"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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TPS
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Re: "Tormented Artists" - July 31, 2020

#401

Post by TPS » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:25 pm

Bob cruise director wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:10 pm
TPS - you are becoming a pro
Hahaha - thanks. I’ve learned enough where I can generally get the first part of any method and if the second part is extraordinarily simple - I can usually get it but not always.

For example, in TALLY I figured the number part of the method before I even finished the grid - but then got stuck with what to do with the numbers u til someone said - “You really don’t know what to do with numbers in a crossword” and then I was like “Duh!”. But I’ll never be good at the inflection or music puzzle’s and the Second Level puzzle’s with a unique second step still escape me most of the time...I mean you don’t go 8 weeks w/o a clean solve if you are good at these!

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Al Sisti
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#402

Post by Al Sisti » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:55 pm

RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:20 pm
Questions for those who got this one, particularly the experienced solvers:

1. What led you to look at the artists’ first names for the meta solution? Is this a standard puzzle construction technique or just an inspiration based on having done so many of these and knowing how to think creatively?

2. Is the answer to the meta puzzle always a single short word, or are the answers sometimes longer? I get that the description sometimes specifies a number of letters and that each theme answer then supplies a letter in some way, but for puzzles with no length specified can the answer be a phrase or even a sentence? In this case, I tried to fashion a solution using the theme answer letters that were not used in the artists’ names. I got to some interesting formulations several words long, but nowhere close to GRAPES. Was I wasting my time even contemplating a longer solution?

Thanks for any insight you might have. Congratulations to the many who got to shore. Hope to join you one of these weeks.
1. I got the artists' last names quickly enough and tried first to see if their initial letters spelled anything. Nope. Then I tried several things with the remaining letters, hooking them up, anagramming them, etc. Nope. It was only after I ran out of those rabbit holes that I tried the obvious first names (all of which I knew), and saw that their initial letters spelled a fruit (in order, as Matt's do 99+% of the time).
2. When I used to get more wrong than right, it was because I was trying to force a text-like answer, rather than (again, usually) a word or phrase that is spelled out. Like I'd say "there are seven entries that involve, or could involve if you squint your eyes and skip/add letters, someone named John" (completely ignoring the fact that there are almost always themed entries; usually the long acrosses, and/or almost always symmetrically placed). Those answers never "click," and that usually/always means they're wrong. Again, almost always, the number of letters in a word or phrase that the constructor is looking for will match the number of themed entries; generally yielding one letter each. Don't worry; you'll learn the tricks, and the usual spots to look, and even constructors' styles. And with every meta you do -- whether you solve or not -- it will result in your adding another "mechanism" to your tool box. And before you know it, you'll be the one answering someone's questions.

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BarbaraK
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#403

Post by BarbaraK » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:26 pm

RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:20 pm
Questions for those who got this one, particularly the experienced solvers:

1. What led you to look at the artists’ first names for the meta solution? Is this a standard puzzle construction technique or just an inspiration based on having done so many of these and knowing how to think creatively?

2. Is the answer to the meta puzzle always a single short word, or are the answers sometimes longer? I get that the description sometimes specifies a number of letters and that each theme answer then supplies a letter in some way, but for puzzles with no length specified can the answer be a phrase or even a sentence? In this case, I tried to fashion a solution using the theme answer letters that were not used in the artists’ names. I got to some interesting formulations several words long, but nowhere close to GRAPES. Was I wasting my time even contemplating a longer solution?

Thanks for any insight you might have. Congratulations to the many who got to shore. Hope to join you one of these weeks.
1. Whenever the first step of a meta gives me a set of something, I make a list with any possible relevant factors I can think of. For people, that starts with full names and that was all I needed this time. If that hadn't worked, I'd have looked at their wikipedia articles for genres (whatever the art word for that is) countries etc. If it were countries or birth years or anything like that, there would probably have been a hint of that in the title or puzzle or prompt.

2. There are occasional longer answers. For one recent MGWCC, the prompt called for a lyric from a particular band, and the answer was, "You can search forever you might never find", but that is unusual. Since the answer is always (OK, almost always, nothing with metas is always anything) precise, having a long answer requires having a lot of very specific information in the puzzle, and that's hard to hide. If there are multiple ways one might phrase an answer, it's almost certainly not the correct answer.

RichA2
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Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:22 pm

#404

Post by RichA2 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:38 pm

Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:55 pm
RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:20 pm
Questions for those who got this one, particularly the experienced solvers:

1. What led you to look at the artists’ first names for the meta solution? Is this a standard puzzle construction technique or just an inspiration based on having done so many of these and knowing how to think creatively?

