Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Title: Catching Some Rays
Author: Alan Arbesfeld
Theme: Phrases that contain people or things that are Rays
  • 17a: Rotten, e.g. (PUNK ROCKER). Ray Kroc, founder of McDonalds. This is my favorite clue of the theme bunch, referring to Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.

  • 23a: Telescope measure (FOCAL LENGTH). Ray Allen, of the World Champion Boston Celtics.

  • 38a: Instruments for measuring minute differences in pressure (MICROMANOMETERS). Of "Everybody Loves Raymond".

  • 48a: WWII vehicle (SHERMAN TANK). This is where the theme went wonky for me. Three people in a row named Ray (all first names), and now we get manta ray? I was trying to figure out who Ray Herman was.

  • 60a: Homestretch (FINAL PHASE). A second "thing" ray (sounds like "sting ray" with a lisp), alpha ray technically balances out the theme (3 people and 2 things), but it would have felt a lot more balanced if, say, the second and fourth fills were swapped. Having three last names in a row followed by two ray types gives the impression of two themes cobbled together rather than of a cohesive concept.

Sunny Spots:
You know, nothing really jumps out. Both long downs, TERRORIZES and DELINEATED are fine words, but nothing to write home about.


  • 7a: Drama with lots of fans (NOH). Cute clue, but kind of obvious.

  • 10a: Home, informally (DIGS).

  • 14a: Unification Church member (MOONIE).

  • 20a: Alter, in a way (SPAY). Ouch.

  • 25a: Pam's longtime doubles partner (MARTINA). Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova.

  • 30a: Like the walls of some college buildings (IVIED). More than some, in New England.

  • 34a: He was on the first cover of Dynamite magazine (ALDA). As Hawkeye of "M*A*S*H", apparently.

  • 44a: SI unit of electrical resistance (OHM). No, SI isn't Sports Illustrated. This clue pairs with 1d: Current units, for short (AMPS).

  • 46a: Confine (TIE DOWN).

  • 53a: Timex competitor (CASIO). Guessed SEIKO first, which slowed down this corner a bit.

  • 62a: Title apiarist of a 1997 movie (ULEE). Sitting atop 65a: Waggle dance performers (BEES).

  • 64a: Roman alternative (ITALIC). Type fonts.

  • 2d: Prettify (DO UP).

  • 3d: "The Best of Everything" novelist Jaffe (RONA).

  • 4d: One of the Pac-Man ghosts (INKY). Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde. Inky is the cyan-colored one.

  • 5d: Pocket contents? (AIR). Of an air pocket, sure.

  • 6d: "Sweet ___" (2005 Rolling Stones song) (NEO CON). A song aimed squarely at George W. Bush. Here are the lyrics:

    You call yourself a Christian
    I think that you're a hypocrite
    You say you are a patriot
    I think that you're a crock of shit

    And listen, I love gasoline
    I drink it every day
    But it's getting very pricey
    And who is going to pay

    How come you're so wrong
    My sweet neo con.... Yeah

    It's liberty for all
    'Cause democracy's our style
    Unless you are against us
    Then it's prison without trial

    But one thing that is certain
    Life is good at Haliburton
    If you're really so astute
    You should invest at Brown & Root.... Yeah

    How come you're so wrong
    My sweet neo con
    If you turn out right
    I'll eat my hat tonight

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah....

    It's getting very scary
    Yes, I'm frightened out of my wits
    There's bombers in my bedroom
    Yeah and it's giving me the shits

    We must have loads more bases
    To protect us from our foes
    Who needs these foolish friendships
    We're going it alone

    How come you're so wrong
    My sweet neo con
    Where's the money gone
    In the Pentagon

    Yeah ha ha ha
    Yeah, well, well

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...
    Neo con

  • 8d: Negro Leagues great Buck (O'NEIL). By the time I read this clue, I already had ONEI_. What else is it going to be?

  • 11d: Eyewitness's activity at a lineup (IDING). I don't know if or how to punctuate that one, but it doesn't look right the way it is. I.D.-ING?

  • 12d: Full range (GAMUT).

  • 18d: Seventeen-year locusts, e.g. (CICADAS).

  • 22d: Rob's boss on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (MEL).

  • 24d: Jodie's "Nell" costar (LIAM). Jodie Foster and Liam Neeson.

  • 27d: Bridal shower? (RICE).

  • 32d: Righteous Babe record label founder DiFranco (ANI). Blah blah blah DiFranco.

  • 33d: Taqueria offering (TOSTADA). Mmmmm.

  • 47d: Bad way to be caught (IN A LIE).

  • 48d: Benchwarmer (SCRUB).

  • 50d: Rival of Bobbi (ESTÉE). Bobbi Brown and Estée Lauder, cosmetic giants.

  • 57d: China setting (ASIA). Cute clue, but easy.

  • 61d: Former currency of Spain: Abbr. (PTA). Short for peseta. Again, Peter Gordon eschews the standard PTA clues.

Suns of Bitches:
  • 41a: Singer/actress Linda (EDER).

  • 59a: Last name of a team of comedic brothers (RITZ). I don't believe I've ever heard of the Ritz Brothers. Let's see... ah yes, 1930s films -- no wonder. My first two thoughts were MARX and COEN.

  • 35d: Jared of "Panic Room" (LETO). Are we on a Jodie-Foster-movie kick today? Reminds me, I need to watch "Taxi Driver" again soon.

  • 49d: Runner Gebrselassie who holds the world record in the marathon (HAILE). I'm sure I've seen this name several times before, but it just doesn't stick.

Despite the slight awkwardness of the theme layout and lack of really crackling non-theme fill, this was a pretty solid puzzle. No major complaints. Let's leave it at that.

Thanks for listening.

- Pete M.

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