Poem greeting the dawn / FRI 3-9-18 / Musical gir who cain't say no / 2008 Bond girl Kurylenko / Thrill starts with grille / Animated character who graduated from Dogwarts University / Wizard of Oz farmhand / Tom Sawyer's half brother / Cause of bad dreams in modern lingo

Friday, March 9, 2018

Constructor: Neville Fogarty and Doug Peterson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: AUBADE (2D: Poem greeting the dawn) —
An aubade is a morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, which is in the evening), or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn. It has also been defined as "a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak". (wikipedia)
• • •

Both these constructors are friends of mine. Neville is perhaps best known for coming in second (with his mother) to me and my wife in the Pairs Division of last year's Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament. Doug, of course, is L.A.'s Batman. I was soooo happy to see their names on the puzzle, and they don't really make bad puzzles. It's nice that there are constructors about whom this can be said. I am usually very much on their wavelength(s), though today, right out of the gate, the whole thing went a little KABLOOEY (great answer, btw) (7D: Bad way to go). I wrote in RAT PACK right away and then hit the Downs. Me: "1D: One going against the grain? Let's see starts with "R" ... RIPSAW! (!?). OK, great. Next: 2D: Poem greeting the dawn. Starts with "A" ... ooh, I know this one ... dawn ... I think it's ... not AURORA, 'cause that means "dawn," but ... AURORE! Yes, that's it!" (no, that's not it; that's a thing from Harry Potter). I went through at least three more spellings of AUBADE before I got there, including AUDABE, all of which is very ironic considering I teach Donne's "The Sunne Rising" all the time, and *apparently* it is a paradigmatic example of the AUBADEAUBADE, you devil!

A Juiced (up) AUBADE

Didn't read the "alphabetically" part of 17A: First world capital, alphabetically, and thought, "well, that's an ... odd ... way to clue ABU DHABI." Anyway, once I got the back ends of all the Acrosses in the NW, I slingshotted out of there and bounced around the rest of the grid like it was a Wednesday, for the most part. Slight slowdown in the NE because ADO ANNIE (like most things "musical") is out of my wheelhouse and even though I've seen her name before, I sure couldn't parse it here (12D: Musical "girl who cain't say no"). Also thought "Comeback Kid" was Joe BIDEN (!?) or ... who's that sad sack Democrat of yesteryear? ... Oh, right, Joe LIEBERMAN. Football's MONTANA wasn't even in my thoughts there (13D: Joe known as "The Comeback Kid"). I didn't know PROZAC was used to treat O.C.D. I'm glad AUTISM is in the grid, though it seems like the kind of thing people might be quite sensitive about, cluing-wise (31D: Special-education challenge). This clue seemed straightforward enough to me. The last stumbling block was literally the last block I filled in—I had SOUSED for 57A: Juiced (up). Great answer for [Juiced]; not so great for [Juiced (up)]. The answer was SOUPED (totally different kind of "juiced." And done!

Huge applause for NIGHTMARE FUEL (15D: Cause of bad dreams, in modern lingo) and, weirdly, NO SLOUCH (I say "weirdly" because it's such a strange thing to see standing on its own, and it gave me parsing fits, *but* ... when I got it, I thought a. original, b. perfect) (37D: Someone who's pretty darn good). I also loved the clue on MARSH (50A: Rail center?), though it also gave me fits—see, it's not that I don't like to be challenged, it's that when I'm challenged, I like the ultimate result to be Satisfying. Silver medalist Fogarty and Dark Knight Peterson get that.

  • a "rail" is a bird one might find in a MARSH
  • GROMIT is the dog from the "Wallace & GROMIT" animated films
  • "Helicases are a class of enzymes vital to all living organisms. Their main function is to unpackage an organism's genes." (wikipedia)
  • can't a PAIR be a *very* exciting "poker holding," depending on context?
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:39 AM  

Lots of lovely roll-off-the-tongue answers: EBENEZER, JINGOISM, ABUDHABI, KABLOOEY. Had SOUsED before SOUPED, and my mind went juvenile thinking for answers to "Bottom line". Didn't know AUBADE, ADOANNIE (and I'm usually good at Rogers and Hammerstein) or NIGHTMARE FUEL. Thought "DAVID" at first for "Giant competitor". I expected and hoped for some devilish cluing with this PAIR of constructors, and man, did they come through, and I am tres grateful.

Glimmerglass 6:58 AM  

Lovely puzzle. I made a lot of lucky guesses — things I only sort of knew — AUBADE, EDSEL, TUCSON, JINGOISM, and the especially fine KABLOOEY. I was thinking, “This a hard puzzle,” as I was powering through it. A satisfying sensation, as each guess was confirmed and opened up the next layer.

puzzlehoarder 7:05 AM  

A pretty average difficulty level over all. Most of it was on the easy side. A slow start in the NW was what kept it from being out and out easy.

At first all I had was REM. AXIOM was too short for 3D but eventually TRUISM came to me and with it PAIR and EDSEL. After that it was smooth sailing. I can see why I was stumped for awhile. One and four down could be any number of things. Three and five down are just out and out obscure. This is only the second appearance for AUBADE in the entire Shortz era. I was shocked when I saw who used it first. ASH has appeared 324 Xs but as this obscure name it's also been seen only once before and that was back in '94. This was the best section for me . I can't believe I spelled ABUDHABI and KABLOOEY correctly on first try.

Some very lively material throughout but no real slow downs after the NW. Just the occasional spelling issue. The SW was the easiest part. I never read the clues for LAPSE, NEON or DNA. A fun solve too bad I had to do it on my phone.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

For future reference: a ripsaw cuts with the grain, which is known as ripping. A cross=cut saw cuts across it.

Unknown 7:19 AM  

Rex, i like your new categories, explainers and questions. Great blog today!

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Wednesday still the hardest puzzle this week so far. Once I gave up on sayIng for TRUISM, most of the rest fell pretty quickly, except for AUBADE, which is new to me, and PADRE, which took my about ten minutes post-solve to figure out.

Other than too easy, a nice, sharp, smart puzzle.

