NYT Mini for Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: UNITS — Theme answers are all scientific units and clued as such:

  • OHMS — 1A: Units of electrical resistance
  • FEET — 5A: Units of length
  • METER — 3D: Unit of length
  • ERGS — 9A: Units of work in physics

Word of the Day: TATUM

Channing Matthew Tatum (born April 26, 1980)[1][2] is an American actor, film producer, dancer, and model. Tatum made his film debut in the drama film Coach Carter (2005). His breakthrough role was in the 2006 dance film Step Up, which introduced him to a wider audience. He is known for his portrayal of the character Duke in the 2009 action film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its 2013 sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Although both G.I. Joe films received negative reviews from critics, they were commercially successful, grossing more than $300 million at the box office.

Tatum is also known for his portrayal as Magic Mike in Magic Mike (2012), and its 2015 sequel Magic Mike XXL, which he produced and was inspired by his early life, and Greg Jenko in the action-comedy film 21 Jump Street and its 2014 sequel, 22 Jump Street, based on the 1980s television series of the same name, achieving critical and commercial success. He also appeared in such films as Dear John (2010) and The Vow (2012). His other films include She's the Man (2006), The Dilemma (2011), White House Down (2013) and the drama Foxcatcher (2014), for which he received critical praise. (Wikipedia)

I think this mostly works, as far as it goes, but I will list some complaints about it anyway. First, it's not ideal that three of these units—OHMS, FEET, ERGS—are plural and one—METER—is singular. Then there's the fact that half are SI units and half aren't. The OHM is is the SI unit for electrical resistance; the METER is the SI unit for length. But the joule, not the ERG, is the one for work, and of course FEET is not only not an SI unit, it's yet another unit for length. Hmm. That's probably the bigger problem actually; the SI thing is ok since half fit and half don't, but having three unique attribute units and one duplicate is definitely undesirable.

Having said that, the sheer density of this theme is probably impressive enough to make up for it. Out of 21 letters, all but seven are part of theme answers. That's two-thirds, by my math. Put another way, every single answer is either a theme answer or intersects with one. So that's moderately impressive. I don't know, at a certain point it's increasingly clear that you can only do so much with a 5x5 grid and the idiosyncrasies of the English language to begin with.

I suppose the rest of the grid doesn't suffer too much for this theme. MDS is, of course, crap [7D: Physicians: Abbr.], and obviously no one is going to be much impressed by OFT [1D: Frequent, to a poet]. But the other words are decent filler. Who doesn't occasionally get STUNG [4D: Attacked by a jellyfish] by the urge to HEAVE something [2D: "____-ho!" (cry when lifting)]. Or, as the case may be, just HEAVE?

I don't really know what the deal is with this Channing TATUM guy; seems like he emerged from nothingness at some point in 2012 and everybody already knew who he was. That's fine. But I ain't buying whatever it is he's VENDing [8A: Sell]. Unless it's tacos.

Or, I guess, what is obviously going to be a really good Coen brothers film.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, erg vender of CrossWorld