2. Is the answer to the meta puzzle always a single short word, or are the answers sometimes longer? I get that the description sometimes specifies a number of letters and that each theme answer then supplies a letter in some way, but for puzzles with no length specified can the answer be a phrase or even a sentence? In this case, I tried to fashion a solution using the theme answer letters that were not used in the artists’ names. I got to some interesting formulations several words long, but nowhere close to GRAPES. Was I wasting my time even contemplating a longer solution?

Thanks for any insight you might have. Congratulations to the many who got to shore. Hope to join you one of these weeks.
1. I got the artists' last names quickly enough and tried first to see if their initial letters spelled anything. Nope. Then I tried several things with the remaining letters, hooking them up, anagramming them, etc. Nope. It was only after I ran out of those rabbit holes that I tried the obvious first names (all of which I knew), and saw that their initial letters spelled a fruit (in order, as Matt's do 99+% of the time).
2. When I used to get more wrong than right, it was because I was trying to force a text-like answer, rather than (again, usually) a word or phrase that is spelled out. Like I'd say "there are seven entries that involve, or could involve if you squint your eyes and skip/add letters, someone named John" (completely ignoring the fact that there are almost always themed entries; usually the long acrosses, and/or almost always symmetrically placed). Those answers never "click," and that usually/always means they're wrong. Again, almost always, the number of letters in a word or phrase that the constructor is looking for will match the number of themed entries; generally yielding one letter each. Don't worry; you'll learn the tricks, and the usual spots to look, and even constructors' styles. And with every meta you do -- whether you solve or not -- it will result in your adding another "mechanism" to your tool box. And before you know it, you'll be the one answering someone's questions.
I’m starting to recognize when I’m doing something like you describe in 2 - forcing answers by reading things into the grid that just aren’t there. It’s ironic that in solving these complex puzzles it’s necessary to keep the “keep it simple stupid” principle in mind.

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TPS
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#405

Post by TPS » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:12 pm

RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:38 pm
I’m starting to recognize when I’m doing something like you describe in 2 - forcing answers by reading things into the grid that just aren’t there. It’s ironic that in solving these complex puzzles it’s necessary to keep the “keep it simple stupid” principle in mind.
This was the toughest thing for me to let go of. And once you get an idea like one of these in your head its VERY hard to let go of it even when it becomes clear that it is wrong. One of the reasons why I think Joe's "Basics" works well is that It keeps you from going down those crazy rabbit holes early on.

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Hector
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#406

Post by Hector » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:37 pm

Developing the "no, this is stupid" reflex is exactly the meta solving skill. Desperately hoping to acquire it.

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yourpalsal
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#407

Post by yourpalsal » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:22 pm

SewYoung wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:22 pm
yourpalsal wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:15 pm
Sounds like lots to discuss in this week's zoom!

YourPalSal's Muggle Meetup
Tues. 4:30pmPT/7:30pmET
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89184367093
Are you going to be able to join us after all (I hope so), or have you figured out a way for us to do it without you?
I'm here this week, and I believe I've got the issue figured out for the week I'm away... :D

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CPJohnson
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#408

Post by CPJohnson » Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:45 am

Richard wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:02 pm
Since there were six two word entries in the grid I don't quite understand the PEAR PEARS people.

I saw Andy Warhol right away, then Pablo Picasso. Thought is was the first letter of the artist's first name and the answer was APPLES. Then found Edgar Degas and was sure it was APPLES. Then Salvador Dali and more confirmation. But could not find the L or other P. Then saw Rene Magritte and last Georgia O'Keeffe and the right order which got me GRAPES.

After a multi-week dry spell nice to get one.
This PEAR person was so tired of looking at the puzzle that she was grateful to stumble onto 4 artists and think to look at their first names. When PEAR was spelled, I didn't try to find anything further, even though the answer and method weren't symmetrical.

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Bob cruise director
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#409

Post by Bob cruise director » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:01 am

RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:38 pm
Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:55 pm
RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:20 pm
Questions for those who got this one, particularly the experienced solvers:

1. What led you to look at the artists’ first names for the meta solution? Is this a standard puzzle construction technique or just an inspiration based on having done so many of these and knowing how to think creatively?

2. Is the answer to the meta puzzle always a single short word, or are the answers sometimes longer? I get that the description sometimes specifies a number of letters and that each theme answer then supplies a letter in some way, but for puzzles with no length specified can the answer be a phrase or even a sentence? In this case, I tried to fashion a solution using the theme answer letters that were not used in the artists’ names. I got to some interesting formulations several words long, but nowhere close to GRAPES. Was I wasting my time even contemplating a longer solution?

