Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday, July 20, 2016, Gordon Johnson


STARCROSSEDLOVE (34A: Relationship doomed from the start ... or something found in this puzzle four times?) is the theme today, but two of these couples are still together, aren't they? BENING and BEATTY, and PITT and JOLIE? And the other two, well, it was a long time ago, and I don't really know, but star-crossed just seems a little too dramatic. Still, I enjoyed this theme. It's not perfectly symmetrical, but I kind of like that about it. Not even perfect couples are 100% perfect.

1A: Markka spender, once (FINN) gets an A. Why? Because I'm a FINN, that's why. Plus, it's good. The four long downs in the NW and SE are all strong. IRRITANT (2D: Smoke in one's eyes, say) is well-clued, especially since, in a love-themed puzzle, one's thoughts might be drawn to the old song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," and to think about that title with the IRRITANT meaning is amusing. And in the other corner, OPENFIRE beside VENGEFUL seems another good pairing, but the clue for GRASSFED (55A: Like beef cattle, dietarily) is somewhat disingenuous, given the current feed-lot situation in the U.S.

There were a few odd partials, like ABITE (60A: Grab ____ (eat on the run)) and ARUN (62A: Give ____ for one's money), and I think "add-ons" is more natural sounding than ADDINS (33D: Functionality-enhancing computer products), but maybe that just shows my ignorance of such products. And finally on the negative side, ENSOUL (27A: Fill with a spirit) is questionable.

On the whole, I enjoyed the puzzle. Onward to The Turn!

- Horace


  1. 11:49 (FWOE)
    The cross of CLENCH/ENSOUL got me. I entered the former with an "i" without really thinking too long about the latter and it got by me. The theme, though, was nice. I don't think that the implication was of the "Romeo and Juliet" type trouble, more the two stars becoming lovers, no? Of course, TAYLOR/BURTON were somewhat volatile at times (especially in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"). I always enjoy RIGEL, but it's too bad that DENT wasn't clued with HHGTTG. WASABI is always excellent, as is JOLIE, but YENTL is less-than-welcome (sorry Babs-lovers). Loved IRRITANT.

  2. I'd agree that computers rarely (if ever) have ADDINS as opposed to addons, plugins, apps, etc. And although I'll generally defend the right of a constructor to make up something which isn't exactly a word, ENSOUL was more of a "I suppose that's what they meant" than a "oh that's clever".

    Overall difficulty was not too bad, given that I was only dimly aware of all those actors and who might be partnered with whom. But the theme is cute ("star-crossed" for the actors just means they are stars, and the answers cross each other, not anything about marital bliss or lack thereof).

    GRASSFED didn't seem quite as exotic to me, but that's probably just living in California and going to yuppie restaurants and shops. I liked DIRECTED (good old ambiguous clue) and ADLAI (maybe people are okay if I know them, and somehow the "two-time" gives this some pizazz).

  3. ADDINS for functionality-enhancing computer products is wrong - it's addons or plugins. ENSOUL filled me with a spirit of disgust. Too VENGEFUL?