"Variety Show" - March 20, 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.
Rate the difficulty of the meta
Locked
User avatar
billkatz
Posts: 112
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:46 pm

Re: "Variety Show" - March 20, 2020

#301

Post by billkatz » Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:47 pm

Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:16 pm
yourpalsal wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:40 am
I got it but wasted so much time first. Did anyone follow the four “prism” clues in the 3rd column? Fiance had an abutting n (that could be considered a triangle) to become finance, stat had an abutting r to become start, acton had an i to become action and chia had an n to become china. That’s four pretty unlikely coincidences for the third column of a puzzle based on third place. Do you think the constructor did it on purpose as a distraction?

I also didn’t see the number of letters on the online version, and only learned after spending ages in that rabbit hole that i needed a 10-letter word, and thus most likely needed to focus on the five two-word answers running crosswise.
Yeah, the PRISM clue in the important center spot was the rabbit hole I was referring to that I couldn't shake. There was the word LIGHT(S) coming at it from the left (as we're always shown in a Prism graphic), and, looking at the title -- Variety Show -- I couldn't stop looking for ROYGBIV, or RAINBOW or the color names, or something (a show of a variety of colors). As for a 10-letter answer, I was trying to force "Refraction." It was so hard to ignore it and get Over the Rainbow. Okay, I'll leave now.
Al - those were exactly m thoughts - the lights aiming at the PRISM...

User avatar
tonyrobots
Posts: 87
Joined: Sun Dec 22, 2019 1:48 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

#302

Post by tonyrobots » Mon Mar 23, 2020 2:17 pm

I went down the PRISM rabbit hole a bit as well.And got real distracted by seeing, down the middle of the puzzle, this column of words:

EGRET
TROVE
...
TAMP
...
HOVEL
OPEDS

Can't be a coincidence that all these words could take a letter at the front to spell a more common word, right? So this took me on a looooong wild goose chase. What about STAT(E) and ETATS (STATE backwards!)? And (T)WITCHY? ACTON(E) to start the show? So many bad threads.

In the end, I failed to get it, sadly. But it made me stronger for next time...I hope?

AnnP
Posts: 50
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2019 8:47 pm

#303

Post by AnnP » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:13 pm

Coincidentally, on Saturday I almost wrote something like "hey, this makes THREE weeks in row for me!" or "THIRD times a charm!" but I controlled myself.
I do appreciate everyone's entertaining comments on this cold and rainy day of self-isolation. Such a witty bunch! Take care

MikeMillerwsj
Posts: 77
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:46 pm

#304

Post by MikeMillerwsj » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:37 pm

Greetings from the WSJ Crossword government in exile and apologies again for a briefer than usual note. The WSJ is publishing from an all-work-from-home staff and it is going miraculously well but there is a LOT of email, Slack, Hangout-ing, group-chat, and more. I'm sure you're all in similar situations.

This absolutely ingenious (in my unbiased view) puzzle may have been a little harder than usual. We had 1336 entries, about 3/4 correct. 67 of you submitted VAUDEVILLE (is there a clever explanation or is it just a convenient 10-letter word for Variety Show?).

Congrats to this week's winner: Jeff Davidson of Mountain View, Calif.! Solve safely everyone!

steveb
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA

#305

Post by steveb » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:53 pm

MikeMillerwsj wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:37 pm
Greetings from the WSJ Crossword government in exile and apologies again for a briefer than usual note. The WSJ is publishing from an all-work-from-home staff and it is going miraculously well but there is a LOT of email, Slack, Hangout-ing, group-chat, and more. I'm sure you're all in similar situations.

This absolutely ingenious (in my unbiased view) puzzle may have been a little harder than usual. We had 1336 entries, about 3/4 correct. 67 of you submitted VAUDEVILLE (is there a clever explanation or is it just a convenient 10-letter word for Variety Show?).

