06.10 Fri

June 10, 2011
Marti Duguay-Carpenter

Theme: Story Story Night — Theme answers are puns in which the first word is a synonym for "story."

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Mount Olympus and environs? (MYTH UNIVERSE).
  • 34A: Thinking like Aesop? (FABLE-MINDED).
  • 40A: One majoring in traditional knowledge? (LORE STUDENT).
  • 54A: Quills for Chaucer? (TALE FEATHERS).
This was a tough theme for me to crack. I had the ends of three theme answers (which I had pieced together through crosses and guesses based on the clues) before I ever had the beginning of any of them. So I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for. Even after I got the FABLE part of FABLE-MINDED, all I thought was "pun." I still didn't know how all the first words were related. I thought maybe an EE to AY sound change? The second theme answer I uncovered was LORE STUDENT and then I was completely lost. LORE STUDENT? What could the original phrase possible be? LAIR? LEER? LIAR? LURE? It wasn't until after I had solved the entire puzzle, figured out the theme, set the puzzle down, and picked it up again a few minutes later that LAW STUDENT popped into my mind. That's not a great pun is what I'm saying. The others are very clear. Two use a simple sound change, one is just a homophone, and then the last one is a sound change … plus some other stuff. I guess if I'm going to be totally honestly, I have to admit that I've probably heard a New Yorker put an R on the end of the word LAW at some point in my life. But I still don't think the pun works. I'm just stubborn that way.

The last two letters I entered into the grid were the B in DRIB and then the I. [1A: Small amount] had to be either DRIB, DRAB, or DRAM right? MASH IN wasn't going to work for [4D: Knock down during a raid] so that answered the B question. But then I couldn't make sense of [3D: Some OKs] with only A and I as my options, so I thought that B might have been wrong and there was a "small amount" that I'd never heard of. After a slight struggle, I decided that INITS. must mean INITIALS and since OK in the sense I was thinking of it (OKAY) wasn't an initialism, O.K. must stand for something else that I just wasn't coming up with. I know I'm probably missing something obvious here. Anyone?

  • 9A: Rare score note (C FLAT). I wasn't sure if this clue meant that the answer was (1) a rare note or (2) a note in a rare score. Like maybe there are some music pieces out there from long, long ago that have … different notes? I know. It doesn't make sense sometimes the stuff that goes through my head.
  • 15A: Songdom showgirl (LOLA). Her name was LOLA. She was a showgirl. But that was 30 years ago when they used to have a show. Hope you enjoy that the rest of the day.
  • 18A: Some govt. lawyers (ADA'S). Assistant District Attorneys.
  • 27A: Eighth-century Japanese capital (NARA). No idea.
  • 50A: Sinus-clearing condiment (WASABI). WASABI is fun to say.
  • 61A: Early Macy's Day Parade balloon designer (SARG). I think Tony SARG is typically clued as a puppeteer. I remember looking him up once for a blog post and reading about how he was involved with early Macy's Day Parades.
  • 9D: Kennedy designer (CASSINI). We're much more likely to see CASSINI's first name, OLEG, in the grid.
  • 10D: Small distinction (FINE LINE). This is a great clue.
  • 11D: Where to go in London? (LOO). Oh good, bathroom humor.
  • 12D: Eastern N.Y. airport (ALB). I honestly didn't know ALBany was in Eastern New York. I just looked at a map of New York and found that Buffalo isn't really where I thought it was either. Some days it seems as though the depth of my ignorance is truly astounding.
  • 55D: Jazz venue? (ESPN). I knew this clue was referring to the basketball team, so I tried UTAH first. Very tricky!
Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 14A: Spanish actress Chaplin (Charlie's granddaughter) (OONA).
  • 39A: First name in architecture (EERO).
  • 67A: Card, e.g. (NL'ER).
  • 32D: Chiwere speakers (OTOES).
  • 51D: Isolated nest (AERIE).
  • 57D: City north of Pittsburgh (ERIE).
[Follow PuzzleGirl on Twitter.]

