Aspic-like dish / THU 8-15-19 / Filled steamed bun in Chinese cuisine / Bromantic activity / Travelocity mascot

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Medium (6:00)

THEME: REVERSE ENGINEER (55A: Take apart in order to reproduce ... or a hint to what's hidden in 17-, 23-, 34- and 46-Across) — you can find the names of famous "engineers" backwards (or "reversed") inside of the themers (bracketed numbers after each clue indicate how many letters long each engineer's name is):

Theme answers:
  • TRUE OR FALSE TEST (17A: Easy quiz to grade [5]) (Nikola Tesla)
  • MALE BONDING (23A: Bromantic activity [5]) (Alfred Nobel)
  • NO SIDE EFFECTS (34A: Drugmaker's claim [6]) (Thomas Alva Edison)
  • LUCILLE BALL (46A: TV star with a museum in Jamestown, N.Y. [4]) (Alexander Graham Bell)
Word of the Day: GELÉE (33D: Aspic-like dish) —

1a cosmetic gel gelée skin cleansers

2a jellied food an edible jelly peach gelée (
• • •

Really like this theme, and the fill is largely solid, so congrats to the constructor. The editor, however ... let's just get the embarrassing stuff out of the way right off the bat. There is no reason to clue ESTATES like that (13D: Jamaica ___, N.Y. (childhood home of Donald Trump)). Why would you do that? Why drag the most influential white supremacist in the world, the one currently torturing and terrorizing child refugees and working to end *legal* immigration for "takers" (i.e. brown people), why are you waving at him? Do you think, Will, that it's cute. That it's funny to troll "sensitive" solvers (the, uh, ones who hate racists and sexual assailants)? The word was ESTATES. It's a common word you can clue a million ways. It wasn't IVANKA, an answer you can clue just one way. It's ESTATES. ESTATES. And you decided you'd do a little nostalgic trip to the childhood home of the guy who inspired recent mass shootings with his nativist "invasion" rhetoric? Like, for funsies? If it was the constructor's clue, you should've changed it. If it was yours ... I don't even know. I don't understand your love affair with this terrible human being. Inclusion of him here is gratuitous and therefore disgusting.


This felt very easy for the most part, but hoo-boy did I get stymied by the whole RICES / OCEANAUT / GLUES / GELÉE mash-up in the NE. I had RIVES for 16A: Splits into bits (RICES), which kept the already-hard OCEANAUT very very hidden from me (11D: Sub tenant?). And though apparently GELÉE has been in the puzzle multiple times in the nearly 13 years I've been blogging, it's hardly ever had a food-related clue. Before today, just two. Here's the list of GELÉE clues:

[from xwordinfo]
So it's "Aspic-like" but also an aspic modifier in the dish "Aspic GELÉE?" Apparently lots of things are gelée and it's just a culinary term I didn't know. But the "aspic" stuff threw me off badly. So I probably lost a minute or two trying to unknot all that ricing and gluing and what not.

Five things:
  • 4D: Filled and steamed bun, in Chinese cuisine (BAO) — I cannot believe I actually made a pitch for these to appear more often in crosswords earlier this summer, and yet when one appeared, I actually totally blanked at BA-. Wanted BAP for a second. I think (Korean!!!) Bee-Bim-BOP got in my head (I eat BAO at this Asian fusion place). Ugh, so embarrassing. 
  • 35D: Eclipse (OUTRIVAL) — I just want to say how dumb I think this word is. I wanted OUTSHINE. You both try to shine, but one outshines the other. You both try to play, but one outplays the other. You both try to ... rival??? It's weird. 
  • 60A: ___ Mongolia (INNER) — I had OUTER, of course
  • 34D: Attention-getting phrase (NOTA BENE) — oof, also very hard. I was looking for something like PSSSSSST. I guess that's not a phrase. How about PSST AHEM?
  • 3D: So, humorously (THUSLY) — aw, I kinda like good old THUSLY. Don't laugh at poor THUSLY. He means well.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I laughed hard at 4A: Apt hairstyle for a gunslinger? (BANGS). I neeeeeed pictures.

P.P.S. mail of all kinds is always welcome but come on, don't be this person


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

3D - So, humorously = THUSLY
I fail to see the mirth.

34A - Drugmaker’s claim = NOSIDEEFFECTS
What drugmaker makes that claim. Every drug promo I have ever seen has a longer list of side effects than it does ingredients. “May cause muscle cramps, nausea, blurred vision, liver damage, broken legs, impotence, pangs of regret, hair loss, or death.”

My personal favorite is when the ad concludes by saying, “Don’t take Placebomicin if you are allergic to Placebomicin.” Solid advice that I would not have thought of on my own.

Phaedrus 12:37 AM  

Stella isn’t too smart. FDA isn’t mentioned in the clue. Perhaps the clue is referencing claims made to the FDA by drug manufacturers.

Melrose 12:53 AM  

Finished it, though slow going in the northeast, like Rex. Had no idea what the theme meant until I read Rex's review.

Birchbark 12:54 AM  

The grid and deliberate fill have the feel of a Mondrian painting.

"With nose upturned, THUSLY" -- my favorite line from a W.C. Fields-type character in the Firesign Theater's "How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All."

I watched the Patrick Stewart "Macbeth" tonight on Amazon Prime. About as bleak a version as you could ask for, but really cool staging and directing. The witches steal the show every time they show up.

