"Group Outings" September 18, 2020

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JRS51
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Re: "Group Outings" September 18, 2020

#361

Post by JRS51 » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:15 am

Dplass wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:48 am
JRS51 wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:10 am
I was very puzzled by the comments about an easy way to solve the meta and a hard way.
This seems very straightforward with 3 steps to the solution and no room for alternate methods.
In my opinion, "straightforward" != "with 3 steps to the solution". Once you see the steps, it's straightforward. I actually needed a tiny nudge to see the 1st step, then the rest fell into place _because I've done a few metas before_. Had I not it wouldn't have been that straightforward.
I understand and apologize that straightforward may not have been the right choice of words. I just meant that there seems to be one path to the answer. I still haven’t seen anyone show a true second method, although I do now understand the added confirmation of removing “trips” from the theme answers.

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JPMalone
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#362

Post by JPMalone » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:34 am

Prozach wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:06 am
JPMalone wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:45 am
My meta solving buddy IRL, Seth, won this week! Very proud of him :)
where do they announce the winner?
Yeah! They emailed him this morning. They used to post it in the comments on the puzzle, (not sure if they still do)? Otherwise it will appear on Friday.

There were 1,370 entries for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing - which is on the high side for any given week, from what I can tell.

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TPS
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#363

Post by TPS » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:40 am

JPMalone wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:34 am

There were 1,370 entries for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing - which is on the high side for any given week, from what I can tell.
I think that is a bit on the low side from what I can tell. The really "easy" puzzles tend to have 2,000 or so. So I guess this puzzle played harder to most people than I would expect.

I know Bob has this information but I'd be curious to see the entries and % correct compared to "At Odds"/BICKER because in my view it was very similar to that puzzle from a couple months back.

Edit - I went back and found Mike's post from "At Odds" and it was 1688 entries with 84% correct. I'd be interested in knowing if anyone got that one but not this one.
Last edited by TPS on Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Kris Zacharias
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#364

Post by Kris Zacharias » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:46 am

When doing the grid, I wondered about the clue "sties," thinking that the plural of "sty" is "styes." "Sties" is correct, of course. My first inclination concerning "outings" was to remove groups of letters, but I got stuck on pairs of letters, of which there are many, and which lead to nothing. So I went down a lot of very shallow rabbit holes (mere divots?) and returned to my original idea. Fixating on "stirrers" and removing all the rs , I saw "sties", and the answer came quickly. As a recommendation to newcomers, I've seen the suggestion that odd answers (or clues in this case) may be important for finding the meta.

Geezer Weezer
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#365

Post by Geezer Weezer » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:57 am

Kris Zacharias wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:46 am
When doing the grid, I wondered about the clue "sties," thinking that the plural of "sty" is "styes." "Sties" is correct, of course. My first inclination concerning "outings" was to remove groups of letters, but I got stuck on pairs of letters, of which there are many, and which lead to nothing. So I went down a lot of very shallow rabbit holes (mere divots?) and returned to my original idea. Fixating on "stirrers" and removing all the rs , I saw "sties", and the answer came quickly. As a recommendation to newcomers, I've seen the suggestion that odd answers (or clues in this case) may be important for finding the meta.
I was indeed looking for "odd" clues and answers, finding none of either that fit that category. Apparently, that only confirms my oddness.

MikeMillerwsj
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#366

Post by MikeMillerwsj » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:23 am

Greetings--this was a special contest for us, marking the 5th anniversary of the WSJ Crossword Contest. We are grateful to all of you for turning the contest into such a success, with an ardent and growing following of brilliant solvers including the denizens of this site. We thought this week's was particuarly ingenious, drawing 1373 entries, about 80% correct. We also tallied votes for STRIP (close, 26), DARES (why? 23), and READS (11), POSSE (5), TEAMS (3) and many many others.

Congrats to this week's winner, Seth Zubatkin of Brooklyn, NY!

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Bob cruise director
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#367

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:26 am

JPMalone wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:34 am
Prozach wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:06 am
JPMalone wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:45 am
My meta solving buddy IRL, Seth, won this week! Very proud of him :)
where do they announce the winner?
Yeah! They emailed him this morning. They used to post it in the comments on the puzzle, (not sure if they still do)? Otherwise it will appear on Friday.

There were 1,370 entries for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing - which is on the high side for any given week, from what I can tell.
Submissions of 1370 is about average these days
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

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Kas
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#368

Post by Kas » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:37 am

Oh, those wascally wabbits... I've never taken the time to detail my trips (see what I did there?) down the varmint holes, but this one had me flummoxed until I finally stumbled onto it at around 11 p.m.--but I learned a lot about the Meta constructions from reading about others' various wanderings in the warren--and in a few instances, my (wrong) attempts have later turned out to valid paths for future Metas, so:

1. I noticed the similarity between the first letters of SCAREaway and SPAREpart, so I spent a lot of time trying to expand on that pattern;
2. Then I tried to ferret out the various "groups" in the grid answers: POSSE, CLASSes, CASTro, etc.;
3. Then I wondered if "groups" referred to plural grid answers, so I chased rabbits with Toepiece(s), Theme(s), Stirrer(s), etc.;
4. Then I foundered around "Group Outings" having something to do with traveling/geography, so I wrestled with POPOV (Russia [sort of]), CASTRO (i.e., Cuba), etc.;
5. Then, I had noticed early on that "MBA" is in "JaMBAlaya," so I reverted to Google (which is against my personal rule, and reserved solely for Metamergencies) to try to figure out if there were other similar academic degree abbreviations in the other long answers...which I knew perfectly well was a fool's errand, because the Metas almost never require that level of research, but desperation had me grasping at straws...
6. Then I took the Stab in the Dark approach, but none of the 5-letter guesses I came up with ("Exile," for example) got me anywhere;
7. Then I reverted to the normal "Hail Mary" contortions, trying to remove every other letter of the long answers, etc.--and I came *close* the solution when I started circling all of the double letters, seeing if there was some pattern...

...which finally led to the first break-through: I noticed that the 5 longest across answers had not two (which I saw early on) but THREE repeated letters, which I realized probably wasn't a coincidence, given the puzzle title.

8. The final rabbit hole had me anagramming the repeated letters (READS, DEARS, etc.), and I tried--google again--to see if SADER was an alternate spelling for SEDER...sort of a "Group Outing" (?!)..okay I was desperate, but in my defense, this weekend was Rosh Hashanah...but I also knew Seder is Passover (which was in April...and yes, that sound you all heard across the breadth of Muggledom was Kas grinding his teeth). And yes, I very nearly caved in and submitted "DARES" but it felt more than a little forced...

The A-HA MOMENT was recognizing that by removing those three repeated letters from each of the 5 longest across answers in the grid, a new word was revealed...and the final push was more intuitive, finding the synonyms in other answers, finally revealing the 100% Definite Answer, TRIPS.

All of which is just another perfect example of the one of the most curious aspects of Meta-dom...one person's Kas 1 is another's Kas 3 or 4. Brains are so weird.

Cheers,
Kas
Last edited by Kas on Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Richard B.
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#369

Post by Richard B. » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:37 am

I see that STRIP was a notable “wrong” answer. I can see it. To STRIP “out” a “group” of letters from the themes seems to be in keeping with the title, Group Outings. TRIPS obviously works, but doesn’t STRIP also (same 5 letters, just different order)? Not sure the grid clearly lays out the precise ordering of the 5.

Interested in thoughts from the group.

Richard

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TPS
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#370

Post by TPS » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:45 am

Richard B. wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:37 am
I see that STRIP was a notable “wrong” answer. I can see it. To STRIP “out” a “group” of letters from the themes seems to be in keeping with the title, Group Outings. TRIPS obviously works, but doesn’t STRIP also (same 5 letters, just different order)? Not sure the grid clearly lays out the precise ordering of the 5.

Interested in thoughts from the group.

Richard
A typical axiom of meta solving that I learned from people on this board is - that you put the letters you find in the order they are found in the grid. If you do that you get TRIPS - so no need to anagram. Occasionally, you need to anagram to get an answer but those typically aren't ones you are getting the letters you are using directly from answers you pull from the grid.

