Early chewing gum ingredient / THU 6-23-22 / South Asian informally / Ancient dweller of Central Asia and Eastern Europe / Street food favorites topped with tzatziki / Supplier of iron carrots in old cartoons / Sprites but not Pepsis / Adam's apple locale

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: OXYGENATION (34A: Photosynthetic process "inflating" 16-, 24-, 46- and 56-Across) — just add oxygen (O
) (i.e. two "O"s) to the clued answer to get the answer in the grid ... which is just ... an unclued answer:

Theme answers:
  • CANOODLES (candles + O
    ) (16A: Mood setters for a romantic dinner) 
  • BOO RADLEY (Bradley + O
    ) (24A: Actor Cooper) 
  • TATTOOERS (tatters + O
    ) (46A: Torn and ragged clothing)
  • PATOOTIES (patties + O
    ) (56A: Quarter-pound things at McDonald's) 
Word of the Day: BOO RADLEY (see 24A) —

In the classic American novel To Kill a MockingbirdBoo Radley(whose first name is actually Arthur) doesn’t leave his house or talk to anyone, which leads the children in the novel’s setting (Maycomb, Alabama) to wildly speculate about what he looks and acts like. According to main character Scout Finch’s brother, Jem, Boo Radley is more than six-feet tall with yellow teeth, a scar across his entire face, and blood-stained hands from eating raw cats.

In the reality of the story, Boo Radley is a kind but mentally underdeveloped recluse who stays inside after an accident in his childhood. He secretly leaves the Finch siblings little gifts in a tree outside as a friendly, social gesture and becomes a hero who saves them from an attack at the end of the book. Scout walks Boo Radley home after his heroics and begins to see the world from his perspective, learning her father’s lesson that you can never understand someone before “trying on his skin.”

Harper Lee apparently based the character of Boo Radley on a real family who lived in a boarded-up house down the street from her during her childhood. (dictionary.com)

• • •

I had somewhat high hopes for this one after I got CANOODLES. I thought it was really impressive the way the clue managed to get the base word (candles) and the oxygenated word (CANOODLES) to relate to one another (via the idea of a romantic dinner). Canoodling by candlelight! Nice. But the next themer I got was TATTOOERS, and the connection there between the base word and the oxygenated word was a lot less obvious. "I guess tattoo artists ... sometimes wear ripped ... shirts? Or jeans? ... maybe?" And then later: "Did Bradley Cooper .... play BOO RADLEY ... in a movie I don't know about? Or on Broadway?"). But then the dream of a connection between base word and oxygenated fell apart completely at PATOOTIES (unless, of course, you think that McDonald's hamburgers taste like ass, in which case, bull's eye!) (so weird that "patootie" can mean both "sweetheart" and "buttocks" ... English, what a language!). The most remarkable thing about this puzzle is that it's the second Thursday in a row where "patooties" have been involved (last week was the whole "-tooties" = two "T"s thing). I wouldn't want to guess at what the odds of such a hebdomadal coincidence are, but I'd say fairly slim. (Sorry, I just learned the word "hebdomadal" this week, while looking up "hebetude," so I'm trying it out on you all, thank you for your patience). 

The puzzle had a slightly older feel today, in terms of its (pop) culture center of gravity (this is not a bad thing, just a thing). Putting "My Friend FLICKA" directly over BOO RADLEY definitely shoots you back to the mid-20th century for sure (though yes, Mockingbird is allegedly "timeless," blah blah blah). I think of Captain Marvel as very mid-century as well, though of course s/he's still around, appearing in a movie as recently as ... I dunno, recently (2019, actually). It's more than a little confusing to me, still, that Captain Marvel is the name of a character in both the Marvel *and* the DC Comics universe. In the DC universe he's maybe better known as "Shazam!," which is the name of the recent movie about him, which, like Marvel's movie Captain Marvel, also came out in 2019, dear lord, make the superhero movie conveyor belt stop, the culture is choking on these things. Make superheroes unpopular (i.e. genuinely nerdy) again! Speaking of (still more) superheroes, I briefly made Aquaman the king of the ATLANTIC (15D: Where Aquaman reigns as king). I don't know if that's better or worse than being the king of ATLANTIS. Probably more boring. And polluted. Less glamorous. You'd have to deal with the royalty from all the other oceans, which is probably a drag. So much sea ego, so many border disputes.

No real tricky spots today, just a few typical Thursday stumbles here and there. I made Captain Marvel an ALIEN at first (22A: Captain Marvel, for one). Completely blanked on AMY TAN (37A: Author of "The Bonesetter's Daughter," 2001). I was thinking of ... gah, what's her name ... the other "Bone" novel ... Keri Hulme ... Bone People, is that something? ... yes! NZ / Maori author Keri Hulme won the Booker for her 1984 novel The Bone People. Add that to your late-week KERI cluing options, constructors (it's OK, KERI Russell, you can still have M-Th). 

