Saturday, 1/15/11

NYT 9:32 


Newsday 8:24 


LAT 4:26 


CS untimed (Janie)/4:10 (Amy) 


Barry Silk’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution 1/15/11 0115

Oof! Killer of a puzzle, no? When the answer parked in the middle of the grid is something wildly unfamiliar, there may be grumbles of “How are we supposed to know that?” Well, that’s the Saturday puzzle for you. This is the day for learning oddball things you may or may not ever have need to know again. 32a:  WUPATKI! Really. An [Arizona national monument with Pueblo ruins]. I looked that up in the database: “Sorry, no results for wupatki.”

The other fill with a fresh feeling consists of words you actually know. To wit: 18a: “LIKE I CARE” is 100% casual, colloquial English, and hardly anybody will have trouble spelling the words, but you’ve got to dig inside your head (and, of course, work the crossings) to extract LIKE I CARE for [“Whatever”].

The other highlights are mixed in with lesser-known little bits and tougher-than-steel clues to slow you down. I like:

  • 15a. E-COMMERCE
  • 22a. Weird AZALEA clue: [Plant toxic to sheep and goats].
  • 24a. [“Frost at Midnight” poet], Samuel Taylor COLERIDGE. Needed the crossings here.
  • 47a. [Grilling demand] is about interrogation, not cookouts. “ADMIT IT!
  • 53a. PLUS SIZES are [No wear for waifs].
  • 2d. I know the Manhattan ESPN ZONE closed down, but I think the [Sports-themed restaurant chain] is still out there drawing the tourist crowd somewhere.
  • 3d. To SQUEAL ON is to [Rat out].
  • 23d, 37d. I didn’t have the [Memorable J.F.K. arrival] when I figured out that [Like a 23-Down] was BRITISH. I wanted it to be a British Airways Concorde but it turned out to be a BEATLE. Boo on the singular—didn’t the Beatles arrive together?

The gnarly bits vexed me:

  • 21a. [Nuprin alternative] was surely looking for MOTRIN, right? Why else use a weird, brought-back-from-the-dead-by-CVS brand of ibuprofen in the clue? Answer is ANACIN, a brand of aspirin. (People, I hope you’re buying the generic store-brand ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin. No need to pay more for the brand!)
  • 28a. ENOS [Cabell who was the 1978 N.L. at-bats leader] is exactly the sort of sports clue I hate. He’s not famous. He just had, what, one good stat one season? Pfft.
  • 5d. [Passer and blocker’s teammate] clues SETTER. What sport is this, volleyball? I don’t know. Would’ve been cute to have it clued as [Crossword constructor, at Cambridge].
  • 6d. I had no idea what [Santos rookie of 1956] meant. The answer is PELE, the Brazilian soccer legend. So…Santos is whatever team he started on? Ten years before I was born? Decades before many Americans started paying any attention to soccer? Is Santos still a big team now? I’ve heard of some of the European clubs, but know none of the South American teams. Pfft. I quizzed my husband and he guessed PELE.
  • 7d. [Eating stuff] is ACID, which eats away metal and whatnot. All the eating/food stuff confused me tonight. 8d: [Food is often tossed in it], WOK, and 36d: [Eater seater, sometimes], HOSTESS? Ai-yai-yai. MAITRE’D shares the middle T with HOSTESS, you know.
  • 16d. [Bit of bunny slope gear] clues MINISKI. What, because the bunny slope is for children? I resent that. I washed out on the bunny slope as an adult and was not able to progress. Maybe I should have tried the miniski instead?
  • 42d. [Countdown term], “T MINUS,” as in “T minus 5 minutes.” Hmm, I don’t think I like T MINUS by itself as an entry.

It amuses me no end that with just the first L in place, [Port on the Panay Gulf] was a gimme: ILOILO, in the Philippines. According to Cruciverb, it hasn’t been clued with the word “Panay” in there since 1998, and I guess I recognized Panay as the name of an island in the Philippines.

Brad Wilber’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword solution 1/15/11

All righty, I liked this puzzle. Didn’t quite love it, but I definitely liked it. Smooth fill with a number of bright spots, and right at the standard Saturday LAT level of difficulty. There were a few “Huh?” clues, but the crossings fed me those answers so I don’t think there’s anything unfair in the puzzle.


