Gryffindor who founded Gryffindor House at Hogwarts / THU 6-13-19 / East African native / Sedgwick 1960s it girl / Layer of Italiian muffuletta sandwich / Country that lost quarter of its territory in 2011 / Dweller on Arabian peninsula

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Constructor: Michael Blake and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:58, and I was still asleep I think ... so sleepy ...)

THEME: UPPERHAND (58A: Advantage ... or what the answer to each starred clue has?) — answers to starred clues need the letter string "HAND" attached to their fronts to be complete—that letter string, in each case, is directly above said answers (inside a different Across answer):

Theme answers:
  • OOH AND AAH / IWORK (20A: *Needlepoint, e.g.)
  • CHANDELIER / ICAPS (33A: *Sets the odds for)
  • HAN DYNASTY / YMEN (50A: *Plumber/carpenter types)
  • UPPERHAND / ED IN (64A: *Submitted)
Word of the Day: WORD (CLUE) —
• • •

I like this theme, and I like the way the revealer has also been incorporated into the theme gimmick (often, usually, revealers stand to the side and point at the theme, but this one joins in, or lends a hand, I guess (I'm sorry). I opened this puzzle while still yawning at 5:30AM knowing that my time was gonna come in slow (but being too tired to care) ... and then my time came in solidly faster than normal, which means this puzzle was Super easy. I just stumbled around answering the fairly simple short answers until theme stuff started to come into view, and then figured out IWORK was missing its HAND pretty readily, noticed there was a HAND just above it, imagined a HAND at the beginning of [*Sets the odds for], which made that answer obvious, changed DAM to VAC (24D: Hoover, e.g., for short), and I was off. After that, I ran into a few clues whose answers I just didn't know or remember at first (SEAN Parker, EDISON as a rival of Westinghouse, EYESHADE as a word for the EYEVISOR that accountants stereotypically wear), but mostly I just filled in answers as I encountered their clues, with only mild ambiguities (e.g. "is it SCAT or SHOO?" (39D: "Git!") holding me back at all.

The longer Downs in the NW and SE add some life and personality to this grid, which is otherwise, like sooooo many NYT grids of late, bogged down with tired short fill. Not so egregious today as it has been recently, but that SW corner really should be torn out and totally redone. I groaned my way through that. I realize that your theme, particularly that "D" in every "HAND," sets you up for some terrible letter combinations in the Down answers (GODRIC, BADPR and DNY being the other examples of D-handling today), so DNALAB was kind of inevitable, and that inevitability almost certainly put tremendous pressure on the corner as a whole. Still, OCULI and CINE and SABE was all a little xwordy / icky / much. Not sure why GODRIC couldn't have been (much more common) CEDRIC. Change it to CEDRIC / CLAD / EERO / ARA and you are not exactly in Beautiful territory but you are Definitely better off than GODRIC / GLAD / OENO (blargh) / ANA. And again, that "fix" took me three seconds. An actual constructor (or editor) actually constructing (or editing) could surely do better.

I would love it if the crossword weren't so obsessed with the suffering of alcoholics, i.e. the DTS (twice this week now!?) (51A: Rehab woes, for short). If you have to use that cruddy fill, there are always Defensive Tackles who could use the publicity. The best thing about this puzzle is being unable to read 44A as anything but HANDY NASTY, which, I mean, put a comma in there and it's a Tinder bio.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:55 AM  

I guess we can accuse Michael and Jeff of being a bit high-handed today with this collaboration. Hah.

The beautifully sneaky part of this trick is that the reveal is the only place that HAND appears actually meaning “hand.” That the word is camouflaged and peeks out from between the letters in HAN DYNASTY, OOH AND AAH, and CHANDELIER made for a terrific aha moment. I missed this while filling in, unlike Rex. And I maintain that my experience was the better for it, kinda. A cruciverbish sleight of hand, if you will.

Agree with Rex about the elegance of the reveal’s being included in the trick. Disagree with Rex that Michael and Jeff aren’t “actual constructors.” This is Michael’s 14th NYT puzzle and Jeff’s 99th.

I liked the clue for LEAK. The word LEAK was a euphemism my son used when he’d come get me up at 3am to change his sheets. Mom, I leaked. [Single most valuable advice anyone ever gave me on child-rearing – my son’s best toddler friend’s dad was a pediatric neurologist at Duke, and we hung out quite a bit. Tadeusz told me, when I expressed exasperation at dealing with bed-wetting, quote: You have a laundry problem, that is all. I wet the bed until I was twelve. He told me not to limit liquids at night, not to see specialists, not to buy wired alarm sheets. Just. Do. The. Laundry. Oh my god this was life-altering. I figured out a removable waterproof pad/sheet layer, got the Depends (my son was the size of a small adult and is now the size of a small Redwood), and vamoosed all the stress. I’m pleased to report that he’s become a happy, well-adjusted, amiable fellow.]

On MASAI - whenever I have (or notice someone having) a typical American reaction to something . . .

*panicking upon finding you’ve had spinach in your teeth all day and doing a mental review of who all you talked to and whether you think you smiled a lot
*snickering if your buddy trips and almost falls
*being embarrassed if your stomach goes rogue and makes high-pitched weird squeaky noises
*laughing and then making eye-contact with everyone else to make sure they’re laughing, too

. . . I immediately wonder if a MASAI warrior would do the same thing. Probably not. If anyone reading this has answers, please email me. Seriously.

