Hit 1980s exercise video / MON 1-7-13 / Tech news site / Baldie's nickname / Vehicle of future since 1950s / Singsongy comment in a sticky situation
Monday, January 7, 2013
Constructor: Jim Peredo
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a Monday)
THEME: METAL MOUTH — actually, metal + body part (or body part + metal)
Word of the Day: ASWIRL (12D: Spinning dizzily) —
• • •Lots of great answers in this one. Looking back on it, I think it's a really fine puzzle, but as I was solving, I didn't fully appreciate it. For one, that NE corner beat me up—so many of those answers had plausible alternatives. I tried AWHIRL and ATWIRL, never considering ASWIRL (they're all relatively equally absurd words). Tried BAWL (?) and then HOWL before ever getting to YOWL (19A: Wailing cry). Had TALK TO for LOOK TO (11D: Consult). Worst of all, I had no idea what kind of CAR I was dealing with at 10D: "Vehicle of the future" since the 1950s (FLYING CAR). That clue, more than any of them, irritated the hell out of me. Why are there quotation marks? Who is saying that? Is that the slogan of the (non-existent) FLYING CAR? Quotation marks usually imply a slogan or at least a thing that is actually known to be said, so I was looking for something very specifically associated with the quoted part. Ridiculous cluing. Anyway, that corner was a disaster, but the rest was pretty normal Monday (skewing toward Tuesday) stuff. Yet even when I was done, I didn't get the theme. I had to ask my Facebook group because I couldn't believe it was just ... metals. And at the time I asked, I only noticed four theme answers. Then I noticed that there were two more, but still all I saw were metals. Finally someone clued me in that the metals were all attached to body parts. I would never consider "DOME" a body part (though obviously in this context it is), which is probably why this connection Never occurred to me. SKIN, first thing I think of is body part. HEART, ditto. BUNS ... well, yes, ditto, actually. DOME, no. FIST, yes. FOOT, yes. Also, BRONZE SKIN is kind of a GREEN PAINT answer. Arbitrary adj/noun pairing. Not very tight. Also, that phrase is the only non-figurative use of metal in the whole puzzle. The skin is literally bronze (in color), whereas in no other case is the "metal" used non-figuratively. I guess the idea is that the skin is not made of the metal bronze, but since bronze is a real color, there's nothing figurative here, which bugged me. So the theme wobbles slightly in places, but it's pretty tight overall, and it's very ambitious, and the phrases it yields are mostly great (hard to hate BUNS OF STEEL and CHROME DOME). It's a really wonderful grid. Probably more a Tuesday than a Monday puzzle, but still quite enjoyable.
[This. Is. Awesome]
Another fellow crossworder from my FB group points out that this is at least the fourth time this theme has appeared in the NYT. There's also here (Gorski), here (Kavanaugh), and here (S. Kahn), though, to be fair, today's seems to be the first with six theme answers, so it's the most ambitious (and arguably the best) of them all.
- 17A: Result of tanning (BRONZE SKIN)
- 28A: Generous spirit, metaphorically (HEART OF GOLD)
- 44A: Hit 1980s exercise video (BUNS OF STEEL)
- 58A: Baldie's nickname (CHROME DOME)
- 3D: What a tyrant rules with (IRON FIST)
- 38D: Speed demon (LEAD FOOT)
Gotta get back to watching some Kurosawa now. See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld