NYT Mini for Saturday, December 19

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: MANSE

A manse (/ˈmæns/) is a clergy house inhabited by, or formerly inhabited by, a minister, usually used in the context of Presbyterian,[1][2] Methodist,[3] United church and other traditions.

Ultimately derived from the Latin mansus, "dwelling", from manere, "to remain", by the 16th century the term meant both a dwelling and, in ecclesiastical contexts, the amount of land needed to support a single family.[4]

When selling a former manse, the Church of Scotland always requires that the property should not be called "The Manse" by the new owners, but "The Old Manse" or some other acceptable variation. The intended result is that "The Manse" refers to a working building rather than simply applying as a name. (Wikipedia)


Ok, we have to talk about something here, and that is the unbelievably excellent clue pairing between ASIA [5D: Turkey's place, for the most part] and DELI [6D: Turkey's place]. I'm a big proponent of consecutive clues for words that aren't related that make them sound like they are, which is a total thing in crosswords if you didn't know. They give me a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. It's a useful technique that can do a lot to add some flair to an otherwise dull section of a puzzle, and this is a great example.

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I love how the second clue reads almost as a terse, snarky response to the seeming ambivalence of the first one. Just great stuff. And the first clue is good in its own right, inasmuch as the phrase "for the most part" captures nicely both the geographic and cultural/political angles of what is actually a pretty complex issue (just check out what people on Quora have to say about the subject). So this clue combination is definitely a winner, all around. Made us laugh, made us think. Made us better human beings.

loves Hussein

loves Hussein

And the rest of this thing is pretty great too. I'd never heard of a MANSE before, which was a great word to learn [7A: Minister's residence]. I thought the clue was asking for a Number 10 Downing St kinda thing. And just look at that definition for MANSE! I love the Church of Scotland's arcane dictate about how these things are supposed to be referred to in the post-minister phase of their existence. Well, maybe 'love' is not really what I mean, but it is interesting.

Nice, appetite-whetting imagery on the clue for LIME [1D: Fruit squeezed over pad thai]. I especially like that 'squeezed over' is in here, because of the other meaning of 'squeeze' having to do with extortion. Like the lime is being pressured to comply with someone's demands regarding pad thai. As a person with generally rather a lot of demands when it comes to pad thai, this is not a totally out of the question situation. Though obviously the lime would be an ally in that context and not an opponent.

People don't put lime in any dish that involves a CLAM, do they [2D: Chowder ingredient]? Oh, they do? Then I guess that might have made for a possible second pair of related clues, and in a symmetric position to boot. Something about coconuts, maybe. I don't know.

Too bad EMAIL wasn't around during the (possibly not even real to begin with) Trojan War [8A: Service from AOL or Microsoft Outlook]. Seems like a quick missive from somebody to somebody could have averted that whole mess. But that would have made the ILIAD a much more boring story, I suppose [4A: Trojan War epic]. And that's saying something because it is already pretty boring. Zing.

Just jinkin' ya; I ain't read that book. Which volume of the Twilight Saga is it anyway?

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, guy who just realized that 'Trojan" is the adjectival form of Troy and that's why the war is called that of CrossWorld