I know I present here as a good-natured person, but I was horrified to read up a little bit on NIHILISTs and realize that I’m slowly becoming one.

Rex – I solve, make notes in the margin, and then scrutinize the grid and the clues looking for run-my-mouth fodder. I totally missed the HANDY NASTY alternative. Your comment about it being a Tinder bio is brilliant. I do read your comments every morning and have learned so much from your observations. While I rarely agree with your take, I thoroughly enjoy a ton of your turns of phrase. You can be hella funny.

Michael, Jeff – I enjoyed this one. Jarring to have ADDER and HISS AT sharing a grid. Yikes. That %$#&’ll flat wake you up.

jammon 7:07 AM  

I challenge constructors to create a puzzle WITHOUT a Harry Potter clue. Not everyone reads children's fantasy stories.

Hungry Mother 7:27 AM  

Very cute theme, but I only used half of its power and didn’t look above to fill in the HAND. It seemed to go pretty fast, but my oatmeal was cool enough to eat before I was done.

Schatzi 7:49 AM  

Harry Potter is at least 7 best selling books (and counting), 10 movies (and counting), and a hit Broadway show. Hog warts is an extremely popular section of Disneyworld. First published in 1997 its initial readers are at a minimum in their late 20’s not to mention parents who read the books to them.
Sorry people it’s very much culturally significant.

GHarris 8:03 AM  

Loved this puzzle, meaning I tore through it in record time without a single write over and enjoyed quickly getting the theme and working out answers to info about which I was clueless so to speak..

mmorgan 8:09 AM  

I had the entire puzzle filled in except for the _ in ICA_S/BAD_R and had no idea what the theme was. Then I went back to the revealer and had my very pleasant aha moment and instantly knew I had to slap down a P there. Ta dah! Very nice puzzle that gave its greatest pleasure at the very, very end. Now that’s what I call a revealer.

And yes to HANDY NASTY.

Carola 8:20 AM  

Nice job! I totally missed the well disguised HANDs while solving and had major ??? over my head when filling in the asterisked clues. I justified I-WORK as a play on the eye-work needed when needlepointing; but I had no idea how to interpret ICAPS or YMEN and had no idea of what to write in for the final "Submitted," especially given my incorrect cross with Dem instead of DNY. So: a very satisfying reveal.
In the plus column, Harry Potter nerd that I am, I did know GODRIC.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

So I guess women can't be plumbers or carpenters.

jammon 8:32 AM  

"... it’s very much culturally significant."

True. And I apologize if I hurt you. But it simply does NOT need to be in every single friggin' puzzle.

Nancy 8:34 AM  

What a gorgeous puzzle! It caused me to OOH AND AAH, after which I went back to admire all the marvelous HANDIWORK. I'm almost always too lazy and stubborn to jump ahead to the revealer when the fill has me baffled, and I didn't do it here either -- though I certainly should have. IWORK and ICAPL (I had ELAS, not ESAS, originally at 30D) made me think the theme would be based on some sort of "I" phrase. Then I got to YMEN and there went that theory. How is this all going to make sense? I wondered. How is this all going to make sense????

A really huge "Aha!" when I got to UPPER HAND, went back to look at the grid, and saw all the brilliantly hidden HANDs and where they led. Just a great, great puzzle -- one of the very best I've ever done!!

Alex S. 8:38 AM  

Liked it, but did feel the shine was dulled a small bit by HAN DYNASTY also having the Y that continues after the break to YMEN.

And for anybody going to Disney World to visit Hogwarts, prepare to be disappointed since it's at Universal Studios.

Wood 8:57 AM  

Sleepy indeed, @Rex... You forgot to fill in the word-of-the-day section of your template.

After I was done and looked over the grid I saw HANDY NASTY and did a spit-take. An even better (worse) Tinder bio would reverse the two words. Sorry, breakfast test, I know.

Z 8:57 AM  

EYESHADE? I’d buy “Dated stereotypical wear for an accountant,” because, boy howdy, blow the dust off that stereotype. I have images of a Don Knotts Disney Western running through my head. Blrghh.


I think today’s constructors probably chose GODRIC over CEDRIC (which could also have gotten an HP clue), so I see that choice as a matter of taste. At the same time Rex’ “real constructor” comment bothers me not at all. OENO is cheating, just terrible fill thrust on solvers far too often. Is GODRIC worth OENO? That is a question I hope constructors realize they can and should ask. Rex poses the questions “real constructors” should be asking. Could he be gentler in phrasing? Sure. Could people grow up and realize that not everything we put out in the world is “great.” Sure. Personally, I think it is fair, more than fair, to harshly point out going obscure HP is too twee and not worth OENO to many solvers.

Canon Chasuble 9:05 AM  

Just an absolutely delightful puzzle in every way. I, also, loved HANDY NASTY.