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

In this context, I am less disturbed by the clue on ESTATES (trump may be an a**h*** or worse, but he is the president, such as it is) as I am by NO SIDE EFFECTS, which is flat out wrong. Drugmaker's claim? no. Sham-snake-oil-miracle-cure ad on late night TV, sure, but those aren't drugs, and this clue is lazy.

jae 1:11 AM  

Medium. Mostly what @Rex said...including outER before INNER. It did take me a while to suss the theme, I started out looking for types of engineers which went nowhere. Liked it.

marty 1:11 AM  

The puzzle does everyone a favor when it stays out of current political events. There's really no win to be found in doing so. Personally, the puzzle is mental escape that I look forward to everyday. As today's write-up demonstrates, the president is a severely polarizing figure. He has gone out his way to insult the New York Times as "fake news" or worse. Since we're all paying subscribers of the puzzle, I think it's a fair assumption that the vast majority of us also read the Times. This president insults our intelligence and I, for one, would be very happy not to see him or any other politico in his orbit be given another column inch in future puzzles.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Wow, Rex, I don’t even know how to react to that ridiculous rant. You need to borrow a page from C.C.s blog manual, NO POLITICS. I thought this was a Crossword blog.

As far as the puzzle goes, it was fine, not the Rebus I was hoping for, but very clever. Must have stared at the thing for half an hour after I was done, never did catch on the the trick and had to mosey over to Crossword Fiend and have it ‘splained to me. Only then did I appreciate how clever it was. Oh well, next time.

Larry Gilstrap 2:47 AM  

I'm an English major, so I am never quite sure what entails being an ENGINEER. I would categorize these guys as inventors. From what I know: EDISON was obsessed, TESLA was a mad genius, NOBEL was guilt- ridden for blowing up so many bodies, but BELL hit it big early in life and coasted the rest of the way. Think Bill Gates.

One summer, I said let's go to Nova Scotia, so we flew to Halifax and rented a car. What a great call. Beautiful weather and scenery and nobody was there. We drove all around the Province and had a terrific time. We saw sixty foot tides and historic cities and ate lots of seafood. We ended up in Baddeck across the Bras d'Or from the ESTATE of Alexander Graham Bell. Fun vacation.

My faculty colleague was an ENGINEER on the steam train at Disneyland. Trainiacs came from all over the world to check it out. They still do.

Guys have their own little walnut shaped cross to bear. The prostate GLAND can rear it's ugly head even if we never were Casanovas. Stress works in mysterious ways as does the aging process.

Tough little Thursday puzzle.

JOHN X 3:14 AM  

This was pretty lame for a Thursday puzzle. Not much of a trick here. It was only after filling it all in and getting the revealer did I go back and find the “reverse engineers” but who cares I was already done. The gimmick contributed nothing to the solve.

And there wasn’t even any engineering-themed fill here. USS Missouri comes closest, but OCEANAUT is absolutely a made-up word and I know from submarines, bucko.

Re BAO: “I cannot believe I actually made a pitch for these to appear more often in crosswords . . .” is the second dumbest thing I’ve read today.

Whatever happened to the great rebus puzzles that used to be Thursday staples?

Phil 4:14 AM  

4A: Apt hairstyle for a gunslinger? (BANGS) At least it wasn’t NRA clued.

My beef for NOSIDEEFFECTS, was the all too often missed opportunity for a clever clue. Why not more fun in NYT clues.

Solverinserbia 4:57 AM  

I had a golden Thursday after piecing together the NE corner last. I got the meaning of Sub tenant? quickly but I still didn't get OCEANAUT until I had all the crosses. The theme was brilliant but only after completely solving and being told the theme. The revealer didn't help me get any theme answers at all. THUSLY I'm not sure how to rate the theme. I'd like to have am OOH moment while solving not while reading what the theme meant on this blog.

Anonymous 6:23 AM  

Once again, the theme showcases the achievements of men only. This type of theme almost never includes women. Boring.

ncmathsadist 6:42 AM  

Oceanaut? No. This is utter crapola of the first class.

Hungry Mother 7:11 AM  

Ignored the theme except to jump all over the reveal. Very quick solve with a couple of wags.

Adam 7:12 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, but the theme is a total yawner for me. Didn’t help with the across answers, and frankly I didn’t care enough to try to find the engineers in the answers. No “AHA” moment, no fun, might as well be a themeless.

Dropped TAT and TOTEM right off the bat and went on from there. I also had OUTRR Mongolia but LYNNE Cheney set me straight (as it were). I’m surprised she didn’t get a shout-out in the Trump screed.

Not too happy with Wednesday or Thursday this week. I hope Friday is better.

kodak jenkins 7:15 AM  

slightly easy for a Thursday except for the RICES OCEANAUT MESDAMES ADA intersections.

I like the theme as I guessed REVERSEENGINEER immediately but kept doubting it because I couldn't find any confirmation in the starred clues until late in the game.

Ok, Rex- I'll bite. I've been reading this blog long enough now to not take the Rex rants seriously. He musters some mock outrage to slander people and policy he doesn't like while angling hard to undermine Will Shortz in hopes the NYT comes knocking someday. "Rex Parker, King of Crosswords, please save us from the inept and domineering reign of our incredibly successful and popular editor". At this point it can be enjoyed as self-parody schtick because, well, what's the other option?

kitshef 7:17 AM  

In Lewis’s absence, I feel an obligation to report 19 double letters, which is pretty darn high. And with M&A out, hurrah for the 7 U's.

Hee hee! THUSLY!! How incredibly humorous!

Did not use - or even think about - the theme during the solve, but looking at now it's pretty nifty.

Cheeky little TATOO(h) in that upper left.

