puzzle untimed; meta DNF (Matt)
Season 2, Episode 4 of the MMMM. I blazed through the year’s first three metas but this one has got me stumped so far. Think I’ve got all the hints but can’t come up with the song; let’s see if the pressure of high-stakes blogging shakes the answer loose.
The puzzle title is “Down and Dirty,” and instructions ask for a song released in the ’70s that didn’t become a hit until much later. While solving I couldn’t clearly differentiate between theme and fill: there are two 15’s (unusual to see them in the 7th and 9th rows like that), but then four 9’s across and two down, so not sure what’s what.
I began my meta-hunt with something that stuck out as odd as I was solving: BLAND and ADELA in the Southeast could easily have been improved by becoming BLEND and ADELE, the latter being the pop star. This is especially obvious since Pete clued ADELA as [Classical pianist Verne, whose name differs from that of a pop star by a single letter]. So why didn’t he make that simple edit?
A little more grid-scanning brought out the common denominator on what I assume will turn out to be the six theme entries: LANDO, COLANDERS, CRUEL AND UNUSUAL, NEW SCOTLAND YARD, PHILANDER, and the aforementioned BLAND each conceal the word LAND. So that’s why he couldn’t go with BLEND/ADELE. The LANDS also move progressively left-to-right and downward from the NW corner to the SE.
So, what 1970s song that later became a hit does this point to? I have no idea. A good idea when you have no idea is to look at the title: “Down and Dirty.” When I saw the LANDs going across the grid my image was of a plane LANDing, but the title suggests that we might be using LAND as in “soil” or “earth”; the “Down” part of the title is general downward path of the LANDs, and if it’s soil we’re talking about then that’s the “Dirty” part. That sounds plausible, but I still don’t know what song it points to.
I’ve spent some time brainstorming titles with “land,” “earth,” “soil,” and “farm” but to no avail. Maybe those LANDs go across just as much as they do down, so something with a phrase like “across the land” in it? Seems tenuous. Now that I consider it, it seems more likely that LAND itself is in the song title/lyrics than a synonym like earth or soil.
Stumped solvers sometimes grumble about the leaderboard on my site for a reason I’ve thought was odd until now: it’s aggravating as hell when you’re stumped to check the leaderboard and see that a lot of people have already gotten it. I used to tell people to just not check it but now I understand that you’ve got to know how many have solved this meta that you just can’t see and it’s so MADDENING!
Alright, in desperation I just showed the meta to my wife, who naturally got it in around five seconds (no joke).
Me: “It’s a song from the 70s, there’s these six LANDs in there, going down like this.”
I was ridiculously close, having considered the idea of a visual image formed by the LANDS and come up with “Landfall,” “Earthfall” and “Skyfall” none of which makes any sense. But the idea of an avalanche or a landslide didn’t strike me. Oof.
It goes without saying that the meta was completely fair — the song is very well-known and as soon as Kristin said the word “Landslide” it clicked right away as being correct. Bravo to those who got it; I’m sure it feels much better than the gut-wrenching self-loathing myself and this guy and probably others are going through for missing it.
And Bravo to Pete for ruining not only my weekend with the meta itself but also perhaps tomorrow with the ensuing internally-directed rage. Grrrrrr…eat job, Pete, seriously. Bummed to lose my streak while it’s still Spring, but them’s the breaks. I’ll see everyone back here in a month.