GILL I. 9:05 AM  

Yay, @Rex....Your comments today are what got me hooked on your blog. I suffer from insomnia especially these days as I worry and then dream that I've burned the lechon I'm preparing for 50 or so relatives - all arriving for our daughter's wedding in two weeks. I'm hosting the rehearsal dinner and I've never cooked for that many people. That will keep you up at night. Anyway, I had time on my hands so I went back and started re-reading your first few months as Rex Parker. You were kinder in those days but more importantly, the flaws you found were so well described. I have learned a lot....
I really enjoyed this puzzle. I had to get to the reveal just to see what in tarnation was going on. At first I thought there was going to be a Had IWO-K for 20A - left it blank and went my merry way. Same with 33A with ICA -S. When the reveal popped its head in I let out a little OOH AND AAH. Clever.
Didn't like that pile-up of names in the NE. I always refer to Messi as Messi and forgot his first name (. How could I...he's the greatest!)...and didn't know STEELE nor ELLE. That's on me.
Saw lots of things that brought on memories. The SALAMI in the muffuletta. I always thought that was a New Orleans invention. Didn't know it was Italian....REMY Martin sits un-opened in the booze cabinet. I prefer a cheap brandy like Fundador. I'm not a big poetry lover but I have read some of NERUDA. He's such a romantic! "Love is so short, forgetting is so long."
Thanks for today's puzzle. I enjoyed it and I especially enjoyed @Rex's take.

RooMonster 9:32 AM  

Hey All !
Well, the theme went over my head. UPPER it, one could say. Just couldn't see that there were HANDs above the odd asterisked answers. Did get the Revealer, but couldn't see how an UPPER HAND related to IWORK, ICAPS, YMEN, EDIN. Actually had iMEN, figuring all the *'s would start with I after getting the first two. So that didn't help.

The SW corner got screwy with that iMEN. Already had ___DYNASTY, so didn't get the funny moment of seeing HANDY NASTY like everyone else seems to have. Lightly wrote in execS for 44D, then seeing HAN could fit, and a sneaky suspicion that 57A was OCULa (one of my two-letter DNF spots), changed it to HilOS, as in helicopters/life flights. Finally grokked PIRACY and changed to HYPOS.

Other DNF spot, DdY for DNY. Not knowing how theme worked, that EDId looked fine to me, and by that time was flustered anyway and just wrote in a letter that looked valid.

Writeovers, kyra (which I knew was wrong, but she's the only Sedgwick I know), spelling OENO as OneO, MOWlie-MOWGLI.

Some funky cluing going on, I'm surprised y'all found it easy. Was Close to 10 close as in near, or close as in shut? Regional life? Jules or Juliette? Accent?

AMICUS brief was a WOE. NERUDA a WOE, have heard the name, but not as clued. ANA a WOE as clued. So just a puz that didn't feel me. Or I didn't feel it. Un-jibed. Oh well, lately it seems Jeff's puzs are doing that to me. I guess he's more clever than I.


Crimson Devil 9:41 AM  

Superb puz. HANDYNASTY outstanding.

Charles Flaster 9:50 AM  

Rex review was sooo perfect. Enjoyed puzzle, too.
Remembering NERUDA really helped.Thanks to RP, JC, MB.

jberg 9:56 AM  

I understood adding HAND, but I failed to see the UPPER HANDs in the puzzle. DOH! Once I read @Rex, I liked the puzzle a lot more.

Also, Ted, @Koren and @Z— I think by real constructor he meant someone who was actually constructing a puzzle, as opposed to himself just fooling around with other possibilities.

In the paper, the puzzle is on the bottom left of the page. At the top of the page is a still from “Il Postino,” a movie about NERUDA’s exile.

Runs with Scissors 10:06 AM  

Fun puzzle. Well done and even-handed.

Not much to add to the above. CHANDELIER intersected by BAD PR. I suppose if you swing from the CHANDELIER you might get the BAD PR.

The YEMENI are from YMEN, and may vacation in the SUDAN. Har.

Saw ICAPS and briefly wondered what abomination Apple had come up with this time.

HANDY NAST - competitor to Conde Nast.

I approve of this puzzle.

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

TJS 10:14 AM  

Haven't read any comments yet, but thanks for the great Tuesday puzzle. On to the archive to get a Thursday fix.

Nancy 10:14 AM  

@GILL (9:05) -- They're making you cook for 50 people??!! But you're the Mother of the Bride! You're the one who should be feted, not the one obliged to do the feting. I'm kidding, of course. I know cooking is what you love to do, so congratulations to you and your husband and your son-in-law to be, along with sincere best wishes to your daughter. I wish you all a fabulous wedding enhanced by a scrumptious homemade lechon.

I had to Google "lechon" and Wiki gave me several possible dishes: a pig stuffed with herbs and cooked over charcoal; an unstuffed pig marinated in a complex liver-based sauce and spit-roasted; and a whole roast suckling pig. The last came with a great many mouth watering photos -- some of which reminded me of that classic Julia Child TV program where, after inserting a large apple in the pig's mouth, she says: "And now you're ready to present Mr. Pig". It went something like that, and it was priceless.

What kind of pig dish will you be making, @GILL? The even more important question is: Do you think there will be any leftovers?

Sgreennyc 10:15 AM  

"Actual" constructor? "Actual" editor? What a catty bitch you are Rex. Your insecurity and inadequacy remind me of Trump.

Sir Hillary 10:23 AM  

For me, today's theme might as well have been "Adam Smith" because there were three invisible HANDs in the grid, right until the very end when I got the revealer. Very nicely done by the real constructors.

