Strong ale in British lingo / SAT 10-18-14 / Kvass component / Gomer's biblical husband / Annie old Scottish love song / Former Zairian leader Mobutu / Brand once plugged by John Madden / Subject of Word on first episode of Colbert Report
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Constructor: Evan Birnholz
Relative difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: Kvass (43D: Kvass component => RYE) —
Kvass is a fermented beverage made from black or regular rye bread. The colour of the bread used contributes to the colour of the resulting drink. It is classified as a non-alcoholic drink by Russian and Ukrainian standards, as the alcohol content from fermentation is typically less than 1.2%. Generally, the alcohol content is low (0.05% - 1.0%). It is often flavoured with fruits such as strawberries and raisins, or with herbs such as mint. Kvass is also used for preparing a cold summertime soup called okroshka.It is especially popular in Russia and Ukraine, but also well-known throughout Belarus, Estonia, Serbia, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as in other former Soviet states such as Georgia, Kazakhstan and Armenia where many kvass vendors sell the drink in the streets. Kvass is also popular in Harbin and Xinjiang, China, where Russian culture is a strong influence. (wikipedia)
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LAURIE" is an "old Scottish love song"? ERIC BANA was in "Funny People"? Wait, what's "Funny People"? Etc.). I can recognize that the puzzle is basically well put together, but for some reason I was never able to work up much affection for this one. Maybe it was the general dullness of perfectly reasonable fill like MESSKITS and RAREBIRD, or the bits of gunk like SESE and SEE over SEA and AMIN clued as if it's not a dictator, via an expression no one says ever ever. People call their dad "pap"? Papa, pop, pops, poppa, pappa, pappy—all of these I'd buy before "pap." Even KICKSTARTER and TRUTHINESS felt … late. Like great answers … from 2010. Mostly, the puzzle just wasn't meshing with *me*. WILCO as a radio word and not the band; HUSTLE as a generic verb meaning "move" rather than a word related to Pete Rose or a dance or a con; ARNE as a chair designer and not Duncan or that composer guy—clues kept seeming either dull or baffling. I needed every cross to get STINGO (?) and every cross to get COOPERS (I've only ever heard of *Mini* COOPERS, and since I thought the company name was "Mini," LOOPERS was the only guess I had even when I got to the -OOPERS stage). So it's a solid puzzle that just wasn't for me. Evan's puzzles usually are for me. You should do the puzzle at his independent puzzle site, Devil Cross.
There weren't gimmes for me today. I think AVAST and RAFA and CALC and POE were about it. Oh, and RAS—that felt like cheating. I'm a bit of a Batman fan, so RAS was my first answer in the grid. I made a rectangle from RAS using ASTUTE then CITE then CROTCH, and proceeded from there. The NW was a wasteland until about midway through my solve, when the -STARTER prefix suddenly dawned on me. KICK gave that section the KICK it needed and I took it down easily from there. Had the hardest time getting into and finishing off the SE. The STINGO + COOPERS debacle kept me from being able to work from the top down, and with no idea what letter preceded TEST at 46D: Statistical method for comparing the means of two groups (T-TEST), I had only DIR- for the start of 45A: Scorpio hunter of film and, embarrassingly, couldn't do anything with it until I had a belated epiphany. If DIRTY HARRY hadn't suddenly come to me, MAN that SE could've been tough. Couldn't see AUTOCORRECT for-EV-er. Have to admit it's a good clue. I finished up somewhere down there, probably w/ the final "A" in ERIC BANA.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld