Monday, November 17, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Title: A Puzzle About Nothing
Author: Scott Atkinson
Theme: Phrases whose first word is a synonym for "nothing".

  • 17a: Dick Nixon's nonsweating debate opponent (JACK KENNEDY). I always assumed that "You don't know Jack!" was just a polite and shortened version of "You don't know Jack Shit!", but maybe the latter is a crass enhancement of the former. Any lingual historians out there? Either way, there's a double negative that casts a question over the meaning of the word itself.

  • 38a: Letter number (ZIP CODE). Cute clue.

  • 57a: Calisthenics exercise (SQUAT THRUST). SQUAT tends to suffer the same double-negative issue that JACK does.

  • 11d: Drink before going to bed? (LOVE POTION). LOVE means nothing strictly in a tennis sense, but I LOVE the sexual innuendo of the clue. Plus, it reminds of that great old Searchers song, "Love Potion #9".

  • 28d: Tevye portrayer in "Fiddler on the Roof" (ZERO MOSTEL). Classic play and film, and the clearest of all the "nothing" words.

Sunny Spots:
  • 26a: "Really? Sez who?" (IZZATSO). This fill makes me smile, and not just for the double Zs it introduces. It's just a great colloquial expression.

  • 5a: Television broadcast, e.g. (AIRING). Interest to clue this as a noun, but it works.

  • 20a: Vegas gas (NEON). As in neon lights.

  • 22a: TV Batman Adam (WEST).

  • 23a: Garment worn by dancers under leg warmers (TIGHTS). Also worn by Adam West, as Batman.

  • 29a: Nevada gaming mecca (RENO). Home of "Reno 911", one of the funnier TV shows out there, in a sick kind of way.

  • 30a: "Gold" producers in "Ulee's Gold" (BEES). Even if you've never seen the movie, ULEE shows up in enough puzzles that you have to be aware of the fact that he's a beekeeper.

  • 31a: Ragamuffin (URCHIN).

  • 34a: Alaska senator Stevens (TED). I wouldn't know this guy from Adam (WEST or otherwise) if he wasn't routinely lambasted for his antics on "The Daily Show".

  • 40a: Road caution (SLO). I just ran into this recently as "School zone caution", and I wasn't crazy about it then either.

  • 42a: Fencing blade (FOIL). Raise your hand if you wrote EPEE! 99% of the time you'd be right, but not this time.

  • 49a: Competed at Pebble Beach (GOLFED). You don't need to be a golf fanatic to know that Pebble Beach is a golf course.

  • 53a: Score conclusion (CODA). Musical score.

  • 65a: If you're on it, you're going to hell (STYX). Great clue.

  • 6d: Australian swimmer who won golds at the 2000 and 2004
    (IAN THORPE). "The Thorpedo" was the latest swimming sensation before Michael Phelps.

  • 18d: Cable-stitch, e.g. (KNIT). As in cable-knit sweaters.

  • 24d: Space travelers' garments (G-SUITS). I like the GS- letter combination to start.

  • 33d: Compact cooking devices (HOT PLATES).

  • 35d: 2007 A.L. Manager of the Year Wedge (ERIC).

  • 36d: TV host Carson (DALY). I actually had POTENCE for POTENCY at first, and was trying to figure out who the hell DALE CARSON was. D'oh!

  • 38d: Madcap (ZANY). After Syd Barrett left Pink Floyd, he released a couple of whacked-out solo albums. One was entitled "Madcap Laughs".

  • 42d: Soft felt hats (FEDORAS).

  • 49d: Woodworking tool (GOUGE).

  • 52d: One of 6,272,640 in an acre: Abbr. (SQ IN).

  • 57d: Moo ___ pork (SHU). I just had some of this the other night. Good stuff.

  • 59d: Paris's setting: Abbr. (TEX).

Suns of Bitches:

  • 15a: Audrey of "Amélie" (TAUTOU). No clue. 100% crossings, and I've seen the film.

  • 52a: "Brave New World" drug (SOMA). I'm sure I've seen this, but I still didn't know it. And I guessed OMAHA for 50d: ___ Steaks (beef brand) because it was the only word that seemed to fit O_AHA. I never really thought about beef having a brand name; I just buy mine at the meat counter of the local supermarket. Nasty crossing for a Monday. There are certainly easier clues for OMAHA.

Overall, I really enjoyed this puzzle. Nice theme for a Monday, and a generally smooth solve with a couple of silly missteps.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.


Joon said...

i think of audrey TAUTOU as a big star. i certainly couldn't name another actor or actress from that movie. she was also the female lead in the movie version of the da vinci code, although she doesn't look at all the same without that impish smirk.

OMAHA steaks sound vaguely familiar, but i never saw that clue because i blew through that area using only acrosses. you're right that there are easier clues: nebraska, d-day, poker, mutual, even warren buffett. i've read brave new world, but i'm pretty sure SOMA is one of those things i knew about before reading the book. it's the drink of the hindu gods in the vedas, and also personified as a god himself.

Scott A. said...

Hi Pete

Thanks for the kind words. As others have probably mentioned about other puzzles, this puzzle is 95% Peter Gordon's genius. Take,for instance, the clue for STYX, which I had as "Mr. Roboto band".

It was really great working with him and I hope his editorial reign continues somewhere.

Scott Atkinson