Needed most of the crosses to get COGS (53D: Peons, metaphorically) (I think of "Peons" as already a metaphor, these days). I spelled HERESAY thusly, yikes (40D: Grist for the rumor mill). When your HEARSAY is also contrary to orthodox religious teachings: HERESAY! Two texting initialisms (BRB, IMO) is one texting initialism too many, IMO. One per puzzle, please. There are LIMITS! I really liked the clue on ATTIRE (41D: It may get worn out). Coulda stopped that clue at "worn" but the "out" really takes the misdirection to a new and more vivid level (you're not wearing it out through constant use, your wearing it ... out, like on a date, perhaps to a fancy dinner complete with candles and canoodling, who knows!?). Hope your Thursday, like every day, is happy and full of oxygen. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:27 AM  

I don’t follow who-plays-what-movie-role, so when 24A worked out to BOO RADLEY, I thought, “Okay, so one of the Coopers played him.” Partly as a result, I didn’t grok the theme until I was just about done. Happily, it was an easy puzzle.

JD 7:02 AM  

Agree with Rex again today. Canoodle/Candle, yes. The rest, you add an OO but the answer to the actual clue is buried in something else unrelated to it.

What I like about this one is that that it shows a personality. If they hadn’t bylined Chen, I might have been able to figure it out. Science, kids, Asian influence clues. I like his style.

Also liked Oxygenation (a country of breathers) and Location Of Adam’s Apple, which, were I a little more awake, I might’ve gotten a lot spooner.

Son Volt 7:06 AM  

Thursday lite - solid enough but a little too straightforward. All the themers were cute and the revealer was clean. This basically filled itself in. The TED - ELIA cross was a little funky - and didn’t like the AHS + BRB adjacency. Backed into CHICLE.

Liked the JEDI x JADE cross and alt clue for PEI.


Enjoyable solve - just not Thursday worthy.

Joe Dipinto 7:07 AM  

In Tuesday's puzzle FRUIT was 22d. Today FRUIT is 21d. That must mean something.

NADIA and DIANA are anagrams too. Not saying I wrote one of them in for that answer, oh no I didn't. But they're better anagrams than CELIA and ILEAC.

mambridge 7:16 AM  

Why O2? Oxygen is simply O.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Definitely some questionable crosses today e.g. ELIA/TED, OWS/WIIG. Actually the first pair is a cluing issue – lots of non-Naticky ways to clue TED.

Clue for JADE was stolen from the Wikipedia page – and inaccurately. Imitation jade was mined as early as 6000 BC.

TATTOOERS is real enough, but not clever in the way the other themeres are.

Just felt like this was not polished.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

Have to feel bad for Rex today as there were no pro-abortion-themed clues or answers. Better luck tomorrow.

Nancy 7:58 AM  

As soon as CANOODLES came in, I thought to myself that the "dinner" part of that "romantic dinner" was never going to happen. (That's before I got the theme, of course.)

There's that awful word PATOOTIES again. It just makes my skin crawl. Can't really explain why. But if you hate potatoes and I hate PATOOTIES, let's call the whole thing off.

I have no idea, no idea at all, why "readers may flip over" a STAPLE.

Also, Ieoh looked for all the world like leoh (55A) and therefore there was no way I was getting I.M. PEI without lots of crosses. Which I didn't yet have. The SW was by far the hardest section for me.

You won't get the BRADLEY/BOO RADLEY switcherOO unless you've read/seen "To Kill A Mockingbird". But I guess everyone has.

This puzzle would be a lot stronger and more interesting if the answer with the double "O"s were also clued in some way. As it is, the only one that figures into its clue at all is CANOODLES. All the other "OO" words seem arbitrary.

SouthsideJohnny 8:00 AM  

I started out with high hopes when I saw Mr. Chen's moniker, but this one just fell flat for me. Saw the OO gimmick, but it didn't add anything to the solve (except maybe for CANOODLES) - the rest were like "This is it, this is all there is ?". It just really felt like a boring solve.

Seemed like it was heavy on PPP as well - Captain Marvel, Aquaman, FLICKA, some one named ELIA, etc. I know AMY TAN and IM PEI are part of the regular rotation - but today at least they just seemed like more filler as well.

I am not enlightened enough to know what DESI means - but that is on me and at least I learned something today.

Laura 8:02 AM  

Puzzle was too easy, over too quick. But Rex, you made the fun last. My mid read comment was "he can really write" as I laughed at patootie. Would have been great if all themers had double meaning. But I just think of canoodle as the real revealer.

Lewis 8:06 AM  

This was an Odyssey solve. It took me for a ride. Part of me is still like a kid – I love to go on rides!

Along the way, there were highs. The three most colorful answers, IMO, were CANOODLE, PATOOTIES, and BOO RADLEY (a NYT puzzle debut, and it’s about time!), so the theme really brightened up the grid. My favorite clues were for ATTIRE [It may get worn out] and NAIL FILE [It may be applied to a single digit], both clues never done before. I enjoyed the cross of SLIDE IN, with its image of a line of people sitting on a bench, and PATOOTIES. And it was sweet to see ACME on top.

The SE fought me hard. Part of what held me up in was having ATLANTIC instead of ATLANTIS (Hi, @Rex!), and for the woman’s name I confidently had CLARA (which can anagram to “Carla”).

I found this grid very satisfying to fill in, overcoming clue and knowledge-deficit obstacles, and figuring out theme answers with as few crosses as possible. Thus I ended with a “Whew!” and a pat on my back. And now my brain is wired for whatever is going to face me today. Thank you for making this, Jeff!

