Pioneering text adventure game / WED 3-14-18 / Pertaining to rhythm of speech / Storytelling uncle of fiction / Indian born Big Bang Theory character

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: MARINARA (61A: Sauce made from ingredients mixed up in 16-, 24-, 37- and 49-Across) — themers have ONION, TOMATO, GARLIC, and HERBS mixed up inside them, respectively:

Theme answers:
  • ZERO IN ON (16A: Take dead aim at)
  • HOT OATMEAL (24A: Breakfast order often containing cinnamon)
  • ARTIFICIAL GRASS (37A: Indoor stadium surface)
  • BARBER SHOP (49A: A cappella genre)
Word of the Day: STACY Keach (55D: Keach of TV's "Man With a Plan") —
Walter Stacy Keach Jr. (born June 2, 1941) is an American actor of stagefilm, and television. Highly prolific, he has played mainly dramatic roles throughout his career, often in law enforcement or as a private detective. His most prominent role was as Mickey Spillane's fictional detective Mike Hammer, which he played in numerous stand-alone television films and at least three different television series throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The role earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination in 1984.
He has also performed as a narrator for programs including CNBC'S American Greed(2008–) and various educational television programs. Comedic roles include his role in the Fox sitcom Titus (2000–2002) as Ken, the father of comedian Christopher Titus, and as Sergeant Stedenko in Cheech & Chong's films Up in Smoke (1978) and Nice Dreams(1981). His most recent recurring roles include two seasons as the Warden, Henry Pope, in the series Prison Break (2005–2007), "Pops", the father of the main character from the boxing drama Lights Out (2011), the elderly father Bob on the sitcom Crowded (2016) and the father of Matt LeBlanc's protagonist Adam on Man With A Plan (2015–). Keach won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for the television miniseries Hemingway (1988). (wikipedia)
• • •

Who. Is Eating. Cold Oatmeal!?!?! Try to order HOT OATMEAL next time you're at the diner. See what kind of look you get. Words-buried-inside-themers puzzles are pretty common, but they can work if done right. This one has a twist in that the words are "mixed up" inside the themers, but I think there's some confusion masquerading as wordplay. The revealer says the "ingredients" are "mixed up," which of course means "mixed together" in the case of MARINARA, but in the individual answers, of course, they aren't mixed up (with each other) at all. They're ... minced, I guess ... which, you also have to do to prepare the sauce, but still, there's a confusion of the senses of "mixed" there. "Herbs" is a little too non-specific for me, recipe-wise. Make the recipe come off as vague and generic. Biggest issue for me, theme-wise, though, was the ridiculous HOT before OATMEAL, and then ARTIFICIAL GRASS, when the much much much (etc.) more common term is ARTIFICIAL TURF.

[BARBERSHOP ... also, Dame EDNA and MOE and APU]

The non-theme stuff is actually much stronger than the theme stuff today. Unlike yesterday's all-short-answer, boring-as-heck grid, this grid has scads of long Downs streaming through it, giving it the life and color it desperately needs. PROSODIC is a weird word (6D: Pertaining to the rhythm of speech), and one that took me longer than most of the others to get. But I like it. (Here's a def. of "prosody," in case you're interested) MAKES BANK is the real winner of the day. I had M-K and my first thought was MAKES BANK, but then I thought "Nah, too slangy for this crowd" (34D: Rakes in the dough). But then bang, there it is! Ironic to have it touching MCHAMMER, who made a ton of bank and then famously went bankRupt. I'm really disappointed that this puzzle thought ZORK (?) (13A: Pioneering text adventure game) was important enough to add a *%#&ing submachine gun to the puzzle. It would be so, so easy Not to have a human-killing weapon in this puzzle. So easy. A matter of a couple squares. Here's a picture of 7000* pairs of empty shoes in front of the US Capitol yesterday: one pair for every child killed by guns since Sandy Hook. Have a nice day.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*I love that snopes fact-checked this number and called it only "Mostly True" because, well, actually, the number is probably a little higher

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

113 comments:

Lewis 6:38 AM  

Lotso' random reactions to this enjoyable offering:
* Loved the seldom seen ROBOTO and the debuts ZORK and PROSODIC.
* The puzzle evoked the image and glorious aroma of a great marinara -- yum!
* Shout out to March Madness with IBET (American Gaming Assn. says, i.e., 9 billion was bet in 2014).
* Shout out with TIE to last night's Pennsylvania special election.
* HOT OATMEAL shouted "redundant!" out to me as it did to Rex.
* PERSE is a DOOK.
* The cluing is straightforward; a few zippy clues would have added pizazz.
* I had "kink" before KNOT. Does KNOT mean "kink" with regard to garden hoses? Does anyone get knots in their hoses?
* I had LENTL before YENTL!
* When I was a kid I had a fantasy of one day being the leader of a world famous kazoo ensemble! (Remember childhood?)

So today's MARINARA puzzle brought delicious food for thought -- thanks, Jeff!

Hungry Mother 6:44 AM  

Way fast for me today. I was lucky in the way I switched from acrosses to downs.

abalani500 6:49 AM  

Record Wednesday time for me by a long shot. What’s wrong with HOT OATMEAL as an answer? Plenty of people eat it cold with milk where I come from (soaked in milk and fruit and refrigerated overnight...its delicious!) and ARTIFICAL GRASS is perfectly acceptable. Biggest problem with this puzzle was that is was Monday easy...absolutely nothing GOT ME. Still enjoyable with a lot of nice long downs, but here’s hoping tomorrow has a bit more WHAM.

Glimmerglass 6:49 AM  

Needed every cross for PROSODIC, and I was an English teacher, essayist, and poet. Thanks for the wiki link.

John Child 6:58 AM  

ZORK x PROSODIC was a guess. Otherwise the easiest puzzle of the week so far. Could have done without JOHN I. Otherwise, domo arigoto Mr. ROBOTO.

BarbieBarbie 7:12 AM  

Oatmeal is already oatmeal before you put it in cookies, boil it up for cereal, add it to yogurt, or muffins, whatever. HOTOATMEAL is what you eat for breakfast after you cook up the oatmeal so that it releases the starch. We call that cereal prep method “making hot cereal.” That particular hot cereal is HOTOATMEAL. Oatmeal does not have to become HOTOATMEAL. Check your Muesli.

Aketi 7:13 AM  
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Kodak Jenkins 7:14 AM  

Some of the clues might say Wednesday but the timer says Monday easy.