Nampa Bob 7:48 AM  

JOHN X... 👍👍

mmorgan 8:04 AM  

Well... lots of this (up top) was easy, and lots of it (bottom half) took some work, but it was reasonably enjoyable and I finished it... but I have absolutely no idea what the theme is. This has happened more than once on a Thursday, and I’m never sure if the problem is with the puzzle or with me. Whatever, I will now read the blog and have all explained, including how I should have felt about this puzzle. Whatever I find there, I found it a pleasant and just-crunchy-enough solve despite having no idea whatsoever about the theme.

oopsydeb 8:20 AM  

Phadreus, Stella did not claim the FDA is mentioned in the clue. She is suggesting the clue is stupid because no pharm would ever make the NO SIDE EFFECTS claim because the FDA won't allow that.

I had BAN_S and still had trouble getting BANGS. In part because I got very little sleep last night. In part because I don't think of bangs as a haircut. I think of bangs as part of some haircuts.

The revealer did not help me with the theme answers, and I didn't go back to find the engineers in those theme answers, and yet somehow I still appreciate the theme.

RLFrisbie 8:23 AM  

So, I guess you don’t care for the President?

QuasiMojo 8:28 AM  

You want to see a gunslinger with BANGS? Then check out Joan Crawford in "Johnny Guitar."

Finished this in near-record time. Is it just me or have the puzzles been super-easy this past week?

I could be wrong, since my knowledge of French is stale, but MESDAMES seems wrong to me as clued. One would say DAMES for Ladies. MES Dames would be used directly to a group of women one was speaking to, not indirectly in the third person. Same as Mademoiselle vs Demoiselle. Where is our "ami" in Paris to set things straight? Speaking of which I know OEUFS en GELEE. Right up there with Candied Eels.

Loved the theme today. I guessed the trick but was sure BELLI was the engineer. I guess I was thinking of FERMI. Glad to know BELL is still remembered today. I miss MA BELL (and I don't mean Michele) and THUSLY my rotary. And that little Stick thing that you used to turn the dial. I think it was called a Pencil.

@CDilly I caught your late comment yesterday. Nice reminiscences. I'm a PPM fan too.

Crazier & Crazier 8:38 AM  

Bangs aren't a hairstyle. Oceanaut isn't a word. Test clued as a quiz. Tye? No side effects? My favorite of the long list of side effect was, "May result in an irresistible urge to gamble."

And all that is dwarfed by a clue word that brought up this recent event:

"... the invasion. What're ya gonna do?"
"Shoot 'em!"
Knowing smile laugh, head nod from the podium.
"Ah you can only get away with that in the panhandle."
Nod. Smile. Survey the crowd as they wildly applaud.
"Only in the panhandle!"
More applause.

Cut to mass murder.

mmorgan 8:41 AM  

Oh. Now I get the theme. Clever construction, I guess, but not of any use (for me at least) in solving. If a puzzle works its butt off to build itself around a complex and intricate theme, I would say that that theme should not be essentially irrelevant to solving.

ghthree 8:45 AM  

In 1978, Isaac Asimov and John Ciardi published a book called
"Limericks Too Gross." It contained 144 poems by each author,
all with the appropriate format and content.
One of the authors (I forget which) offered the following:
"There's something about satyriasis
That upsets psychiatrists' biases.
But we're both just as pleased
To be thusly diseased
As the damsel who's eager to try us is."

Every time I encounter the word "thusly," I get an inner chuckle.

Nancy 8:59 AM  

Maybe if the revealer had been REVERSE INVENTOR...

I filled in the grid without the slightest idea of what the theme answers had in common. Not the least clue.

But once I got to REVERSE ENGINEER, I said "Aha!" I then went looking either for the hidden name of an engineer in reverse or a hidden synonym for engineer in reverse. I saw...nothing. Nada.

Casey Jones, anyone?

I guess the problem is that I don't think of EDISON, BELL and NOBEL as engineers. I don't know what I think of TESLA as. In fact I never think about him at all. Anyway these were not the names I was looking for and therefore I didn't see them. But I should have seen them, you say? Of course I should have, but I'm not visual. I could tell you some crazy lack-of-observation stories if you have the time...

GILL I. 9:01 AM  

At least we have Joaquin to start us off with a laugh. Yowser, certainly outdid yourself today.
NO FUN for this SLEEPY PARENT. My take: The cluing was beastly and it tried way too hard to be clever and misleading. Why clue TLC with a network? or ADA with a legis. or OP ED as a slanted column? Then you clue LUCILLE BALL (loved her) with some museum in Jamestown? C'mon. I think ESTATES could've used something more benign like, oh, I don't know...maybe Treasury Wine ESTATES in Napa? Kidding. No one would know that one.
Then, after working the neurons to death, I can't even figure out what the theme is? All of these people are inventors, no? ENGINEERS? If you say so.
NO SIDE EFFECTS? I bet that will make the comment of the day. Like @Joaquin, I always say to my husband". Why in the world would anybody take a medicine if they're allergic to it?" Who pays these ad people?
I haven't enjoyed one single puzzle this week. BUT....the comments have been primo and fun. Way to keep me entertained. Thanks for that.

E.J. Copperman 9:13 AM  

Yeah. "THUSLY." I'm still laughing.

ColoradoCog 9:14 AM  

A better clue for NOSIDEEFFECTS would have been “What drug takers hope for”.

GILL I. 9:17 AM  

Hey @Quasi...check out my avatar.... :-). Bang bang, you're dead.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

I concur, with its mirror clue (35 down) just as bad.