  • 16a. Great answer! A HOLY TERROR can be a [Nanny’s challenge]. Probably a bigger challenge for the kid’s parents.
  • 1d. In golf, a [Mulligan, e.g.] is a DO-OVER. Who doesn’t believe in second chances?
  • 13d. The HABANERA is a [Sultry Cuban dance]. Who doesn’t like a little sultriness in the corner of a crossword?
  • 36a. A CHIMERA is an [Imaginary monster], an animal or person with two people’s genes, and the name of the women’s self-defense group that taught my YWCA youth group back in the day.
  • 38a. I don’t think I really care for GUAVA as a fruit (have I ever tried it? Hmm, I don’t think so) but there’s something so pleasing about it as a word.
  • I wonder why only certain body parts show up in “My ___!” exclamations. MY FOOT is here, clued with a skeptical [“Oh, ri-i-i-i-ght!”], but the eye and ass can substitute for the foot. The ear and the hand, not so much.
  • 55a. Who doesn’t love the mystery of a FOG MACHINE? If there’s one thing Will Shortz should incorporate into the ACPT, it’s a [Dramatic atmosphere source] like a fog machine. C’mon, when the three A-division finalists emerge onto the stage before their whiteboards? A fog machine would be awesome! Also some flashing lights and a sports-arena announcer. “And no-o-o-ow, your ama-a-a-a-azing A finalists!”
  • 58a. TOTEM POLES usually show up in crosswords without the second word, so it’s nice to have the full term. The clue, [Some tree sculptures], had me thinking of topiary.

Tougher clues:

  • 1a. [Its leaves are used as a heart stimulant] clues DIGITALIS, a.k.a. foxglove.
  • 20a. [Lemming predator] clues the seabird called a SKUA, which is the plural seabird AUKS spelled backwards. I would’ve thought the skua just chased after fish.
  • 23a. Sure didn’t know that [The Lean One, in “Peer Gynt”] meant SATAN. Thank you, crossings! You bailed me out.
  • 35d. [English Channel resort] clues RAMSGATE. I have never vacationed there. How about you? Do you go there often? It sounds…quiet.
  • 41d. [The Merry Widow” hero] is DANILO. You know who likes opera a lot more than I? Brad Wilber, that’s who. Pretty sure he didn’t need to Google to come up with a DANILO clue.

Updated Saturday morning:

Bob Klahn’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Cold Fronts”—Janie’s review

This puzzle employs a familiar gimmick to great effect. As the title suggests, each of the theme phrases contains a word (the first, today) that can precede the word “cold”—whence “cold fronts.” Highly appropriate for this time o’ the year, no? The theme set is very strong throughout and leads us to two familiar verb phrases and two adjective phrases. The remainder of the puzzle ain’t too shabby neither.

  • 20A. [Assemble quickly] KNOCK TOGETHERknock cold.
  • 34A. [Find out?] CATCH NAPPINGcatch cold. Catch napping and its clue are perhaps better understood when there’s an object in the middle…
  • 43A. [Dapper?] STONE-SKIPPERstone cold. Cagey. “Dapper” here is not an adjective but a noun (albeit one you’re not likely to find as such in the dictionary—wherefore the “?”) based on the meaning of the word dap, for someone who’s skipping stones.
  • 57A. [Lamentable result] BITTER HARVESTbitter cold. On the idea of harvest, Bob also gives us REAP [Ingather]. Then, he literally underscores the idea of these last two theme entries by placing ICE UP [Get a slick winter coat] right below. Because the clue references ice as ice this fill does not belong to the theme set. But it does work in the sense that ice upice cold… That’d be bonus fill in my book.

Love the NW and SE corners with their triple 6-columns and fine fill, such as TICKLE [Get to giggle] (again, read the clue/fill with an object after the words tickle and “get”), “I’M ON IT!” [“Get cracking!” response], DIESEL [Engine eponym] (didn’t know that…), and CATSUP [What you might put on the dog]. Great clue that last one. Draws on the slang phrase “to put on the dog“—to put on a display of wealth.

