NYT Mini for Thursday, February 18, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: HONDA

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (本田技研工業株式会社 Honda Giken Kōgyō KK?, IPA: [hoɴda] ( listen); /ˈhɒndə/) is a Japanese public multinational corporation primarily known as a manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment.

Honda has been the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer since 1959,[4][5] as well as the world's largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines measured by volume, producing more than 14 million internal combustion engines each year.[6] Honda became the second-largest Japanese automobile manufacturer in 2001.[7][8] Honda was the eighth largest automobile manufacturer in the world behind General Motors, Volkswagen Group, Toyota, Hyundai Motor Group, Ford, Nissan, and PSA Peugeot Citroën in 2011.[9]

Honda was the first Japanese automobile manufacturer to release a dedicated luxury brand, Acura, in 1986. Aside from their core automobile and motorcycle businesses, Honda also manufactures garden equipment, marine engines, personal watercraft and power generators, and other products. Since 1986, Honda has been involved with artificial intelligence/robotics research and released their ASIMO robot in 2000. They have also ventured into aerospace with the establishment of GE Honda Aero Engines in 2004 and the Honda HA-420 HondaJet, which began production in 2012. Honda has three joint-ventures in China (Honda China, Dongfeng Honda, and Guangqi Honda). (Wikipedia)

Is this the IDEAL  crossword puzzle [6A: ____ gas law (much discussed during Deflategate)]? No, it is not. Does it live up to its HYPE [8A: "Don't believe the ____"]? Yeah, I guess so, given that our collective expectations are so low at this point you would need some variety of entrenching tool to locate them. I would even go so far as to say this puzzle ONE-UPs the one from yesterday, but then again yesterday's inspired a Hudsucker Proxy reference so...it's probably a wash [2D: Outdo].

But at least we've got TOAD; that guy's pretty awesome [1A: Warty amphibian]. Pretty fast at digging, if I understand correctly (I do not). And I actually do enjoy the pith of DALE's clue [4D: Chip's chipmunk friend]. I'm not sure I'd call them 'friends' though; isn't Chip, like, kind of a dick to DALE? I believe that he is.

One thing TODAY has is, um, the word TODAY, I guess [1D: Show co-hosted by Matt Lauer]? "Wow, how did they know???" Ugh. Look, there's just nothing here to talk about. I could tell you some anecdote about exactly how HIGH one would need to be to find this puzzle at all challenging [5D: Stoned], but at a certain point it just feels like beating a dead horse, to use, um, an ADAGE [3D: "Honey catches more flies than vinegar"]. Nah, that isn't really an adage. Oh well, I've tried hard enough.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Gadget of CrossWorld