Everything Else 5A: Otherwise (ELSE); 16A: French garlic sauce (AIOLI); 17A: Sauvignon __ (GRIS); 19A: They don't mix with just anybody (SNOBS); 23A: Court statistic (ASSIST); 24A: Get ready for a competition, bodybuilder-style (OIL UP); 29A: Met (RAN INTO); 31A: Levels (KO'S); 36A: Simple step (A TO B); 38A: Nuke (ZAP); 45A: Howard of Hollywood (RON); 46A: It may be tapped (BEER KEG); 47A: Sainted pope called "the Great" (LEO I); 49A: Escargot (SNAIL); 58A: Up and about (ASTIR); 62A: Highchair component (TRAY); 63A: One of the Allman Brothers (DUANE); 64A: "Grand" or "demi" ballet move (PLIE); 65A: Auxiliary (AIDE); 66A: Game with blocks (JENGA); 68A: Break (REST); 1D: Matter of faith (DOGMA); 2D: Golfer Sabbatini and actor Calhoun (RORYS); 5D: Hyundai sedan (ELANTRA); 6D: California's self-proclaimed "Zinfandel Capital of the World" (LODI); 7D: Pole, for one (SLAV); 8D: Facility (EASE); 13D: "Angela's Ashes" sequel ('TIS); 21D: Govt. jet set? (USAF); 22D: Go nowhere special (ROAM); 25D: Fail, after "go" (UNDER); 26D: Wing: Prefix (PTERO-); 28D: '70s congresswoman known as "Battling Bella" (ABZUG); 29D: Ward off (REPEL); 30D: Eat to excess (O.D. ON); 31D: De__, Illinois (KALB); 33D: Philosopher Kierkegaard (SOREN); 35D: Boy (LAD); 37D: Dressing down (BERATING); 41D: Mountain destination (SKI AREA); 42D: Spill (TELL); 43D: Yanni fan, maybe (NEW AGER); 44D: Exactly (TO A T); 48D: 1987 Beatty/Hoffman flop (ISHTAR); 52D: Finishing nails (BRADS); 53D: "The best __ to be": Browning (IS YET); 56D: Spill (FALL); 58D: Trans. or intrans. (ADJ.); 59D: Go after, in a way (SUE); 60D: Avoid burning, perhaps (TAN).


SethG said...

Easy to solve without getting the theme until after. Those are terrible.

ESPN and BASH IN areas were the only difficulty, and not for very interesting reasons. Would DeKAL work for [___b, Illinois]? Why is KALB any better? The city is DeKalb.

Neville said...

I knew where Buffalo is, but that's where Albany is? Crazy!

I skirted the Manilow bug when solving last night - I won't fall victim now!

Also tried UTAH first for the Jazz. What's with us?

...there was blood and a single gunshot but just who shot who?


Mari said...

I didn't like 55D (Jazz venue). Wouldn't ESPN be the venue of many teams? Sports venue might have worked better.

Mari said...

Neville, I always pictured Albany as Northern NY.

Anonymous said...

@Seth - Yes, De___ for KALB is horrrrrible.

I had to come to the blog to figure out what LORE STUDENT meant. Ick!

Anonymous said...

The utter horribility of De____ for KALB is exacerbated by the fact that there are in fact De KALBS out there in the universe (and I'm being gracious and including Texas as part of this universe).

While at university, I majored in non-traditional knowledge. Psychotropic drugs played a major role in this field of study.

*David* said...

It looks like we're heading toward Friday xwords themese that are sound-puns, as this is the second one in a row. This one seemed to be all over the place as far as how it told its story which lengthened my solve time. It also felt a bit dated as far as the fill with SARG, DUANE, CASSINI, and ABZUG. I had no idea what vowel fit in at the ABZUG/NARA crossing, next.

Pete said...

The reason CFLAT is rare is that CFLAT is the key of B, hence no one in their right mind would ever use it.

Mount Olympus is a real thing, i.e. a mountain in Greece. 'Realm of the Titans' would have been a better clue for 20A.

'Jazz venue, at least until the playoffs start' would have been better for ESPN because, well, the Jazz suck.

Tuttle said...

What's so mythical about the Plain of Thessaly and the Pindus Range? Mount Olympus is a quite real place.

NARA, on the other hand, didn't exist in the 8th century. The castle of Heijo-kyo was the capital in question. The city that grew around it is called NARA in modern times after the dynasty that ruled from there.

