Muller Monthly Music Meta, May

puzzle 8ish; meta 3 minutes (easier version) (Matt) 


Title: “Dropouts”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a hit from the ’80s.
Answer: “Missing You” by John Waite

Trying to go 5-for-5 and I did it! 377 correct with 30 minutes to go so you probably got this one, too.

Somehow I missed that there was a tougher version of this available, which turned out not to have the asterisks on 10 clues as the easier version did. Those were:

1a. [Serious*], SOMBER
17a. [Newborns*], BABIES
23a. [Pick*], SELECT
29a. [Cuckoo*], INSANE
35a. [Red ink entry*], DEBIT
41a. [Field*], ARENA
45a. [Shorthand pro, for short*], STENOG
53a. [Elegant*], SWANKY
60a. [Agitated*], ROILED
67a. [Phony*], POSEUR

What’s the key? One letter from each of those entries can “drop out” of there and still leave a valid answer to the given clue: SOBER, BABES, ELECT, DEBT, AREA, STENO, SWANK, RILED, and POSER. Those dropped out letters spell the apt MISSING YOU, the line “I ain’t missing you at all” being especially appropriate as something the rest of these entries could say to the dropout letters.

Don’t miss the epic telephone rage-slams at 1:15 and 2:43!

With one letter difference only it was inevitable that most of the pairs would be etymologically related, so that lessened the surprise factor a bit. But note how much craftsmanship was required to fit all the entries symmetrically into the grid and have them spell out the fitting reveal. Not easy.

Not sure whether Pete noticed this but at 58-A he was wise (or lucky) to clue TANGIERS to the casino [“Casino” casino named after a Moroccan city] since if he’d clued it to the city then there’d be an unwanted extra theme entry, since the city is known as both Tangier and Tangiers in English.

I did not know but was intrigued to discover 25d., [Largest U.S. city, in terms of land mass] = SITKA, Alaska.

Fun one, let’s say 4.44 stars. I’ll go ahead and boast that I’m 5-for-5 though I’ve been punished severely after doing that in past years so maybe I’d better not…but I do expect the difficulty level to ratchet up severely in coming months! It always does.

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5 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, May

  1. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    377 correct this month.

    TANGIERS the casino was a lucky cluing accident – I didn’t know you could also refer to it as TANGIER.

  2. Jim says:

    Great Fun. One question that threw me off. My electronic version had 3 stars next to the question for Pitt. Was that only my edition? It through me off since I thought you needed to do something with that.

    Thanks again for a great puzzle.\

    • Ben says:

      The *** next to a clue signifies that it’s part of the Mega-Meta. There are more instructions on Pete’s website, but essentially each monthly puzzle contains a clue pointing to an overall answer that is more directly the subject of the final puzzle of the year. Perceptive/psychic solvers can sometimes solve the Mega-Meta early by piecing together the monthly clues, which gets you bonus points on the leaderboard.

  3. Jim says:

    Thanks. I totally missed that.

  4. andeux says:

    I tried to do the hard version. The first thing I noticed relating to the “Dropouts” title was that there were several short answers that could make common phrases with the word OUT — ATE, PIG, NERD, STEP, DRAGS, and TRIP. That seemed like too many to be coincidence (thought it probably was), but it also led nowhere, so I gave up on it and used the version with *s before very long.

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