Muller Monthly Music Meta — 2018 Mega-Meta

puzzle 7:05; meta 20 mins. (Matt) 


Title: “Déjà Vu”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is the mega-meta for the 2018 contest, a popular song from the 1980s.
Answer: “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

Mega-meta time! Once again my procrastinating nature kept me from solving the mega-meta early this year. “I’ll look at it next month,” I kept saying, and here it is just a few hours before the year 2019. So it’s now or never!

Luckily this year’s mega-meta wasn’t as difficult as in previous years, though it was still quite elegant. The first thing you notice is that a dozen of the Across clues are left unclued, with just an em-dash. So instead of solving “Downs only” we’re solving “mostly Downs,” which wasn’t enough to make the grid significantly tougher than a Downs only.

I noticed something early in my solve: at 9d. [Letters on some vintage phone buttons] was PRS, but that clue also could’ve worked for the unclued OPER at 15a., which crosses PRS. I soon came across a few more similar cases, like the unclued HANES crossing TEE, which was clued as [Undershirt choice]. And then I came to the revealer across the middle: 40a. [Betrayals, and, in a way, what you’ll find 12 times in this puzzle after filling in the missing clues] = DOUBLE CROSSINGS.

Naturally I wondered whether the twelve crossings of the doubly-clued pairs would spell out the apt song title, which they did: Whitesnake’s 1980s hair metal anthem “Here I Go Again.”

The full list of crossings are:

2d. [Eye color] for HAZEL, but could also be WHITE (as in the white part of the eye)
4d. [Undershirt choice] for TEE, but also HANES
9d. [Letters on some vintage phone buttons] = PRS but also OPER
12d. [Still life subject] = VASE but also ROSE
27d. [Showy bloom] = IRIS but also LILY
31d. [“Heavens!”] = OHNO but also GOSH
35d. [Brutish sort] = GOON but also OGRE
50d. [Jazz player’s instrument] = AXE but also PIANO
53d. [Tedious task] = GRIND but also SLOG
58d. [Tempo] = BEAT but also RATE
61d. [Cutting] = ACID but also SNIP. A little tricky on the connection there but “acid” and “cutting” are used as adjectives there while “snip” and “cutting” are nouns.
66d. [Garden of Eden inhabitant] = MAN but also that dastardly SNAKE.

Not a tough meta but a clever one nonetheless, and I was happy for an easier mega-meta after the tough final four of the year. Let’s go with 4.50 stars.

So Year 7 of the Muller Music Meta comes to an end, and it was another great one. The November and December puzzles in particular were magnificent, both in my top 10 all-time Mullers. August was excellent as well (refresh your memory on all these here).

I hope/believe we are getting a Season 8? These are great fun and I’m continually impressed by Pete’s ability to keep coming up with new ideas, even while restricting himself to the specific category of music. So Pete, can you confirm/deny/neither confirm nor deny in comments whether there’ll be a Season 8? I’ll be here blogging it if so. Thanks for another great year of the MMMM in MMXVIII, and I hope to see it and all of you for MMMM in MMXIX!

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13 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta — 2018 Mega-Meta

  1. Jeff G. says:

    Another great year of Music Metas! Thanks Pete! Always lots of fun.

  2. alex says:

    Can someone explain how the answers to the other puzzles fed in to the megameta? Thanks!

    • A pair of crossing answers in each of the January-December metas had identical clues. In January, CHER and JOHN were both clued as [Legend of pop] and they crossed at the H. In February, IVES and MAMET were both clued as [Playwright David] and they crossed at the E. Find the identical crossing clues for all metas, and the intersecting letters spell out HERE I GO AGAIN in order.

      I really wish I had spotted that early, but unless you notice the repeated crossing clues while solving each grid (and then remember seeing that pattern more than once with at least a month off between two metas), it’s very well hidden.

  3. david glasser says:

    And the non-13th-puzzle part of the mega meta (which I failed to solve for the same “I’ll look at it next month” reason) is that every puzzle had a pair of crossing clues with the same clue, and the crossings also spelled the mega meta answer.

    Also note WHITE and SNAKE in this puzzle :)

  4. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    183 people got the right answer this month (36 before this puzzle came out).

    Thanks Evan for explaining the mechanism that was taking place all year…there will be a more complete description (and a video) in Tuesday’s write-up.

    I’m pleased to let Fiend readers know that I got over my target number and amount of donations, so there will be a 2019 MMMM!

    Thanks for playing this year!

    • paul coulter says:

      Thanks, Pete, for great fun every month. Your metas are remarkably consistent in inventiveness, fairness, and execution.

  5. BarbaraK says:

    Back in May, the first thing in Matt’s writeup was:
    Tough solve, and I noticed a few odd things during it: 2-D and 15-A have the same clue, [Get going] for both AROUSE and HOP TO, though not sure the clue quite works for the latter. But either way there were no other repeats so dead end there.
    I’d just figured out the mega-meta and almost fell off my chair when I started reading this.

    • Beth A says:

      Barbara, I was curious how people figured this out. I noticed several references to hirsute in early puzzles, and looked up the hair bands, but had no idea how to really go about solving, so didn’t try too hard. Did you solve based on the identical crossing clues as intended?

      Congrats on the early solve!!

      • BarbaraK says:

        I went through the puzzles noting anything interesting and then looked to see which of those features all four puzzles had. I found the palindromes and the duplicate clues. Using all the duplicate clued words didn’t seem to be going anywhere, but the crossing letters did. So I guessed 12 letters could be spelling out a song title so looked for one of that length that started with HERE (or JUGG or ATHM – the palindromes) and found “Here I Go Again”. That didn’t seem like a lot to go on, and I thought about waiting another month or two but decided to go ahead and submit it.

        I’m curious about the 50ish wrong guesses. Did people go for the palindromes, or find another song that fit, of find some other pattern entirely.

        • Pete Muller says:

          I’m not sure on the wrong guesses…I didn’t see many that were obviously related to the palindromes. People don’t have to explain the reason for their guess.

          You only lose one point for an incorrect mega-meta guess, so the penalty for being wrong is not that large.

        • Beth A says:

          Thanks for sharing your thought process, Barbara. Fascinating! It should inspire me to try harder for 2019.

  6. Aura says:

    Another L.A. hair band I’ve never heard of, let alone their “hits.”

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