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

I liked the puzzle. And as for Rex, why, today he sounds.....almost human!

mooretep 8:15 AM  


The gases on the periodic table in the NE corner want a full octet of valence electrons (except for the noble ones on the east side)

Hence when you leave them alone in a room they canoodle and and form diatomic molecules.
Hence N2 or O2 such as you might see on cylinders containing these gases.

albatross shell 8:17 AM  

I found this to be one sweet solve. I had woes in the South and especially the SW corner. Somehow thought Ieoh was leoh (and in the typeset I am using now the capital i is identical to the small L even though it is not identical on the keyboard. Is that crazy or what?).

Also no idea of why readers would flip over a STAPLE until I read down to the last definition of staple in bookbinding and then realized if you read any papers that are stapled together you flip pages over the staple as you read. I hope the rest you have days like that.

I was surprised last week nobody mentioned that sweet PATOOTIE is more common than cutie PATOOTIE. A song Fats Domino sang. Sweet PATOOTIE probably came from sweet potato in its sweetheart meaning. Then the ass meaning derived from the the obvious answer to the question "What part of your body goes toot?".
And then to avoid the dirty word cleverly: You bet your sweet PATOOTIE. Besides shouldn't your sweetheart always have a sweet ass, at least to you?

At least that is my made-up origin story and the obvious anwer to Rex is no, it's not strange at all.

pabloinnh 8:18 AM  

The eastern, or right hand side of this one filled in in a trice, after which the wheels stopped turning until old friend CANOODLES showed up, which took care of the NW.

I then encountered a problem I've had before, which is reading a lower case r and a lower case n as the letter m, which had me trying to think of someone named Tom and another word that meant "ragged clothing", which proved highly difficult, and it wasn't until TATTOOERS showed up that it made any sense at all. Drat that capital T anyway. Had a similar problem with the I of IMPEI, which would have been easy, except that it looked like an l. Fiddlesticks.

Otherwise not much trouble. I haven't seen SLUG in ages and wonder if it's familiar to our younger solvers, like those of you under sixty.

Always enjoy your stuff, JC, but Jeepers Creepers find a font I can read. Thanks for all the fun anyway.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Molecular oxygen is O2, and this is what produced during photosynthesis

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

DESI is a South Asian? news to me...

bocamp 8:49 AM  

Thx, Jeff; what a fantastic Thurs. offering! :)


At the same time, both 'airy' & crunchy!

Took forever to grok the 2 Os theme. Twigged on it at PAT/OO/TIES, which very much helped complete everything above.

Wonderful clueing and fill.

Very much enjoyed this challenge! :)
yd 0 / 34

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Error in the puzzle!
Margaret Cho is NOT a comedian.

albatross shell 9:01 AM  

Bangladesh is considered South Asia. India too. Pakistan maybe. All have DESI populations.

albatross shell 9:09 AM  

Cho was doing stand-up when I saw her on TV. Google seems to say so. Are you saying you do not find her funny or do you have another reason?

Whatsername 9:12 AM  

Completely agree with Rex today. When I saw CANOODLE I thought OH MAN how clever! Moved on with much anticipation, thinking the other themers would be similar as in two words with similar meanings. But next was BOO/BRADLEY and I’m thinking WOE? And from there it just kind of sputtered to a very unsatisfying halt. Seemed intentionally difficult in places, like the clue for STAPLE. Huh?? I don’t know, didn’t throw it at the wall but I just didn’t have much fun with it.

burtonkd 9:14 AM  

Thank you Rex for a great write-up today! Also, your looking up hebdomadal necessitated my looking it up. I then remembered the Parisian magazine that was attacked for political cartoons was called the Hebdo - or "weekly". Double AHA (my wrong answer for 32D ___ moment). Now I get one:)

Watching Rex sort out the 2 "Bone" authors who are otherwise nothing alike reminds me of his (successfully) sorting out of Craig Robinson/Terry Crews. While I get the letter writer's historical point, sometimes this is just completely natural and innocent with information at the periphery of our knowledge. At least it was a pleasant and mature exchange.

@Nancy - Am I correct in guessing you wouldn't call your proctologist a "patootie nerd"? Unless you got bad service...or life-saving service now that I think of it, kind of like (sucks/sucks).

Gary Jugert 9:15 AM  

OHO! Another PATOOTIE(S)! Remember our hip hop version recently? PA2T(s)? We're becoming experts.

Theme was super fun. Adding O2 and still having a reasonable word. Loved it. I don't think the revealer needs quote marks.

The long downs are the real stars in the puzzle.

Just Mr. Radley

1 Mom's job when getting the family ready for a fancy event (since dad will mainly be trying to figure out how to get out of the fancy event.)
2 Asner's shredded documents.
3 Sopaipilla or empanada.
4 Pronounced amusingly, these heroes of Greek cuisine pair perfectly with light sabers.
5 CliffsNotes version of Rex Parker's assessment of any puzzle constructed by a Theodore.


My Name 9:17 AM  


RooMonster 9:23 AM  

Hey All !
BOO RADLEY. Har. Being unread like myself, I hadn't heard that name. Shocking, eh? I got the answer correctly, convincing myself it was one word meaning something like 'Act in an ill-mannered way'.

Ass-names never affected me. PATOOTIE is endearing sounding. You have rear, behind, badonkadonk, booty, butt, etc. My grandmother was 100% Polish, and she always call it "dupa", which I thought was just a nickname for it, turns out that's the Polish word for Ass. It's just a muscle, after all.

