Constructor: Joel Fagliano
Relative Difficulty: Medium
Word of the Day: GRAPE
A grape is a fruiting berry of the deciduous woody vines of the botanical genus Vitis.
Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making wine, jam, juice, jelly, grape seed extract, raisins, vinegar, and grape seed oil. Grapes are a non-climacteric type of fruit, generally occurring in clusters. (Wikipedia)
This is not too offensive. That is to say, it's not the insult to human decency that it seems we've been deemed to deserve of late. This puzzle doesn't really have any actual selling points, per se, but there isn't anything in it that's absolute garbage. It even reminded me of a Brian Regan bit, so I guess it's a net positive that it exists, here, in the universe.
BRONX feels totally naked without the article, doesn't it [1D: Borough that lies south of Westchester County]? In fact, I think I'm gonna have to call bullshit here, because after extensive research I've determined that there is no etymologically justified argument for saying that it's ok to refer to the borough without the article. I know this, and I can't even spell borough without looking it up. So poo on this clue; I know it isn't as terse this way but it needed a "with 'the'" in it.
I'm a fan of BLOTs, generally [1A: Rorschach test image], but I was actually a little surprised to learn that the Rorschach test is still employed today. It just seems so anachronistic somehow. Don't you feel like, if you were to ever to actually take it you would, because of the ubiquitous cliché in fiction of deranged weirdos seeing extremely kooky or horrible things in there, inevitably gravitate toward actually doing that? Me too. So it's probably best that I don't do that, or every card would be, I don't know, Winston Churchill and me doing the Macarena while eating a puppy or something.
Also a fan of LATTEs 2D: Drink made with steamed milk]. They really hit the spot after a long day of hanging out with Winston Churchill, doing the macarena and eating puppies.
I don't get LOTTA [6A: Tons, casually]. I can't think of a sentence in which 'tons', by itself, could replace 'lotta'. Every context where the latter works the former would need the preposition 'of', and if it's just 'tons' then the corresponding word should be just 'lots'. This makes sense, because 'lotta' really means 'lot of', i.e. it already has a preposition. The 'casually' bit of the clue is irrelevant because that's just an indication that we're looking for the slangy, elided version of the term. But either way, a 'lot of something', or a 'lotta something' aren't the same as 'tons something', because that's just gibberish. So yeah, confused on this clue.
I guess you could say the OPTICs of this puzzle are not great [3D: Fiber-_____ cable], nor is really any other part of it. Let's just say that if this puzzle were a horse, then the inkblot I'm looking at right now would have to be a GLUE factory [5D: Elmer's product].
Signed, Jonathan Gibson, deranged weirdo of CrossWorld