Muller Music Meta, August

puzzle — untimed(Matt) 
meta — 10 mins 


Express review this month, since we just bought a house and I’m not used to all this yardwork.

Dimensions (open)

Pete asks up cryptically to find a 2×2 band. Meaning what?

Let’s look at the theme entries:

24-A [“3×3” band] = TALKING HEADS
44-A [“4×4” band] CREED
52-A [“3×3” singer]

Study the grid and you’ll see that each of these singers has a hit chopped up among the fill in the proscribed dimensions: AND / SHE / WAS for TALKING HEADS; WITH / ARMS / WIDE / OPEN for CREED; and ALL / THE / WAY for FRANK SINATRA.

So we need a 2×2 band; a bit odd since there are no 2-letter words in this (or any standard crossword) grid. So my first step was to think of any famous song titles comprised of two 2-letter words. ELO’s “Do Ya” jumped into my mind pretty fast, and when I saw DO and YA hidden symmetrically in the entries DO(MO) and (HO)YA, I figured it had to be right. Although I was only about 98% sure, since the mechanism is different for the answer words, which are just part of an entry instead of the full entry itself. Not sure if the two ELOs in fill (see grid) are coincidences or reassurance. But I sent DO YA in and it was correct.

Just 109 right answers as I write this minutes before the deadline, so that painful sound you hear is a few streaks snapping. Not mine, and it’s only two months long now anyway. But it was 23 months before that. Not that I’m bitter. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

4.45 stars.

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24 Responses to Muller Music Meta, August

  1. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt

    As you said, 109 correct this week.

    The first ELO is in RELOS, symmetric to GENRE, whose clue mentions the meta. The second ELO is a bonus.

    I also accepted THE MOVE, Jeff Lynne’s band that originally recorded DO YA.

    Good luck with the yardwork!

  2. jefe says:

    I did the same (though it took me a lot longer) with the same hesitations, but RELOS is symmetric to GENRE, which was a meta clue.

    ETA: of course Pete got his comment in while I was looking to see if the excised letters MORSHO anagrammed to anything

  3. Matt says:

    Sorry, I of course sent in ELO, not “Do Ya.”

  4. Robert Hutchinson says:

    Some frustration: I knew exactly what *sort* of thing I needed for the meta answer, but not knowing the title of this song (which I have heard before) + not being able to come up with a helpful Google search for “__ __ song titles” … yeah.

  5. Jsolomon1999 says:

    I had actually typed in “Commodores” because “Oh No” was the only 2×2 song I immediately thought of (and WATERMAN seemed like a confirmation of Commodore to me). Fortunately, I remembered the pointed clue that the genre was rock, and I had to look at a recent classic rock radio Memorial Day Top 1000 countdown list to remember DO YA. And the EEL in the center somehow seemed like enough confirmation for ELO.

  6. Rachel says:

    This one kind of bummed me out. I was hoping Matt’s write up would point to something big that I just missed. I found the songs hidden in the grid and understood what I was looking for but since there were no two letter answers (or even any two letters set off by black squares in the grid) and since the instructions didn’t specify that it was a specific 2×2 band it would seem that I just had to find a rock band that recorded a two word song (each word having two letters). Nirvana and Van Halen did. Interestingly, I didn’t even come across Do Ya in my searches (plenty of solo acts and non-rock acts). I think Nirvana actually works better with the title than ELO. Oh well. This is a fail I can let go of easily (unlike that quarters MGWCC from a few weeks ago that I totally whiffed on). Thanks Pete. See you in September!

    • Pete Muller says:

      There were a number of other solvers that submitted rock bands with “2×2” songs, but the song titles could not be found in grid entries. I’m curious if people think I should award full or partial credit for those answers.

      • Rachel says:

        I’m not worried about credit! That feels like a participation trophy– I didn’t get the answer right. It only stings for a moment :). And makes me want redemption come September…. Thanks for making the puzzles.

  7. Adam Thompson says:

    I missed this puzzle. My first thought for the meta was The Doors, for “Do It” (also in the grid along the edges).

  8. Tony says:

    Never saw the ELOs in the grid, but once I saw that the song titles in the grid were symmetrically placed in the grid, though not with each other, it didn’t take too long to figure out. Only 2×2 song that popped into my head was Do Ya.

