NYT Mini for Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: Limbo

In the theology of the Catholic Church, Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the "edge" of Hell) is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the Damned. Medieval theologians of western Europe described the underworld ("hell", "hades", "infernum") as divided into four distinct parts: Hell of the Damned[2], Purgatory, Limbo of the Fathers or Patriarchs, and Limbo of the Infants. However, Limbo of the Infants is not an official doctrine of the Catholic Church. (Wikipedia)

Hmm. I think I don't hate this. It's not anything impressive, but it doesn't particularly offend me with its presence. Although.. Wait, what in the name Ooxteplernon is TEN doing in my grid for the SECOND day in a row [4D: V : five :: X : ___]??? That is just unforgivable. I'll assume that was Will Shortz's fault, and that he just accidentally put these two puzzles on consecutive days. If it was by design...well, I don't know what universe I'm living in then. And regarding the clue, well, it's not as good as yesterday's, which was not very good. Analogies are just intrinsically boring as compared with most other types of clues.

I do kind of loathe T-BAR [7A: One way up a ski mountain]. Aside from it being irksome crosswordese, I think it's just a particular kind of LIFT, which of course is already in the grid with the same meaning [1A: One way up a ski mountain]. It's not that the clue doesn't work for either word (it does); it's that using it for both makes it sound like they are supposed to be different "ways" up a mountain when one is merely a subset of the other. if the clues were instead cross-referenced in some way, e.g. "Element of a 1-Across", that would be fine, but this is a miss.

We've got some other problems here. I don't much care for IT'S [6A: "___ all good"], but that should be pretty obvious by this point. Likewise I MEAN [6A: "That is to say..."], which is a yuck partial. LIMBO is good but the clue has a major problem [1D: Try to pass the bar?], namely that the aforementioned "bar" is already in the grid and so it really shouldn't show up in the clues. This would be less of a problem if the two instances used different meanings of the word 'bar', but they don't. In fact, since the clue relies on tricking you into assuming that the law world meaning of the word is the one being employed, the fact that 'bar' is already in the grid as the physical object kind of undercuts the effectiveness of the twist.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about SOLE [8A: Something found underfoot]. I guess it's referring to the sole of a shoe, because the sole of your foot isn't *under* your foot; it's part of it. This is probably being a little nitpicky, but for some reason It feels slightly odd to speak about "finding" a part of your shoe under your foot when you can already see your shoe without the need to perform sub-podal investigations.

Hmm. Maybe I did hate this a little bit.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, sub-podal investigator of CrossWorld