Muller Monthly Music Meta, April

puzzle untimed; meta DNF (Matt) 

In Other Words (open)

This is a placeholder post until I get my review up of the April Muller Meta, entitled “In Other Words…” Even with the hint I wasn’t able to crack this month, so Pete or someone else please let us know in comments what rock hit from the past 5 years I couldn’t make from theme entries HALFTIME / IN A MINUTE and BONO MOVE / STAGE LEFT.

UPDATE, 4/7, 10:15 AM ET: Alright, now that I see the answer I feel like I should’ve gotten it. I missed both insights, either of which would’ve given me the meta (that “Half Time in a Minute” points to “30 Seconds” and that “Bono Move Stage Left” was going for another U2 band member).

For the first part I thought it was a cryptic crossword clue so I kept trying to make something out of two letters in TIME and putting it in a word for “moment.” So I Googled for a band called “Section D” (SEC (TI) OND) since TI is half of TIME and “second” can mean “moment.”

For the second part I tried reversing the letters in BONO (stage left = reverse the letters?) but got nowhere. Among many other wrong paths I also tried using his real name for various things (Paul Hewson) and using “Sonny” as in “Sonny Bono.”

Totally fair meta, and again, if I’d cracked either half of it that would’ve led me to the other half quickly. But in the end I have to utter that most lamentable of meta laments: “I just didn’t see it.”

4.00 stars. There goes my perfect year.

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33 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, April

  1. Pete Muller says:

    ‘Closer To The Edge’ by ’30 Seconds to Mars’

    55 correct answers this month

  2. Bencoe says:

    Although I often do the meta puzzles for fun, this was my first official contest entry. Good week to start! Did not know the song, but thought of The Edge almost right away. The tough part was figuring out how “Mars” referred to Bruno Mars in last Superbowl’s halftime show.

  3. Abide says:

    Was not familiar with song or band, but after scouring top 100 rock hits for something Bruno related, this band jumped out at me. Watched the video and thought “that lead singer looks familiar”. Good job, Pete!

    • Pete Muller says:


      was getting a little discouraged with the first two “hater” ratings (negative ratings without comments)

      I know that some people haven’t heard of the song (or don’t know the band/song name), but it’s pretty accessible through a bit of googling

      • JustinR says:

        Never heard of it, but I remember coming across it in one of the top 100 lists from 09-13. I was looking for any band name relating to time, so I spent a moment on this one, but I couldn’t come up with anything beyond “half a minute” and I have no idea which of their songs I happened to find next to the band name. (Were they a one-hit wonder? That would narrow it down!)

        Regarding the fictitious comments, isn’t it standard to end their clues with a question mark?

  4. JustinR says:

    You have no idea how long I spent wondering how I could hear a song named “One” at an Up Concert or what Oki Pants are and why Whistler’s Mother was wearing them. Those are both Porsches!

  5. DaveB says:

    I didn’t get it because I have never heard of the song or group. (I’m giving away my age!) I knew “The Edge” had to be in there somewhere – but the answer never materialized. I don’t feel so dumb cause Matt didn’t get it either! Thank you Pete for an entertaining challenge. I love the Meta puzzles. I wish other top constructors did more of them.

  6. DBraun91 says:

    Ugh. Was going to submit Closer to the Edge-30 Seconds to Mars as soon as I saw the hint. The 30 Seconds to Mars was pretty clear to me but I wasn’t really sure how Bono Move Stage Left can be rephrased to Closer to the Edge. Other than the fact that moving stage left may put you closer to the edge of the stage, what happens to the Bono part? Why is Bono even necessary then? While saying Halftime in a Moment (specifically at the 2014 Superbowl where Bruno Mars performed) can make the same amount of sense if someone else said “30 seconds to Mars”, Closer to the Edge can really apply to anything. So, I just wasn’t sure enough on the Closer to the Edge part to feel confident submitting that as my answer. Now, I still don’t know why I didn’t put that down as my educated guess…I usually do guess if I don’t get anything else, so thats my fault.

  7. Pete Muller says:

    (channeling Matt Gaffney)

    Anyone who submitted a low rating care to elaborate on what you didn’t like?
    I really try to make the solving experience fun for people even if they don’t get the meta, so please let me know!

