06.28 Tue

June 28, 2011
Victor Fleming & Nancy Salomon

Theme: French! — That's right, French!

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Delight in living (JOIE DE VIVRE).
  • 24A: Paris site of objets d'art (MUSÉE DU LOUVRE).
  • 48A: Peppercorn-coated beef entrée (STEAK AU POIVRE).
  • 56A: Shrimp cocktail, e.g. (HORS D'OEUVRE).
Well, we're off to a great start this week, aren't we? I really enjoyed this puzzle. Obviously, I got a kick out of the ... French! But that's not the only reason. Look at some of those other entries: HAIL MARY, MAKE HAY, HAS-BEEN, AIRBALL — even MOPSY kind of tickled me today (3D: Desperation gridiron pass / 40D: What some do while the sun shines? / 30A: Fading star / 43A: Hoops shot that misses everything / 32A: Peter Rabbit sibling). The biggest problem — and I'm sure I'm not alone in this — was figuring out how to spell some of the theme answers. Thank God for crosses!

The only real clunkers I found were SSS and ISLS. (11A: Leaky tire sound / 20A: Aruba et al.: Abbr.). You really hate to see SSS in the grid. I wonder if there are any good options for that corner, but don't have to time right now to really focus on it. Other than that, though, really solid and really smooth. Like I said, we're off to a great start.


  • 36A: Word with cozy or bag (TEA). Is anyone good with this type of clue? I'm horrible — horrible — with them! I actually love coming up with them when I'm constructing a puzzle, but as a solver I can ne-Ever get them.
  • 46A: Hatch, as a scheme (THINK UP). I tried DREAM UP first.
  • 52A: Pre-splat cry (OOPS). HAha: "pre-splat."
  • 7D: Ford in a Beach Boys hit (T-BIRD). Now here's a Beach Boys song I've heard of.

  • 10D: Springsteen, to fans (THE BOSS). And if THE BOSS is more your style, take a gander at this.

Crosswordese 101 Round-up:
  • 21A: Wine-and-cassis apéritif (KIR).
  • 9D: Former Egypt-Syr. alliance (UAR).
  • 18D: __ out: barely gets (EKES).

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Everything Else 1A: Sounds of laughter (HAHAS); 6A: Show off, as one's stuff (STRUT); 14A: Change with the times (ADAPT); 15A: West Indian sorcery (OBEAH); 16A: Back muscle, for short (LAT); 19A: Stretch to remember (ERA); 22A: With 50-Across, quarterback who started a record 297 consecutive games (BRETT); 28A: Not for (AGAINST); 31A: __-Novo: Benin's capital (PORTO); 33A: Play (with) (TOY); 34A: Slate-backing strips (LATHS); 39A: Apple models (IMACS); 41A: They may be blown in games (LEADS); 50A: See 22-Across (FAVRE); 51A: The whole shebang (ALL); 55A: Saloon order (ALE); 60A: Knight's title (SIR); 61A: Justice Samuel (ALITO); 62A: Speedy base runner's strategy (STEAL); 63A: Thing to run at a bar (TAB); 64A: Red Sea republic (YEMEN); 65A: Prefix with frost (PERMA-); 1D: Pilgrim to Mecca (HAJI); 2D: Bustles (ADOS); 4D: Jungle film costume (APE SUIT); 5D: CST part: Abbr. (STD.); 6D: Like old Russian states (SOVIET); 8D: Give gas to (REV); 11D: Place for an ace? (SLEEVE); 12D: "No Exit" dramatist (SARTRE); 13D: __ Island Ferry (STATEN); 23D: Red gemstone (RUBY); 25D: __-Cat: winter vehicle (SNO); 26D: "This could be a problem" ("UH-OH"); 27D: Swimmer's reps (LAPS); 28D: On target (APT); 29D: Bit of baby babble (GOO); 32D: The Rockies, e.g.: Abbr. (MTS.); 34D: In __ land: loopy (LA-LA); 35D: First Amdt. defender (ACLU); 36D: Corporate acquisition (TAKEOVER); 37D: School URL ending (EDU); 38D: Fanged serpent (ASP); 39D: Building beam (I-BAR); 41D: Ullmann of "Autumn Sonata" (LIV); 42D: On the way (EN ROUTE); 43D: Equally speedy (AS FAST); 44D: Roma's land (ITALIA); 45D: Echoic effect (REVERB); 46D: Snitched about (TOLD ON); 47D: Port of Hawaii (HILO); 49D: Second of a word-processing pair (PASTE); 53D: English carriage (PRAM); 54D: Ward of "CSI: NY" (SELA); 57D: Cheer for a toreador (OLÉ); 58D: Perimeter (RIM); 59D: Clairvoyance, briefly (ESP).


