NYT Mini for Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None, unless...Marco Rubio? Whatever.

Word of the Day: OOF

What is OOF?    
OOF is "Out Of Office"
OOF Definition / OOF Means
The definition of OOF is "Out Of Office"
The Meaning of OOF
OOF means "Out Of Office"
So now you know - OOF means "Out Of Office" - don't thank us. YW! 
What does OOF mean? OOF is an acronym, abbreviation or slang word that is explained above where the OOF definition is given. (Internetslang.com)

Pass. There really isn't anything remotely of interest here. First off, I must call your attention to the letter string OOF, which appears a whopping TWO times in this 5x5 grid. That is unacceptable. It really is, when I think about it in the fullness of time, a punch in the gut [5D: Punch-in-the-gut reaction]. Such a duplication would be merely unfortunate in a full-size puzzle, but in a Mini it simply is unforgivable, fine word though SPOOF may be [7A: "SNL" staple].

I'm sure this was a consequence of the decision to build a grid around MARCO RUBIO, but that doesn't make it any better [4A/6A: 2016 presidential hopeful]. Some names just aren't conducive to building a crossword grid around, and if this was the only way to do it, it shouldn't have been done. Look, let's dispel this notion that Joel Fagliano doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing.

This doesn't relate to anything, but it's pretty good, yeah?

This doesn't relate to anything, but it's pretty good, yeah?

And it's not like the OOF duplication is the only consequence of that decision. No, the rest of this thing eats one also. Look at this rottenness. We've got TAS up north, about which the less said the better [1A: Univ. aides]. Then there's MRS, which is all kinds of not trying hard enough [4D: "Here's to you, ___ Robinson], not to mention dated thanks to that crusty clue (Just to clarify: the song is timeless, the clue is crusty). Then, to cap off (OOF) things in the south we have, well, a suffix for south. How lame is your puzzle when it's this tiny and you still have to pull out things like ERN to make it work [8A: Suffix with north or south]. The amount of lameness is approximately: Very. Very lameness.

Then again, there's a bright spot in the form of TAUPE, which I know I've heard of before yet still somehow sort of floors me [1D: Brownish gray]. Do you guys think TAUPE hangs out with MAUVE in its spare time? I bet it totally does. Or maybe one is a SCION of the other [3D: Descendant ... or a Toyota model]? Either way, they both got nothing on carnadine.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, pervenche of CrossWorld