Well, Dear Reader, I FWOEd today on the PREs/PENZIAS cross, but I can't complain. It seems like Arno Allan PENZIAS is a name I should be familiar with, and I'm glad that I now am. It's just one more example of me learning something from a puzzle.
PENZIAS was instrumental in establishing the BIGBANG theory, and from that beginning at 1-Across, we move by the past, through the present, and into the future. And in the 15-letter answers containing those words - PASTONESBEDTIME, NETPRESENTVALUE, and BACKTOTHEFUTURE, the times are positioned in the beginning, middle, and end of the entries. It's all quite lovely. And then at the bottom it all ends, as TSELIOT predicted in The Hollow Men (before PENZIAS was born), with a WHIMPER.
With all that theme, I guess you're bound to end up with a bit of BRER (Family member, in rural dialect), ARN (Man's nickname that omits "-old"), OLDE (Ye ____ Shoppe), TITTLE (Dot in "i" or "j"), and SPELT (Like C-O-L-O-U-R or M-E-T-R-E). My least favorite, though, is BAAS (What do ewe say?). The clue is cute, but I really don't like the plural answer.
But I WONT complain too much about all that ju... er, less-than-ideal material. Instead I'll enjoy the theme and find even more to like in entries like SESAMEST, MOPTOP, NACRE, and ULM, the last of which always reminds me of the hilarious Monty Python skit about a composer from that town. Enjoy.