I'm sure many of us could redo sections of grids to eliminate entries we deem unworthy. But what a waste of time, even if it only take "three seconds". And the subsequent hand-wringing and back-and-forth? Even more so.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

The problem is Rex is sincere in his criticism. He's deranged, of course, but the bit between his teeth is genuine. Of course he's catty. Petty too. But make no mistake, his vitriol, snark and sarcasm are very real.

Loren's Son 10:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ethan Taliesin 10:44 AM  

GODRIC? Is this something I should know? I read the first book and didn't think much of it.

Wait, am I turning into someone who demands the crossword contain only things I'm interested in?

How miserable and sad.

..And now self-pity, too?

I'll stop.

TJS 10:47 AM  

Can someone tell me why "eero" would be an improvement over "oeno" ?

Escalator 10:48 AM  

This is the positive review from OFL I have ever read 🙂

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

It always makes me chuckle to see people complain about HP clues. I get that you may not have read the books, but how is that different than a younger solver not knowing a random character from a TV show from the 70s? Just take those clues as a way to learn something new and move on. As long as the crosses aren't too obscure they shouldn't be an issue.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

I've never heard of an eyeshade (or an eyevisor, for that matter), and I've known a few accountants. Other than that, this was pretty easy for a Thursday. My first aha moment came when I thought there must be a rebus for the Carpenters/Plumbers clue, thinking the word "handy" must be inside a rebus, since the obvious answer (Handymen) immediately came to mind. Then I saw the answer above it (Handynasty) and knew something was afoot with all these hands.
To be fair, however, plumbing and carpentry are both professions; it's kind of an elitist slam to simply call them handymen. A handyman is someone who is pretty good at fixing things in and around the house. That person may also BE a plumber or a carpenter, but that's not what makes them a handyman.
Finally, when did using a rebus become acceptable in crosswords? I still find them super-annoying; they're like a cheat. To just have some random squares that contain multiple letters isn't really crossword-esque, IMNSHO....

Sir Hillary 10:59 AM  

Oh my God, 10:43 is the cruelest thing I've ever read here. Which is saying something. How does that get by the rules committee?

Fred Romagnolo 11:00 AM  

I've read all the published comments up to 10:30 AM, and I'm still in the dark about what everybody sees as humorous about Handy Andy; elucidation, somebody?

Mary McCarty 11:08 AM  

Per Rex: “ Still, OCULI and CINE and SABE was all a little xwordy / icky / much.” Ok, this IS A XWORD PUZZLE; all perfectly good words, IMO. Or would “Kimo....” at 64A have been better? If you don’t like foreign words, then NOM shouldn’t get a pass, either.
“Not sure why GODRIC couldn't have been (much more common) CEDRIC”. Really? Cedric Who? Like it or not (and a few earlier commentators did not) the Harry Potter series is a cultural phenomenon, and not just any YA fantasy.
“Change it to CEDRIC / CLAD / EERO / ARA and you are not exactly in Beautiful territory but you are Definitely better off than GODRIC / GLAD / OENO (blargh) / ANA.” Again, how is CLAD better than GLAD? How is EERO (talk about xword-ese) better than OENO? ANA (clued that way) is the only one I’m not familiar with, but slid right in from the crosses, and you’re not suggesting the constellation ARA (again!) are you?
But, I admit, HANDY-NASTY is a hoot!

albatross shell 11:14 AM  

Loved HANDY NASTY. Maybe clue as used diaper wipe? And all the hidden hands. I noticed two - missed chandelier - and thought they were amusing theme adjuncts. Did not notice their location.
Got IWORK and thought the theme was going to be an I for EYE substitution, and there did seem to be an eye subtheme with OCULI and EYESHADE. Did not know BIOTA but got the crosses. Well actually inferred the O from the M_WGLI cross. Only knew OENO from crosswordese.
What's wrong with YMEN? YnotMEN? Offended by the HYMEN?

jb129 11:17 AM  

Loved this puzzle - thank you, guys!

Klazzic 11:19 AM  

Hey Loren: TMI (sheesh)

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

"And again, that "fix" took me three seconds. An actual constructor (or editor) actually constructing (or editing) could surely do better."

I think everyone is misreading this! I took it as Rex comparing himself to an actual constructor or editor.

"If I can make this fix in three seconds, then surely these guys who are actual constructors (and editors) could do better."

jae 11:31 AM  

Easy. Faster than yesterday’s. No erasures and no WOEs. Cute, liked it.

I knew DAR from watching “Homeland” on Showtime and STEELE from his numerous appearances on The Daily Show when Jon Stewart was the host.

pabloinnh 11:43 AM  

So OFL was sleepy and that slowed him down. Well I had the sun in my eyes, and also my shoe was untied. Try solving like that, RP.

Like a lot of us, thought this was just great and am in awe of people that can even imagine such things.

Thursdazo. Thanks for all the fun, guys.

Z 11:50 AM  

@Sir Hillary - I guess. I see 10:43 as more personally embarrassing to the person who wrote it. Yeah, they were trying to be cruel, but mostly just exposed themselves as assholes. Lots of parents have had the experience of realizing that their stress is self-imposed and the “big deal” is actually a non-issue. “You have a laundry problem” is the kind of thing parents often need to hear. Our first one was worrying about our oldest’s propensity to projectile vomit as an infant. What did the pediatrician tell the multiple graduate degree parents? “Feed him less.” Our first, but certainly not our last, parental D’Oh slap. Anyone who thinks that story is embarrassing to @LMS’ son needs to re-evaluate their worldview.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Grammatically, shouldn't the clue for 67A be "Close to *a* 10"? This seems like a mistake to me.

Did anyone else have LEAd for 6D at first? It fits the clue, sort of—lead pipes, polling lead.

Mr. Alarm 11:58 AM  

I appreciate all the specific examples you gave today, Rex. Like how you figured out the puzzle early on (dam to vac), and what things could be substituted (Cedric for Godric). Yes, more defensive tackles please!

BTW: have you ever constructed a crossword puzzle yourself, Rex? Just wondering. I have, and found it enlightening as to why there are inevitably those ugly little fills. So hard!

albatross shell 12:00 PM  

F or got to mention:

Sir Hillary 12:01 PM  

@Z -- With you 100% on this. Perhaps my comment did not adequately express my revulsion at the 10:43 post and whoever wrote it. I am rarely triggered like this, but as a parent of three who's also had his share of parental DOH slaps*, I was today.

"See" everyone tomorrow.

* Great term, BTW.

old ti 12:12 PM  

I liked the puzzle, but would have liked a rebus better on a Thursday. I noticed some of the HANDs above the mysterious answers but did not put it together. When I got to the Revealer, light dawned and I went back to fix things.

MASAI are great folks, and with an ample sense of humor. A colonial relic is they are not allowed to own firearms. Which I think they now think is for the best. They can own spears, and are capable of using them to ward off lions. Which every young man is required to do to protect the cattle they raise. These days, many MASAI of both sexes go on to University.

I can't for the life of me figure out why the mother of the bride has to make a rehearsal dinner. In our family, that dinner is provided by the groom and his family, and if they are not local, it is often at the best restaurant in town that has the required space for a small banquet.

Loved @LMS today. As for her son, I have a sneaking suspicion she wrote that post. If not, the writing chops did not fall far from the tree (so to speak).

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

"Actual" constructor? "Actual" editor? What a catty bitch you are Rex. Your insecurity and inadequacy remind me of Trump.

Well, they both share a subversive compulsion to destroy all that is good and Holy in the USofA. :):)

Whatsername 12:34 PM  

I loved this! Mostly easy but I did have to look up a couple of proper names. The northeast was tough because names, and I had no idea on BIOTA. Got the revealer pretty quickly at HANDIWORK - nice OOHANDAAH moment with a big smile - and the rest fell together. Interesting that on Tuesday we had The Lion King and today The Jungle Book, plus VANISHES two days in a row.

This was the kind of Thursday that makes me GLAD to pay for my subscription every year. Thank you Michael and Jeff.

Miss Manners 12:35 PM  

@Sir Hillary and @Z.

I think the message from @"Loren's Son" was appropriate even if you disagree with the vehicle. Out of respect for self and others, some things are private.

albatross shell 12:35 PM  

A voice of reason again, today.
I have to admit I thought the LMS post was cringe worthy just because I would not like my Mom posting stuff like that about me. I thought she could have done it with a little
bit less identity specificity. But she, I assume, knows her son's feelings and attitudes best, and trust her judgement on this and commend her parenting skills. Her willingness to make it personal made the statement a more forceful presentation on a very important issue where parents have often erred.

OffTheGrid 12:41 PM  


Rex is a Trump? Really? I think name calling is part of the Trump method. Are you a Trump?

Joe Dipinto 12:54 PM  

@GILL I -- The muffuletta *was* invented in New Orleans, by Italian immigrants. @jberg -- the photo in the paper is from a 1961 film called "Il Posto"; "Il Postino" was a different movie.

I read Rex's "actual constructor or editor" remark as meaning that any professional puzzle-worker could "fix" that area better than Rex just did. But the important thing is that it *sounds* like a dig at Jeff Chen and Will Shortz.

I thought the puzzle was okay, not ooh-and-aah worthy. It was difficult to get the asterisked answers without seeing the revealer first, which always strikes me as a backward way to have to solve. But whatever.

Lionel Richie says hi:
Tom bo li de say de moi ya, yeah, jambo jumbo

bauskern 1:25 PM  

Why anyone would dream of posting about their child's bed-wetting is beyond me. But I thought the posting from the "son" was actually done by a third party who was making the same point in a pretty funny way. Correct me if I'm wrong. If that really was from the son . . . . . OMG, that is *too* funny/sad/a bit of both.

Re: the puzzle, it was brilliantly constructed. I have to give them a big hand!

chefwen 1:31 PM  

Got the trick early on at 20A, got the WORK part in and wondered if I should draw a little 🖐 in the empty square, looked up and saw ooHANDaah. Okey Dokey, got it, and was off to the races.

Being this close to Fathers Day 32D made me a little sad, I used to buy Dear Old Dad a bottle of Remi every year, it was his absolute favorite. Sniff...

@GILL I, Good luck with your rehearsal dinner, wish I could be there to lend a HAND.

Masked and Anonymous 1:31 PM  

A corn-U-copia of stuff in this ThursPuz that M&A didn't know/remember: ANA. EDIE. REMY. AMICUS. GODRIC. MOWGLI. NERUDA. OCULI [this last one now starts to sound vaguely familiar]. Lost valuable nano-seconds, especially in that SW corner of AMICUS/NARUDA/OCULI/SABE; tougher than snot.

