Markka spender / WED 7-20-16 / Creators of artificial lakes / Sushi bar condiment

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Constructor: Gordon Johnson

Relative difficulty: Medium (no idea ... tweeted about it while I was solving, so my time was obviously through the roof; it felt normalish)


THEME: STAR-CROSSED LOVE (34A: Relationship doomed from the start ... or asomething found in this puzzle four times?)  —currently or former acting couples, who also appeared in at least one movie together, appear four different times, as crossing answers:

Theme answers:
  • BURTON / TAYLOR
  • BOGART / BACALL
  • JOLIE / PITT
  • BENING / BEATTY 
Word of the Day: ENSOUL (27A: Fill with a spirit) —
To sell a Kia Soul to someone (me)
• • •

We had it all ... just like ERIC Bana (10D) and BACALL...


This seems like it will play pretty easy if you know all the Hollywood couple involved, and if not, not. They're all pretty dang famous, so I doubt there will be many who won't know them, but maybe the movies used to clue them aren't so familiar. Actually, they're pretty seminal. "Bugsy" might've gotten by some people, and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" most certainly did, but the couples involved are all iconic, so there shouldn't have been too many proper noun wipe-outs. My main problem with this theme is the revealer. STAR-CROSSED LOVERS is the needed phrase. It's what's in the puzzle, and it's The Actual Famous Phrase. The phrase from "Romeo & Juliet." Google knows this:


"Love" alone is not an option. Also, stupid me, I always thought "star-crossed" meant "fated to be together," despite knowing full well how "Romeo & Juliet" ends (spoiler alert: badly). Not sure how that happened. What else? Well, ENSOUL is flat-out ridiculous, I had no idea the dwarves had known ages (?), and OPEN FIRE next to VENGEFUL *and* ISLAM was very, very grim. Very. Grim. Speaking of grim, gonna go check in on the convention now, bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. ADD-INS are for froyo.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

90 comments:

jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium for me. I was iffy on spelling KARAT, KEBAB, AMELIA, and BACALL in the NE.

ENSOUL is pushing it.

Stuff I learned in addition to the spelling issues above: BENING has one N, BEATTY has two Ts, DOPEY is the youngest dwarf, MOULIN does not have an A in it, and I will probably always need at least two tries to spell ADLAI correctly.

Mostly smooth and clever, liked it.

David Krost 12:32 AM  

"OPEN FIRE next to VENGEFUL *and* ISLAM was very, very grim. Very. Grim." Good God you are even more idiotic than usual with this. I bet if you assign a reading that even contains the word "gun", even if the only use was "The object was gun-metal gray", you issue trigger warnings to your class.

Laura Hoke 12:38 AM  

Ensoul was my last word. I had clutch as the first cross. I just thought I was stupid.

Ellen S 12:58 AM  

I liked @Rex's definition of ENSOUL, but I always thought STAR-CROSSED LOVErs we're fated to not be able to get together.. Should I bother to look it up? The Republican candidate would never stoop to look up a definition, I'm sure, so I won't bother either. And OFL - he just made up the meaning of ENSOUL. Golly, it's kind of liberating.

It was an okay puzzle, I thought.

Anonymous 1:27 AM  

Not a big leap for me to assume star crossed lovers experience star crossed love.

George Barany 1:33 AM  

@Gordon Johnson is a relative newcomer to the ranks of New York Times constructors, having made his debut just about four months ago. @Rex astutely identified the issues with this particular effort, and I gather from what @Gordon has written elsewhere, he understands at least some of them. Therefore, I prefer to direct my comments at some peripheral issues, and note that I was in a generally amiable mood having returned to work from a WASABI-laden sushi dinner.

Today, RIO gets a classic clue whereas just a few days ago, its clue referred to the Zika virus. Today's chemical suffix clue refers to ethyl, which was a good choice insofar as it uniquely leads to ENE as the three-letter answer [again, a few days ago, I lamented "chemical suffix" type clues where ?NE could be solved by five of the six vowels, i.e., A, E, I, O, and Y, just not U].

Last, I commend the editorial discretion to not clue MBA with respect to the focus of this recent open letter from Wharton students and alumni, a man who was used just a day earlier in a clue for TWEET, but who my friends consider An Embarrassment of Riches.

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

ADD-INS is terrible ... the puzzle was easy and WASABI made ADD-INS inevitable, but it still terrible.

Anonymous 4:21 AM  

KEBAB/KABOB? Puh-lease.

Cheers,
Brennan

Thomaso808 5:25 AM  

I had CLutCH for 21D instead of CLENCH crossed with uNSOUL and INKIt. Looked right for a really, really long time. Both ENSOUL and INKIN are pretty random phrases.
Other than that, a good puz with no dreck.

Loren Muse Smith 6:30 AM  

Yeah – STAR CROSSED lovers would've been better. Too bad it's too long. And like Rex, I think I thought "star-crossed" meant they were fated to be together. I never had the "doomed from the start" part. So the "doomed" deal is just for the movie characters?

I like the visual of them crossing in the grid. What I was thinking the whole time was that some kind of celestial something was gonna cross them, too, because my first pair had RIGEL crossing them. Then I looked back and saw RHEA crossing BURTON/TAYLOR.

I would've had a dnf if I hadn't been solving online; I had "clinch/insoul" and wouldn't have noticed.

Loved the clue for 55D – GOON. It's a "dookie." Cool.

@David Krost – color me idiotic, too, because I saw that ISLAM OPEN FIRE VENGEFUL. It kinda just jumps out at you.

