TUESDAY, Jun. 3, 2008 - Pete Muller (1990s-2000s sitcom shrink)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "WHERE'S WALDO?" (35A: Question posed by a 1987 children's best seller) -

And your theme-revealing answer:

43A: This puzzle's answer to 35-Across (spelled out four times) (in the corner)

The word WALDO extends out from each corner of the puzzle diagonally toward the center. The "(spelled out four times)" part of the clue is not only confusing (that parenthetical remark has no clear referent), but it's completely unnecessary. If the answer is IN THE CORNER, then we can look and see, as I did, "Ooh, there it is ... and there and there and there." It's a very inventive theme, one with a non-standard spatial expression much more typical of a Thursday puzzle than a Tuesday puzzle. There are really only two theme-related answers, and the four answers that look as though they should be theme answers (long, one in each quadrant) are simply ... answers. Nothing to do with one another. Strange and kind of cool. I thought the puzzle had to go to odd and/or crappy fill a little too much to execute its theme, but overall it was a pleasing puzzle to do, if only for its originality and unexpectedness.

Theme answers

I already told you all of them.

One of the benefits of not using up all your long answers on the theme is that you have lots of cool long answers to play with, and these are all good, or at least interesting. I don't really like MOLTEN METAL (26D: Material used in casting) - doesn't seem a coherent enough phrase to me. Plus I had MELTED METAL :( And TOILET WATER, also, don't like (6D: Light perfume). It's got the word "TOILET" in it ... so I say 'veto.' I love the other long stuff, though. MONTICELLO (61A: Building seen on a nickel) and ELLIPTICAL (17A: Like many planetary orbits) complement each other nicely (something about the double-Ls), and NILES CRANE (11D: 1990s-2000s sitcom shrink) feels pretty fresh to me (though I never watched "Frasier" with any regularity, i.e. I think I've seen maybe 3 or 4 episodes in my life). The clue on PERSONAL AD (31D: Purchase of one who's looking for love) is a bit sad/odd, but I like the answer. BLOW-UP DOLL also fits.

There were some zinger in today's puzzle - stuff I just didn't know, stuff that seemed pretty exotic. Should have known OSMAN (50D: Ottoman Turk leader), probably, but didn't. Had ASMAN, I think ... or something close. Could have been ASLAN for all I knew. Didn't help that it crossed the equally exotic and even more obscure ARIANE (65A: French satellite launcher) - and at a vowel. Yeesh (Var. of JEEZ). Then there's today's European river, SAAR (64A: Moselle tributary), which I haven't seen in a while, and which is helping to create quite an A-fest down there in the SW. Doesn't help that I couldn't locate the Moselle on a map if you paid me to do so. Everything else in the puzzle seemed easily gettable.

Sarsaparilla:

  • 15A: "The Tempest" king (Alonso) - aargh. Forgot this completely.
  • 22A: Ranch visitor (dude) - goes nicely with 39A: Western pal (pard), which is one of the most hilarious westernisms I can think of.
  • 26A: Long March participants (Maoists) - mmm, three consecutive vowels.
  • 29A: Airer of Congressional proceedings (C-Span) - er, "airer"
  • 32A: Bout stopper, for short (TKO) - er, "stopper"
  • 38A: Fighter for Jeff Davis (reb) - er, "fighter" etc.
  • 49A: Indian oven (tandoor) - wife thought for sure that it was TANDOORI, confusing (I guess) the food with the oven it is cooked in. Actually, TANDOORI is the adjectival form of TANDOOR.
  • 67A: Gum globs (wads) - yuck. Nearly as bad as TOILET WATER. Only slightly worse than UDDERS (46D: Jersey parts?). UDDERS is actually good, word-wise, but something about cow teats and WADS and TOILET ... maybe not a perfect storm, but a storm of some kind.
  • 68A: City with a view of Vesuvius (Naples) - wanted Pompeii or something like it.
  • 69A: Do zigzags, maybe (sew) - total (educated) guess
  • 10D: Maine's _____ National Park (Acadia) - never been to Maine. ACADIA always looks to me as if it's missing an "R"
  • 44D: Bear, in Bolivia (oso) - there are bears in Bolivia?
  • 29D: Breakfast cereal pioneer (C.W. Post) - "Pioneer," HA ha. Like he traveled to the unexplored West / outer space to discover new cereals...
  • 23D: Man, in 68-Across (uomo) - I can't look at that word very long without getting creeped out.
  • 25D: Candian "loonie" denomination (one) - also, The Loneliest Number
  • 27D: It's "mightier," in a saying (the pen) - wow, that's horrible all around. Weird partial, clued quite awkwardly ("mightier" just cannot stand alone like that).
  • 30D: Cascades peak (Shasta) - Driven past it many times in my life.
  • 37D: Boxing Day mo. (Dec.) - would be fine, were it not for yet another month abbreviation in the puzzle: 54A: Equinox mo. (Sep).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