I spent hundreds of hours on the Commodore 64 untangling all the KNOTs in ZORK. Well, not all the knots. I was eaten by a grue many, many times.

"KINK" is more common than KNOT for a garden hose but yes, both occur.

This puzzle is a little clunky, for sure. HOTOATMEAL and ARTIFICALGRASS clunk. The theme hit me with a mild clunk, as well. Maybe marinara would be better in an evening puzzle rather than with my morning coffee.

Aketi 7:14 AM  

Blogger Aketi said...
Hahaha, @Rex and @Lewis you don’t seem to have kept up with the overnight OATs trend that @abalani500 has embraced.

Leave it to the foodies to take what used to be considered inedible glop (leftover oats that had grown cold) and jazz it up with trendy ingredients (hemp seeds, chia seeds, tumeric, maple syrup, and coconut milk) and put it into mason jars with yoghurt fruit and nuts on top.

Most of the time I’m too last to prepare OATmeal, but when I do, I make the overnight kind because it’s less work

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Had the whole puzzle filled in but one square, then sat and stared at that MAKE BA_K/_SC cross for at least a minute before guessing – and that’s all it was – an N. When you have an initialism, you gotta cross it with something better than that.

Putting that aside, what a terrible puzzle. Letters in circles is bad enough, but scrambled letters in circles? Ugh.

R.C.A. C.S.I.N.Y. R.B.I. N.S.C. I.S.P. T.S.A. N.O.W. S.S.N., plus JOHN I and TSP and OK FINE.

And the marquee entry, ARTIFICIAL GRASS, is flat out green paint. All this not from some young constructor felling her way out, but from Jeff freakin’ Chen, knows better. I have not read Rex yet, but I hope he was appropriately brutal.

Only fun moment: early on, had MON CoEur (confirmed by five crosses) and PROSaDIC (memory lapse) which gave me OAT OAT MEAL for 24A.

George 7:21 AM  

I saw HOTOATMEAL and instantly thought, I am the *only* person in the world who loves cold oatmeal. Yep, I really do. I make it all nice and thick, with raisins and cinnamon or sometimes ginger, then I put it in the refrigerator and later eat it cold. I know it's weird, but sometime we have to embrace our quirkiness.

Irene 7:28 AM  

I thought the theme referred to Wednesday, traditionally food day. This is a remnant of the day when newspapers ran supermarket ads, way back when there were print newspapers and supermarket ads.

Hohm_Girl 7:32 AM  

Can I just say I love the comments and love this community and the hearty (no pun intended) debate over oatmeal (as I eat my cold oatmeal that, to be fair, I've always referred to as overnight oats - maybe we'll see that in a future puzzle).

Ken R 7:34 AM  

I'm not a speed solver BUT this puzzle flew by with zero resistance. Like others, needed all of the crosses for Prosodic and I have never heard of Zork till today. Love Rex's repugnance at it though. Wish I had a list of the last 10 movies he paid to see or recent video games he might have played (time permitting as he is a very busy scholar).

JOHN X 7:37 AM  

This puzzle was easy. I don't know why those circled letters were even there, though. They didn't do anything, and they weren't solvable because they were scrambled. Lose the circles and the puzzle remains exactly the same.

JOHNI is an awesome answer. All the real kickass popes and kings are named JOHN. Plus that was about the most gimme clue for a random pope as you can get.

Birchbark 7:44 AM  

"Too %^&@ BARBERSHOP" -- From Spinal Tap, where they're reverently trying to sing "Heartbreak Hotel" at Elvis's grave but can't find the harmony.

Leave it to the Icelanders to put an A in KRONA.

BIRCH TREE GOT ME.

mathgent 7:52 AM  

I absolutely loved it. It wasn't very crunchy, but I found myself unscrambling the MARINARA ingredients. Jeff Chen's sparkly personality shines through all his creations. He even came up with some unusual clues for the Terrible Threes.

I follow gambling but have not heard MAKESBANK before. Does it come from a particular form of gambling?

I used to make MARINARA and have chopped many an OINON and have peeled many a clove of CIALGR, but our neighborhood butcher/deli now makes an excellent one.

We're back from our five days in LA. We had a great time which was only partially soured by the TSA people at LAX. They roughed me up because I didn't tell them I have an artificial hip before going through the metal detector. The other airports I've been in want me to get beeped first before being taken to the scanner.

@Gill I., @Larry Gilstrap, @Ellen S.: Thank you for your suggestions on where to visit in LA. Very kind of you.

chefbea 7:58 AM  

Finally a food based puzzle....Love marinara sauce, make it all the time. Love hot oatmeal as well...always put butter on it until it melts and then sugar and cinnamon!!!

QuasiMojo 8:21 AM  

Well, Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day where I come from.

DON'T go online to look up the origins of Marinara Sauce. There is a raging debate about whether it should contain seafood or not. I know I had that experience once in Italy when I ordered it and got a WHOPPING big bowl of spaghetti with clams and mussels and long spindly things that seemed to be moving. But common lore insists it has NO seafood and never did as "marinara" just refers to the mariners who liked it since they could make it easily while out on a boat. Like I said, don't waste your time as I did looking it up. It will make you pretty hungry too.

Forgive me but I was SMH today, wondering who this Irish rap star McHammer was! I guess I had my head up in the McClouds.

Some good stuff in here, however. INK BLOTS was fun. ARGONAUT. LEOPARDS (although that pluralizing S was weird, giving us TSP which is not much of a pay-off.) As a former a capella singer, I enjoyed seeing BARBERSHOP.

I was surprised to learn that Iceland does not use the Euro. Good for them! I visited that country a few times when I was in college. I sat next to Benny Goodman once on the flight back. He loved going there for the fly-fishing. Charming and sweet man.

Roo Monster 8:35 AM  

Hey All !
ZORK either before or after my Nintendo/Atari/Coleco years. Zounds. Agree with Rex to change that. 4D-AMI, 4A-AMP, 13A-MORK. Boom. UZI/ZORK are OUTIEs.

So, just jumbled MARINARA ingredients? Why, I wondered. GOT ME. OK FINE, but seems kinda ho-HUMS. Although puz was a bit easy, I did have some writeovers, ref-UMP, Nra-NOW, cate-KRIS, Kink-KNOT, beer-SUDS.

Heard of MAKES BANK, and STACY Keach as Mike Hammer (not MC HAMMER). ARTIFICIAL GRASS is the term we use here in Las Vegas, we leave the Turf for the sports teams. Also know AEROSMITH (well, not personally, their music) and think Pump was their best album. At least 90's on. I BET some disagree. And who remembers WHAM? Bubble gum pop music. But, they were IDOLs. AINT it grand.