Seeing the names cross in the grid was worth the price of admission for me. Not quite symmetrical, but consistent with the men's names all downs and the women's names all across. Oh, and I like the wordplay with STAR CROSSED – they're all stars.

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

I just "knew" it had to be ADD-oNS so I convinced myself that WASABo was a little-known variation of the seasoning. ADD-INS re computers? Oof. Same on ENSOUL. No.

NCA President 7:12 AM  

Rex, thanks for the link to that song. I haven't heard it in years...but I especially liked the way their boat crosses over the wake of the boat with the camera in it at 2:43. Nothing like breaking the 4th wall...

The KEBAB spelling was my hangup today. AMELIA was obscured because I originally had KEBoB. My kids read AMELIA Bedelia...but I also had "soso" in for a [really random] batting average of .215. Yeah, I know...soso? Honestly, I don't know batting averages well enough to even know if that is an average average. But once I got more of the crosses in there, AMELIA opened up.

I think it is common knowledge that DOPEY is the youngest and maybe Doc is the oldest? Dopey's age may be referred to at one point in that movie...but somehow I knew he was the youngest.

And yeah, @David Krost, maybe putting all of those words together is just our human nature to find patterns in things and so Rex may be pushing the connection of ISLAM, OPENFIRE, and VENGEFUL in the SE. But you have to admit, OPENFIRE next to VENGEFUL makes that corner kind of a violent one. Funny how both cross LIFE.

In the FWIW department, just bought some Peanut Butter Oreos last night. Delicious. But if anyone knows anyone at Oreo, tell them to make mocha Oreos. I can't believe they haven't done that yet.

kitshef 7:29 AM  

What a fantastic puzzle! The theme is aces and beautifully executed. The fill ranges from smooth to super.

What's the problem with ADD-INS? That's what they are called. Go to the Tools menu in Excel - there it is. ENSOUL? A word since 1605, and one still in use today. Every dictionary will have it.

Am I fond of A BITE and A RUN? No. Also, much too easy overall. Felt halfway between a Monday and a Tuesday. Schroedingered KEBAB/KaBoB, KAReT/KARAT, IReS/IRKS, ADDoNS/ADDINS, but no overwrites.

I head off for my day elevated by this puzzle's quality.





KB 7:33 AM  

Hmm. The first part of the crossword I got out had BOGART and BACALL crossed by RIGEL, so I expected to have a pair of lovers crossed by the name of a star in each case. I thought that was pretty clever. Then, I solved the rest of the puzzle and saw it was a coincidence (or at least an idea that didn't end up working out) and was a little disappointed.

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

@Anon 1:27 - Here, here.

Roo Monster 7:52 AM  

Hey All !
GOON! A certified DOOK if I've ever seen one! (At least as clued. Why not clue it, Mobsters clean up man, or some such.)

Puz was OKAY. Best part was Rex's definition of ENSOUL. LOL!

Whenever the KEBAB clue shows up, I write in K_B_B and wait on crosses. Same with EEO/EOE. Write in E and wait. And Mauna___ , write in last A and wait. Just for future reference. Helps the solve a SKOSH.

Writeovers at Grab___, Andgo-ABITE, also rodS-ORBS, GRAinFED-GRASSFED. Infamous one-letter DNF at iNSOUL/CLiNCH. You can CLiNCH something with your hands, no? :-)

Wouldn't the Seven Dwarves be Un-PC in many different ways today? Just sayin...(with a SLY glance.)

BRA BUDS ABROAD
RooMonster
DarrinV

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Clinch vs clench. Insoul vs ensoul. Got those all mixed up.

msue 8:06 AM  

For some reason I want to force KEBAB to be spelled KABOB, or on a better day, KEBOB. It never works. Didn't catch my error until OMELIA was a big fail. Grrr.

It was a fast puzzle - didn't catch the juxtaposition of ISLAM, OPENFIRE, and VENGEFUL until reading Twitter last night. The adjacent placement of those words seems insensitive at best, but grim is probably a better descriptor.

ENSOUL seemed like a thesaurus stretch to find a word, any word, to fit. It is a real word per my dictionary, but I've never heard or seen it before. Still, it is a legit, although awkward, word choice.



Glimmerglass 8:08 AM  

ENSOUL entirely from crosses. STAR-CROSSED LOVE is a problem only if you're a computer with a read-only database.

Lobster11 8:09 AM  

I'm with OFL today: What is "found in this puzzle four times" are names of STAR-CROSSED LOVEers. I'm usually not as picky as he is about theme technicalities, but this one kinda bugged me. But not as much as ENSOUL which, well, just isn't. Otherwise, meh.




Lewis 8:12 AM  

"Star crossed lovers" gets twice as many hits on Google than "Star crossed love", but the latter gets over 200K hits, which I believe qualifies it as a "thing", even if it hasn't been a thing in my brain ever. Still, "star crossed lovers" would have been the perfect reveal to me, though maybe not worth a 17-wide puzzle. Also, I learned what the phrase means. I always thought of star-crossed lovers as in the throes of infatuation, with stars in their eyes. Now I come to learn the real meaning, which alone makes this puzzle worth it.

It played easy to me, and I was a bit fearful, because I'm not usually up on actors' names, but these pairs are iconic. What a clever idea for a theme! Gordon, thank you for a fun solve. The stars aligned on this one, sir.

PurpleCar 8:24 AM  

I'm a techie so ADDIN a lump of VENGEFUL anger for me when solving this puzzle. The term is add-on. It's like the early adapter mistake. Early adopter is the term. Anything else just IRKS me. Only GOONs aren't current on technical terminology.

PS that being said the famous movie couples were cute, as was the cross of USER and USHERS for some reason. Didn't see the ISLAM OPENFIRE connection until Rex pointed it out. In that moment I learned a lot about how deep the nuances of puzzle construction can dive, and how deep my own prejudices are buried. I'd call it "woked" but I didn't expect to be ENSOULed when I bought this app subscription.

jberg 8:34 AM  

Yeah, ENSOUL. I had sloppily written down USHERr instead of USHERS, so that one was a really long time coming. It made me question OASIS (which I still don't get -- an oasis is a spring that, if anything, should be cool. Is it some kind of a brand name for a hot tub, or something?)

I never heard of BENING, guess I'm too young-- or really, too in-between, at 72 and just retired for three weeks I haven't yet started to line up for the mid-afternoon senior discount shows.

@Ellen S., you're right about what "star-crossed lovers" are -- again, see Romeo and Juliet -- but the point of the wordplay is to give the phrase a different meaning, viz., lovers who a) are stars, and b) who are crossed in the literal, puzzle sense. We almost got an extra layer of meaning with RIGEL crossing BOGART, RHEA crossing BURTON (we'd call Rhea a satellite, but to the ancients any bright object in the sky was a star) -- but there it gives out. I was hoping there was a star called "ABITE" but no; and that would still have left BEATTY, although he is crossed by another star in the Hollywood sense, I guess.

Not too many beef cattle in the US are GRASS FED, unfortunately.

GILL I. 8:43 AM  

Only JOLIE/PITT seemed a bit off since all the other STARs had 6 letters each in their names.
I rather enjoyed the puzzle. Didn't even notice the threesome gruesome in the SE, but I liked seeing my friend KHAKI RAWLS from NEBRASKA. ORBS for RHEA and RIGEL and my favorite BACALL who is definitely a BELLE.
I always look for the positive......!

Pete 8:53 AM  

I always loved and admired Lauren BACALL, and thus am somewhat upset to find that she was involved in a polyamorous relationship with BOGART, ERIC Bana and AMELIA Bedelia. I accept much of this as prudishness on my part, but seriously, Amalia? A cartoon character? That's icky.

I'm less concerned with Warren BEATTY's three way with Annette BENING and ANDY Garcia - it seemed predictable on some level.

Andrew Goodridge 8:53 AM  

If I was today's constructor, I would be totally fine with Rex taking me to task for ENSOUL, INKIN, ADDINS and a couple others. But Rex's insinuation that Gordon purposefully encoded some tasteless message by positioning ISLAM, OPENFIRE and VENGEFUL near one another comes dangerously close to character assassination. How about this -- ISLAM crosses LIFE. Happy?

I love your blog, Rex, but you have to understand that making leaps like that is irresponsible. Unless you have darn good reason to believe Gordon was trying to make an inappropriate statement, then you have no good reason to cast his work (and, by proxy, the man himself) in such a negative light.

By the way ... hand up for CLuTCH / INKIt / uNSOUL. When solving, I thought the last two were really weak. When I corrected them, I still thought they were equally weak.

AskGina 9:08 AM  

I don't get how some of these are doomed unless you go back and forth in whether it was movie or real life. Beatty and Bening stayed married. I guess the movie characters didn't make it. Taylor and Burtonsville divorced twice but the the Shrew gets tamed (no comment). Bogart died but that's how life works; in To Have and Have Not there's a happy ending.

Steve M 9:14 AM  

Not endouled by this puzzle

Nancy 9:17 AM  

So, I was all ready to come here and vent about ENSOUL, but it's in my Webster's New Collegiate from 1979, so 1) it's a word and 2) has been for quite a while. Sorry, Gordon. And thanks for choosing STAR CROSSED LOVErs for someone like me who does not keep abreast of present-day movie stars and their checkered love lives. These were lovers that you would have to have been living under a mushroom not to know. What's more, four of them are even older than I am (or dead), so this is not a puzzle for teeny-boppers and Millennials.

I thought this was pretty lively and a nice piece of construction. Enjoyed it.

shari 9:20 AM  

Anyone else have trouble getting the nyt app to say no errors? Mine matches Rex's.

chefbea 9:28 AM  

Fairly easy. Was going to wait and do it on the plane to SanDiego..but decided to do it now
Never know if it's going to be kebab or kabob

Sheryl 9:28 AM  

Okay puzzle. Easy, though I'm not fascinated by famous couples so not very interesting. I don't know why I always want to misspell RAWLS as RAhLS.

John V 9:28 AM  

Train wreck here. Grid breaks the first rule of a fair puzzle which is to be able to get a word with either the across or the down -- not both. I recognized the names in the blog but got nowhere in the solve. Awful. Not a nice thing to do to move nit-wits such as me.

mac 9:40 AM  

Easy Wednesday, and pretty good to me. Write-over at kabob/kebab only.

Mohair Sam 9:40 AM  

You learn something everyday in the New York Times puzzle. Learned today that if you misspell unrequited it has the same number of letters as STARCROSSED. So that gimme gave us a medium/challenging puzzle.

I join Rex in forever misinterpreting STARCROSSED in spite of Romeo and Juliet. Also join OFL in having been ENSOULed (in the sense of his much preferred cluing), five years ago in our case. Traded "up" to a bigger car a year ago and still miss the Soul - hang on to the little beast Rex.

Liked the puzzle because of the very clever theme - enough to forgive the venial sins INKIN, ADDINS, and ENSOUL. Any clue for KEBAB, or kabob, or kebob, or kabab should have a (var.) don't you think?

