"A Sail of Two Cities" - June 18, 2021

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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docison
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#381

Post by docison »

hoover wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:57 pm
SReh26 wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:57 am For those smarting from the meta, or otherwise seeking a mood boost on a Manic Monday, may I recommend the wsj Monday crossword, which can be done in 9 minutes and seven seconds? 😁

And if you want to ask me how I know, oh I’ll tell ya. If you really want to know.... with apologies to Ralph Kramden.
Or even 5:08. :D Would be faster if I could space-bar to switch directions and ALT-TAB to move backwards.
Or even 2:20 :o I will admit, though, that I use a link to solve in Across Lite, because the online wsj interface makes me crazy.
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mheberlingx100
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#382

Post by mheberlingx100 »

hoover wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:44 pm Looking at the answer and how it was obtained ... I had all of the cities correct, and I had gone as far as writing out the body of water that connected each, but didn't get to step 3 of finding their initials in the 3LW. Even if I had, I may not have gotten to the answer because I had Mohawk River connecting Utica and Rome.

Rabbit holes:
- I tried playing with the directions (N, E, NW, NNW, NE) and that went nowhere.
- I found a sort of a word ladder in SCARFS SCARES SCALES SCALP (missing its S)
Looked at those too - but then “Rhine River” and RWR clicked and I was off to the races.
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sanmilton
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#383

Post by sanmilton »

I'm with Wendy on GENOA as a good guess, even though I never knew there was a genoa sail until Googling for this solve. And like so many others, I also researched aquatic vessels as well as types of sails.

As for the mileage, I'm sure Matt will explain that the figures, while not NAUTICAL miles, are land miles (5,280 feet) over bodies of water connecting the two cities under consideration. (I would like to know his source for the distance of the trip up the Rhine. And did he have to convert kilometres?)

I also noticed the SCARFS, SCARES, SCALES sequence (setting aside SCALP). But what I should have taken notice of much sooner was the preponderance of three-letter entries (30 out of 76), which is rare, I think, in construction of crosswords at this level. The number and placement of the 15-letter entries no doubt made that high number necessary, and, of course, five of them supplied the final key to the meta.

Finally, can we agree that this was beyond three stars on the difficulty scale? I mean, only some 533 Earthlings in the universe submitted correct solutions, and the puzzle stumped at least three of the constellation of Muggles stars! :shock:
JRS51
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#384

Post by JRS51 »

Dplass wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:47 pm
hoover wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:44 pm Looking at the answer and how it was obtained ... I had all of the cities correct, and I had gone as far as writing out the body of water that connected each, but didn't get to step 3 of finding their initials in the 3LW. Even if I had, I may not have gotten to the answer because I had Mohawk River connecting Utica and Rome.

Rabbit holes:
- I tried playing with the directions (N, E, NW, NNW, NE) and that went nowhere.
Same.
Me as well!
JRS51
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#385

Post by JRS51 »

I also wondered whether ABBA was a hint, as in point A to point B and back to point A. So I started looking for islands or destinations midway between the two cities, but of course that was a dead end.
boharr
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#386

Post by boharr »

sanmilton wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 3:14 pm
Finally, can we agree that this was beyond three stars on the difficulty scale? I mean, only some 533 Earthlings in the universe submitted correct solutions, and the puzzle stumped at least three of the constellation of Muggles stars! :shock:
When I went to rate the puzzle, it told me I already had. Perhaps I hit the button inadvertently, but I don't think so. I would have rated it higher that 3.5.
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HunterX
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#387

Post by HunterX »

JRS51 wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 3:26 pm I also wondered whether ABBA was a hint, as in point A to point B and back to point A. So I started looking for islands or destinations midway between the two cities, but of course that was a dead end.
I figured 1A "SML" was a hint that the different sizes of the bodies of water was important. After the fact, I took it as a hint to look for 3-letter answers, of which there were a lot in the grid.

