NYT Mini for Thursday, December 10, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: BURQA

A burqa (Urdu: بُرقع‎) (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈbʊrqʊʕ, ˈbʊrqɑʕ]a (also transliterated burkha, bourkha, burka or burqu' from Arabic: برقع‎ burquʻ or burqaʻ), also known as chadri or paranja in Central Asia) is an enveloping outer garment worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public.
The face-veiling portion is usually a rectangular piece of semi-transparent cloth with its top edge attached to a portion of the head-scarf so that the veil hangs down covering the face and can be turned up if the woman wishes to reveal her face. In other styles, the niqāb of the veil is attached by one side, and covers the face only below the eyes, allowing the eyes to be seen.

Antoin Sevruguin, Two Veiled Women and a Child. Late 19th century, Qajar. Brooklyn Museum
Burqa is an Arabized Persian word of purda (parda) meaning curtain and veil, which has the same meaning in Persian.[1] (Wikipedia)

All right, this makes two decent-to-good puzzles in a row! Praise Ooxteplernon!

Learned a new term here with PAS [1A: ___ de deux (dance for two)]. Always a good sign at one-across! Great term too. You definitely might want to toss a 'pas de deux' or two into your next billet-doux, I'll ARGUE [2D: Squabble].

Then we've got BURQA, clued in a depressing way [4A: Muslim garment that's banned in France]. Though they're certainly depressing things in their own right. As something of a consequentialist I kinda tend to think BURQAs are, and I mean this in the technical sense, dumb. But banning them is qualitatively dumber, if not necessarily as dumb as forcing them to be PUT ON [1D: Stage, as a play]. But enough of this sharp political commentary.

Who doesn't like BIL Keane? [4D: "The Family Circus" cartoonist Keane] Just kidding; it's most people I've met! I actually tend to cite "The Family Circus" as a textbook example of a bad comic strip, but that's probably a bit of an exaggeration. Anyway the way BIL spells his name is genuinely interesting enough that I don't think of this as bad fill. At the very least, I get to feel smart for a split second for knowing it.

IT GUY gives me mixed feelings. It's certainly an in-the-language term, but I don't like that the gender is assumed by the clue [6A: Office worker who'll help you after a crash]. Why can't you acknowledge that IT as a field isn't gender-specific by making the clue read "Male office worker..." (or somesuch)? Sure, you lose some of the pithiness (such as it is) of the clue but the upside is you don't insult 51% of your readership by implying they can't stuff you know they can do. Having said all that, I will note that the use of the ambiguous term 'crash' was a nice touch of misdirection that had me trying to think of a financial position of some sort. So that was good.

I also like SQUID [3D: Tentacled sea creature]. I like it both as an answer, and as a thing that is is going into my mouth. I like it even more as a cross for BURQA because I am now imagining the former wearing the latter, and that is objectively hilarious.

I have never heard of LOUIE Anderson [7A: Comedian Anderson who hosted "Family Feud" from 1999-?02 [sic]]. Whoa, what was that, a typo? Yeah, it's in both iOS version and the one on the NYT website. Supposed to say 2002, it would seem. It's a little scary that the supposed 'newspaper of record' is actually susceptible to typos, isn't it?

I'm going to go back to bed and watch some Family Feud.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, IDIOT DOG BRAIN of CrossWorld