"Under the Table" - July 9, 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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femullen
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#361

Post by femullen »

I spent hours cogitating how 61D, "CASH," as in "cash...Under the Table," and appearing in the lower right corner, would reveal the mechanism. That was probably the deepest, most fruitless rabbit hole I've ever been down.
For nudges, feel free to PM me. I won't have a clue how to help you, but you just might shove me ashore.
MatthewL
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#362

Post by MatthewL »

So very many rabbit holes investigated, but could never quite get there. I'll console myself with the knowledge that one of those holes was the periodic table, and I went so far as to pull it up and look at it, but then discarded that idea as I didn't see anything that worked. Guess I didn't look hard enough. Oh well, onto next week (which I'm sure will have something to do with calculating the distance between celestial objects using only a slide rule).
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michaelm
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#363

Post by michaelm »

mikeB wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:36 am What a great meta. For me, the term TABLE in the title had three involvements. The first was to suggest the Periodic Table of the Elements, which points to using the atomic symbols. The second was to implicate the contents of the Periodic Table itself (Caution: rabbit hole ahead!). The third was the synonymity of DISCREET and UNDER THE TABLE, which for me offered no help getting to the solution but did serve to authenticate the solution once it was found. My rabbit hole, after trying to make something of the eight letters in the atomic symbols, was to download the Periodic Table itself to try to work it using UNDER as a hint. Putting the meta aside for a few hours, I returned and “noticed” AG and AU in the grid, and that was that. My lesson learned: Always expect a term of directionality (such as UNDER) in the title to refer to the crossword grid (or possibly to the clue list); don’t try to apply a hint like that to a resource outside the puzzle, like the Periodic Table. Rabbit holes always look relevant until they don't.
Just thinking out loud, but probably a long term mistake to "always" expect anything when it comes to Mike Shenk, Matt Gaffney and the other metas maestros.
For example, at the end of TOPBANANA sat NANA. "Under" NaNa in the outside reference might have been "SS", Sodium, and possibly the end of an adjective?
Like you and others, I really liked this puzzle because it combined many meta elements (get it?)
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SReh26
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#364

Post by SReh26 »

after Periodic table, I figured under the table must be the heaviest atomic weighted elements.
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BethA
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#365

Post by BethA »

Somehow CASH helped me — thinking about the pot of gold. Then on to the silver, then transitioning to the elements - iron, and lead.

Before that, I was reviewing all of the clues, and was distracted by Alan’s PARSONS TABLE and Monopoly’s CARD TABLE.

Also considered something similar to that Sealed Envelope puzzle — envelope could be found in the grid, encircling another square to get its letter. There were several tantalizing occurrences of most of the letters of TABLE, not quite all, and not in the upside down U shape I was looking for, it could have surrounded on 3 sides an answer letter.

Enjoyed the puzzle!
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auee89
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#366

Post by auee89 »

BethA wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:26 am Also considered something similar to that Sealed Envelope puzzle — envelope could be found in the grid, encircling another square to get its letter. There were several tantalizing occurrences of most of the letters of TABLE, not quite all, and not in the upside down U shape I was looking for, it could have surrounded on 3 sides an answer letter.
I was thinking of the Tumbler puzzle and was looking for a table as well with letters below the table.
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Joe Ross
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#367

Post by Joe Ross »

boharr wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:09 am Looking at the retro-engineering of this puzzle, I think Al probably solved it in less than 8 minutes and took time out for a Guinness before he posted.
Tables..
No doubt about this solving scenario, IMO. I remain in awe of the quick logic & recognition that Al and several other muggles consistently display in their super-solving efforts. Rather than disparage their results, they should give us hope.
boharr wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:09 am Yeesh. Took me an hour to get to Periodic. I had kitchen table, dining table, picnic table, end table, bedside table, card table, poker table, bridge table, writing table, pool table, ping pong table, multiplication table.
To fully explain my path, I got to @boharr's point after fully investing myself in the idea that "Table" and the standard, longest-Across Theme Entries had to play. My list of tables agreed with his almost perfectly.

Since the element abbreviations in the Periodic Table are short and, therefore, flexible, and since none of the other tables presented themselves within the TEs, I built a table of my own, re-sorting the elements by their important abbreviations. After identifying all elements in the TEs and reviewing the letters "Under" them, I found DISCREET.

Proud of myself for gutting through this, I mentioned it to a muggle who had solved much sooner. Their pointing out the metals in the TEs' clues was a "gutting" of an entirely different manner.

This was an excellent puzzle, Mr. Shenk!
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Joe Ross
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#368

Post by Joe Ross »

LadyBird wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:38 am I had a dream last night, not of a meta solution, but of a Muggle potluck dinner.
I'm avoiding anyone's rabbit stew, should they bring it...
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mheberlingx100
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#369

Post by mheberlingx100 »

Joe Ross wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 9:40 am
boharr wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:09 am Looking at the retro-engineering of this puzzle, I think Al probably solved it in less than 8 minutes and took time out for a Guinness before he posted.
Tables..
No doubt about this solving scenario, IMO. I remain in awe of the quick logic & recognition that Al and several other muggles consistently display in their super-solving efforts. Rather than disparage their results, they should give us hope.
boharr wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:09 am Looking at the retro-engineering of this puzzle, I think Al probably solved it in less than 8 minutes and took time out for a Guinness before he posted.
Tables. Yeesh. Took me an hour to get to Periodic. I had kitchen table, dining table, picnic table, end table, bedside table, card table, poker table, bridge table, writing table, pool table, ping pong table, multiplication table.
To fully explain my path, I got to @boharr's point after fully investing myself in idea that "Table" and the standard, longest-Across Theme Entries had to play. My list of tables agreed with his almost perfectly.

