NYT Mini for Friday, February 12, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: CHAW

Chewing tobacco is a type of smokeless tobacco product consumed by placing a portion of the tobacco between the cheek and gum or upper lip teeth and chewing. Unlike dipping tobacco, it is not ground and must be manually crushed with the teeth to release flavour and nicotine. Unwanted juices are then expectorated (spat).

Chewing tobacco is typically manufactured as several varieties of product – most often as loose leaf (or scrap), pellets (tobacco "bites" or "bits"), and "plug" (a form of loose leaf tobacco condensed with a binding sweetener). Nearly all modern chewing tobaccos are produced via a process of leaf curing, cutting, fermentation and processing or sweetening. Historically, many American chewing tobacco brands (which were popular during the American Civil War era) were made with cigar clippings. (Wikipedia)

I thought it was called 'chew'? Because, you know, you chew it. Where does CHAW come from [1A: Mouthful of  tobacco]? Is that just from people mispronouncing 'chew' or there some other, more interesting origin story? $20 to the first person in the comments who can answer this definitively.


Did not care for this one in particular. I thought the cluing was vague and patchy. First off, I wanted something more specific for HOURS [5A: Posting on a store window]. Thought the clue was looking for the actual word(s) to be posted, e.g. "open" or "closed". It was not. Then there's NOISY for [8A: Like frat parties and hotel runways]. I have no doubt this is generally true, but it feels arbitrary to me. Lots of other things are noisy. Hotel runways are not *necessarily* noisy, are they? Do I even know what a 'hotel runway' is? Is it just the lobby? I'm assuming it's just the lobby/entryway. Anyway, I would definitely expect something more specifically attributable to these two things to go here.

Clue for AUDIO also feels bizarrely low-effort [3D: Sound portion of a broadcast]. The "sound portion" of anything is AUDIO; why have you brought the broadcast concept into this? There's either too much or too little information in this clue. If you really feel you have to invoke the whole 'broadcast' thing, get rid of the word 'sound', and then find some more roundabout way to point to AUDIO. Like "Broadcast portion necessitating a pop filter, perhaps" or somesuch. See how that's marginally clever, and hence more interesting? It's just so unsatisfying when you completely give away the answer in the first word of a clue and then tack on a bunch of unnecessary crap. It's insulting, and embarrassing.

Had trouble with INDIA, I have to admit [7A: Biggest democracy in the world]. Should be a gimme, but there you go. I think I tripped myself up by wondering if it was one of those countries that isn't really democratic but has "Democratic" in its name. You know what I'm talking about.

I don't think CHIN [1D: It rests on a violin] is very good. It feels confused to me, somehow. Something about the interaction between the CHIN, the CHIN rest, and the violin feels inartfully captured by this clue. Like it's trying to be clever beyond its means somehow. I don't know. $20 to the first person in the comments who can explain why this clue is bad.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Noisy Audio of CrossWorld