INK BLOTS ODOR
RooMonster
DarrinV

Two Ponies 8:39 AM  

Way too many TV answers dumbs down any puzzle.

What makes a cardigan special is the open front. All sweaters are knit so why cardigan? Is that supposed to make the clue trickier?

You know a puzzle is boring when the main discussion is oatmeal!

Z 8:47 AM  

I cannot believe you defenders of HOT OATMEAL. Just because hung over people eat cold pizza doesn’t mean “hot pizza” is a thing. Conversation that never happened at your local breakfast shoppe; “I’d like some oatmeal.” “Would you like that hot?” Weak Weak Weak.

And while I’m at it, which century are we living in? ARTIFICIAL GRASS is so 1970. These days the not grass of choice is “field turf,” old tires that have been pelletized and then covered with some sort of green tinsel. It seems every high school in America has a football field made of field turf now. Don’t believe? go to google maps, click on satellite view, and then pick some random town. Look for an unnatural oval of green. There’s your tax dollars at work. Sign you might be crotchety - Thinking ARTIFICIAL GRASS is still a thing.

MARINARA, the pilsner of sauces. While it is possible to make it well, the vast majority of what we’re exposed to is a bland, overly sweetened variety that only barely qualifies as food. Sort of sums up my feelings on this puzzle. Want to push me over the edge on not liking your puzzle? Add I to John and make him a RRN Pope. Bah. Humbug. Heck, this puzzle is so fresh it made me realize that Steven Tyler’s movie star daughter is 40.

Two Ponies 8:51 AM  

Stephen Hawking has died. It also is Pi Day and Einstein's birthday.
Have a slice of pie and toast them both.

Jyqm 9:00 AM  
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Jyqm 9:04 AM  

@mathgent - No gambling necessary. Anyone with a high-paying job is “making bank.” “Black Panther” has a made a ton of bank since its premiere. Martin Shkreli was making bank, now he’ll be making license plates.

Mohair Sam 9:06 AM  

No Chianti in his MARINA? If Jeff Chen invites you to his place for a nice Italian dinner tell him you're busy.

GILL I. 9:18 AM  

Well.....I'll start out by saying that @Jeff always constructs elegant puzzles. He has an eye to detail and an eye to symmetry. The puzzle is all nice in order what with the first two themes being 3 words and the last two themes are 2 words. So, there's that.
Moving on:
Thank you @ketshef for taking the time to type in all the initials in this puzzle. Saved me time. Major MEH. And, you're right---Jeff, of all people, should have known this was not a pretty sight. Nor were the plethora of proper names. But.....we get to discuss the very interesting topic of OATMEAL. Oh wait...You can anagram ASPS to SPAS and look at that....It's right next to SAUNA! Cool.
Speaking of OATMEAL.I would always SAY AH to my little son hoping he'd open his mouth wide and eat that slimy stuff. He loved it - HOT or cold. He was not a CRETIN.
I've never met anybody with an OUTIE although I think MC HAMMER has one. Thank you for taking the time to clue SSN and for reminding me of Streisand in YENTL. She plays a good cross-dresser and we got to see her without that weird eyeliner she wore a la Cleopatra.
I'm going to check on the WSJ to see if I can get some morning jollies.

Sir Hillary 9:22 AM  

Pretty boring and way below what I've come to expect from Jeff Chen. "Herbs" is annoyingly non-specific. I would have preferred something like DISABILITY -- then at least we could debate whether or not that's the right herb for a MARINARA sauce.

Wm. C. 9:25 AM  


I HATED this puzzle!

PROSODIC? ... Never on ANY day, let alone mid-week. I consider myself well-read and -informed, but never heard of the word.

"Mixed-up" ingredients in the themeers ..., decodeable, for the most part, only after the themers are filled, so useless in the solve.

As @Rex says, some good fill, but there could never be enough to offset the above.

Speaking of OFL (Our Favorite Lefty), not surprised that he complains about UZI. Never mind that it was invented as a simple, reliable weapon to defend Israelis from attack.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I doubt any of those children were shot by UZIs. If you’re this easily triggered, Rex, why do you teach about comic books and pulp fiction? Plenty of guns in both.

Black Sun 9:35 AM  

Hiding behind dead children is a cowardly cheap way to try to make a point. If you say anything at all you are suddenly in favor of killing kids.

Charles Flaster 9:43 AM  

Easy theme. Food, in general evokes all sorts of pedantic comments as commentariat has already shown.
How about OR SO and ORSON Bean
again — twice recently so he now becomes part of my CROSSWORDease.
Thanks JC

puzzlehoarder 9:48 AM  

Monday easy. This had a nice pair of debuts in the north. They were rendered harmless by the early week material around them. The KINK/KNOT issue was the only slight slow down. ORSON knocked KINK out but I didn't come up with KNOT until I came back around and changed NSA to TSA. I think the clue refers to the X-Ray Spec technology they use to see through people's clothes.

GILL I. 9:51 AM  

@Mohair....You are absolutely right. Jeff should have had PROSODIC TAHINI in there. Problem solved and we could be talking about some good vintage.

'merican back in Paris 10:02 AM  

Greetings, MON CHERI et SES amis! I've been meaning to post for the past week, but have been travelling (just returned yesterday from a long weekend in beautiful Copenhagen, meeting up with our son and his girlfriend), or finished too late in the day to bother.

Agree with the easy rating, and liked the fill. But the crossing of ZORK with PROSODIC contributed to my not finishing. Guessed at the R, but still did not get the happy pencil. Looked and looked, and finally gave up. Turned out I had CREDe (a misspelling of CREed) for 2D, which gave me ReSS. But since I did not know that name, and I am a bad speller, it didn't look wrong.

As for whether anybody ever eats anything but HOT OATMEAL, of course they do, or at least they do outside the United States. It's called muesli or musli, and is always served cold.

So, ASPS slithers into yet another puzzle! The three-letter answers seemed to come from central casting: ARE, KEN, KEY, NSC, SSN, TSA, TSP, UMP, USE. But at least the majority of them ARE real words.

Fave answer: REMUS.

The theme answers didn't do much for me, but I did at least enter ARTIFICIAL GRASS with no downs crossing it. That helped a lot!

I'm not a ROBOTO. (ARE ZORKs SECURE?)