Amie Devero 9:22 AM  

Agree with those who point out that a crossword is a game, not a political comment. Get a grip.
More importantly, I have been an actor, a dancer, and had a career in radio and television. I have never heard the term cue in. What the heck is that? I've seen count in, give a cue, call for cue... But cue in? BS! Also, totally agree about outrival. Simple NOT what eclipse means.

barryevans 9:24 AM  

Yeah, conflating "engineer" (which is what I am) with "inventor" (which is what I'm not, but those four, especially my man Tesla, were) feels mushy.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Some early comments have been deleted without even a notice that they were deleted.

pmdm 9:43 AM  

I come here not to skewer Sharp but to praise chefwan.

Even after finishing the puzzle and examining the entires, I had no clue as to the theme. But I like a themeless puzzle occasionally during the week, so thumb's up on this one.

By the way, I think I read somewhere that Georg Solti was been awarded the most individual Grammy awards of any person. (If nothing else, he was exciting.) With that type of record, he certainly is crossword worthy. So I hope nobody complains (as Jeff Chen did today).

JC66 9:55 AM  


re: GELEE, think jelly or gelatin.


It's not the ad men who come up with those lists; it's the lawyers.

Chris Baumle 10:00 AM  

Loved the rant on ESTATES. I felt the same way as I was solving.

GILL I. 10:10 AM  

@JC...Of course. I once dated a didn't last long. I met him in a bar in San Francisco because that's the only place you're going to meet a lawyer. He came up to me and did a lawyerly thing like asking me why a girl like myself was in a bar. He had a mustard stain on his shirt and I pointed it out to him. I simply asked why he got mustard on his shirt. He asked me why in the world would I be only interested in the mustard. I told him I was allergic. True story....!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Despite multiple references in the comments and also in the write up, I still don’t understand the “thusly” clue. Can someone spell it out fo me? Thanks!

TJS 10:16 AM  

Okay, before I read any comments, I have to say this is possibly the worst Thursday of the year followed by the most inane Rex commentary of the year. A lead-off corner with tat,ooh,etsy and sysop, followed by bao nofun and untag? Oceanaut? "the fill is largely solid, so congrats to the constructor" ?? In a puzzle with APR-ADA-FBI-NPR-TLC-SFO-USS-GED-and IRS ??? Is Rex in such a hurry to attack Shortz that he can't be bothered to truly assess this dreck?
What a week. Can't wait for tomorrow.

Okay, I feel better. Let's see what everyone else has to say.

QuasiMojo 10:21 AM  

@Gill, I know I've asked you before but I forget. Is that you in your lovely avatar? It ain't Mercedes McCambridge. :)

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

I've always heard submarine people call themselves....."submariners".

Americans say "submaRINers" and Brits say subMARiners.

I am no fan of the current Prez, but I find Rex's outrage over crossword mentions peculiar.

TJS 10:41 AM  

Hey Rex, you include the word "sensitive" in your comments in quotes, as if you are quoting someone, and then, in parentheses, you attack that use of the word. How does that work?
Waiting for @Z's defense of Rex' comments.

David 10:43 AM  

My uncle Larry was a plankowner aboard the USS Sennett during WWII, serving in the South Pacific. "Oceanaut"??? No way. Stupid backformation from Argonaut I suppose.

BBQ Beef Rib? Not likely; try short rib. Lots for me to dislike here besides these, such as "parent" as a verb, bro-whatever, one of a million with a top ten list, "bangs" as a haircut, and, of course, oreo making its near-daily (or so it seems, along with oboe) appearance. I have to agree the "cue in" is not a thing anywhere.

No clue on the theme although I got 55A before any of the theme answers, which I treated as just plain answers. The only thing that made me smile was Solti. Pretty much 6D for me.

Oh yeah, Lucy. There's something to bring a smile a well.

Sorry folks, but you know you don't have to read it:

If Donny Boy had grown up in Sunnyside instead of having a rich daddy he'd be a flailing wreck of a used car salesman out on Kissena Blvd today instead of a flailing wreck of a pretend president. Born on third base and he can't even get up to the plate. Sad.

jberg 10:48 AM  

I had to look up TLC, so a DNF by my rules, but still an enjoyable struggle. Especially once I got rid of jELLy and jELLo at 31D. As @JC66 just pointed out, it's just the French word for the same thing.

I needed the revealer to get the theme -- I could tell by the bracketed numbers that I was supposed to look for something inside the theme answers, but I didn't know what to look for or that I should be looking at them backwards. I get the argument that these are all inventors, but a) "reverse inventors" is not a thing, and b) there's obviously a lot of engineering involved in putting an invention (at least, the sort these folks came up with) together. So that was OK with me.

The comment that they were all men made me think of this song by Peggy Seeger, here performed by her as well.

Like OFL and many others, I had RIvES and really liked it; would have finished a lot faster if it hadn't seemed so right.

Maybe we need a safe space for those people driven into fury by Rex's political comments. Or they could just decide not to read them.

Crimson Devil 10:49 AM  

Really enjoyed this puz, ‘cept for THUSLY (humor?) and OUTRIVAL.
Never picked up on theme, ‘til coming here.
Quite a construct.

Amaryllis 10:49 AM  

When a theme doesn’t aid in the solve I consider the puzzle a failure. Such was the case today. No problem here with the clue on estates. I like presidential trivia whether I like the President or not, I’m glad Shortz doesn’t cave in to the mob.

puzzlehoarder 11:06 AM  

As others have said I think of the theme subjects as inventors as opposed to engineers. After solving I wasn't even sure if I should be looking for a reversed theme or one which was scrambled. I'm just not interested either way. I solved with no influence from the theme whatsoever.

The difficulty went into the Saturday range for me. I have limited French and MESDAMES looked so wrong I doubted RICES for awhile. Rereading the 29A clue in place of the 39A clue caused a DROPS/DROOL write over that blocked that section for far too long. I was slow on a number of clues so it looks like I found this harder than most.