61 comments:

parshutr 8:27 AM  

Picky, picky. I found this puzzle delightful, inventive, and not at all a challenge to the breakfast test (although my breakfast was consumed at 5am, 3.4 hrs ago.

Ari 8:29 AM  

What a cute puzzle. I was flummoxed by the clue (until I saw Waldo in the corner) and when I saw the ELL in ELLiptical and MonticELLo I thought that since the letter "L" has a corner and was spelled out twice, the other clues would have an ELL in them.

Alas, no.

:)

Joe 8:35 AM  

Purchase of one who's looking for love: PROSTITUTE

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

Great theme and well-executed! Thought all the long answers were pretty good.

The only problem I have with this puzzle is the unfair crossing at SAENS/OSO, especially for a Tuesday puzzle... otherwise, it was very enjoyable.

jannieb 8:53 AM  

High marks for creative construction - wouldn't really call this a "theme" puzzle. Tuesday puzzles have really improved, of late.

I'm tired seeing "ciao" in the puzzle - it's shown up almost daily for the past few weeks.

Love Acadia Nat'l Park - and all of Maine for that matter.

John in CT 8:56 AM  

I thought this was a clever puzzle. I do agree that there was some ho-hum fill, but overall very enjoyable.

My students wanted MAIL ORDER BRIDE for a "love purchase."

ArtLvr 9:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
parshutr 9:10 AM  

@joe I too fell into the PROSTITUTE trap, then when I had the ending ALAD from crosses, I couldn't figure out what kind of salad one buys as a love purchase.

ArtLvr 9:11 AM  

Amusing, novel and fairly easy -- I even got the diagonal Waldos right away, since I warm up every morning with USA Today's Word Round-up!

The shaping up with the shrink goes nicely with getting SOBER and ditching WADS of gum, then placing a PERSONAL AD and dabbing on a touch of TOILET WATER -- but not too much for good TASTE in the WOO dept.

To me it passes the breakfast test; WHEW....

∑;)

jls 9:15 AM  

zigzag -- it's not just for pathways... ;-)

finish that seam!

and here's a page that describes several folks who contributed to the invention of the sewing machine, including helena augusta blanchard, who made the invention zigzag-capable:

stitchers in time

loved the clever, thursday-like construction we were treated to today -- and that "nilescrane"/"macho" crossing. made me laugh!

;-)

janie

SethG 9:25 AM  

Two can be as bad as one, and four is just twice that.

The phrasing on "spelled out four times" really threw me. To the extent that I had IATHECORNER and it took me several minutes to figure out what it meant. Two main problems: I didn't know UOMO, and apparently I am an idiot.

UOMO was just a distraction. It doesn't look like a word, but all of the crosses seemed rock solid. But I kept going back to it anyway.

The other: I never saw WALDO. Never, not 'til I read this this morning. I noticed the Ws right away, but not the ALDOs. My process was something like: "Maybe it should be W AT THE CORNER? Doesn't fit...or make sense. WATHE CORNER? Which four of those 5 could be right? Well, I know this--I don't know the Hughes poem, but that's _gotta_ be I, TOO, anyway. But IA THE CORNER? Even if we make it IN THE CORNER it doesn't make sense--the corners are just Ws. In what world does W = WALDO? Just putting a W in the corner and calling it WALDO is totally cheap." IN THE end I decided that must be it, and then was angry when it accepted my submission.

