NYT Mini for Sunday, November 29, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: PIQUE

Gerard Piqué Bernabéu (Catalan: [ʒəˈɾar piˈke i βərnəˈβeu], Spanish: [ʝeˈɾar piˈke i βernaˈβeu]; born 2 February 1987) is a Spanish professional footballer who plays as a central defender for FC Barcelona and the Spain national team.

A product of Barça's cantera, La Masia, Piqué initially left the club for Manchester United in 2004, where he remained for four years, before returning to Barça under Pep Guardiola's leadership, helping the club win a treble in 2008–09 and a quadruple in 2009–10. He is one of four players to have won the UEFA Champions League two years in a row with different teams, the others being Marcel Desailly, Paulo Sousa and Samuel Eto'o.[3]

This is pretty good. I always appreciate these 'showy', black square-less puzzles. What style! What élan! No cheater squares for this puzzle; indeed it is so!


But it is actually good. Probably took a moderate amount of SKILL to put together (1D: Something listed and endorsed on LinkedIn), and it offers some decent words with not really any junk, per se. Unless you count  I QUIT (7A: Employee's angry cry), which I don't really mind because the clue is reasonably entertaining. I had fun imagining what other things could fit there, as I personally can think of several other vociferous exclamations I have wished to make as an somebody's employee at various times. There are even better ways to say I QUIT than "I quit." Anyway, that's the only answer that's at all objectionable here.

Actually, now that I see it hiding there right it the center of the grid, A TUNE is pretty bad (3D: Carry ___ (sing on key)). Downright awful, really. One of the worst partials in recent memory. This clue/answer does everything it can to suck all the joy out of this grid. So there's that.

The rest of this thing, though, is great. PIQUE is always a good thing (2D: Arouse, as interest), and the clue for otherwise mundane STICK is bewilderingly entertaining (4D: Unit of butter). I like to imagine that it's an official SI unit, you know? All official science-y or something. Then we have MYTHS right next door, making a nice counterpoint to the science motif (5D: "Bulls hate the color red," and others). Always like (learning about) myths! I think I knew that one, though it wouldn't have occurred to me to use that term. I think I would have said BULLSHIT, but that's a little harder to fit into a 5x5 grid I suppose.

I almost wish this puzzle was much worse, because look what I found:

Time to go eat some LUNCH LEEKS (8A: There's no such thing as a free one 9A: Onionlike vegetables)!

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, SI unit of CrossWorld