NYT Mini for Monday, March 7, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: Parties — Theme answers are words than cat precede 'party':

  • TOGA — [1A: ____ party]
  • TEA — [1D: ___ party]
  • GREEN — [3D: _____ party]

Word of the Day: A TEAM

The A-Team is an American action-adventure television series, running from 1983 to 1987, about a fictitious former United States Army Special Forces unit who, after being court-martialed "for a crime they didn't commit", escape from military prison and, while still on the run, work as soldiers of fortune. A feature film based on the series was released by 20th Century Fox in June 2010. (Wikipedia)

Boy, those three words sure are some words than can precede 'party'! Yowza!

I guess I'm not totally alienated by this theme, inasmuch as I didn't actually notice it while I was solving the puzzle. It was really only in going back through the clues to select tags for this post that I noticed the recurring pattern. So if there were some kind of hippocratic OATH{s} for crossword puzzle themes, I suppose this one would not be in violation of it [2D: Hand-on-the-bible utterances]. Which is more than I can say for the clue for OATHS; jeez, way to be all Christian-normative, crossword clue! Guess us heathens aren't allowed to promise things.

I could have done without AS AM I being in this puzzle [4D: "Me too!"]. I could probably, in point of fact, survive life without ever seeing that entry in a crossword puzzle again. Ditto M.I.T. [7D: School that hosts an annual Mystery Hunt]. We'll see how that goes. HEMI is annoying because there's always the chance that it's going to to turn out to be the synonymous DEMI [8A: Prefix meaning "half"]. I guess you never see a puzzle reference "Hemi Moore" though.

Don't pretty much all presidential caricatures include big EARS [5A: Prominent features of an Obama caricature]? I don't think I can think of one that doesn't. As for SNIT, it's one of those words that sounds like something slightly different than what it actually is [9A: Sulky mood]. It sounds so similar to 'spat' or 'tiff' that I think it's another word for that. But you know what? It's not. It's just not.

Thankfully, the A TEAM is right there at the center of this puzzle to salvage it [6A: First-string players]. I just can't stay mad at a puzzle that references that oddly well-beloved piece of pop culture (even if it isn't clued that way), nor can I explain why it's so well-beloved. I mean, I've literally never seen it; I just know that I am supposed to find it amusing. And I totally do.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, toga-tea party of CrossWorld