Muller Monthly Music Meta , December — “You Don’t Hear That Very Often”

puzzle untimed; meta DNF (Matt) 

27 minutes to deadline and I’ve got no clue about this year-end finale to the Muller Monthly Music Meta. Neither do many of you, I’m guessing, since the scoreboard shows just 13 correct entries. Let me tell you some dead ends I’ve traveled.

First I free-scanned the grid since that worked so well last month, but nothing jumped out. There’s just one theme entry in the grid and there’s an unusually high amount of suboptimal fill for just the one. Add in the many circumscribed little areas and it seems highly probable that the author is concealing ten words in the grid somehow. I say ten because that one theme entry, WHO SAID IT, is clued as [What you have to figure out 10 times to get the meta], and there are about 10 of those little nooks hiding around the grid where you stuff a word. So in 20 minutes I expect to see 10 somethings pop out of the solution grid.

Just now I started trying to guess the most likely sounding words in each area of the grid (most likely to be in a song lyric, say) and came up with LONE DANCE WARD ALL BIG CLOWN ROSS PIGTAILS THE. Not setting off any alarm bells.

Other stuff I’ve tried: looking for the word “it” ten times in the clues; checking out albums by The Who, since contest instructions ask for an album from a band that’s been on “The Simpsons” and The Who has, and there they are right in the grid’s only theme entry. That could be a coincidence but maybe not; my random guess in a few minutes is going to be a Who album.

One weird thing in the clues I forgot to mention is this curious trio:

25-d [“We Got ___ Love” (9th song on Mary J. Blige’s 9th album)] = HOOD

26-d [“We ___ Fall in Love Sometimes” (9th song on Elton John’s 9th album)] = ALL

37-d [“___ Me” (9th song on the Foo Fighters’ “Greatest Hits”)] = BIG

That’s some weird “9th song” action; if this doesn’t have something to do with the meta it would certainly raise an eyebrow. But I tried all the logical things (looking for 9th albums, albums with 9th in the title, etc.) and nothing happened.

10 minutes left. Time for one final look.

That “9th” deal has to mean something. Not seeing it. Someone tell me in comments what I missed. Can’t wait to see how close (or not) I was.

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20 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta , December — “You Don’t Hear That Very Often”

  1. Pete Muller says:

    As Matt said, only 13 correct this month. I just posted a hint at which I will repeat here:

    Put an asterisk in front of the following across clues: 1, 10, 18, 19, 23, 49, 54, 56, 61, and 63.

  2. Neil says:

    With that hint, I realized that the first word in each clue is rather unique. Before seeing the hint, I knew Nabokov, Colitas, and Scaramouche, but didn’t pick up on the clues being the gateway. I thought about The Police, The Eagles, and Queen, but other than Sting being on the show, had nowhere to move. But with the clues laid out, you can create Picaresque from the first letter of each artist. That is a wonderful album by The Decemberists and is in a song by Panic! at the Disco, but neither has been on The Simpsons. So, again I’m stuck.

    Anyone want to move the ball further?

      • Neil says:


        Trusted in Wikipedia actually listing The Decemberists, instead of just Colin Meloy’s name. Well, I don’t feel horrible, since I didn’t get it in the first place. You have no idea how much time I spent searching for lyrics that had the phrase “Notch up” or “Pnin” or “Saccharin.” I had the right general idea, but I thought it was going to be rare words from the answers, not the clues. Because there were a lot of “rare word” answers :)

    • Justin Rinehold says:

      When you say “the first letter of each artist,” where did you pull these 10 artists from? It seems that they can’t be from the starred clues since Nabokov starts with N.

      I actually believed I had the correct answer in Quadrophenia. I’m used to submitting incorrect guesses, but I “knew” this one was right. It turns out that the 9th song on The Who’s 9th album has the word “it” repeated exactly 10 times. If that’s not the correct answer, it’s the reddest herring I’ve ever eaten.

      • Neil says:

        Nabokov is in “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police

        Colitas is in “Hotel California” by The Eagles

        Scaramouche is in “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen

        If you search for the other 7 first words of the starred clues, you can find the songs by famous artists that correspond. In order they will be The Police, Indigo Girls, Carly Simon, Alanis Morisette, The Rolling Stones, can’t remember E right now, Simon & Garfunkel, Queen, U2, and Elton John. First letters make Picaresque.