Thanks for any insight you might have. Congratulations to the many who got to shore. Hope to join you one of these weeks.
1. I got the artists' last names quickly enough and tried first to see if their initial letters spelled anything. Nope. Then I tried several things with the remaining letters, hooking them up, anagramming them, etc. Nope. It was only after I ran out of those rabbit holes that I tried the obvious first names (all of which I knew), and saw that their initial letters spelled a fruit (in order, as Matt's do 99+% of the time).
2. When I used to get more wrong than right, it was because I was trying to force a text-like answer, rather than (again, usually) a word or phrase that is spelled out. Like I'd say "there are seven entries that involve, or could involve if you squint your eyes and skip/add letters, someone named John" (completely ignoring the fact that there are almost always themed entries; usually the long acrosses, and/or almost always symmetrically placed). Those answers never "click," and that usually/always means they're wrong. Again, almost always, the number of letters in a word or phrase that the constructor is looking for will match the number of themed entries; generally yielding one letter each. Don't worry; you'll learn the tricks, and the usual spots to look, and even constructors' styles. And with every meta you do -- whether you solve or not -- it will result in your adding another "mechanism" to your tool box. And before you know it, you'll be the one answering someone's questions.
I’m starting to recognize when I’m doing something like you describe in 2 - forcing answers by reading things into the grid that just aren’t there. It’s ironic that in solving these complex puzzles it’s necessary to keep the “keep it simple stupid” principle in mind.
And I can not remember seeing an anagram so if you get hung up trying to rearrange letters (which we all have), it is best to put down the contest, have a drink with Isaac and pick it up later.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

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CPJohnson
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#410

Post by CPJohnson » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:05 am

Bob cruise director wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:01 am
RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:38 pm
Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:55 pm


1. I got the artists' last names quickly enough and tried first to see if their initial letters spelled anything. Nope. Then I tried several things with the remaining letters, hooking them up, anagramming them, etc. Nope. It was only after I ran out of those rabbit holes that I tried the obvious first names (all of which I knew), and saw that their initial letters spelled a fruit (in order, as Matt's do 99+% of the time).
2. When I used to get more wrong than right, it was because I was trying to force a text-like answer, rather than (again, usually) a word or phrase that is spelled out. Like I'd say "there are seven entries that involve, or could involve if you squint your eyes and skip/add letters, someone named John" (completely ignoring the fact that there are almost always themed entries; usually the long acrosses, and/or almost always symmetrically placed). Those answers never "click," and that usually/always means they're wrong. Again, almost always, the number of letters in a word or phrase that the constructor is looking for will match the number of themed entries; generally yielding one letter each. Don't worry; you'll learn the tricks, and the usual spots to look, and even constructors' styles. And with every meta you do -- whether you solve or not -- it will result in your adding another "mechanism" to your tool box. And before you know it, you'll be the one answering someone's questions.
I’m starting to recognize when I’m doing something like you describe in 2 - forcing answers by reading things into the grid that just aren’t there. It’s ironic that in solving these complex puzzles it’s necessary to keep the “keep it simple stupid” principle in mind.
And I can not remember seeing an anagram so if you get hung up trying to rearrange letters (which we all have), it is best to put down the contest, have a drink with Isaac and pick it up later.
Bob, I keep notes, hoping to help myself on future metas. Here's what I have on anagrams: anagramming needed 4-22-16, 5-6-16, 10-21-16, 3-31-17, 11-17-17, 12-15-17, 6-8-18, 11-30-18, 1-4-19

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CPJohnson
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#411

Post by CPJohnson » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:11 am

RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:20 pm
Questions for those who got this one, particularly the experienced solvers:

1. What led you to look at the artists’ first names for the meta solution? Is this a standard puzzle construction technique or just an inspiration based on having done so many of these and knowing how to think creatively?

2. Is the answer to the meta puzzle always a single short word, or are the answers sometimes longer? I get that the description sometimes specifies a number of letters and that each theme answer then supplies a letter in some way, but for puzzles with no length specified can the answer be a phrase or even a sentence? In this case, I tried to fashion a solution using the theme answer letters that were not used in the artists’ names. I got to some interesting formulations several words long, but nowhere close to GRAPES. Was I wasting my time even contemplating a longer solution?

Thanks for any insight you might have. Congratulations to the many who got to shore. Hope to join you one of these weeks.
RichA2, welcome! The longest answers I can find in the WSJ metas are: grilled ham and cheese (4-10-20), king arthur and sir lancelot (10-18-19), 50 ways to leave your lover (8-9-19), the long and winding road (10-23-15). There may be others. Two-word answers are pretty common.

