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.
- 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.