And I'll avoid the debate over wether an emulsion like AIOLI or mayonaise is a sauce or not.

Not to say it wasn't an excellent puzzle. KALB and ALB were the only clunkers.

Anonymous said...

These puzzles are getting worse...why pretend.

Steve said...

This took me a long time and I don't think it was worth it in the end. Just seemed a lot of work for little pleasure.


Agree with @Tuttle about Mt. Olympus.

Also thought UTAH first, but the "venue" nagged at me and I didn't fill it in, I was expecting some acronym for Utah's arena to emerge. ESPN wasn't what I expected, and pretty lame it is too.

A question about Escargot/SNAIL to you constructors who know the rules (as I don't). This bothered me - I knew right away that SNAIL was the answer, but there's no real reason why it should be - you guys clue foreign words in the grid with an appropriate reference in the same language, so to me, "Escargot" should be cluing a synonym for snail IN FRENCH, not cluing a translated answer in English. It's simply inconsistent, and wrong IMHO. What's to stop the answer being the Spanish/German/Italian for snail? These are all languages we encounter in the fill every day.

There. Got that off my chest. Next.

Vega said...

I didn't finish. It was the DRIB/BASH IN/INITS fiasco in the NW. Oy. I kind of stopped trying.

...But can't Mount Olympus be a MYTH UNIVERSE because in myth, that's where the gods lived? I don't know; it worked for me. LORE STUDENT, however, did not.

Steve said...

@Vaga "... fiasco in the NW" - love it!

Anoa Bob said...

I thought 3D INITS was clued "Some OKs" because we sometimes are asked to put our initials at various places on rental car, motel, etc., contracts, to indicate that we okay that specific part of the contract (and we sign at the end to indicate we okay the whole shebang).

xxpossum@html.cm said...

What you're missing, pzl grl, is that this puzzle sucks. DRIB? 'nough said.

Anonymous said...

I think my age and distant exposure to Engish grammar teaching got me today. On 58D, I understood trans. and intrans. to mean transitive or intransitive, referring to verbs (active or passive voice). Therefore I wanted to put vrb. for the answer. I really don't understand how adj. can be the answer. To me that stands for adjective, and I never learned that adjectives were transitive or intransitive, just descriptive. What am I missing? Help!

C said...

Hands up for falling into the UTAH trap. Easily correctable.

OK puzzle for a very loosely themed puzzle. Not very good puns so a mark down there.

CFLAT and B natural are the same note. Does that mean that we can expect to see BSHARP clued the same way?

bill3135 said...

I've been reading this blog for about a week now, following my discovery of it after being forced to look something up. Very entertaining, and nearly addictive. I did have to refer to it today because I didn't realize OONA was also the name of Chaplin's granddaughter. I too suffered from the DRIB/INITS/BASHIN "fiasco" (well named, VEGA). My technique is to choose one definition/result, and solve by extending from that and subsequent results. Grids that have only a one-letter link to the rest of the puzzle make life interesting; there weren't any here, but yesterday's LAT had that type of construction. Oh, and Anonymous: 58D Trans. or Intrans. are adjectives that describe verbs. I didn't get it either.

CoffeeLvr said...

I was loving this puzzle, just ripping along, knowing so much: CASSINI, SOREN, DUANE (and which way to spell it!), ABZUG, ISHTAR. I remembered SARG from his recent appearance in another puzzle, PTERO didn't fool me. I saw the theme as puns, but didn't see how the four answers were linked until I read PG. Didn't care that they were weak, 'cause I was hot.

Then I came back to the NW and spent nearly as much time there as I had for the rest of the puzzle. First, I had to correct ArreST for ASSIST, ok, I had been watching the NBA playoff game. Then I could not quite remember OONA, only the OO part. Sussed out RORYS, eventually (already had DOGMA and was proud of it.) So what could a small amount be? DRam of course. No. DRIB? is that a word, I am not sure. Oh, DRIp, and the police puSHIN the door! Now, just fill in the last couple of squares. Minutes pass, as letters go in and out. Ok, a small amount is a DRop, yes that's better than DRIp. Thank you, I would like another DRop of tea, ma'am. Still could not see O.K., yet I have used my personal monogram so many times at work to approve things. I remember designing it, while I was engaged to be married. Even changed the way I wrote my (new) middle initial, G, in my (new) signature so that I could write my (new) 3 initials without lifting the pen from the page.

