Worker in medium of torn pasted paper / FRI 3-5-10 / Journal to Eliza author 1967 / Figure seen on lunar surface
Friday, March 5, 2010
Jean Arp / Hans Arp (16 September 1886 – 7 June 1966) was a German-French sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper. // Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zürich in 1916. In 1920, as Hans Arp, along with Max Ernst, and the social activist Alfred Grünwald, he set up the Cologne Dada group. However, in 1925 his work also appeared in the first exhibition of the surrealist group at the Galerie Pierre in Paris. // (When Arp spoke in German he referred to himself as "Hans", and when he spoke in French he referred to himself as "Jean". Many people believe that he was born Hans and later changed his name to Jean, but this is not the case.) [why this info is in parentheses, I don't know] (wikipedia)
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Interesting 66-worder. Love the butterfly-shaped grid, of course. The fill, however, was just OK. The Central 6 (as I will call those central 3 Acrosses and 3 Downs) are impressively smooth — always nice when you can get big blocks of intersecting answers to work out at all, let alone as common phrases everybody knows. The problem for me was that everything was just *too* common. There's no real point of interest anywhere in the grid. I admire the general smoothess, but plain yogurt is smooth and there's a reason I don't eat it. I like flavor. And texture. Here, after you see the grid shape, it's all downhill from there, excitement-wise. The clues are fine, but again, a bit plain. Best moment of the day: THUNK! (38A: Conceived in a nonstandard way). Worst: RUB-A-DUB (35D: Drumming sound). RUB-A-DUB is the sound of three men in a tub, not the sound of drumming. PA-RUM-PA-PUM-PUM or RAT-A-TAT — that's the sound of drumming.
[an encore presentation ...]
NW was the toughest section for me because I plunked down DEMAND with great confidence at 1D: Not just request (BEG FOR), and then solidified it with the correct ENTERED (13A: In the database, say). I then got a couple of answers, but nothing solid. Considered putting in DUKES for 25A: People may be put out if they're not put up (RENTS). That felt too wonky, so I abandoned ship and headed for the NE, which went down fast. Ditto the SE. The SW gave me some trouble because of (stupid) RUB-A-DUB. Eventually worked my way back to the NW and figured it all out, heading back in from the rear of GESTAPO (16A: Brutal force). Last stand was annoying and sad. I just stared at -ANSAR- at 47A: Worker in the medium of torn and pasted paper for many, many seconds. Knew that last letter was an "L" or a "P," but couldn't think of a word in the English language that could fit with either. Reason: answer is not "in the English language." It's HANS ARP. Oof. Figured I was looking for a general term, not a specific person (because that's exactly what the clue was trying to get me to do — you win, I guess). Also, I know a JEAN ARP; I don't know HANS ARP. Turns out I knew only half a guy. His French half. I want to go back to that time of blissful ignorance when I believed he had only one name. Things were all so much simpler then.
- 21A: Lifesaver, briefly (CPR) — Not thrilled that "saver" is in the clues and in the grid (at TIMESAVER — 33A: Multitasking, e.g.)
- 30A: Figure seen on the lunar surface (NEIL ARMSTRONG) — more "I'm going to trick you into thinking something general when really the answers is a specific person" cluing. Can't get enough of that.
- 40A: White House girl (SASHA) — good for her! Someone should keep a MALIA v. SASHA puzzle appearance count. SASHA would be the underdog in that contest, I would think, what with MALIA's extra vowel. But who knows ...
- 5D: Gunslinger's cry (DRAW!) — good clue.
- 55A: Safari jacket feature (EPAULET) — Hmmm. I guess there's ... something going on on the shoulders of those jackets. A buttoned-down flap of some sort. I think of EPAULETS as more decorative (militarily decorative).
- 6D: Quaint photo (SEPIA) — a total gimme, though normally I think of SEPIA as an adjective.
- 9D: "A lie that makes us realize truth," per Picasso (ART) — another total gimme. Got it before I even looked at how many letters I was working with.
- 12D: "Journal to Eliza" author, 1767 (STERNE) — Laurence STERNE of "Tristram Shandy" fame. Never heard of the work in the clue, but the date was enough to give me STERNE (a name loaded with the least Scrabbly letters imaginable, and thus a name worth knowing).
- 26D: They were brought down by Olympians (TITANS) — spent one second thinking athletes, and then reoriented myself to mythology. Daughter is way into "Olympians" via the Percy Jackson books. I can't wait to take her to see the rebooted "Clash of the Titans." First I gotta show her the original. "I swear, honey, these were state-of-the-art special effects in 1981..."
- 29D: Members of the genus Troglodytes (WRENS) — ugh, "genus" clues. Better than "genus" answers, I guess.
- 34D: Cruise vehicle ("THE FIRM") — More attempted confusion. This attempt didn't work.
- 41D: Carol's first word (ADESTE) — also transparent. From "ADESTE Fideles."
- 47D: Roles, figuratively (HATS) — had to run the alphabet on that first letter. This was what revealed JEAN's evil twin HANS to me.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld
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P.S. new article, "Crossword puzzles in the modern age," and Interview with Will Shortz, by Hayley Gold at The Hofstra Chronicle (Thursday, 3/4/10)