@Nancy - From yesterday - "Send in the Clowns" a favorite old show tune; and Glynis Johns one of my favorite actresses in flicks from the 40's and 50's ("No Highway in the Sky" with Jimmy Stewart a little known gem, imo), but that distinctive croak of hers just wasn't meant for song. Casting my vote for stage born and bred Judi Dench.

kitshef 9:44 AM  

Clearly not a lot of Buffy fans on this board, where ENSOULing is oft discussed, in the context first of Angel and later Spike, and eventually Drusilla (though that happened on Angel, so if you don't want to count it that's fine).

Sheik Yerbouti 9:44 AM  

Isn't the problem here that these couples are not (yet) "doomed to fail"? I understand that they are "star-crossed" because they are movie stars. But there are so many movie star couples that actually failed. Why go with pairings that are actually still together as husband and wife? Seems like an odd miss.

Horace S. Patoot 9:45 AM  

I was taught that star-crossed lovers were lovers whose relationship was never meant to be (as dictated by the stars). I think they also mentioned that tragedies always contained a supernatural element.

Big Steve 46 9:54 AM  

I have to chime in on Rex's idiotic comments on Islam/Vengeful/Open Fire.
I am a life long, more-or-less, liberal New York state democrat but the idea that my tax money is providing people like Rex with a lifelong, over paid tenured job teaching our youth is very depressing. I guess somebody of some other religion blew up the bar in Paris, the Bastille-Day strollers in Nice, fill-in-the -blank with your favorite terrorists. Besides, what on earth does that have to do with a simple word-play puzzle?

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:07 AM  

What's the '___ or not' doing in 'worth debating MOOT or not'?

And, 'springtime arrivals' equals 'BUDS'? Bocks maybe. Buds on plants don't arrive, they grow.

G.Harris 10:07 AM  

When boxers clinch they grip one another tightly and in soul makes as much sense as ensoul so I consider myself a winner.

Charles Flaster 10:27 AM  

Very easy and quick but , alas a DNF-- ENSOiL crossing BiDS.
RIGEL is my only CrosswordEASE for the day.
Liked cluing for FOOD, IRRITANT, and BET.
Thanks GJ.

Leapfinger 10:49 AM  

Hey. Any grammarian will tell you an ENSOUL is just a little shorter than an EMSOUL, dash it!!

Besides that, any puzzle that even remotely references The GOON Show gets extra leeway from me.

I'm surprised @Rex didn't note that the clue for YENTAL took A BROAD view. Guess if a 'thing' can be made of OPENFIRE VENGEFUL ISLAM, it's no biggie to suggest WASABI_RHEA is how a healthy dose of the stuff can make your nose run. I won't say much about KHAKI_RHEA, except that Pepto-Bismol does help.

Had to laugh at 55A, reminded of the Whole Foods signs advertising "GRASSFED Cheese". Herds of mild Cheddars gently lowing in the back forty... A mooving picture.

To call it OKAY DAMS with faint praise: it's the LOVE that's CROSSED by STARS. Leastways, that's how I EYE_DENTify

Joseph Welling 10:50 AM  

Easy for a Wednesday. Movies and actors are probably my weakest topic, and I still finished in below my average time.

Tita A 10:53 AM  

@Loren - cool observation about RIGEL - that would have been an awesome additional theme layer.

I thought the revealer meant doomed - guess I'm a glass-half-empty kinda gal?

This puzzle, and a recent show about animals in flight, made me realize that we are as, if not more surprised by STARS that mate for life than we are about animals that do so.

I enjoyed the puzzle - thought the theme was cute, even though I don't give a fig about Hollywood. The duality of the crossings made it more interesting.
@Z - FWIW, I think this theme required more topical knowledge than yesterday's did...

Thanks Mr. Johnson.

Nancy 10:54 AM  

@Mohair -- OMG, I forgot all about Judy Dench singing "Send in the Clowns." My brother told me to find her on You Tube a couple of years ago and I did and thought she was fabulous. She acted the song just as well as Glynis -- but she's a much, MUCH better singer. I completely agree with you. (Although Sondheim did specifically write the song for Glynis's limited range and "croak" as you call it. He has said that he wrote short notes and clipped words often ending in a consonant to end each musical phrase, so that Glynis wouldn't have to sustain any notes. This, of course, being the exact opposite for what you would do for, say, an opera star or someone like Julie Andrews.)

I should tell you, though, that I first heard "Send in the Clowns" before Sinatra, before Judy Collins, before the B'way cast album came out and even before the first reviews. I saw it, if memory serves, at one of the last previews. I was Editor of the Fireside Theater Book Club (part of the Literary Guild) at the time, and got free tickets to everything. So I knew nothing about "Send in the Clowns" -- but when I heard it for the first time, hairs stood up on the back of my neck. It was dazzling, and the way Glynis Johns sang it -- voice quality notwithstanding -- was mesmerizing. And I knew with every fiber of my being that this was going to be a Huge Hit, a Really Important Song. And so, of course, it was.

Z 10:59 AM  

@David Krost - Defensive much?

@kitshef - I'm using Firefox at the moment and when I go to the Tools menu I see ADD-oNS. I haven't willingly used Excel since the early 90's. I think it was the early naughts where a I had a Stats prof rail against the miscalculation of standard deviation in Excel. SPSS for real work, Numbers or Google Docs for most everything else. I knew ADD-INS was probably right. I still don't like it.

As for our skewered meat, I've learned to enter K-B-B and wait on the random vowel combination.