I went to bed happy anyway after THE PENs scored in overtime. And now that I see it, I like it.

alanrichard 9:27 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Jersey parts was a great clue!!! I finished the puzzle in about 10 minutes but I didn't get the theme until I was almost done. I tried to find similarity with elliptical, Monticello, personal ad, Niles Crane & toilet water - but no success - ha! Once I put the w after wheres I knew the theme. After that I ralized that there was a "W" in each corner. What a clever puzzle. Great job Pete.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I enjoyed this one. My big complaint was STN. Haven't we established from years of puzzles that the correct abbreviation is STA?

PhillySolver 9:48 AM  

Agree with the consensus that this was a very good Tuesday puzzle and liked the Philly reference to boot. I think I will start referring to our neighbors across the river in South Jersey as UDDERS. Pete Muller appears to be an amazing Renaissance man with multiple high level skills.

Toilet is from the French for cloth and refers to the libations to prepare yourself for the day including the 'cloth' you wore over your shoulders as your hair was trimmed and makeup applied. The scented water (baths weren't so common)/Eau de Toilet kept things fresh and is still sold as such in most perfume counters. Much of the rest of the world now uses WC as the indicator for the room used other purposes although the NYT seems to call it the Loo.

megan p 9:51 AM  

The WALDO pattern is ingenious. I forgave the clunky parts of the puzzle for the sakes of those pretty little diagonals coming in from each corner.

And a kind of non sequitur comment: sometimes I go to the blogs of other commentators, and I'd like to praise that of "Chips Ahoy," whose complaints about the Sunday puzzle ired many at this site (hey, "ired" gets the squiggly line from my spellcheck.) You'll be charmed by his beautiful and interesting art work.

Norm 9:57 AM  

Very nice puzzle. The (SPELLED OUT FOUR TIMES) parenthetical actually helped me keep looking for WALDO, or encouraged me at least, since I sort of expected to see all five letters IN THE CORNER (like, across and then turning down) but had to keep looking when that didn't work. My daughter was always better at that book than me.

Opus2 10:18 AM  

I did surprisingly well given that I started with a few wrong answers: RR stop: STN, Pub serving: DRAFT, Equinox mo. MAR.

However, some that Rex seemed to struggle with were automatic for me (ACADIA - I've been to New Brunswick and Maine, OSMAN - I know three guys that have this as a given name, and ARIANE - my buddy helped build the 'Canadarm' on the Space Shuttle so I've followed space delivery systems for years) and WHERESWALDO actually went in quickly without any crosses, so I ended up with a good finishing time (for me).

Nice puzzle.

Zach M. 10:34 AM  

Liked this puzzle a lot, but I do agree there was some odd fill in some of the corners. Had a few holes until getting the two theme answers in the middle of the puzzle, and having one WALDO in place was able to put in the others, clues unseen. The rest fell soon after.

steve l 10:49 AM  

I thought this was one of the cleverest and most enjoyable puzzles of recent memory.

Jim in Chicago 10:50 AM  

Oh boy - do I feel stupid. I finished the entire puzzle, saw the four Ws in the corners and thought "OK, W stands for Waldo, I guess" this is really lame.

Only now, reading the blog, do I see the "aldo" parts.

chefbea1 10:51 AM  

thought this was tough for a tuesday puzzle until I got toilet water which gave me the w for waldo. Then it all fell into place.

Just breakfast foods today. Post, Kashi and wash them down with a Grande from Starbucks

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

Liked the puzzle, but I agree with the other anonymous that STA is for station. Never saw STN before.

Either you were tired when you wrote this, distracted by blowupdoll or is there some joke I'm not getting when you write 10D "never been to main."??

chefbea1 11:08 AM  

Acadia National Park is in Maine. I agree - all of maine is beautiful. went there last summer and of course ate Lobster every chance we could. yuuummm

archaeoprof 11:10 AM  

Fun puzzle on a Tuesday! Usually a humdrum day of the week, but this one made me smile, remembering all those times when my kids could find Waldo, but I couldn't. And I couldn't ever see the hidden pictures in those "seeing eye" pictures, either.

foodie 11:14 AM  

Fun puzzle! When my kids were little we had Waldo books and it was cool to watch how happy it made them to locate him...

