puzzle 7 minutes; meta another 7 minutes (Matt)
I’m always reminding solvers to look at the titles in metas but often forget to do it myself. Season 3, Episode 5 of the Muller Meta is called “Backup Singers,” with what appeared to be three downward theme entries:
30-D [John Cougar Mellencamp song with the lines “That’s when a sport was a sport / And groovin’ was groovin'”] = CHERRY BOMB. I’ve heard this song a couple of hundred times and always thought that word was “smoke,” not “sport.”
7-D [Like Lady Gaga] = FASHION-OBSESSED.
10-D [Embarrassed, and then some] = RED AS A BEET.
The grid is unusual and elegant, but as I free-scanned it looking for clues there was nothing jumping out at me. A lot of ABCDEFG action in the top two rows, but it came to naught. Was I even sure those three were theme entries, or the only theme entries?
Fortunately I remembered to look at that title, and the pattern emerged quickly: there’s usually a reason for it when theme entries run down instead of across, and here it’s to accommodate “Backup Singers.” Lo and behold, there’s a one-named singer ensconced upwards in each entry: MOBY in CHERRY BOMB, BONO in FASHION-OBSESSED and SADE in RED AS A BEET.
Each of theme is also found as an entry in their own right somewhere in the grid: SADE at 17-A, BONO at 58-A, and MOBY at 61-A.
Now what? Instructions asked for a well-known guitar player who could serve as this puzzle’s missing theme entry. Note the symmetrical placement of SADE, BONO and MOBY; then you notice that completing the symmetry at 19-A is the one-named English singer DIDO. Is there a famous guitarist who contains her name backwards? Why yes, one of the very greatest in fact: meta answer BO DIDDLEY.
Nice meta. Pete must have also considered using ENYA, who could’ve been enclosed in WAYNE NEWTON, for example. I imagine she didn’t fit in with the nice symmetry he had going, however.
113 correct answers this week.
There’s a bonus meta-related entry spanning the center of the grid too, ENCLOSURE.
Nice puzzle. If it hadn’t been for the title I would have wasted a lot of time trying to figure out a fashion-obsessed guitarist with a synonym for “red” in his name. But hey, Bo Diddley! Not only do I have a picture of my father-in-law playing rectangular guitars with him, I also call my dog Bodie that.
I whiffed on this one. I sent in Slash, on the weak reasoning that all the singers in the grid had one-word stage names. Now that I see the solution, I think it’s really cool and elegant. My lesson for next month is to be more patient – if I don’t see the meta right away, let it sit for a day or two.
I also thought Cherry Red, and Fashion Obsessed were important. After I realized that Bo Diddley was the answer, I found pictures of him playing a red guitar, and he was also fashionably dressed. Intentional or not, that made me more sure of my answer.
This was a great one, loved the title clue. Not sure if this happened to anyone else, but my .puz file gave me X’s whenever I entered a wrong letter. So there was a little less stumbling around, but sometimes I like stumbling around and then figuring it out.
I accidentally sent an unlocked puz file this month
won’t happen again!
I caught on immediately to what was happening, but for the life of me I could not think of a guitarist with __ODID__ in his/her name. Then on Sunday morning in the car, I heard Bruce Springsteen’s She’s The One which features that famous 1-2-3 1-2 rhythm known as the “Bo Diddley beat”. Thank you, Sirius XM!
I solved this without noticing the four “backup” singers were also separate entries in the grid. My alternative solution (had I not found bO DIDdley) would have been wAYNE coyne of Flaming Lips.