The longer entries GO PUBLIC [Issue shares, initially] (which looks to making its CS and major puzzle debuts) and HAM RADIO [Hobby with vanity call signs] are both good. And there’s some nice stuff goin’ on in the shorter fill as well. [Two threes, for one] is PAIR. We also get a pair that speaks to size with IMAX [Format for tall tales?] and EPIC [Bigger than big]. Then, at the shared “M,” there’s the cross of CHAMP [Big winner] and CHUMP clued not as [Big loser] but as [Sap or sucker]. That vintage of slang is also seen in the [Palookas]/APES combo.

It’s a Klahn, so the requisite rhymed, alliterative, punny, twisty (see the non-sartorial [Get a slick winter coat] above…) and shared-word-sequential clues abound. All make me HAPPY [Pleased as punch]. Speak up to register your faves.

Merle Baker’s Newsday crossword, “Saturday Stumper”

Newsday crossword solution 1/15/11Quick post this morning: I have a 10:00 appointment with the optometrist, as I need glasses I can actually read with.

Fairly tough puzzle, but not out of the realm of the Stumper ordinary.

Most challenging clues:

  • 10a. [Battle of the Bulge city in Belgium] = NAMUR. Never heard of it.
  • 15a. [What some tests monitor] = HEART RATE. I don’t know that I would call anything that monitors heart rate a medical “test.”
  • 20a. [John equivalent] is the Irish name SEAN. I had EVAN at first, which is Welsh John.
  • 24a. One specific sort of [Manner of speaking] is a TWANG.
  • 26a. OVO is a English prefix as well as [Product from Portuguese poultry], or “egg” in Portuguese.
  • 40a. Whoa. KALENDS is a [Roman month starter]. I see the connection to “calendar,” but have never seen this K word.
  • 56a. [Selenologist’s sighting] is a RILLE, or fissure on the moon’s surface. Selene was the goddess of the moon, and selenology is the study of the moon.
  • 3d. Didn’t know this: EASEL is a [Word from the Latin for “donkey”]. Looks closely related to the German Esel.
  • 6d. [“Iliad” messenger] is IRIS. Maybe mine will be dilated for my eye exam today.
  • 11d. [California Perfume Company, today] is AVON. Trivia!
  • 33d. COLT of gun fame is your [Inventor from Hartford].
  • 40d. A KEYRING is a [“Double loop” device]. Makes sense.
  • 45d. [Like the novel “Gadsby”] is E-LESS. I call it a novl.
  • 54d. ANYA is clued as [Audrey Hepburn, in “Roman Holiday”].
  • 58d. [One of two UN charter members] clues SSR. What, two of the USSR’s many SSRs were able to join the UN despite not being sovereign countries?

I love the word SCINTILLA. I like the timely MISGOVERN, with Tunisian protestors giving a misgoverning dictator the boot. CASH CARDS seems a little retro to me; I’ve been calling ’em ATM cards for over a decade (and are AOLERS still “many a surfer”?).

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37 Responses to Saturday, 1/15/11

  1. Howard B says:

    Did not finish the Times. I had the almost as good SPYCAM for SKYCAM, which gave an almost as valid crossing. I could not find my error until coming here. Not happy there. Otherwise, a great challenge, but that cross, even with the “Overhead” clue lead, didn’t seem kosher. (Aside: I just read a news story specifically about unmanned drones proposed to use SPYCAMs in helping with border enforcement, so that threw me). Just thought that the P/K was one of those 50/50 guesses where both are pretty darn close to valid. Honestly, I didn’t even consider the K, so my bad.

    Not the first really wacky national park we’ve seen. Love the names, the parks are probably breathtaking, don’t really care for them in these grids. Just my honest opinion.

  2. Dan F says:

    I had SPYCAM too, and BEAGLE next to it. Didn’t Charles Darwin land at JFK? Eventually figured out “SKY”, but I had to run the alphabet to get BEATLE (despite the hint in the cross-referenced clue). I didn’t like it when Barry put TUZIGOOT in the puzzle, and I’m no fan of WUPATKI either…

  3. Gareth says:

    NYT: Weird, I found this puzzle a lot easier than yesterday… No flat out easy areas, but a few short gimmes in each section allowed me to slowly tease out the rest. And no, I had no idea about WUPATKI – the W was the second last letter. I guessed PELE without any letters though simply on the date and knowing Santos is a Brazilian club – and he’s basically the only soccer player allowed in American crosswords ;).