My daughter pointed out that 43A "From ___ Z" ("A TO") was a hint that you needed to use just single letters, though it's a bit of a red herring in that it implies you use the first letters of the cities.
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mikeB
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#388

Post by mikeB »

This week was a toughie, but per the cliché, the process of solving a meta (or trying to) is a journey. Beyond that, seeking to solve a succession of metas is itself a journey (or perhaps a meta-journey?). Each successful or unsuccessful attempt adjusts one’s methodology. Another cliché: more often than not, the solver needs to “think outside the box” to get to the solution. However, for a relative newbie like me, the reward of a toughie like this week’s is actually s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the boundaries of my box. (I doubt I’ll ever look at a 3-letter answer the same again.) We each get to take these successive improvements along on our journey through future meta challenges. I, too, was stuck in ROCLS Purgatory until my perseverance expired; however, I am buoyed by the fact that when I began my meta-journey 8 months ago, I wouldn’t have gotten within a mile of ROCLS. That’s progress.
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mntlblok
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#389

Post by mntlblok »

Looks like Juniper. :-)
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mntlblok
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#390

Post by mntlblok »

tigerfly222 wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 2:24 pm On the beach, finally.
I jumped out of the boat I was paddling and @boharr threw me a life preserver from the shore.
Sometimes it takes a village.

Edit: Nothing to do with the meta, just wanted to say that here in Spain, we are finally speeding up Covid vaccinations nicely. Yesterday I got my first jab! Happy to be doing my part.
Congrats for Jon Rahm!
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mntlblok
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#391

Post by mntlblok »

CPJohnson wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 2:49 pm
stmv wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 4:40 am Ugh, I got a late start due to visiting family, but even so this took me *way* much longer than it should have. I saw 90% of it very fast, and was treading water within sight of the beach, but I just could not close the deal. Then suddenly while brushing my teeth it hit me, that I had overlooked a common mechanism, and I was even able to guess what the answer was going to be before I worked out the details. Better late than never, and now I'm 100% on the beach, exhausted but pleased.
I don't think the mechanism is all that common. Maybe it is if you do LOTS of metas.
Might there be a list if mechanisms extant??
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mntlblok
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#392

Post by mntlblok »

mntlblok wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 4:54 pm Looks like Juniper. :-)
Guess that post didn't make it clear that I was referring to the view from behind the golfer in the "thumbnail - the 6th at Augusta National. :-)
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SReh26
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#393

Post by SReh26 »

mntlblok wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:22 pm
CPJohnson wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 2:49 pm
stmv wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 4:40 am Ugh, I got a late start due to visiting family, but even so this took me *way* much longer than it should have. I saw 90% of it very fast, and was treading water within sight of the beach, but I just could not close the deal. Then suddenly while brushing my teeth it hit me, that I had overlooked a common mechanism, and I was even able to guess what the answer was going to be before I worked out the details. Better late than never, and now I'm 100% on the beach, exhausted but pleased.
I don't think the mechanism is all that common. Maybe it is if you do LOTS of metas.
Might there be a list if mechanisms extant??
yes- under Come Aboard! Meta Solving etc.
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mntlblok
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#394

Post by mntlblok »

Ergcat wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 7:56 am
sanmilton wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 12:16 am Mr Gaffney usually puts a “hint” in the SE corner grid spot. In this puzzle it is 66a LEM.
*Now* they tell me!!
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CPJohnson
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#395

Post by CPJohnson »

mntlblok wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 5:22 pm
CPJohnson wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 2:49 pm
stmv wrote: Sun Jun 20, 2021 4:40 am Ugh, I got a late start due to visiting family, but even so this took me *way* much longer than it should have. I saw 90% of it very fast, and was treading water within sight of the beach, but I just could not close the deal. Then suddenly while brushing my teeth it hit me, that I had overlooked a common mechanism, and I was even able to guess what the answer was going to be before I worked out the details. Better late than never, and now I'm 100% on the beach, exhausted but pleased.
I don't think the mechanism is all that common. Maybe it is if you do LOTS of metas.
Might there be a list if mechanisms extant??
Only my personal list, as far as I know. I haven't fully explored all the posts in the Come Aboard/FAQs/Hints for Solving section. Here are some of the entries in my list:
Complete the theme (or a set)
* in clues
(1,2,3, etc.) Some variation of numbers in parentheses after some clues
Center grid word or some other grid word is a clue
Commonality in theme answers
Hidden words in theme answers
[First or last] [words or syllables] of theme answers
Parts of meta are positional in grid
Something similar in many clues
meaningful words all over the grid
Change one letter or drop one letter or add one letter
Anagramming needed
Meaningful words cross each other in grid, leading to meta answer
"Sounds like"
Missing things
Cynthia
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CPJohnson
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#396

