NYT Mini for Monday, December 7, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: YES

Yes are an English rock band formed in 1968 by bassist Chris Squire and singer Jon Anderson.
Yes first achieved success in the 1970s with a progressive, art and symphonic style of rock music. They are distinguished by their use of mystical and cosmic lyrics, live stage sets, and lengthy compositions, often with complex instrumental and vocal arrangements. Nine of their twenty studio albums have reached the top ten in either the UK or US, with two reaching number one in the UK. They have sold 13.5 million certified units in the US.[1] 19 people in total have been a part of the band's line-up, including Swiss, South African, American, Russian, and Canadian members. The band's most recent line-up consists of singer Jon Davison, guitarist Steve Howe, bass guitarist Billy Sherwood, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and drummer Alan White. (Wikipedia)

This is a tiny notch above MEH [1A: "It's just okay"]. Not the worst, not the best, etc. There's nothing incredibly eventful or noteworthy going on here, but neither is there anything terribly objectionable to speak of. It's just kind of...there. The clue on GASES is probably worth a tickle, if you haven't been doing crosswords for several years [7A: Some are noble]. You might conceivably think of a few other answers that could go there if you didn't have any of the crosses, at least.

SAG is at least a little cute, again, if you aren't familiar with crosswords [4D: Give in to gravity]. The clue for ADS is, similarly, at least a little bit amusing, basically just because it rings so true for so many of us who can't be otherwise bothered to give a significant number of shits about sporting events [5D: What some people watch the Super Bowl for]. Though I suspect that these days the people who would only watch the Super Bowl for the ads don't even have to do that much anymore. Because internet.

That is, I watch Super Bowl ads MY WAY nowadays, which translates to "on YouTube several weeks later, and even then only in the event that huge swaths of people are still discussing them and I want to know what all the fuss is about so I can feel some small tether of connection to my fellow humans as we hurtle through the void on this insignificant space rock" [1D: Sinatra standard that begins "And now, the end is near"]. I kind of like that such a well-known, beloved song begins with, essentially, a raving lunatic's cardboard-sign exhortation.

So I'm loathe to give this puzzle an AWARD [6A: Tony, Oscar or Hugo], and yet, here we are, towards the conclusion of an entire blog post devoted to it. No way out of it now. I guess I have to say some other stuff here. How about the banality of HIRES [3D: Adds to the payroll]? Yup, that's pretty bland. Not really any way to misinterpret that one. Or we could talk about YES [8a: "Signs point to ____" (Magic 8 Ball answer)], which is the very textbook depiction of an unambitious clue/answer pair. For serious, was that parenthetical really necessary? I guess so; we wouldn't want to confuse it with "Signs point to ____" (Shakespearean comedy), would we?

Just kidding, obviously "Signs Point to Yes" would be more of a 'problem' play. Especially when Jon Anderson takes the stage, amiright??

 problem play

problem play

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Bill Bruford of CrossWorld