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:

Theme answers:
  • 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?)
Word of the Day: Diana NYAD (57D: Long-distance swimmer Diana) —
Diana Nyad /ˈnˌæd/ (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)
• • •

This gimmick is timeworn, but neatly executed. There's one wonky thing about this puzzle that is bugging the heck out of me. I noticed late that the first long Down is *also* a themer (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

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  

Rex – I agree that the UPS TARTS is the biggest stretch, although I immediately saw an image of a couple of bombshells in tight brown uniforms…

I get a huge kick out of reparsing common phrases. It feels devious. Fun. This one reminded me of one of my favorite reparser themes:


I've never forgotten it.

To start off with BOMBS HELL and end with EYES HADES – so cool that Lynn noticed this pair. But wait; there's more – stack two entries with each of those. AND throw in two more themers. (And PIRATE'S HIP, wink wink. I guess this'll be the talk of the day.)

"See" before HAH and "gala" before BASH. Other than that, this was smooth sailing.

@M&A – I'm beyond jealous that people can email you, and I'm not among them. Pewitty on you, buddy.

Ms. Lempel, as always, a treat.

Lewis 6:44 AM  

@m&a -- the return of the backward HAR

If a theme is fun and all the theme answers clued this way are new -- and these all are, never clued with this gimmick before in the NYT -- then I say repeat the theme... please!

I usually love Lynn's puzzles and today's is no exception. Varied answers, a theme that makes you want to figure out the theme answers without many letters filled in, and cluing that doesn't insult the intelligence -- lots to love. There are some good answers -- STANCH, ADEPT, MAKEDO, and REDHERRING -- and a very clean grid. Lynn's puzzles do not have a tired feeling; they have pop -- like today's. Keep 'em coming, please Lynn!

Z 7:45 AM  

Agreed on UPS TART, but I'd throw BEARS KIN in the wobbly column. The other four were fine, but when a non-themer, PIRATES HIP, is better than a third of your themers maybe, just maybe, four themers were enough. It seems to me that we see more and more puzzles that go from good to not as good by trying to do too much. Otherwise, a fine, even better than fine, Tuesday.

I do have a question for the women here*; Have any of you ever worn a dress (or is that a skort?) with cleavage down to your navel like Ashley Monroe wears in that video? To me, unless it's taped down, I would think one would have to be so conscious of not leaning the wrong way that one couldn't enjoy whatever one was doing. Unless, of course, leaning the wrong way was the intent. I did notice that Ms. Monroe barely moves in the entire video.

*I guess men can answer, too.

chefbea 7:52 AM  

What a fun puzzle!!! Loved it. Got the theme at ups tarts.
Heath bars, three musketeers...yummm
Love herring and sour cream.

jberg 8:00 AM  

I was thinking this puzzle takes yuo to Hell and back, but I guess it's the other way around -- no expression for that as far as I know. Fun solving experience -- I really resisted RED HERRING as I wanted a themer there, but finally gave in.

Gotta go, before I start making jokes about 20A.

Hungry Mother 8:07 AM  

Cute theme, fast solve.

blinker474 8:16 AM  

Very nicely done. Six interesting theme answers. Decent fill. What's not to like? Thank you Messrs. Lempel and Shortz.

Dorothy Biggs 8:24 AM  

Normal for me.

I don't ever quite understand Rex's issues with things being done before. It is possible to innovate in a medium that is relatively old and done a bajillion times.

Reminds me of Schönberg and the like attempting to re-invigorate music in the early part of the 20th century. After setting the music world on the course for (eventually) aleatoric music, Schönberg himself admitted, "There are a lot of good pieces still to be written in C Major."

Seems Rex's criticism should be on the quality of the grid not whether someone has (yet again) done the same trick that's been done before. Those tricks are just a means of organization...a unifying element. Even themeless puzzles have certain conventions that have been "done before," e.g., quad stacks or extra large grids.

Yes, Rex is probably right in that this theme could be done a million ways. It reminds me of my days playing in bar bands when people would request songs. We would tell them that we don't know that song, but this next one has a lot of the same notes in it. A crossword puzzle is a word puzzle and so long as it deals in words it's going to be limited by the language and the convention of letters, spelling, grammar, etc. It's probably why puns are so popular because puns at least twist around the usual expectation of things.

So, that said, UPSTARTS was terrible.

And, with that said, convention and repetition aside, we are, after all, entitled to our opinions.

kitshef 8:49 AM  

Everything a Tuesday puzzle should be. ADOREd it.

Easy (but not too easy), clever, and with minimal objectional fill (I'm looking at you, OLES). Got slowed down in the middle a bit as TIM/COOK was unknown to me. Last in was the HEATH/TIM cross. I suspect like @Rex, I went threw nautical and Iberian before hitting on the right sense of Moor,

I had hUtU before ZULU, which strains the definition of 'southern' Africa, but I feel better about than I would tUtU.