Congrats to this week's winner: Jeff Davidson of Mountain View, Calif.! Solve safely everyone!
Getting closer! The next town north that also starts with an "M"

User avatar
Al Sisti
Posts: 794
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:28 pm
Location: Whitesboro NY

#306

Post by Al Sisti » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:04 pm

I love MountainView...when I worked for the Government, I awarded a few contracts to MountainView companies; simply brilliant visionaries and coders (we were looking for decision aids for campaign/battle planners, and they all proposed "expert systems" approaches). I used to love going to our quarterly reviews... except one I had to cancel hours before I was supposed to fly out. The date of our review was supposed to be Oct 17, 1989.

User avatar
hcbirker
Posts: 486
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:24 pm
Location: Studio City, CA

#307

Post by hcbirker » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:36 pm

Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:04 pm
I love MountainView...when I worked for the Government, I awarded a few contracts to MountainView companies; simply brilliant visionaries and coders (we were looking for decision aids for campaign/battle planners, and they all proposed "expert systems" approaches). I used to love going to our quarterly reviews... except one I had to cancel hours before I was supposed to fly out. The date of our review was supposed to be Oct 17, 1989.
For those that don't know, that was the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco.
Heidi

User avatar
EdStrong
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:37 pm

#308

Post by EdStrong » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:54 pm

Well, this one was a doozy. Let me count the rabbits that had the opposite effect of putting me to sleep:

1. The PRISM prison
2. Lights, cream, acton, Nothing!
3. ELL (L), TEE (T), HOUR (R), PHO (such a long long place to run), QUE (K) spells - guess what - nothing
4. Tee was “driving aid”s answer, similar to a flight simulator. Loop back to 3. for some more mental gymnastics.
5. Squalid digs - (S)HOVEL - good times!
6. YAKS, SKA; ETATS, STAT - are we having fun yet??
7. HEe HaW - not so funny..
8. Mid conversation with my wife on a completely unrelated topic (despite imploring her to help with this blasted thing), a deadened brain cell flickers to life (SHOW) and i say to her “holy crap, i think it’s third place!” My elation was quickly (but temporarily) quashed by my wife’s “are you even listening to me??” (I was).
Minutes later, world peace solved!!
Last edited by EdStrong on Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Limerick Savant
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Jun 09, 2019 12:22 am

#309

Post by Limerick Savant » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:56 pm

MajordomoTom wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 12:00 am
Ok, here's how I got to my answer.

First, the 5 theme answers:

18A: Home Equity
20A: Holy Water
39A: Flight Simulator (this particular one drove me batty trying to figure out what the frack it was doing there)
56A: Cream Soda
61A: Third Place (i.e., "win, place or show" - show being "third place")

So after lots of chasing of rabbits and other small furries, my wife said "what's the deal - what's that "THIRD PLACE" doing there - what does that mean?" So ... I started explaining to her the use of it, and stopped in mid-explanation, saying, "no, it couldn't be, ... what's the letter in the third position in each part of these 5 themed answers?"

And they are:

MU LT IM ED IA

or MULTIMEDIA, a 10 letter word and ... Multi = Variety and Media = Show, so it's the answer to this week's meta.

Yes, a KAS-2 - an answer that, once seen, has you doing a face palm as to why you hadn't seen it before.

Good luck to all in winning the mug - let it come to a forum member this week!
The grid was a snap and yeah, 5 long answers of 2 words each seemed to shout out "there is your 10 letter meta." And yet it took until Sunday morning for that "third place" key to "show" itself.

User avatar
BethA
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:44 pm
Location: Beaver, PA

#310

Post by BethA » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:55 pm

hcbirker wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:36 pm
Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:04 pm
I love MountainView...when I worked for the Government, I awarded a few contracts to MountainView companies; simply brilliant visionaries and coders (we were looking for decision aids for campaign/battle planners, and they all proposed "expert systems" approaches). I used to love going to our quarterly reviews... except one I had to cancel hours before I was supposed to fly out. The date of our review was supposed to be Oct 17, 1989.
For those that don't know, that was the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco.
Yes, things started shaking at 5:04pm. I was...in the vicinity.

User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 1557
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#311

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:55 pm

EdStrong wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:54 pm
Well, this one was a doozy. Let me count the rabbits that had the opposite effect of putting me to sleep:

1. The PRISM prison
2. Lights, cream, acton, Nothing!
3. ELL (L), TEE (T), HOUR (R), PHO (such a long long place to run), QUE (K) spells - guess what - nothing
4. Tee was “driving aid”s answer, similar to a flight simulator. Loop back to 3. for some more mental gymnastics.
5. Squalid digs - (S)HOVEL - good times!
6. YAKS, SKA; ETATS, STAT - are we having fun yet??
7. HEe HaW - not so funny..
8. Mid conversation with my wife on a completely unrelated topic (despite imploring her to help with this blasted thing), a deadened brain cell flickers to life (SHOW) and i say to her “holy crap, i think it’s third place!” My elation was quickly (but temporarily) quashed by my wife’s “are you even listening to me??” (I was).
Minutes later, world peace solved!!
Ed
No problem - 20 years from now, she will remind you of that discussion.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

juliet
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:11 pm

#312

Post by juliet » Mon Mar 23, 2020 7:59 pm

At first, "THIRD PLACE" clued as "Show" only seemed a bit off because a "show" bet would pay if the horse placed first, second, or third. But "META"? A gift! A signpost! A three-day obsession! I often suffer from target fixation, when hunting rabbits.

However, at some point I circled back to revisit alternative meanings/associations of the theme answers and came across a description of a "third place" as "a place outside your home or work where you can relax and hang out" (https://www.jordanharbinger.com/why-you ... -find-one/). A good third place has, among others, these features:
1. "People are there because they want to be there."
2. ". . . there are no prerequisites for participation."
3. "Playful conversation is the main activity. . . "
4. "They are accessible and accommodating."
5. ". . .they’re also open to newcomers. Regulars are also there to help new people feel welcomed and encouraged.

This forum has these features, so I want to join Joe Ross (#299) in thanking all for sharing their generosity, wit, and talent to this community.

steveb
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA

#313

Post by steveb » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:18 pm

BethA wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:55 pm
hcbirker wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:36 pm
Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:04 pm
I love MountainView...when I worked for the Government, I awarded a few contracts to MountainView companies; simply brilliant visionaries and coders (we were looking for decision aids for campaign/battle planners, and they all proposed "expert systems" approaches). I used to love going to our quarterly reviews... except one I had to cancel hours before I was supposed to fly out. The date of our review was supposed to be Oct 17, 1989.
For those that don't know, that was the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco.
Yes, things started shaking at 5:04pm. I was...in the vicinity.
I was in the vicinity too, in the same house where I live now, waiting for Game 3 of the Bay Bridge World Series to start. The four days following that were somewhat similar to now - kind of eerie and quiet, trying to figure out how to get back to normal. The big difference, of course, was that you didn't have to be afraid of interpersonal contact. An amusing sidelight was hearing about high school water polo players being sloshed right out of the pool onto the deck.

User avatar
FrankH
Posts: 140
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2019 4:15 am

#314

Post by FrankH » Mon Mar 23, 2020 8:22 pm

Jeremy Smith wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 1:03 am
I was getting nowhere trying to tie the five themers together and realized I might have to go into the clues for direction, which is a Gaffneyesque technique, not a Shenkish technique, so the previous Marie/Mike metas did not help me. I saw the clue SHOW, and thought it was an inelegance because that word was in the title. Instead I focused on the clue “Pilot ‘PROGRAM’, of a sort” = FLIGHT SIMULATOR. Of course, I got nowhere with that approach. Hopefully I can figure out the MGWCC and not go 0 for 2 this weekend.
I believe Matt uses the clues in a different way. Mike has done it in the past, and Cynthia pointed out some of them in her post:
http://xword-muggles.com/forums/viewtop ... 260#p16026

I don't keep a notebook of past puzzles, but one that I remember has AS IN in the title, and the clue with the key contains the phrase "as in" (actually in quotes).

PHOFER
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:20 pm

#315

Post by PHOFER » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:22 pm

I don't recall a prior puzzle in which one of the theme answers is itself the key to deciphering the meta using all of the theme answers. Am I correct there? That was one reason I didn't solve sooner. I was looking at all the theme answers to find a commonality that linked them all.

User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 1557
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#316

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:00 pm

PHOFER wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:22 pm
I don't recall a prior puzzle in which one of the theme answers is itself the key to deciphering the meta using all of the theme answers. Am I correct there? That was one reason I didn't solve sooner. I was looking at all the theme answers to find a commonality that linked them all.
I do not recall one however the idea of having an answer in the grid be a guide to the solution is common in Mike/Marie contests. The thing that jumped out at me was the 10 letters and 10 theme words which is not uncommon. The Third Place just resonated with me so I tried that first and when that led to the meta answer I was home quickly.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

User avatar
MajordomoTom
Posts: 624
Joined: Sat Nov 02, 2019 12:09 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

#317

Post by MajordomoTom » Mon Mar 23, 2020 10:02 pm

so, what did FLIGHT SIMULATOR do for you in that quest?

It did ... ABSOLUTELY https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoiGZ47aRao NOTHING for me in mine.
"Lots of planets have a North", the Ninth Doctor.

User avatar
Tom Shea
Posts: 200
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:37 am
Location: Freedonia, NH/VT/HI/Sydney/Earth

#318

Post by Tom Shea » Mon Mar 23, 2020 11:37 pm

Help for cabin fever.

News from Joon Pahk, of outside the box puzzles (who has his own great rows garden subscription, if you care for those -- http://www.joonpahk.com/blog/):


"
dear solvers,

i have some excellent crossword news for you all. it's so excellent as to at least in large part make up for the fact that ACPT, which would have been this past weekend, was postponed until the fall.

first, the bryant park crossword tournament has released all four years' worth of its puzzles (all terrific, all constructed by mike shenk) for free. they ask only that you "pay it forward" somehow by helping somebody else. go do that, and also get your hands on those puzzles.
"

http://www.puzzability.com/buy/indexfree.html

He also included this link, which includes free puzzles from Crossword Tournament From Your Couch: https://www.crosswordtournamentfromyourcouch.org/

Edit: Another link also courtesy of Joon Pahk: https://crosswordnexus.com/downloads/xwla/
crosswords LA, which has posted eight years' of tournament puzzles for free download. thank you to tournament organizer elissa grossman and alex boisvert at crossword nexus for making those puzzles available!
Last edited by Tom Shea on Tue Mar 24, 2020 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Rufus T. Firefly

User avatar
CPJohnson
Posts: 192
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 1:38 pm
Location: Kingsport, TN

#319

Post by CPJohnson » Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:42 am

PHOFER wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:22 pm
I don't recall a prior puzzle in which one of the theme answers is itself the key to deciphering the meta using all of the theme answers. Am I correct there? That was one reason I didn't solve sooner. I was looking at all the theme answers to find a commonality that linked them all.
The 12-14-18 puzzle used the "clue" grid entry as part of the solution...that was the NO-EL puzzle. But the grid words used weren't theme answers, I guess. Maybe that puzzle had no theme answers. Maybe that's something for us to notice in the future.

steveb
Posts: 131
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA

#320

Post by steveb » Tue Mar 24, 2020 3:04 pm

CPJohnson wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 7:42 am
PHOFER wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:22 pm
I don't recall a prior puzzle in which one of the theme answers is itself the key to deciphering the meta using all of the theme answers. Am I correct there? That was one reason I didn't solve sooner. I was looking at all the theme answers to find a commonality that linked them all.
The 12-14-18 puzzle used the "clue" grid entry as part of the solution...that was the NO-EL puzzle. But the grid words used weren't theme answers, I guess. Maybe that puzzle had no theme answers. Maybe that's something for us to notice in the future.
Two other Mike/Marie puzzles that had meta clues in the grid (I'm sure there are more):

8/20/16: The key was the center across answer ITS ON ME. The answer ICE CREAM SUNDAE was spelled out by letters appearing over ME in the grid.

1/27/17: One of the grid answers was ONES, and its clue made it very clear that it was involved in the meta. The meta answer was ACHE, spelled out from the Federal Reserve code letters on one-dollar bills.

The real lesson here is to expect the unexpected. What makes the puzzles interesting is that the constructors are always inventing new ways to hide the meta answer.

Locked