    LAT: Guavas are awesome!!! Peel, halve, add sugar! But if they grow in a garden eat very carefully, you will find worms!!! The top-left beat me up something solid it did, rest went down quite easily. Could’ve sworn a HABANERA was a chili though…

  4. Evad says:

    I’m with Gareth on this, actually found it easier than yesterday’s. Lucked out with ESPN ZONE–had just been to one at Foxboro Stadium not too long ago and that helped break the resistant NW. Like Dan, I first wondered if perhaps Charles Schultz drew a cartoon with Snoopy in his Red Baron attire landing at JFK!

  5. Matt says:

    Well, I did finish it, but I turned off the timer after a while, so my time is ‘effectively infinite’. But gosh, one of the toughest for me in recent memory. But I can testify personally that it is finishable.

    The four corners and the center all felt like mini-puzzles, and solving was mostly just poking at it until inspiration hit– generally in the form of a single entry that made everything else just a teeny bit easier. So, in the NW, I eventually thought of ESQUE for 14D, and DAPPER for 25D in the center, etc.

  6. Howard B says:

    Certainly finishable, and other than that one fill word, this was really fun to solve. Didn’t mean to be snarky. Was just really that one fill word (Which is full of Scrabbly goodness, by the way) that roughened the experience a bit.

    Main point was, when you’ve done a lot of puzzles, it is usually good to see fresh answers, but you don’t want to have to make wild guesses between multiple letters to finish; feels less satisfying even if you do guess right. I think that may be the case for many solvers here, unless they live near or are very familiar with that park.
    Anyway, congrats to today’s successful solvers! :)
    (I’ll eat a serving of humble Wu Pat Pi.)

    PS – The LA Times was fun, and challenging as well. Glad I had a chance to solve it today. Bravo, Brad!

  7. Bruce N. Morton says:

    Another 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration for me. A calm steady solve. Probably the 2nd time in history I’ve been under [the time of] our beloved, respected Cumaean Sibyl. (I added the words “the time of” as an afterthought after reading the sentence as originally typed. :-) A wavelength, accidental knowledge thing. A cousin lived for years in Flagstaff Ariz., and we would traipse around the Wupatki Pueblo–awe inspiring and well preserved. “Frost at Midnight” is one of Coleridge’s “Nature Poems’–probably the best one. (“The frost performs its secret work at midnight” or something of the sort.) Michele would notice that the deer would quickly spit out the azalea leaves, and tended to leave them alone, so I figured what was bad (or good) for the deer was good for the ewe. Setter is definitely volleyball. (I was hoping the answer would be “libero”. Pele’s first club team was Santos, Brazil. I went through mini-ski training at Killington, and trust me, it’s a bad idea. You pick up bad habits. You whip the skis around abruptly like ice skates, because it’s so easy, and you have to learn how to carve and ride an edge properly when you move to real skis. Rests, Kol Nidre, Use it were gimmes. For some reason line drive, plus sizes, good idea hopped right onto the page. I would say “like I care,” but apparerntly I do. Please forgive this post.

    Friday, especially the bottom was much harder.

    Do you really tap ale, or do you tap a keg with ale in it?


  8. Rex says:

    Normal Saturday Nyt, but quite a bit tougher than yesterday’s simple romp. Fav. puzzle of the day is the Wilber (which is saying a lot, since one of the puzzles belongs to the mighty Klaaaaaaaaahn!)

  9. Bruce N. Morton says:

    I too liked the LAT. What does “Gibb” mean for {Disco family name}? Gibb as in the Beegees? Weren’t they long before the disco era?

    Habanero is a pepper. Habanera is a dance. Many classical composers (notably Trip’s favorite–Saint-Saens)–composed Habaneras. Both pronounced with the Spanish v-like labial fricative. Mostly this gives me the chance to write “labial fricative* without getting into trouble. :-)

    Now to the Stumper.


  10. Anne E says:

    Brutal, just brutal, especially since I wanted ANASAZI for the park. I agree with Dan and Howard regarding this and TUZIGOOT being irritating, though. I’ve traveled all over the US southwest, have visited a huge # of the national parks and monuments there, and know the names of quite a few I haven’t visited (all thanks to my geology education), and I hadn’t ever even heard of either of these.