Andy S 11:12 AM  

Why do I get the feeling the answer to 11D was originally OVENMITT. Minor tweaks to other surrounding answers would care for that.


Ocean Not...

The clue to 16 across would even remain the same.

Whatsername 11:20 AM  

Always look forward to Thursdays to see what challenging clever trick some sharp constructor has created for me to solve. Today was disappointing to say the least. There was little challenge and a failed attempt at cleverness. I knew the brackets meant number of letters and that the reveal would be in reverse, but it never once occurred to me to look for the proper name of an engineer. That would be because the four individuals are not really famous for being engineers in the technical sense, but they are quite well known inventors. In fact, my limited research revealed only TESLA had any actual education or background in engineering. NOBEL had benefit of private tutoring in chemistry and languages, but EDISON and BELL were primarily self-educated with little formal schooling. All went on to significant acclaim for their multiple inventions in various fields, not necessarily engineering. So the moral of the story is, while I didn’t particularly like this crossword, at least I learned something today.

RooMonster 11:22 AM  

Hey All !
wow in NE for OOH was messing up that corner for a while. Plus having passORFAil_T___ in for 17A, had my 1D ad TwpE_. Wha? Eventually saw TRUE OR FALSE TEST, which got me to see the humorous(??) THUSLY, and that corner filled.

Had a two-letter DNF today, which I actually consider better than a one-letter DNF. Because one-letter is soooo close, it pisses you off. But two-letter, meh. Anyway, BoLTS, even though I knew it had to be NOTABENE, not NOTABENo, but the ole brain couldn't grok BELTS as the answer. Kept thinking drinking something. The other was MESsAMES/AsA. MESDAMES was new here, but again, my brain taunting me on AsA, because I know ADA. Yargh.

Didn't go back to find the ENGINEERs. I knew what the theme wanted, but I didn't bother to do it myself, as I could just come here to find them. :-)

4 F's, nice. Fill not terrible, a pretty cool funky grid.

A little politics for ya: All politicians suck, whether Dem or Rep, they all have shady pasts, they all do shitty things. The end.


Zed 11:36 AM  

I think Rex is exactly right.

According to the wiki it all checks out.

PETER 11:38 AM  

As far as Trump being a racist, here's a recent quote from Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina. Tim Scott is a black man, by the way.

"Well, there's no doubt that President Trump is not a racist, and the facts are very simple -- that the same folks that voted for me voted for President Trump because President Trump made promises to the voters and he's keeping the promises.

So without any question, you look at his legacy, it will be his accomplishments in office, frankly helping in many, many ways, African-Americans. Think about the fact that we've heard, we've all heard, about how low the African-American unemployment is, the lowest recorded in the history of the country.
But more importantly, a racist would never talk about criminal justice reform and how the benefits disproportionately help African-American men. President Trump signed that legislation into law. You would never hear a racist talk about Opportunity Zones and how he came onboard full throttle because he wanted to help poor, disadvantaged communities, most of them were consistently African-American and Hispanic communities.
You would not ever hear a racist -- never would you hear a racist talk about providing more research authority, more resources, towards the sickle cell anemia, a disease that impacts disproportionately African Americans in this country. And yet President Trump signed that legislation.
What you do smell -- not hear, but smell -- is fear. What you smell is fear on the left. They have been consistently using the race card every single time there's a presidential run. You'll hear, John McCain, racist. Mitt Romney, racist. Ronald Reagan, racist. George Bush, racist. W, racist.
Why do they continue to find that narrative? Because they understand that the lowest common denominator in politics is fear and division. President Trump has been able to deliver policies that have promoted, encouraged and inspired growth in the African-American community economically in a way that no president has done in the last 40 years. This president is not a racist.”

OffTheGrid 11:45 AM  

Someone may have mentioned this. The numbers after the theme clues refer to the number of letters in the names. Not really any help. In fact I didn't notice this until after I did the puzzle, read Rex, and read the comments. My grade for puzzle is C-.

What? 11:49 AM  

Didn’t see the need for numbers in theme fills. Reversed names so obvious can’t understand how they could be missed.
Trump’s childhood home is not a homage to him, just neutral (could have been “childhood home of a racist, narcissistic, ignorant, unbelievably incompetent temporary (I hope) national leader”.
A drug maker can claim no side effects if in fact it’s true but since its never been true or claimed, the clue should have read “...unlikely claim”.
All in all, nicely done with just the right amount of misdirection. Why does Lucille Ball have a museum in Jamestown, N.Y.? Apolo Ohno means anyone with a strange name will appear in many crosswords. And what is a beef rib? Spare rib? Are there’re things like lamb ribs or chicken ribs or bony fish ribs?

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Edison was, to all intents and purposes, uneducated. He wasn't an engineer or scientist but a tinkerer, and employed hundreds of people to actually make stuff happen.

"As in most patents, the inventions he described were improvements over prior art." [the wiki]

It's also worth considering that all of the 'engineers' listed worked before most of the underpinnings of physics, as we know it today, were known. Hell, they didn't even have a complete periodic table of the natural elements.

Hartley70 11:53 AM  

I appreciated the somewhat obscure clueing for the fill. OUTRIVAL for eclipse was a particular favorite. I didn’t know LORRE or GREGG, how to score a GED, that admins were SYSOPs, or the GNOME. I’m now wondering how GNOMEs prefer to travel.

DROOL tickled me. A family member seems to be doing that lately and I’m glad it’s not me.

My problem was with the long themers that we’re clued too easily. I filled the first three with little thought or fill surrounding and the revealer was not a struggle once a few short answers were filled in. I’m with the group who would have preferred inventors to ENGINEERs.

old timer 11:56 AM  

Remember Prescott Pharmaceuticals? I used to stay up until midnight just in the hope that Colbert would have a skit featuring an ad for that drug company. The list of side effects always ended in "Death".