    I know some people might not have heard of the song or band…Googling MARS EDGE (or even BRUNO MARS EDGE) brings it up…

    • Bencoe says:

      (ha! I’ve experienced that.)
      I think the low ratings are a combination of sour grapes and people not liking modern rock, particularly of the mainstream 30 seconds to Mars type. The kind of band that sounded dated when they hit the scene, but were saved by Jared Leto’s presence as frontman. People should know the band for him, if nothing else, to be fair.
      I didn’t know the name of the song, but googling “the edge modern rock hit” brought it up quickly.
      Also, the low ratings in general can be attributed to the same syndrome that accounts for the high ratings in general for most metas–people rate meta puzzles not based on the crossword grid experience, but on the meta solve. If they like that “aha” moment when they get the meta, high rating automatically. If not, low rating automatically. It’s not fair, but it cuts both ways, and usually towards the positive.

  8. Paul Coulter says:

    I’ve been an admirer of Pete’s metas, but this wasn’t among my favorites. It’s clever in retrospect, and I have no problem with the technique, which seemed clear enough from just the title, but I reached my googling limit after trying umpteen readings of the comments. That’s what happens when one’s currency with rock music ended at about the time of grunge — my fault, not Pete’s, in other words.

  9. Cyrano says:

    Well, as someone whose musical taste doesn’t go much later than Mahler and Strauss, I figure I should speak up in defense of the meta. Seeing “rock hit from the past 5 years,” I knew I would have no idea where to start and after finishing the puzzle I was correct and kind of gave up for the week. When the hint was offered, I gladly took it. At that point it only took about ten minutes of Googling top rock hits from the past five years until I found the answer. Yes, I had to know that The Edge is the guitarist of U2 (which was accomplished by living through the 1980s and 1990s) and yes I somehow was aware that Bruno Mars played the Super Bowl (despite not watching the game the gagillion dollars of advertising and hype that went into the event achieved its goal). Totally fair meta, and excellent new conceit in the reworking of the band name and song title.

  10. Abby says:

    I guessed the method immediately and walked around like an idiot for a couple of days chanting the theme phrases until I figured out the first one. I haven’t seen the hint yet, but my problem was not knowing if they both formed part of a lyric or a song title or what. Once I identified the function of the first, the second came easily (even though I don’t think I know that song).

    • Pete Muller says:

      The hint:

      The two comments can be rephrased to give a band name and a song title.

    • Pete Muller says:

      The Edge is almost always stage right. But STAGE LEFT worked much better for the grid and I did find one photo with him on the other side after searching, so I thought I could get away with it. I did count on this crowd pointing that out!

  11. dave glasser says:

    Somehow, I solved it (post hint), but for almost entirely the wrong reason. My logic, as sent to Pete in the comment form:

    “Not really sure what’s going on. I sure want 30D to be ENDURRUN, but that spells BRUNNOMOVE for 52A with two Ns, which doesn’t make much sense. Anyway, “In a moment Bruno” sounds sort of the like “30 seconds to Mars”, and “move stage left” is sort of like Closer to the Edge?”

    I entirely missed that the second comment was not 2014 specific.

    I actually spent a while on this tangent: OK, there’s rebus square
    with ‘RUN’ in it, and one with 2. The 17A clue mentions Springsteen,
    Prince, and Beyonce; Springsteen and Prince have very well known songs
    with RUN and 2 in the titles. So somewhere else in the grid is a
    rebus with a word from a Beyonce song, and there’s a song I don’t know
    about from the last five years called “RUN 2 something”…

  12. dave glasser says:

    Oh gosh, the choreographer’s comment was a t a 45-across, not a 17-across. OK, that makes a whole that more sense now!

  13. Giovanni P. says:

    Yeah, I wasn’t getting that, even with the hint, and even if I wasn’t working on other puzzle stuff (Puzzle Boat II, Patrick Blindauer’s Puzzlefest, etc.) Until next month Pete.

  14. Matthew G. says:

    Happy to explain my vote. I gave this a low rating, and I do think it’s my first-ever low rating for a MMMM puzzle, most of which I really like.

    I did not like this one because I thought the rephrasing trick combined with a song and artist I have never heard of made it too unsolvable. Pete’s comment above notwithstanding, it’s not clear to me how Googling would help here, since to Google you need to have at least a toehold on what to search for. Even with the hint, there are so many ways to rephrase a funny phrase, that I had no clue where to begin.