AliasZ 9:01 AM  

PIRATES HIP confused me and diluted an otherwise cute wordplay theme. Also, I noticed a few other S-words in the grid that had theme potential: STRAP (with boot, jock, shoulder or choke), STRESS (with shear), SASS, SEAT, but not SHINS, STRING or STANCH.

I enjoyed the excellent fill to which we have been accustomed coming from Lynn Lempel. I was also glad to see the one-L APOLO after a year's absence.

How about a little Ogden-Nashery?

The one-L APOLO, he skates lickety,
The two-L Apollo, he's a deity,
But I'd grow three inches or tallah
If I found a three-L appallah.

Let's see if Igor Stravinsky has anything to say about the subject.

Enjoy your Tuesday.

kozmikvoid 9:13 AM  

Mostly agree with Rex, with the exception being the starting and ending in hell. I thought, with the plethora of material to choose from, it was lazy to choose the same concept twice. Though it may have been done as some "point" to make, I'm not sure what that could be.

@Z: Since you're allowing men to, I have never worn a dress with THAT much cleavage. Though I notice it got you to watch "the entire video." ��

oldbizmark 9:26 AM  

i am confused. how is 1920 ancient? that is when Mandatory Palestine was created under the British. Otherwise, the land was called many things, but not Palestine. seems that the poor reporting/fact checking of the paper is bleeding into the sacred text we call the crossword puzzle.

Steve M 9:35 AM  

Lempel comes through once again

Doug Garr 9:47 AM  

I know it doesn't work for PIRATESHIP but I kept trying to think of a cool ? clue. Johnny Depp in Keith Richards' gettup?

quilter1 9:48 AM  

Easy and enjoyable.

Bronxdoc 9:57 AM  

Clever puzzle. Fun solve. Who cares about repeated themes if freshly done? Maybe I would, if I remembered every puzzle, but luckily in this instance, I don't.

xyz 10:01 AM  

This week - Monday followed by MONDAY!

Wasn't it already Groundhog Day?

Nancy 10:12 AM  

For "Ohno on skates", I wanted: I'M FALLING! But that's just me.

For much of this puzzle, I was able to fill in the grid without bothering to read the clues. For 67A, I did put in fuDGE before HEDGE, but that's about it. Way too easy to hold my interest...and it didn't.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

The things you can learn from crosswords . . . . which are useful in crosswords:

When I did this puzzle Saturday in Westport, I had absolute confidence in the cross-referenced 40 A and 43 D thanks to an appearance in a recent (Sunday, I believe) offering. Or is that T.M.I.?

And, who knows, perhaps one of the less-common entries in this grid might show up again tomorrow!

Lobster11 10:18 AM  

In Rex's defense, after noting that "This gimmick is timeworn" he immediately added "...but neatly executed." I don't mind "timeworn" as much as he does generally, but I especially don't mind when it is "neatly executed."

Funny how different people had different least-favorite themers. For me it was EYESHADES, because it's the only one that requires a change of pronunciation between the two readings: SHELL/HELL, STARTS/TARTS, etc. all rhyme, but SHADES/HADES doesn't. A minor inelegance, to be sure, but one that stands out if you read them aloud.

Malsdemare 10:26 AM  

I thought this puzzle was terrific. Just the right amount of difficulty for Tuesday, great themers, fun all around. Yeah, UPSTARTS is weak and I guess the ball got dropped with PIRATESHIP, bit I enjoyed it anyway. Had exactly the same glitches as @rex and am not sure what that says about me . . . Or him.

@z, I've never worn anything like that but I will mention that there are lots of sticky products that can be used to keep articles of clothing in place -- leotards, swimsuits, plunging necklines. I don't know if Miss Ashley availed herself of any of them -- her inability to move suggests not -- but if one's intention is to prevent wardrobe malfunctions, it can be done.

But your question reminded me of a very swanky dinner party, when my fairly low-cut cocktail dress became the unplanned recipient of a piece of carrot that fell straight from my fork to my cleavage. Yes, there were offers to recover it for me, which I declined, but I spent the rest of the dinner resisting the urge to stand up and shimmy that damn thing to the floor.

old timer 10:50 AM  

Palestina existed before Mandatary Palestine. Judaea and Samaria and ... can't remember what the Roman name was for the old "Northern Kingdom", the original Israel.

I thought this was a first-rate puzzle, and OFL might have done better to treat it like the Berry-like gem that it is. Not a cough in a carload, as the Old Gold folks used to say. As I completed the puzzle, I was admiring the freshness of the fill. Hardly a bit of crosswordese. The over-used Etna appears as a clue, not an answer. IOTA is the only answer that is even slightly stale. And the also overused NAPA is rescued by the unusual Beringer clue.