    I think what it is, is this. I don’t mind learning new things out of puzzles, quite the contrary, but with words like that, I like it best if there’s a faint bell of recognition once I get the word filled in – a bit of “oh yeah, I HAVE heard of that…” sort of thing. Not so for WUPATKI or TUZIGOOT. At least, not for me.

  11. ePeterso2 says:

    I got WUPATKI with very few crossings only because I’ve been there. Specifically, here: . The Wupatki Nat’l Monument is one of many, many reasons for all of you to make plans to visit Flagstaff, Arizona, one day … so many amazing natural features in such a compact area.

    I had a much easier time with this one than yesterday’s puzzle, which seems to be a pattern for me with Barry C. Silk puzzles. I had the top half fairly quickly, then struggled with the SE until I finally got —-SHIP off of the grid and let SIDE TRIP come on board. The SW took me the longest … the ILOILO/SOPS crossing was the last square filled.

  12. cryptoid1 says:

    We visited Wupatki a couple of years ago on the recommendation of a friend in Sedona — well worth a visit if you find yourself in Flagstaff for some reason. This isn’t some cruddy little excuse for souvenir sales like Four Corners, it’s a significant archaeological site. And you have to love the combination of letters — there’s not a single one you can guess knowing the other 6.

  13. Howard B says:

    Definitely intend to visit Sedona and that area one of these days. One more thing to note when planning that trip. Great to know – thanks! :)

  14. Meem says:

    I rattled around trying to get a toehold. Finally found one at Kol Nidre. That corner then fell except for roil before boil. Got the SW on hostess/happily and remembering Ilo Ilo from a prior puzzle. Only other rough spot was “like I care.” Started with “as if I care” which masked things until I decided that 8D. had to be wok. Fast finish from there.

    Thought Brad Wilber’s LAT was elegant and fun to solve. Only misstep was amide before amine.

    Apparently I have figured out Bob Klahn’s vocabulary. Did today’s Cold Fronts with few slowdowns and only one writeover. Hope to get to the Stumper.

  15. Karen says:

    I’ve been to Wupatki too, but couldn’t remember how to spell it.

    In the Stumper, ACTUARIAL was the last to fall for me, I wanted something more daredevilish.

  16. Jeffrey says:

    @Bruce – While the BeeGees started long before disco, they were the biggest group of the era – surely you recall Saturday Night Fever?

    Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive anyone?

  17. imsdave says:

    Aced the Stumper today (meaning I finished it in less than 3 hours). Held on to ERIS for IRIS for a loooong time. Didn’t Eris throw the apple?

  18. Zulema says:

    ERIS, yes, the Goddess of Discord. She threw the APPLE because she hadn’t gotten invited to PELEUS’s wedding.

    AMY, I agree with the generics suggestion, but ANACIN is not aspirin. I still remember how they advertised it as “like a doctor’s prescription.” It contained caffeine (ah, the drug of choice) and something else also. And it was a miraculous remedy for certain time-of-the-month miseries.

    T MINUS was my most unfavorite answer. BEATLE in the singular might get me to use, for the first time in my life, the pejorative FEH.

  19. Martin says:


    The other ingredient in Anacin (besides caffeine) is aspirin.

    I usually needed something stronger to get past those miseries.

  20. Zulema says:


    Funny, funny! I meant a third ingredient. Aspirin was understood. I do also remember when one of my then-young daughters said the inventor of ANACIN should have gotten a Nobel Prize.

  21. pannonica says:

    (Of course it’s the pupil that dilates as the iris contracts. You were indeed in a hurry!)

  22. pannonica says:

    I, too, was mystified by the SSR clue but found this at Wikipedia:

    After World War II some amendments to the Constitution of the Ukrainian SSR were accepted, which allowed it to act as a separate subject of international law in some cases and to a certain extent, remaining a part of the Soviet Union at the same time. In particular, these amendments allowed the Ukrainian SSR to become one of founding members of the United Nations (UN) together with the Soviet Union and the Byelorussian SSR. This was part of a deal with the United States to ensure a degree of balance in the General Assembly, which, the USSR opined, was unbalanced in favor of the Western Bloc.