Bill said...

I realize (after the fact)) that indeed, French was the theme, but there were way too many odd French phrases for my liking. Otherwise it was OK.

I got one letter wrong - I had UAE instead of UAR, and I didn't bother to look up the French phrase to confirm the cross.

Mari said...

I had UAE too. The French spellings got me.

Conrad said...

I think growing up in Ontario and taking 7 years of French Immersion in school took the edge off today's theme. I had no trouble with the spellings, but I did have 48A: boeuf AU POIVRE for a while. Guess I got over-enthusiastic...

Only had 2 real troubles: BRETT FAVRE (22A and 50A, though I count them together) and OBEAH (15A). Ok, now that I`m finished, I recognize BRETT FAVRE, though I couldn`t have told you his sport, never mind position. But OBEAH? No idea.

Also, I have some sort of localized dyslexia when it comes to UCLA and ACLU.

Joon said...


that is all.

Tuttle said...

What is it with crossword constructors and French? You never seem to see this with German or Spanish.

I'd love to see "weltschmerz" or "schadenfreude" in the grid. Of course then you'd have to fit Nietzsche in instead of Sartre.

Should T-Bird be clued as an abbrev? I'm guessing not since that's how the song refers to a Thunderchicken.

Ruth said...

More than "hard-to-spell French words" as the theme, I thought it was "French words with VRE in them" so Brett Favre (@Conrad: barely heard of him? Do you live in America??) is definitely part of the theme.
VRE unfortunately stands for Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus which is a very bad looming scourge on mankind, so let's not go there.

Rube said...

Curses. Had this nice neat grid with no writeovers then came here and discovered that I had oHOH instead of UHOH.

It appears I better look up PORTO-Nuovo, Benin. This is not ringing any bells.

Good puzzle, if over too quickly.

Anoa Bob said...

Thought this was an intelligent, satisfying Tuesday puzzle, what one would expect when two top constructors get together. Shrimp cocktail, peppercorn steak, a visit to a world class museum, ah, that's some joie de vivre!

Am I the only one who has ever questioned the legitimacy of an entry that is often seen---50 times in the NYT and counting---and usually clued the same---"building beam" or "construction beam"? I'm talking I BAR, 39D here.

I have never seen an I BAR, nor could I find any with a google search. Rebar, yes; I beam, yes; I bar, no. I think this slipped by the first time or two it appeared, got into the data base, and became an accepted part of crosswordom.

I think it's time to rectify this by changing the accepted clue for I BAR to "Crossword constructor's support beam", or some such.

Or one could go legit and clue it "East European river".

Sfingi said...

Proud of myself for getting sports name BRETT FAVRE, though I doubt I knew him from sports. UH OH.

Though I eventually got all the French spellings from crosses, except the U in DU, I can't see the use for half of that language's letters. Since they're a Romance language, the letters don't serve as an archeology of Latin history, as the English language spellings gives clues to their sources. Thus, French should go phonetic.

@Ruth - I agree with your astute theory of VRE.

CP said...

Excellent Tuesday puzzle by Mr. Fleming & Co. Had to rely on the acrosses to nail down the proper spellings of the French themed clues. Having BRETT FARVE and HAIL MARY in one puzzle has this LA Dodger fan long for the start of football season.....

Steve said...

French! Sports! Nice Fills! "ASP" NOT clued as "Nile Biter"!

I'm a happy camper today.

C said...

VREy good puzzle today. Even this non French speaking dude could finish today's puzzle ... thanks to his good friend sports. Enough sports sprinkled through here to get me through. I almost made the OHOH mistake but didn't think the DO looked right as part of the answer. I don't know it didn't look right, but it just didn't.

@CP, not trying to dance on your Dodger grave (ok, a bit as a Giants fan) but the NFL is still in lockout so your longing might be longer than you longed for ;^)

KJGooster said...

French! I'm a good speller (in English, at least) but whenever write HORSDOEUVRE it always appears wrong no matter how long I look at it.

@Ruth: When we see MRSA in a puzzle then we'll know we're in trouble.

And RIP to Clarence Clemons, AKA the Big Man, long time sax player for THEBOSS.

Mokus said...

Great puzzle! Wanted coupe as in Beach Boys "Little Deuce Coupe" but voodoo has six letters so T-Bird it is. STRUT & THE BOSS cross had to be intentional. Can't stand the man. Ended on a happier note with SELA Ward, beautiful and intelligent and a fine actress to boot!
Liked all the French phrases which, for the most part, have become common in American parlance. BTW, PORTO-Novo, Benin, is a former French colony that you might visit ENROUTE (Fr.) to W. Africa. Even Brett FAVRE's name has French roots.