In 1993, Joe MONTANA, nearing the end of his career, won a pair of playoff games for the Kansas City Chiefs before losing to the Bills in the AFC Championship. Fittingly, both were comebacks after trailing in the fourth quarter. That remains the last time the Chiefs won two playoff games in a year and the last time they played in the AFC Championship.

Jonathan Alexander 7:21 AM  

To answer Rex on the poker question, since Texas hold'em is probably the most ubiquitously played variant out there, given the wording of the clue, I would be pretty darn happy holding a pair (finishing with a pair? Depends what the board looks like, bets, etc).

Puzzle played easy for me...only hold up was getting down into the SW. Had no idea who Gromit was in this reference (is it Wallace and Gromit? I thought that predates the whole Harry Potter thing but maybe not). Eventually got there with DNA to ATHENA using the A to guess at GANGSTA.

Irene 7:33 AM  

Both easy and pleasurable. I'm still patting myself on the back because both AUBADE and ADO ANNIE were gimmies.

RJ 7:38 AM  

Some great words today like KABLOOEY and JINGOSIM. I still don't like the cluing for MARSH even after the explanation. Rail is not a bird that comes to mind easily and why would "center" help the cluing at all? GANGSTA helps fill the entire SW corner but like Lewis had SOUSED before SOUPED.

Hungry Mother 7:43 AM  

SW corner played harder than it should have. The rest was easy, but that one quadrant was difficult. Anyhoo, I take a Friday solve any way I can.

Stuart Showalter 7:58 AM  

Way cool puzzle! It must be, because OFL didn’t pan it. (Or is that because the constructors are his friends?)

Birchbark 8:01 AM  

I figured Helicases split the seA in ancient myth.

Over the course of a life, we sing at dusk and later dawn. This progression toward the OBAIDE is like the way I tend to solve the difficult puzzles, working from the lower corners and traveling backwards to the northwest. Great new word.

QuasiMojo 8:05 AM  

Rex, I'm surprised that you as a film noir buff struggled with ADO ANNIE since the noir girl par excellence Gloria Grahame portrayed her in the film version of OKLAHOMA. (It's RODGERS & Hammerstein, btw @Lewis.)

AUBADE was easy for me since as an amateur poet I read them from time to time. It comes from L'aube which is French for Dawn. There was also a very early gay novel (1957) by that name penned by Kenneth Martin.

This was a SOUPER puzzle. I enjoyed all of it. But I did throw in ALL IN GOOD TIME for gradually which I now see makes no sense. But I would argue that ONE DAY AT A TIME has another meaning entirely these days that does not exactly correspond with "gradually."

RAT PACK and HAREM together in the same grid sounded like a swell party. The clue for REAPER was far from grim. Circular parts had me rolling on the floor. OHMS put me in a meditative state. JACOB was EBENEZER's NIGHTMARE FUEL. I bet TUCSON is one of the most misspelled cities in America. LUKE WARM sounds like an X-RATED movie character. GANGSTA abutting ATHENA had loads of CHARM.

Fun Friday puzzle. Thank you Messrs. Fogarty and Peterson!

Athena 8:13 AM  


Harryp 8:14 AM  

Changing iDOANNIE to ADOANNIE got this one done in slightly under average Friday time. RATPACK was first in followed by CIAO. Changed out RIPSAW when EDSEL and REM went in, and was off to the races. Skews old, so that helped me a lot. Too easy a puzzle for Friday. Last week's offering kicked my butt!

SM28 8:19 AM  

I've gotten so used to forced plurals in these puzzles that my mind went straight to "exotics" for EXOTICA. Spent about a minute trying to figure out what letter could end sutis_ and begin _arsh. Other than that hiccup, a satisfying easyish puzzle for me.

Mark 8:44 AM  

I was wondering why Abidjan didn’t fit in 17A, then I realized the clue was wrong.

relicofthe60s 8:47 AM  

Rex is correct about poker pairs. In Texas Hold ‘Em poker, being dealt a high pair such as aces, kings, or queens — known as a pocket pair — is quite exciting. Pocket aces win about 75 percent of the time.

Maruchka 8:47 AM  

Add me to the soused/SOUPED list. Another LAPSE..

Really sweet puzzle. Thanks, NF and DP.

My favorite Reagan cartoon from way back when: Ronnie on horseback in full Hollywood western gear, with the caption - "I've got spurs that JINGO, JINGO, JINGO ..".

Sir Hillary 8:47 AM  

This is some good puzzlISM, including three entries with that suffix. YESIDO like it.

It took me to far-off places -- EXOTICA like RUSSIA (EURASIAN), the SUEZ, ASWAN, ABUDHABI and ATHENA's Acropolis. Then back home to NYS (via MONTANA and TUCSON) and presumably some deep REM sleep. Or maybe ONEDAYATATIME reruns, depending on the jetlag.

Mark 8:48 AM  

Oops! Just checked and it’s not actually the capital of Cote I’voire. I thought it was. Sorry.

JOHN X 8:51 AM  

I don't think SOUPED is a word, at least not in "souped-up." It is "SUPED-UP" derived from "super." The slang word very clearly originates verbally from engine rebuilding and increasing the power output, such as adding superchargers, altering ignition timing, modifying fuel or intake systems, etc . It does not mean reducing the engine to a stock and adding vegetables. Spelling it like "soup" and adding a "variant" tag is crap. The word is "super" so that's how you spell it.

Other than that this was a really good puzzle.

Ken R 9:10 AM  

Fun puzzle but I thought super easy. Also love the "explainers" addition to the blog. Keep up the good work Rex. I am happy to see the whining has diminished lately and that politics are being kept out of this diversionary forum !

Matthew G. 9:14 AM  

A great, great Friday. I wrecked my time by having EAGLE instead of PADRE (because I was thinking of the New York Football Giants), but that was all on me. For NIGHTMARE FUEL alone, this was worth the price of admission.

Z 9:23 AM  

Raise your hand if you wish the mods would delete @Stuart Showalter. Others criticize Rex, but none with so much predictability and tiresomeness. Seriously dude - just once, One Single Time, comment on the puzzle. Your stalkery fanaticism would be funny if it weren't starting to border on creepy.

Anywho - ADO ANNIE? Since I solve in the paper I went back to that corner and checked every. single. cross. to make sure it was right. I ran the alphabet on NONAgon to make sure there wasn't some other -gon that would make more sense of ADOANNIE. Oklahoma! you say? I am just not up on my 1943 Broadway musicals with exclamation points in their titles. Nor my 1955 film adaptations of said musicals. Sure. Sure. I've seen the movie. Wasn't Shirley Jones of Partridge Family fame in it? But that's all I remember. Let me put it this way, I know just as much GANGSTA rap as I do about Oklahoma!. I was mildly surprised to come here and find out I did not have an error. Definite demerits for ADO ANNIE's appearance in the puzzle.

Otherwise I liked this puzzle a lot. Two minor writeovers, OLeg before OLGA and TUscON before TUCSON. GROMIT took forever to see. I briefly wondered what university kerMIT attended. The crossing central 13's are great, hand up for loving the MARSH clue, and it cost me precious nanoseconds to properly parse "shooting" in the NBAJAM clue. Nicely done.

Rex took lots of grief for suggesting that the Maddow puzzle was a misplaced Saturday for purely promotional reasons. Well, I've now seen an ad of Maddow's gushing about having a NYTX every night this week. I wonder if the NYT is paying for it or if it was just a straight quid pro quo. If you still believe that crass promotional considerations had nothing to do with that puzzle running on a Friday let me show you this nice bridge I'm selling cheap. And yes - I still love Rachel and think all you more conservative types would be a lot smarter if you watched her more and Faux News less.

Mohair Sam 9:37 AM  

Smooth and easy Friday, clean as a puzzle gets. How 'bout KABLOOEY? Awesome word. Loved the rail/MARSH misdirect too. Learned AUBADE today - and just knew Rex would give us "Angel of the Morning" - thank you Rex.

Met Chip Taylor, who wrote "Angel of the Morning", at a niece's wedding a few years back. He also wrote "Wild Thing" - what a combo. Wrote "Try" too, my favorite Janis Joplin song. Really good guy - he surprised the bride with a song he'd written especially for her and sang it for her at the reception.

I'm fine with the PAIR clue, Steve McQueen (the "Kid") would have needed a lot more than that to beat Edward G. Robinson (the "Man") in "The Cincinnati Kid". After leaving McQueen KABLOOEY Robinson delivers one of my favorite movie lines: "You're good kid, but as long as I'm around you're second best." I use the line whenever I beat anybody at anything. I Wonder why I have no friends?

johnny stocker 9:46 AM  

Fun puzzle, pretty easy Friday. Just missed my Friday record by 1 second.

Loved JINGOISM, great word. Also as a 90s kid, got a big kick out of seeing NBAJAM make an appearance.

JC66 9:47 AM  


Webster's disagrees:



I also see those Maddow promos a lot, but think they're trying to show her lighter, more human side rather being PR for the Times Xword, but results may vary.

Rube 9:48 AM  

Ado Annie is a famous character from a famous musical. Not knowing that is no different from me not ever having watched "a Christmas Carol" and having no clue (pun there) about aubade. That is why it's a PUZZLE. Figure it out. Don't complain. and leave showalter alone. His opinion is as valid as yours.

Fine puzzle overall.

Whatsername 9:53 AM  

@kitshef 7:21 Lifelong KC fan here and those Joe Montana playoff games are some of my sweetest memories. The legend is that Arrowhead Stadium was cursed after that and the reason they've never advanced in the playoffs since. The agony of defeat. Such is the life of a Chiefs fan. *sigh*

Rube 9:53 AM  

Leave. Showalter alone. His opinion is as valid as yours.

You don't know from Ado Annie? A famous character from a famous musical? That is on you. Just like me not having ever seen A Christmas Carol and having no clue (pun there) about aubade is on me. It's a PUZZLE. Figure it out. That,s the fun.

Nice one today, no doubt.

JFe 9:55 AM  


Hand up

Phil Calbi 9:58 AM  

I agree with Rex in that I like being challenged but feel let down when the ultimate answer is unsatisfying. For me it was 50 across, Rail center = marsh. I must have gotten the correct answer since the app says I completed the puzzle successfully. So I’m assuming a rail is something one comes across in a marsh. Now I know from reading these comments that it is a bird. A Rail bird?
Is this such common knowledge that one would clue it with a mis-direction? You could have clued it with, “ bird that lives in a marsh” and I still would have needed all the downs.

GILL I. 10:04 AM  

Finally....! an adult and very satisfying puzzle. Nary a single made-up word. Everything neat in its place affording so many ah's and ooh's. Only one little hiccup - not knowing whether the -gon was an octa, hexa or whatever gon exists in this world. ADO ANNIE thank you girl, for not being able to say no! You saved this little piggies bacon.
I know AUBADE but only from the lingerie perspective. I wonder how that dawn poem got to be named for pretty bras and underwear....Inquiring minds and all that.
Was it Herb Caen who coined Joe MONTANA the "comeback kid?" I had a serious love crush on MONTANA because he made me love the Niners and get my Brit husband to watch American football. I hated him when he went to the Chiefs. CLINTON fits in the comeback slot as well. I think he gave himself that title. He should have been the go back kid.
Did you know that it was Bacall who gave the roaming lothsarios their RAT PACK name? The gang, after a night of carousing would end up at Bogart an Bacall's pad and she would shout out "You look like a pack of rats!"
I'll take a ton more of these Neville and Doug. Merci and ciao.

mathgent 10:05 AM  

Very nice crossword. Doug Peterson is one of my favorites.

We're in downtown Los Angeles at the JW Marriott using Marriott credit card points. The JW is the top of the Marriott line but last night when I went to the business center to print up the puzzle they charged me. Their other brands like Courtyard provide free computer service. Why have an annoyance in what in every other way is a luxury hotel?

We love Joe Montana in San Francisco. He lives right in town. But Comeback Kid is not commonly used to refer to him. We still call Willie Mays the Say-Hey Kid.

I stalled badly in the SW but Little Nell saved my bacon.

Nancy 10:06 AM  

I'm wondering if RAT PACK is a generational thing or not. It was right in my wheelhouse, it got me into the puzzle and I sped through, never looking back -- until I got to the (for me) difficult-ish SW. I thought 53D was NEON, but I wasn't sure enough to write it in. There are a lot of gods in?/on? the Acropolis, and I couldn't be bothered to try to remember them all. So I really needed 39D to be GANGSTA, If it was, I waa going to solve, and if not, maybe not. It was, and then the SW became easy.

