NYT Mini for Saturday, March 5, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: SCONE

A scone is a single-serving cake or quick bread. They are usually made of wheat, barley or oatmeal, with baking powder as a leavening agent, and are baked on sheet pans. They are often lightly sweetened and are occasionally glazed with egg wash.[1] The scone is a basic component of the cream tea or Devonshire tea. It differs from a teacake and other sweet buns, which are made with yeast. (Wikipedia)

This is pretty weak. I don't understand how you can submit something like this and be proud of it. Where is the ambition, the passion, joie de vivre? This thing is bereft of all life of any kind and we are all intellectually the worse for having been exposed to it.

Take EVEN for instance [1A: Like 2016, but not 2015]. What is going on with that clue? Is that supposed to be clever? Are we supposed to think of the years, then realize it's just the numbers themselves being referenced, and then find that interesting? That scenario seems totally implausible to me and I don't buy it for a second. And yet that's the closest thing in this puzzle to any attempt at artistry or obfuscation. Every other clue just kind of hangs there, like a whole LOTTA [6A: "Whole _____ Love" (Led Zeppelin hit)] dictionary ENTR(Y)ies [3D: _____-level job].

To wit:

  • ALERT [7A: On the lookout] — That's what the word means!
  • VERY [8A: Extremely] — Yes, quite!
  • SLAV [5D: Czech or Serb] — Czech mate.
  • NEAT [4D: Without ice, as a drink] — And the drink I need to endure this puzzle is the only thing neat about it.

It's all so dreadfully ordinary. Even the halfway exotic fare like ECOLE is clued via the most basic dictionary translation [1D: French place of learning]. I feel like maybe VOTER is trying halfway to get to somewhere relevant and/or interesting, what with its topical clue, but it's just entirely too little, too late [2D: Super Tuesday participant]. I guess it probably doesn't help that the portents of this particular Super Tuesday were Extremely Depressing, does it?

Enough of this. I'm a go have a SCONE [5A: Biscuit often served with tea].

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Alert Voter of CrossWorld