  9. KZ Condor says:

    There actually was one two-letter word in the grid, but it was part of a longer entry – AS (FAR). I spent a while trying to find a second. IMO using two such entries would have been a slightly superior mechanism. Maybe like DO THE (as in “____ Hustle”) at the top of the grid and SEE YA at the bottom?

  10. Travis H. says:

    I saw DO YA and the ELOs in the grid and still managed to talk myself out of it. Something about not having anything pointing to 9A/69A as theme entries, and DO YA not unambiguously specifying a single band (apart from The Move, Wikipedia lists several other songs) made me reject it. The perils of overthinking…

    Instead I got hung up on the way each of the song title words is clued as a fill-in-the-blank on the first word of another song title. 68A is also clued exactly this way, so even though it’s a mega-meta clue I became convinced it had to be related to this meta as well. Of course I couldn’t make anything out of HOTS, so I decided it had to be directing me to Led Zeppelin. The only qualifying song was “La La”, a track that went unreleased until a 2014 reissue, but since that still met the definition of a 2×2 band I submitted it (admittedly without much confidence).

    • Pete Muller says:

      I wish I had used a different clue for HOTS. It didn’t need to be clued in the same way as the other song title words.

      I’m going to mention this in tomorrow’s write-up as well, so that people trying to solve the mega-meta aren’t misled.

  11. pannonica says:

    Another who got the meta without being fully confident. Easily saw the first part, and then had a nearly full complement of misgivings already mentioned here, and others.

    • Saw the DO and YA, but in context they weren’t distinct two-letter words.
    • AS was the only “true” two-letter word in the grid.
    • Got hung up with the FITB song title Led Zeppelin clue. But, having for one reason or another not participated in MMMMs this year, failed to realize that the triple-asterisks were likely indicative of the mega-meta.
    • Saw the two hidden ELOs, but because they weren’t symmetrical dismissed them as coincidental. Did not make the connection between the locations of GENRE and the ELO in RELOS.

    Actually surprised that some who are presumably old hands at crossword solving were unfamiliar with DO YA—both the song title and the band appear frequently in puzzles.

    Bonus! As I remarked to Pete, who strives to have as many music references in these offerings, thought it was curious that the seminal psychedelic band LOTHAR and the Hand People wasn’t invoked for 61-across. (The clue was [Batman : Robin :: Mandrake : __ ].) Legitimately shocked that more folks don’t know of them.

  12. dave glasser says:

    I somehow managed to come up with the three relevant song names without noticing they were hidden in the grid. (Perhaps my mind was prepared to think of those words.) I spent a while researching 2×2 song titles and called in the right answer but very skeptical.

    Afterwards I did see the right method. I’m sort of glad I did it the wrong way because I noticed the 68A thing and probably would have gotten super hung up on HOTS.

  13. ajk says:

    Got the nxn idea in about 5 min, took me another day to find the right 2×2 song (after an initial Commodores flirtation).
    In the end just looked for all 2 letter fragments that were words and might be sensible song titles and googled. Wasn’t familiar with the ELO song, and couldn’t turn it up via non-specific 2-letter song title searches. Finally hit the right pair, and the symmetrical disposition made me confident enough to submit.
    Did worry for a while that the clues might hold critical two letter words, since they’d be real stand alone words. But that didn’t take long to dismiss.

  14. Abide says:

    I went right along Pannonica’s path, but submitted OH NO, which is what I said when I checked the leaderboard the next day.

  15. pannonica says:

    Factette: The blues/jazz shouter Jimmy Rushing was known as ‘Mr Five by Five’ because of his unusual stature.

  16. sharkicicles says:

    ELO is one of my favorite bands and I still didn’t get the meta. I’ve been on the bad kind of streak lately. :)

  17. David Stein says:

    Meh. I knew exactly what to do and what through all symmetric bigrams, but not knowing that song, the pairing never popped up to me. Live and learn, I guess.

  18. jefe says:

    Oh, I forgot to mention earlier –
    While searching discographies, I found Sinatra had another 3×3: Tea for Two, which I’d had before finding All the Way.
    And Talking Heads had a remix album called 12 × 12 Original Remixes.

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