NYT Mini for Thursday, January 28, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: SLIDE

Slide (styled as SLiDE) is an Australian teen drama series which premiered on the Fox8 subscription television channel and aired from 16 August to 18 October 2011. The series follows the lives and exploits of five teenagers making their way into adulthood in the city of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. FOX8 confirmed in February 2012 a second season was not commissioned.

The series is multi platform and encourages the viewer to view extra content online via apps and social networking such as Facebook and Twitter. Webisodes of events that take place before and after each episodes —titled Before and After Bits— are also available on the show's official YouTube account.[1] The series is the second multi-platform scripted series on Australian television, after the ABC's Fat Cow Motel in 2004.[2]

This was tricky for me for three reasons:

Number one, I have no idea who CAM Newton is [1A: ___ Newton, QB in the upcoming Super Bowl 50]. I'm sure that will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog (both of you), but I would have much preferred for this to be clued as the (ill-understood) fastener. Not nearly enough love in the NYT for semi-obscure mechanical linkages, IMO. 

Number two, I have no idea who COLIN Jost is [1D: ____ Jost, co-host of S.N.L.'s "Weekend Update"]. As someone who has very meticulously managed to not see an episode of Saturday Night Live since about 1993, I don't have any knowledge of its current incarnation. As far as I know, Kevin Nealon is still the host of "Weekend Update", and this is the way I like it.

Number three, I couldn't see TON for very specific reasons that are actually my fault [8A: 2,000 pounds]. Namely, the "Dictionary of Numbers" extension I have installed in my browser that helpfully (though not in this case) inserts bracketed descriptions after large numbers that explain them via analogies that human minds will understand. In the case of the number 2000, the brackets say "[Metric ton/tonne]", which would really help get a sense of the number 2000, except that in this instance I thought it was part of the clue, so I thought TON obviously couldn't be the answer. All this is to say Dictionary of Numbers is a great extension most of the time and you should check it out, even if it won't help you solve crosswords.

Aside from the CAM/COLIN debacle, this was pretty so-so. Too many fill-in-the-blank clues though; we also got MODE [3D: Pie à la ____]. Seems to me you should avoid having three of your ten clues be fill-in-the-blank format, and it would have easily been done by cluing CAM as the fastener, or MODE as any of the definitions that word has. This was lazy.

We also have a partial in the form of A TAD [2D: Just slightly], which is less than desirable, and the less said about PSST the better [4D: "Hey you ... over here!"]. But I do like the PHOTO [4A: I.D. card feature] of the SALAD [6A: Chop'd or Tender Greens specialty] SLIDE [ 7A: Part of a Powerpoint presentation]. That's a slide I would like to play on right now, please.

If they put one of those in the next HALO game, I will buy it [5D: Popular Xbox video game series].

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Super Bowl L of CrossWorld