I find it hard to explain why Gone With the Wind is still a compelling film. Certainly at the time, a spectacular technicolor epic about what was in 1939 still recent history would be compelling, but today? The acting is wooden. The dialog is clunky. The story is not exactly subtle. We cringe at the pseudo-romantic prospect of reviving the elegance and grandeur of a slave-based economy. The South's tragic eagerness for war is depicted as irrationally emotional. None of the central characters are particularly sympathetic. And yet it bears up to repeated viewing like few other films. Today, nearly 70 years later, it's the theme of a NYT crossword. Fiddle-dee-dee. Now that I've offended everyone south of the Mason-Dixon line, let's talk about the Thursday, August 7 puzzle by Peter A. Collins and Joe Krozel (answers.)
Bob MOOG (rhymes with "rogue") is one of my heroes and it's great to see him in a crossword. (Warning: gratuitous name dropping ahead.) Years before I finally met him, I called his company Big Briar to buy my first theremin. It was apparently a small shop because Bob answered the phone himself. We talked for 45 minutes before I got around to actually placing my order. In person, he exuded absolute enthusiasm for his twin loves; music and technology. He was a pure inventor, driven by the joy of creating something delightful. If you like this kind of thing combined with a little KGB intrigue, I highly recommend the 1994 documentary film Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey.
The Hunt for RED OCTOBER was another fine film, although I'm not sure it packs the same suspense now that the Cold War is a distant memory. "What a server may serve" is a high-tech clue for EMAIL. STEM CELL makes its first appearance, clued as "subject of modern research." The more accurate clue would add "except in the U.S. where politics intervenes."
My favorite clue is "items unlikely to be stored on the top shelf." You can't store STEP STOOLS there because you need them to even get to that top shelf. Got it.
I was going to use a photo that symmetrically showed Vivien and Clark in the same spatial relationship we encounter them in the puzzle but I decided to go with the solo shot instead. Those hats never go out of style, do they?