"Following Directions" - May 14, 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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Scott M
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#361

Post by Scott M »

mitchel674 wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 7:40 am But what was the point of the starred clues? Several of them don't even figure into the solution. Were they just distractors?

Even with the "solution" laid out, I'm still not seeing the path as to why the specific letters were selected.
The answers to the starred clues were the key to the entire puzzle. Starting in Square One (per 13D), you needed to follow the directions in 17A, DRSEUSS. That is start in Square One, then go Down, Right, South, East, Up, South, and South, leading to the second E in EYE. From there, repeat the process for the other starred answers.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
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sf592000
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#362

Post by sf592000 »

Well, like some others, my feeling was correct, to start with the top NW corner and move along the 'directions' in the starred clues. Even noting the abnormal amount of D's, I couldn't get past only using NSWE -- only to provide gibberish. Alas (37A), hopefully next week!
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Bird Lives
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#363

Post by Bird Lives »

DrTom wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 8:26 am I mistook the " in 36A "Surely you can't think I did it" to be an asterisk.
I have made the same mistake many times -- seeing the ASCII quotation mark as an asterisk. I have to either finally go in for that cataract surgery or remember to embiggen the screen.
Jay
boharr
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#364

Post by boharr »

zacmoretz wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 8:56 am I don’t think you’re being honest if you call that only 3 1/2 stars. I think there is some “solver’s bias” in the rating system... 5+ for me.
There is a solvers' bias. All the page-one pros rating puzzles at one star. There is a simple solution: more people need to rate the puzzles.
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Joe Ross
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#365

Post by Joe Ross »

Bird Lives wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:10 am embiggen
Consider this beauty enstolen.
boharr
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#366

Post by boharr »

DrTom writes above: "I took the directions and wrote them on a separate piece of paper."

This was a god send. If you'd highlighted the themers, they got in the way of counting (at least for those of us who are directionally challenged). If you wrote the directions on a separate sheet of paper, the "map" was easier to follow.
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Bird Lives
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#367

Post by Bird Lives »

Laura M wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 12:33 am After getting lost several times trying to figure out if "square one" referred to the first square of each theme word, or 1 in the grid, or ONE in the grid, or what, I simplified the directions to be less meandering:

DR SEUSS: 3D, 2R
SLURRED: 1D, 2R
REEDS: 2D, 3R
DRESS: 3D, 2R
WELDS: 2D, 1L
DRESDEN: 2D, 3R
DENUDED: 1D, 2R

which made things much easier! (Still took some time before I got it right though, I was stuck on the idea that there must be independent starting points for each path.)
Brilliant. It reminds me of my freshman physics class. The prof taught a lot of vector analysis. On the final exam, a couple of the problems were quick and easy if you reduced things to vectors but very difficult otherwise. Unfortunately, I had missed most of those classes — the course met at 9 in the morning — and flunked the final. But I did learn to appreciate the concept.
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Gman
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#368

Post by Gman »

I learned the hard way that the ratings, especially if logged in as a guest, will systematically make you feel dumb. I was lucky enough to see the CLUE that said start at Square ONE and got this one fast. This one would have been way beyond me in the past. Sometimes it pops out, sometimes you chase a million rabbits. I think that's why I keep coming back 😜
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Bird Lives
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#369

Post by Bird Lives »

Joe Ross wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:14 am
Bird Lives wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:10 am embiggen
Consider this beauty enstolen.
It's not my coinage. You've been watching the wrong TV shows. This wasn't on British Bake-Off.(Push the slider to 0:50 if you're in a hurry). Or just read the top of the screen.
.
Jay
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Joe Ross
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#370

Post by Joe Ross »

Bird Lives wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:22 am
Joe Ross wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:14 am
Bird Lives wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:10 am embiggen
Consider this beauty enstolen.
It's not my coinage. You've been watching the wrong TV shows. This wasn't on British Bake-Off.(Push the slider to 0:50 if you're in a hurry). Or just read the top of the screen.
.
I stopped watching British baking shows when Nigella Lawson's dresses akin to 'Lucille's', in Cool Hand Luke, became less cromulent(corrected).

(I'd post the YouTube video, but want to make muggles work to understand how vapid I can be. ;) )
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camandsampowercouple
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#371

Post by camandsampowercouple »

boharr wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 8:50 am
Abide wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 12:24 am If you don’t see the signaling clue at 13-D, it’s impossible. IMO that clue should have read more like “Square____(good place to begin following directions)”
Mike's done this before. On the RICHARD III puzzle, once I figured out what to do, I didn't know where to begin. After looking at the grid for what seemed like hours, I saw the word START sitting right there toward the bottom. Duh. Lesson learned. When he uses the word "start," listen up.
Omg I remember that puzzle destroying me all weekend :lol:
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femullen
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#372

Post by femullen »

First thing I noticed Thursday afternoon was an overabundance of letter Ds. (CallMeShane does the full Fourier analysis, above.) Thinking "Directions," I looked for and at once found the full set, DULR. This led down the first rabbit hole of working just with those directions. I gave this up quickly, however, when, at three bells of the first dogwatch, She Whom I Gladly Obey piped call-to-cocktails on the fo'c'sle.