    Count me among those who have never heard of either the song or the artist in the answer. I think this might have worked well with a band and song name that are well known, because the phrase might vaguely stir a reaction inside you (“hmm, that’s like an awkwardly worded version of “__”). I think either the answer or the trick here could have worked, but combined, I think they qualify as too obscure.

  15. Stribbs says:

    Stage left is the left side of the stage as you face the audience. The Edge is almost always stage right. Adam Clayton is stage left. This is why I didn’t get it! I kid.

    I said pssssh after seeing the answer at first, but in retrospect I’ll vote that it’s fair and interesting. I got caught trying to get too literal in the paraphrasing, then tried to think of words that translate to “bono” in a foreign language. Totally missed that it asked for a very specific Super Bowl, and was just thinking of halftime as a generic break. And then I figured I probably didn’t know the song (which I didn’t) and really didn’t know what to Google to get ideas beyond Billboard charts, which were just a sea of names. But ultimately it’s neat that you actually had to use music knowledge to get there, since it is supposed to be about the music as much as wordmongering.

  16. Patrick L says:

    I thought it was a good concept, cluing the band and song name with separate theme entry clusters. I didn’t get it however. It looks like the 1st theme cluster was doubly clever – 30 seconds being ‘half [of] [the amount of] time in a minute’ and halftime also referring to [Bruno] Mars. The 2nd theme cluster didn’t click as well – stage left is only hypothetically closer to The Edge. And in reality Edge is usually on Bono’s right.

    I think it’s about a 3.5 star meta for me, even though I didn’t know the song. I think in every other MMMM I’ve known the song. I gravitated towards songs I knew, like “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” even though the clue said ‘minute.’ I also thought of the song Invisible, debuted by U2 at the Super Bowl. I was also hearing Beyoncé singing Irreplaceable with the “in a minute” lyric though it’s not really rock – but she did perform at the Super Bowl last year.

    Sorry to see my streak end, but it was still a fair puzzle. I’m always curious about the people who solve these quickly – do they experience the same doubts and run into the same dead ends, only faster? Looking forward to next month.

  17. Jim S says:

    I’ll agree with Matthew G – I’ve never heard of the band or song and never made the jump to “solve” the quotes. I did make the jump to Bruno Mars and looked through his set list from halftime but nothing U2 related was there so I moved on. When I got the hint, I took “rephrase” to mean “take the 7 words from the 2 quotes and re-arrange them to get a band and song name”. After googling all kinds of permutations of the quote words with no luck, I threw in the towel.

    I also think that a more recognizable song and band would have helped, and more obvious wacky quotes might have led me to try to rephrase the quotes. I’m trying to think of an example – perhaps some quotes about your teacher Latoya and a Saturday Night Fever stampede for “Miss Jackson” by “Panic! at the Disco”?

    Perhaps it’s still my meta noobiness or the first 3 months of the MMMM lulling me to sleep, but I never got close. I won’t ding the puzzle for it – it’s just another eye-opener for me as to how I have to train my brain on these little monsters.

  18. Pete Muller says:

    (accidentally posted this up higher so reposting)

    The Edge is almost always stage right. But STAGE LEFT worked much better for the grid and I did find one photo with him on the other side after searching, so I thought I could get away with it. I did count on this crowd pointing that out!

  19. rmagh says:

    I did not get the meta, so I did not offer a rating. I am, however, of the view that a puzzle should be self contained and not, as Peter suggests, be solved by googling. Perhaps that would acount for some of the lower ratings?

  20. David R says:

    I don’t rate meta puzzles as a rule since there rarely is a time where I feel there wasn’t a reasonable way for me to solve it. With that said I’m in my third round of MMMM’s and I still haven’t really connected with them consistently like I have with others. The oddity is I love music but I think this one was indicative of why if I don’t solve it within 5-10 minutes I move on.