When I had ---MIT at 39A, the only "animated character" I could think of was kerMIT. But he didn't work. And he also isn't "animated", come to think of it. He's a hand puppet, right? As for GROMIT, who he?/she? I thought GROMIT was something you put in your tennis racket to lessen vibration. But I just looked it up and it's spelled "grommet". (I never used a grommet in my racket, btw. I figured if there was too much vibration in my racket, I needed a different/better racket, rather than a grommet.) Anyway, one of the easiest Fridays I've ever done -- even though I didn't know AUBADE, NBA JAM, or NIGHTMARE FUEL.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Ado Annie, aubade - horrible words.

And please, no more Harry Potter clues, please?

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

When I solve for friday and Rex doesn't declare it super easy, I pat myself on the back and shout,"wahoo!"

Two Ponies 10:21 AM  

This was what I hope for late in the week. Challenge me, teach me something new, and entertain me. This had all three.

Ado Annie has such a funny song in Oklahoma! that you almost forget what a big slut she is.

@ QuasiMojo 8:05, I just watched Gloria Grahame opposite Bogart the other night in one of those noir films. It's a Lonely Life, I think.
Pretty good stuff.

As a jingoistic Audubon Society member I loved the rail clue.

A dictionary may contradict @ JOHN X, but I tend to agree with him.

If you don't play much poker but use the little "cheat sheet" card that comes with the deck when you do then pair fits the clue.

JC66 10:33 AM  

@Two Ponies

It's not just "a" dictionary. Google SUPED UP and get back to me.

TubaDon 10:35 AM  

Plunked down RATPACK, CIAO, OLGA, but then had to give up contiguous solving in favor of gimmies like ADOANNIE, EBENEZER, and TUCSON (lived there for 10 years). Stalled i the SW until one of my favorite cartoon characters came to the rescue. Many thought-provoking but lovely clues.

Paul Rippey 10:37 AM  

Delightful (for me). Fun, satisfying solve. Thanks.

Bob Mills 10:44 AM  

Got everything except the AUBADE--ABUDHABI cross, because I had KAPLOOEY instead of KABLOOEY. Good puzzle, though.

jberg 10:45 AM  

Started off tough, as I didn't know who was in Oceans 11, never having seen it, and the only arcade games I knew were Space Invaders, Centipede, Pacman, Ms. Pacman, and the various Donkey Kong variants. Fortunately, I was pretty sure Istanbul was EURopeAN, and the gimme AUBADE confirmed that. Wrong, but enough to get me going.

But DNF. Like @Rex, I had SOUsED, not having thought of SOUPED; unlike Rex, I figured that a LAsSE was some kind of technical term in psychology so I left it there.

Other writeovers: adEn before SUEZ, RitA before ROSA (I don't know California geography, so I was going with the Chilean wine.

@Mark, I had the same thought about Abidjan, but wasn't confident enough to question the puzzle. It SHOULD be the capital -- apparently Houphuet-Boigny wanted his birthplace to be the capital, so he moved it officially to Ymoussoukro--seems like he was a little vain. The move was less successful than Brasilia, or even Abuja.

Nobody else is complaining, but NYS doesn't seem like a legitimate abbreviation to me.

OK: ADO ANNIE. I sing that song (mostly in my head, to spare those around me) all the time, but I've never seen Oklahoma! only listened to the soundtrack, and had almost no recollection of her name. I just looked it up -- apparently a) it's pronounced ah-doh, and b) no one knows why they named her that.

Finally, rail. If you know birds, you know what rails are and that they live in marshes. I think I've only ever seen one myself. They're kind of neat -- they have big feet, and can walk across the water if the weeds are thick enough. They were once popular for sport hunting, as in this Eakins painting, but are now protected.

Roo Monster 10:47 AM  

Hey All !
NIGHTMARE FUEL is a new one on me. Modern? I guess, but can someone explain it like I'm not an ADULT?

Was proud of myself for figuring out that SW corner. But, couldn't get that NW corner. That EURASIAN Istanbul clue did me in. Never heard of an AUBADE, know it's counterpart Serenade, so that cross was a failure. And ASH wasn't known as clued. Plus had SEWNiN in NE, also not knowing ADO ANNIE, as not knowing well any Musicals. I'm not a big Opera/Musical/Poetry/Anything Sophisticated type guy. :-) I'm more a TV/Movie guy. Each their own and all that.

Three ISMS, GROAN. A nit. Also thought of kerMIT at first, but he's not animated (drawn, that is). 54A, Gulf of oman-aden-SUEZ. Too many four letter Gulfs! One funny writeover: RubbER-REAPER.


Nancy 10:48 AM  

My favorite comment on the blog today? @Harryp's (8:14) IDO ANNIE instead of ADO ANNIE, inadvertently hilarious. It sounds like something that "Forbidden Broadway" would put in an "Oklahoma!" spoof. Quite possibly they already did in one of their shows. It sounds like something they would do.

Look, those of you GROANing over the inclusion of a [gasp] 1943 musical. So dated, you say. Wanna bet? "I Cain't Say No" was enormously racy for its era. Let me show you, and please remember that, since I can't embed, every word here has been lovingly typed by hand:

I cain't resist a Romeo
In a sombrero and chaps,
Soon as I sit on their laps,
Something inside of me snaps,
I cain't say No.

I rest my case.

Also, @Birchbark (8:01) -- I'm intrigued by your "over the course of a life, we sing at dawn and later dusk." I don't know what that means exactly, but it sounds like some sort of TRUISM. We may have a real Philosopher in our midst.

jberg 10:49 AM  

Also, I wanted KABLOOie, because of this.

Nancy 11:07 AM  

The second funniest thing on the blog is @Two Ponies' (10:21) slutshaming of ADO ANNIE. Really, TP???? You're judging her sexual morals, TP???? She's a character in a musical! A comic relief character! Her so-called "sluttiness" is the joke.

Malsdemare 11:13 AM  

Okay, this was a great Friday. It took a little more than my usual Friday time (I do NOT speedsolve so time is merely indicative of how much I have to think). I got RATPACK instantly, then flailed about until 9D looking for something — anything — I knew. I figured the capital had to start with an A, got PAIR and then REAPER, but that AB still didn’t give me ABUDHABI. Don’t know AUBADE or OLGA, had pumPED (up), then ramPED before I finally saw SOUPED. The argument that it should be SuPED up makes sense but I”ve only seen it as SOUPED so I’m good with that spelling.

I’m with everyone else that the SW was a bear. I finally had to google NELL; just not a Dickens fan, even though NELL is a crossword fav. I don’t know GROMIT; wanted kerMIT but he’s pre-Harry Potter so the play on Hogwarts wouldn’t work. I didn’t know HAREM but will try to remember that one; Guessed at Joe MONTANA but even though it fit, I didn’t trust myself. Clinton is the one I most associate with that sobriquet. That B in KABLOOEY should be P as far as my pronunciation is concerned.

The constructors may be Rex’s friends but they deserved his praise today; Lots that was hard but everything was clean and fair. Nice work!

@JC66 I’m with you on the Maddow promos; they run them all the time. This time they caught her being pretty cute. I think this set does more to promote her show than the NYT xwords. Really, who’d run to get an NYT crossword subscription because Maddow made a puzzle?

@mathgent. Every time I stay at an upscale hotel I am appalled at the stuff I get charged for: coffee, wifi, the safe. I don’t get it. The luxurious room really doesn’t make up for the nickel and diming. We are getting ready for our second cruise (don’t blame me; hubby got a great gig post-retirement) and we chose the Crystal line because once you’re on board, it’s all free (‘ceptin’ the shopping, which I don’t do).

Showalter is annoying but I just ignore him. I want the mods to get rid of the genuinely offensive, angry-making clods. He’s not the only poster who annoys at times; I don’t mind. I probably irk folks on accasion as well.

IdidAnnie 11:18 AM  

@John X, I argued about SOUPED UP vs SUPED UP on here countless times but apparently both versions are equally valid albeit distinct (or should that be discrete?)

@Nancy, the Acropolis was built to honor Athena so I think that fact is very relevant. It's not just a place filled with a bunch of statues to various gods and goddesses. Go visit the replica in Nashville that features a giant statue of Athena in all her technicolor glory.

To all of those who think Oklahoma! is dated. You do know that this show is constantly revived on Broadway and elsewhere and is a staple of high school musicals year in and year out? The fact that something may have originated in the past does not mean it is not contemporary. Using your logic, we shouldn't have people like Abe Lincoln or Ebenezer Scrooge or Jesus Christ or Winnie the Pooh in the puzzle either. But they show up regularly.

Kimberly 11:19 AM  

Rex in a good mood always makes the puzzle even more enjoyable, retrospectively.

“It’s a good Friday puzzle” becomes “Oh look, it made Rex happy... it’s a fabulous Friday puzzle!”

Smiles all around. Although I had no idea that a rail was a bird and that answer was yanking at me until I read the blog. I still think that clue was a reach.

kitshef 11:20 AM  

Oh yeah, and what on earth does "Doug, of course, is L.A.'s Batman" mean?

Anon@10:12 - there are no Harry Potter clues in today's puzzle.

GHarris 11:24 AM  

Found it fun and challenging but fell short because of the aubade-abudhabi-ash triangulation. @Nancy there may be other gods on the Acropolis but the major edifice is the Parthenon,a temple built to house a gigantic sculpture of Athena (which, regrettably, no longer exists)

pabloinnh 11:36 AM  

Maybe the RATPACK and the "Oklahoma" clue put me in a retro mood. Anyway, when I got to Joe, The Comeback Kid, and had only an A for the last letter, I confidently wrote in PALOOKA. Since no one else has made this ridiculous mistake I am claiming big points for originality.

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Hard to beat a puz that goes KABLOOEY. Didn't know AUBADE, but everything else was nice and smooth. NIGHTMAREFUEL was new but gettable, once I abandoned pleasinly-rhymey NIGHTMAREFARE. themelessthUmbsUp.

Confuses the M&A, when two constructioners gang up on U, for a themeless puz. How does that come up? Seems more likely that someone would think of a theme idea, and another would join in, to help develop themer ideas and such. Hard to visualize someone gettin an email that says "I don't have any theme ideas … wanna help build a puz based on that?"
Still, this was a great puz, sooo … themeless team-buildin must work out just fine, somehow.

staff weeject pick = NYS. First of all, what's that clue mean? Just that Buffalo is in the state of NY? Or is there a NY State University, whose athletes are called Buffalo? Or does NY now have a lotta buffalo roamin around loose in it? Anyhoo … nice, desperate abbrev buffalo meat. Keeps AREWE from feelin all lonely-like.

JINGOISM. MONTANA. ADOANNIE. Primo stackin that dares to J-up.

Thanx, NevDoug FogPeter. May U have many more neat no-theme ideas together. [How the heck do U get yer two half-puzs to meet by chance at NIGHTMAREFUEL/ONEDAYATATIME, tho …?]

Masked & Anonym007Us


Joe Bleaux 11:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtO 11:39 AM  

For me, Friday is always a struggle and just about finishing this one gave a lot of pleasure. ADOANNIE is known to me as a lover of everything Rogers & Hammerstein but seeing it in this context was strange...i.e. parsing it out.

Great clue on MARSH. Familiar enough with rail as visit the preserves down here in South Florida with some frequency. Egrets, storks and herons more prevalent.

KABLOOEY kinda fun and NIGHTMAREFUEL a new term to me but sounds totally appropriate.

old timer 11:49 AM  

MONTANA was my last answer, even though on those rare occasions when we went to church, Joe and his family were usually there -- Joe bought a fine ranch near Santa ROSA with his football money. He sold it quite a few years ago, I think. He was easily the most recognizable person in the Bay Area and much beloved.

Took me a while to remember the gal from Oklahoma, though I played the grooves off that record when I was a child. Finally ADO ANNIE came to me. I remember it as being AY-doe and assumed it was the town she came from. Almost everyone in Oklahoma came from somewhere else, at least in the center of the state where the Sooners were. The eastern part of the state was Indian Territory and when oil was discovered there, there was many a tale of former Indian chiefs buying (and often wrecking) brand new Cadillacs.