Stephen Minehart 10:03 AM  

Played really easy for me, faster than the previous two days and just off my fastest time ever. In retrospect, it may be because like a lot of Gen-Xers, I knew Aerosmith, MC Hammer, and Zork stone cold, and after plopping those down with Argonauts it was just a matter of filling in the stragglers. The theme was OK, but incidental to the solving process.

Deke 10:07 AM  

I would have liked to have seen more answers in this puzzle about rockets. You know, words like ENGINE and NOZZLE and OXIDIZER, that sort of thing. But also guidance system words too, and the various payloads. I guess the spaghetti stuff today was okay but rockets would have been better.

'merican back in Paris 10:11 AM  

@Anonymous 10:03 AM -- What an asinine comment. First, shoes don't get murdered: people do. And how could anybody make such a claim. Did somebody look into the private voting records of the shooters?

Sorry: off topic as much as the original comment. Note to moderators: feel free to delete this (and the comment I commented on).

Roo Monster 10:17 AM  

And wanted to say, Happy Pi Day! 3.14. I remember three years ago, when it was a real big deal because of the year, 2015. 3.14.15. Plus, the exact time of 9:27 that day, kinda like NYE. Three..Two..One.. Pi!

Too much enthusiasm/information? Yeah, thought so. :-)

RJ 10:27 AM  

Happy Pi Day! For the foodies out there, why don't I like pie? I haven't liked a pie since my Aunt Rose died. She made her apple pies from scratch and its the only crust I've ever liked. Not a fan of any sort of crust (or phyllo?) and fillings are usually way too sweet.

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.” RIP Stephen Hawking

The puzzle? It was really quick and easy for a Wednesday even though I had to get PROSODIC thru crosses. Didn't even think about the theme and never knew so many people enjoyed cold oatmeal. I'm definitely more in the Chinese/Thai/Indian corner for food than Italian and buy MARINARA in a jar (usually Raos) which I'm sure is some kind of sin.


Chris 10:34 AM  

Smashed my record time for a Wednesday, felt more like a Monday to me. PROSODIC would have tripped me up had the crosses not fallen so easily.

Happy Pi Day!

BobL 10:36 AM  

Artificial turf = football

Artificial grass = baseball

Nancy 10:38 AM  

Perhaps the only time @mathgent and I have been at such opposite ends of the pleasure spectrum. I'm with @kitshef: the only thing worse than annoying tiny little circles are annoying tiny little circles with mixed up letters in them. Ugh, I say. Double Ugh. Then you add the dull, unimaginative cluing, the mindlessness of the solve, and all the ephemeral pop trivia that will be forgotten by the time you brush your teeth tomorrow morning. I can't believe this puzzle is by the well-regarded Jeff Chen; I think it's a strong candidate for WPOY (Worst Puzzle of the Year).

They "roughed you up" at the LAX airport, @mathgent????? I'm going to head out to LAX and rough them up! See how they like it! The very idea!

Hungry Mother 10:46 AM  

I take my oatmeal hot every morning, but I used to nuke steel-cut oats and water in the evening and leave it in the microwave overnight to soften it; I figured that if I didn’t open the microwave door, all of the bad bugs would be zapped and harmless. I’d heat the oats in the morning. Just a note: Pi isn’t 3.14... . Pi is the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of any circle, which is 3.14... when expressed as a base 10 non-repeating, infinite decimal (redundant, I guess). Regardless, I power hiked 3.14 miles this morning to celebrate.

Suzie Q 10:50 AM  

Knots in garden hoses and necklaces both seem impossible when you try to untangle them. How DID they get that way?!
Try cooking your oatmeal in milk, not water, for creamy yumminess.
@ Roo, I remember Pi Day in 2015. Very cool. Rao's marinara is good but $9 for a jar of tomato sauce is more than I can handle.
If you never ventured outside of crossworld you would think Hesse and Essen were the only cities in Germany.
This was sorta bland today but tomorrow had better be fun or I'm filing for divorce from Will.

jberg 10:57 AM  

I found it a tad harder than most who have commented so far, mainly because I knew very few of the proper names, and because of the ambiguously clued colloquialisms. I did manage to dredge up MC HAMMER, and liked the puzzle a lot more after reading that STASY Keach had played Mike Hammer on TV (thanks, @Roo Monster). And you can WHAM things with a hammer, so it was a nice cryptotheme.

But I couldn't really enjoy it because the idea of putting cinnamon on HOT OATMEAL repulsed me. Apparently many of you do it, but I just can't get my mind around it.

MON CHERI was a nice touch. I had to overcome my initial sexist reaction of "no, it's ma cherie!" to realize that the words did not have to be said by a straight male, so thanks for that.

It seems to me that AstroTurf is a brand of ARTIFICAL GRASS, perfectly acceptable generic. OTOH, 'first' i the clue and I in the answer seems wrong.

All in all, a decent puzzle.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:05 AM  

An average puzzle. Felt a bit too claustrophobic/proper-noun-heavy at times, and at a couple of points I said to myself "this is never gonna end is it?" That being said, it was one of my fastest Wednesdays, yet definitely didn't feel like it.

The fill had great bonus stuff. Mr. ROBOTO, AEROSMITH, MCHAMMER all in the same puzzle? Great shot of nostalgia straight to the vein. (Also, ZORK!) But at times it felt like too much, as I have mentioned before. Very high percentage of short words (although not as ridiculous as yesterday's was). Still, it was relatively smooth, but a few people unfamiliar with the proper nouns will rightfully complain about this.

A Wednesday-appropriate word play is fine by me. The theme actually helped me figure out H_____MEAL, so it wasn't just a meaningless gimmick. But nothing too sparkly.

Most problematic spot: SE corner. Took me a while to remember STACY and thus figure out NSC.

GRADE: B-, 3.25 stars.

Mohair Sam 11:12 AM  

re: STACY Keach - Many here note his past as Mike Hammer. For over a decade Keach has narrated "American Greed" on CNBC. True stories of various (mostly American) hustlers. Amazing what these crooks will think of, sometimes equally amazing are the people who fall for their crap. Fascinating show.

Kath320 11:24 AM  

My garden hoses have had KINKs and LEAKs, but never KNOTs.

Biff Gnarly 11:29 AM  

So if it can kill humans it is now taboo for the puzzle? Seems like an awful lot of things, including other words in this grid, that rules out. Gun nuts clearly go off the deep end in their direction, but the idea that a common crossword puzzle word is somehow an endorsement of guns (or taking it further an endorsement of killing children) is equally far off the other end. ZORK is an awesome word and retro term to get in the puzzle. I thought Rex liked 80s callbacks. Looking forward to Ready Player One and all its 80s call backs, including big ones to ZORK.

