NYT Mini for Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: SUBWAY — I guess there are some words vaguely relating to subways or whatever

Theme answers:

  • STILE — 4A: Subway entrance feature
  • TRAIN — 6A: Subway runner
  • SEATS — 8A: Subway car liner

Word of the Day: STILE

A stile is a structure which provides people a passage through or over a fence or boundary via steps, ladders, or narrow gaps. Stiles are often built in rural areas along footpaths, fences, walls or hedges to prevent farm animals moving from one enclosure to another whilst allowing path users still to use the route. (Wikipedia)


Well this puzzle certain may have STILE, it's got absolutely no style. And if that bit of wordsmithery doesn't amuse you, then you now understand some small shard of the depth of my disappointment in this puzzle.


I really don't get how this kind of theme can be stimulating for anybody who is not five years old. It's basically "Here are some words that can kind of go into the same category; enjoy!" The whole thing is pretty baffling. That wouldn't even be a problem if at least some of the words were interesting, but since that is NOT the case, it is in fact kind of a problem. Just think about it: The most exciting answer in this thing is emblem of dullness and obstruction that people hate but have to deal with daily (Oh, by the way, I do not recommend google image searching the word 'obstruction'). And what's up with the clue for SEATS? Last time I checked, 'liner' was a singular noun, but the answer is plural. Sure, I guess subway seats are in some sense a conglomerative entity since they are attached to each other, but the word 'seats' still refers to multiple things so this is really just plan wrong.

Then we've got all this crummy, abbreviated stuff. I've never liked the slangy GENTS as an answer [3D: Ladies and _____] (it's really better NOT to make me think about bathrooms as much as possible while solving your puzzle), and STDS is gross in, I suppose, multiple ways [4D: Things taught about in health class: Abbr.]A-LIST, to me, just looks like 'a list", as in "hey, here's a list" [2D: Top celebs], and TAG [1A: Identify in a Facebook photo], which is trying to be hip and contemporary, comes off as extra irksome because a version of it (TAGGING) also appeared at in the regular puzzle today. I think this had to be intentional since it's at 1-down in that puzzle. Maybe it was intended to be cute, but it just highlights the shortcomings of the mini. It says "Hey, remember words longer than five letter? Yeah, you don't get any of those here."

I could probably also do with TIARA [1D: Pageant headwear]. I feel like that word needs to be retired from crosswords for a while, as it's not going to win any linguistics pageants any time soon. Probably ditto for TRUE [5D: T on a test], which is not helping matters by putting the word 'test' so close to the word STDS.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, conglomerative entity of CrossWorld