Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Jeff Chen


Mr. Chen has whipped up a quick MARINARA sauce in today's very Wednesday seeming puzzle. I am appreciative that the circles are actually necessary in this puzzle. I wouldn't have been able to find the string of letters I needed to anagram to each ingredient otherwise. As it is, I find onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs in each theme answer.


The theme answers themselves are at least acceptable. HOTOATMEAL feels a little ad hoc, but BARBERSHOP, ZEROINON, and ARTIFICIALGRASS are all strong.

I was slowed by entering MONamour for 5D: "My darling," in France (MONCHERI). Either is reasonable, I think. There are a number of very nice longer answers, such as AEROSMITH, ARGONAUT, and MCHAMMER.

I also very much liked 13A: Pioneering text adventure game (ZORK). I still remember working my way through those games with a good deal of nostalgia.

I imagine some will say that adding "disparagingly" to the clue at 63A will not excuse the use of the word CRETIN in the puzzle. It certainly has a negative connotation, separate from the medical sense of a person deformed by a congenital thyroid deficiency. My initial reaction was that it's a longstanding English word, but then I thought how I'd feel seeing a racist epithet in the grid. OKFINE, I'll join my voice to the chorus.

But maybe we can just all share some SUDS in the SAUNA and acknowledge all the ways Mr. Chen has neatly put in words that end in _SP (TSP, ISP, ASPS).

- Colum


  1. Somehow the puzzle struck me as Z heavy. I guess because they are both so close to the top. Looked for a pangram or some other obvious trick. But as far as I can tell, just some Zs.

  2. 7:18
    Rough start with RCA, even though I dropped it right in. Other than that, everyone loves MARINARA, so it was pretty good overall. I, too, tried MONamour at first, and needed the circles to see the scrambled words. For long downs, I really enjoyed MAKESBANK. I wasn't aware of ZORK, but played my share of a text-only Star Trek back in the day. Probably, millenials wouldn't put up with such a thing. I'll be dealing in Icelandic KRONA shortly.

  3. 5:21

    I've never thought much about the word CRETIN. I don't use it much either, come to think of it. All the slurs are falling away one by one. A long time ago, Frannie came up with the idea of using the word "cert" instead of "jerk," and pretty much ever since then we've used it that way. Maybe that's what we need to do - just come up with new words, or, as in the case of "cert," new uses for existing words.

    Sorry, got a bit off track there. Fun theme. And no, I never would have noticed it without the circles either.