An OO theme, har. No ROO's, but also no other OO's anywhere else in the grid. A Chen-ism. Keep the theme separate. If you know what I'm trying to say. Clean fill considering some of the Downs go through two themers. Sure, you can flip Themers around until you get common words to fit in the Downs, but it's still tough to get the peripherals as common stuff.

FROOT. There's your ROO! Fruit pronounced FROOT, BRUIN not pronounced BROON. English.

Ass ink = PATOOT TATTOO. πŸ˜‚

yd -7, should'ves - all
Duo (un-triumphant return) -1, missed 1-2-5-13-24-27

Two F's

Z 9:25 AM  

What @JD said about what Rex said.

Why use two syllables when four will do. Hence “hebdomadal,” a word my autocorrupt tried to “fix.”

To Kill a Mockingbird holds a special place in curricular hell for me. At the high school where I was an assistant principal the English Department had agreed that it would be a required part of the second semester of the 10th grade required English classes. There were plenty of good reasons for this decision, but by having the entire 10th grade reading the same book at the same time it made To Kill a Mockingbird a de facto graduation requirement. Not for the district, just for this one high school. No other work had this stature. Not Shakespeare. Not Hemingway. Not Longfellow. Not Letter from Birmingham Jail. Nope, the only work that every graduate was supposed to have read and mastered was Harper Lee’s one hit wonder. Why should this particular work have special stature. Innocent curriculum decisions can have unintended impacts.
Which reminds me, my school social worker hated whenever a 9th grade English teacher decided to teach Romeo and Juliet because incidence of suicidal ideation would spike. A play that idealizes 14 year-olds dying for true love makes 14 year olds think of dying. I’m embarrassed now by how surprised I was when Randy came to me and seriously pleaded with me to convince the English department to teach a different play. Innocent curriculum decisions can have unintended impacts.
Anywhoo - BOO RADLEY…

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I recall seeing a bio flick about, I think, Bo Diddley. Whoever it was, this guy (that much is true) was held by the perversion of eating poo. So the 'FRUIT' clue looked like the technical term, and fit the space: FECES: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coprophagia

what a wonderful world it would be.

Z 9:31 AM  

@Albie - I read @Anon’s comment as a heckle of M. CHO.

@Joe Dipinto - Now I’m imagining a couple deciding to be cute by having their daughters’ names be anagrams, but only planning on two daughters. So it worked fine for Alice and Celia, but then the youngest was a surprise and got stuck with Ileac…

Anonymous 9:50 AM  


there was a better than usual episode of L&O:CI, in which a couple of young lovers both end up dead. she is described as ABCD - American Born Confused Desi. he is a generic white boy. first time I found the term.

Jim Krantz 10:02 AM  

I appreciate Rex's reference to Keri Hulme, who passed away this past December. I had the pleasure of dining with her at her home in the village of Okarito on the South Island of New Zealand in 1988. I had read "The Bone People" the year before and sought her out during my travels. I have to say that evening remains one of the highlights of my life. Our conversation ran the gamut from science fiction to Maori land rights to salad dressing recipes. I highly recommend "The Bone People", a powerful and unsettling novel.

JD 10:06 AM  

@Nancy, Let's call the whole thing off (HAR!). I too HATE Patooties (all of them) and can't explain why. It makes me want to slap someone's hand and say, "Enough of that!"

Anonymous 10:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lewis 10:11 AM  

By the way, FDR in the grid made me think of Eleanor, who is fresh on my mind, as I just finished watching the Showtime series "The First Lady", a 10-part series, each episode about an hour, based on the lives and times of Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, and Michelle Obama. The acting is especially good all around, with extra thumbs up for Gillian Anderson and Viola Davis, and a not-to-miss performance by Michelle Pfeiffer. It also taught me some interesting history and was beautiful to watch. I strongly recommend it.

Peter P 10:12 AM  

@Anon 8:48. DESI is a term used (mostly) by South Asians to refer to someone or something that is "from the country" or "native." I work a lot within that community, so I hear the word from time to time, but it's not a word I would expect most English speakers to be familiar with. That said, it's been in the crossword a number of times -- of the 11 appearances DESI has had since 2020, six have been clued referring to South Asians, and five have been referring to DESI Arnaz. (And four of the last five appearances referenced South Asians.)

And for your viewing pleasure, a staple of many South Asian wedding playlists, "Desi Girl": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDIrpvH8MzE

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

To quote Queen Victoria: “we are not amused”.
Nope. Not one bit. Nada. May as well be a pile of sticks on stage. It’s more like laughing AT her, not with her. Pathetic. Even worse than Emo Philips if that’s even possible.

jae 10:37 AM  

Yep, easy. Amusing, liked it.

GILL I. 10:44 AM  

@Zed 9:25. To Kill a Mockinird was required reading at my first "American" school in Miami, Fl. I had already had a taste of prejudice when I wandered over to a drinking fountain and drank from the "Coloreds Only." Imagine my surprise when the water I drank was not a rainbow. I learned a hard lesson. The book made me incredibly sad. Living in Cuba, I had never heard the word "racism" nor "prejudice." Although I am white, I was as black as my friends, our housemaids and the people I sang with. I really never had a notion of skin color or what it was supposed to mean until I came here.
So...BOO RADLEY kinda made me sad. The rest? It was just fine. I like Jeff Chen and his work but I felt this was a it on the dull side.
I first heard the word PATOOTIES from (of all people) Rosie O'Donell. She kept talking about her girlfriend and a bunch of babies and calling them cutie PATOOTIES. Should I look at my fondillo?
Did anyone else think THAI for 1A?

Carola 11:12 AM  

Like @Rex and others, I found the puzzle very easy and, after initial elation at the cleverness of CAN[OO]DLES, felt deflated by the randomness of the other OO additions, no matter how great BOO RADLEY is as an answer on its own.

Help from previous puzzles: DESI. Do-overs: ATLANTIc, FrICKA (I'd just streamed Das Rheingold).

jberg 11:12 AM  

Here's the thing about theme embellishments: do them every time, or not at all. Although CANOODLES is by far the best theme answer, having the other theme entries not pull off the same trick weakens the theme overall.

And while I thought the idea of adding an oxygen molecule to the middle of the themers was brilliant, the clue itself seems off. Photosynthesis involves reduction, and maybe oxidation as well, but I don't see how OXYGENATION is part of the process. The latter means adding elemental oxygen to something else, e.g. your blood. I guess that you could say photosynthesis oxygenates the air, but that's really a stretch. I know, I know, it's a hint, and we all got it, but a better clue would have been nice.

I did like having CELIA right over ELIA; and the clue for EDGES was a nice misdirection, since when you see 'icosahedron' you're going to think "20," the number of faces.

Lots of travel this week, and our 'hold mail' and 'suspend home delivery' orders got a little mixed up, so I'm not sure if we're getting the Times tomorrow. If not, I will see you all on Tuesday.

Beezer 11:17 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle even though the themer “answers” didn’t necessarily gibe with the “subtract O2” actual answers. I found it pretty easy- breezy but, like @Nancy, I found the SW very hard because I was NEVER going to get IMPEI with THAT clue, but more importantly, I was hell-bent on NECK for Adam’s Apple location. Good misdirect!

@anonymous 10:00, I’ve misread comments before but you really need to reread @Zed’s earlier comment slowly. There was nothing outrageous and it gave me food for thought about the dynamics that MAY lead to curriculum decisions.

Peter P 11:18 AM  

@Anonymous 10:10 - Um, you might want to read carefully what Zed actually wrote, not what you think/wish he wrote. I'll nominate you for the most outrageous summary of a post on this blog -- ever.

egsforbreakfast 11:22 AM  

@Roo. Your unfamiliarity with BOO RADLEY makes me think of rOO bADLEY.

My ma is an excellent fishing fly tier and my PA TOO TIES.

I quite liked the Jeff Chen vibe of this Jeff Chen puzzle. Thanks, Jeff Chen

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Living in Cuba, I had never heard the word "racism" nor "prejudice." Although I am white, I was as black as my friends, our housemaids and the people I sang with. I really never had a notion of skin color or what it was supposed to mean until I came here.

what a difference a few hundred miles make. in the 80s, before Baby Doc got tossed out, The Wife insisted we spend our remaining few Bongo Bucks on a trip to Haiti. now, she looks like Whoopi and I look like Ted, so that would be a bit of a jolt to the system. or so we expected. turned out (and I doubt it's changed a whit) that racism is the bedrock of Haiti, and from subsequent research, likely much of the Caribbean. but not the B/W kind. no, what some folks around here refer to as High Yella folks rule the roost in such places. being fully African puts you in a tin shack next to a polluted stream. we stayed in Petion-Ville at the Montana (flatten by the earthquake), along Avenue John Brown. the Montana was on the up-hill side of the road, while the down-hill side was a ravine filled with those tin huts. yet I was able to travel in the tap-taps without incident. doesn't sound as friendly today. what money people had went first and foremost to Culligan water jugs.

Jennielap 11:25 AM  

When I saw “ Radley” from my down answers I immediately thought of Boo AND Bradley and what do either of them have to do with photosynthesis? After I got the cue the rest was easy.
Patooties again? Yeesh.
It wasn’t until I was an adult and reread TKAM (because my daughter was reading it) that I figured out that Boo Radley wasn’t crazy, he was autistic.

albatross shell 11:27 AM  

I am not sure if @Zed was asserting what you say or just suggesting the possibility and that some awareness of this
is advisable when teaching young folks. I am sure he will let us know. Maybe why West Side Story is suicide-less? One book that is reported to have caused a rash of suicides is Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther. So it is perhaps a possibility. Whether or not it is a good reason for not teaching it is a different question. Teaching Beloved or delving too deeply into the history of slavery or racial discrimination could conceivably have similar negative effects. The fact that books should not be banned does not mean they are not dangerous things. Same with speech.

Newboy 11:30 AM  

Thanks Jeff for wonderful clueing that really took me far afield. Not easy here, but fair and finally doable.

Georgia 11:31 AM  

I started with Clara (Carla).

Slowsolver2 11:52 AM  

Slow start for me, seemed harder than the usual Thursday, until I got the theme, then pretty smooth. Very clever. I liked canoodle!

Joe Dipinto 11:58 AM  

@Zed 9:31 — The surprise surprise fourth daughter would have to become a photographer because the parents named her LEICA.

Speaking of TIE-INs, look!
Celia Keenan-Bolger is an American actress and singer. She is known for portraying Scout Finch in the play To Kill a Mockingbird (2018), which earned her a Tony Award.

sixtyni yogini 12:16 PM  

Not easy for me. Lots of obscure names.

