Wyoming senator Mike / TUE 8-19-14 / Deals buyable via tap on app / Goldsman Oscar winning screenwriter Beautiful Mind / Charge of 1% against occupy Wall Street
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Constructor: Sam Buchbinder
Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (**for a Tuesday**)
THEME: YELLOW BRICK ROAD (58A: Path taken by 37-Across to find the ends of 17-, 26- and 44-Across in [circled letters])— path taken by DOROTHY (37A: 23-Down of a classic L. Frank Baum novel) to find a BRAIN, COURAGE and a HEART (for characters not available in this puzzle) in OZ.
- ARTIFICIAL BRAIN (17A: IBM's Watson, essentially)
- GET UP THE COURAGE (26A: Embolden oneself)
- NEAR TO ONE'S HEART (44A: Dear)
Akiva J. Goldsman (born July 7, 1962) from Manhattan, New York is an American film and television writer, director, and producer.He received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for the 2001 film, A Beautiful Mind, which also won the Oscar for Best Picture.Goldsman has been involved specifically with Hollywood films. His filmography also includes the films Batman Forever and its sequel Batman & Robin, I Am Legend and Cinderella Man and numerous rewrites both credited and uncredited. In 2006 Goldsman re-teamed with A Beautiful Mind director Ron Howard for a high profile project, adapting Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code for Howard's much-anticipated film version, receiving mixed reviews for his work. (wikipedia)
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DOROTHY went to OZ to find a brain, courage, and a heart is to abbreviate the plot of the story in an absurd way. She wants to find those things *only* because of the three characters she meets on the way to OZ. In fact, when she sets out, those items are Not on her mind at all. So without the Scarecrow and Tin Man and Bert LAHR, this theme feels hollow, incomplete, weird. Nevermind that IBM's Watson seems like it should be "artificial" intelligence (a real phrase) instead of ARTIFICIAL BRAIN (a phrase I've never heard) and that all ONE'S make me a little queasy. The DOROTHY / HEROINE bit in the middle is kind of a nifty trick. I wonder if HEROINE wasn't one of those dumb-luck discoveries that constructors sometimes stumble into—a bonus theme-related answer you realize belatedly that you can build around existing themers.
I'm realizing now that I would've liked ARTIFICIAL HEART a lot better …
HECKLE and RUBLES and NAKED EYE and CLASSISM and KLUTZY. With the exception of BIALIK (15A: Actress Mayim of "The Big Bang Theory") and GROUPONS (16A: Deals buyable via a tap on an app), the middle-to-top part feels a bit more gunked up, and I will never understand why someone chooses AKIVA in that position. Why are you picking an obscure proper noun there? At first I thought there might be some pangram aspiration—that shoehorned "Q" seemed like strong evidence, as did the double-proper-noun (and also shoehorned) "Z" at ENZI / ZAC. With those bits already in play, the AKIVA EXERT area looked like more evidence that the grid was being tortured for pangrammic reasons. (Remember, the problem isn't the pangram per se, it's what chasing one makes you do to the grid) *But* … a. the letters in AKIVA are all found elsewhere in the grid and b. this puzzle isn't a pangram after all. No "J." Now I don't know if that's the editor's doing or the constructor's or what. But I almost wish there was a "J," because at least then I'd *understand* what AKIVA's doing here. AKIVA is a name you might reasonably consider for a Friday or Saturday, if it helps you hold some very impressive section of the puzzle in place. Here, it just doesn't belong. That section's just too easy to rebuild with more familiar words / names.
Clue on CLASSISM feels off (66A: Charge of the 1% against Occupy Wall Street). "Class warfare," sure. But I've never heard a rich person (on camera or in person) accuse Occupy of CLASSISM. Not saying it has never happened. Just saying it's not common enough or representative enough to warrant the clue. The Occupy/1% clash deals with broad, serious issues of systemic economic inequality, not with whether someone eats quinoa or drives a pick-up.
Lastly, DAT'S what I'm talkin' about!?!?! (37D). No. DAT is what *you*'re talking about, and only if you are speaking Brooklynese. *I* say "That's what I'm talkin' about." I really do. I say it a lot, because I quote "Dazed & Confused" a lot. I never — ever — say DAT'S. Can't say strongly enough how wrong this clue feels.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld