NYT Mini for Thursday, April 14, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Easy-Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: PLUOT

Pluots, apriums, apriplums, or plumcots, are some of the hybrids between different Prunus species that are also called interspecific (or IS) plums. In the United States and Canada, these fruits are known by most regulatory agencies as interspecific plums.[citation needed] Whereas plumcots and apriplums are first-generation hybrids between a plum parent (P. salicina or P. cerasifera or their hybrids), and an apricot (P. armeniaca), pluots and apriums are later-generations.[1][2] Both names "plumcot" and "apriplum" have been used for trees derived from a plum seed parent, and are therefore equivalent.[3][4] (Wikipedia)

Well this is just plum awful! It's dull, like 50's-era Secretary of State John Foster Dulles-level dull, and no amount of references to fruit could have changed that. Well, for all we know, two might have. But certainly the one didn't.

I've never heard anybody use 'apriplum', expect perhaps in jest, musing over the ridiculousness of PLUOT by appealing to an even more ridiculous construction [1D: Hybrid fruit that's also called an apriplum]. Or at least more transparently ridiculous. It's obvious 50% more inefficient, syllable-wise, and it's vexing that it contains all of one word and just a piece of the other instead of pieces of each like the more broadly accepted term does.

This fuckin' fruit shit is 'bout to get real

This fuckin' fruit shit is 'bout to get real

Although, hang on, I just finally read that Wikipedia intro and it turns out that the two things are actually NOT the same at all. One is a first-generation hybrid and the other is a latter generation. And even then, they have different gene profiles too, 25%-75% or vice versa. Weird. In case you're wondering, here's how you can remember what the various terms mean: The fruit that gets to be at the beginning of the word is the dominant one (e.g. Aprium is more apricot and Pluot is more plum), and it's the versions that retain more of the original words' letters (Apriplum/Plumcot) that are the first generation. I'm guessing they make the generational distinction because the first generation isn't very good to eat? I dunno. I care enough to think about it this much, but not quite enough to do any further research. Also, curious why it's always a 75-25 split and never 50-50. Maybe that's just how the genetics works, with like the fucking Punnett squares or whatever.

So the PLUOT clue is just flat-out wrong. That sucks. What else sucks? I think I'd have to say that ACUTE [6A: Like this angle: <] does, a little bit. I don't like the use of the < symbol in this way. What if I had my browser set with some weird font in which that symbol wasn't acute? Pretty unlikely, sure, but it's possible. Beyond that, it just doesn't quite track. Cluing the word spade with "♠" is, while annoying, completely defensible from a semantic standpoint. There is a one-to-one relationship between those things. But in the ACUTE clue, the symbol itself is referred to as "this angle". Well, "<" is not *an angle*. Nor does it represent one. It *has* the property of containing an angle, but that isn't the same. If the clue said "like the angle in this symbol: <" that would be a semantically correct clue. Then your only problem would be that the clue sucks.

Was doing two things at once while image searching and conflated the SNL characters of Pat and Stuart Smalley, Don't care now because YOUGETALFRANKEN

Was doing two things at once while image searching and conflated the SNL characters of Pat and Stuart Smalley, Don't care now because YOUGETALFRANKEN

VROOM [7A: NASCAR sound] is basically fine, I guess. It's got that mildly interesting letter combination, if nothing else. WALL-E is, of course, a great movie, and it used to be fun to see in puzzles [4A: Pixar robot], but by this point it's far outworn its welcome. PAT [1A: Motion while saying "Good dog!"] is just weird. Sure, petting a dog is technically a 'motion', but that's a bizarrely generic way to refer to it. Can't you at least call it a gesture or something? And PAT (as a noun) is already kind of a weird word to begin with, at least when it's all on its own like that. I think the verb or the SNL character would have been less off-putting, but I appreciate that the constructor was trying something different.

Well that's enough of this shit. I'm feeling [2D: Kind of saxophone], so I I'm going to go to bed (ALTO). 

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, apripluotangerinanagrape of CrossWorld