This theme is a perfect example of my point about yesterday's puzzle. I do not care who is screwing who. I don't know nor care who starred in the 1967 film version of Taming of the Shrew or anything Warren Beatty (Rumor has it he's the subject of this song), or whether or not Brangelina is getting divorced. The only people whose sex lives are of any interest to me are the hypocrites who make sex a political issue and then get caught with their pants down. Otherwise, have at it. This puzzle isn't hard, just of very little interest to me. Not every puzzle is written for me. Yesterday the puzzle was aimed squarely at me. This one is not. This is not inherently problem, unless these narrowly focused themes become too exclusionary.

Quickie PPP
Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns

This could be a reasonable 20/76 for 26%. Except it is not because 8 STAR CROSSED themers take the total up to 28/76 for a high 37%. All these names are familiar to me. But don't be surprised if the PPP gives a few solvers issues.

Hartley70 11:06 AM  

The puzzle was fine but the entertainment of the morning was Bertie Higgins (Uh?). He had me when he began his vocal performance with a cigarette. WTF! The video was so wrong it still wasn't right. And was that his daughter? Then again....there was that age difference between "Bogie and Bacall" but somehow the creep factor was missing with them.

Go @NCAPresident and get those mocha Oreos on the production line! I'm in.

The lack of "ers" on the reveal didn't seem off to me. It was a literal comment on the spatial relationship. I ignored the doomsday connotation. I thought it an appropriate Wednesday offering and I enjoyed it.

Vajralady 11:10 AM  

Dopey is the only one of the seven dwarfs without a grey beard; so he's the youngest. . . .

Jim 11:13 AM  

People on this Blog are always giving props to the constructors for their ingenuity at linking words (crosses and adjacent). And yet today, when Rex rightly points out that the ISLAM, OPENFIRE, and VENGEFUL troika is grim (especially in light of recent events in Dallas, Nice, and Baton Rouge) it is implausible to me that anyone would question that. The complete lack of sensitivity by the NYT and Shortz is appalling in this instance. The puzzle was mediocre as it was. That awful set of answers should have disqualified it from being published.

Andrew Heinegg 11:19 AM  

One of the aspects of crossword solving that gets overlooked is that you must sometimes figure out the answer to a clue from the crosses without knowing the specific answer, e.g., that Dopey was the youngest dwarf. Who watches cartoons and remembers the relative ages of the toons?! Whether that makes for a good part of the crossword is the question. I like it here as it is a bit of trivia that is fairly easily sussable.

But, there is no defense to ensoul. As OFL often writes, you do not want to see what look and feel like crossword words only in a puzzle. Hands up for anyone who has ever seen or used the word before and I would include in that number (if there is anyone) any English professors; in that instance, I just can't abide it.

The connection of the star crossed love also fails in this case. No matter how you define it, I believe it has to have an air of ultimate failure about it ala Romeo and Juliet. In this puzzle, Taylor and Burton certainly fit that bill but not so much the others who remain together as couples although I have not read the most recent additions of the supermarket rags that always have every political and movie star couple in the world breaking up and/or cheating on each other. Just another good reason to be glad you are not famous;

So, all in all, a not great effort but, as suggested by other bloggers, perhaps Mr. Johnson is still honing his craft.

Tita A 11:20 AM  

Almost forgot today's puzzle-induced story-

For you DAM energy afficionados out there - I live by Candlewood Lake, formed by several DAMS along the Rocky River in the late 1920's.
It is the first pumped storage hydro facility in the US.

Basically the lake is a big battery. When there's low demand for energy, you pump water from the Housatonic river into the lake. When you need more energy than the rest of the local grid can supply, you run the water back down the same pipe, which now becomes a turbine generating power.

@kitshef - love your attitude!

Joseph Michael 11:27 AM  

Clever theme. Like the double meaning of STAR-CROSSED.

If I were Warren BEATTY or Annette BENING, however, I might be a little upset to see my marriage of more than 20 years described as "doomed from the start."

I was about to say the same thing about Brad PITT and Angelina JOLIE, but now I see that they are, in fact, heading for divorce.

Couldn't believe that there is another OREO for the second time this week and in the same area of the grid. And also couldn't believe that ENSOUL is a word, though I guess it is.

Found the puzzle a little more difficult than the usual Wednesday, but enjoyed most of the solve. Not sure what grim thoughts the constructor had in mind by placing DEEJAY and AEROBE so close to each other.

AliasZ 11:30 AM  


The way I perceived today's theme was a repurposing of that classic Romeo and Juliet line to mean something else entirely. None of the examples in the puzzle fit the tragic meaning of the "star-crossed lovers", however if you re-parse it as crossing the names of star pairs who love one another, it makes total sense. Then it becomes a cute wordplay on that well-known phrase. The only couple I could think of with the original meaning of "star-crossed lovers", who also starred in many movies together, was Tracy and Hepburn.

Otherwise this is an excellent example of how love conquers even the high-visibility nightmare of a life that is called Tinseltown.

ENSOUL -- now that's a different bowl of wax entirely. Yes folks, it is in every English dictionary. It is fun finding little gems like this in crossword puzzles at times.

Carola 11:30 AM  

I loved the wordplay of the STARs' names CROSSing, affixing them in a STAR-CROSSED LOVE literally, rather than poetically. I also liked the clue's play on "Relationship": vertical/horizontal v. personal. The ORBS-RHEA-RIGEL tier also made a nice array, adding a celestial touch - appropriately up high in the sky of the grid - with DIRECTED between TAYLOR and BACALL taking us to the movie set. And it's never a bad time to pause for a moment to remember BOGART and BACALL.