Since the element abbreviations in the Periodic Table are short and, therefore, flexible, and since none of the other tables presented themselves within the TEs, I built a table of my own, re-sorting the elements by their important abbreviations. After identifying all elements in the TEs and reviewing the letters "Under" them, I found DISCREET.

Proud of myself for gutting through this, I mentioned it to a muggle who had solved much sooner. Their pointing out the metals in the TEs' clues was a "gutting" of an entirely different manner.

This was an excellent puzzle, Mr. Shenk!
Once I completed the grid I went looking for chemical symbols (and the letters under them) right away based on the title. I didn’t notice the metals in the clues until after I saw there were too many chemical symbols and I had to go back to the clues to help weed them out.
kimberlysg
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#370

Post by kimberlysg »

It does my heart so much good to know that the rabbit holes I chased all weekend were followed by many others as well! :D
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SReh26
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#371

Post by SReh26 »

anyone else notice MEOW and think maybe it had to do with feeding pets scraps under the table?

sigh.
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CPJohnson
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#372

Post by CPJohnson »

mikeB wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:36 am What a great meta. For me, the term TABLE in the title had three involvements. The first was to suggest the Periodic Table of the Elements, which points to using the atomic symbols. The second was to implicate the contents of the Periodic Table itself (Caution: rabbit hole ahead!). The third was the synonymity of DISCREET and UNDER THE TABLE, which for me offered no help getting to the solution but did serve to authenticate the solution once it was found. My rabbit hole, after trying to make something of the eight letters in the atomic symbols, was to download the Periodic Table itself to try to work it using UNDER as a hint. Putting the meta aside for a few hours, I returned and “noticed” AG and AU in the grid, and that was that. My lesson learned: Always expect a term of directionality (such as UNDER) in the title to refer to the crossword grid (or possibly to the clue list); don’t try to apply a hint like that to a resource outside the puzzle, like the Periodic Table. Rabbit holes always look relevant until they don't.
I'm afraid you may have given the puzzle constructors an idea for an even more devious method for a meta!
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BrianMac
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#373

Post by BrianMac »

I'm blown away that anyone solved this without noticing the elements in the clues.
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auee89
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#374

Post by auee89 »

BrianMac wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 10:34 am I'm blown away that anyone solved this without noticing the elements in the clues.
Agree! That was my missing link.
MarkWoychick
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#375

Post by MarkWoychick »

I was thinking payments and drinking: “cash under the table” and “drink [someone] under the table.” All of the theme answers are names of cocktails, so I convinced myself that was the right path. I tried to connect the ingredients of the cocktails and all other sorts of nonsense that led to jumbles of letters.

A few lessons here (we’ll see if they are lessons learned in the coming weeks): 1) when you’ve dug yourself into a hole, put down the shovel! 2) look for precision/elegance in the answers. For example, there are many leprechaun variations (fuzzy, drunk, etc.) and different liquors used for top banana. This and the jumbles of letters I wrung from this process should have clued me in that this was wrong path.

I was able to get the answer with a nudge, but before asking for help, I should have stepped back and tried to look at it with fresh eyes.
bradisbrad
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#376

Post by bradisbrad »

Welp, clever cluing here but I stayed planted on a bar stool with Isaac. I saw the words "felt", "end", "rec", and "top" which could all conceivably go with the word table. Of course, looking under those gave me gibberish. I also tried to use just the middle letter or letters under those, using the letters below the first and last letters as "legs" to the table, but that just gave me shorter gibberish. The one instance of "leg" running bottom to top had me stuck on table types, and the various instances of "le" near each other had me firmly stuck. I think reworking the grid might have helped me, and I did think "Huh, what a weird clue for bald eagle!" but couldn't see past the table idea.
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TeaJenny
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#377

Post by TeaJenny »

I got the grid and identified the 4 themed answers fairly quickly. I didn't see any type of TABLES in them, but the metals in their clues caught my eye. UNDER in the title suggested looking at the letters beneath the themed answers. Putting those ideas together, I looked for the metal abbreviations from the periodic TABLE and wrote down the letters beneath them. Voila. DISCREET being descriptive of something done UNDER THE TABLE clinched it.

Start to finish, this one took me 18 minutes, 20 seconds. One of my better times (but not as good as Al's - some day!). I seem to either get the meta right away or beat my head against the wall all weekend. There is no in between.
You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~C.S. Lewis
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SusieG
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#378

Post by SusieG »

Oh geez, I can’t believe I didn’t see the periodic table! I knew the table in question was a GRID from 5A, but kept getting hung up on END in EFFENDI, PLATE ([table] “Setting item”) and Parsons in the clue for 14A, making my brain go to furniture. Besides all that, I almost always see elements in the puzzles, so why not this time? 🤪
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HunterX
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#379

Post by HunterX »

BrianMac wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 10:34 am I'm blown away that anyone solved this without noticing the elements in the clues.
I'll take that as a compliment to my team. We were just trying to find anything to do with a "table" so we could look "under" it and I suggested periodic table. Daughter said "There are going to be LOTS of letter combinations from the periodic table." But then they just started with the themed answers and saw the silver and gold, which instantly related them to "CASH" in 61D, and, by extension, the title. Solved it seconds after that.

So was some form of cash ever made from iron or lead?
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hcbirker
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#380

Post by hcbirker »

BrianMac wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 10:34 am I'm blown away that anyone solved this without noticing the elements in the clues.
That would be me.
Heidi
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