puzzle — untimed; Mega-Meta — 75 minutes (Matt)
It’s Mega-Meta 2014 time! Our puzzle is called “Sound It Out,” and its theme entries give us a map to figure out the classic rock and roll hit Pete tells us we’re looking for.
17-A [They show up in January through June] = SIXTEENTHS
22-A [It’s dotted in July, then occurs on the offbeat in August through December] = QUARTER. I have no grasp of music theory or notation so I had to look up what a dotted quarter note means, which turns out to be that you double its length.
36-A [What you need to do once in each 2014 MMMM puzzle to get this year’s mega-meta] = HIT THE RIGHT NOTE
56-A [It’s repeated in some classic rock-and-roll songs (like the mega-meta)] = GUITAR RIFF
Then there are two more tangential (it seemed to me) themers:
35-D [With 49-Across, what you get if you string together the added letters from the “add-a-letter” clues in the first 10 puzzles] = RED/HERRING. Ha.
62-A [“Game of Thrones” actor Mark (and a clever way to corroborate the mega-meta answer)] = ADDY. Probably to be parsed as “add Y,” but this felt like one of those hints that’s only useful once you’ve gotten the answer. And as I’m typing this I see that this is a very amusing and clever addition to the puzzle. I’ll come back to it later.
OK, so the first thing I did was write down the letters in the 16 boxes from the January-June puzzles. Seemed promising as the first four were M-I-C-K, a name with lots of classic rock cred (Fleetwood, Jagger, Jones). And then an E-, and I thought it was going to be Mickey something, but then…an A. So MICKEA. Hmm. Guessed there was about a 50% chance I was on the right track.
What next? The same 16 boxes for August-December yielded MONAOT, random-looking and unpersuasive. But since a dotted note doubles its length, I decided to write down the 32 boxes for August-December, which yields something interesting: O-R-S-C-H-T! We’re missing a B to make BORSCHT! Which is made from beets! Skipping a beet, get it? This had to be the right track.
It wasn’t, and five minutes later I put the crack pipe down and decided that it was just coincidence.
What next? A facepalm moment — I had noticed all year (but forgotten today as I was solving) that one clue in each of the twelve puzzles had a parenthetical sentence starting with “Note”. For example, in January’s puzzle, A-TEAM at 52-D is clued as [Mr. T’s TV group (Note: Also a song from Ed Sheeran, with “The”)].
The other 11 “note” clues, in chronological order, yield these answers:
So it sounds like we have six sixteenth notes of A-C-D-F-D-C, then a dotted D quarter-note, then off-beat notes of G-F-E-C-D. I don’t know how to sound out those notes, but the power of the Internet helped me to discover that they are the famous and extremely badass GUITAR RIFF of Mega-Meta answer LAYLA by Eric Clapton.
So what about that ADDY hint? If you look at the symmetrically placed answer in the grid you’ll see that it’s LA-LA, so you can ADD the Y right in there to confirm your answer. Sneaky!
That was a fun mega-meta, and I’m sure most of the 50-odd folks who got it before me were unencumbered by visions of skipping a beet with a bowl of borscht. Once you notice the “note” idea it’s smooth sailing to LAYLA from there, but a lot of fun as well.
So I finished the year with 9 out of 13, including the Mega-Meta. My favorite puzzle of the year was December’s masterpiece, followed by very nice puzzles in March, May, and October. Bravo to our Meta Maestro on an outstanding Season 3.
Will there be a Muller Monthly Music Meta, Season 4? Pete says: yes, there will be! Awesome. This is a fantastic series, and I hope I’ll see you back here later this month for Episode 1 of Season 4. And I give the 2014 Mega-Meta 4.5 stars.