"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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ajk
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#401

Post by ajk »

Jeremy Smith wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:20 pm
ajk wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:26 am lol given that I teach chemistry this seems like one I should have gotten quicker than I did. My first thought was indeed the periodic table but just quickly scanning the entries I missed the symbols (though I did notice barium a few times :lol: :lol:).

It was only glancing back at the clues that I noticed the metals and then it fell quickly.

My excuse for not getting it faster is that I teach organic and we don't mess with metals that much. :lol:
Alan, you posted that you were onshore 25 minutes after the puzzle was published. That’s pretty dang fast. I suppose that if you taught general chem, your effort would have turned out to be truly SISTIAN. :lol: :lol: :lol:
:lol: :lol: fair point
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hcbirker
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#402

Post by hcbirker »

Jeremy Smith wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:25 pm
hcbirker wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:47 am
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.
That’s impressive, Heidi! I don’t know how you did it. Without the elements in the clues, the puzzle would have been a KAS5 for me.
I just got lucky I guess!
Heidi
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Jeremy Smith
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#403

Post by Jeremy Smith »

On Thursday, I zeroed in on 61D- Payment option = CASH. I was aware that that spot in the grid is a favorite place for Mike to put things that are important to the solving process. I then recalled seeing silver and gold in the clues and, lo and behold, they looked like probable themers. I also noticed that the silver clue contained Ag, and the gold clue contained Au. Not finding platinum or palladium in the grid or clues, I decided that CASH was a red herring and the chemical symbols in two themers were mere coincidence. When will I learn that coincidences in metas are rare to non-existent?
It wasn’t til Sunday evening that I noticed Iron in 43A, and Fe in the grid. It was a quick solve after that.
EVJ
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#404

Post by EVJ »

Congrats to this week's winner: Donald Sebo of Pocatello, Idaho!
[/quote]

Let’s hear it for Idaho! Congratulations Donald, from your neighbor in Boise😎
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iggystan
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#405

Post by iggystan »

My first instinct was the answer was "SHADY" but couldn't get anything to fit for that. Then I stared at the completed grid for a while and tried, like others, to make something out of the title "table" reference like "legs." I stopped to work on the MMMM and finally got the "aha" for that one and submitted my answer. I went back to the WSJ and thought about some things I have learned after starting to solve these. One of the first was to look at the clues for the themers and there were the elements. I first thought I had to look at things in the periodic table under those elements, but that was a dead end. So I looked back at the puzzle and there was the answer staring me in the face.
ADS
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#406

Post by ADS »

Franklin.Bluth wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:58 pm *nitpicking hat on*

"Lead" was a bit of a cheat for me in the TOP BANANA clue. It was used in the clue in the sense of a leader or head guy, and thus was pronounced LEED, not LED like the element. In all the other theme clues, the element itself, not a homonym, was used.

That said, I don't really have an alternate suggestion for the clue. Maybe something like "A burlesque dancer going from lead-footed understudy to ________".

*Nitpicking hat off*

And yet it was a delightful puzzle with a great "Aha!" moment and the Mike Shenk trademark of integrating the clues into the meta. I had a lot to do this weekend, so I'm glad I solved it Thursday, but it was a great meta.
I am pretty surprised at the lack of negative reaction on the forum to this "Lead" issue. (Perhaps I have just not read a lot of the comments.) Perhaps I am just used to the mastery of the puzzle constructors and they always live up to an an extremely high standard. But this particular issue does not seem like a small issue to me. I choose my words carefully because Mike Shenk's puzzles are always amazing and I am constantly in awe of crossword construction in general, and I am even more in awe of these Friday puzzles. But, if you caught me in a moment of candidness, I might say that it seems quite inelegant to have the first three metals be the actual metals and then the fourth one be a different word, which is what a homonym really is. I will stop complaining now. :? :D
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FrankieHeck
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#407

Post by FrankieHeck »

hcbirker wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:04 am Omg I didn’t even notice the clues! Genius!
Same! I did briefly wonder why there were unused elements (Al, Na) but for some reason I used the right ones and didn't think too much about it.
Andrew Bradburn
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#408

Post by Andrew Bradburn »

I was on vacation last week, and didn't get much time with this one. Needless to say, in the time I spent with it, I had no clue. Hats off to those that got it, it was a good challenging meta!
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Al Sisti
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#409

Post by Al Sisti »

hcbirker wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 5:00 pm
Jeremy Smith wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:25 pm
hcbirker wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:47 am

That would be me.
That’s impressive, Heidi! I don’t know how you did it. Without the elements in the clues, the puzzle would have been a KAS5 for me.
I just got lucky I guess!
As did I (my puzzle nom is LuckyGuest -- derived from "Lucky Guessed"). Truthfully, it wasn't all that clever or fast; mostly years of doing these.... and having my first guesses be correct. The title made me instantly think of the periodic table -- and looking "under" the atomic symbols, which I know pretty well (I noticed in Chemistry class that I could spell my name out in increasing atomic symbols: 13-14-16-22). Anyway, I raced through the top half of the grid and noticed AU in LEPRECHAUN, so I looked again at the first long entry and saw AG, so I thought that my initial approach was working out. I grabbed those four letters and then did most of the rest of the grid -- at least enough to let me complete the other two long acrosses -- specifically looking for atomic symbols. When I had DISCRE going into the last entry (TOP BANANA), I'm like "Sodium? Twice?" so I took another look at the clue and noticed the word "Lead," and then went back to the entry and (only) then noticed the PB, giving me DISCREET. I still finished the grid because I've been burned before ("Grilled [Ham and] Cheese"], and rechecked the themed clues and (only) then noticed silver, gold and iron in the clues.
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HunterX
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#410

Post by HunterX »

DannyWalter wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:56 pm
HunterX wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:40 pm Well, after 5 weeks of lost revenue, you were lucky to wind up under the table instead of under the bus for that one!
5 weeks of lost revenue woud have put us out of business. We were only down a couple of hours. But we were living in fear that it might happen again. Turns out it was an issue with application cache, of which there is a famous quote from Phil Karlton, one of the original Netscape guys, that I have found to be very true. "There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things."
I'll have to take your word (and Phil Karlton's) for it.

Or I'll ask my son, computer science undergrad and currently programmer for a web-based company, or my ex-wife, computer science PhD and long-time project manager in artificial intelligence. I have to go to them for all things having to do with computer programming.

On the other hand, for all computer things related to Excel spreadsheets and using VB code with them, they have to come to me, the Philosophy major.

And if you're scratching your head on that one, ask yourself this: How does a Philosophy major earn a living? Answer: Go to business school and learn something practical that can lead to a job!
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Jeremy Smith
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#411

Post by Jeremy Smith »

ADS wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 6:18 pm
Franklin.Bluth wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:58 pm *nitpicking hat on*

"Lead" was a bit of a cheat for me in the TOP BANANA clue. It was used in the clue in the sense of a leader or head guy, and thus was pronounced LEED, not LED like the element. In all the other theme clues, the element itself, not a homonym, was used.

That said, I don't really have an alternate suggestion for the clue. Maybe something like "A burlesque dancer going from lead-footed understudy to ________".

*Nitpicking hat off*

And yet it was a delightful puzzle with a great "Aha!" moment and the Mike Shenk trademark of integrating the clues into the meta. I had a lot to do this weekend, so I'm glad I solved it Thursday, but it was a great meta.
I am pretty surprised at the lack of negative reaction on the forum to this "Lead" issue. (Perhaps I have just not read a lot of the comments.) Perhaps I am just used to the mastery of the puzzle constructors and they always live up to an an extremely high standard. But this particular issue does not seem like a small issue to me. I choose my words carefully because Mike Shenk's puzzles are always amazing and I am constantly in awe of crossword construction in general, and I am even more in awe of these Friday puzzles. But, if you caught me in a moment of candidness, I might say that it seems quite inelegant to have the first three metals be the actual metals and then the fourth one be a different word, which is what a homonym really is. I will stop complaining now. :? :D
All’s fair in love and war………..and metas. ;)
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ajk
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#412

Post by ajk »

ADS wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 6:18 pm But, if you caught me in a moment of candidness, I might say that it seems quite inelegant to have the first three metals be the actual metals and then the fourth one be a different word, which is what a homonym really is. I will stop complaining now. :? :D
I mean, the metal is spelled LEAD. So it's the same word. I get the inconsistency of pronunciation argument, but the word is just fine. :)

I would also submit that pronunciation misdirection like that is a tried-and-true cluing move, though I could see how it applying to only 1 out of 4 might not be optimally elegant.
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SusieG
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#413

Post by SusieG »

Al Sisti wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 7:18 pm
hcbirker wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 5:00 pm
Jeremy Smith wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:25 pm

That’s impressive, Heidi! I don’t know how you did it. Without the elements in the clues, the puzzle would have been a KAS5 for me.
I just got lucky I guess!
As did I (my puzzle nom is LuckyGuest -- derived from "Lucky Guessed"). Truthfully, it wasn't all that clever or fast; mostly years of doing these.... and having my first guesses be correct. The title made me instantly think of the periodic table -- and looking "under" the atomic symbols, which I know pretty well (I noticed in Chemistry class that I could spell my name out in increasing atomic symbols: 13-14-16-22). Anyway, I raced through the top half of the grid and noticed AU in LEPRECHAUN, so I looked again at the first long entry and saw AG, so I thought that my initial approach was working out. I grabbed those four letters and then did most of the rest of the grid -- at least enough to let me complete the other two long acrosses -- specifically looking for atomic symbols. When I had DISCRE going into the last entry (TOP BANANA), I'm like "Sodium? Twice?" so I took another look at the clue and noticed the word "Lead," and then went back to the entry and (only) then noticed the PB, giving me DISCREET. I still finished the grid because I've been burned before ("Grilled [Ham and] Cheese"], and rechecked the themed clues and (only) then noticed silver, gold and iron in the clues.
I’d love to see a video of you solving a grid/meta. In super slo-mo, of course!
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DannyWalter
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#414

Post by DannyWalter »

HunterX wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 7:28 pm
DannyWalter wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:56 pm
HunterX wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:40 pm Well, after 5 weeks of lost revenue, you were lucky to wind up under the table instead of under the bus for that one!
5 weeks of lost revenue woud have put us out of business. We were only down a couple of hours. But we were living in fear that it might happen again. Turns out it was an issue with application cache, of which there is a famous quote from Phil Karlton, one of the original Netscape guys, that I have found to be very true. "There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things."
I'll have to take your word (and Phil Karlton's) for it.

Or I'll ask my son, computer science undergrad and currently programmer for a web-based company, or my ex-wife, computer science PhD and long-time project manager in artificial intelligence. I have to go to them for all things having to do with computer programming.

On the other hand, for all computer things related to Excel spreadsheets and using VB code with them, they have to come to me, the Philosophy major.

And if you're scratching your head on that one, ask yourself this: How does a Philosophy major earn a living? Answer: Go to business school and learn something practical that can lead to a job!
Yeah, probably wrong forum for that quote, it's a bit of inside baseball, but the joke is that while most can imagine cache invalidation to be really hard, how hard can naming stuff be? Turns out that many a project has failed or gone into deep remediation because nobody thought to build in decent naming conventions.
hoover
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#415

Post by hoover »

DannyWalter wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:32 pm
HunterX wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 7:28 pm
DannyWalter wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:56 pm
5 weeks of lost revenue woud have put us out of business. We were only down a couple of hours. But we were living in fear that it might happen again. Turns out it was an issue with application cache, of which there is a famous quote from Phil Karlton, one of the original Netscape guys, that I have found to be very true. "There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things."
I'll have to take your word (and Phil Karlton's) for it.

Or I'll ask my son, computer science undergrad and currently programmer for a web-based company, or my ex-wife, computer science PhD and long-time project manager in artificial intelligence. I have to go to them for all things having to do with computer programming.

On the other hand, for all computer things related to Excel spreadsheets and using VB code with them, they have to come to me, the Philosophy major.

And if you're scratching your head on that one, ask yourself this: How does a Philosophy major earn a living? Answer: Go to business school and learn something practical that can lead to a job!
Yeah, probably wrong forum for that quote, it's a bit of inside baseball, but the joke is that while most can imagine cache invalidation to be really hard, how hard can naming stuff be? Turns out that many a project has failed or gone into deep remediation because nobody thought to build in decent naming conventions.
Corollaries collected by Martin Fowler:
  • There are 2 hard problems in computer science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-1 errors. -- Leon Bambrick
  • There are only two hard problems in distributed systems: 2. Exactly-once delivery 1. Guaranteed order of messages 2. Exactly-once delivery -- Mathias Verraes
  • there's two hard problems in computer science: we only have one joke and it's not funny. -- Phillip Scott Bowden
  • There are so many variations on the “there are only two hard problems in computer programming...” joke that I’m starting to suspect that programming isn’t actually very easy. -- Nat Pryce
boharr
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#416

Post by boharr »

Al: "The title made me instantly think of the periodic table."

Me: "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."

And right there is one probable difference between page 1 and Page 3.
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BarbaraK
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#417

Post by BarbaraK »

femullen wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:19 pm
There's a story told of Charles Steinmetz, GE's electrical wizard a century or so ago. Called to diagnose a malfunctioning piece of equipment, he arrived at the client's site, fiddled around briefly, then chalked a big letter X on the machine. That's where the problem is, he asserted, and handed the client a bill for $1000.

"A thousand dollars!" the client gasped. "How can you charge a thousand dollars for making an X?"

"Only one dollar for making the X," Steinmetz replied, "the rest for knowing where to make it."
This reminds me of the time management decided they needed to figure out how much time it took to write each line of code so they could better estimate projects. This might be possible when you’re writing a new program, not so much when you’re fixing old ones.

How long does it take to change > to>= ? Not long at all. How long to find that it needs to be changed? Totally depends on the rest of the program. Could be minutes; could be weeks.
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SReh26
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#418

Post by SReh26 »

Wrought iron, gold, silver and lead
Fill my thoughts as I go to bed
Although the evening may be dreary
Give a thought to Madame Curie

Mind on my meta, meta on my mind*
Such smart people, polite and kind
A mug for Bob, and honor too
Bob, we thank you for all that you do.

(with apologies to the singer of Mind on my Money, Money on my Mind)
woozy
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#419

Post by woozy »

LadyBird wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:58 pm
woozy wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:42 am



(And I have no idea if that is what Al did.... but I can [barely, just barely] conceive someone doing it.)
That is a brilliant strategy, but I don't think that I could do it. I'm too OCD--I need to fill out the whole grid. So I may get the occasional page 1, but that will prevent me getting the #1 spot.
Me too. I don't even *try* to think about the meta until I have a full grid and then ... I don't *try* I just look and feel and feel... and then I start to think. And I'll never get anything above a page 12.... (then again that *isn't* my goal).

But if someone is going to accuse someone of lying and claim its impossible to do it in eight minutes.... Well, no, it's *not* impossible. It's not easy and its utterly remarkable but accusation of lying are... well... libelous.

And if the complaint is you can barely get the grid much less the meta in eight minutes.... well theoretically you don't need to get the grid...
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mntlblok
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#420

Post by mntlblok »

This reminds me of the time management decided they needed to figure out how much time it took to write each line of code so they could better estimate projects. This might be possible when you’re writing a new program, not so much when you’re fixing old ones.

How long does it take to change > to>= ? Not long at all. How long to find that it needs to be changed? Totally depends on the rest of the program. Could be minutes; could be weeks.
>>>>>>>>>>

Found it fascinating back when my wife explained to me that she enjoyed programming because "it's like working puzzles". :-)
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