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Gman
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#371

Post by Gman » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:45 am

I spent far, far too long fixated on Greek letters, thinking the answer had to be related to Homer's Iliad (talk about a five letter group outing!). One of these days the puzzle masters will probably use this trick, and of course I won't see it, having spent too many meta-solving weekends on this bunny hole. After a few other rabbit trails, I remembered to look for words in the grid (typically in the longest answers), that are replicated elsewhere in the grid (or, as in this case, in the clues) in some modified fashion. Once I remembered RIDDLED is riled without the group of D's and saw this in TOEPIECES and topics (another giveaway, since the answer is such a strange word combination), I had it. If I had not seen this mechanism before, I would have never gotten this one. This was not an unfair puzzle, but it definitely would challenge solvers who don't have a lot of meta-solving experience. Congrats to IRL, it's always great when a Muggle wins!

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Kas
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#372

Post by Kas » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:48 am

Richard B. wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:37 am
I see that STRIP was a notable “wrong” answer. I can see it. To STRIP “out” a “group” of letters from the themes seems to be in keeping with the title, Group Outings. TRIPS obviously works, but doesn’t STRIP also (same 5 letters, just different order)? Not sure the grid clearly lays out the precise ordering of the 5.

Interested in thoughts from the group.

Richard
I think the 100% part of "TRIPS" is that the order was set out in the construction: If you order the longest across answers from top to bottom, then remove the trebly-repeated letter in each, you get TOPICS, CLAIMS, RILE, STIES and SCREWY. Taking each of their respective synonyms in the *same* order, you get THEMES, RETRIEVE, IRK, PENS and STRANGE...with the first letter of each yielding TRIPS.

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Richard B.
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#373

Post by Richard B. » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:52 am

TPS wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:45 am
Richard B. wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:37 am
I see that STRIP was a notable “wrong” answer. I can see it. To STRIP “out” a “group” of letters from the themes seems to be in keeping with the title, Group Outings. TRIPS obviously works, but doesn’t STRIP also (same 5 letters, just different order)? Not sure the grid clearly lays out the precise ordering of the 5.

Interested in thoughts from the group.

Richard
A typical axiom of meta solving that I learned from people on this board is - that you put the letters you find in the order they are found in the grid. If you do that you get TRIPS - so no need to anagram. Occasionally, you need to anagram to get an answer but those typically aren't ones you are getting the letters you are using directly from answers you pull from the grid.
I see what you’re saying. I just looked at T-R-I-P-S in the grid and didn’t see them in order. You’re saying to apply each letter from the grid in the order they were derived from the themers. I would have thought the first pass would be to look at the position of the letters themselves. What do you think?

boharr
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#374

Post by boharr » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:58 am

Richard B. wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:52 am
TPS wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:45 am
Richard B. wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:37 am
I see that STRIP was a notable “wrong” answer. I can see it. To STRIP “out” a “group” of letters from the themes seems to be in keeping with the title, Group Outings. TRIPS obviously works, but doesn’t STRIP also (same 5 letters, just different order)? Not sure the grid clearly lays out the precise ordering of the 5.

Interested in thoughts from the group.

Richard
A typical axiom of meta solving that I learned from people on this board is - that you put the letters you find in the order they are found in the grid. If you do that you get TRIPS - so no need to anagram. Occasionally, you need to anagram to get an answer but those typically aren't ones you are getting the letters you are using directly from answers you pull from the grid.
I see what you’re saying. I just looked at T-R-I-P-S in the grid and didn’t see them in order. You’re saying to apply each letter from the grid in the order they were derived from the themers. I would have thought the first pass would be to look at the position of the letters themselves. What do you think?
I did that first pass of looking at the position of the letters themselves on the grid. Thought it was odd and so ordered them the way KAS explains.

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Cindy
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#375

Post by Cindy » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:21 pm

MikeMillerwsj wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:23 am
Greetings--this was a special contest for us, marking the 5th anniversary of the WSJ Crossword Contest. We are grateful to all of you for turning the contest into such a success, with an ardent and growing following of brilliant solvers including the denizens of this site. We thought this week's was particuarly ingenious, drawing 1373 entries, about 80% correct. We also tallied votes for STRIP (close, 26), DARES (why? 23), and READS (11), POSSE (5), TEAMS (3) and many many others.