    There isn’t a citation for this information, which appears in the Ukraine entry and not in the United Nations entry. The official UN website doesn’t explicitly show it—for instance, in the History section—but it can be verified by consulting the individual dates of entry in the Member States section. (24 Oct 1945 for the charter members, including Belarus and Ukraine.)

  23. Martin says:

    Doesn’t the pupil dilate as the iris expands? Both contraction and expansion are effected by contracting muscles, so that doen’t help us much. It’s probably safer to use less ambiguous terminology, like “dilation is pupil expansion.”

    I can see the logic in “if the pupil expands the iris must contract” but I think it’s as logical to think of the iris expanding on opening. Wouldn’t we speak this way when describing iris-in or iris-out movie shots?

  24. Matt M. says:

    Writing clues is hard — yet Bob Klahn’s puzzles always have several exceptional ones. That’s pretty amazing, as we all know, but I just wanted to say it again. So: that’s pretty amazing.

  25. pannonica says:

    Hm. I was considering the iris as an entity contracting, rather than the muscles which control it. The hazards of contextual terminology prone to conflation (consider “carnivore”)!

    iris in/iris out
    An old technique of punctuation that utilises a diaphragm in front of the lens, which is opened (iris in) or closed (iris out) to begin or end a scene. The iris can also be used to focus attention on a detail of the scene.

    (from this glossary of film terms)
    gives weight to the alternative interpretation. It still seems weird to me, as if the effect of the iris’s action (the size of the space within) is transferred and used to describe the iris itself.

    On a related note, when I push the clutch pedal down, I consider the clutch to be “out” because the engine and transmission are separated. Perhaps things like this are why I have so much trouble in the world.

  26. Martin says:

    You must have have been fun to teach to drive. “Slowly let the clutch out. Any time now.” While frantically waving people to pass.

    A friend of mine says “close the light switch” when he wants you turn the light on. Confusion is his goal. That’s having trouble in the world.

  27. Ladel says:


    It’s all about convention, there is no logic. As the clutch pedal is let “out”, the clutch itself is let “in,” that is to say, begins to produce friction.

    It’s sort of like the flight deck of an airliner, if you had an all female crew they wouldn’t call it a cockpit anymore.

  28. Martin says:

    Clutch pedal action is mediated by the throw-out bearing, possibly named by pannonica.

  29. Ladel says:

    We have the start of sit-com pilot here. Now, all we have to do, is figure out, does the clutch plate squeeze the pressure plate or is it the other way around?

    BTW, just to stay in the ballpark, no amount of double clutching could save me from one heck of an ass-kicking by today’s puzzle.

  30. cryptoid1 says:

    I learned in school back when they still taught history that Byelorussia and Ukraine got UN memberships because Joe Stalin had problems with potentially insurgent nationalities and he thought this would help him out at home. I can’t prove it’s true but most dictators are more concerned about problems at home than how international groups are constituted — they can choose to ignore what happens beyond their borders.

    I’d be more worried about Texas having the right to split into 5 states.

  31. John Haber says:

    Killer for me, what with WUPATKI, ILOILO, “rifle shot,” the chemistry of LSD, and especially the NW. Even with COLERIDGE my only gimme, the restaurant chain, “passer and blocker team member,” the turtle and AZALEA factoids, and ENOS Cabell sure came close to defeating me.

    I actually got BEATLE pretty quickly with a crossing letter, once SST clearly didn’t fit. No one commented, though, on chum/BOIL. Explain? (Yes, ANACIN is basically just aspirin and caffeine. It may have an inert ingredient to bulk it up or stabilize its life as a pill, like any pill, for all I know, but that’s it.)

  32. Martin says:


    Chum is churn when the font is too small. Over at Wordplay there was a little discussion of kerning humor.

  33. John Haber says:

    Oops, thanks Martin. I’ve been having real vision problems, a detached retina. One surgery so far and just holding my breath.

  34. Martin says:


    Sorry to have made light of your condition. My excuse is that at least one person made that mistake on each blog, including Rex’s. Best of luck with the treatment.

  35. Martin says:

    Yep, keming is the kerning humor I mentioned.

  36. pannonica says:

    “A friend of mine says ‘close the light switch’ when he wants you turn the light on. Confusion is his goal. That’s having trouble in the world.” — Martin

    As in closing (completing) the electrical circuit, natch.

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