In the end, resorted to a check, back to DRIB, and STILL didn't understand INITS while Mr. Happy Pencil appeared. That's puzzling, you can go from feeling oh, so smart to ugh, so dumb in thirteen long minutes.

Nighthawk said...

Not much to love here, for me, due in part to the pile up of proper names and titles: OONA, LOLA, NARA, EERO, LEO I, RON, SARG, JENGA, RORYS, ELANTRA, LODI, CASSINI, TIS, ABZUG,(De)KALB, OTOES, SOREN, ISHTAR, (BRADS), (SUE), ERIE. Plus the initializations of USAF, ADAS, and ESPN.

I felt like I had been tied to the whipping post.

But I did like thinking of DUANE, GREG, DICKEY, BUTCH, and JAI JOHANNY, and BERRY.

My Cousin Vinny's "Two Utes", OK. But I can't hear even Joe Pesci say LORE, though I guess its possible to mangle any pronunciation just about any way you want to reach a pun. But it does ring flat and hollow.

mac said...

Easy puzzle but very puzzling theme. It seemed inconsistent.

Escargot is not only a snail in French, it's also the name of a menu item we all know.

Not sure about aioli being a sauce. It's not sauce aioli like sauce bearnaise and sauce hollandaise, and mayonaise is just mayonaise.

Steve said...

@mac - I'm not going to let this one go - sure, it's a menu item, but it's a French menu item.

I know we all know it, and it disn't stop me filling in SNAIL, but my point is that Marti is cluing an English answer with a French word, and that's inconsistency.

You'd be mad as hell if the clue/answer was the opposite way around, but because the grids contain words in many languages, it's equally "valid" (or invalid, in my opinion).

You'd expect something like "Nice snail/ESCARGOT", so why shouldn't I expect "London escargot/SNAIL" ?

Steve said...

Except - darnit - I'm not complaining about AIOLI, so I'd better shut up before I make any more of a fool of myself :)

Anonymous said...

I have never commented on here, but I do read the blog and do the LA crossword nearly every day. This is by far the worst puzzle I have seen in some time. Inconsistent and even unomprehendable theme (Lore Student????), poorly worded clues, and little to no enjoyment in solving.

mac said...

You're probably right about the need for an inclusion of the language, like "escargot, in English", but it does seem unnecessary in this case.

I don't think I would order snails at a restaurant, but escargots, with their hot, green garlic butter and crisp French bread, I have;-).

mac said...

@PG: I think the Brits often add the r-sound to words not ending in that letter.

Sfingi said...

That's why "from Albany to Buffalo" is so impressive as a length for a canal (ERIE).

Older NYers from The City often say LORE for law. Upstaters explain this by saying that since they say "huh" for "her" they have to use the R somewhere else.

However, I did not get the mispronunciation pun for FABLE. Anyone?

Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

@PG as mentioned before, the OK/Inits thing is just that..... sometimes we OK something with our initials.

On another note PG, I notice that you have "Story Story Night"....Is this just your own editorilization or is that the title of the puzzle? I ask this because I do the puzzles in an out-of-LA paper and the puzzles are not titled. Because I started solving after I left LA, I would not know if the puzzles are titled? I know the Sunday one is (syndicated AND in the actual paper) but wonder if the daily's are? I seem to recall folks mentioning a title once in a while but just wanted to clear it up. Had I known the title, I would have gotten the "tales" connection, otherwise I just rolled my eyes at some pretty bad puns (DITTO WITH ALL ON LORE STUDENT as it is a real stretch) Myth Universe is a person with a lithp so between that and the Brooklynese of Lore, I was searching for some sort of speech disorders/accents in the other puns. Not that a title would make it any better but it certainly cleared things up once I read PG's write-up.

So if anyone could comment on the title/non title syndicated/real time in paper issue I would greatly appreciate it! Have a great weekend all!

PuzzleGirl said...

The issue of the puzzle's title is the #3 most Frequently Asked Question on this blog.

