NYT Mini for Sunday, March 20, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: COURT

A court is a tribunal, often as governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law.[1] In both common law and civil law legal systems, courts are the central means for dispute resolution, and it is generally understood that all persons have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused of a crime include the right to present a defense before a court. (Wikipedia)

I don't like this. The stuff that isn't just outright junk is utterly and relentlessly boring. When the most exciting word in your puzzle is GROUT, you've got a problem [7A: Filling material for a tiler]. Just look at that clue. It says "yeah, I know it sucks, but this is what it is. I give up." What a disappointment.

Things don't improve much elsewhere. IGLOO is pretty tired crosswordese; the only way it could be made worse is if it were spelled wrong [6A: An ice place to live]. And that clue is painful. I can't tell if it's too cute by half or monumentally ugly. and HEART [8A: <3] actually feels like it's trying to be obnoxious.

I don't know why TENTS was given such a strange clue [9A: Shelters near a fire]. Yes, fires and TENTS are both associated with camping, but while the latter is pretty much a requirement that latter really isn't, and you certainly don't want your tent NEAR the fire. This is just off the mark, and completely unnecessarily so. And COURT [4D: Place for a suit case?] is also weird. No one calls it a suit "case"; it's just a suit. If you can't make the wordplay work, cut out the wordplay.

But the worst of the bunch has got to be the cheeky monstrosity that is A LOAN [3D: Take out _____ (borrow money]. That is by far the most egregious partial I've seen in quite some time. It's just a random noun with an indefinite article in front it it! Makes me literally sick. Wait, not literally. Figuratively sick. Yeah, that's it. It does make me literally irritated though.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, cheeky monstrosity of CrossWorld