NYT Mini for Friday, February 19, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Drastically medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: KIOSK

Kiosk is a pioneering Iranian rock band (The Berlin Daily Newspaper)[2] founded by Arash Sobhani in Tehran in 2003. After censorship and restriction by Iranian authorities, its musicians immigrated to the U.S. and Canada.[3] The band has since toured throughout the world[4][5] and released seven albums.[6][7] Kiosk is known for its satirical lyrics, which provide a socio-political commentary of life in Iran, as well as its blend of several music styles, from Iranian folk to gypsy jazz to rock.[8] Kiosk's music has been described by BBC World as "songs that speak to a generation...Kiosk's stinging political satire is hidden within its blues and folksy sound."[9] Haaretz has referred to Kiosk as the most popular Iranian rock band in the Iranian diaspora,[10] while Ahram Online describes how the band gives a voice to their generation.[11] Kiosk's live album "Triple Distilled," recorded at Yoshi's Jazz Club, was chosen by presenter Mark Coles from BBC World's "World of Music" as one of the ten best world music albums of the year, alongside such artists as Paolo Conte and Ali Farka Touré.[12] TIME Magazine has called Kiosk "a band that can criticize the Iranian government without retribution,"[13] while Frontline PBS has praised their "eclectic sound that incorporates a multitude of instruments and styles." The Guardian and Radio Free Europe have reported on Kiosk's popularity amongst young Iranians.[14][15] Frontman Arash Sobhani's lyrics have been referenced by The New York Times[16] and referred to by the Frankfurt General Newspaper as "a guiding light for many,” [17] while Frontline PBS refers to Sobhani's “poignantly powerful lyrics...and smooth, melodic tone that belies the fire and rage of one of Iran's most prolific contemporary social critics."[18] As Aslan Media, founded by Reza Aslan, writes: "Kiosk offers an honest opportunity for self-reflection in a society that has nearly seventy-percent of its population under the age of thirty. For younger generations of the diaspora who have yet to visit their parents’ homeland, Kiosk delivers unpretentious music that speaks of a society caught between East and West, trapped between past and present, leaving no direction to look but within."[19] (Wikipedia)

Appalling. Just completely, unabashedly wretched. I'm not gonna be the one to come right out and say the phrase "worse than Hitler", but between you and me, this puzzle is worse than Hitler.

So how about that Wikipedia article, eh? Is that way too long an introductory paragraph, or what? Learn to write, assholes! Also, I'm not sure Reza Aslan is the most convincing authority to quote regarding socio-politically conscious Iranian gypsy/jazz fusion rock music.  Or anything else, of course!

Sure, I know it's just his website, but why would you bother pointing out that it's his website when it already has his name in it? That's just weirdly bad writing. Then again, consulting the original article, it seems it's penned by "staff writer", which obviously means Reza himself, so I guess we can conclude that he is, indeed, a diehard KIOSK groupie [3D: Newsstand booth]. Whoa, there we go! Finally got to the puzzle.

I don't know what leads Joel Fagliano to put DKNY is his 5x5 puzzles, but he seems to enjoy it because he does it over and over again, with no justification [9A: Designer label letters]. This is NOT a desirable answer, bro! This is, in point of fact, a jumble of letters masquerading as a legitimate word. There's literally no reason to ever have to resort to stuff like this with such a small grid, so I guess we're left to presume he actually (inexplicably) likes this as an answer.

Worse, we get STORE  [7A: Target or J. C. Penny], which easily could have made for a slightly interesting cross-reference with the aforementioned fashion label—"place to find 9-Acrosses", maybe. But, since this is Fagliano, we don't get that bare minimum effort. Instead we get even more brand name drops that barely rise to the level of the 'basic definition' type clue.

Then we have just utter crap, like HAS ON [8A: Is wearing]. You know what that is? It's a verb and a preposition. Yup, that's what that is. That is horrifying. It's definitely worse that GEN Y [6D: Millennials, informally], which just looks like "GENY" no matter what the constructor would have us think. ENRON, while having the benefit of being a legitimate word, is pretty tired crosswordese so no help there [4D: Energy giant that went bankrupt in 2001]. Literally never heard WOKE used in that context before [1A: Aware of the way the world really works, in modern slang]. 'Awake,' yes, not 'woke.' I'm not convinced that we need both of them.

Ugh, does literally everything in this thing suck? No, I guess OCTAD is ok [2D: Group of eight]. Yeah, keep OCTAD, scrap the rest and start over.


Catchphrase signoff!!