Yet similar ads continue, and I have many an opportunity to ask, "How would anyone know they were allergic to this product unless they tried it first?"

I thought the puzzle was super-lame, with its OUTRIVAL and BEEFRIB. No one ever has sashayed up to the butcher counter and asked for a BEEFRIB. Short ribs, rib steaks, even Prime Ribs if you have the money and the crowd to feed. BEEFRIBS, never.

OTOH, NOTABENE was a joy to uncover, PARENT was cleverly clued, and we were treated to a classic Rexrant today,

rextorturer 12:19 PM  

i LIKE that child refugees are being tortured.

tkincher 12:22 PM  

@Anon 8:13am: I mean, being a "reverse bigot" sounds like a good thing?

rextorturer 12:22 PM  

Trump is still your president so shut your yap

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Not to pile on too, too much, but the 'themes' (even with letter count) are to all intents and purposes, unclued, so do nothing to aid in filling in the answer.

TJS 12:32 PM  

Anyone know why comments have not updated since 9:56 AM.? Or has my access been eliminated ?

kitshef 12:38 PM  

@JC66 and @Gill I - and you can bet that the lawyers include those words because someone sued some company after taking something they knew they were allergic to.

Ethan Taliesin 12:46 PM  

"You have no proof of anything you dislike.."

That's funny stuff.

If you really, really don't like Trump you're gonna have to stop mincing words and PROVE you don't like him.

Jyqm 1:07 PM  

Well, half the time I post here it’s to rib Rex for the silliness of his hobby horses, so I suppose I might as well toss in my two cents when I support him. I might not have gone on quite such a tear myself, but I also balked at the ridiculous clue on ESTATES, and I’m frankly disturbed by the number of people here who are content to treat this evil maniac clown as part of the furniture.

xyz 1:09 PM  

THUSLY - intended to be humourous mocking the intellectual, I can understand it missing here. I think NO.SIDE.EFFECTS was also intended tongue-in-cheek.

I enjoy daily the PC pseudo-rage directed (By seemingly all!) to any list of white men, most notably sans women, people of colour (but curiously not the exclusion of red or yellow) - or some unperceived slight one cannot see without looking for it - it's an outrage. No, don't worry, it's someone else I'm hinting at, it's not you. Honest. (As me mum used to say "Get off your high horse".)

Oh yeah, THIS puzzle! All in all except OCEANAUT this was pretty darned clean and agree with those noting NE most resistant. I very much enjoyed the solve. Only problem I had was that once I had solved, I was too lazy to read the theme answers backwards to see just who the named ones were, shame on me.

@9:40 any-none-mouse - are you certain that they were ever published????

I had fun, looking forward to a great puzzle tomorrow.

Teedmn 1:29 PM  

A toothy Thursday here - not helped by my trying to cram in Jamaica Heights in at 13D or, from the starting O of 35D, deciding it would start with Over.

I had no luck finding Edison or Tesla reversed but BELL and NOBEL rang like bells in my mind's eye. (Or something like that.)

The band I was in once played on a local cable TV channel. The host of the show was clueless. He made so many wrong assumptions about us based on appearances. Our bass player was quite a bit younger than some of our other band members and the host assumed he was the son of one of us. When the host asked the bassist what his PARENTs' names were, I'm sure he thought Paul was lying when he truthfully said, "BORIS and Olga". (His parents had immigrated from Croatia.) I always wondered how many people saw that show. I was never able to watch the tape someone made for me.

Thanks, Andrew Zhou, this filled some of my INNER NEEDS (for crosswords).

Karl 1:33 PM  

The commenter forgot the quotation marks in "Our" president...

Joe Dipinto 1:50 PM  

I guess the letter count is supposed to be a change of pace from circles (or gray shading), which were in Sunday's, Tuesday's, and Wednesday's puzzles. Same thing though, basically.

Okay puzzle except for oceanaut. I don't think of the theme subjects as engineers per se either. My dad used to drive down Midland Parkway, the main drag through Jamaica Estates, when we'd go to pick up my mom at the subway. I think a-hole in chief had moved away by then though. The clue didn't need him.

Bang bang
My baby shot me down...

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Got through it with some difficulty as many others have noted in the NE. I was sure 11D was OCEANsomething, but had 'isT' for a good while, but all resolved eventually. Kept thinking 'fixes' as a reference to what is done to male cats, and TAME was not what first came to mind for PG-13 sexual references.


BELTS is a drinking reference - think of saying "I'll have another belt" to your bartender when ordering another shot, but it's more like something Dean Martin would have said.

I'll just stay off politics and say the puzzle was fine, although the theme was such an afterthought as to be irrelevant, certainly in solving.

The revealer phrase certainly only works as written, but to call inventors such as these engineers is way stretching the reality.


Lil' Ricky 2:05 PM  

@Gill I. 9:01 AM
@What? 11:49 AM

Lucille Ball has a museum in Jamestown NY because that was her hometown, and was also the hometown of her character Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo, as mentioned many times on I Love Lucy, quite possibly the most watched TV show in history.

Joe Blow 2:29 PM  

@Anonymous 12:57 PM

You toss around the word “redneck” pretty easily. How about “white trash” or any other slurs for poor people who you’ve never met but have “heard all about” via some form of mass media? Try substituting different ethnic groups in your pronouncements and see how it sounds to your own ear.

Racism and bigotry: just say no.

Wm. C. 2:42 PM  

Oh, well ... Since others above have weighed in on politics, so will I....