Post by CPJohnson »

Here was my first attempt at an answer: R(hine), E(rie), M(ichigan), A(lgerian), P(acific). REMAP! It requires using the Algerian Sea instead of the Mediterranean, and it requires anagramming. Meta Daughter said, "I am not inclined to agree with your rationale on the meta." I had to admit that I didn't like it, either.
Cynthia
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mntlblok
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#397

Post by mntlblok »

hcbirker wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 9:58 am After finding all the different bodies of water, I saw "Panama" spaced out at 22 Across, and thought for sure I was on to something. Then found "Seine" at 16 across. So I deduced that I had to find another ocean, sea and lake. Nothing. But I just couldn't stop looking at those bright shiny objects. Making the leap to the three letter clues didn't fit the theme for me. Oh well. On to the next puzzle!
And I could list twelve or fifteen *other* such finds for throwing one off. Grrr. . . .

Reminds me of translating Latin when each word you looked up had several possible meanings. (Mrs. Thacker didn't appreciate it when I decided to teach her a lesson and combine all the least likely definitions). :-) Apian Way was as close as I got to one of the cities. My notes included a list of cities that "started" some of the answer words - Basel and Bonn (noted but not jotted) - which I noticed but didn't "click" for its relationship to Basel. Duh. Even wrote down Calgary and Racine, but the leftover "s"s threw me. Apia? Oran? Gary but not Calgary? Maybe this ain't the place for me. . .

So, the "three letter words". Is there some convention for all of them landing within some bit of real estate?? Only "some" three letter words, "special" three letter words? Do four letter words ever constitute some portion of a mechanism??

I feel better, now. :-)
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mntlblok
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#398

Post by mntlblok »

hcbirker wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:00 am And did anyone else research types and names of sails? That took me down some interesting holes.
We actually saw some big, ocean racing boats heading south off the coast a few weeks back. Nautical daughter - who is currently sewing sails in Wilmington, NC - informed me that the huge, front sails on them that seemed a cross (to me) of a spinnaker and a jib, was, in fact, a GENOA. :-)
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mntlblok
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#399

Post by mntlblok »

Notbitter wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 10:01 am Okay, way off. In my “twisted” reasoning, I saw the title, “A Sail of Two Cities,” and assumed a play on words with “A Tale of Two Cites” by Dickens. I had each of the two cities. The distances from Google apparently were direct line distances, not the distance if you were to take the meandering course, for example from Basel to Bonn by sailing the Rhine. Thus, the distances were “as the crow flies,” which is an idiom from “Oliver Twist,” another Dickens story….from there, I had nothing, so I just tossed in “idiom” as my Hail Mary. Oh well…congratulations to those who got the final steps that I missed.
Yep, no luck sailing the English Channel. :-(
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mntlblok
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#400

Post by mntlblok »

HunterX wrote: Mon Jun 21, 2021 11:07 am Before I finally figured out the correct second step, I got caught up in the "Find an anagram of the [word] in other clues with one letter extra/off" rabbit hole. I noticed that there are anagrams of 'SEA' and 'LAKE' with one letter to change, and 3 for 'OCEAN'. Kept searching for 'CANAL' and 'RIVER' until my eyes went blurry.

Then tried looking for alternate bodies of water for each of the types. 'APIAN ANTICLIMAX' kept making me see 'ATLANTIC' as well as a broken up 'PANAMA'.

Also found the SE(L)INE river, NILE backwards, Lake (Loch) NESS.... And so much more.

One can expect these things to go to those kinds of bizarre lengths???
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