Janet Bender’s New York Times crossword
Theme: Coco, but not Coco Chanel, coconut, or cornering the cocoa market. Each theme entry is a two-word term in which both words start with CO.
- 17a. CONTRA COSTA is a [County ENE of San Francisco]. Don’t let that “ENE” make you think there’s an abbreviation in the answer.
- 27a. COMPUTER CODE is what my husband calls it when he’s talking to laypeople. “Code” suffices for those in the know. It’s [What a programmer writes].
- 41a. In the earlier years of Friends, COURTENEY COX was the [Monica portrayer on "Friends"]. Then she wed David Arquette and became known as Courteney Cox Arquette. Coincidentally, David and Courteney have a little girl named Coco.
- 57a. Arbitrary plural here to make the answer lengths match up. COMMON COLDS are [Winter afflictions] but people do get ‘em year-round.
Eight-minute post! Whoo.
Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post puzzle, “Ought to Be Out”—Janie’s review
How does ought (change) to be(come) out? Why by subtracting the letters “gh,” of course, which Donna does in her four clever theme phrases. What’s especially nice is the way those base phrases she worked from get cheerfully mangled. The groaners include:
- 16A. [Christopher's woolens?] KNITS OF COLUMBUS, which are worn, no doubt, by members of the Knights of Columbus…
- 24A. [Like an athlete who wins a title match?] FIT TO THE FINISH. Where a fight to the finish is concerned, it does help to be fit, too. Any cheerleader could tell ya that.
- 45A. [Biography of La Scala's little louse?] A NIT AT THE OPERA. Clearly this volume is intended as a companion piece to Sir Rudolf Bing‘s 5000 Nights at the Opera (1972) and A Knight at the Opera (1981)…
- 58A. [Siblings who draft habeus corpus petitions?] THE WRIT BROTHERS. As opposed to the Wright brothers, who drafted all sorts of inventive designs, like this box kite, whose lines approximate the shape of a biplane. The rest is history.
If the remaining fill is not as sparkling as the preceding, Donna does keep things lively with the cluing. There were several that made me ask myself, “How’m I supposed to know that?” only to discover I did know that—just not as described by the clue. Which is to say, I learned a thing or two by way of:
- [Snacks for ladybugs], which are APHIDS. It’s true. An adult ladybug may eat more than 50 a day. (Which makes me want to issue a very lady[bug]-like “burp.”) While we’re hangin’ out in the garden, there’s also [Prickly part of a nicker plant]. That’d be the SEED POD. The grey nicker is an aquatic plant that you’ll find in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
- [Sponsor of Magellan and Galileo]. Not CHARLES I in the case of the former or—wait, did Galileo ever even have a sponsor?—but NASA. We’re talkin’ space probes here…
- [Symbol in the Elder Futhark alphabet]. Huh? Elder Futhark? Thank you, crosses, for revealing our friend, the RUNE. And yes, there is also a Younger Futhark alphabet…
- [It breaks at dawn] clues DAY. Sweet.
- [Governess to King Monghut's brood] gives us ANNA (Leonowens), as in Anna and the King of Siam… or The King and I. I’m trying to imagine “King Monghut’s brood” learning the “Elder Futhark alphabet.”
- [Defeat] is a noun here and not a verb, so the correct fill is LOSS.
- [Socialite with a cameo in "The First Wives Club"] is IVANA (Trump). She was probably a consultant as well!
- [Ear-chomping pugilist] is (Iron Mike) TYSON. I’m not sure that I needed to reminded of this rather low-point in his career.
- [Type of constrictor, or a programming language] gives us PYTHON. Knew the former but not the latter.
John Lampkin’s Los Angeles Times crossword
This one’s a multimedia art project, and I’m not just talking about the theme. Each theme entry starts with an artistic verb-based adjective (SCULPTED, DRAWN, CARVED, PAINTED), yes, but constructor John Lampkin has a couple other creative ventures that relate to the theme. The PAINTED LADY is a butterfly (one I’ve seen on my block a lot this season), and John’s assembled his terrific butterfly photos (and entertaining commentary on them) here. Many of you know that John is a musician, too. He writes, “I’ve posted an audio clip of the Equinox Chamber Players performing a movement from one of my woodwind quintets called, “The Butterfly and the Rose,” which is recorded on Albany Records.” Hey! That composition does evoke a butterfly’s lightness and movement.
- 17a. A [Bodybuilder's pride] includes her SCULPTED ABS. Some people’s abs are less sculptural and more free-form.
- 28a. [Melted dip for steamed lobster] is DRAWN BUTTER.
- 42a. A CARVED ROAST is a [Table-ready hearty entrée]. Is this an in-the-language thing? I don’t eat red meat so the lingo is beyond my ken sometimes.
- 54a. [Colorful butterfly] is a PAINTED LADY. This butterfly is orange, black, and white, with a pattern that’s distinct from that of a monarch butterfly.
- 7a. [Mickey and Minnie] are animated MICE.
- 3d. A SQUEEGEE is a [Windshield-cleaning tool]. Fun word to say.
- 7d. [Central area in a big city] clues MIDTOWN. Hey! That’s where I’m heading in a few weeks for another NYC vacation and Lollapuzzoola 3. Chicago’s central area is called downtown or the Loop. Uptown is a specific neighborhood in the middle of the North Side. The other regions are directional: the Southeast, South, Southwest, West, Northwest, and North Sides. (Lake Michigan is to the east.)
- 11d, 12d. [Maze runner] is a LAB RAT and that [Maze runner's incentive] is CHEESE.
- 36d. [Harbor pushers] clues TUGBOATS, which is a nice-looking word. I like that GB collision in the middle.
Brendan Quigley’s blog crossword #248, “Themeless Monday”
Well, I didn’t remember the golfer’s first name from Tyler Hinman’s tweet, but the OOSTHUIZEN spelling did stick in my head. Thanks, Tyler! The LOUIS OOSTHUIZEN entry appears opposite AUGUSTA NATIONAL, but that’s where golf’s Masters tournament is played, not the U.S. British Open Mr. O just won.
- The triple stacks of 15s at the top and bottom. Not a crappy entry among those six. Well played/wrought, Quigley. “THIS IS POINTLESS” is probably the motto of many a beginning solver who can’t yet wrangle a tough themeless into submission. PREFERRED SALARY is unexciting but certainly solid. DON VITO CORLEONE sits atop ROGET’S THESAURUS, which has the brilliant clue [Word search book?].
- 56a. LLAMA gets a funny clue: ["The ___ is a quadruped which lives in the big rivers like the Amazon" (Monty Python)].
- 36a. [Montana's nickname] is not the Big Sky State, it’s JOE COOL. At least it is if you’re talking about Joe Montana.
- 32d. ["Blade Runner" co-star] isn’t Rutger Hauer or Daryl Hannah because this is a 9, not an 11. It’s SEAN YOUNG.
- 37d. A LEAD FOOT is a [Speed demon's appendage].