Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baseball general manager Billy / THU 9-15-11 / Emmy-nominated sitcom of early 1970s / Org employing Ethan Hunt / Sailing enthusiast informally

Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CORNER LOT (35A: Prominent location to build on (as suggested by this puzzle?)) — rebus puzzle where every corner square contains the word HOUSE

Word of the Day: ARECIBO Observatory (2D: ___ Observatory, home of the world's largest single-aperture radio telescope) —

The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope near the city of Arecibo in Puerto Rico. It is operated by Cornell University under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. The observatory is also called the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, although "NAIC" refers to both the observatory and the staff that operate it. // The observatory's 305 m (1,000 ft) radio telescope is the largest single-aperture telescope (cf. multiple aperture telescope) ever constructed. It carries out three major areas of research: radio astronomy, aeronomy (using both the 305 m telescope and the observatory's lidar facility), and radar astronomy observations of solar system objects. Scientists who want to use the telescope submit proposals, which are evaluated by an independent board. (wikipedia)

• • •

Dang. This felt easy, and yet my time was actually a little slower than normal. I guess the few well-placed, insane answers were real time-eaters. ARECIBO is gibberish to me, so that took some doing—and it intersects E-BOAT (28A: W.W. II attacker), which was a total prayer (had to be some kind of BOAT, right?). I have never, ever heard of "ARNIE" (31A: Emmy-nominated sitcom of the early 1970s). Never. Ever. Emmy-nominated, you say? Was ARNIE a YACHTIE? (61A: Sailing enthusiast, informally) Does anyone, anywhere, openly call himself a "YACHTIE?" And if so, how does he keep from getting punched in the face all the time? Theme was OK, but not terribly exciting as rebuses go. Part of the reason this one felt easy was that once I got the theme, the other theme answers were very easy to pick up. No mystery, no challenge, no layers. Just HOUSEs. CORNER LOT is an interesting revealer, I suppose. A very solid puzzle, but one that didn't excite me much.

[Wow. Co-starring Sue ANE Langdon!]

Theme answers:
  • 1A: It's better than prison (HOUSE ARREST)
  • 8A: #1 on Bravo's all-time "100 Funniest Movies" list ("ANIMAL HOUSE")
  • 1D: Always going outside? (HOUSEBROKEN)
  • 14D: Vacationer's help (HOUSE-SITTER)
  • 62A: Help (HOUSEKEEPER)
  • 63A: Place of learning (SCHOOLHOUSE)
  • 37D: Gets rid of everybody, say (CLEANS HOUSE)
  • 43D: Place where people work for beans? (COFFEE HOUSE) — that clue doesn't work even with the "?" They work *with* beans. Too cute.
Got the theme early, in the NE, after realizing that there's no way a movie called "ANIMALS" could be the funniest movie ever without my having even heard of it. Whole corner went down easily and then "ARNIE" stopped me cold. Went back to NW and knocked it off easily except for the aforementioned ARECIBO, which required every cross. SW was a piece of cake. Had minor trouble winding my way back up to the center because I opted for PASTOR instead of CANTOR (45D: Hymn leader) and couldn't figure out how CES could be right for 52A: 1900s, e.g.: Abbr. (CEN.). Fixed that, then took down the SE (with the only question being "is YACHTIE really a word and how does one spell it?"). Worked my way up til I had "ARNIE" surrounded, and that was that. "R" in "WRITE-IN" was the last letter I wrote in, I think (27D: Kind of candidate who's rarely successful).

  • 27A: Good call letters for Radio Disney? (WALT) — another clue that feels weird. I get that radio stations often start with "W," but Radio Disney isn't that kind of radio station. It doesn't have call letters. So there are no "good call letters" for Radio Disney, as the term has no relevance to them. Thus you are asking the "?" to do a lot. Again, too cute.
  • 51A: One on either side of the St. Gotthard Pass (ALP) — That is an interesting name for a saint.
  • 55A: Org. employing Ethan Hunt in film (IMF) — "Mission: Impossible" involved the International Monetary Fund? Wow, I really wasn't paying very close attention.
  • 60A: Seven-time major-league All-Star Alfonso (SORIANO) — one of those answers that's going to be a gimme for baseball fans and gibberish for others.
  • 7D: Publication with a 1997 headline "Drug Use Down Among Uncool Kids" ("THE ONION") — I forgot they've been around so long.
  • 24D: Big eyes, metaphorically (SAUCERS) — Cute. Not too cute. Just cute. Thumbs up.
  • 48D: Baseball general manager Billy (BEANE) — pretty timely, since he's basically the protagonist of the book "Moneyball," the movie version of which comes out next week.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

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