7 minutes (Matt)
May 1st marked the launch of the Muller Monthly Music Meta (MMMM), which I’ll be Fiend-blogging each month as the contest deadline passes. If you haven’t already signed up, strongly consider doing so here.
Matt Gaffney’s review
Pete tells us that his inaugural meta answer is one of the top 500 rock and roll songs of all time (according to Rolling Stone magazine). The solve was pretty breezy (about 7 minutes) and there were some nice clues along the way like [Place with lots of cabs] for NAPA and [Leaves the country?] for SECEDES.
First place to meta-hunt is the theme answers, so let’s see what we’ve got:
- 21-a. [Movie character who uttered the line “Everything I found out, I want to forget”] = JASON BOURNE
- 32-a. [Beloved movie character with a high-pitched “voice”] =ARTOO DETOO
- 41-a. [“High Fidelity” author] = NICK HORNBY. Excellent movie; couldn’t recall the author’s name though.
- 51-a. [Female half of PETA’s “Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrities” of 2010] = OLIVIA WILDE.
Which top 500 song do these point to? A little trial-and-error produced some dead ends, but then I noticed that BOURNE is the word “born” if you say it aloud, which is promising. The last syllable of R2D2 is the word “to,” also helpful. Then the second syllable of HORNBY is “be,” and the last syllable of OLIVIA WILDE is of course “wild.” Which gives us the song right there: Steppenwolf’s rock anthem BORN TO BE WILD, which is May’s Muller Meta answer.
- When I got HEY DUDE at 23-across I was sure it was part of the meta. I mean, it’s only one letter off from the #8 song on Rolling Stone’s list.
- The puzzle’s title, “Bonfire Song,” refers to the song’s author, one Mars Bonfire. Obscurish reference, but it didn’t give anything away, and now you and I have both heard of him.
- WIG OUT, HOEDOWN, MASERATI, ECOSYSTEMS, EARNED RUNS, SMITHERS and ZIGGY (clued to Bob Marley’s son in a music puzzle, of course, instead of the comic strip) are all things you want in your crossword.
- Speaking of which, notice the high overall music content in the grid. I count 27 such entries including [REM ___] for SLEEP, a cute way to sneak that band into the clues. Only one of the four theme entries was music-related, but they were all at least entertainment industry-related, which works fine. There are enough constraints on the idea — song title with all one-syllable words, must be a very famous song, song words must be the last syllable of the entry, syllable cannot spelled the same way as the word, letters in phrases must offset each other for symmetry — that 100% music-relatedness as well would be unlikely.
- OLDE clued at 46-a as [Word often seen in a gothic font] is an excellent example of a meh entry rejuvenated by a sly clue.
- Pete is intentionally making the first couple of metas on the easy side, so if you found this to be a walk in the park then note that they’ll gradually be getting tougher.
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? An exciting addition to the Crucisphere. “Hey, June” — I’ll see you then for the next MMMM. “Hey, joon” — I blog a meta-contest now, too.
hey, matt. how are you?
A little embarrassed at the moment, joon. Pete e-mailed that I’d missed an extra something in the grid, and now I see it.
Wait, what? Huh. Would you look at that. STEP PENN WOLFE, clear as day.
Hidden in plain sight, as in Poe’s famous crossword mystery “The Purloined Meta.”
Matt – thanks very much for doing this and for the initial inspiration. I received 223 correct answers for the first puzzle which made me very happy. I also got lots of great feedback from solvers – people seem to really like doing metas. I think you missed your opportunity – instead of calling it a “meta” you could have called it a “Gaffney” and lived forever…
I also got a little distracted by HEYDUDE, which has the J sitting right on top of it, too. ZIGGY Stardust was another song on the list, FWIW.
Well, put me in Matt’s corner. I also completely missed the Step Penn Wolfe blazing at us across the top, but did get the meta. That’s an album my husband and I played a lot way back when–I am much older than you youngsters who work these puzzles in 2 or 3 minutes!
It was the STEP PENN WOLFE that pointed me to the answer! Had to put the puzzle down a couple times before that finally jumped out at me. The rest was easy.