  21. Emily O says:

    Maybe I liked this puzzle so much because I managed to solve it, but I actually think this will go down as one of my favourites of Pete’s. The moment it clicked was super satisfying because I spent a day and a half feeling like I would never, ever get it. I am not up on contemporary rock & roll, and assumed that I would not know the band or the song title off the top of my head. Based on the title and the awkwardness of the theme phrases, I was thinking of different ways of saying the theme phrases pretty early on in my contemplation of this. Knowing that Bruno Mars performed at the Super Bowl this year, I had a feeling “Mars” would have something to do with it – “Mars on soon” kept rolling around in my head. Maybe a rock hit with “Mars” in the lyrics or title? So eventually I googled “rock songs Mars,” and 30 Seconds to Mars was the first hit. It was immediately apparent that I had found the band, so I looked up their singles for the past five years on Wikipedia, hoping to see something with “edge” in the title, and sure enough!

    I have no problem with needing to use Google for these puzzles. It is not reasonable to assume that we’re all going to be familiar with all of the bands and all of the songs, and if I have to look up a list of bands that have been on The Simpsons, for instance, that seems completely fair to me. The extra steps and investigation are a big part of why I enjoy metas. Also, even though I’m not familiar with their music, 30 Seconds to Mars is a pretty famous band with a pretty famous lead singer, and Closer to the Edge was apparently a pretty big single, so I don’t think this answer is too obscure.

    • abide says:

      This was almost my exact method as well. The comment is at the 2014 Super Bowl, so I started with synonyms for both phrases dealing with Bruno’s show. Up top I’m thinking BRUNO SOON or BRUNO ON TAP, mainly looking at phrases with a BONO anagram in there.

      I knew I would have to “backsolve” this, and found a site under Tunecaster with top 100 rock hits for each year, 25 to a page. Looking at a list of 500 bands and songs was a lot easier than trying to think of a fourteen-letter novel. :) About six clicks in I was at 2010 and knew that “30 Seconds to Mars” was a relevant rephrasing of the top event. Googling their hits gave me the answer (and an audible chuckle).

      I think when you are dealing with a music-specific meta, almost everyone is going to have some blind spots and resort to Google. I don’t think I had ever heard of 95% of those 500 songs, or 60% of the bands. To me that just made it more challenging and more satisfying.

      • Chris Popp says:

        I made use of those Tunecaster lists too. I actually found them way back on Tuesday, and just looked at the Top 25 songs from each of the last five years. Who knows if I would’ve solved the whole thing a lot faster, and without the hint, if I’d just kept digging; “Closer to the Edge” was song #51 for 2010.

        I agree with what a lot of others have said about this one: it was tough because the band is not as familiar as some of the artists from other puzzles; and it just required that mental click that it seems like took a while for a lot of us. But it was fair, especially with the “2014” hint in the Super Bowl reference. I hope this puzzle doesn’t turn people off to the MMMM; I’m sure Pete has some really nifty stuff planned for the rest of the year.

        The other thing this one got me thinking about is how fragmented the world of music is now. If this were a top rock hit from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s, it would probably be almost instantly recognizable to most of us. But since the turn of the millennium, rock is a bit of an endangered species. I also feel like there aren’t as many songs now (from any genre) that are truly ubiquitous to the point that everybody – or close to everybody – knows them.

        In any event, I enjoyed the challenge, was glad I finally cracked it, and am definitely looking forward to the rest of the year’s puzzles.

        • Bencoe says:

          Absolutely, Chris P. Looking through the hit charts for the last few years, there were very few rock songs and hardly any of them were near the top. Makes it hard to know those unless they are very catchy and played, like say “Pumped up kicks” by Foster the People.

          • JustinR says:

            Ditto. I probably came across 550 songs between those lists and other, and the only one that jumped out as “Aha! I know that one!” was We Are Young by I Have No Idea.

  22. musicguy595 says:

    Great puzzle! I was blanking without the hint, but once I knew what to look at it fell pretty quickly. I was lucky to guess the band first, so looking at their Wikipedia page brought the rest into place. The Edge is a legend!

  23. Howard B says:

    Too far a leap for me to reach “30 seconds to Mars”, just too oblique a clue for my knowledge. I don’t know any of their songs, but a Google search of their hits would have given me the answer (nice U2, The Edge reference), but I still don’t see the clear connection here on the band: Halftime = 30 seconds, very nice. After that, I drew a blank. I see now why my trail ended there.
    An original idea, ambitious to encode the artist and title.

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