I am a lifelong (unregistered) Republican, and only once voted Democrat in a national election. Not FOR Hillary, because I'm no fan of hers, but AGAINST The Donald. Although I'm generally in favor of his political positions, I revile him as a human being. It's hard to believe, but as much as I detested him in 2016, based on his actions since I think even less of him now.

I just hope we can get a Republican who can beat him for the party nomination next year, but think that very unlikely. Oh, well ...

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

@Joe Blow:
How about “white trash” or any other slurs for poor people who you’ve never met but have “heard all about” via some form of mass media?

I grew up in a housing project (what the Brits call an Estate, funnily enough) that was awash in such unwashed. They were lazy in school, quick to start fights, and overall worthless as human beings. Just the sort of 'poorly educated' (or not at all) that Trump loves. Without them he'd still be a real estate bigot. It's not a slur when it's true.

It's also worth noting that the first 2 of the 3 majority rural states spend about the least of any states on education and citizens' welfare. And these morons keep electing politicians who treat them like cattle. They're poor because they're stupid. Wouldn't them to be educated and healthy, now would we?

Z 2:54 PM  

Can something be most Meh? Solved basically as a themeless, did not bother to go find the REVERSEd ENGINEERs.

As to the quartet being inventors, not ENGINEERs, I would agree that many ENGINEERs are not inventors, but I think all of these fellows were adept at “the application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people.” If someone who does “engineering” by Merriam-Webster’s definition isn’t an ENGINEER, I don’t know who is.

@chefwen - It wasn’t Rex who brought Trump into the conversation. Which was Rex’s point.

@TJS - What is to defend? It’s as if you want me to defend heliocentrism or evolution.

@PETER - Ben Carson and Clarence Thomas are black, too. Not too mention Uncle Tom.

Unknown 3:01 PM  

Hate mail in Comic Sans. Res ipsa loquitur.

Z 3:01 PM  

@JC66 10:13pm yesterday’s blog - I think @Joe 9:46 was just having a bit of fun. Several other comments got a chuckle from me, too (Hi @birchbark). For the record, I insist on being the white spy. I do need to update that bio a little, though.

GILL I. 3:10 PM  

@Quasi. Ay chihuahua. I may be a teensy bit long in the tooth but I'M NOT THAT OLD. That's Betty Lou Gerson and I think she is quite dead. She played the voice of Cruella De Ville...and she's dead, too!
Tomorrow is another avatar...Just you wait and see.

Joe Blow 3:13 PM  

@Anonymous 2:45 PM

I grew up in a housing project (what the Brits call an Estate, funnily enough) that was awash in such unwashed. They were lazy in school, quick to start fights, and overall worthless as human beings.

You grew up there? I guess those are your people.

Carola 4:12 PM  

Having solved the puzzle in the newspaper, I enjoyed going back and searching out and circlling the reversed ENGINEERs, happy to have the number of letters to help me out. I particlularly liked the pairing of BELL with BALL.

Working backwards in NOSIDEEFFECTS, I got to F-E-E- and thought, "Wait, Isotope FEEney?!" Probably a synapse entaglement with Enrico Fermi.

Help from previous puzzles: SYSOP. No idea: GREGG, LORRE. Learned: OCEANAUT. Do-over: RIvES. Favorite: OUTRIVAL.

Misty 4:42 PM  

I agree it’s the other comment about your Trump remarks. They are gratuitous and largely not factual. Your left-winginess is showing and it comes off as childish. You can do better.

Doug Garr 4:51 PM  

I could not figure out BANGS even after ANG in the middle? Duh. Also SWOON instead of DROOL. But at least I didn't fall for OUTER when I had a hunch INNER was the answer. As for the yo yo that complains about your politics, tell him that one of your fans said his only bucket list item was to piss on Trump's grave. Actually, McConnell's, too.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

I have to say that the writer of the comment in the P.P.S. must have really loved today's blog.

boomer54 6:19 PM  


Unknown 6:43 PM  

Can't get thru a rex review without a rant. Trump is a most deserving target.

PGregory Springer 6:49 PM  

There is no reason to give the person in the White House any more publicity than he already solicits and receives. His very name is unutterable. I often find Rex's Rants unnecessary and extreme. I'll give him this one.

Paul Rippey 7:04 PM  

Im'a defend Rex a bit, not that he needs it.

Since the 2016 elections, the republicans have produced so many outrages that we are inured. A US president conspiring for political purposes with a foreign government to keep elected US representatives from visiting another country? That's just today's freak show. It never stops, and so we all have mental callouses. It's useful when someone stops to remind us of what normalcy used to be.

Rex was outspoken today about trump, but - was he inaccurate? I don't think so. And if his characterization of trump is more or less accurate, then conjuring up the president's childhood home just helps normalize the present weirdness.

aeevans 7:58 PM  

I am grateful for Rex's condemnation of the white supremacist, and I am sickened that the editor continues to allow such clues.

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

Hot off the press: The Carrot King wants to buy Greenland, turn it into the 51st state with 3 electoral votes so he can stay in his dacha.

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

@Joe Blow:
You grew up there? I guess those are your people.

Of course not. I got a real education, despite the environment, and got the hell out of that shit hole country.

TJS 12:34 AM  

@Z, if I am decifering your question to me correctly, it seems that you thought I was referring to OFLs Trump diatribe, Not so. It's his blog and he can say what he wants, just as we can choose to read it or not. I was referring to my earlier opinion that his obsession with the NYT editor and with any references in a puzzle that he deems a violation of his sensitivity caused him to be oblivious to how bad this puzzle really was. As you seem to be his most consistent supporter, I was interested to see whether you agreed with his assessment. No political reference intended.

pdplot 9:06 AM  

From Obama to Dirty Donny. What a country. Oh. The puzzle. Tye? Oceanaut? Theme was ok though had some trouble figgering it out.