I wanted "staunch" for STANCH, but realized they are (or should be) two separate words.

GILL I. 10:56 AM  

I wouldn't know how many times this theme has been done but I sure enjoyed it again.
@Z...It might cause the CHIC to ITCH in her LIMES but I believe they use two way tape to hold em in their proper place.
I must CHOP CHOP now, I have a HELL of a HADES day ahead....

Carola 11:00 AM  

Thank you, Lynn Lempel, for the smiles. I especially enjoyed envisioning the TIME trials for the vying HARES. I also liked ODIN and APOL(l)O appearing as "heavenly" counterparts to the two Underworld references. In the unaccountable-liking-for-words category: STANCH. I don't remember encountering it an a crossword before.

DOS AGE popped out at me - seems like it's waiting for some sort of hairstyle clue.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

DDay was not a turning point in WWII. This was a later right-wing myth devised to avoid giving the Red Army its rightful place in defeating the Nazis. If anything, the Nazi defeat at Stalingrad was the turning point.

Andrew Heinegg 11:42 AM  

To me, this was an almost perfect Tuesday puzzle. With cute groaner puns and no answers requiring familiarity with lesser known current arts, sports etc. figures, I enjoyed it. Despite others objections, it seems to me that the puzzle starting and ending in hell was a nice touch. And, whether the thematic structure of a puzzle has been done many times before should not matter. What should matter is how it is executed in the current puzzle and this one was done well.

puzzle hoarder 11:59 AM  

I don't care if a theme's been done before as long as it's done well. I also noticed that 10D is a potential themer. What I haven't heard mentioned is that not being one makes it a RED HERRING.

jae 12:11 PM  

Medium for me. No real problems. Genuinely amusing, liked it a lot.

How about "Type of replacement Jack Sparrow needed after getting T-boned by a frigate" ?

Numinous 12:21 PM  

Cute puzzle! I Ohnoed right through it with three or four minutes to spare on my average. 'Fraid I didn't notice PIRATES HIP until it was pointed out. I got the gimmick at UPS TARTS so then it was just a matter of a tiny head-scratch at the other five. Since the TARTS clue seems so shaky . . . I kinda had an image of promoting some ladies on a street corner in London's Soho district or maybe even on the island in Picadilly Circus.

Thanks for the smiles, Lynn.

Masked and Anonymous 12:31 PM  

p.s. I think I just sent my comment to yesterday.

It shell, gettin old and confused.

yo, @009! Double-moderation opportunity!



Charley 12:35 PM  

Volcanoes don't spew ash. They spew lava, which, in time, becomes ash.

Hartley70 12:41 PM  

Excellent Tuesday offering, Ms. Lempel! Liked the theme, liked the fill, nothing to complain about at all. Thanks for the fun.

RMK 12:59 PM  

Do you not know what aleatoric means? Schönberg was probably the least aleatoric composer ever, even if he did teach John Cage.

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

The 2nd great puzzle in a row. This was great fun. My favorite was TIMES HARES. I wonder, was the trainer able to break that bad habit of resting while racing that those HARES have? Meanwhile, CHOPS TICKS made me cringe because I hate, hate, hate TICKS. CHOPing them up or burning them is about the only way to kill them. After you find one on you, your whole body feels like there are creepy-crawlies everywhere. It makes one ITCH. Give me a nice spider any day.

The SE provided some resistance due to putting in CRass before CRUDE. And I don't think RAKEs have teeth, they have tines, no? But this does not STING in the least,

Thanks, Lynn Lempel, great puzzle

Leapfinger 1:30 PM  

Limpid Lempel can't be beat for up-beat. Starting with a Walcum (hi @Ogden-Nashery!) to TALCum TOBEY, she moves right into Exuberant flamenco cries (when regular flamenco cries will do Just Fine) and makes TIME to rhyme 'Parts of hearts', 'Clip or snip', 'Sounds from pounds'. Alliterizes 'Junkyard jalopies' while homonymizing a salute to OFL WRECKS. Clues 'Vague' right above AGUE. Tell me that ain't cute.

The theme? Obvious and obviously elegant. Like others, PIRATE'S_HIP made me go "Hey! That should be clued "Loots a [pelvic] joint" (I still think in terms of joint replacements.) It wasn't till I saw the symmetry of the RED_HERRING that I realized how cleverly the grid was pulling our collective leg. Remember the clue: 'Purposeful misdirection', and check out the photo if you doubt the constructor's lie.

Some MAKE DO but Lempel don't.

