I find it a bit annoying when a solver tells me they got one of my metas just from the title and instructions. It’s sort of gloaty and also makes it sound like I didn’t guard enough against guessers, which is probably true, which is why it annoys me. But some puzzles are supposed to be very easy, and not many solvers actually submit the answer they suspect without first solving to be sure.
Well, not to be that guy, but I solved this one from the instructions alone, before I’d seen the title! I saw that we were looking for a Neil Young song, and even though I now realize that Gary OLDMAN just won an Oscar so that might’ve been the idea, my first thought was “Could be ‘Heart of Gold,’ with middle letters of entries being AU.” And then of course when I saw the title of “Inner Glow” I knew this had to be it, and so it was:
17-A [* Some hypoallergenic hirsute hounds] = SCHNAUZERS.
27-A [* Octet for George H.W. Bush] = GRANDDAUGHTERS. Barbara, Jenna…I don’t know any others.
46-A [* Like some pigs] = MALE CHAUVINIST. Mmm, bacon.
61-A [* Stereotypically petty person] = BUREAUCRAT.
And then two short downs in the NE and SW:
12-D [* ___ of Gaga (creative team behind the infamous “meat dress”)] = HAUS. I gather from this that Lady Gaga once wore a dress made of meat? Can that be true? I will look it up. My goodness. It has its own Wikipedia page.
53-D [* Castro of Cuba] = RAUL.
So HEART OF GOLD it is. I try to find a good cover version of the contest answer song each month, and I tried about 8 this month before I found one that pops:
OK, so that’s another easy one from our meta-maestro. I was wondering why the theme entries weren’t music-related, but it turns out that a central AU is more of a constraint than it might seem at first. You’re restricted to even-lettered entries of course, so at theme lengths that means 10, 12, 14, and maybe 8 letters long. AU is not an uncommon pairing in English, but it’s no ER or AN, either, and two specific letters pre-positioned in an entry is tough enough as it is. A cursory look at alternatives doesn’t turn up anything Pete missed, but I’d be interested if anyone could find a decent 8-, 10-, 12-, or 14-letter musical *AU*. Tell us in comments.
I’m 3-for-3 and I’m sure you are as well. Things will get tougher soon, I imagine…