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

I've got mixed GLEEFINS about this puppy. Theme is sorta different, yet also reminiscent of several "mixed" puzthemes of yore. [Example: 21 Feb 2008 NYTPuz]. Thought @RP would sway more heavily toward thUmbsdown … it has The Circles, afterall. He did jump all over HOTOATMEAL's ass, tho.

And it do beg a neat philosophical question: When U mix stuff into a MARINARA sauce, do the ingredients actually morph chemically into some altered state … becomin OINON-like? BERSH-league thinkin? Yeah … kinda thought so.

HOTOATMEAL with TOMATO's been well-covered, sooo …
More about OINON, in particular:

* OINON looks eerily like ONION. This makes it look like someone just misspelled it, and then said … oooh …. that'd be a cool theme idea for the circled ingredients …!
* Very kindly, that the first circled themer entry looks so much like ONION … helps the solver catch on to the theme mcguffin right away. CIALGR right outta the gate woulda been a bit more sadistic.
* In fact, OINON is so MOOED-cow eazy-E to pick up on … Maybe they didn't need to have them circles, at all. Just leave em off. Or maybe just circle the first letter, or somesuch; that'd be primo vera *different*.

Great fillins, altho M&A lost precious nanoseconds taste-testin, in the PROSODIC/ZORK zone.

staff weeject pick: SES. This desperate lil darlin gets used a lot in crosswords. Gee … Wonder why? har. Does not have Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, however. Better SES clue: {Part of the Attorney General's name that he can re-call??}.

Thanx, Mr. Chenmeister.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


**gruntz**

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@ Wm C - prosodic is a word a real word used by real people get over yourself uzis are guns real guns used by israelis to kill people get over yourself

Anonymous 12:02 PM  
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Kimberly 12:07 PM  

At first I thought the theme might be “mixed vegetables,” which would have made more sense. As it is, we end up with more of a deconstructed MARINARA, since each ingredient is only mixed with itself. I stared at HOT OATMEAL for several seconds, assuming it had to be wrong and I’d made a mistake elsewhere. OATMEAL is HOT cereal. Baffling.

And yeah, today was a bad day to glorify a gun, but I constantly remind myself that in a crossword, they’re just words. We can’t decide that some words are bad. Language is what it is. Although sometimes they’re in bad taste.

PS - disappointed that Rex never acknowledged his oversights in reviewing yesterday’s puzzle. Does he still not know what he missed? Sad.

Banana Diaquiri 12:22 PM  

talk about clueless. today's the "anniversary" of Parkland and a day of student protest nationwide. so: what's the lead time that is irreversible? Shortz et al had to know what today represents. clueless.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

We had "bring your gun to work" day. About 30 people in our firm showed up with firearms. A dramatic reminder that just because we live in a blue state, we are not going to tolerate being disarmed by leftists. Kind of shocked some folks at the firm to discover that most of us proudly wear the constitution on our persons. Even here in Natick.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Were it not for “human-killing weapon”[s], Michael would not have the right to express his opinions freely. Neither would we. Our parents lied to us—monsters really do exist in the world.

Jeremy Smith

Hartley70 12:28 PM  

I have become a recent convert to the Tao of HOTOATMEAL this winter. I learned to love it this late in life by adding all sorts of good things to give me something to sink my teeth into. This morning it was a heaping teaspoon of peanut butter and a handful of chopped walnuts. Yesterday it was raisins and coconut. I tried the overnight cold version last winter but it was too soupy for my taste to go there again.

The MARINARA ingredients theme was a cute one, but after seeing yesterday's theme density, I wanted every ingredient in his recipe included. That way the puzzle might have been useful at dinner time. A bit of Sugar? Wine? Olive oil?

PROSODIC and ZORK were new to me. ORSON as a game show regular makes me wonder if I've time traveled.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Poor, poor "Rex" - so upset by a "human-killing weapon" in the puzzle, when I cannot recall him ever objecting to A-TEST or N-TEST: nuclear weapons are apparently ok, whereas a weapon any soldier, policeman, or security guard might carry are not. Huh.

Masked and Anonymous 12:31 PM  

p.s.
@RP: A one-letter change coulda got rid of yer crossword gun violence plaint: UPI/PORK. Gotta save that "damned U", am I right?

That blogpic taken outside our capitol building sure grabs yer attention and makes me real sad. Maybe if we take away all capitol security, and tell the congress folks they have to arm themselves … ? Heck, what could go wrong, there? I just dunno. Glad the school kids are tryin to shame em into doin something more significant.

M&Also

Winnie 12:38 PM  

Two things: aside from zork crossing prosodic I had an easy time with this puzzle. If you New Englanders want a really delicious jarred marinara sauce, check out Ooma Tesoro’s, it is made by my children. Has a bright green label and is at specialty stores, Wegman’s, Big Y and Whole Foods. Second, I make oatmeal in bulk, put it in the fridge, serve it hot for several days without having to cook. Ergo hot oatmeal. Digging out after third nor’easter, these are most helpful.

Banana Diaquiri 12:50 PM  

@Hartley70:
the Tao of HOTOATMEAL

which is: scrapes out one's digestive tract just like a Roto Rooter. tasty way to avoid an avoidable cancer.

Scrooge's Ghost 12:50 PM  

Sorry, but it is just hard to take yet another puzzle with circles. For the second straight time, I filled in those very easy clues, then looked through the other clues to find the "Revealer." How much more easy could this be? Bah!

TomAz 12:53 PM  

I ignored the scrambled letters and still got the theme no prob, in Tuesday time no less.

Cold oatmeal sounds like something a person would eat if they had the munchies. An artificial high from ARTIFICIAL GRASS?

Never heard of ZORK.

This was fine, if a little boring.

Cory Calhoun 12:54 PM  

I'm with Rex on not being a fan of UZI. In puzzles I construct, if I'm stuck and it's easier to keep it, I know just put something like "Rapper Lil _____ Vert." :)

Airymom 1:03 PM  

My son is in graduate school and studying in Jerusalem this semester. Before he left in January, many friends asked if I was afraid of him living in Israel for four and a half months. "No, because 1) Baltimore is 10 times more dangerous and 2) there are extremely well-trained IDF soldiers with Uzis throughout the city, in case of a terrorist attack.

