NYT Mini for Monday, January 11, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: FROWN

A frown (also known as a scowl) is a facial expression in which the eyebrows are brought together, and the forehead is wrinkled, usually indicating displeasure, sadness or worry, or less often confusion or concentration. The appearance of a frown varies by culture. Although most technical definitions define it as a wrinkling of the brow, in North America it is primarily thought of as an expression of the mouth. In those cases when used iconically, as with an emoticon, it is entirely presented by the curve of the lips forming a down-open curve. The mouth expression is also commonly referred to in the colloquial English phrase "turn that frown upside down" which indicates changing from sad to happy. (Wikipedia)

Sometimes I choose the "word of the day" based on whether I think the word might or might not have an amusing Wikipedia entry. Today is one of those days.

So what can we say about today's crossword? Well, it's a five-by-five grid of white boxes, with a few black boxes in there as well. In the completed gird, the white boxes all have letters in them, but the black boxes don't. The letters spell words or groups of words when read left-to-right or upside-d0wn. These resulting words are then "clued" via a series of, um, clues, which are printed over there on the side next to the puzzle. It is intended that the reader "solve" the puzzle by entering the intended "answers" into the grid as suggested by the "clues." The puzzle and its clues are composed by a terrestrial mammal designated "Joel Fagliano". This is apparently true of every crossword puzzle in existence.


PENN is not the name of a school [3D: Ivy League school in Philly]. I get that by referring to Philadelphia as "Philly" you are implying that the answer is going to be an abbreviation, but I don't buy that people refer to the school as just "PENN". I've never heard that. I can imagine it happening in a conversation, but only the context of the entire school name having already been state. Otherwise it seems like it would be confusing.

I didn't like FROWN, specifically because its too difficulty to reprint the emoticon-based clue here [7A: [See? It's impossible.]]. On my screen the little frowny face was too small to see without stopping and squinting right in front of the screen. Add to that the fact that that particular emoticon could easily be interpreted as several other things besides a FROWN and it amounts to a disproportionately unfriendly clue. All told I think this one clue probably doubled my solving time.

I suppose LEFT is trying to complement FROWN by being clued as [4D: [Look, I don't know how to make an arrow symbol on here, ok? Goddamned cutesy clue bullshit]]. It works, more or less I guess.

ARGON is decent [1D: Noble gas that makes up almost 1% of the Earth's atmosphere]. Although inert, It certainly engendered a bigger reaction than the rest of this puzzle. 

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, ignoble gas of CrossWorld