NYT Mini for Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative Difficulty: Medium

Theme: None

Word of the Day: STARK

House Stark of Winterfell is an exiled Great House of Westeros, ruling over the vast region known as the North from their seat in Winterfell. It is by far one of the oldest lines of Westerosi nobility, claiming a line of descent stretching back over eight thousand years. The head of the house was the Lord of Winterfell. Before the Targaryen conquest, the leaders of House Stark ruled over the region as the Kings in the North.

Their rule in the North seemingly ended after the events of the Red Wedding when House Frey and House Bolton betrayed them, and Roose Bolton personally killed King Robb Stark. Both the North and Winterfell have since been taken over by the Boltons but their hold has been jeopardized now that Sansa Stark has escaped their clutches after learning that her brothers Bran and Rickon Stark are still alive.

House Stark's sigil is a grey direwolf on a white field, sometimes white and pale green. They are one of the few noble Houses whose family words are not a boast or threat. Instead, the House Stark family motto is a warning, one that, no matter the circumstances, will always be relevant: "Winter is Coming. [sic] (Game of Thrones Wiki)

Meh. Just one big gigantic trove of meh. I don't know why we keep putting up with this, day after day, but here we are. Let's try to make the most of it.

Is it just me, or is Game of Thrones incredibly boring? Now I haven't actually seen any of it, but just try to get through all of that intro to the wiki article on the "House STARK" without falling asleep [8A: House in "Game of Thrones"]. If it's possible, I have yet to see any evidence of it. Reading those three paragraphs is like all the dull dreariness of actual history with none of the reward. Just....dreadful. But the show is popular, so this puzzle gets to reference it. Fine. Much as I might prefer to throw up my ARMS and say "fuck all" and be done with this stupid blog once and for all, I have an obligation to you, dear reader, to continue [1D: Gives weapons].

Anyway, as is probably obvious from the above, I'd have likely clued STARK via some kind of reference to the Marvel Comics character. To be honest, one is probably as good as the other, as far as pop cultural references go. Or it would be, if not for the fact that the latter would allow for a nice cross-reference when it came to LEE [9A: Loser at the Battle of Gettysburg]. Heck, even ARMS could have been weaseled in there as well, since the character made his fortune selling them as far as I remember. As for LEE, I threw in CSA initially, which slowed me down for a second, not that I'm bitter about it.

Didn't notice most of the down clues on this one, so I was surprised to see that SAKE was not clued as the beverage [6D: "For Pete's ____!"]. I think my interpretation is better, if only because it's not a damn partial. Seriously, why is this shit still acceptable to the insane degree that it is? I would love to live in a world where the Mini only saw a partial/fill-in-the-blank clue on the order of once a week. Two a day is simply unacceptable. That is, in fact, a BOAT I cannot get on [2D: Yacht or dinghy].

The other such clue, MARIA [7A: Santa _____ (famous ship)], is pretty awful. On the plus side, unlike STARK, it does at least deal with actual, real fucking history, which is cool and all, but the clue just does not need to be in that format at all. Would have preferred some totally unrelated clue for MARIA that actually stands on its own.

How about "Bernstein heroine associated with a tritone"?

Signed, Jonathan Gibson, gigantic trove of meh of CrossWorld