NYT Mini for Sunday, January 10, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the day: TIME

Time is a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future, and also the measure of durations of events and the intervals between them.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Time is often referred to as the fourth dimension, along with the three spatial dimensions.[8]

Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.[2][6][7][9][10][11] Nevertheless, diverse fields such as business, industry, sports, the sciences, and the performing arts all incorporate some notion of time into their respective measuring systems.[12][13][14] Some simple definitions of time include "time is what clocks measure",[6][15] which is a problematically vague and self-referential definition that utilizes the device used to measure the subject as the definition of the subject, and "time is what keeps everything from happening at once", which is without substantive meaning in the absence of the definition of simultaneity in the context of the limitations of human sensation, observation of events, and the perception of such events.[16][17][18][19] (Wikipedia)

I did not care for this. It has too many things that, when you examine them in their fullness, kinda suck. Here's a few of them.

  • IBAR [5D: Letter-shaped construction beam] - So, so sick of letter-shaped construction beams anywhere near my crosswords. You'd think every building in the world was just a hodgepodge of letter-shaped beams. This is not the case.
  • OBAMA [6A: "Dreams From My Father" author] - I think we have seen enough of this particular clue for Obama. Come on, the guy is the freaking president. He basically makes the front page every day; can't we find something more topical to reference about him?
  • ETAS [3D: Greek H's] - Plural of a greek letter? Yeah, sign me up for NOT that.
  • ORS [8A: Surgery sites, for short] - Another piece of stale, rat feces-infested crosswordese. Why did I get up this morning? I could have been dreaming about Nick Nolte instead of this!
  • ADAMS [1D: Douglas who wrote "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"] - Like literally everyone, I like the book. But how about something a little more specific/flavorful for a clue? This clue; the fruit, it hangs, with little altitude. Humbug. Surely you must know as a constructor than when you write a puzzle on autopilot like this the solver is going to be filling it in exactly the same way, so what's the point? Why are we here?
  • DID IT [4A: "Oops, I ____ again" (Britney Spears lyric)] - Ok, let's consider the ways that this sucks:
    1. Crappy partial
    2. Fill in the blank
    3. Reference is just the "right" vintage where it's too old to be hip and not old enough to be classic
    4. Totally unnecessary parenthetical
    5. Song title referenced as lyric (sure, it's both, but why would you go with lyric?)
    6. Lends absolutely no sense of joy or amusement, imparts naught but utter despair

For the record, although I don't mind the clue, I do not like that the guy's last name is JAMES [7A: "Fifty Shades of Grey" author E. L. ____]. James is a first name and we all know it. Now that I think about it, I don't like the clue either. Fill in the blahhhhhhhh

I had DO_O for DOJO [4D: Martial arts school] and threw in an M for some reason. Probably just because it was the first Japanese word I thought of and then didn't look closely enough to think about whether it was right. Anyway that made JAMES especially difficult to suss out. MAMES seemed like a plausible enough last name.

TIME [2D: A metronome keeps it] is ok. Not great, but ok.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Upsilon-bar of CrossWorld