T H U R S D A Y   December 12, 2010
Pancho Harrison

Theme: Job Descriptions — Familiar idioms are clued literally as job descriptions.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "So I hear your job as exercise class instructor is __" (WORKING OUT).
  • 29A: "So I hear your job as a burlesque dancer is __" (TAKING OFF).
  • 46A: "So I hear your trash removal business is __" (PICKING UP).
  • 62A: "So I hear your scuba diving business is __" (GOING UNDER).
Thanks for all your good thoughts yesterday. PuzzleDaughter is feeling much better today after a couple shots of antibiotics and a good night's sleep. She can't go to school today, of course, so it's another "Mom and Me" day at the PuzzleHouse.

Oh, and before we get started on the puzzle, I want to remind you all about Patrick Blindauer's Puzzlefest contest. Patrick has put together a suite of 10 puzzles that in some way point you to one final contest answer. The deadline for the contest isn't until February 1, so there's still plenty of time to participate. Even if you're not interested in the contest, $9.99 is an unbelievable price for 10 original puzzles by one of the most innovative puzzle constructors working today. Please check out Patrick's website and consider being a part of this fun puzzle event. (Oh, and Patrick's free monthly puzzle for December is now available on his website too!) (I couldn't find a good picture to include for this paragraph, so I randomly chose a picture of Chuck Norris.

Okay, today's puzzle. For some reason this theme really tickled me. The humor felt Reagle-esque to me, and that's (almost always) a good thing. Some of the longer down entries seem pretty flashy: CYBORGS, SKEPTIC, and OAK TREE (not necessarily flashy on its own, but cleverly clued as 4D: Yellow ribbon site of song).

(I've always thought it was kinda funny how this song has come to represent the military coming home from war. I mean, the song is about a guy coming home from prison, right?)

Other than that, I can never remember how to spell Téa LEONI's last name and I'm so not a fan of hers that it's hard for me to care. Although, to be fair, I did enjoy her in "Spanglish," which is in today's clue. I think when she's in a serious role I can't take her seriously, but her "Spanglish" role was so over-the-top that she made it work. The very last letter I put in the grid with the S at the cross of FRANS and NERDS. I had actually entered a Z, thinking the guy's name was probably FRANZ. When I got to the across entry I thought the movie title might actually have been spelled with a Z too. So that was tricky. In the end I chose the S and was correct. Whew!

  • 22A: Davenport shopper, probably (IOWAN). Having lived about an hour away from Davenport, Iowa, recently, I was not fooled by this misdirection! Davenport is one of the Quad Cities. The others are Bettendorff (also in Iowa) and Moline and Rock Island (in Illinois).
  • 26A: Pops (out) (FLIES). I was thinking more along the lines of pop-goes-the-weasel.
  • 37A: Big, outmoded piece of equipment (DINOSAUR). Great clue.
  • 41A: Airport safety org. (TSA). With all the recent fuss about the TSA's new groping standards, there are several "fake TSA" accounts on Twitter that are pretty funny. The one I'm following is TSAgov, whose recent tweets include: "Some people have wondered what the TSA considers itself to be politically. We're 'quasifreedomtarians,'" and "In response to the Christmas Tree bomber, we're now banning Christmas sweaters and festive attitudes."
  • 13D: "Coming Home" actor (DERN). I always get Bruce DERN and Jon Voight confused and I've never bothered to find out why until just now. They're both in "Coming Home"! Every time I see this clue I can't remember if the answer should be DERN or Voigt. Yay for justified confusion! I'm also never sure which one of the two is Angelina Jolie's father (it's Voight) and which one supposedly owned the car George bought in an episode of "Seinfeld" (also Voight).
  • 62D: Cry while showing one's cards (GIN). Three letters? Card game? Easy, that's Uno. Crap.
Crosswordese 101: There are a couple of RENÉs you should have in your back pocket when you solve crossword puzzles. The most popular are:
  • Actress RENE Russo appeared is sometimes clued with reference to her movies "Tin Cup," "Get Shorty," "Outbreak," "Ransom," and "The Thomas Crown Affair." The latter film, coincidentally, is a great caper movie featuring a painting by …
  • RENÉ Magritte is a Belgian surrealist painter who, like today, is typically clued straightforwardly as 23A: Artist Magritte.
  • RENÉ Descartes, known as "The Father of Modern Philosophy," is best known for his statement "I think, therefore I am."
  • RENÉ Lalique is a glassmaker and jeweler.
  • Finally, RENÉ Auberjonois is an actor who appeared in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."
I'm not going to lie to you, there are a few other RENÉs, but none of them show up often enough for me to feel like I need to cover them here.

Other crosswordese in the puzzle that we've already covered:

  • 15A: Fabled craft (ARGO).
  • 5D: Island welcome (LEI).
  • 11D: MGM co-founder (LOEW).
  • 18D: "Delta of Venus" author (NIN).
  • 52D: Algerian port (ORAN).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else — 1A: Thread bearer (SPOOL); 6A: Classic name in shoes (MCAN); 10A: Dressed (CLAD); 14A: Aquarium concern (ALGAE); 16A: Old (YORE); 19A: Word with belly or blast (BEER); 20A: "Forget it, comrade!" (NYET); 21A: Ancient Andean (INCA); 25A: Branch honcho: Abbr. (MGR.); 35A: Choice (SELECT); 38A: Paris pronoun (TOI); 39A: Accountant, at times (AUDITOR); 42A: Carousing (ON A SPREE); 44A: Shiny fabric (SATEEN); 48A: Revenge seekers in a 1984 film (NERDS); 49A: Dollar sign shape (ESS); 50A: Baltic resident (LETT); 52A: Early afternoon hr. (ONE P.M.); 55A: Disease attacker (DRUG); 57A: Helps out (AIDS); 61A: Demagogue's delivery (RANT); 64A: Wine region south of the Matterhorn (ASTI); 65A: "Got it, Daddy-o!" ("I DIG!"); 66A: Party person (GUEST); 67A: DEA agent (NARC); 68A: Frosty's button (NOSE); 69A: Honshu city (OSAKA); 1D: Felled, in a way (SAWN); 2D: Queen sacrifice in chess, e.g. (PLOY); 3D: Shrek or Fiona (OGRE); 6D: Lodestone (MAGNET); 7D: Hook nemesis, for short (CROC); 8D: Monterrey water (AGUA); 9D: "__ a chance!" (NOT); 10D: Bionic beings (CYBORGS); 12D: Field of expertise (AREA); 22D: "Everybody is __, only on different subjects": Will Rogers (IGNORANT); 24D: Watching "Avatar," say (ESCAPISM); 25D: Cretan king of myth (MINOS); 26D: SLR setting (F STOP); 28D: Of a pelvic bone (ILIAC); 30D: Gascony good-bye (ADIEU); 31D: Caboodle partner (KIT); 32D: Lash LaRue film, e.g. (OATER); 33D: Joined by melting (FUSED); 34D: Artist __ Hals (FRANS); 36D: Parts of directions (TURNS); 40D: MBA, for one (DEG.); 43D: One looking askance (SKEPTIC); 45D: Lockjaw (TETANUS); 47D: Drop dramatically (PLUNGE); 51D: Breakfast fare (EGG); 53D: Apollo 13 gp. (NASA); 54D: __'acte (ENTR); 55D: Bygone bird (DODO); 56D: Teddy Roosevelt biographer (RIIS); 58D: "I have an __!" (IDEA); 59D: Student's spot (DESK); 60D: Arg. miss (SRTA.); 63D: Actor Tognazzi (UGO).


John Wolfenden said...

Good to hear PG Jr. is on the mend.

A quicker solve than Tuesday or Wednesday for me. MCANS rang a distant bell from my youth...they used to be the biggest shoe retailer in the country, felled by the rising popularity of sneakers and the waning of interest in formals.