I think it must have been in some undergrad philosophy course that I was introduced to the concept of ENSOULment, with Aristotle and thinkers grappling with the question of when a fetus becomes animated with a soul.

Anoa Bob 11:41 AM  

ADLAI appears more often in xword grids than you would expect, given that sequence of letters. He was known for his "intellectual demeanor & eloquent public speaking", not something we often hear regarding politicians nowadays. Here he his with Lauren BECALL.

AMELIA

Z 11:48 AM  

Wow. You guys are not impressing me with your reading ability. Are we to believe that OPEN FIRE next to VENGEFUL next to ISLAM is not grim. Because that is the only thing Rex wrote.

@Big Steve 46 - Dylan Roof. Robert Dear. Wade Page. Timothy McVeigh. Paul Hill, Scott Roeder. When, WHEN I DEMAND!!! are moderate Christians going to denounce the violent element in their midst. Is Christianity inherently violent? Christians want to pretend that things like the Spanish Inquisition are an historical anomaly, rather than embodied in calls to imprison and deport heretics that we hear in America today. Proposals by presidential candidates to ban non-christians are met with cheers. One wonders if our country can be safe if we allow this violent religion free rein in our cities and neighborhoods.*






*Less sarcastically, Christians with guns kill far more people in the U.S. than terrorists.

old timer 11:51 AM  

Technical DNF as I wrote in "kebob" for KEBAB and did not take the time to look at "Omelia" and remember that Ms. Bedelia is AMELIA. In my defense, Bedelia became popular after my own children had moved on to other kinds of literature.

All of the couples found STAR-CROSSED LOVE for the simple reason that they were movie STARs who came across each other in a movie, fell in LOVE, and got married. My favorites of course are BOGART and BACALL whose love was real, but tragic because Bogey died before his time. I know nothing about BENING, but for me, BEATTY is the actor who typified an era. Especially in SHAMPOO (which definitely earned its R rating).

ENSOUL was a new word for me, though I wouldn't be surprised it it's in Milton somewhere. I like OFL's little joke though.

OISK 12:15 PM  

Never having heard of ___Bedalia, and only vaguely familiar with ___Bana, I could easily have been skewered by Kebab. Amelia or Omelia? Eric or Aric? Actually four possibilities, if one doesn't know that "Kabab" and "kebob" are not acceptable variants. ( and I didn't know that). But I went for the more common names, Eric and Amelia. So no DNF this Wednesday.

Liked the theme, enjoyed the puzzle.

G. Weissman 12:20 PM  

Chip on your shoulder? Your hyperbolic hypothetical seems necessary to make a mountain out of a molehill, or the anthill next to said molehill. I can only guess that Rex noting the "grimness" of three adjacent downs raised your hackles because you are oversensitive to any charges of Islamophobia, lest it have merit. But what Rex noted in passing was not that.

Masked and Anonymous 12:25 PM  

yep. INSOUL. ADDONS. IN-ed when I shoulda EN-ed. ON-ed when I shoulda IN-ed. Like several other nice folks, here. Nice to have company, at least.

Maybe we're all missin the obvious, here: STARCROSSEDLOVE/IRKS.
Love Elizabeth TAYLOR. This puz coulda featured her multiple times, star-crossin all kinda folks, as far as I was concerned.

Cute puz theme idea. Nice corner stacks. Fun time. Thanx, Mr. Johnson.
Primo write-up. If only just for the "Love alone is not an option" line. har

Just noticed that the crossed loveirks ain't quite symmetric. Unless maybe there's a John MOULIN/Scarlet ERUPTS Hollywood item that M&A is not aware of?

Masked & Anonymo5Us

G. Weissman 12:27 PM  

This puzzle relies on solvers accepting that "star-crossed," meaning "thwarted by bad luck," can mean, instead, "uniting two Hollywood stars" -- if only playfully. It's a reach at best. Would a marriage between two dentists ever be described as "dentist-crossed love"?

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

"Grim" is putting it mildly. In modern American usage, the honorific "Hajji" is a racial slur

Hartley70 1:20 PM  

@Tita, I knew Candlewood was man-made, but I had no idea it was a power source as well. Brilliant, although CT still has the highest energy bills in the country according to an article I just read and my bill seems to bear that out. Of course it may also be because I like to run the a/c with an open window somewhere so I get some fresh air too. Nonsensical, I know.

@Kitchef, you are not alone. The Buffster was a favorite of mine for the horror/humor.

Kimberly 1:24 PM  

Usually I weep for my own stupidity when Rex declares a puzzle "easy-medium," so I was shocked to see this labeled "medium;" I breezed through it with barely a pause.

Functionality enhancing computer products are "add-ons." Even in software. Always. That was the only place that made me glare, although ENSOUL felt totally made up. Even typing it here, my iPad changed it to ENSOLE. Maybe some people see shoes as a religion. I also had a momentary pause at BOGART/BACALL because of the more familiar "Bogey and Bacall." DOPEY as the youngest is iffy, since it can't possibly be factual, but at least it was an easy assumption. Oh! And the city is LAS VEGAS. The clue should have included "familiarly" or "in slang" or "for short."

Other than those, fill was a cakewalk.

Rating how stupid I feel completing the puzzle: I are a genius.

PS @Andrew Heinegg: the ""STAR CROSSED" was a pun on the word STAR. It didn't imply the lovers were star-crossed, only that they are stars, crossing each other. The day a theme clue becomes literal is the day the helium fades from the balloon of theme puzzles.