Enjoyed the theme and think πŸ¦–s point of the lack of correspondence of theme answers and clues was 🎯 but. CANOODLES, CANDLES and 02 πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½.

PATOOTIE will always make me smile - so bring it on - weekly is fine. Better than HEBDOMADAL doses of EKE.
OMG -πŸ¦–!! HEBDOMADAL! What a GAUCHE unattractive word - πŸ˜‚ you found. EEK. now it will probably show up in a 🧩
Good puzz.

Tom T 12:20 PM  

@GILL I: I also considered Thai for 1A, but decided to leave it blank for a while because of the qualifier "informally."

I'm sure there are very few choices to make a theme like this work, but I expected someone to point out that in three of the four theme entries, both the clued and the un-clued answers are single words (CANDLES, CANOODLES, i.e.). The outlier is BRADLEY/BOO RADLEY.

Tougher than "Easy" for me, maybe even tougher than "Medium," but finished successfully. Thought the TRIES/ESSAYS combo was clever, since Samples could also have involved a plural noun.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

No complaints about “ teal”? Is Rex a Ducks fan?

albatross shell 12:39 PM  

Yes I thought of Thai. Did not put it in because it seemed too random somehow. The crosses suggested DESI which seems even more random and which I only knew from previous puzzles. I did read up on them at first encounter. The puzzle was filled with misdirection possibilities.

In fact the whole NW corner seemed littered with wrong guesses even though that corner filled very quickly anyway. So by the time I got to 61A I filled in EDEN immediately. And then ATTIRE had me stumped for a long time. Really enjoyed the whole trip. Pride before the fall.

Gio 12:58 PM  

@anon 10:10 again, your reading comprehension needs serious work. "Suicidal ideation" isn't the same as actual recorded suicides. Maybe read a little slower before working yourself into a frenzy.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  
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GILL I. 1:13 PM  

@Anony 11:24...Why don't you give yourself a name and join the crowd?
Interesting story about your trip to Haiti...Had you lived or even visited Cuba you and your wife would've been called "mulatto's." A pejorative name used when someone of mixed races might've stepped on your toe.
There WAS racism in Cuba. I just wasn't aware of it. Castro made it practically one of his main themes during the Cuban Revolution. He was going to eradicate it. No more "Whites Only" swimming pools, educational institutions or places that Batista may have deemed tabu to anyone of color.
My dad (white) and my mom (white) never let us ever believe that we were any better than any one else. Dad only hired Cubans at his company. They came in all sorts of colors.
I'm sure there is a book somewhere that covers the pros and cons at what Fidel attempted. A lot of people didn't seem to think any change was needed; many felt it improved relations with all.
I left when I was 14 or 15 and all I had were memories of sweetness of the people I chose to play with. Racism hit me the hardest when we arrived as refugees in Florida.
I would've made friends with BOO RADLEY.
P.S. As an aside, Batista is said to have been either a mestizo or a mulatto. Aren't colors fun?

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

I had trouble getting started in this puzzle and did not find it easy. I am gratified to find that Jeff Chen found solving his own puzzle to be a challenge. (The clue for SOLVE = Unravel is one of my favorites today).

I may have had a chance in the NE if I'd read 9A's clue more closely but as it were, ended up with Margaret CHO as my entry into the grid. I totally misinterpreted the 5D clue - I figured it would be a Greek letter that represents Force in equations, (which only gives me the choice of BETA, ZETA or IOTA) but decided to wait for that to fill in otherwise. When I eventually made it back to the north, I chuckled a bit at JEDI.

Thanks, Jeff, nice puzzle.

okanaganer 1:22 PM  

BRADLEY Cooper (a gimme, even if the number of letters looked wrong) and OXYGENATION nicely revealed the theme. As always, it's a bit jarring having the actual revealer in the middle, but not too much.

Canada's maple leaf is SYMBOLIC? It sure is, but I considered ABSTRACT first. One of the nicest designs ever made by a federal committee, I've always admired the proportions. Makes it possible to draw our flag in about 30 seconds without omitting any vertices. (It has about 13, compared to about 500 for the US flag... all those stars.)

I'll chip in to agree with Rex about the DC / Marvel character movies. In the 70s I was a rabid collector of the comics, but now I'm just so sick of them. Enough!!!!

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; my last word was a shortie.]

pabloinnh 1:52 PM  

Since no one has done so, I'll point out that BOORADLEY in the movie was played by Robert Duvall, which I think is interesting.

But maybe everyone knew that

July Roofer 1:55 PM  

Help. Why/how is the Maple Leaf any more or less SYMBOLIC than imprints on other flags? Aren't the stars and stripes symbolic for the United States (50 States, 13 of them original SYMBOLIZED by the colored bars)? Maybe I was out sick that day for Civics Class.

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

Staples (43 down)?

albatross shell 2:18 PM  

The themers are all 9 letter words (one being a first and last name). So you need a 9 letter answer that is still a word when you remove the OO. I notice nobody has suggested another themer. Because there are not very common. Add points. The one that is a name is also a name when the OO is removed. Add points. The best I found was ALOOFNESS with ALFNESS being only a fictional word but clueable because of ALF. Characteristic of fictional ET. More misdirection. Only good thing about it.

