Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Title: Eight is Enough
Author: Matt Ginsberg
Theme: The whole puzzle uses only eight common letters: A, E, I, O, R, S, T, and N.
  • 15a: One more than the number of different letters in this puzzle (NINE).

This is a great example of how a clever theme does not always translate into a great puzzle. We get saturated by words that have only these letters all the time, since they're by far the easiest words to use in fill. So, in a way, the theme here is to have no interesting letters and thus few interesting words. Plus, knowing the theme makes solving super super easy, since it's not at all a problem to discount potential fills due to having the wrong letters. There are several would-be tough down clues that I honestly never even saw until I was finished.

Sunny Spots:
  • 17a: Losing team in Super Bowl XXXIV (TENNESSEE TITANS).

  • 26a: 1799 discovery that made possible the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics (ROSETTA STONE).

  • 63a: Song in "The Jazz Singer" (TOOT TOOT TOOTSIE).

  • 1a: Trying experience? (TASTE). Good clue.

  • 16a: 51, famously (AREA). Nickname of a Nevada Air Force Base that is the center of many UFO conspiracy theories.

  • 21a: Trireme equipment (OARS).

  • 23a: "The Heat ___" (IS ON).

  • 31a: Degauss (ERASE).

  • 38a: Mollusks that eat starfish (TRITONS).

  • 45a: Glass in the radio booth (IRA).

  • 46a: Hoopsters Archibald and Thurmond (NATES). Nate "Tiny" Archibald spent several years with the Celtics, including the 1980-1981 championship season.

  • 56a: "___ Hair Salon" (2004 Jenifer Lewis movie) (NORAS).

  • 59a: ___ Féin (SINN).

  • 69a: Nap follower? (STER).

  • 70a: Future duogenarian? (TEEN). Very Gordonesque clue, but nice. In other words, someone who will be twenty.

  • 71a: Schnozz (SNOOT). If it weren't for the theme, one might have gone with SNOUT here. It's not like the crossing helped.

  • 2d: Greek counterpart of Mars (ARES). I can't decide if crossing ARIES and ARES is a positive or negative. It was noticeable, but it didn't really make me smile or anything.

  • 4d: Sneaks (TENNIES). I'm thinking this is British slang. No one around where I live calls sneakers tennies.

  • 9d: Bump-spike go-between (SET). Kudos for the volleyball clue.

  • 10d: Mad features (SATIRES).

  • 24d: Galley marking (STET).

  • 41d: Tizzy (SNIT). At least tizzy is a cool word.

  • 47d: Vaughn's costar in "The Break-Up" (ANISTON).

  • 49d: Condé ___ Building (Times Square skyscraper) (NAST). Is this something people outside of New York are expected to know?

  • 51d: Dodici mesi (ANNO). Twelve months = year.

  • 60d: Japanese golfer ___ Aoki (ISAO).

Suns of Bitches:
    There were a bunch of down clues that I had no idea about. Luckily for me, I didn't need any of them.
  • 6d: CNBC analyst Ron who used to host "Street Signs" (INSANA).

  • 8d: "___ de Castro" (16th-century tragedy by António Ferreira) (INES).

  • 26d: Tony winner Roger (REES). He played Robin Colcord on "Cheers" and has been in a few other things I've seen since, but his name was never on my radar.

  • 39d: "Nuts" director Martin (RITT).

  • 61d: Composer Rota who scored "The Godfather" (NINO).

I think my comments on the theme pretty much say it all.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Janie said...

well, "one man's meat" and all that. yes, catching on to the theme made the solving a simple(r) process, but those sunny spots are real gems.

also, one man's "suns of bitches"... for one, roger rees starred as the title character in the royal shakespeare company's extraordinary and epic (nearly 8-hour) staging of nicholas nickleby.

for another, *years* ago, baltimore opera commissioned composer thomas passatieri to write an opera based on the life of ines de castro. but the spelling of the name of the opera is ineZ de castro. still -- the creation of that opera at least put the name on my radar...

and "tennies"? this may be a gender thang. my friends and i definitely used the term as teenagers. fwiw...

cheers --


Austin said...

I knew Conde Nast, only because I've heard of the name. I think he's a publisher. Used to own Wired (or still does) or something like that.

ArtLvr said...

pete -- It's a shame about the closing of the NYS!

Wishing you happy landings in some accessible place, and I hope you'll let us know where, please?

Joon said...

condé NAST the publishing company is very famous, although i don't know anything about their headquarters in particular. they publish just about every single famous magazine (including the new yorker, wired, vogue, gourmet, vanity fair, and GQ).

i know martin RITT because i've used him in one of my own grids. NINO rota has two crossworthy names--i've definitely seen him before. INES de castro was a mystery, but i guessed it with a couple of crossings.

i didn't love this puzzle either. the theme was interesting, and perhaps impressive, but it wasn't fun to solve.

so, the wed-fri puzzles have been up for some time, and they're already sitting on my hard drive. are you going to blog them?