Teedmn 1:27 PM  

Misquoting the 23rd Psalm in my head led to one write-over when I read the clue for 17A and thought "Right, thy "rod" and thy "scepter" they comfort me" and plopped RODS into the grid. Oops. NEBRASKA helped iron that out. And INK IN helped me loosen my grip on CLutCH in favor of CLENCH.

I'll believe Brangelina is breaking up when I read it in the NYTimes. It's one of those constant rumors, popping up every other week, it would seem. Like @Z, I don't care a whit, but for some reason I seem to know more about these things than my indifference would indicate.

I had STARC in at the beginning of 34A for a while and was wondering how STARChed colLars was going to be a theme. And we're lucky, in my opinion, that the spread in a spread was not "oleo". Thanks, GJ, for a nice sophomore effort.

the redanman 2:54 PM  

More than easy

Mohair Sam 3:36 PM  

@Rex - Forgot to thank you for linking that great old song. Also wondering how you could have been torturing yourself watching a convention while "A Fistful of Dollars" was on TCM. . . "Now if you boys would just go on over there and apologize to my mule . . . "

@Nancy - We saw Judy Collins in concert just a few years ago and she still does a great job with "Clowns" - and she still has the endless hair (although it's a very silver/gray now). Did not know Sondheim wrote the song with Johns in mind, amazing - I can see why it fit her so well.

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Something appears to be wrong with my NYT Crossword app: I have the puzzle filled in exactly as Rexy here, but I keep getting the "at least one error" message. Hmmm. At first I thought there was a rebus I'd missed (maybe at the end of starcrossedlove), but it appears not.

Z 4:02 PM  

@Teedmn - "I seem to know more about these things than my indifference would indicate." Yep. I'm more than a little embarrassed by how much I know about the Taylor/Kim/Kanye dust-up.

JJK 4:36 PM  

I thought this was a fun puzzle, liked the crossed star couples idea. But ENSOUL is just terrible! And I think it's add-ONS, isn't it?

I thought STARCROSSEDLOVES was just fine - because star crossed lovers are lovers who are fated to be torn apart. It's in the stars that they will not be together.

Da Bears 5:21 PM  

Since I am familiar with all the movies, this moved along very quickly. Some of these couples are dead and some alive. I don’t think the theme STAR CROSSED LOVERS applies in the figurative sense, only in the literally sense in that the names of the two stars cross each other in the grid and they are/were lovers. Clever wordplay.

PS. Nice to see AliasZ here. We miss him elsewhere.

I looked it up 6:53 PM  

@loren, G.Harris, et. al. - According to The Free DIctionary INSOUL is a variant of ENSOUL:

insoul (ɪnˈsəʊl)
vb
(Theology) (tr) a variant of ensoul
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

and CLINCH certainly means grasp so I believe we have a Schrodinger square.

Putie, Vlad 8:06 PM  


Day Two at the MOULIN KHAKI
Where’s a DEEJAY when you need one for those last ten empty minutes of the convention last night? I mean, would Michael STEELe have allowed such a breach in showmanship?
A night with a little less Amos ‘n ANDY, finally, son Donald Jr. took the stage with a performance Richard BURTON, or LeVAr, would have envied, despite the content being a tad less ADLAI Stevensonian; not exactly FOOD for thought.
Chris Christie, looking positively GRASSFED, is transcending his STARCROSSEDLOVE, placated with being the head of “the transition"…hopefully a MOOT assignment. He, along with so many other campaign reps, insisted that Mrs. T’s rip-offs were simply and only because the media, as usual,are being altogether too NOSY.

Unfortunately, we left the room to get ABITE, missing SLY Ben Carson, who couldn’t possibly be as DOPEY as he looks in the Bad Lip Reading video.Reluctant Barack-donor Warren BEATTY was having a free laugh, no doubt.
But where was Code Pink? Flinging a bra or two onto the stage might have enlivened things for the Bushes, who aren’t there but sources say are watching. The poor USHERS had no one to EJECT!

Then Mr. Mr. Hoping –to- be- "Sir" was nominated. The crowd ERUPTS!

Takeaway: a night of VENGEFUL hot air,i.e. GAS: sorta like methane: odorless and colorless but in the end, harmful. (Now, George…)

But on second thought, rather than an AROMA of roses and a positive vision… the evening did have the stench of rotten FOOD, far gone, despite the affirmations from Tiffany’s ORBS about the perfection of The Deal Artist as dad- all the trump-spawn meant to MELT our hearts...

The most fun was Stuart Stevens’ quote about the plagiarism scandal: something about, It’s like you’re in a rowboat trying to get to shore and you shoot a hole in the LIFEBOAT.

Looking forward to ERIC Trump, the big game hunter, and proud of it, to outdo his brother and aim for RIGEL. He’ll be whistling at the moon in terms of truth.Will he avoid ISLAM? Any takers for a $10,000 Mittens bet? Whether he will put it over, the whistle, it’s about knowing how. As BACALL says to Bogie, “You know how to whistle, don’t ya Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”

Mohair Sam 8:59 PM  

@Z - Ah yes, the good old Spanish Inquisition argument. But whose Inquisition and where today? Hasn't the main work of ISIS been converting or killing their own "heretics" in their own lands? Doing the work prescribed by Sayyid Qutb in "Milestones"? Even you, the master of the false equivalence, should see that.

And no, I have absolutely no problem with @Rex's comment, and I think Newt was way out of line, and Trump is . . . well . . . you know.

David Krost 10:26 PM  

@Z

Defensive? That doesn't make an ounce of sense.

