NYT Mini for Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: ANTS

Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae /fɔːrˈmɪsᵻdiː/ and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the orderHymenoptera. Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago anddiversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified.[4][5] They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.

nts form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of "workers", "soldiers", or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called "drones" and one or more fertile females called "queens". The colonies are described assuperorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.[6][7] (Wikipedia)

I'm confused about this panel. I'm assuming that the Wasp is not meant to actually be there in the physical reality of the comic, since Ant-Man is thinking to himself about how he wishes she were. But while his thoughts have a clear trail of circles leading to his head, the cloud thing containing Wasp doesn't. It's just over there by itself, not connected to anything, to say nothing of the fact that it's of a totally different character than Ant-Man's word-thought bubble. If it's his fantasy, shouldn't it be more clearly indicated in a manner consistent with the rest of his thoughts? Or, is she meant to be *suddenly appearing* in mid air behind him, at the exact moment he opines on her absence?? And is that a piano?

So we can thank ANTS for that unnecessary diatribe [3D: Aardvark's diet]. Is there an aardvark-themed super villain in the comics? Hmm.... Doesn't look like it! Seems like a missed opportunity, doesn't it? Get on it, Marvel. Leave a comment on this post and I'll tell you where you can drop off the dump truck full of cash. Then I'll retire to a life of EASE I guess [2D: Lack of difficulty].

Whoa [5D: "That's crazy, dude!"] now! Is it me or is CHEST awkwardly clued [6A: Place to store gold for a pirate]? Why is it " gold for a pirate"? Why not "pirate's gold"? That would sound so much more natural. Better yet, make the entire clue "pirate's cache" or something like that. Much snappier. Personally I would have preferred almost any other definition of CHEST anyway. This one's so trite it ACHE[4D: Muscle malady]

AW MAN [4D: "This is the worst!"], I forgot to talk about SMELT [1D: Process, as ore]! Well, let's do that now. I like the word SMELT, even though it's totally deceptive. It seems like it should be a portmanteau of 'melt' and some other verb, but in actuality it just comes to English through German, so that's not as fun.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Smaardvark of CrossWorld