I found the puzzle deliciously difficult as Fridays ought to be, and pride myself on solving it with no help from the Internet,

Kath320 11:55 AM  

How fitting to have a "GANGSTA" rap answer (39D) on the anniversary of the murder of The Notorious B.I.G. - March 9, 1997. Hesitated to put in "ROSA" for 56A because I live there.

boomer54 12:19 PM  

RE: Mohair Sam on Chip Taylor ... His real name is Wes Voight and he's Jon's brother ...grew up in Westchester County ... my kids made me a photo album which includes a shot of me { Fordham Prep } making a layup over him {Stepinac} ...

Z 12:33 PM  

@Rube - Of all the opprobrium I shoveled ol' SS's way, "invalid" was not in the mix.

Regarding the whole SOUPed up vs. Suped up rhubarb, I found the comments on this bicycling enthusiast site particularly funny.

@Phil Calbi - The "is it a bird or a train?" thing is useful enough that "rail" will appear in another puzzle near you soon. I don't think you will see the bird appear often on Monday or Tuesday, but otherwise it is fair game.

@Nancy - A little Wallace and GROMIT for you.
Also, more than you probably care to read about Oklahoma! and sex.

@jberg - I didn't like NYS as I put it in, but I assume it is fair as a way to distinguish the state from NYC.

@JC66 and @Malsdemare - Frequent mention of your product on the top rated cable news network... If MSNBC runs that spot 10 times a day five days a week it's the equivalent of a $225,000/week ad buy (based on $4,500/30 second spot). That's nearly $1M/month. Yeah, MSNBC runs it to promote Maddow. Shortz has to be loving it, though.

@Malsdemare - You're right, of course, about SS.

I see lots of defense of Oklahoma!, none of it overly convincing to me. Is ADO ANNIE crossworthy? Sure. Is it a dated and niche answer? Yep. Harry Potter (already 21 years old) is far more current and is far more a part of the zeitgeist than ADO ANNIE. That high schools perform a play is most definitely not an argument for freshness. If you are familiar with the politics of high school theater at all you would know that HS plays must be stodgy. The stodgier the better.

Patrick Butler 12:44 PM  

Abidjan is not the capital of Cote d’Ivoire. Yamoussoukro is. (Hope I spelled that right.)

OISK 12:58 PM  

Hooray for Ado Annie. Celeste Holm in the original Broadway cast, IIRC. I've seen it twice in recent years; it is revived frequently. People object to her but not to character names from a TV series visible only on one particular cable carrier?

I knew Aubade from the ballet "Romeo and Juliet." It is the title of one of the tracks, if one has a CD of the complete ballet, and refers to a dance as performed at dawn.

Didn't the monkey and the chimp go off on an Abu Dhabi honeymoon?

This was an easier than usual Friday for me. I enjoyed it; it was free of the exotica that nag at me. Is there actually a game called NBA JAM? (Groan). No matter. Really liked this puzzle, and as a birder, loved the clue for "Marsh."

JC66 1:05 PM  


No doubt the Times is getting value out of the Maddow/Xword promos on CNBC. However, I believe the original brouhaha stemmed from @Rex's theorizing that the Maddow puzzle ran on Friday, rather than the more suitable Saturday so she could flog it on her Thursday night show, and thereby increase the number of people doing the NYTXword. However, as someone else pointed out earlier this week, since she did a live lead in to Richard Engel's Special the next night, she could just as easily done her "happy dance" then to hype the Saturday puzzle. So choosing to run it on Friday probably had nothing to do with Madddow promoting it.

Banana Diaquiri 1:19 PM  

If you still believe that crass promotional considerations had nothing to do with that puzzle running on a Friday let me show you this nice bridge I'm selling cheap.

if you actually watch TRMS (I doubt), you would know that for some run of Fridays she gives over to Richard Engel. And such was that week. She pre-records her handoff to Engel, so wasn't there. one might argue that the puzzle didn't have to run in such a week. nevertheless, only a bluenose would carp about her joy in getting the gig. I sure would.

Banana Diaquiri 1:21 PM  

oops!!! didn't read through all of the comments.

Trombone Tom 1:22 PM  

A fine puzzle with some crossword EXOTICA. I had not realized there was any debate about SOUPED up. Never saw suped up in my Hot Rod magazines back in the 50's. Speaking of which, I miss my '57 Chevy ... a great set of wheels.

Thought about Palooka before MONTANA (Hi, pabloinnh). As a long-time member of the 49-er Faithful I can say that out here he was frequently known as Joe Cool.

It seemed like I was tuned in to the constructors' frequency, so this ended up on the easy side. Last to fall was the NE, even though I had JINGOISM in mind from the get-go. NBAJAM didn't come easily.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

This took longer than its difficulty (actually, lack-thereof) leads me to think it should have. I had a few writeovers but nothing really JAMming.

I haven't heard of NIGHTMARE FUEL before. Rather than Jeff Chen's explanation of things like spiders and bedbugs, I took it in the way EBENEZER Scrooge did:

Marley: "Why do you doubt your senses?"

"Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

NO SLOUCH made me laugh. I may have told this story here before but you'll just have to skip it if so. Some years ago, I said to my husband, "But you're no slouch either!". "What did you say?", he asked. After repeating my comment, he said, "Oh, I thought you said, 'You're no slow cheetah'". We thought this was a hilarious alternative to the original saying and we have, so far unsuccessfully, tried to bring it into the language, using it whenever possible. So if it ever becomes widespread, you can credit my husband with its COINAGE.

Joe Bleaux 1:26 PM  

The C (Arts) section of my NYT was missing this morning; go figure. So I logged on and found that even as a full-time subscriber, I'd have to pay extra for the puzzle. Sigh. I signed up ... for a month. (Hey, it's Friday, dammit. I NEED that puzzle! You know how it is). I just solved digitally for the first time ever, and if it's the last, it'll be OK by me. My right arm is killing me from all the scrolling and mousing and clicking. The little congratulatory chime at the end was nice, and having my time displayed would've been a bonus if I cared. It was a fine puzzle, but without my paper and pen, it all felt cold and impersonal KABLOOEY, cried the Luddite. Happy weekend, all.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carola 1:38 PM  

A slow-ish solve for me, meaning more time to savor the puzzle's many pleasures, from KABLOOEY and NO SLOUCH to the clue for RAIL

As an ex-.medievalist, I knew AUBADE, one of the earliest forms of German poetry: knight-and-lady lovers in an illicit affair lament the necessity of parting to avoid discovery. I was less solid on my geography, with sudAN before ASWAN and Siam before SUEZ.