Dave in Bend, Oregon said...

AHA!!! Well then, bravo for your titling PG

Anonymous said...

Trans and Intrans are adjectives.

Steve said...

The LORE STUDENT seems to be causing some consternation - however, in UK english, the words are absolute homonyms and I didn't have a problem with it from that perspective. Maybe the constructor's a Brit?

Steve said...

@Sfingi - Feeble-Minded is the pun.

I think a few of the constructors have spent too much time with Merl Reagle, and have fallen into the habit of making awful crosswords with feeble puns and horrible fills.

IMHO of course :)

Hoyt said...

This was an awful, poorly clued, totally not at all fun puzzle.

Mokus said...

When I get frustrated with a puzzle, and even a little angry on occasion, I wonder what everyone else is feeling.
Today's comments are great! Nighthawk says it best for me. It's always a comfort to find kindred spirits. There were a few things to like in today's puzzle. A lot to dislike, esp. ASTIR for "up and about." If people are stirring they are only thinking of being up & about.

Anonymous said...

I am a retired English teacher, and I have NEVER heard of transitive and intransitive adjectives! Verbs, however, are transitive and intransitive.

PuzzleGirl said...

I've actually gotten a couple private emails about this today too, so allow me to explain. The words "transitive" and "intransitive" are adjectives. In the phrase "transitive verb," the word "transitive" is an adjective. Get it?

Anonymous said...

I also didn't understand the LORE STUDENT pun until I came here, and I agree that cluing ADJ as "trans or intrans" is strange.

The Tony Sarg clue also seemed ridiculous. There's interestingly obscure, and then there's ridiculously obscure. Oona Chaplin the Spanish actress also falls into the ridiculously obscure -- has she actually appeared in a movie outside Spain in more than a cameo role? Why not use Oona O'Neill Chaplin (her grandmother and Charlie Chaplin's widow) instead?

CrazyCat said...

Gosh! Are we being crossword SNOBS today : )

My words OTD were NARA and JUNGA - both new to me. Sauvignon GRIS is a pretty unusual wine, apparently only from France and Chile. I know no one who goes wine tasting in LODI. If you want a good zin I'd recommend Paso Robles.

Other than that, it was fine with me, though not that crazy about LORE STUDENT. Loved seeing good old Bella ABZUG. So about now this Yanni loving, NEW AGER (not) is going to ROAM out to the back yard to hit the BEER KEG. And, please pass a little AIOLI for my SNAIL.

Actually, I'm going out to throw some Sluggo on my vegetable garden and have a glass of Sauvignon BLANC while admiring my eggplants and tomatoes.

Orange said...

@Anonymous 6:26, it is you who are wrong. This is one of those oddball clues where you have to step outside the usual way you read. Forget you know that there are "transitive and intransitive verbs." The word "transitive" DESCRIBES a verb, but it IS an adjective. You see what PuzzleGirl was saying now? This isn't a fill-in-the-blank clue where you need a word that follows "Trans. and intrans."

It's akin to a clue like [Big and fat] asking for the answer SYNONYMS rather than OBESE.

CrazyCat said...

Those freaking escargots!

mac said...

@CrazyCatLady: I can't remember when I L-ed so L!

Vega said...


(Please forgive me. My brother was at Penn then.)

genienana said...

I have read this blog for the last year or two and never commented. I am trying to see if I am doing it correctly.

Anonymous said...

Brits abhor a word ending in a vowel followed by a word starting with a vowel so theyoften insert an "r" sound.

Famously "The lawr is an ass!" PP
Thus law and lore have the same sound.
We suffer "Canader is" from Brits.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty frustrated with this puzzle. I had TENET instead of DOGMA for a long time in the NW and could only try to guess how EPIC UNIVERSE would work on the first pun clue. Finally got DOGMA but couldn't get MYTH until I looked up RORY Calhoun. Too many personal names in this one overall for my taste.

I was puzzled by so many objections to LORE STUDENT. In addition to the Brits, many of whom soften the R in LORE so it sounds like LOW, there are lots of US accents that add R's. In addition to many New Yorkers, people in Rhode Island use a lot of "wicked" Rs at the end of words that end with vowel sounds.