Clear libation popular in England / WED 3-12-14 / England's Fergie, formally / Nickname for $2 Canadian coin / Clear libation popular in Japan / Fifth-century pope called Great / Fizzy dinner quaff / Old-timey agreements
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Constructor: Jeff Chen
Relative difficulty: Medium
THEME: "DRINKS ALL AROUND" (38A: "I'm buying!," at a bar … or a hint to this puzzle's theme) — all the answers around the periphery of the grid are drinks, with each "side" of answers being clued with a similar frame of reference
- MILK JUICE and TEA are all clued by color *and* (?) breakfast
- GIN VODKA and SAKE are all clued by countries where they are "popular"
- MEAD CIDER and ALE are all clued by production method: fermentation
- POP WATER and WINE are all clued as "dinner quaff"s (?!?!)
Word of the Day: KERI (19A: Body lotion brand) —
Keri Lotion is a brand name of moisturizing lotion introduced by Novartis Consumer Health. The brand has traditionally included different types of Keri Lotion such as Keri- Original, Keri- Advanced, Keri- Shea Butter, Keri- Basic Essential, Keri- Luxurious, and Keri- moisture rich oil. […] Keri Lotion was first introduced by Bristol-Myers Squibb, to the American public in 1960. Keri lotion was put into doctor offices and hospitals, which was how the product was promoted. This type of lotion has been around for about fifty years. (wikipedia)
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MEAD CIDER and ALE. Fermentation holds them together nicely. The "Clear libation popular in" group holds together a little less well, largely because VODKA and SAKE have such strong associations with their countries, where England's with GIN is much, much weaker. Is GIN any more "popular" in England *now* (which is what the clue implies) than it is here? That little NE corner was By Far the hardest part of the puzzle for me because a. lotion brand? b. TSKED!?!? c. [Clear libation popular in England] didn't say GIN to me at all. I had No idea what was going on there. I have lots of GIN in my cupboard. I do not live in England. Oh, and then there's d. TEA is "tan" now? "Tan"? Really. Slacks are tan. Trousers. In what universe would anyone refer to TEA as "tan"? So, yeah, that breakfast grouping is awkward. JUICE is only orange if it's orange JUICE. But the worst grouping, by far, by a million miles, is the "dinner" group. POP and WATER have nothing to do with "dinner." There is no strong *or* weak association between those beverages and "dinner." The breakfast beverages cohere fine and would've worked if you'd left color out of it. But the "dinner" beverages Don't Work At All as a grouping. So the cluing is a train wreck. No need to get fancy with the core concept, but well enough apparently could not be left alone (passive voice!). Too bad.
Fill is OK. Not great, but at least the two longer Downs are colorful (SNOOKERED, PAPER DOLL). You gotta get the most out of your longer answers, and all the 7+ answers are at least decent.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld