E.U. Doings

New York Times, Aug. 23

In looking at the title for this week’s puzzle, my first thought was that they were going to stick an extra “EU” in every theme answer to turn it into something clever. But then I thought: that letter combination would never work.

Next I thought about the upcoming G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, which has completely consumed several of my journalism colleagues. Then I realized that nobody else is paying any attention whatsoever to the G-20 summit. So I actually had to do the puzzle to figure out the theme.

Turns out it was a lot more mundane — a key “E” is replaced with a “U” in each theme answer. So the “Dairy regulator?” in 55 Across is the BUTTER BUSINESS BUREAU; the reason “I can’t drink beer this late?” (40 Across) is because IT’S PAST MY BUD TIME; and if a “Baseball official gets revenge?” (77 Across), that would be THE UMPIRE STRIKES BACK.

The others: If you “Used a push-button toilet?” you’ve PRESSED THE FLUSH (23 Across); if “The bolt alone is sufficient?” in 93 Across, that person WORKS WITHOUT A NUT; and the “Story of a small Communist barbarian” (114 Across) is THE LITTLE RED HUN.

I did find it curious that the puzzle’s central word, BEEFEATER (68 Across, “Yeoman of the British Guard”), was not a theme answer. Oh well.

Another clue of note: 50 Across, “Largest city paper in the U.S.: Abbr.” The answer, not surprisingly, is NYT. However, newspaper insiders (and fans of the Post and Daily News) will tell you that while the Times may be the overall circulation queen (she is the “gray lady,” after all), relatively few of those copies are sold in the city itself.

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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