The Ottoman empire is named after Osman I who established the dynasty that ruled that empire. Strangely, my grandfather was an officer in the army under the Ottomans and he met with Lawrence of Arabia when the British captured Damascus from the Turks in 1918...But back to how "Osman" and "Ottoman" are related: At least in Arabic, there is a letter which sounds like the "th" sound in "thorough". In the spoken dialect it can be slightly mispronounced as "s" (as in Osman) or as a "t" as in Ottoman. I imagine this is the source of the deviation between the two words. I don't know if there is a Turkish speaking reader out there who can comment?

Off topic (Sorry Rex!) but for Ulrich and others who love architecture: Yesterday I attended a taping of the Charlie Rose show in the context of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and there was a wonderful discussion among 4 luminaries on the creative process in architecture as well as on the use of computers in design. I don't know when it will air but charlierose.com will have it.

dk 11:20 AM  

Blowupdoll, jeez louise.

I had undees for the jersey parts. I guess I can put them on Rex's doll.

Humorous note (4me): when LA started the commuter lanes blow-up doll sales increased as people dressed them up and used them as passengers. I was a psychologist for the courts at the time and the bailifs would come get me to hear people try to talk thier way out of those tickets.

A second humorous note: The rubber points on the bumpers of old cars were called MAE Wests. Speaking of UDDERS.

@jannieb - when in Bar Harbor go to Havana, thier Mojitos are almost as good as mine. Also do not street luge down Acadia, it angers the park rangers.

later, PARDs.

PhillySolver 11:25 AM  

archaeprof
Here is a Magic Eye picture. Magic Heart Clue: get very close to the screen and try to look through it and slowly move back focusing behind the computer monitor...a heart will appear. Waldo has a few of these, but this one is a good introduction and for some may be easier than seeing the Waldos in the four corners of today's puzzle.

http://snapshotsofgod.com/images/magiceye.gif

Nebraska Doug 12:03 PM  

Agree with the consensus that this was a very good Tuesday puzzle. Some tough non-tuesday answers that were gettable due to easy crosses: uomo, loew, ariane, itoo, osman.

Dan 12:29 PM  

new to the cw scene...

I always see similar clues to 59d (Phila. to Miami dir.) The answer is SSW... how do you come to that?

Always leaves me a little confused.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

SSW is south-southwest. The direction from Phila. to Miama is SSW. It's the direction halfway between south and southwest (22.5 degrees clockwise from south). There are 8 of these.

Pete M 12:49 PM  

I didn't think "THE PEN" was that horrendous.

I am also lucky that I didn't even realize UOMO was in the puzzle until I read the blog. I, too, might have second-guessed some of the crossings if I'd bothered to notice it.

bobdively 12:50 PM  

A very fun puzzle. I buzzed through most it fairly quickly but got tripped up by STN, leaving me scratching my head as to why Waldo was IATHECORNER. I also had a little trouble with TOILET WATER, probably owing to the dissonance in my mind between "toilet" and "perfume".

mac 1:15 PM  

I thought this a fantastic puzzle: Tuesday clues for a Thursday construction. I used to love doing Waldo books with my son. He was even given a Waldo book in Spain: there is no text so it's international.

As for 31D, love purchase, after seeing "Sex and the City" yesterday nothing would surprise me, including salad.....

Like the Italian sounding answers: Toscana here we come at the end of this week.

Nick 1:30 PM  

There seems to be a bit of a language element of this puzzle. At first I didn't realize that it was the diagonals that spelled Waldo, and it seemed like the letters in the four corners could combine to spell 'WHERESWALDO' four times, but maybe that's sort of coincidental.

miriam b 1:42 PM  

@phillysolver: I took off my glasses and actually touched my nose to the monitor, and as I backed away - voilĂ , a heart. I have a couple of books of these images, but haven't looked at them for a while.

Wanted NAPLES to be Napoli, in honor of the UOMO in residence. Also, I never knew what the correct spelling of Frasier's and Niles' surname - CRANE - was, until today. I had an idea it was Crain. One more piece of useless info.

ACADIA is wonderful. We visited the park about 20 years ago, and I still summon up the pure smell of the air whenever I think of it.

acme 2:09 PM  

Rex, thought your summary was dead on...and am amused at the irony of how many solvers couldn't find the 4 Waldos! Loved the diagonals!