Resuming during Friday's lunch break I noticed the remaining letters were NEWS. Like others, I tried starting from the first letter of the first theme answer and came up with gibberish. But then I recalled that some metas have a hint to the starting point buried in the puzzle, which quickly indicated 13D. One more rabbit hole: I tried starting from Square 1 using just the NEWS directions and just the DULR directions and got two sequences of gibberish. I put them both together at that point and came up with MEANDERS with enough time left in the half hour to finish my sandwich and a cuppa.

Easy peasy, right? Master puzzler, right?

Not so fast. I remind myself that only two other Muggles remained aboard ship with me last week, and they only stayed off the beach to avoid sunburn. I'm the guy who couldn't come up with Reese Witherspoon even though I had HERSPOON staring at me, and even though brand-new newbie meta-puzzlers got it in five minutes. It is also reported that a Boston toddler solved it while idly chewing a binkie, requiring only instruction from her mother on how to pronounce the digraph T-H.

I revel just for today. Thursday, only three days off, will bring another slice of humble pie.
For nudges, feel free to PM me. I won't have a clue how to help you, but you just might shove me ashore.
michaelm
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#373

Post by michaelm »

Bird Lives wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:10 am
DrTom wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 8:26 am I mistook the " in 36A "Surely you can't think I did it" to be an asterisk.
I have made the same mistake many times -- seeing the ASCII quotation mark as an asterisk. I have to either finally go in for that cataract surgery or remember to embiggen the screen.
I had the same issue with last week's Muggle Meta Monday.
Maybe we can get a group discount on surgery or large screen monitors? :roll:
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TMart
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#374

Post by TMart »

Again, very Shenky. Mike's done this type of thing before, I think with both chess and checkers, and movement through the whole grid. The key is knowing where to start, and whether or not to use the black squares. Luckily, I noticed 13-D right away, and my first attempt (with black squares) worked.
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802puzzler
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#375

Post by 802puzzler »

I got the "M", but fortunately didn't spend my whole weekend working on this as it would have been fruitless! Had a hard time even understanding the published solution this morning, until I read all your solution (and rabbit hole) posts here!

Kudos to all who solved!
Ergcat
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#376

Post by Ergcat »

Joe Ross wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:14 am
Bird Lives wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 9:10 am embiggen
Consider this beauty enstolen.
I was playing “Upwords” ( like scrabble but you can build words up too) this weekend with my kids. I used the word “Demold” ( as in demold a house that is riddled with mold), it was challenged... alas, it’s not in the dictionary. But they gave it to me when I showed them this week’s grid with the starred clue “denuded”!
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jenirvin
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#377

Post by jenirvin »

Never got back to the puzzle this weekend with several emergencies popping up, however, I'm not sure that even though I saw what to do and where to start, that I would have realized to stop at the correct letters. Very clever and kudos to all who made it ashore.
~ Jennifer/jenirvin
mitchel674
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#378

Post by mitchel674 »

Scott M wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 8:57 am
mitchel674 wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 7:40 am But what was the point of the starred clues? Several of them don't even figure into the solution. Were they just distractors?

Even with the "solution" laid out, I'm still not seeing the path as to why the specific letters were selected.
The answers to the starred clues were the key to the entire puzzle. Starting in Square One (per 13D), you needed to follow the directions in 17A, DRSEUSS. That is start in Square One, then go Down, Right, South, East, Up, South, and South, leading to the second E in EYE. From there, repeat the process for the other starred answers.
I see it now. Thanks!
EVJ
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#379

Post by EVJ »

TPS wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 8:24 am I didn't look at the puzzle until yesterday afternoon - fortunately didn't spend too much time on it because it was a terrible puzzle. I've spent 15 minutes this morning with the answer trying to make it work and still can't.
TPS I feel your pain. Boharr had to point out EVERYTHING to me for me to get it. There were so many possibilities that even knowing the mechanism and the starting point one could still misinterpret. The explanation in today’s paper is like the third nudge I got that I still could not apply correctly. It was a very advanced puzzle in my opinion. So many steps!! I’m glad you didn’t waste your weekend but much can be learned from understanding where the answer came from.
MatthewL
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#380

Post by MatthewL »

A challenging meta, to be sure. Interestingly, I had kind of fixated on "meanders" as the possible solution very early on. I saw 13D and figured you had to start with the "m" in Square 1, and thought of 8 letter words that might have some directional component (or the opposite thereof), and "meanders" sort of leapt to mind. But I couldn't make it work, as I kept making the same false starts others have mentioned (only looking at the NSEW letters, and then skipping over the black squares). But then I went back to basics -- if a clue is starred, then the whole word is usually relevant (not just some random subset of letters therein), and maybe one shouldn't ignore the black squares in this type of maze-type puzzle. Once I did that, and got from M to E to A, I knew I was on the right track, and that my initial guess was right (which was kind of satisfying).
Matthew
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