  3. Abide says:

    First of all, let me say your stuff is great. But wow, this is like a week 5 to the tenth power. I can’t fathom how 13 people could get there. If this was supposed to separate the pack, mission accomplished. I’ve never heard of the band, the album, or recognize any of those names as being in a lyric other than Scaramouche. And how I would have picked out those ten clues is beyond me. Here’s one problem…they aren’t even on this list

    so it’s basically impossible to back solve. Sonic Youth (in the grid) was on the list and they have a 10 letter album. But for this I was expecting a well known group and album, so I didn’t even submit. I think the asterisks should have been included from the start; without them is borderline sadistic.

    Aerosmith did have an album Nine Lives (ps to Matt)

    • Pete Muller says:

      1 – Thanks!
      2 – This was definitely meant to separate the pack – if it weren’t the last regular puzzle of the year, I would have included the asterisks.
      3 – “The Simpsons” reference was there to help people confirm their answer…not for any back-solving help. It (accidentally I confess) also served to eliminate Panic! at the Disco.

  4. Giovanni P. says:

    You know, I had the right idea on this one…too bad I forgot to actually finish solving it. Ah well, I can finish out the year on a high note at least with the mega-meta.

    Also Pete, I’m glad you announced another 2013 MMMM on your website….but it’s going to be a bit on the short side :P.

  5. Abby B says:

    I only ran down a few dead ends before I got this one. Maybe if the title had been “Where Have I Heard That Before?” it would’ve been easier for folks, but maybe not since respondents so far have said they didn’t know many of the songs.

    The key clues have symmetrical answers in the diagram too, which might help if there were a few you were having trouble finding. I missed two symmetrical ones on my first run through, so it didn’t help me too much. :-)

    • Chris Popp says:

      Thanks for pointing out the symmetrical entries. That had not occurred to me, and I was wondering how Pete had gone about constructing the grid.

      My points of entry for this one were ‘Scaramouche’ and ‘catorce’. I noticed them dimly my first time through the puzzle on Tuesday. But when I came back to it Thursday night, they really stood out and I got on track with finding other rarely heard words in the Across clues. Originally I had the entries out of order and I was looking for an anagram, something including request or square or something. But once I put them in order, Picaresque came clear.

      I really appreciated that Pete had all the key clues begin with the unusual words. This made it possible for me to find the ones I was missing when I had seven out of ten. And a lot of the songs referenced are really great! (Closer to Fine, Cloudy, Tiny Dancer, etc.)

      All in all, I thought this was a tough, elegant meta where the solver definitely benefited from having a good knowledge base in pop music.

  6. jefe says:

    Hi Pete – where can I find the solution to “Magic Trick”?

    • Pete Muller says:

      I haven’t posted it yet –

      will do so before the end of the year….email me if you are desperate for it before then…

  7. sandirhodes says:

    I have all of the respect in the world for Matt Gaffney, but it SURE feels good finding out how mortal he is on the other side of the fence! JK, bud.

  8. Pete Muller says:


  9. Patrick L says:

    Ah, this was a good one. In retrospect I did notice the musical connections with Nabokov, Scaramouche, catorce, colitas, etc. – but I just thought Pete was just making the clues music-related because that what he does. It’s like trying to detect something fishy in a seafood restaurant.

    Unfortunately for me my Decembers are always slammed with preparations for holiday music events, so if the hardest MMMMs will always be in December I just won’t have the time to devote to them. But I really enjoy the series. Looking forward to the next batch.

    • Pete Muller says:

      thanks Patrick – I appreciate it

      My year end is equally slammed. Maybe I should start and end the contest in August…

      I gotta say I’m a little bummed that 3 people gave the puzzle 2 stars…(maybe I’m still coming off my high from last month’s ratings)…anyone care to elaborate?

      • Neil says:


        Thanks for writing Decembers several times :)

        That made me even more happy with the meta. And something I should have thought about for two seconds previously. Makes total sense now.

  10. Bencoe says:

    I especially liked seeing “NO WAVE” in the grid as a fan of the often ignored or maligned style.
    But I would argue that Sonic Youth, although the most famous band to come out of the scene (for good reason), marked the end of no wave music and a transition to other musical realms rather than its epitome.
    Tough meta.

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