I loved the crosses of the cain't say no girl ADO ANNIE with YES I DO! and NIGHTMARE FUEL with NEMESES. Also TASTE BUDS x LUKEWARM: apparently they function better when food isn't piping hot.

Nancy 2:37 PM  

@Z (12:33) -- How on earth did you find it???!!!! Just think, I might have gone my whole life without reading that eye-opening, jaw-dropping "college paper" on sex in "Oklahoma!" And I would have been the poorer for it. For those of you who love "Oklahoma!", hate "Oklahoma!", and have never once seen or listened to "Oklahoma!", don't miss @Z's link. Makes me wish I'd gone to Northwestern and majored in film studies.

@Joe Bleaux (1:26 p.m.) -- My own arm started aching as I read your post. This fellow LUDDITE really, really feels for you.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

@Z and @mals, @Stuart did comment on the puzzle.

sanfranman59 2:50 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:15 4:09 1.03 60.3% Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:03 5:26 0.74 3.4% Very Easy
Wed 6:48 6:07 1.11 67.8% Medium-Challenging
Thu 7:39 9:51 0.78 17.9% Easy
Fri 11:12 11:42 0.96 44.1% Medium

I thought this was really good as I was solving. I like Scrabbly puzzles as long as they don't lead to too many ridiculous words or really bad fill. I also like when I come up with answers that I didn't know that I know (OLGA, GROMIT, NELL). Fun: KABLOOEY, GANGSTA, NO SLOUCH, ADO ANNIE (full name). A new word that I'll never use in a sentence (AUBADE). Well-clued. What's not to like?

Anonymous 3:03 PM  
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Andrew Heinegg 3:26 PM  

My hand is raised but, you have to concede, were he to do so, he would be panned for being cowardly or some such thing.

Carolynne 3:49 PM  

I also had “r-rated” and erotica. Sigh.

BarbieBarbie 4:24 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot, many entries to admire. Played easy-medium for me.

A couple of minor quibbles: "nona" as an x-gon answer is like cluing "green" with "type of paint." And, I really don't like XRATED, mainly because it could just as easily be RATEDX, which is not a different answer but just a permuted one-- doesn't play as good crossword hygiene to me. Still, overall, two thumbs up, one for each constructor. Thanks guys.

BarbieBarbie 4:25 PM  

Sorry, forgot to say the biggest giggle of the day for me was OISK and the monkey/chimp comment. HAR!!!

Z 4:30 PM  

@JC66 & @Banana Diaquiri - I did not watch TRMS last Friday, which is fairly typical. Friday’s are infamous for news dumps exactly because people are busy doing other stuff. If you want to maximize exposure you would do it on a Thursday, not a Friday. The bonus of an especially charming “point of personal privilege” that can be used over and over in spot promos can hardly be unexpected, Maddow being Maddow. Is it so hard to imagine Andrew Lack learning of this puzzle and putting out a quiet suggestion that Friday would be better than Saturday? It would be dereliction of duty if he hadn’t (well, maybe not Lack, but someone whose job it is to maximize profits). Or maybe it is just the cynical Calvinist in me to presume sinful greed played a role in so woefully misplacing a wonderful puzzle.

@Nancy - Your “slut-shaming” comment provoked me to do a little googling. I think I used “‘ado annie’ feminist critique” and found that blog post on the first page of results. I did have to put the name in quotes because feminist critiques of Much Ado About Nothing are quite the thing. All of which made me wonder if Derrida ever deigned to deconstruct musical theatre. Wouldn’t that be not fun? Now I may just have to watch Oklahoma! just for all the sexual sub and not-so-subtext.

pabloinnh 4:42 PM  

@Trombone Tom-

Hey, another Joe Palooka fan. I suspect our numbers are diminishing. FWIW, I've never seen "suped" up either. And boy do I miss my '68 Camaro, which was the fastest thing I ever owned, no souping needed.

andy 4:43 PM  

Again, What does "Doug Peterson, of course, is L.A.'s Batman" mean????

And if its that mysterious that no one knows the answer, why "of course?"

Sarah 4:50 PM  

Had a great time on this puzzle, but wow was that a horrible clue for AUTISM.

TCProf 4:56 PM  

Those of us who live in NYC use NYS to refer to the less civilized parts of the Empire State.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

@Joe Bleaux, you might want to check to see if your keyboard has an obscure key called "tab." It, uh, tabs.

Barry Frain 5:11 PM  

Stuart Showalter has replaced Oldflappy/Oldfat/??? as the most annoying regular on this blog.

But I'm opposed to censoring him. Let the nattering nutter of negativity yammer on and on and on . . .

Personally, I think Stuart secretly has a man-crush on Rex.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Stanley Hudson 5:13 PM  

@Anonymous 5:06, ROFL

Questinia 5:15 PM  

Clearly "I do Annie" fits the clue better than "Ado Annie".

Ferlin Dusky 5:20 PM  

Do people of color ever comment on this blog? Talk about Wonder bread, mayonnaise, ham salad, and jello with canned fruit.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

@ Questinia, Actually that's what all the cowboys say.

Jennifer Freeman 5:22 PM  

Reread his comment. It was all about Rex.

Big J 5:50 PM  

Good Puzzle! Just one little nit, Holiday is an Inn, Comfort is an Inn, A Bed And Breakfast Can be an Inn, But Super 8 IS A MOTEL!!!

Larry Gilstrap 5:55 PM  

@Showalter has become the Hunter Pence of this blog.

I got stuck twice. The NE and the SW sat unfilled for hours. ATHENA helped, and finally today SEWN ON wrapped it up.

Is HAREM becoming one of those words? It's clued as relating to nonhuman sea mammals. Those big bulls head up a tyrannical regime.