Anonymous 10:35 PM  

Kimberly, as pointed out in an earlier post it is Add-in for the Excel which like it or not is software. Though Z apparently has no love for Office (all the applications have Add-ins) and does not like Add-in, he reluctantly admits it is real. The Office suite is about as old as browsers so the term Add-in has as much legitimacy as Add-on, just not as many fans.

Taking the Fifth 8:10 AM  

@Vlad,

You impaled it!!! Exhaustion overtook me, so I missed much of the MT verbiage. So much for Moral Turpitude, eh? With luck (and a lick of sense), all of this will in the end do as you said and just 'blow'. Over and away, far, far away.

Else I'll really have to 'take a fifth'.

kitshef 3:59 PM  

Really late post, but just noticed @Rex's use of 'dwarves' in his writeup. As we all know, they were 'dwarfs'.

spacecraft 9:49 AM  

So they do some ENSOULing on Buffy, do they? Well, par-dunn ME. The first time I saw "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in a tv guide I thought, "seriously?" The title was SO camp I almost decided to actually watch it, but came to in time. So no, I didn't know the word. It is one, though; I'll give it that. And that's about ALL I'll give it. Eyuk!

After exchanging ABITE, BOGART and BACALL boarded the BOAT and made ARUN for it. Which reminds me of the one I neglected to mention yesterday: Who fishes with AREEL? Why AROD, of course!

This grid is rife with classic damsels of the century, never mind day. Who gets the nod? For my money, you can't beat Liz--who, BTW, appeared with Warren, "crossing" the pairs here, in "The Only Game in Town," a film about gambling in our fair city.

As to STARCROSSEDLOVE (hand up for missing the "RS"), I think we're all taking the classic meaning too literally. They are STARS. In the grid, they CROSS. That's all he meant, I'm sure.

The rest of it was OKAY. Par. Yeah, on thinking about it, I can't very well use baseball as a rating theme. It works fine for good or bad ratings, but there's no "par." Get a hit, that's good; make an out, that's bad. Oh well. It was nice for yesterday.

Burma Shave 10:25 AM  

OKAY ORBS (BEATTY KHAKI)

BACALL was ABROAD with zeal you DIRECTED,
but JOLIE’s the BELLE with STEEL you erected.

--- ANDY TAYLOR

Sailor 12:22 PM  

It was fun to be reminded what a great name AMELIA Bedelia is. My kids were not fans, so we didn't read many of these stories, but still.

And, truly, I do get what Mr. Johnson was doing with the theme: they are stars, they are (or were) in love, and they cross, so...

But I think what many people, myself included, are reacting to, is that the tragic literary connotation of star-crossed love is so deeply embedded in our collective cultural psyche that it just seems wrong, somehow, to include happily married couples. It's cognitive dissonance. The theme can make all the logical sense in the world, and it's still just gonna feel wrong.

rondo 12:37 PM  

So the dictionary says ENSOUL means to “ENdow with a SOUL”. What do you get when you “ASSign a SOUL”? Donald Trump.

I just always fill in K_B_B and let he rest work itself out. Makes for a cleaner grid than making the wrong guess. There seems to be a high B count today. Anyone else remember Alice the GOON?
OKAY, all you boys and girls get to pick your respective yeah baby from a respectable bunch of choices. I’ll go with Ms. BACALL since she knows how to put her lips together and, well . . . , make me MELT.
Ms. BENING did a fine job in American Beauty, BTW.
Can’t write BOGART without thinking about a joint, my friend.

There is nothing grim about this puz; the words fall where they fit. Someone should be slipped an occasional Mickey FINN. Calm down.

leftcoastTAM 1:54 PM  

Married stars theme made this easy. RIGEL is the single one (haha).

A couple of crosses made it just a little less so: AMELIA/RIGEL and ENSOUL/OASIS.

Another did me IN: WASABo/ADDoNS. ADD-INS?

Sheesh.

Diana,LIW 2:20 PM  

I'm baaack.

Yeah, yeah, had CLutCH, INKIt, uNSOUL ??? What ev.

Have been away for a week - only had access to the Sunday puzzles which I did the next day. So coming back home what is the first word I put in? My dear old OREO. What a pal he is.

Now I have 7 more NYTX's to catch up on. Wheeee!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 12:51 AM  

Good God! This is a crossword, ladies and gentlemen. It contains words which the diligent solver will attempt to uncover, either because they are known outright, or via crossing words. At least, that's what I do.

So today's theme involves the names of stars who love(d) one another (I think) crossing. Perfect theme, even if one doesn't even know the meaning of "star-crossed lovers".

So we have the words, ISLAM, OPEN FIRE, VENGEFUL near one another in the grid. We also have LIFE, the value of which muslims hold central. I see nothing "grim" here. Again, it is a crossword puzzle. Geez, or maybe "sheesh". I see FINN crossing NOSEY - can we make something of that? I have a friend who is a FINN whom I have often thought is trying to find out all my secrets. Makes me wonder...

@Z - you think @Davud Krost is defensive? How about you, always defending @Rex? Krost was simply stating a point of view, even if he did carry it a bit too far. So, "grim" eh? What is grim?

Z 9:14 AM  

@rain forest - If you think I defend Rex you aren't reading carefully enough. I will agree with or disagree with Rex. His politics line up with mine more than not, but he doesn't need me to defend him. What I won't do is I will almost never take a simple Rexian observation and call him "idiotic" over a perceived attack on my beliefs. As for your LIFE, NOSEY FINN argument, C'mon man. "Are we to believe that OPEN FIRE next to VENGEFUL next to ISLAM is not grim. Because that is the only thing Rex wrote." It is still the only thing Rex wrote.

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