On the other HAND, there's OENO. M&A has gone over the dam with a lotta crosswords, so OENO was a gimme, and was the very first entry made into the puz, at our house. Who knows … maybe one of the items in my first list served the same gimme-in function, for other solvers? Da busta gut.

I got no problem with Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, don't have HBO, ruling out GoT vocab -- and would always fall asleep when watchin flicks about the first two franchises. Sooo … Debut word GODRIC just wasn't gonna happen, for m&e. Probably a gimme for Potter fans that stayed awake, tho?

staff weeject pick: ANA. Better clue: {The banana twins??}
fave fillins: NIHILISTS, especially since it sparked that extra-interestin @muse comment. Cheer up, darlin - we got us a stable genus, for prez. Or at least the droppins.

Thanx for the HANDjobber, MB & JC. Fun ahar moment.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Teedmn 1:37 PM  

I got the mechanics of this theme at the second HAND but didn't get the full aha until the revealer. Nice.

Funny that VANISHES reappears?

Biggest hang-up of the day - staring at DN_ crossing SEX_ and wondering why the Y would work in 61D. D'oh, New York, sheesh.

Regarding the meaning of LEAK in @LMS's story, there's this.

MB and JC, this was a fun Thursday treat!

GILL I. 1:42 PM  

@Nancy...If I could fit an apple somewhere in a bone-in butt 14lb pork shoulder blade, I'd do it! Make that two of them...I wish it were a whole suckling pig - I've done them before. But you need a pit. We're having this at my best friend's home in Auburn. Her beautiful garden would be ruined....
@old ti: This house doesn't do traditional. Our daughter and fiancé have lived together going on 5 years. They both wanted a lavish wedding and made it clear they wanted to pay for it themselves It's being held at the grooms parents 4 acre little farm in lush green Auburn. The least we could do if offer up the rehearsal. My and my husband's very large family beg for the Cuban and I'm happy to do it. (Hi @Runs).....
Thank you @Nancy for the congratulations. By the way, the pig is marinated for two days in a lime/sour orange/gazillion garlic/cilantro sauce. Cooked slowly for 6 hours and thinly sliced with the garlic sauce drizzled over it. It's truly delicious.....

Speedweeder 1:47 PM  

Anonymous 11:27 - I agree with your interpretation. Others are pouncing on Rex for something he didn't say or mean. Don't worry, he'll give us lots more reasons to get provoked.

Whatsername 1:50 PM  

@Anonymous at 10:48 - I agree completely re the Harry Potter complaints. I sometimes get annoyed with the video game and rap clues, but I [usually] try to apply your philosophy on those days. One of the reasons I do crosswords is to improve my mind, and anytime I learn something new from them, I figure I’m a little smarter than I was when I got up in the morning. I can always hope anyway.

@Anonymous at 10:52 - You make a good point that plumbers and carpenters are not necessarily synonymous with handymen. Both are distinct professions requiring specialized knowledge and skills. In the past few months, I had reason to hire the services of both, and I would never have considered asking one to do the job of the other. IMO a good clue for that answer would have been “Fixer-Uppers.”

WeesaSuzi 1:53 PM  

Believe Rex's "actual constructors" comment was meant to be self-referential.

Loren Muse Smith 2:29 PM  

Wowser. I had no idea that talking about bed-wetting would get such a rise out of people! I had the same problem, and Mom cured me with that sheet alarm thing. I can assure you that my son is not one whit embarrassed, and neither am I – we’ve openly talked about it forever. I guess my hope is that maybe in some small part I can help remove the stigma, the struggle. And I remind you that the neurologist himself admitted he too had had the same problem. Judging by the strong negative reaction, I’d say the stigma is alive and well. Whatever the case, I’m truly surprised at the reactions.

I watched a neighbor in Maryland refuse to let her son have anything to drink after 6pm. It was awful. I watched my aunt take my cousin from specialist to specialist when we were little. Awful.

So @Loren’s Son and @Miss Manners - let’s just take this out back to spare everyone else here further talk on this thread. I won't respond anymore in Rexworld. You can email me at nerol 2 at msn. I texted my son to check his availability and he’s at the ready. I’ll cc him, and we can all hash this out.

Here’s verbatim what he texted back:

“Making fun of it makes it better!!! I’ve never been hurt/offended by you bringing up bed wetting at all. I’ll call soon. I’m so sorry they’re giving you shit. That’s bullshit. You can screenshot this.”

I told him not to hold his breath; anonymous posters are plenty brave in their meanness as long as they can remain anonymous. Emailing exposes them, at least a little.

To add to the juxtaposition of your anonymity and my lack thereof, I’ll remind you that you have my email address and my full name. My avatar is a picture of my son and a picture of me.

Crimson Devil 2:47 PM  

You and son do take mean/anonymous out back and open up a can on him/her !!

Teedmn 2:54 PM  

Thanks, @Loren, for trying to de-shame bed-wetting. Perhaps it will help prevent what happened to one of my friends. He wet the bed well into his pre-teen years. When he would visit his grandparents, they would make him lie in a tub of ice water. I don't know what gosh-awful hick remedy that was supposed to be but to this day he can't stand to be cold. He wears jeans in 98 degree high-humidity weather and he works as a landscaper! When his parents found out what was going on, they put the kibosh on that grandparental behavior. So much for being doted on.

Crimson Devil 3:08 PM  

I had good older fishin pal who was our fish camp cook for many years, and an excellent one. He traveled what seemed like the whole southeast helping kids and their families treating enuresis (hope I remembered spelling correctly), and made a good living doing it. A fine man who took pride, justifiably, in his work.

RooMonster 3:38 PM  

*Mic drop*


Loren's Son 3:42 PM  

Damn people, get a sense of humor. Unless Loren has a son who has forgotten his own name and reverts to "Loren's son" rather than Joe Smith to identify himself at any given time, and who has been dating a girl named Angela for at least two years, I'm pretty sure Loren was aware that it was a put on from the get-go. If she had even one second of angst about this, she has my deepest apologies, but how can one not recognize this as a joke from the get go?

So, we're left with how this began. Loren somehow got to bed-wetting from this puzzle, a leap that amused me in its magnitude. Having been a bed-wetter myself, I appreciated the gist of her comment. In my day, hanging the sheets out the window to dry was thought to shame the child into changing their behaviour. I've read enough of Loren to know that she is among, if not the most thoughtful and gracious of all the commenters here, so I knew that she would not embarrass her son carelessly, so that her telling this story wasn't TMI. If the prank were good enough, she might embarrass him purposefully, but not thoughtlessly or carelessly. But, what would it look like if it weren't someone like Loren divulging personal info, what if the son were actually mortified. Someone might write that story, blow it so out of proportion that it cannot possibly be read by any reasonable person other than as fiction and publish it.

So, congrats @bauskern for getting it, and heartfelt apologies to @Loren if she needs any, but geez people, wasn't it enough over the top to make you question if the story just might be made up?

puzzlehoarder 3:44 PM  

Easiest Thursday I can recall. Wednesday time and it would have been even faster if I knew how to spell NIHILIST. For awhile I had OOLANDAAH and I thought 20A was HWORK with the H standing in for the word HAND. Not hard to fix but an unnecessary speed bump.

I also had to change BIOME to BIOTA but after that it was clear sailing.

@lms, I wish my mom had consulted your neurologist. Judging by my memories her advice was the polar opposite. Then again it was both my brother and myself so she probably would have told him "You do the laundry doc."

GILL I. 3:51 PM  

@Loren...HAH! Come on over and have some pig with me. I'll tell you stories about how our son flushed his dirty cloth diapers down the John because that's where they belonged and how he was proud to go around drinking his baby bottle until he was seven. I love me some war stories. Said diaper flusher went on to become a Marine - deployed 5 times to Afghanistan...He saved a few lives.

Monty Boy 4:02 PM  

I liked the puzzle a lot. I usually don't care for Rex's rants, but I thought today's was even HANDed.

To add to the urinary thread: Be aware that a related problem will likely arise for men as they past 60. Enlarged prostate means learning the true meaning of sudden and urgent. I suppose we all develop rules of life as we age. I added "never pass a bathroom" to my rule list as I re-learned those words.

Like bed wetting, it's something to deal with in life, not a cause for embarrassment. And a little humor helps also (as LMS often shows us).

Mr. Alarm 4:15 PM  

I agree. Rebuses are like adding numbers to a puzzle, to my mind.

Aketi 5:19 PM  

I give a two HAND clap for this puzzle.

@Gill I congratulations. Your descriptions of the lechon preparations are making me hungry. Sounds delicious.
@LMS, I wish all parents had pediatricians that were as insightful as your pediatric neurologist friend.
@Teedmn, that story of your friend sounds atrocious. Thankfully, my mother was far more understanding. My third grade teacher was terrifying. She paddled the boys bare bottoms behind a shelving unit when they misbehaved. She also wouldn’t allow hall passes to use the bathroom. So I was too terrified to raise my HAND and beg to get a hall pass when I really needed to go. It was mortifying to be hauled out of the classroom and told to stand next to the radiator when the inevitable happened. My mom hugged me when I got home and told me about how she had been locked out of her house when she was 12 and had an “accident” as well. I can’t imagine being put through what your friend had to go through.

Anonymous 5:20 PM  

Yesterday's NAPIER and today's ADDER remind me of an old high school math joke.

The flood is over and Noah sends the animals out to be fruitful and multiply. A few months later he checks on them and finds the snakes haven't gotten anywhere. He asks what the problem is, and they reply that they can't multiply, because they're adders.

Noah thinks for a while and comes up with an idea. He finds some dead trees and builds two tables out of the wood. Then he says, OK, now you can multiply, here are log tables.

QP 5:43 PM  

It wasn’t in yearsteday’s....

Runs with Scissors 6:31 PM  

GILL I. 1:42 PM

What time should I be there????? Har.

I love me some lechon. Are you doing maduros? Moros? Yuca???

It is not possible to use too much mojo, or ajo, or naranja agria. :-)

Anonymous 6:56 PM  

Anonymous 5:19,
I cant believe your post passed muster.
There is 0 % chance Rex or his mods understand that joke. 0.

Sir Hillary 7:00 PM  

Not sure anyone will read this given the time of day, but here goes...

