NYT Mini for Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: C-Span:

C-SPAN (/ˈsiːspæn/), an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable and satellite television network that was created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service. C-SPAN televises many proceedings of the United States federal government, as well as other public affairs programming. The C-SPAN network includes three television channels (C-SPAN, C-SPAN2 and C-SPAN3), one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming media and archives of C-SPAN programs. C-SPAN's television channels are available to approximately 100 million cable and satellite households within the United States, while WCSP-FM, also called C-SPAN Radio, is broadcast on FM radio in Washington, D.C., and is available throughout the U.S. on XM Satellite Radio, via Internet streaming, and through apps for iOS, BlackBerry and Android devices. (Wikipedia)

This puzzle is rather striking in its banality. The whole thing just sits there, waiting for some kind of reaction from me. But it's just So Boring! What am I supposed to do with this?

You can get a basic idea for how exciting this thing is by noting that I chose fucking C-SPAN as the word of the day [1A: Channel for political junkies]. That go to punchline of boringness, that textbook picture of monotony. It's a triumph of mediocrity that this thing manages to be so dull without even having any black squares. What. the.

There isn't even anything particularly bad to complain about. All the answers just kind of sit in this nether realm of not-quite-remarkableness. I'm sure ACURA is the [6A: Maker of the RLX, MDX, and TLX], but I'll never know for sure because I fell asleep halfway through that alphabet soup of car model names. Sure, [2D: Richter or pH] are both SCALEs, but pairing such a gimme with such a common word is in no way rewarding or satisfying in the slightest.

CAWED is accurately defined as [1D: Made a harsh birdcall], but so what? Where's the "aha" moment here? Instead I'm forced to entertain myself by pretending 'harsh' refers to the birdcall's message rather than its timbre. And having written that thought down I can tell you it is NOT entertaining.

It goes on. ARDOR is [4D: Intense passion]NASTY means [5D: Mean-spirited]. Why oh why are these clues considered worthy of publication? If it were one or two of them, that would be one thing, but when it's the entire puzzle it just makes me feel like it was done out of spite, or perhaps just plain contempt for the solver. A kind of willful, nihilistic commentary on the lonely, meaningless life of a crossword puzzle constructor. With T. S. ELIOT thrown in for punctuation 8A: Poet who created J. Alfred Prufrock].

Whatever. I don't read T. S. Eliot poems that aren't the basis for hit Broadway musicals.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Mungojerrie of CrossWorld