NYT Mini for Thursday, February 4, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium-Challenging

Theme: None

Word of the Day: PERTH

Perth /ˈpɜːrθ/ is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia. It is the fourth-most populous city in Australia, with an estimated population of 2.02 million (as of 30 June 2014) living in Greater Perth.[1] Perth is part of the South West Land Division of Western Australia, with the majority of the metropolitan area of Perth located on the Swan Coastal Plain, a narrow strip between the Indian Ocean and the Darling Scarp, a low coastal escarpment. The first areas settled were on the Swan River, with the city's central business district and port (Fremantle) both located on its shores. Perth is formally divided into a number of local government areas, which themselves consist of a large number of suburbs, extending from Two Rocks in the north to Rockingham in the south, and east inland to The Lakes. (Wikipedia)

This is mostly pretty solid. You pretty much get me on your side when your puzzle has no black squares, so as long as there is nothing blatantly terrible to be found in the execution, it's going to garner at least a tepidly positive reaction.

I was born a little too late to really catch the whole PAGER thing [1A: Communication device that beeps]; while I was aware of them basically as a plot device in fiction growing up, by the time I was old enough to really encounter them directly they had pretty much already been replaced by cell phones. I don't know if it's even possible to buy them anymore at this point. They usually were depicted as just vibrating, not actually beeping, if memory serves, and my immediate answer to the clue was RADAR, which I much more associate with beeping. But 'communication device' may be a bit of a stretch there. I rest my case.

Wait, ok they definitely did beep:

Case closed.

Continuing the 'perhaps a bit dated electronic devices' trend we have TV SET, which is of course still a thing, but also something easily half of the people I know don't actually own anymore due to the convenience/ubiquity of streaming services, etc. [8A: Something controlled remotely?]. Yo dawg, I can watch movies at double-speed on my four-inch phone screen while podcasting and playing Angry Birds and texting, why I need a gotta have a big box in my living room? I ELUDE that noise [6A: Get away from].

Speaking of, I hate getting ELUDE and EVADE and AVOID confused in puzzles. They're all basically the same word, if clued vaguely enough. Even ELIDE gets into the mix sometimes, but I don't want to ALLUDE to that. Sometimes it's all enough to make one require an ALEVE [2D: Pain reliever brand].

The clue on REIGN really made me want it to be a bathroom reference [7A: Time on the throne], but sadly this was not to be.

Yeah, that's the real problem with the Times crossword these days: Not nearly enough toilet references, your LOOS and your LAVS notwithstanding. Hey, you know where they have loos? PERTH, that's where [1D: Capital city of Western Australia]. I'm told by the internet that they also have 'dunnies', so take that for what it's worth (it is worth very little). PERTH sounds like a pretty rad place though.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, nong of CrossWorld