Some doozies today, like ESCAPISM and TETANUS. I also like the Will Rogers quote. I believe he also came up with a saying I use on occasion: "The true measure of a man is how he takes a joke at his own expense."

I used to love Magritte in high school. Later I came to think of his works more as visual jokes than great art, but some of them, like The Domain of Arnheim are really good.

Orange said...

Hooray for antibiotics.

The Patrick Blindauer puzzlefest isn't too hard...unless you're trying to figure out the big meta answer to the whole shebang. My friend Dave submitted the answer this week—and was only the 7th person to send in the right answer. And that's one month in! But the 10 individual puzzles offer solving enjoyment in their own right. Am gonna persevere and try to crack the meta so I have a chance to win the prize!

Mokus said...

The job descriptions were clever and the whole puzzle was a pleasure. Favorite clue was "cry when showing ones cards" which I used to do often with my father. Of course he had already ginned or knocked and I really was crying if I had any face-cards left.

Van55 said...

Very enjoyable Thursday puzzle for my taste. Love Will Rogers quotes. Who is Ugo Tognazzi?

Arthur said...

I'm pretty sure the job descriptions came out of a 1962 edition of the "Funny Jokes for 3rd Graders"

I stopped reading your paragraph about Blindauer's Puzzlefest about halfway through because, well I'm alreading in on it, but was so desparate to find someting amusing/interesting/diverting about this puzzle that I decided to figure out what Chuck Norris had to do with the puzzle. Turns out there's not even an oblique connection, he's just in there randomly. Kind of like cluing ESCAPISM with watching Avatar. I thought Avatar was supposed to be this great metaphysical work on power, class, and our unity with the natural world. It's just a cartoon with blue people, kind of like the Smurfs?

I always try to spell Te'a Leoni Tea Leoni and sound like a fool.

SethG said...

The OAK TREE feels a bit arbitrary. It's always referred to in the song as the old oak tree. So if you're gonna drop the old, you could just as easily drop the oak. Also, Dawn always seemed like a weird name for a group. Also, [Of a pelvic bone] is oddly exact phrasing. Also, this puzzle was fun but really easy.

imsdave said...

Very enjoyable stuff here. I love a puzzle that makes me laugh, and this one certainly fit that bill.

@Van - Ugo Tognazzi was one of the stars of the film "La Cage aux Folles". If you haven't seen it, seek it out. Wonderful film. Oh, and get the subtitled version - it's just much more entertaining than the dubbed one.

Remade (insipidly) as "The Bird Cage" wasting the talents of Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.

Avg Joe said...

Glad to hear Puzzle Daughter is on the mend. My kids are 28 and 26 (they sure are cute at that age:-). Gotta admit I don't miss the earlier years too badly, especially when it comes to unexpected illnesses.

Check out yesterday's Bizzaro comic strip for a clever take of Rene Magritte's apple piece. It's hard to find (and link), but a google of "bizzaro today" should get you there.

My first exposure to Tea Leoni was in that short lived TV sit-com she did 15~ years ago. It was awful. But I gained a lot of respect for her in "Family Man". Far better acting than anything prior.

Sfingi said...

I found this puzzle strangely easy. There were many great words as mentioned previously.

Then it occurred to me - I felt like I was back in the Catskills, 1970. Grossinger's, Liberty, Concord, Elenville. Those were the days - great for union meetings.

Had two writeovers - SPOOL over clOth and NOSE over cOal, the latter because I thought Pancho wanted to know what would be used for a snowman's buttons.

UGO Tognazzi (pr. Toh nyatsy) - Northern Italian actor in >100 films. Think La Cage aux Folles, Barbarella, Satyricon. The rest were in Italian. He died at 68.


badrog said...

Had exactly the same z/S problem at the 24D/48A cross as PG.

But at 27D I was a bit more in the dark, not knowing which was first and which was last name; or even gender!

Even though the jokes were indeed oldish, I did enjoy the theme. Even noted the hidden revealer at 40D. But only, I suppose, if the MBA had been the answer rather than the clue. After all, the 4 theme jobs all require that DEG, don't they?