Uzis are used by soldiers, not civilians. Home/school/office mass shootings are unheard of. The strict gun control laws in Israel are the reason.

chefwen 1:12 PM  

Can’t stomach oatmeal hot, cold, lukewarm or anything akin to it, Cream of wheat etc. it’s a textural thing with me. UGH, dear old dad would make me eat every, last spoonful. I would load the spoon with mostly sugar and I still had trouble swallowing the stuff.

Didn’t know PROSODIC and I thought ZOnK sounded like it would make a reasonable adventure game. Knew that PN looked a little shady but I left it in anyhoo.

Bring on Thursday.

Teedmn 1:19 PM  

Three days, three easy puzzles. I had a moment of ZORKy hesitation but it all came together like a glob of overcooked HOTOATMEAL.

Obviously, I've been doing too many puzzles - my hand and brain reflexively entered Uncle REbUS before I shook my self back into gear. And looking at INKB at 38D before reading the clue had me thinking it was IN KBLOoey. And OK FINE, I'll admit to the JOHNs to JOHNI re-write when I finally noticed the word "first" in 41A's clue. And I was scratching my head over the MCHA___ dook (surely there's no rapper named MCHAle said this dookee). WHAM, when that answer hit.

So under my normal Wednesday time yet still inspiring all sorts of synapses to fire so I deem it satisfying.

Two Ponies 1:27 PM  

Let's reduce drunk driving by taking cars away from sober drivers.

Banana Diaquiri 1:33 PM  

@anon/12:20
" I cannot recall him ever objecting to A-TEST or N-TEST"

last time I checked, neither kills folks on purpose.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

Not sure why it’s cause for celebration that left-leaning Snopes found that there were more children killed by guns than the 7,000 pairs of shoes indicated. It seems like discovering that the number is actually LESS than that would have been more joyful news.

Banana Diaquiri 1:41 PM  

@anon/12:24
"most of us proudly wear the constitution on our persons"

consider that the 2nd was created when citizens and soldiers (who were, largely, the same folks) had the same weapon: a smooth bore flintlock. and most of the country was... open country. that was 1791. would you rather everything else in 2018 be regraded to then??? slaves. only landed white men can vote. duels at dawn. and so on.

if you really believed the 2nd should level the weaponry playing field between citizen and soldier, then you'd demand your own Jolly Green Giant in your driveway. that'll keep the Blue State from stealing your rights. :)

Joe Bleaux 1:45 PM  

To get a KNOT in a garden hose, wouldn't you have to tie it yourself (and wouldn't that be kinky)? When OATs are not "steel cut," how *are* they cut? Is there a regular Pie Day, or just Pi Day? Bonus question: Who were the other guys on Stacy KEACH's team in "That Championship Season" (one point per player)?

Z 1:52 PM  

@Black Sun is correct, if you oppose gun control you are fine with the mass murder of children. Engaging in conversation with anyone who is okay with the mass murder of children, making suicide easier, making victims of domestic abuse less safe, is a waste of time. Even pointing out to them the obvious stupidity of their arguments (like the ones presented here today) becomes nothing more than endless “what aboutism.” My advice is to save your breath, never vote for a candidate who has ever accepted so much as a penny from the NRA, and focus on the puzzle here.

thfenn 1:54 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Like others had LEAK and KINK before KNOT, and wouldn't let go of either for way to long. Also tend to think REFs are blind, not UMPs, so that held me up a bit. And got held up in the SE holding MAKESATON for long time.

Completely agree HOTOATMEAL is not redundant, though I like maple syrup or brown sugar on mine. MONCHERI as 'my darling' kind of depends on who's talking, no? so I thought the clue could'be been a little more specific. The theme was fun, but absolutely no use in terms of helping me solve. Still, a nice prompt to make some spaghetti and marinara sauce tonight.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:56 PM  

"Two Ponies said...
Let's reduce drunk driving by taking cars away from sober drivers."

You realize that a comprehensive background check is a step towards taking cars away from drunk drivers, or trying to make sure that those who drive are more likely to be sober, right?

You realize that people have to take a written test AND a practical test just to be able to drive a car, right?

I don't engage with people who are clearly trolling here, but I don't think you are that. Or maybe you are. If so, good for you. If not, wow.

JC66 2:03 PM  

@Two Ponies

You said "Let's reduce drunk driving by taking cars away from sober drivers."

Sensible regulation makes a difference. For example:

Since the legal drinking age was raised to 21 throughout the US, traffic deaths due to DUI decreased over 16%.

Also:

l Establishing 21 as the minimum legal drinking age has:
– saved 1,000 lives per year; specifically, more than 800 lives among youth under 21 each year; 14, 15
– led to decreases in the number of teen DWI arrests, marijuana use, vandalism, crime, and alcohol consumption among youth; 16, 17
– reduced the likelihood that students will binge drink at colleges where the 21 MLDA laws were strongly enforced; 18
– decreased traffic crashes, traffic fatalities, suicide, and consumption by those under age 21; 19
– reduced alcohol-related traffic deaths by 59% among youth ages 15-20 in 2000; 20
– decreased the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths among 16-20 year-olds from 5,244 in 1982 to 2,115 in 2004;21
– prevented up to 600 suicides and 600 homicides of women annually; 22 and
– decreased instances of low-birth weight and binge drinking among African-American women.23

https://alcoholjustice.org/images/factsheets/MLDA2014.pdf

JC66 2:05 PM  

@Semi

I was still typing as you were posting.

mathgent 2:17 PM  

As @Hungry Mother (10:46) said, 3.14... is not pi. It is the base ten representation of pi.

When computers take over our world and change our numeration system to base two, the representation of pi will be 11.00100100 ...

Carola 2:35 PM  

I'm with @jberg on finding this on the harder side for a Wednesday. I couldn't imagine what kind of MEAL was being asked for, and was at a loss when Astroturf was way too short to cover the central spanner. And I'm terrible at jumble puzzles, so had more trouble than you'd think with the scrambled ingredients, even when I knew what sauce they belonged to.

If anyone is tallying the OATMEAL votes, I'm in the "No" column re: HOT. In my world, there's OATMEAL (by definition HOT), which if eaten right out of the fridge is identified as "cold OATMEAL." Regular rolled oats soaked in milk = oats; with raisins, nuts, etc., added = muesli.

I liked HAMMER x WHAM and ARGONAUT intersecting the "mariner's" sauce.

