"Tormented Artists" - July 31, 2020

A place to discuss the weekly Wall Street Journal Crossword Puzzle Contest, starting every Thursday around 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. Please do not post any answers or hints before the contest deadline which is midnight Sunday Eastern time.
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Re: "Tormented Artists" - July 31, 2020


Post by MaineMarge » Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:55 am

No sour grapes here from this solver. I loved this meta.
Looking at the title, my first guess was bread, or “pain” in French. But only 5 letters, so dropped that thought. But hey! There’s 51D =“pane”...

Then I tried mightily to make Kahlo (Frida) appear in the first long answer- that was a tantalizing red herring.
Warhol and Magritte were my first finds. When the 6 last names didn’t line up to be anything, for some unknown reason I immediately tried the first names. I guess it seemed like one of Matt’s next usual tricks.
I took 1A Yoyo (Ma) 51A name to be hints.
Nice going, Matt. 🙋‍♀️

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Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:07 am

TPS wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:21 am
I saw Picasso while finishing the grid but because of the way it was laid out and the close proximity of the theme clues - I first thought they would all be laid out similar to Picasso and that the letters I would be looking for would be the connecting letters between the two parts.

When that failed I noticed Goya could be found in another spot in the puzzle and then I thought this might be like the MONOTONOUS puzzle. But that wasn’t working so I put the puzzle down while I ate dinner.

Then I came here and posted I couldn’t find anything and once I did that I immediately saw Gritte and figured that had to be Magritte. Then Warhol and Okeffee jumped off the pages at me. Base on the final Across Answer - NAME- I figured it was probably first letters in the first name and within P, R, A, G - I figured it had to be GRAPES - but I wasn’t seeing DALI right away so I doubled checked with someone that it was 6 letters to match the theme clues and while emailing them back I saw Dali.

I will say one thing that did help was following Joe Ross’s guide. By doing that I found and highlighted the theme clues and I looked at the last across answer which is what made me think first names would be the second step.

I thought this one was a KAS2 - I didn’t get it immediately but I got it without any real help and within about 2 hours of first looking at the puzzle.
Well done. And to think a few weeks ago, something like this would have totally baffled you. It sounds like another addicted muggle in the making.
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Post by MarkL » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:09 am

Devilbunny wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:42 am
I found WARHOL first, which showed me step 1, then found MAGRITTE which confirmed it - that YODA GRITTED when it should have been YODA GROUND (to my mind, grinding one’s teeth is making a sound, while gritting them is a more metaphorical thing) stuck out and was a help. That got me looking for and finding the others fairly quickly. As I said earlier, the mechanism was up my alley, so a quick solve from that after two weeks on ship.

I do feel for the PEAR(S) people. OKEEFFE was the last artist I found, so I can see how you might miss her. I wonder if anyone submitted RAPE, which is the plant from which we get canola oil, and although it probably would never have made it past the editor due to its homonymity with the crime, it is a food of sorts and probably has some depictions in art.
Don't grits come from homonymity??
'tis... A lovely day for a Guinness!

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Post by Scott Medvetz » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:28 am

Got Warhol, Magritte, and Picasso quickly. Never did see the other three. Threw up a Hail Mary with Pear; should have known there were likely six entries rather than four and gone with grapes, my alternate. Two weeks in a row LAS. Not happy.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
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Post by KscX » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:39 am

Took a full 36 hours from finding all the artists to having the AHA moment of “look at the first names!” Before that, I was hung up on APPLES being scrambled up in some of the unused letters, and then went down the Van Gogh rabbit hole (because of course he had to be involved as tormented) when reading down at the end of POKE, LLAMA, and PREWAR: EAR! Not a food....

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Post by TMart » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:40 am

Hector wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:18 am
BrianMac wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:13 am
I stopped at PEAR, not noticing the other two artists. Dumb mistake and I should have known better!! :evil: :evil: :evil:
I really, really wanted PEAR to be the answer, too. At a certain stage I was so close to submitting it, but then couldn't convince myself that the rest of the grid was irrelevant.
I had the APES first and almost went with APPLES. Glad I kept going.

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Post by femullen » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:53 am

What a relief. Started by making a list of all the artists I could think of. These included Picasso, Degas, and Dali, all of which I found, though it wasn't enough to recognize the solving mechanism. Warhol, not on the list, but I found him by accident. Okeeffe, not on the list, and I would have misspelled it anyway, though I see her now in the bits and pieces of my notes. Magritte, sorry to say, I've never heard of. I thought he was a character in a mystery novel. Never saw it; never would have.

But the good news is that this week, for once, I was not down a rabbit hole.

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Post by SewYoung » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:54 am

"that YODA GRITTED when it should have been YODA GROUND" I first entered "gnashed" for that very reason, but of course it didn't fit with the down answers.

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Post by spotter » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:05 am

It looks a lot cleaner in the solution with DA-LI in the appropriate placed. I used the DA in HOLIDAY and because everything looked so jumbled I spent about 15 minutes looking for more artists after I'd found them all. Then I finally gave up looking and realized the first names spelled the answer, though at the time I didn't realize they were in order.

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Post by Joe Ross » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:12 am

TPS wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:21 am
I will say one thing that did help was following Joe Ross’s guide. By doing that I found and highlighted the theme clues and I looked at the last across answer which is what made me think first names would be the second step.
If I may, this Joe Ross's guide has never been published. Not sure that this is ready for prime time, but all are welcome to it and all can improve upon it, no doubt.

AKA The Basics:

Every Contest Crossword (CC, meta) has a title which relates to the answer and/or solving mechanism.

Meta Clue
Every meta has a Meta Clue which relates to the answer and/or solving mechanism.

Theme Entries / Theme Answers (TEs)
Roughly 75% of past WSJCCs use Theme Entries in their constructions & solving mechanisms.

Most TEs can be found in the physical layout of the grid, typically are the longest Across grid entries, are symmetrical within the grid, and include the center answer, if the meta has an odd number of letters.

Many times the Meta Clue will mention the numbers of letters in the meta answer. This is a clear indication that Theme Entries exist & play in the solving mechanism & meta.

Some TEs are not based on physical layout, but are indicated by clues. TEs can be indicated by asterisks, numbers or number pairs, questions, blanks, or other distinct similarities or methods within a Contest Crossword's clues.

The absence of TEs (+/-25% of past WSJCCs) is an indication that the meta may take a physical pattern within the grid, may rely entirely on the Title &/or Meta Clue, may be clue based, or may rely on a combination of these.

Indicator Clue & Answer (IC)
Often (I should research the % of use in past WSJCCs), there is a unique Indicator Clue & Answer to further guide the solver or hint at what to do with data gleaned via the previous Basics. The IC is often, but not always, found as the last Across or Down clue. Sometimes it may be the center-of-grid Across or Down clue/answer. If it exists, it will be critical to solving the meta.

There are always outliers and exceptions, which include some of the more brilliant constructions. If The Basics lead nowhere, they can, at least, indicate to look for something exceptional. More difficult metas can use all of The Basics, yet also include further patterns, clue-based mechanisms, etc.

Also, since Matt Gaffney has created 50% of past WSJCCs, The Basics can be used in solving MGWCCs.

Finally, there is a treasure trove of guidance from much more talented & successful solvers in the Hints for Solving Meta Contests.

As always, good luck, Muggles!

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Post by John77 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:12 am

Serves me right for sleeping through art classes.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. —H. L. Mencken

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Post by Schmeel » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:12 am

Bird Lives wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:46 am
(In my earlier effort (#77), I skipped the souble dactyl rule that one line has to be a person's name. It's amazing how hard it is to fine a double-dactyl artist.)
Thanks for the intro to the double dactyl and its seemingly strict prosodic and structural rules.
I'm trying - how do you pronounce Wassily Kandinsky?
Wassily might be a dactyl, but Kandinsky probably isn't.

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Post by tim1217 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:25 am

tim1217 wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:10 pm
On shore.

Took longer than it should have given my background.
Per my first post, as an architect (my first career), I had more art history courses in college than I care to remember...but luckily something sank in!

Based on the title, I kept looking for Van Gogh ('What's that you say? I can only hear out of one ear!). But when I wrote the themers out on a separate worksheet, WAR-HOL was screaming at me, and then the other 5 fell quickly into place. The first letters of the last names produced gibberish, so then I thought of a mechanism used in the past, i.e., the first letters of the first names, and there it was.

I also posted later that my EX got the right answer but not via the correct 2nd mechanism. She saw the last names, and thought that the hint most likely indicated a 'still life' (she's also an architect...we met in school, and our oldest daughter is...you guessed it, an artist), she saw GRAPES via GRA in Magritte, P in Picasso and ES in Degas.

Lessons to be learned from this for others who didn't reach the shore safely (or arrived on PEAR island):

1) If there are 6 long across and the clues/answers all have something, or multiple things, in common (in this case all the clues ended in ? and all had two-word answers), then those are the themers and the answer is 99% going to be a 6-letter answer.

2) 99% of the time (especially when you have long across themers), the answer reads from TOP to BOTTOM, so PEAR wouldn't have followed that rule. See BirdLives earlier post on his solution grid. The only exception to this rule that I can remember is that an answer from a few months back read from LEFT to RIGHT.

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Post by Devilbunny » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:40 am

MarkL wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:09 am
Don't grits come from homonymity??
Ugh. Touché. (And I like puns.)

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Post by Wendy Walker » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:43 am

spotter wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:05 am
I used the DA in HOLIDAY .
Yes, I noticed that there were two DALI possibilities too, which made me slightly uneasy.
Good luck, fellow Muggles! I'm happy to give nudges, but only if you're still stuck on Sunday.

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Post by BeTheLight » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:02 am

Sounds like a lot of people fell into one of two buckets, those who got the artists easily but got stuck on the mechanism to go from artist to food. And those who got the first name mechanism pretty easily but then missed some artists and ended up with the wrong answer. Of course there is a bucket of those brilliant solvers who didn't having any of those roadblocks.

Personally did not think the artist names were that difficult, I had Magritte in my headed from GRITTED (I knew someone in high school who chose MAGRITTE for her license plate) and at the same time saw ePIC ASSOciates on the grid and started making the connection. And then proceeded to try and find the food by matching half of other two word phrases together. At the final hour I wrote down the first names and immediately saw it.

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Post by LadyBird » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:10 am

I first saw DAGRITTE and thought the mechanism was going to be changing one letter. Then I saw WARLIFT but obviously couldn't change that to WARHOL. I saw the true mechanism then and found the 6 answers. But then I was convinced that I needed to keep finding artists until just one letter was left in each theme answer. I didn't mind looking at a list of 100 artists for inspiration, but balked at reading through a list of 3400 names!

I finally gave up on that idea but didn't know where to go. First names popped into my head and I saw GRAPES.

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Post by Eric Porter » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:19 am

When I saw 6 theme entries, I was pretty sure that there would be 6 artists hidden in them, but of course couldn't have predicted how Matt would torment them. I always expect a puzzle to use this mechanic, but we haven't had words to search for in the title like this since "In The Hopper" on March 6.

At first I thought that Dali was in POKEHOLIDAY, before I figured out that all of the last names came from the end of the first word & start of the second word. GAS made me think DeGas and Picasso was easy to spot. After that, I used Google to show me famous artists.

I wrote down the artists out of order and when I didn't get anything out of their last names, I wrote down the first names and unscrambled to get GRAPES. After some people posted about the potential for a mistake, I checked again and realized that I didn't have to unscramble if I'd only used them in order.

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Post by Notbitter » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:20 am

Count me as a “pears” person. I saw Dali in “holiDAy” and “LIghter,” so I completely missed that the last part of the first word and the first part of the second word were required. With six theme answers, I picked five artists...sigh.

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Post by C=64 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:35 am

TPS wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:21 am
But that wasn’t working so I put the puzzle down while I ate dinner.

Then I came here and posted I couldn’t find anything and once I did that I immediately saw Gritte and figured that had to be Magritte. Then Warhol and Okeffee jumped off the pages at me.

I thought this one was a KAS2 - I didn’t get it immediately but I got it without any real help and within about 2 hours of first looking at the puzzle.
Nicely done! IMH/HO, the dinner break was key. When you pick up the puzzle after a couple of hours, something might catch your eye that you couldn't see before.