NYT Mini for Sunday, April 17, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Easy

Theme: None

Word of the Day: LACKS

Henrietta Lacks (1 August 1920 – 4 October 1951;[2] sometimes erroneously called Henrietta Lakes, Helen Lane, or Helen Larson) was an African-American woman who was the unwitting source of cells from her cancerous tumor which were cultured by George Otto Gey to create the first known human immortal cell line for medical research. This is now known as the HeLa cell line.[3] (Wikipedia)


Wow, what a great puzzle! I've never seen such a beautiful paean to the English language in all my years as a blogger. Such style! Such grace! Every answer a gem, and every clue a tight, efficient powerhouse of semantic distillation whose greatness even the most recalcitrant pedant among us must acknowledge. How can it ever get any better than this? It can't. After this puzzle there is nothing left for us to do but pack up our pencils and go home. We are never going to encounter a finer tribute to the indominatable spirit of humanity than this 5 x 5 crossword puzzle. HA HA [5A: "Lol"]!!

It's pretty clear the individual that penned this eyesore has to be a total CLOD [1A: Chunk of dirt]. Despite one or two potentially snappy entries here and there, the clues contain no real insight or joi de vivre, and the overall puzzle fails to cohere in any meaningful way. Just imagine how much better my clue for LACKS would have been, for instance [2D: Doesn't have]. Henrietta's unwitting contribution to science has benefited society to an extant that vastly exceeds her notoriety, and her story is one that everybody should have at least a passing familiarity with.

TECHY is pretty weak [6A: Good at fixing computers, say]. It's never a good sign of a clue's soundness when you are able to throw an answer into the grid with no crosses and no deliberation, then immediately think it has to be wrong. "That can't be right...can it?" It's at the same time both utterly obvious and difficult to take seriously. Though it's still better than CHEAT DAY, which I've never heard of my life [1D/4D: Time to eat brownies during a diet]. It google pretty well though, so, ok, fine I guess. But I don't like the implicit assumption that there is absolutely no diet out there that allows at least some quantity of brownies at some time or another.

is actually pretty nice [3D: "Funny meeting you here!"]. Although it just barely qualifies as enough of a specific phrase to justify its inclusion, it still manages to feel hep and contemporary. Unlike TRI [6D: Prefix with cycle or angle], which more or less screams 'old and dated'. Ugh...

Hopefully tomorrow's fare will be more conducive to not hating everything.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, Follow the Rules Day of CrossWorld