My thanks to Victor & Nancy for a pleasant start to the day.

Conrad said...

@Ruth - No ma'am. Canadian through and through, though I've been living in Taiwan these last five years.
I've met some pretty cool Americans since I've been here, but none of them has been BRETT FAVRE.
I didn't notice that -vre ending; wish I'd caught that while solving.

@Tuttle - it would be insanely awesome to see "schadenfreude" in a puzzle. By which I mean that it would be awesome while simultaneously driving me insane.

Nighthawk said...

Did Monday's get reversed with Tuesday's? Seemed so to me.

This one just dances. Somehow knew all the theme phrases with few letters to help, almost autofill.

@Ruth--good catch/gloss on the theme. VRE sounds like the disease whose name we dare not speak. Hope that genie stays in the bottle.

Usually hate HAJI and Haj and its variations, perhaps due to its variant spellings, but loved it here, as well as OBEAH.

As @CB says, BRETT FARVE and HAIL MARY was very cool together. And, as @Mokus points out, so was STRUT and THE BOSS (thanks for the clip, @PG), plus REVERB. Also liked STRUT crossing OBEAH.

Agree that SSS was on the clunk side, but more than made up by the columns of SLEEVE, SARTRE, and STATEN.

Other fun stuff: APE SUIT (really makes me laugh), TOLD ON, MAKE HAY, EN ROUTE, and TAKEOVER. Not to mention, the bouncy MOPSY.

On the whole, sparkling! A raised flute of KIR Royale to Mr. Fleming and Ms. Salomon!

CrazyCat said...

Count me in as a fan of this one. This was probably one of the most fun Tuesdays in my recent memory. MOPSY, EN ROUTE and APE SUIT were my favorites. I even managed to get all the sports answers right.

STEAK AU POIVRE is on of those dishes where you pour on the cognac and then flambé. Love doing that.

@Nighthawk That KIR Royale sounds pretty good to me.

CoffeeLvr said...

@Conrad, I wanted Boeuf at first, but couldn't remember how to spell it. The K in MAKEHAY told me it was a mixed language phrase.

I did not remember exactly how to spell HORS D'OEUVRE either; again, used the crosses.

The puzzle made me hungry.

My one error, which I caught eventually, was tOPSY; had me trying for some abbrev. for Team as the cross. I could only remember Peter, Cottontail, and flOPSY -which wouldn't fit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice comments. Nancy and I had fun making this one. There are very few words meeting the *VRE pattern that could be considered as part of an American's vocabulary. That is where the idea started. The problematic one, ironically, is the one that might be the second most common, after HORSDOEUVRE (I still can't spell these words without looking), that being MUSEEDULOUVRE, because most people refer to that simply as "The Louvre." BRETT FAVRE was not just a bonus, but also an item to remind the solver that these words are in English dictionaries, too.


Mary in Oregon said...

Thanks for dropping by, Vic! Loved your smooth French puzzle, especially "fanged serpent" for ASP. TBIRD is OK w/o an abbreviation note because that's what everyone has always called it.

badams52 said...

Thought the long downs were awesome. HAILMARY, APESUIT, TBIRD, SLEEVE, SARTRE, TAKEOVER, ENROUTE, UHOH, were cool to see and get. And I loved AIRBALL, PERMA and OOPS for the crosses.

But I'm not a big fan of French words, so the theme stopped me cold in my tracks. Figured out the VRE, but it wasn't enough to fill in anything but HOURSDOEUVRE and STEAKAUPOIVRE which I mostly got from the downs.

French, blech.

Love to see another awesome offering from the duo, just without the French theme.

Palamedes said...

Is that Beach Boy singer actually chewing gum?

CrazyCat said...

@Palamedes It gives new meaning to the phrase "walking and chewing gum at the same time." Maybe it was a chaw?

@Mokus If you've ever seen Bruce Springsteen, THE BOSS and his band, live in concert, it's absolutely joyous. What's not to like? I'm saddened by the death of Clarence Clemons. He was a gifted musician and great performer. The E Street Band will never be the same.

JOIE DE VIVRE is a great expression to start the day.

@Vic and Nancy, thanks for stopping in. I loved the French.

Mokus said...

@CrazyCatLady, yes, I went to see Springsteen at Dodger Stadium a few years back and left halfway through. Different strokes...

CrazyCat said...

@Mokus Well, Dodger Stadium could ruin pretty much anything. Never saw him at a huge venue - only back on the east coast in the early days - five times. I like your little squirrel by the way.

SethG said...

What Joon said.