NYT Mini for Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

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Theme: O's, lots of O's, boy isn't the letter O great? — puzzle contains a shit ton of O's, and there's this revealer:

  • OHS [1A: Cries of surprise ... with a hint to all the non-y vowels found in this puzzle]

Word of the Day: SHOOT

In filmmaking and video production, a shot is a series of frames, that runs for an uninterrupted period of time.[1] Film shots are an essential aspect of a movie where angles, transitions and cuts are used to further express emotion, ideas and movement. The term "shot" can refer to two different parts of the filmmaking process:

In production, a shot is the moment that the camera starts rolling until the moment it stops.
In film editing, a shot is the continuous footage or sequence between two edits or cuts.[2] (Wikipedia)


This is a pretty classic example of stunt construction gone awry. I'm honestly not sure whether building a puzzle around the concept of only using one vowel is a good idea or not, but I do know that it's just not impressive in the slightest when your grid is this small. But that doesn't intrinsically make this a bad puzzle. Not at all; weird O-stunt aside this could be a perfectly fine puzzle if, say it with me now, the fill weren't so bad. But it is. Just really mind-bogglingly dull, with a side order of dull. And I have trouble consuming that much dull in one sitting.

About the revealer: I appreciate that there is one, that's cool, but it's a pretty inelegant one when you look at it closely. You can almost taste Joel's frustration at apparently not being able to get the puzzle to work without those Y's in the painfully legalistic phrase 'all the non-Y vowels'. Also, I'm not sure what the deal is with phrasing it as 'with a hint...', as the normal wording in this type of revealer is 'or a hint...', no? Not that it makes much difference because either way it seems a little awkward here. OHS isn't just a hint to the vowels, it *is* the vowels. Are the vowels? Whatever. Anyway B-minus for concept with this revealer, D-plus for execution.

So let's TRY to find something nice to say about this puzzle [9A: "___ not to laugh ..."]. Hmm..... Well it's always nice to see a little science in the grid, so I guess I like OHM'S [1D: ____ law (electricity principle)]. The clue isn't trying very hard though, I have to say. And I'm a fan of both Airplane! and Spaceballs, so it wasn't altogether irritating to see SPOOF [8A: "Airplane!" or "Spaceballs"], even if it was a bit transparent. Hmm. Maybe that's it for the positive stuff.

I do not know exactly when in my lifetime Sci-Fi became SYFY [6D: "Sharknado" cable channel], but I vigorously protest this change. Actually come to think of it, it probably happened around the time they started making stuff like "Sharknado". But who knows. Not a big fan of MOODY things, blues or otherwise [7A: Like teenagers, temperamentally], so that was kind of whatever. HO HOS [4A: Alternatives to Twinkies] feels a little off to me. As they're both made by Hostess, I don't really consider them 'alternatives' to each other per se. I mean it's not like they're rival snack food items, I guess is what I'm saying.

I can't decide whether I like the fact that this puzzle has, for no readily explicable reason, TWO basketball-themed entries right next to each other, in the form of HOOP [2D: Basketball target] and SHOOT [3D: Attempt to score in basketball]. Probably it's a bonus, though it does stand out in kind of a weird way considering this puzzle already has a theme, and specifically one that's about as far afield from basketball as you can get. A shame they couldn't be tied together in some way; I mean couldn't the O's also be little basketballs or something? Or at least squeeze in a third basketball reference somehow?

As is, I'm sorry to say this thing is a total air ball.

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, unwieldly sports metaphor of CrossWorld