GILL I. 2:43 PM  

Simple change: 4D clued as Japanese Ocean = UMI. 13A clued as Mindy's pal = MORK.
I've grown up with guns. My Grandparents, my father, my brother, my sisters and I have all owned guns and most of us still do. Dad taught me how to hunt, skin an animal and eat it. I couldn't do it anymore after meeting Bambi so I turned to one of my favorite sports - Skeet shooting.
You do agree though, don't you, that something HUGE has to happen in this country to stop the ease in procuring arms. You can buy any kind. Semi automatic; sawed-off - Go to friendly Nevada and you can see how easy it is. Why the hell is everyone afraid of the NRA? Big bucks and not the kind you shoot?
Japan allows arms. I won't detail the very long process a gun owner needs to go through. Long as it may be, it makes sense. In 2015 there were more the 13,000 non-suicide gun deaths in the United States; in Japan, there was only one.
Common sense, folks, and huge kudos to the school children who've had enough killings in their back yards and are using their voices to urge changes.

Suzie Q 2:43 PM  

@ Joe Bleaux 1:45, Stuff like "steel cut" baffles me as well. I laugh at menus that say "pan roasted" like that makes it taste better. I suppose it does versus roasting it in an old boot!

sanfranman59 3:10 PM  

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

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

Mon 4:32 4:09 1.09 74.8% Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:02 5:12 0.97 42.2% Medium
Wed 5:03 6:00 0.84 21.8% Easy-Medium

This felt more like a Monday or Tuesday, with very few hesitations during my solve. Somehow, I don't really think of BARBERSHOP as a music genre. It's certainly a style of singing, which I suppose is a shade of grey vis-à-vis genre. My only other even mild trouble spots were ZORK, PROSODIC and SES. So there was some consternation in the Montana/Wyoming section of the puzzle with ZORK and KRIS both crossing PROSODIC there (I am willfully ignorant of all things Jenner). We have another ORSON Bean sighting. My primary memory of him is as a panelist on To Tell the Truth. I think that show is also the only way I know the names Kitty Carlisle and Peggy Cass. Wasn't the ubiquitous and venerable Betty White also a panelist on that show?

Chef Jay Hicks 3:12 PM  

@Susie Q 2:43PM
Steel cut oats and rolled oats are two very different ways of preparing oatmeal.
Pan-roasting is different from grilling over an open flame, particularly for steaks (although other foods can be pan roasted, such as potatoes)
These are all distinctly different food prep methods that would be noted on a menu

Rev. Gary Johnson 3:18 PM  

I think it's smart that all the students are walking out of school today, since the shooters are usually students.
No students in school = no shooters in school = no school shootings

Banana Diaquiri 3:55 PM  

@Susie Q:

stop by your local MegaMart (no need to go Whole Foods or Birkenstock Granola) and you'll find three, count 'em three, kinds of oatmeal:
1 - quick oats which are parboiled rolled oats that "cook" in a minute
2 - rolled oats which are whole oats that have been lightly processed and cook in 5 or so minutes
3 - steel-cut/Irish oats which whole oats that have just been de-husked, cut open and cook in 30 minutes, if your lucky

no one with half a brain eats 1. only masochists eat 3. 2 is juuuuuuuuuuust right.

Hungry Mother 3:59 PM  

@Mathgent: I like your base 2 representation. On my recent 17 day cruise, I put a big gob of peanut butter in my HOTOATMEAL. Normally,
I use Quaker 1 Minute Oatmeal. I just add water and nuke it for 5 minutes. I’ve added maple syrup on odd occasions, but mostly take it straight. My wife would say that any sentence I say or write that starts with “Normally, I ...” is an oxymoron.

Joe Dipinto 4:20 PM  

*eyeroll* I suppose because a diner menu lists coffee and tea under beverages, there's no such thing as hot coffee or hot tea either. And the server would look at you cross-eyed if you asked for it. "Here, I made you a bowl of hot oatmeal to warm you up on this cold morning." It Is.Something.That People.Say. So get over it.

I did wonder about the 41a clue. Spoken aloud, JOHN I would be called Pope John The First, so why is "First" in the clue? Otherwise I liked it. PROSODIC, AEROSMITH, ARGONAUT, MAKES BANK, INKBLOTS -- all good fill.

Joe Dipinto 4:40 PM  

@Joe Bleaux 1:45 -- without looking it up, I'm going to guess that two of them were Charles Durning and Paul Sorvino. They were also in the original Broadway cast, I believe.

Joe Dipinto 4:44 PM  

And was Ken Howard in there too?

kitshef 4:53 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri-

Quite the reverse for me:
1 is okay if you haven't prepped and want something fast.
3 is the best if you have the time.
2 is to be avoided at all costs.

Suzie Q 4:53 PM  

And *some* people gripe because someone didn't google a question.
It's so much more interesting to hear what other folks have to say about it. "Scuze me while I go pan roast, steel cut, and bias slice my lunch. Thanks.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joe Dipinto 5:17 PM  

@sanfranman59 -- I don't think Betty White was on To Tell The Truth, but I could be wrong. Mainly I remember her from Password. She was married to host Allen Ludden.

Orson Bean was also in a Twilight Zone episode wherein he played the title character "Mr. Bevis", a hapless oddball.

jae 5:40 PM  

On the easy side for me too and I mostly agree with @Rex on this one. Ever since we discovered @Suzie Q Rao's we stopped trying to make MARINARA at home. We used a jar for stuffed bell peppers last night.

Joe Dipinto 7:15 PM  

Okay, I couldn't stand the suspense so I looked up the cast of the movie of TCS. I only got one right.

Nancy 8:17 PM  

@Joe Bleaux and @Joe Dipinto -- a personal "That Championship Season" anecdote:

I was running Fireside Theater Book club and got a free pair of tickets to every B'way and off-Bway show. Usually excellent tickets. I took my mother to see TCS. We were center orchestra, maybe Row H or J. My mother was almost as short as I am, and, with the show about to start, the two seats in front of us were still empty. "I wish they'd hurry up and get here," said my mother, "I always get the basketball players in front of me." Those were her very words, I swear. As the lights began to dim, a ginormous man, really, really ginormous, sat in front of my mother. His more normal-sized wife sat in front of me. My mother groaned. "I told you!" she said. "I always get the basketball players!"

At Intermission, the ginormous man -- all 6'8" of him -- turned around and pretended to be looking for someone in the rear. He obviously wanted to be seen. Damn, if he didn't look familiar! And he was. It was Dave DeBusschere.

QuasiMojo 8:46 PM  

@Nancy I used to go to Dave’s games just to see him play. Lucky you. @Joe DiPinto, check out Keach in “Fat City” if you haven’t already.

