NYT Mini for Saturday, April 23, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: The Uninspired Crossword Ever

Word of the Day: CAUSE

"Cause and Effect" is the 18th episode of the fifth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 118th overall. It was originally released on March 23, 1992, in broadcast syndication. It was written by Brannon Braga, who sought to write an unusual type of time travel related plot, and directed by cast member Jonathan Frakes.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, the Enterprise is caught in a time loop which results in the destruction of the ship and the loss of all hands after a collision with the USS Bozeman. As events re-occur, they begin to feel a sense of déjà vu and upon investigating, realize their predicament. Lt. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) realizes how to a pass a brief message to himself in the next loop, which allows him to save the ship from destruction. (Wikipedia)

Nope. This doesn't work on any level and my life was to some measurable degree made worse by the experience. There isn't a single clue/answer pair I don't find insipid in some way. From the dull ubiquity of HUCK [1A: Mark Twain boy] and IONS [7A: Charged particles] to the bizarre salesmanship of ACAI [5A: Berry that's loaded with antioxidants], to the insulting cuteness of SNOUT [6A: Schnozz for a schnauzer], this whole thing is an ugly, convoluted snoozefest.

Side note: Why is the schnozz under discussion *for* a schnauzer? That feels weird to me. Maybe the schnozz wants to be on its own; did anybody ever think of that? Doesn't this schnauzer already have its own schnozz?? And why do I hate the word 'schnozz' so much?

Just look at the clue for the already-hideous-on-its-own U CONN [2D: Sch. whose women's basketball team has won four straight N.C.A.A. titles]. It's a travesty. I stopped reading even before the word basketball. What leads a bright, promising young constructor to compose a long-winded trainwreck like that clue? Totally strange. It's like a monument to everything that could be done wrong in a crossword.

Everything else is just rote, paint-by-numbers garbage. HANOI [1D: Capital of Vietnam] is—and this has been confirmed by a team of scientists—literally the most boring way you could clue that city. Don't know anything else about Hanoi? Yeah, I don't either. But that's ok, because this shortbus of a puzzle has our back. Aren't you glad you weren't asked to broaden your mind by actually potentially learning something?

KIT [4D: Holder of first-aid supplies] provides nothing more stimulating, aside from a brief but amusing moment where my brain thought the clue might be (inexplicably) referring to Attorney General Eric Holder. SIP [6D: Savor, as win] is just about as perfunctory as you can get, I think. Even PINE [8A: Tree with needles instead of leaves] feels bizarrely inelegantly worded in a way that falls flat.



And finally, rounding out this freak show, CAUSE gives us the ever-dreaded fill-in-the-blank fail for today [3D: _____ and effect]. It's only by appealing to Star Trek that I was able to salvage a word of the day from this puzzle. Bonus points for anyone who gets why there's a Kelsey Grammer picture up there (Ok, it's because he's in the episode).

Uck. Just dreadful. Looks like Will Shortz must have read my blog yesterday!

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, independent schnozz of CrossWorld