We saw a beautiful sora rail in a golf water hazard yesterday morning. Nice looking bird.

Birchbark 6:01 PM  

@Nancy (10:48), I think @Z (4:30) is the true philosopher. One aspires to the sort of agility that can include Oklahoma! and Jacques Derrida in the same paragraph without rupturing the space-time continuum.

GILL I. 7:02 PM  

"Joe Palooka."
"Stewart Showalter has replaced oldflapphy/old fat??"
"Super 8 is a MOTEL!!!"
"It, huh, has tabs."
It must be cocktail hour........

#Bar Fly 7:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JOHN X 7:50 PM  

Well I certainly stand corrected. It really is SOUPED up.

Apparently there's a whole bunch of us in the "suped" school of thought, and it's wrong. Jason Torchinsky at Jalopnik (himself a convert) wrote the best article on it, with contemporary dictionary entries, explaining that is a horse racing term from the 19th century for doped horses. If a race horse was given an amphetimine or other substance, it was "on the soup" or "souped up." Hot-rod racing (and bootlegging) would naturally adopt a horse racing slang term when they modified cars to increase their power and speed. And "soup" is such a universal slang term for substances and concoctions; I'm amazed that I didn't see this because it all fits so tightly. But I was told sometime ago that it was "supe" from supercharging, which is a much more boring origin than horse doping.

SOUPED it is!

Joe Dipinto 8:48 PM  

ADO ANNIE was my first entry. Hat tip to @QuasiMojo for pointing out that Gloria Grahame played her in the movie -- coincidentally, Annette Bening portrayed Gloria Grahame in a recent movie (which I didn't see).

I've never understood why "Oklahoma!" is considered to have revolutionized the American musical. Nothing happens in it. Absolutely nothing. The only plot point is the question: who is going to escort Laurie to the Box Social? This takes up three hours in the movie. It does have a few decent songs.

I didn't know the word AUBADE, so that was my lesson for the day. Otoh, I've always loved the word KABLOOEY. And JINGO(ism) was a song off Santana's classic first album.

Jennifer K. 9:19 PM  

I had to scroll down pretty far to finally find someone saying this. I’m autistic and it nearly ruined the puzzle for me. Certainly brought me down a few notches in terms of my mood. That clue was just godawful.

Mother Pence 10:35 PM  

My favorite song in “Oklahoma” is “Porgy and Bess.”

I also like “Tonight Tonight.”

GILL I. 10:56 PM  

@Jennifer K. I'm not sure I understand why 31D AUTISM brought about so much discomfort. Was it the clue "Special-education challenge?" Why?
My niece has a Master's degree in Special Education. She is in charge of children in the 10 year old range who have a series of broad disabilities. Her class, at the moment,, is interacting with the children who have autism. What she and her teacher mates accomplish is phenomenal.
Autistic children NEED a Special Education Teacher. Who, better than they, have the education and knowledge to process language development that is so crucial. Mind you, she is in Spain, but I'm betting Special Education teachers in the States are just as dedicated to autism and the challenges manifested.

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:58 PM  

This is a Friday that doesn't disappoint. It's not outstanding, but a very solid puzzle. I couldn't find the time to sit down for today's puzzle until late at night, and was very afraid that I was gonna be in a sour mood because of bad fill/clues. Nope! Not at all! Easy breezy.

THe fill is very good. Now, it could have been problematic for some (especially the trivia-heavy NE corner with NYS thrown in), but other than that, a solid one with no significant bumps and some very exciting answers: GANGSTA EBENEZER NOSLOUCH RATPACK NBAJAM EURASIAN AUTISM EXOTICA etc. made a very diverse and fun puzzle. The clues didn't disappoint either, there weren't any LOL material but they struck the right tone for a Friday. That being said, Rex is right in that PAIR's clue is a bit shaky.

Overall, a very nice Friday affair for me, but I totally understand why it could have driven some people crazy.

GRADE: A-, 4.2 stars.

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

Why are we letting "NYS" pass? Can we do "Home of Lincoln" as "NES" or "ILS"?

Jennifer K. 4:21 PM  

@Gill, maybe you didn’t see where I said I personally *am* autistic, and I’m the parent of an autistic child. I never had a special education teacher and I don’t foresee my son having one either. Autistic children don’t all NEED a special education teacher, “special education challenge” isn’t what autism *is.* It’s a neurology, an identity, a way of being that is valuable and normal, not just a challenge to your niece. :/ Perhaps if you imagine an intrinsic part of your own identity being described solely as a challenge to others, you can understand. Try googling “neurodiversity paradigm” for more.

Jennifer K. 4:23 PM  

And who better than special education teachers to know about this? Here’s your answer: autistic people. Please don’t speak over us. We know autism better than any non-autistic teacher.

GILL I. 5:24 PM  

@Jennifer K...."A serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact."
ASD can differ considerably across individuals. Many, many, Special Education teachers are qualified to deal with this disorder.
Chill...you're preaching to the choir.

Jennifer K. 5:54 PM  

How on earth am I preaching to the choir? You are not listening to anything I say, considering that your relationship to your niece means you know more about autism than does an actually autistic person. Please stop. Please google the neurodiversity paradigm. It is not a disorder, and it is not a “special education challenge.” Please don’t tell me to “chill.” Thanks.

GILL I. 6:53 PM  

@Jennifer....[sigh]...You know me not all. You understand thrive? I'm sure you do. That's what we hope for. Some, in the Special Education field know exactly what it means to thrive....they are trained to bring out this very special thing in those with autism.
I won't discuss this with you anymore on the blog.. You can E-mail me if you want.

Jennifer K. 8:11 PM  

Emailing you is the last thing I have any interest in doing. Please, for the love of god, learn something from this about speaking over people who are telling you about their lived experience. You asked a question. You didn’t like the answer. I never said special education teachers do no good. I said “special education challenge” is a horrible clue for AUTISM. You asked why. Then argued. Argued. Argued. What do I know? I’m just autistic. Your niece in Spain has surely explained more to you than I could ever understand. I’ll just be here “thriving,” thanks, staying away from ablesplainers like you. 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

Michael McCormick 1:09 AM  
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