*David* said...

Easy puzzle but the themes were humorous and a nice change from the usual so I'll give it a thumbs up.


@PG Good to hear that everything's WORKING OUT for your PuzzleKid.
And I'm glad to hear that you're tickled over today's puzzle humor... you needed that. So did I, but it went too fast. Solved this puzzle before finishing my ham and cheese omelet.
And may I ask miss PG, why Chuck Norris?

Between a cute theme and a very enjoyable @PG writeup, it put me in a jovial mood... think I'll don my "Christmas sweater, have a festive attitude", and go decorate my Christmas tree. Wait, wait, it's Hanukkah today... so I've gotta go light my menorah (the one with the energy-saving bulbs).

I sort of thought of this theme as a commentary on today's U.S. economy. Businesses PICKING UP while others are GOING UNDER. Stock market (DOW) is TAKING OFF while unemployment percentages aren't WORKING OUT so well. Holiday shoppers are ON A SPREE while we're hearing economists RANT about high credit card balances. Nothing makes sense nowadays. I just hope everything TURNS good in 2011.

Even Vladimir Putin says NYET to charges of his "corrupt autocracy".

Why is RENE Magritte one of my favorite artists? Because no matter how hard I try to paint realism, my watercolors always end up looking like a Magritte.

Pancho, you've made my Thursday very cheery (almost giddy), and I thank you for that.

Happy Chanukah y'all.


@PG & @Orange
Oh yeah and thanks for the info on the Blindauer Puzzlefest. I think I'll try that.

Rube said...

To show you where I fit on the pop culture spectrum, I pictured Michael Dorn, (i.e. TNGs Worf), when the name Bruce Dern appeared from crosses. Tea, Tognazzi, NIN, DERN, all filled entirely from crosses. Loved the Will Rogers quote. It describes my expertise on current actors/singers/musicians exactly.

However, did enjoy this easy Thursday fare, especially the coruscating non-theme 7 & 8 letter downs. (Knew I'd soon get a chance to use that word.)

Anonymous said...

@Seth - According to the video PG posted, it's the Ole Oak Tree, not the Old Oak Tree. Perhaps the, presumeably regional, confusion made dropping it necessary. Perhaps they just didn't care.

@JNH Chuck Noriss' appearance was explained in PG's writeup, and alluded to above.

Rex Parker said...

Liked it. Good pt. about Reaglesque humor, PG.

I have a hard time imagining singing "OLE OAK"—tongue really really (naturally) wants to hit that "D." But "OLE" does appear to be the official spelling.


SethG said...

Sorry, I guess to be precise it's both ole and old. The title is Ole, and Tony Orlando says Ole at least some of the time. But it definitely sounds like he says Old some of the time, and from the 3:00 mark of the video on Dawn is most definitely saying Old.

That song was big in my house so I knew all that before today. I just edited my comment for clarity, obviously unsuccessfully...

Anon 9:10 said...

@Rex, @SethG: I thought I was making a snide comment on the ignorance of the person who entitled the video, as I was 100% convinced it was the Old Oak Tree. Turns out I was making a snide comment on my own ignorance.

Captcha: hashe - Someone using hashish trying to spell hashish but saying, oh, what the f$#%, why bother, everything's cool.

hazel said...

i was kind of excited when i saw there were going to be 17 comments (!) so early in the day, but a little bit less so after seeing a thread springing up around ole/old.... not sure why thats made ME get all snarky, but it has. it's out of my system now, tho.

cute breezy puzzle though. no complaints.

JaxInL.A. said...

In 1968 my 8-year-old brother was one of, like, four people in the US to actually contract tetanus. He stepped on a rusty nail jumping. Over a fence, pulled it out himself and went about the work of an 8-year-old boy. By the time he complained about his foot hurting some days later, he was in pretty grave danger. High pain tolerance, I guess. He pulled through fine, but spent weeks in the hospital. I remember being jealous because he got a stuffed snake that he named Kaa, and we were all crazy for Disney's Jungle Book that year. Funny the memories a puzzle can induce.