Since Toilet made me cringe a bit too, I really liked Phillysolver's "explication du text", as my French Teacher Mme Reynolds would say.

As a constructor, loved the UOMO, CIAO, MAOIST, SAAR, SAENS, bring 'em on! The more familiar they become, the easier it will be to work my way out of bad corners!

Mini Italian/Latin lesson for those who care: UOMO is just HOMO as in HOMO Sapiens as in MAN...not as in HOMO/HOMEO as in same as in HOMOsexual...which has to do with sameness, not the fact they can be men...
By the way, UOMO is also the name of a popular Italian men's fashion magazine...Italian men never creep me out, they always make me smile!

chefbea1 2:56 PM  

@philly solver - I saw the heart. I too had a couple of books of those images. Have no idea where they are now. Must have sold them at a tag sale.

Kevin Der 3:23 PM  

i didn't even realize the waldos in the corner until i read this entry. i thought it was just W's.

Noam D. Elkies 3:38 PM  

Yeah, a neat Tuesday puzzle. Would have been even cooler if RALPH and/or EMERSON were in the grid :-)

Apropos 27D:THEPEN -- used to be that PENIS appeared in the puzzle every so often, clued as "The _____ mightier than the sword" (or a shorter excerpt later in the week); has this been used recently?

NDE

ArtLvr 3:53 PM  

@ phillysolver -- I'd never seen a Magic Eye before.... I had a headache, tried to see the heart anyway. On second try I did see it! And my head is better -- maybe I need different reading glasses? Or did it just make me dizzy? Weird! Thanks...

∑;)

Kim 3:55 PM  

Loved this puzzle - one of my favorites! Ok I admit I have a soft spot for WHERES WALDO? It reminds me of a time that my teenage son communicated with me with more than one syllable responses!

I thought it was clever to use NILES CRANE instead of his more famous brother and the JERSEY PARTS? clue was just plain cute.

lakim sgk 4:06 PM  

"uomo" threw me off... bah! i was super excited about the "where's waldo" theme, however... evoked memories of my childhood.

thanks for your comment on our nascent blog!

David 4:29 PM  

Did like this one. Wish it was a rebus with the "WALDO"s squeezed into the corner squares, but I guess that might be on the impossible side for a devisor. While I found the "spelled out 4 times" a little clunky, I figured it was just a possible way to get around the fact that there were 4 waldos but the main theme answer was the singular "IN THE CORNER".

But, Rex, what on earth is wrong with the phrase "Molten Metal"? Seems like a perfect, quite usable in conversation, adjective-noun phrase. The clue for it isn't stunningly clever, but it certainly works.

STN? My dictionary (admittedly just a "Collegiate" one) doesn't give that as an abbreviation for station. Googling just STN doesn't come up with any such use in the 1st 3 pages. But it does seem to be in use in Florida - googling "station stn" comes up with a bunch of fire stations in that fine state...hmmm. Guess they write differently down thar.

And I'll just continue to be amazed that people find, for example, one of the top 3 aerospace launchers (reasonably frequently in the news) to obscure, but any number of old sitcom characters or actors are just fine fill!

archaeoprof 4:48 PM  

I've been trying, but I can't seem to see that heart. (sigh)
A couple of times I thought I saw Waldo. This is embarrassing.

PhillySolver 5:11 PM  

Archaeoprof
You may email me (my address found by clicking on my avatar) and I might be able to help.

If you don't see Waldo, you can make your own Magic Eye at this clever site. http://www.flash-gear.com/stereo/

NDE
Use this link to get to a NYT puzzle with the clue you remember. http://www.xwordinfo.com/ShowPuzzle.aspx?date=8/27/1995&g=108&d=A

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

I want my weekly wrap-up!

(tongue firmly in cheek, FWIW)

ArtLvr 5:49 PM  

@ archaeoprof: I saw the heart by trying to focus beyond the screen as instructed, to the point of getting a cross-eyed feeling! Try again....

@ philly: your wonderful range of links amazes! Many thanks -- except sometimes I spend more time at these than I ought to!

∑;)

Leon 7:57 PM  

Real nice piece of construction.

Ralph WALDO Emerson's picture in the write-up was also appreciated.