Rex's dream of finding answers like CANOODLES is like winning a 1000 lotteries in a row. Although I did enjoy his humor today. Nice write-up.Would it be better if CANOODLES were the final answer? Maybe. Subtract 1/4 point.
Just found:

So maybe some more, especially proper names.

albatross shell 2:20 PM  

See me@817am

Lee Gerston 2:28 PM  

The most impressive in the puzzle, for me anyways, is that there isn't a single O anywhere else in the puzzle except the themers. That's quite the constraint to work under

Joe Dipinto 2:32 PM  

@pablo— It was his film debut. Then he played a shellshocked vet who was out-of-it and couldn't or wouldn't speak, as I recall, in "Captain Newman, M.D." Apparently if you needed an actor with a glazed-over facial expression, he was your go-to guy for awhile.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Agreed. Unfunny. Her only purpose is de rigueur 3 letter filler

Dorkito Supremo 3:28 PM  

Is anyone else surprised to learn that TRIES is a synonym for ESSAYS (12D)? A quick search shows the second definition of "essay" as "attempt or try," so ok, sure, if you say so. The example given is "essay a smile." That just sounds bonkers to me.

Anonymous 3:31 PM  


Since the clue is "Like Canada's maple leaf", there's nothing there to imply that the maple leaf is in any way unique as a symbol. Would have been a Monday level clue to use, say "USA stars and stripes". Except, of course, that such is a plural. I wonder: how many national flags have just one glyph in them?

pabloinnh 3:34 PM  

@JoeD-Great stuff, as usual.

Again I have to say, it's a poor day when you can't learn something.



Anonymous 3:39 PM  

@Lee Gerston. Thanks for pointing out that Jeff had no other Os besides the themers in the grid. It made his work all the more admirable.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

Any idea my solved puzzle is still blue and not gold? Didn’t use any cheats/reveals…

Z 4:38 PM  

@Albatross Shell and others - Yeah, “ideation” means thinking about it. It’s an early risk factor, but lots of kids (and adults) never get beyond thinking about it. My SSW’s contention was we didn’t need to be planting any ideas and there are plenty of other plays without a “romantic” double suicide in them.

@JD - Yep, there is a whole whole lot that goes into curriculum decisions. Some of it appropriate to curriculum and pedagogy, too much of it too often about other stuff. I don’t object to teaching R&J in the 9th grade, but teachers need to be sensitive to how they present the play. FWIW, the other thing that Randy would bother me with was changing for PE class. A not insignificant number of kids would rather fail PE than change clothes in front of their peers. His suggestion was moving the required class from 9th grade to 10th grade, when kids would have one more year of emotional maturity and physical growth to help with their body image insecurity.

@Lee Gerston - πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½ - Good Catch.

@Dorkito Supremo - I feel like that meaning of “essay” was more common when I was younger. Also, the pronunciation is different, although the difference can be pretty subtle. M-W lists how I pronounce the “try” meaning but doesn’t give an audio clip of it. I tend to use the schwa. Nevertheless, remember this meaning because it does show up in xwords on occasion.

RooMonster 5:03 PM  

That's a good title for my autobiography!

Roo Badely Guy

Anonymous 5:16 PM  


Since I grew up in the M-W town, it's the Gospel. I've always heard it said as, nearly, 'assay'; like what you do to ores.

JD 5:18 PM  

@albatross shell and @Zed, I didn't comment on that issue. Or is there another JD? JoeD?

RooMonster 5:31 PM  

Alright everybody. I pointed out no other O's in my post at 9:23! Well, I said no other OO's, but I meant no other O's. 😁 I even called it a Chen-ism.

Ego needs a boost now and then... πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜‚


Dorkito Supremo 5:34 PM  

@Zed, thanks for that. The schwa pronounciation makes more sense to me. I wanted aSSAY there at first.

BTW, your gym class comment struck a chord with me. I was a nerdy child. Not in the modern sense of just being deeply interested in something (which often strikes me as a bit humble-braggy), but in the get-beat-up-and-stuffed-in-a-locker sense. In middle school I would routinely "forget" my gym clothes to avoid the humiliation of being picked last for team sports. When I briefly worked as a substitute teacher after college and was given a PE class one day, I assigned the teams myself. I could see the relief on a few faces!

Anonymous 5:36 PM  
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bookmark 5:53 PM  

@pabloinnh. And Robert Duvall's Role as Boo Radley was his acting debut.

albatross shell 5:57 PM  

I mostly agree with what you said to me and JD. I am a bit concerned with what you are saying may be extended to other things that could be upsetting or be depressing in some aspect to some student's lives.

You said " I don’t object to teaching R&J in the 9th grade, but teachers need to be sensitive to how they present the play." So I guess maybe we completely agree. R&J is is interesting for kids because it is about kids and the power of their lives and feelings. The most wonderful kid in the book tragically dies in a playful street fight which causes more senseless violence. It does not make suicide noble. It makes it the result of mistakes, accidents, and poor judgments made in ignorance. Moreover its lessons extends to parents, adults, and political and community leaders. It is at heart an anti-war story.

It may also prevent suicides because it provides a forum to discuss the subject without stigma and without revealing personal secrets.

okanaganer 6:40 PM  

@Dorkito Supremo and others... ESSAY (and also "assay") come mainly from the French verb essayer which mainly means to try.

