NYT Mini for Saturday, November 21, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: REF

A referee is an official who watches a whole game of sports and makes all the decisions. The players of the sport being watched must always admit that the referee is always right, even if they aren't. Usually, if any player argues, they can get a yellow card or even sent off with a red card. (Simple English Wikipedia)

Every once and a while in life you remember that the "Simple English Wikipedia" is a thing and how awesome it is. I could probably never get a job as a REF, because I could never watch a whole game of sports (4D: Official with a whistle).

Yeah, this is good. No junk. No flair, really, but what do you want? It's a Mini. #SettingTheBarLow. But still, it's ever so slightly laudable. Good job, Joel!

Does anybody else ever get to submit these things? Or is it just Fagliano? Can I write one? Will Shortz, please let me know (when you get finished reading this).

Amusing that I started yesterday's post with a whole tirade about Phish, and today we're given FEE right there at one-across (1A: Airfare add-on). Apart from being the first Phish song I ever heard, it was for some odd reason really huge in the summer of 1990 (or possibly a few years later) at the camp I used to go to as a kid – and ONLY there. CDs were still relatively new at the time, and I think some older kid who had a CD player and I guess only that one CD just played "Fee" on repeat for the entire summer. And he was, like, probably the coolest kid there. So I think this was my earliest memory of a particular song being hugely popular. I think I hated it at the time, but... Eh, it's a solid song. A lot of the other songs on that album are more interesting though.

 Why is this the first image result for "qwerty sucks"??

Why is this the first image result for "qwerty sucks"??

Are Amazon and Barnes & Noble still RIVALs? I kinda thought Amazon pretty much won that rivalry, and I say this as a loyal Nook enthusiast (4A: Amazon, to Barnes & Noble). I think I just like the lack of a physical keyboard on the Nook. Generally speaking, I'm bothered when anything smaller than a standard-sized keyboard has an actual QWERTY-layout on it, as though typing on it like a regular keyboard ISN'T totally impossible. It just makes no sense to use a layout designed for ten fingers on a device that is quite obviously able to accommodate, at most, two thumbs. Of course, you might retort that QWERTY isn't really "designed" for fingers in any meaningful sense, but that's a separate argument. I got nothin' against Dvorak. Or Brahms. Or Raisin Brahms, for that matter.

Oh, and speaking of rivals, you should check out the card game Roadkill Rivals. I was lucky enough to get to play a prototype the other day with the designer himself and IT IS FREAKING AWESOME. One of those games with very simple rules but surprisingly deep gameplay, and a great humor and art as well. Buy it when it comes out, ok?

 "He (Kal-El) left us!"

"He (Kal-El) left us!"

I love how comic book characters always have alliterative names. I also think it's kinda neat that Superman (canonically the most powerful superhero there is) has LEX (5D: Luthor of "Superman"), who has no super powers, as his archenemy. It's an interesting dynamic because the only way you can write that, I think, and have it make sense to the reader is to establish the villain as being the smarter of the two, which is a little audacious when you think about it. Kind of makes part of you root for the villain, at least. I wonder if LL's backstory has anything to do with being a high school chemistry teacher...

So yeah, I definitely don't think Joel Fagliano should be FIRED, but I do kinda want to see what some other constructors might do with the medium (1D: Given the ax). I'd love to see what Patrick Berry or Brendan Emmett Quigley might do with the format, for instance. Irregardless, let's get some more themes/meta stuff going on in these thing things, yeah?

If we ever do get a BEQ Mini, there's a non-zero chance it'd be my first DNF Mini.

 Lex Luthor never committed a  boner

Lex Luthor never committed a boner

Guten tag, Jonathan Gibson, fake beard of CrossWorld