Iconic U.S. cabinetmaker of early 1800s / MON 6-12-16 / Spinal cord cell needed for muscle contraction / Four Corners-area tribesman
Monday, June 13, 2016
Constructor: Lynn Lempel
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (i.e. above-average difficulty For A Monday)
THEME: FOOL AROUND (64A: Engage in some horseplay ... or a hint to the words spelled out in the circles) — circles on either end of the themers (so, "around" the edges of the answers) spell out words that are (allegedly) synonymous with "fool"
- DOUBLE PARK (17A: Leave one's vehicle in a traffic lane, say)
- DUNCAN PHYFE (24A: Iconic U.S. cabinetmaker of the early 1800s)
- CHEST BUMP (37A: Physical expression of victory)
- MOTOR NEURON (55A: Spinal cord cell needed for muscle contraction)
Duncan Phyfe (1768-16 August 1854) was one of nineteenth-century America's leading cabinetmakers. // Although he did not create any new furniture style, he interpreted fashionable European trends in a manner so distinguished and particular that he became a major spokesman for Neoclassicism in the United States, influencing a whole generation of American cabinetmakers. (wikipedia)
• • •
DUNCAN "what the" PHYFE. I needed every. Single. Cross to get that name. This is literally the first I'm seeing it / hearing of it. The idea that that is a Monday name is hysterical. I kept waiting for that last name to become a recognizable brand or ... recognizable anything, really. But no. "Iconic"? Well, to be fair, I couldn't name *any* cabinetmakers, iconic or not. But I'm going out on a limb here and saying that That answer, far far far beyond all the others, will be the big "?" of the day for most solvers. I don't mind him in a crossword; I mind him at least a little in a *Monday* crossword. Maybe there is some reason older solvers will know it? Maybe cabinetmaking is like horse-racing in that people used to care about it? I don't know. All I know is there is only one "iconic" Duncan and that's Duncan Hines.
Without some interesting kind of twist, this whole "around"-type concept (an old one) doesn't do much for me. I don't really recognize the circled words as synonyms, and DORK in particular feels like a real outlier.
What made this somewhat harder than usual, besides the cabinet dude, was SNIFF AT (wanted SNEER) and the generic NATIONS as an answer for the specific-sounding 43D: Slovakia and Slovenia. Those SW and NE corners in general were odd—grid overall is super duper choppy, but those corners are big and open, and as such are somewhat tougher than normal (for a Monday) to fill. I still broke 3 minutes, but just barely.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]