English gets a LOT of words from French, though it's interesting that often their meaning has evolved in both languages. Eg travel, attend, assist are from travailler (means "work") attendre (means "wait"), and assister (which ironically with "a"--ie "assister a"--means "attend"). It can be confusing.

albatross shell 7:06 PM  

Sorry @JD
It was anon 1010am just below your 1006am comment. I apparently infected Zed somehow since my comment was first. I guess it is all my fault. Anon twisted Zed's comment concerning suicide and R&J as the most outrageous something or other of all time. I think Zed was a bit imprecise in his meaning. Anon was just outrageously silly, not sure it needed censoring but he has earned his short leash. Apologies to all..

But we all, Rex, Wordplay and boggers on both sites (save the two or one who spotted it) fail today for not noticing the lack of any O in the puzzle until late in the game. We all suffocate.

albatross shell 7:07 PM  

Sorry Roo. You the champ.

Z 7:43 PM  

@JD - How I mixed you up with @Beezer is a mystery.

@albatross shell - Yep on R&J (and most Shakespeare, really). People often forget the actual ending, the adults wracked with guilt because their feud has caused them to lose their children:
Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague!
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish'd.

Plus people also miss the whole point of Rosaline. Romeo begins the play swooning over a different girl altogether. He’s the popular BMOC who falls deeply in love with a girl he’s never spoken to! Billy Bard does his best to write a cautionary tale, but is that the popular image of what the play is about? Nope.

@Dorkito Supremo - Yep. And to some PE teachers you and kids like you were the problem. I had one guy who was just an absolute piece of work. Hated any kid who wasn’t an athlete and wanted me to punish kids for not dressing for gym (over and above failing them). And basically unfirable because nothing he did was actually against any rule. The rest of the PE staff was better so I just resorted to moving vulnerable kids away from his classes. The only bad thing in that was his being an ass resulted in him getting classes of mostly athletes. I hate rewarding assholery, but sometimes you do what you got to do.

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

I say OO = bollocks

albatross shell 8:58 PM  

Take it back ROO. No single O's in the entire puzzle except the revealer which has 2. That is the jaw dropper. But Chen really blew it:
XYGENATIN is not a word. Maybe should be in honor of this puzzle. Definitions anyone?
Or just Two age groups visit Midwestern state, for short?

Mike Herlihy 9:54 PM  

Way late to the party today but my first names were Cyndi/Cindy. Yeah, that didn't work out.

RooMonster 10:52 PM  

Thanks for the props! Only to take them away.

I meant, no other OO's! 🀣

(Although, the single O's are the Revealer....)

Z 11:42 PM  

@Albatross Shell 7:06 - I think Zed was a bit imprecise in his meaning. -I’m not sure where you think I was imprecise but because incidence of suicidal ideation would spike is about as precise as English gets. R&J is being taught, my SSW has more kids in his office thinking about suicide, SSW comes to me and says something like, “do we really need to be teaching R&J to 9th graders because I’m seeing kids not on my caseload (yet) and it’s not exactly as if my caseload is light.”

@Joe Dipinto 11:58 - At least surprise daughter #4 has a theme song.

Anonymous 11:57 PM  

Like flipping pages in a document stapled in the top left. Agree it’s a pretty awkward clue.

albatross shell 2:24 AM  

The confusion I was worried about was whether you were saying the ideation spike was reason enough to not teach R&J in high school. You cleaned up that in a following post. Ideation rate is a term I seldom use. I have no idea of the correlation of that rate with actual suicides and if that rate changes when depending if R&J is being taught. At that age I resented any official adult intrusion into my life or mind. Probably still feel that way. When the minister started rubbing my back, I skedaddled.

fm1234 12:20 AM  
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Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Right on! First laugh of the day.

spacecraft 11:07 AM  

Trouble with this one right out of the chute: to me DESI will always be Lucy's husband/son, period. As clued? No way. So once again the NW went abandoned.

I had much better luck in the NE. When confronted with two extra spaces for BRADLEY, I happened to notice: hey, if you stick two O's in there, you'd have BOORADLEY, from Mockingbird fame. How about that. And then--OMG, that actually worked! Going back over to the first long across, I saw CAN[OO]DLES, and the game was afoot. Didn't quite have the elemental TIEIN of the revealer yet, but that followed soon enough.

So, except for the HUH? of 1-across, easy for a Thursday, and marked by plenty of Chen-like humor. Just a bit of a snag in the SE while trying to figure out what BUROOGERS might be.

Kristen WIIG gets DOD; beautiful + funny = double thumbs up here. Always something to learn in a JC: today it was what FRUIT-eaters are called. Oh, and that DESI thingie. Birdie.

Birdie putt rimmed out when, strangely enough, I doubled the O! Par.

Burma Shave 11:15 AM  


FDR had his LIMITS,
A FLICKA CELIA's tongue did it,
"OH SAY there, how my DICTATE?"


thefogman 2:21 PM  

Cool puzzle. Bravo Jeff Chen.

rondo 2:46 PM  

I don't know, after the AHS and ERS and OWS and a TIEIN INA SLIDEIN I was less impressed, especially with Mr. Chen on the byline. I still miss Ron DIEGO.
Wordle birdie.

Diana, LIW 5:15 PM  

Wasn't there a guy on "Car 54 Where Are You?" who said, "OO OO OO" ?

That's what I heard.

Any Thursday w/o a rebus is great in my book.

Lady Di

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

Yes, it was Car 54

With Tootie and Muldoon, no less

- - Robert

rondo 11:25 PM  

Tooty did the OO OO OO

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