Michael 8:10 PM  

Like others, the very last letter I got was the n in inthecorner, crossing out the a that I had written in. And like others, I looked at the four ws in the corners and then took a while to see the aldos.

I continue to be intrigued about how often I go on the same false tracks as other solvers (or non-solvers).

Noam D. Elkies 8:49 PM  

Thanks, Phillysolver, for the link. I actually don't remember this particular incarnation from 13 years ago. Is that the most recent PENIS sighting in the NYTimes xword?

NDE

PhillySolver 9:43 PM  

Noam

It is the only listed puzzle with that fill in the NYT data base going back to 1995. I also tried cruciverb, which does not go back that far and it reports no occurrences. There are so many puzzles though that I think you could be remembering a different publisher.

Cea 9:52 PM  

Any puzzle with Dr Who as one of the answers is a good puzzle.

Noam D. Elkies 10:01 PM  

Phillysolver writes:

It is the only listed puzzle with that fill in the NYT data base going back to 1995. I also tried cruciverb, which does not go back that far and it reports no occurrences. There are so many puzzles though that I think you could be remembering a different publisher.

Possibly, though my guess is that the puzzle(s) I remember are from the Maleska era.

Thanks again for your research,
--NDE

Joon 10:50 PM  

noam, i think it used to happen in the maleska era. there is a story in stan newman's book about how constructors used to try to sneak things by maleska to pep up their puzzles, and i think PENIS was mentioned as an example.

by the way, THEPEN feels like a 6-letter partial to me. cluing it as [Prison, slangily] would have been fine.

this puzzle had a cute theme, but there was a lot of subpar fill and i really didn't like the OSMAN/ARIANE crossing. never heard of ARIANE... why should i know the top three aerospace launchers? really, why should i know any? by the way, their website seems to think that the company is called arianespace. ARIANE seems to be the name of a rocket used in such launches. anyway, i guessed ORIANE there because, well, that's a name. i should have thought longer about OSMAN vs OSMON, but on a tuesday i'm not expecting to play guess the vowel.

mac 11:04 PM  

Wow, I just looked at some of the latest Emily Cureton drawings, and it made me think of the work of Diane Arbus, edgy and eery. Beautiful drawing.

Karen 11:27 PM  

Seeing Doctor WHO at the start of the puzzle gave me a good feeling.

At the end of the puzzle, I was staring at 26A, and wondering if there was a sect called the MAMISTS, perhaps a group competing with the Dadists in design theory with a maternal touch. Never seen UOMO before.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

i dont think either of the waldo's pictured here are the "wheres waldo" dude who i remeber had a red and white HAT - no ?

frankD

Joon 3:29 PM  

frankD, neither of those pictures is waldo of WHERESWALDO. the guy on the top is ralph waldo emerson, i think. the long-footed cartoon guy is cecil terwilliger, younger brother of robert "sideshow bob" terwilliger, a simpsons character who appeared on only one episode. he was voiced by david hyde pierce, which was kind of a funny paean to the TV show "frasier," since on that show pierce played NILESCRANE, younger brother of the main character frasier crane, who was played by kelsey grammar, who voiced sideshow bob on the simpsons.

Calady 7/15 1:36 PM  

Guess I'm way out of it! Got all the puzzle except for the N in stn. Then decided that iathecorner must be some strange phrase repeated in the Waldo book-assuming it was a book? My kids were grown and gone before Waldo-only saw him in a plastic wand I got at the Tavern on the Green where a miniscule Waldo is hidden in a shower of sequins and such-finding him kept us amused on the long flight back to Ca.
Enjoyed the puzzle-and thanks to Rex, I now see the Waldos!

Yancy 10:52 AM  

Like Sethg I did not catch the whole word Waldo-just thought it was W's at the corners and now discovered it was even more clever than anticipated.

cody.riggs 10:57 AM  

I found this puzzle very fun, (especially since I've been doing the Tuesday puzzles lately as if they were diagramless, on plain graph paper).

In my household, there's an ongoing joke about KASHI (we hate the insipid stuff) and much hilariy ensued that it appeared in a puzzle that doesn't pass the breakfast test. ("KASHI is the most disgusting answer of all!")

The fact that it crossed "TASTE" in the center of the grid is the ultimate irony. Kudos!

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