John Hoffman 8:55 PM  

What a fun Wednesday puzzle! I have almost completely recovered from Monday's POLYPHEMUS crossed with HEMAL. But I still have little crying spells.

JC66 8:59 PM  

@Nancy

I hope you switched seats with your Mom at halftime.

Joe Dipinto 9:02 PM  

@Nancy-- hilarious story! @Quasi -- I've seen Fat City, great movie.

My first exposure to Stacy Keach was in a Shakespeare-in-the-Park production of "Hamlet" -- I'm going to say 1972 -- in which he played the title role, James Earl Jones played Claudius, Colleen Dewhurst played Gertrude, and Sam Waterston played Laertes. Linda Hunt was in the group of Travelling Players; she had her signature pageboy haircut even back then. I liked it so much I saw it at least twice.

Larry Gilstrap 9:34 PM  

Just when I'm trying to develop an appreciation for anagrams, we're given nonsensical letters that have been pureed from a sauce ingredient. Not sure about this whole thing.

I also balked at CRETIN as fill and as clued. No contest with the fact it is used disparagingly, but isn't it a birth defect as well?

Now for the personal stuff, I have always been hypersensitive about the belly button area, mostly mine. Stay away from that area when horsing around! Ok? So when I regularly see INNIE or OUTIE clued in the puzzle, I put my head down, fill, and quickly move on. One time I saw a guy with a huge gut sporting a large wad of keys dangling from a navel ring. Hard to unsee.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

This story may be well known but I suspect many readers don't know it, so I will repeat it. Why is it that from antiquity to the early 15th century there twenty-three popes called John, and only one since? The answer is that the first John XXIII came during the Great Schism, and he was later declared to be an antipope, and his number was "liberated." Any future John would have to be called John XXIII. Normally this would not be a huge problem, but this John XXIII, who was "unrecognized" about 1415 and died in 1419, was the preferred Pope in Florence, where he died in exile or sorts. Monuments went up to him, including a much-appreciated funeral monument constructed by the famous Donatello, in the Florentine Baptistery. Now many popes are controversial, but all, or nearly all, have monumental egos, even those who profess their humility. Does one really want to be called John XXIII when there are major tourist monuments, one by Donatello, made in honor of John XXIII, which one can easily decipher even if one does not know a word of Latin. Thus when Angelo Roncalli (pope John XXIII, 1958-63) took the name John, it was regarded as an expression of exceptional humility. Oddly, his association with Vatican II and other reforms turned him into one of the most beloved popes of the modern era. He also had the reputation of being genuinely humble (I have no idea if the reputation is merited), which cannot be said of many popes.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

5-down is simply wrong. “My darling” in French is “mon chere” if your darling is male, and “ma cheri” (as in Stevie Wonder’s “ma cheri amour”) if female. “Mon cheri” is mixing genders, no good. Sorry i got in here so late...

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:53 AM  

Actually, nope Anon, you can say mon cheri and ma cherie if you want to be even cuter. It's not wrong. Here's the Wikipedia page for the Stevie Wonder song you've misremembered.

Burma Shave 10:26 AM  

SUDS NOW!

JOHN,I GOTME a CREDO I’m tweetin’, PROSODIC but crass:
IBET only an inSECURE CRETIN SMOKY ARTIFICIALGRASS.

--- ASHTON “ZORK” REMUS

spacecraft 10:46 AM  

Had I not noticed the byline today I'd have received a major shock at the end. I thought I was in for a treat; but the trick GOTME.

I get the theme with the scrambled ingredients, but it has the feeling of "anybody could do this all day." Words you can put into other words or phrases--and you can anagram them any way you want? Meh. The sauce itself, MARINARA: this part I love. It just feels like Chef Chen didn't let it marinate long enough. These things take time.

And the fill! Odd letters strewn about like confetti! CSINY MCHAMMER ISP: OKFINE. But the RRNP? And SSN? Jeff, is it really you??

And then there's the greenest paint ever: HOTOATMEAL. And MAKESBANK?? Wha? Never heard of that. Fortunately all these clues were dumbed down--way past Wednesday IMO--so BANK went in on crosses. This whole effort, PERSE, looked like a rookie's try whose day job is hopefully still open. It does NOT look like a Chen. Cmon, man, you're way better than this. We don't even have a direct DOD; I have to take a fictional character's name from MONCHERI and name Marilyn Monroe from "Bus Stop." Bogey.

rondo 11:59 AM  

I recognized the mixed up ONION in the first themer, but sorta passed over the others until the reveal came along. NOW that’s a long (and less than compelling) way to get to MARINARA. I even put GP in the margin andI was going to mention how green painty HOTOATMEAL was, but that’s been covered; it looks like it came straight from WOF, thanks Pat and Vanna.

After an undefeated season c. 1990, our softball team had tee shirts made up with the phrase “Can’t Touch This”. Thank you M.C.HAMMER.

I AINT gonna further validate any of that Jenner/Kardashian nonsense, so KRIS does not get a yeah baby.

I s’pose there AINT anything *wrong* with this puz, but there AINT much there there.

Diana,LIW 1:37 PM  

Whilst it didn't truly bother me, I must say that @Spacey and @Rondo said it all re: the puzzle's, er, blandness? Like a diet of HOTOATMEAL - not that I'd cover that with MARINARA. My only problems were with my spelling "ability" and the usual pop names. 'Sall.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:16 PM  

Nice work by Jeff Chen. Easy overall, but ran into a couple of trouble spots:

PROSODIC/ZORK cross was a Natick that I neglected to run the alphabet on. My mistake. PnOSODIC/ZOnK anyone?

MAKEBANK was a new one, but crosses introduced me to it.

All the ingredients were there, though CIALGR>GARLIC took longer to unscramble.

Enjoyed it.

rainforest 2:38 PM  

This puzzle seemed somewhat un-Chen-like, and evoked disparate controversies - UZI and HOT OATMEAL. So, OK.

I suppose Colt, Winchester, Glock, Luger, Remington, et al, should be avoided in puzzles as well.

Would "cold OATMEAL" be alright?

I prefer Bolognese, but a well-made MARINARA is delicious.

I ask the question "When the first Pope John happened, was he named JOHN I at the time, or did he have to wait until the second John came around?" I wonder about this more than I should.

Themewise, the puzzle was a little wonky, but the rest of it was just fine by me.

spacecraft 7:24 PM  

Was there a "Rocky 1?" A "Die Hard 1?" "Saw 1?"

Anonymous 11:33 PM  

This has to be a Monday puzzle masquerading as a Wednesday puzzle. Interesting but easy fill.

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