It's hard to believe that it took almost 40 years for this to become a crossword puzzle theme. JENNY's phone number has been well-known and often sung by everyone who went to school in the Eighties. The only thing that would have made this more perfect is if the "nine" had been drawn out to "ni-ee-ine," but I'm not sure that would have gotten past the editors.
There are many theme answers (8), but they're all relatively short, which might have made it easier to avoid crosswordese. Sure, we haven't seen our old friend ENIAC in a while, and some might have said HUNH? to HUNH, but there's really not much trouble at all. And we get things like IMPASSE (Stalemate), the full TEALEONI, and a nice vocab. lesson in ENERVATE (Deprive of strength - not, as is commonly believed, to give strength).
You know, when I read "*One of two for the 1990s Chicago Bulls" I didn't really understand why that was used to clue THREEPEAT. I thought, are they saying that the threepeat win was just one of the two wins they had after they won the first championship? But no, I looked it up and guess what? The Bulls won three times in a row twice in the 1990s! And they probably would have won four in a row, and possibly eight, if Michael Jordan hadn't retired after the first one.
What? Haven't I mentioned that I'm not a big fan of sportsball? It took 39 years for this theme to happen, and it took 23 years for me to understand how truly great the 1990s Bulls were.
Here's a fun fact, the Bulls (yes, with Michael Jordan!) came to my college to do some pre-season training one year. I was in the gym with them, but I didn't actually get into any scrimmages. Heh. Honestly, I hardly knew who they were. This was pre-1990. True story.
Minitheme with ISHMAEL and SEVENSEAS?