Bantu speaker of southern Africa / TUE 2-9-16 / Unwelcome sign for latecomers / Soapy powder mineral / Apple CEO beginning in 2011
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Constructor: Lynn Lempel
Relative difficulty: Normalish?
THEME: THEME — compound words where the second part begins with "S" are reimagined as if they are verb phrases where the "S" is transferred to the end of the first part:
- BOMBS HELL (17A: Detonates a weapon in the underworld?)
- UPS TARTS (21A: Raises the price of some pastries?)
- TIMES HARES (34A: Clocks trainees for a fabled race rematch?)
- CHOPS TICKS (43A: Cuts up little bloodsuckers?)
- BEARS KIN (54A: Puts up with one's family?)
- EYES HADES (61A: Scrutinizes the underworld?)
Diana Nyad // (née Sneed; August 22, 1949) is an American author, journalist, motivational speaker, and long-distance swimmer. Nyad gained national attention in 1975 when she swam around Manhattan (28 mi or 45 km) and in 1979 when she swam from North Bimini, The Bahamas, to Juno Beach, Florida (102 mi (164 km)). In 2013, on her fifth attempt and at age 64, she became the first person confirmed to swim from Cuba to Florida without the aid of a shark cage, swimming from Havana to Key West (110 mi or 180 km). Nyad was also once ranked thirteenth among US women squash players. (wikipedia)
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PIRATES HIP) only ... it's not. No question mark clue ([Steals designs for a joint replacement?]). And the symmetrical Down (RED HERRING) has no theme qualities at all. My point here is the PIRATES HIP highlights the fact that you could replicate this theme All Day Long, with any compound word where the second part both begins with "S" and forms a new word when you remove the "S." The STICK possibilities alone are legion. So the theme is cute, but not exactly tight. And it's definitely been done. Strange and kind of funny—in a good way—to begin and end in the "underworld." I don't think UPS TARTS works that well, sense-wise; it's definitely the most strained phrase, in that all the others make instant (however bizarre) sense, but the price-raising meaning of UPS isn't readily apparent without the clue. You do the verb to the *price* of the tarts, not the tarts themselves (I think the clue is totally defensible, just wobbly compared to the others). Also, back to my point about how this theme is virtually infinite ... UPS WINGS, also viable. But it'll do. The fill is fine—better than fine, even. Very clean and very ... varied. Very varied. Very varied. Weird to say out loud, but it's accurate.
I can't be trusted as to Difficulty Level, as I solved first thing upon waking, when I'm frequently slow on the uptake. I had no idea what the theme even was until the grid was half filled. NW was filled very quickly, but I didn't trust the HELL part of BOMBS HELL for some reason, and wrote in TUTU for ZULU (an insane error where my brain was thinking TUTSI but ended up with Bishop Desmond TUTU). Took forever to get [Moor] to mean HEATH. Brain passed through at least two other "moors" before getting the right one. Had TAKE TO instead of MAKE DO at 45A: Get along. Wrote in THREE at 29D: Musketeers and blind mice, then used TIM / COOK to fix it (40A: With 43-Down, Apple C.E.O. beginning in 2011), but my "fix" led me to ... TRIAD. Clue is plural, answer should've been plural, but good luck telling 5:30am brain that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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