Another gotcha with that same purposeful misdirection: my Musketeers and blind mice only mis-corrected from THREE to TRIAD. Since I didn't doubt for a minute that cameras can have a D-TRAP, I was staring aghastly at CHAP'S_TICKS, and vowing I'd never use lip balm again.

Tip from the COOK: the BESTEATS need BAS-TING, noteasy to do with CHOPSTICKS.

Happy Chooseday to all, and don't forget to HEDGE your best.

ps. Thanks for the Starvinsky; I'm about ready for the darling buds of May.

foxaroni 2:32 PM  

Enjoyed this very much. Laughed out loud at CHOPS TICKS. Rex is a stickler for consistency, so I was expecting a few comments about how EYES HADES calls for a change in the pronunciation of the second word. I'm with @LMS--love the reparsing of the theme answers. Thanks, Liz Lempel. And a happy Fat Tuesday to all.

Chronic dnfer 3:05 PM  

I would a say a notch tougher than easy but then again didn't dnf so I guess it would be easy. On to Wednesday.

Z 3:35 PM  

It's time to change my avatar, but one last discussion about a great artist, recorded three weeks before his death.

Z 3:51 PM  

@Charley - If Pompeii had been buried by lava it would not be a great archeological site.

Unknown 5:40 PM  

Thought the exact same thing with PIRATES HIP

Martel Moopsbane 6:29 PM  

@ Charley - please inform all airlines that they no longer need to worry about flying their planes and passengers through volcanic ash clouds.

Masked and Anonymous 7:13 PM  

[Note: Pre-p.s. comment, sent to yesterday accidentally, now re-posted, here]

On a slow U's day, the highlight of this puppymonkeybaby was:
Brilliant anti-revealer! Did U mean to do that, Lynn darlin? In any case, it rules.

Fun TuesPuz. Only thing missin was, of course, a _____ HIT themer.

Backward HAR from the piked position. Primo. (yo, @Lewis)

WeejectLand pick: SRO. Hard to find anything to pick on, in these fillins, actually. Solid job, Lempelmeister.

@muse: Deb didn't know she was emailin with the M&A. It turns out that the same may have happened, with U. But, enough about my day-um emails ...

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Cameron Swartzell 2:26 AM  

It would be pretty neat to use REDHERRING in a spot like this that seems like a themer but isn't, literally usinng it as a red herring, if it was clued with a question mark and PIRATESHIP was a themer it could have worked. Too groan worthy?

spacecraft 10:39 AM  

Everybody's talking about "normal" difficulty, and I burned through this like Sherman through Georgia. Well, nothing made me wince. There were no "Aw, you're not gonna make me write THAT, are you?"s. No doubt, this was Monday's puzzle displaced.

Theme is easy to do and cutesy; I liked the hellish bookends. Loads of male yeah babies--TOBEY, APOLO, STING, TIM COOK (hey, there are those who SAY rich is beautiful)--but nary a BOMBSHELL. I guess we have to stretch a point and go with Zoe Saldana of AVATAR. HAH! RAH! A.

Burma Shave 12:29 PM  


with the BOMBSHELL on the BEARSKIN rug.
She had one LAST CRUDE KINKy effect,
that CHIC FIEND had an ITCH to give a tug.


Diana,LIW 1:48 PM  

fudDGE before HEDGE and Three before TRIOS.

Loved BEARS KIN. Don't we all have at least one family member we could apply this phrase to?

I'm with all those who don't care if a theme has been reused. This was so smooth and well done.

Hey @Spacey, what about Diana Nyad? What an amazing feat - almost 40 years after her famous New York swims. Ole! Rah!

And I agree that Ms. Monroe looked quite stiff in that outfit. Does she always move like that?

Diana, Lady-inNormal Necklines

leftcoastTAM 1:58 PM  

Took a bit longer than usual Tuesday, and worth it.

Fun, clever theme and clues, good fill.

Writeovers in SE: crass before CRUDE, rasp before RAKE.

Nice work, LL.

Cathy 2:46 PM  

This was fun. So smooth. Only pause was wanting LIW for 57 down, long-distance swimmer Diana, but it wouldn't fit.

rondo 4:01 PM  

Tattoos cannabis? – INKSPOT. Sure the whole idea is an oldie, but for this Tues-puz it was a goodie. Coupla decent Tuesdays recently, what’s happened?

Maybe Ms. NYAD would get the yeah baby, back on her first attempt. Gotta give credit for persistence.

Use salvia officinalis? DOSAGE

When I was +/- 20, I had a BEARSKIN in the back seat of my car. CHICks dug it.

Ruins dessert wine? SPOILSPORT

Won a COOKing contest today at work. Buffalo Dogs. Use butter and sugar in your buffalo sauce. Everybody loves butter and sugar.

Junk car burner? WRECKSPARKER.

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