Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015, David Steinberg


On this, the one hundred and fifty-first year (hint: not a major anniversary) since the founding of the REDCROSS, we find an odd Wednesday puzzle devoted to examples of red things crossing each other in the grid. Generally speaking, I think I've liked Mr. Steinberg's efforts in the past, but this one left me a bit cold. I'm going to note a couple of quibbles with the theme first.

Are we talking about things that are always red, or typically red? Not every BRICK is red. NAILPOLISH is very often not red. A ROSE may be red, white, yellow, or other outlandish colors. Then, on the contrary, we'd all agree that MARS is "The red planet." A MERLOT is a red wine. A RADISH is a reddish veggie.

But CHILI? Yes, a chili can be red or green. But the dish as referenced in the clue is really sorta brownish, IMO. And then, we get REDCROSS, with the word red in the answer. I understand why, but maybe it shouldn't be in a cross.

Meh. I'm sounding like Rex. I think I started off on the wrong foot with 1A: WOMANISH. Nobody says this. Womanly, yes. Womanish? Not at all. And then you have the annoying OPALOCKA below it, which I required every cross to get. All this contributes a highly uninspiring NW, including ICEAX and SKAT.

Elsewhere, the fill is much better. PABST is a nice entry, as is PROSPERO. There's a little sense of colloquialism with ITSALIE, BUTWHY, and OOLALA (although I wanted an H at the end of OO). Some good clues include 17A: Something that's just not done at the dinner table? and 30D: One who's beyond belief? (ATHEIST). Well, that's me, and I'm out.

- Colum


  1. 13:37

    First of all, that's an amazing Pabst advertisement. The guy looks absolutely insane, and the slogan "You're safe on Thirst!" is brilliant. Also, I'm going to start using "It's blended ... it's splendid" for my blended bourbons & whatnot. So much good. I only wish I could read the small print at the bottom, but, well, I'm old, and my eyes are failing, and I'm too lazy to go to the optometrist. Or the ophthalmologist. (Hopefully I just mean the optometrist.)

    Anyway, yes, the NW corner is so important in a puzzle, and this one is just so poor. I, too, wanted "WOMANLY," if I wanted anything of the sort up there. And I wanted "OPALOCKs," too, but HSTS didn't make any sense. Not that I knew what it was, obviously. I've never heard of OPALOCKA before, and I'd be willing to bet that at least 50% of today's solvers hadn't either.

    But you've been over all this.

    I liked seeing AMES in there, and I laughed out loud at the VERA clue. How long has Cheers! been off the air? Well, it's all fair game in a puzzle, I know... so maybe that's too harsh.

    As you mention, the clue for RAREMEAT is good, and I liked "It might have a stirring part" for RECIPE. I don't, however, agree with nor do I condone the idea that BEEPS will "help you get out of a jam." Not the best puzzle, but it had a few bright spots.

    1. I meant to mention that BEEPS clue myself. I had the same reaction as you.

  2. 13:07
    We had similar solving times; unusual. I liked the theme all right because all of those things are associated with red, even chili, IMHO. That said, however, I agree with the other beefs (or RAREMEATs) regarding the puzzle. But for good things: both BART (nice to have a non-Simpsons clue, even with the recent death of Sam Simon) and MEHTA went right in for me, PEROT is always a fun reminder, the STAR / MARS pairing was nice, and I've spent much time on AIRBASES In My Life, much of it fun. I also agree with the excellent-ness of that PABST ad, which would look great by the Keggermeister in the Summer Dining Room; TRUE dat.

  3. 14:17
    The first thing I entered in this puzzle was WOMANLY_, including the blank on the end and I left it there for about 7 minutes. I even thought it would probably have to be WOMANISH, and even eventually filled in ICEAX (and begrudgingly deleted the Y) and I still refused to finish with the ISH. Sure, that was partly out of stubbornness, but I was really holding out the faintest glimmer of hope that somehow I was forgetting a word variant that would be more elegant than WOMANISH. ALAS, SKAT (7D: Evidence of Bobcat) is right! Hah!

    And there it is, SEX, right near the middle of the grid and nary a mention...

    1. Was that the clue for 7D? My version referenced the card game.