Congrats to this week's winner, Seth Zubatkin of Brooklyn, NY!
Dares and Reads are the extracted letters from the theme answers.

KscX
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#376

Post by KscX » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:32 pm

Well- I made the mistake of looking up “Three Coins in the Fountain”, thinking the composer was a little obscure. DID YOU KNOW that the name of the place they stayed in the movie was Villa Eden? And that one of the main characters in the movie was ANITA? Throw that in with EVE and SNAKE and I refused to leave the rabbit hole, until I was drug out of it. At some point I hope these first steps come easier as I can see the last steps right away, usually. :roll:

MMac
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#377

Post by MMac » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:34 pm

Another nice puzzle.

One rabbit that I followed for far too long was the title "grOUp OUtings". That repetition seemed odd, especially when I noticed that exactly five of the across clues and five of the down clues coincidentally contained the same "OU" sequence. I'm surprised that we EVER manage to see through the Rorschach jumble of letters to find the right answer!

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Joe Ross
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#378

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:43 pm

Kas wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:37 am
8. The final rabbit hole had me anagramming the repeated letters (READS, DEARS, etc.), and I tried--google again--to see if SADER was an alternate spelling for SEDER...sort of a "Group Outing" (?!)..okay I was desperate, but in my defense, this weekend was Rosh Hashanah...but I also knew Seder is Passover (which was in April...and yes, that sound you all heard across the breadth of Muggledom was Kas grinding his teeth).
I anagrammed SEDAR, too, & briefly considered it while texting-out-loud to someone who had solved, particularly since my interwebbing of it came up with this, the first "definition" listed:
SEDAR Free Dictionary.gif
which commemorates the exodus, as a MUGgle noted as the ultimate Group Outing.

Texting-out-loud to a muggle who has solved is a viable & (sometimes) fun way to reason-out an answer. It forces you to stay away from far flung ideas, since you don't wish to embarrass yourself, nor waste another's time. The rule is that you don't receive a reply, unless, of course, the person to whom you're texting-out-loud feels the need to guffaw at your mistake (SEDAR versus SEDER), then wishes to lecture you on the 94 different ways that this couldn't POSSIBLY be the answer, despite the 'no reply' rule & the fact that you couched that particular text with a "?" at its end.

I did learn two things:
  • Never trust a website with "Free" in its name & URL
  • Some people are mean

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TPS
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#379

Post by TPS » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:45 pm

KscX wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:32 pm
Well- I made the mistake of looking up “Three Coins in the Fountain”, thinking the composer was a little obscure. DID YOU KNOW that the name of the place they stayed in the movie was Villa Eden? And that one of the main characters in the movie was ANITA? Throw that in with EVE and SNAKE and I refused to leave the rabbit hole, until I was drug out of it. At some point I hope these first steps come easier as I can see the last steps right away, usually. :roll:
I've learned the hard way that those rabbit holes almost never pan out - Never have I found a sequence of clues while solving and had them relate to the meta. I've found stuff after the fact that ties in nicely with the meta. But yet I still go down those rabbit holes even if I know better - last week there was an answer TILDE and CASTILLIAN - and I spent way too much time trying to make Spanish words where "The Rest" was a missing TILDE. The last PGW puzzle I did the clue was the answers a well known film (FRENCH KISS) - there were answers about Caesar and also all three lead actors to Cleopatra - yet it had nothing to do with the solution.

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Dplass
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#380

Post by Dplass » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:58 pm

JRS51 wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:15 am
Dplass wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:48 am
JRS51 wrote:
Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:10 am
I was very puzzled by the comments about an easy way to solve the meta and a hard way.
This seems very straightforward with 3 steps to the solution and no room for alternate methods.
In my opinion, "straightforward" != "with 3 steps to the solution". Once you see the steps, it's straightforward. I actually needed a tiny nudge to see the 1st step, then the rest fell into place _because I've done a few metas before_. Had I not it wouldn't have been that straightforward.
I understand and apologize that straightforward may not have been the right choice of words. I just meant that there seems to be one path to the answer. I still haven’t seen anyone show a true second method, although I do now understand the added confirmation of removing “trips” from the theme answers.
No worries, all good

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