Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Body Language” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re looking a part of the body. There were five theme entries and I spotted DENTAL hiding in HIDDENTALENTS right away, unlocking step one of the meta:
- [20a: Skills that surprise people]: HID(DENTAL)ENTS
- [25a: In an unserious way]: J(OCULAR)LY
- [38a: Chilean president overthrown in a 1973 coup]: SALVAD(ORAL)LENDE
- [47a: Leader of a pride of lions, perhaps]: OL(DERMAL)E
- [53a: Kept a good pace, as a horse might]: GALLO(PEDAL)ONG
PEDAL was the last one to drop: I think of it as a pedal on a bike, as opposed to FOOT-related (which is another definition). Spotting step two took me a while. I ran down some blind alleys including ORAL/LORAL and OCULAR/CIRCULAR, but those rabbit holes fizzled out. I set the puzzle down for a bit and step two emerged: each related body part mapped to a grid entry with one letter swapped:
- DENTAL: TOOTH -> T(R)OTH
- OCULAR: EYE -> E(E)E
- ORAL: MOUTH -> MO(N)TH
- DERMAL: SKIN -> (A)KIN
- PEDAL: FOOT -> FOO(L)
The swapped letters spell RENAL, relating to the KIDNEYS, our contest solution. I was tempted to end with Keller William‘s Kidney in a Cooler, a song I often included in the music mixes I created for the the long ride to Moosehead Lake for summer vacation with my family (much to the dismay of my children). So we’ll end with this fun cover of REO Speedwagon’s Roll With the Changes with Carlie Green on lead vocals.
Interesting, I had submitted KIDNEY, not KIDNEYS, and in retrospect I’m not sure which is correct, both? In the puzzle, DENTAL refers to tooth, even though the definition I found for DENTAL was “relating to the teeth”, and renal is “relating to the kidneys”.
I think kidneys are actually more commonly referred to as a set, although we talk about someone donating a kidney, so it’s less clear than a plural such as “pants”. Still I think KIDNEYS is probably a better answer.
A body part suggests kidney, singular.
It’s tooth not teeth and foot not feet.
For some reason, these are always the first two meta mechanisms I check when doing metas. Are there words hidden across two words in the themers? Can I map to other grid entries with one letter changed/missing? Gave me a nice quick solve this time!
I also submitted kidney as all of the clues were singular. For some reason this meta felt familiar to me. Troth/tooth appearing directly above dental jumped out as I was completing the grid. The rest fell into place quickly.
I was going to give this Meta rave reviews until I found that the answer is plural not singular, which I don’t see making any sense. I would think both answers would be acceptable since getting to RENAL is a grand accomplishment. This is the trouble with metas that have answers that need to be derived outside of grid letters.
Judging by the answer given with the Monday puzzle, KIDNEY(S), they will accept either.
I spent a little while going down the (A)WALK – PEDAL, (I)SEE – OCULAR, SAY(S) – ORAL rabbit hole before noticing TROTH, MONTH, etc.
Wasn’t sure of my KIDNEY answer until I saw (G)OOP becoming POOP.
I spent a good while trying to make TONGUE work out as the answer, inspired by the “language” of the title. Of course, LINGUAL never revealed itself in the grid, so I abandoned that strategy and eventually found the correct solution.
Them’s the licks!
Anybody notice that from the J in 25A to the C in common with 3D, that that plus the rest of 3D spells JOCULAR
The solution mechanism was the 2nd path I tried, but unfortunately one fatal error drowned me: For “ocular” I tried changing “tsars” to “tears” leaving me with RSNAL instead of RENAL. I was unable to recover.I’m taking this positively as a lesson learned.
Correction: I wasn’t able to recover.