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Joe Ross
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#412

Post by Joe Ross » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:18 am

CPJohnson wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:05 am
Bob cruise director wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:01 am
RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:38 pm


I’m starting to recognize when I’m doing something like you describe in 2 - forcing answers by reading things into the grid that just aren’t there. It’s ironic that in solving these complex puzzles it’s necessary to keep the “keep it simple stupid” principle in mind.
And I can not remember seeing an anagram so if you get hung up trying to rearrange letters (which we all have), it is best to put down the contest, have a drink with Isaac and pick it up later.
Bob, I keep notes, hoping to help myself on future metas. Here's what I have on anagrams: anagramming needed 4-22-16, 5-6-16, 10-21-16, 3-31-17, 11-17-17, 12-15-17, 6-8-18, 11-30-18, 1-4-19
9 anagrams used in 263 contest crosswords, or 3.4%: a low-percentage play before exhausting clue-order possibilities.

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jenirvin
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Location: Alexandria, VA

#413

Post by jenirvin » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:14 am

Sometimes I just can't get to these in time for the contest, but I solve for the practice, anyway. Too bad I actually got this one pretty quickly, but never even made in on the boat this week. On to the next!
~ Jennifer/jenirvin

MikeMillerwsj
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:46 pm

#414

Post by MikeMillerwsj » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:59 am

Greetings puzzlers--we had a strong turnout of 1740 entries, with about 70% correct. A big factor holding that percentage down was the enormous turnout for PEAR (and PEARS), a tantalizingly close partial-credit answer that drew 237 entries. (A quick search confirms that a lot of artists, including Cezanne, did indeed paint pears.). Plus a big vote for APPLE (113).

Other food in our basket included BREAD (14), EGGS (5), PEACH ($), DATES (3), ARTICHOKES (2) and many others.

We are still waiting to confirm our winner--stay tuned!

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MajordomoTom
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#415

Post by MajordomoTom » Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:05 am

you're making me hungry ... :)
"Lots of planets have a North", the Ninth Doctor.

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Meg
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#416

Post by Meg » Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:26 am

Artichokes?? I love artichokes!

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FrankH
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#417

Post by FrankH » Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:23 pm

CPJohnson wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:05 am
Bob cruise director wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:01 am
RichA2 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 9:38 pm


I’m starting to recognize when I’m doing something like you describe in 2 - forcing answers by reading things into the grid that just aren’t there. It’s ironic that in solving these complex puzzles it’s necessary to keep the “keep it simple stupid” principle in mind.
And I can not remember seeing an anagram so if you get hung up trying to rearrange letters (which we all have), it is best to put down the contest, have a drink with Isaac and pick it up later.
Bob, I keep notes, hoping to help myself on future metas. Here's what I have on anagrams: anagramming needed 4-22-16, 5-6-16, 10-21-16, 3-31-17, 11-17-17, 12-15-17, 6-8-18, 11-30-18, 1-4-19
Most of those metas use anagram for the first step. If each theme entry (or a pair of theme entries) provide one letter for the meta answer, then only 6-8-18 and 1-4-19 require anagram in assembling the meta answer, so anagram for the final step is quite rare. 1-4-19 actually requires anagram for both steps.

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MarkL
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#418

Post by MarkL » Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:32 pm

FrankH wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:23 pm
CPJohnson wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:05 am
Bob cruise director wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:01 am


And I can not remember seeing an anagram so if you get hung up trying to rearrange letters (which we all have), it is best to put down the contest, have a drink with Isaac and pick it up later.
Bob, I keep notes, hoping to help myself on future metas. Here's what I have on anagrams: anagramming needed 4-22-16, 5-6-16, 10-21-16, 3-31-17, 11-17-17, 12-15-17, 6-8-18, 11-30-18, 1-4-19
Most of those metas use anagram for the first step. If each theme entry (or a pair of theme entries) provide one letter for the meta answer, then only 6-8-18 and 1-4-19 require anagram in assembling the meta answer, so anagram for the final step is quite rare. 1-4-19 actually requires anagram for both steps.
I have nightmares, still, from SENEGAL/ANGELES from 01/04/19.
Last edited by MarkL on Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
'tis... A lovely day for a Guinness!

MikeMillerwsj
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#419

Post by MikeMillerwsj » Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:39 pm

And now congrats to this week's winner, Matt Root of New York, NY!

RichA2
Posts: 32
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2020 4:22 pm

#420

Post by RichA2 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:26 pm

Joe Ross wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:18 am
CPJohnson wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:05 am
Bob cruise director wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:01 am


And I can not remember seeing an anagram so if you get hung up trying to rearrange letters (which we all have), it is best to put down the contest, have a drink with Isaac and pick it up later.
Bob, I keep notes, hoping to help myself on future metas. Here's what I have on anagrams: anagramming needed 4-22-16, 5-6-16, 10-21-16, 3-31-17, 11-17-17, 12-15-17, 6-8-18, 11-30-18, 1-4-19
9 anagrams used in 263 contest crosswords, or 3.4%: a low-percentage play before exhausting clue-order possibilities.
Great info, guys. I’ll move anagramming to the bottom of the toolbox.

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