AG 10:17 AM  

Fun but definitely harder than normal Thursday. MESDAMES - ooof I had LESDAMES for the longest time since I went brain dead on GNOME.

Black Conservative 10:50 AM  

@Z : If you are implying that Tim Scott, Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson are “Uncle Toms” then I feel sorry for you. All three are great Americans and you are a racist.

Anonymous 10:19 PM  

Clarence Thomas..."great American"... BWAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

Anonymous 10:27 PM  

I agree about 13 Down. If it had been clued "Name-of-country-trump-hates-because-of-all-the-black-people _________" that'd be one thing. But to just throw it in there? Yuck.
Re that sticky note you posted, it's funny when trumpers accidentally veer out of FOX News and into reality. Perhaps none of them saw trump, on every channel except FOX, publicly ask Russia to spy on Mrs Clinton during the 2016 "election." Let's imagine, if we will, Jesse Jackson saying "Russia, if you're listening..." during his 1984 campaign against Reagan. Perhaps trumpers think Draft-Dodging-Donald did nothing wrong when he repeatedly lied about 'bone spurs' to avoid going to Vietnam. Perhaps they forget he's been bankrupt multiple times despite getting $400 million from his father (and is about to do it again, to the whole country, despite having been handed a robust economy by Obama). If you're not rich, racist or radical, why would you ever even think of voting for that guy? I guess that's why only a minority did so (poor dumb trump got a minority OF the vote and he thinks that means he got THE minority vote).
Back to the crossword: what the hell is Oceanaut?

a.corn 3:04 PM  

Think illicit drugs. Then think of the people who make them. Then think of those people selling the drugs to someone. Their elevator pitch will undoubtedly claim a certain degree of purity, wherein the user doesn’t experience any effects other than the desired ones from the drug. Also, fun fact, the “side effects may include hypertension, hypotension, ectoplasmic malcenogenia, blah blah blah” part of drug commercials is called “the fair trade portion.”

brandsinger 10:20 PM  

Trump a white supremacist? Man, you are easily triggered. Why not squeeze in a crack about his collusion with Putin? Perhaps an allusion to emoluments. Throw in a 25th amendment plug. Jeeeeez. You may or may not be one of the top crossword puzzle workers in the world -- but you're surely the single most obnoxiously woke one.

Claire 11:25 PM  

Same here.

Burma Shave 10:10 AM  


it’s NOFUN when THUSLY responding.
‘MESDAMES’ works best if one NEEDS BOUTS of sex,


spacecraft 12:09 PM  

I too wondered why the clue maker/editor bent over backward (REVERSE, ha!) to mention His Blondness, but whatever. I certainly would've found some other clue, but am not in a big twist about it. The NE gave me other things to fret about: fix, in a way; starting G...GELDS! Boy, did that one cost some nanominutes! I never heard of an OCEANAUT. I mean, -NAUT actually MEANS sailor, so...NAUT-NAUT?? Not not!! However, it IS a legit word. Oh, and exactly what is a TAME sexual reference? Oxymoronville, here comes another citizen!

Hand up for outer; is INNER Mongolia a place? I guess, if there's an Outer. I'm just glad I don't have to find it on a map. How come there are no REAL housewives like DOD LYNNE Curtin?

Theme is inventive (!) and well executed; fill engaging and clues Thursday-level tough. Just about right for the day. Birdie.

rondo 12:15 PM  

Gotta agree with OFL today: decent puz and gratuitous Trump clue. Knew a rant would ensue, but Rex is correct. Also must admit LUCILLEBALL was uber successful. Yeah baby. Toughness in the NE, the rest, not so much. Certainly better than the rebus some commenters long for.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

Speaking of "fits", OFL really had a "bout" today. Particularly telling was his condemning of a polite response to his deranged harangue. Time to double your dosage, OFL....

Diana, LIW 3:16 PM  

Well I for one was amazed that I got this, in toto, without any help!! Happy Thursday.

After completing many a puzzle anthology, I'm amazed at the many, many references to dictators and villains old and new - nothing to see here that hasn't been done. But ESTATES certainly lend themselves to many options. Certainly don't NEED any more refs to the Orangsicle of the Oval Office.

Diana, Lady

leftcoast 4:40 PM  

Got most of it, and stumbled my way through the PPPs but didn't get all of them. Did get the themers but didn't bother with the loosely-called ENGINEERS reversed within them.

Picking through the fill: THUSLY is humorous?, hmm. OCEANAUT?, okay. GELEE??, never heard of. Chuck LORRE?, "King of Sitcoms", I'll be darned.

Crosses helped, but not enough.

Not much fun, I'm afraid.

Unknown 5:51 PM  

Amen to that Chef. Last time I look for Rex's opinion on the Times crossword. This should be an escape, not a political blog

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

I wasn't offended by the Trump clue; I am offended by his breaking the law (the least of which forced the closure of his so-called charitable foundation), his utter incompetence, and psychosis.

Unknown 12:09 AM  

Amen. When Barack Hussein Obama was elected, the media demanded that all Americans must support a duly elected president. Any adverse comment, even those which were true (criticism for flat lying to Americans - "you can keep your doctor") were immediately deemed to make you a racist.

Make no mistake about it - the media is doing everything possible to overturn a valid election.

And those who have challenged Mr. Parker's anti-Trump rant are correct: Parker (whoever he is) should stick to what he knows - Truman wanted to buy Greenland and Obama held illegal aliens in "cages".

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