander Cody)
The M long names

CDilly52 10:41 PM  

No umbrage at all here! I’m the dunderhead who, in addition ti only having one very bleary eye today, completely missed grokking the instructions! Too right, @Chip Hilton, this needed to run on a Monday or Tuesday. I enjoyed Dan Caprera’s earlier puzzle and look forward to more!

Anonymous 10:42 PM  

Hard NO. A Monday puzzle with some unrelated and unnecessary black bars on the sides does not equal a Thursday treat.

CDilly52 10:49 PM  

@SharonAK - according to my actor-daughter and son-in-law, stunt man (or person) and stunt double can mean two different things. A stunt person is hired to do different stunts throughout a film such as appearing in multiple battle or fight scenes but not specifically standing in to perform the stunts for a named actor. A stunt double on the other hand appears as a specific character in place of that actor while she sits safely away from the danger.

Bob Mills 9:23 AM  

Can someone explain why PEEP is an Easter confection? I got it from the crosses, but it makes no sense to me. An easy puzzle for a Friday, but I misspelled AVOCADOOIL which gave me RACK instead of ROCK.

Perry 11:10 AM  

@Bob Mills - The marshmallow-based sugar bombs called PEEPS are sold at Easter time. But it seems they now have PEEPS for all seasons. Blech! I love marshmallows, but I find PEEPS to be pretty much inedible.

albatross shell 11:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I thought the coordinates would lead to a rebus of ships from the game battleship. I would have enjoyed that much better. What a thud of a revealer

thefogman 10:04 AM  

A fine feat of crossword constructing. Alas, it did not translate into an enjoyable solve. Grid was 15 x 14. Not big on these unorthidox grid setups unless there is a really rewarding pay off.

spacecraft 12:21 PM  

Hand up for Battleship; it looked like two destroyers, a battleship and an aircraft carrier were circled for us. (Yeah I know, the AC was six long, not five, but at first glance...)

So, I agree with OFF that PLOT seems a pointless letdown, but I do NOT agree that the actual puzzle was easy. My Disney stars were TooNS, of course. Don't tell me yours weren't. And TOETAPS strengthen the core? Wow, who knew that? That instrument in the clue for TUBA was no help at all. "Ophicleide???" Plus I had no idea about 10-down.

Eventually it all got done, but I would rate it Thursday medium. The fill is mostly OK, though there were a lot of UNs: UNABLE, UNSUREOF, UNPC. That last is an ugly, ridiculous term. It should be UNused.

Taken all together, it comes out to a bogey. Must give props to MENDELEEV.

Wordle birdie putt lipped out: guessed VIRAL instead of RIVAL. Par.

Burma Shave 12:27 PM  


OTTER control her DEMEANOR:


rondo 12:53 PM  

No write-overs but IMIN the group that says tedious and anticlimactic. There's ALOT in the corners.
@spacey - I missed that exact same wordle birdie. Great minds?

thefogman 1:34 PM  

PS - I got the Wordle in two today. A the Jumble in under a minute.

Diana, LIW 1:50 PM  

Well...the theme did help me in the solve, so I disagree with OFL at least in part.

A bit of difficulty at the very end, but then it all cleared up for me.

Diana, Lady, Waiting

Diana, LIW 1:52 PM  

And yes, @Spacey, I did think of TooNS at first, but didn't put it in. Thought there might be more afoot.

Lady Di

Packetman 2:23 PM  

Yeah, super easy solve. Why find the “plotting” when the grid is 100% complete?

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Didn't I see this exact same puzzle in Highlights magazine???
I got a headache trying to make this puzzle much harder than it was!
Kudos to the constructor for making us think there was a plot afoot, but there was only a plot, no feet.

Luke 6:24 PM  

Really a dumb construct - anti-climatic does not do it justice. My software shows no sidebars (not even blank ones) but, even if it did, the basic scheme is silly. I quickly solved it (yes, easy) and then scratched my head trying to figure out what the extra letters in the circles were trying to tell me. I punted to Rex. I am glad I wasted no more time trying to sort it.

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