Muller Monthly Music Meta, June

puzzle 8 something; meta 15 minutes (Matt) 


Title: “Multiple Personality”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a famous singer.
Answer: Aretha (Louise) Franklin

I had solved this grid on Thursday or Friday and had noticed a couple of things:1) GASX was the last entry across, and the four corner squares also spell that out. Seemed odd but like it was probably a coincidence. Then I also noticed 2) some oddly weak and easily fixable fill in the grid, which was more likely to be relevant — take square 39, for example. Why FEN and FRIED when a P or a D there would effortlessly rid us of an obscure word? And there had to be something going on in that central-left area, where ITE and ENA could easily have been excised as well.

I’d forgotten about all of that when I opened the puzzle this evening; in fact, I’d forgotten I’d solved it all. Was expecting to solve but there it was, fully filled in on my desktop. With fresh eyes I asked myself what “multiple” could mean instead of “many,” and then remembered that there was one long entry in the grid: THREE TIMES A LADY at 7d., clued as [Commodores hit with a multiplicative title].

So it’s the longest entry in the grid and dupes the title with the word “multiplicative.” So let’s look at the squares with multiples of three: lo and behold they spell meta answer ARETHA LOUISE FRANKLIN. I didn’t know her middle name until today.

Just 113 right answers with a few minutes left before the deadline, so this one played very tough. Not sure why — with “multiplicative” in the clue at 7-D and THREE in the entry, and then “Multiple” in the title, looking at 3, 6, 9, etc. seems like one of the first things you’d try. But not gloating — there are metas that you either see right away or not at all, so it looks like we’ve got one of those here.

4.50 stars. Fancy stepping to get all that theme in, and I like the musical tie-in with the Commodores song.

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14 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, June

  1. David Glasser says:

    Nice. I was thinking of tripling clue numbers and staring a lot at the few women in the grid but somehow missed this straightforward but subtle idea.

  2. Jim S. says:

    So simple in retrospect but never crossed my mind. Went through the clues and the grids to find ladies’ names, didn’t go anywhere, and was stumped.

  3. Beth A says:

    I liked the math tie-in. Seems pretty rare in meta puzzles!

  4. Gwinns says:

    I went down lots of blind alleys before finding the right path.
    Looked for three TIMEs in the grid, finding 2 (in EMITs and TIMbEr)
    Then I looked for three LADYs, the ones I found being even more forced than the “time”s.
    Looked a lot at all the ladies in the clues, and spent a while wondering why Lady Gaga was referred to as just “Gaga.” (Maybe Pete thought the “lady” would be distracting?)
    And I fixated on GASX having that one X, the only “times sign” in the grid.
    Finally similar to Matt, asked myself “what else could “three times” mean? And looked at 3×1, 3×2, etc.
    Very impressed and I can’t imagine how hard it must be to construct a grid with this many starting limitations.

  5. jefe says:

    Ohhhhh, that’s good! Couldn’t figure out if the other long entries were theme or not. I got caught up looking at alter egos of various singers and using the grid numbers never occurred to me (even though I’d solved “Prime Directive” easily!).

  6. BrainBoggler says:

    Couldn’t get out of so many rabbit holes in time to get a fresh re-start. My fixation on imNOTREady leading me to think of DAME and the continuing thought of Good GOLLY leading to MISS Molly didn’t help much either. Kudos to those that went the elementary route of knowing your multiples of 3.

    • BrainBoggler says:

      Also got stuck trying to use ELMER in the middle of the grid and eventually thought perhaps ethELMERman was on the right track but was having difficulty using that technique on other entries (except perhaps for ENyA). Saw MEANIE, too, and thought of adding L to get MELANIE, while ERODES looked as though adding L and going extra step to anagram could give DELORES. So many women to consider (and unnecessarily, too), but the journey kept things interesting…

  7. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    Quite a few top solvers were stumped this month.

    Glad you all liked the puzzle!

  8. Matthew G. says:

    Yep — put me in the “so simple I didn’t think of it” camp. I tried different ways of accounting for multiplication, including looking for letter strings repeated three times, but never thought to just look at the numbered squares.

    Metas that require looking at the numbers in the grid always seem to trip me up. I need to put a sticky note on my desk to remember to check that!

  9. sharkicicles says:

    Couple clever Madonna red herrings, I thought- 5d. “Like a virgin” CHASTE combined with 28d. “Speak up?” SAYAPRAYER.

    • BrainBoggler says:

      Yeah, going a step further with SAYAPRAYER had me thinking about church, which brought to mind Dana Carvey’s Church Lady SNL character

  10. Stephen says:

    I was fixated on 40, 46, and 55 across and 27 and 42 down. They all had “or” in the clue which I thought was significant in the multiple personalities, but they were all so random I couldn’t even come up with a wrong answer for these!

  11. Dave C says:

    LEE and RAE were symmetrically placed in the puzzle, both clued as singers. I couldn’t let go of that, desperately trying to make a phonetic case for Carly Rae Jepsen. The only other clues with the word singer were SHAQ and ANKA, which of course led nowhere.

  12. LuckyGuest says:

    I was one of the ones who (too hastily) submitted Madonna. When I saw I was wrong, I went back to solve it for my own ego. Strangely, what put me on the track were three Across clues that pointed me to “first ladies” (15A had Hillary — albeit spelled differently; 43A, Hostess also makes Dolly Madison (also spelled differently), and 46A had Barbara. So “Three times a [first] lady”… First Lady of Soul — Aretha Franklin… So I looked for the first A, then R.. then slapped myself in the head when I saw what Pete had done. Kudos.

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