I think I started the kerfuffle regarding "Loren's son" by responding to "his" post in a horrified manner. My response was genuine, not because I believed "his" post to be true, but because it seemed like a really mean-spirited poke at @LMS's wonderful anecdote. However, judging from the follow-up comment from "Loren's son" and the readings of others here, my sense of humor clearly failed me, which is unusual. It's also unusual for me not to "count to ten" before posting a response to something that makes me angry, but I did not on this occasion. So, all in all, I had an off day in Rexland. Apologies for creating something where there may have been nothing.

JC66 8:52 PM  

@Sir Hilary

The joke was subtle, at best and IMO, you really had no reason to apologize.

You are a true gentleman for doing so.

Whatsername 9:46 PM  

@Sir Hillary: For what it’s worth, I had the same reaction and I don’t think you necessarily started a debate. It was just a sensitive subject that got people thinking. In any case, as JC said, it was very gracious of you to apologize.

Loren Muse Smith 12:34 AM  

@Sir Hillary – no! Don’t feel bad! I had the same reaction as you to @Loren’s Son’s post. My first thought was, ouch, mean. My second thought was surprise since as I said, it has never occurred to me that this would embarrass Gardiner (son), so I texted him to make sure. He did call a little later for an update and said, Mom- I totally missed an opportunity to say something like this really pissed me off. Sigh. Warms my heart when my sciency kids play with language. So then I told him that was called l'esprit de l'escalier or staircase wit, a phrase I learned from a puzzle, and blah blah I digress.

@Sir Hillary – I get a few chastisings via email, and I’m grateful for the discretion, for the private humiliation. When I’m publicly spanked it can get really cold and really lonely really fast, so you have no idea what it feels like to have someone defend me. Thank you.

@Loren’s Son – Hah. I went back and read it and totally see now that it could be a joke. I’m so sorry I misunderstood. Thank you for the explanation.

@Z, @speedweeder, @jberg, @WeesaSuzi, et al - I see now that Rex’s use of the word “actual” was ambiguous. Whew. If he had said “the” actual constructor instead of “an” actual constructor it would have been clearer. Either way, I’m relieved that it wasn’t the slap that I thought it was.

@Gill I – I’m on my way! Y’all are gonna have a blast. I can tell from knowing you all these years just being blog buddies that you’re one helluva host. Tonight will be an epic throw-down. Congrats on the wedding!

All the others who shared terrible stories of bed-wetting shaming idiocy – I’ll add that when Mom went to summer camp, if someone had an accident, they made culprit hang their wet sheets out in front of their cabin as punishment. As cringe worthy as the topic is (mea culpa), it’s one that deserves more attention.

What a day of misunderstandings. Sheesh. Bring it in, everyone. Group hug.

PS - @Miss Manners – I got nothin’ for you. I knew you wouldn’t email.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Wanted to add my compliments on this puzzle to the authors. What I liked so much about it was that there was nothing objectionable about the clueing, and that the few proper nouns and specialized knowledges answers filled themselves in -- as they should in a well constructed puzzle. The snake good with math gave me a giggle.

kitshef 8:39 AM  

One of those days when the blog gets taken over by a virus, so not to unhappy to have missed it in real time.

For some reason IN A BIT was impossible for me to see without every cross. Overall, very easy once you get the theme.

Hand up for loving HANDY NASTY.

Did wonder about that AAH/ANA cross. If you don't know the airline, surely you might have but AhH/ANh there?

Yam Erez 3:00 PM  

Alms are charity, which is NOT the same thing as welfare.

Burma Shave 8:40 AM  


Just SAYHI, and it's 'SEXY SANDY' fast, see,
she's not ANTI; INABIT she's HANDYNASTY.


spacecraft 11:15 AM  

Figured it out about halfway through, so maybe easy-medium. Theme sure makes for some w*e*i*r*d entries; leading the pack is OOHANDAAH. This was an "uncomfortable" solve. Not sure how else to describe it.

I've seen bleedovers before, but VANISHES takes the cake. ELLE skipped a day. And speaking of DOD's, today we're pleased to feature EDIE Sedgwick. Very 67-across. I had one writeover, at fataLIST. As the Open Championship begins at Royal Portrush, par would be a fine score--so par it is.

P.S. Yesterday I misnamed Mr. NAPIER John; he is of course Charles. Sorry.

Diana,LIW 12:48 PM  

I got the rebus thingy, but was done in by the PPP. Boo!

Diana, LIW

Wooody2004 3:08 PM  

Nice GLADhand on top and SHOO INn on the side.


would have been tricky answers.

Evil Doug would have posted the script to the Seinfeld episode about needing the UPPEERHAND in a relationship.

leftcoast 3:51 PM  

Clever and fun, with a couple of OOHs AND AAHs over the HANDIWORK of this puzzle. Pretty impressive.

Standout is [C]HAND[ELIER] which lights up over ICAPS to set the odds for HANDICAPS. The UPPERHAND revealer, also a themer with HANDEDIN, was an added, surprising, twist. All great stuff.

Add some strong fill, as in this one, and you have a winner.

Enjoyed it.

mine! 1:27 AM  

Hogwarts has NOTHING to do with Disney. You are thinking of universal.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

At 40 i was still bed wetting until Dr Masade used his AFRICA ROOTS AND HERBS to help my situation and i can gladly say i am totally free, anyone out there can contact Dr Masade on masadeinstanthelp@gmail. com or whatsapp +2349034745112

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