Sfingi said...

Now Franz Hals.

That's not Hans und FRANZ either, with Kevin Nealon and Dana Carvey.

Dutch 1580-1666. Many self-portraits, serious portraits of middle-class Nederlanders with lace collars and beaver hats; but, his paintings of commoners were most interesting. Oh yes, and he's another cousin.

Larry S said...

Yesterday indiscernible theme to many, with complaints of too easy a puzzle. Today easy-cheesy theme, but for me a harder puzzle.
As old as I am, I never wore Thom MCAN shoes, blanked on FSTOP (thinking the French pronoun would be mOI) and played Uno through raising four kids but never played a card game with a cry of GIN (gin rummy?), the last confounded by the same thought process as @sfingi--Frosty's buttons were lumps of cOal!
Gotta laugh ... I messed up the first capcha for the same reason I sometimes misread clues--r followed by n looks just like an m.

CrazyCatLady said...

Breezy Thursday with a funny theme. I had no idea who UGO was so thanks for the "La Cage Aux Folles" reference @imsdave. Loved that movie - truly funny. Agree it's much better in French with subtitles. I got totally tricked by the Davenport shopper clue. I felt like a DODO.

Last week a woman at LAX went through the security line in a bikini to avoid being molested by the TSA. PG I ♥ your TSA sign.

CChusband once forgot that he had recently had a TETANUS shot. When he changed doctors, they gave him another one and he had a horrible allergic reaction. Scary. You're only supposed to have one every ten years.

@PG thanks for the Patrick Blindauer info.

CrazyCatLady said...

@Larry I know what you mean. I once misread yarn unit as yam unit.

Joon said...

excellent theme! simple conception, but clever and highly elegant. a definite winner from pancho harrison. another sentence fragment. verbs all strangely missing.

captcha is "parer." i've never seen an actual word used as the captcha before.

Eric said...

I didn't think much of the theme jokes, but as others have said, there was some great fill.

35A "Choice" -> SELECT is a part-of-speech mismatch. Am I missing another interpretation that works better than the obvious but ungrammatical one?

Avatar was a beautiful movie visually, but I thought the story was pretty generic. Then I discovered why I thought that (warning: might contain spoilers). It's been ages since I saw Dances With Wolves, but from my dim memory, I suspect you could do the same with it.

@PG: I'm glad the antibiotics are working. Great timing for "Disease attacker" -> DRUG! Coincidence? I'm not so sure :-)

Tinbeni said...

Now this was PERFECT!
Great themes ... the first was SOOOO easy since I had just returned from WORKING OUT!
(Hey, I slept in until almost 3:50am this morning).

Throw in that former profession, AUDITOR.
This is getting better!

NOSE for Frosty's button was a wild ass guess (or WAG).
Making a snowman isn't a biggie "thing to do" here in
Tampa Bay.
Though at 42 degrees when I awoke I started to wonder ... could it snow here today?
Plus there was the conumdrum of "putting on more clothing" ... something I abhor.

BEER & GIN and then there is that Avatar reference for ESCAPISM ...
Though I must confess with Avatar, I DO-NOT "watch it" ...
Hell, I DRINK it!
Especially at my nightly Sunset "toast!"

Hey, that reminds me ... I do have Holiday shopping left to do.
Time to get that assorted case of ... something.
Yeah, that's the ticket!

Joon said...

eric: choice and SELECT are synonymous as adjectives, e.g. "a choice cut of meat" or "a select few individuals."

Tom in the D said...

Well, 4 for 4 this week. Maybe a week away from the lat Got my head straight. Or maybe the puzzles this week are fairly easy. Probably a little of both. I liked the theme today, kinda cute, kinda different. @Imsdave, The birdcage is 1 of my favorite movies , Agador Spartacus is probably 1 of the funniest characters in any movie......" She works hard for the money, enh enh, enh enh! " ......laughing just thinking about it. Great write up puzzle girl as usual, Excellent comments , wish me luck tomorrow . have a great night everyone