Muller Monthly Music Meta, September

puzzle 8:53; meta 7 mins (Matt) 


Title: “Just Beyond the Surface”
Prompt: The meta is a hit song from the ’70s.
Answer: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel

As with last month’s meta, an abundance of long entries (a dozen at 9+ letters) makes it unclear exactly what is theme and what is not. This is a sneaky and novel way of making a meta tougher and I’m enjoying the mini-trend. That half of them are acrosses and half downs doesn’t help the solver much.

Sometimes you see it and sometimes you don’t, and I happened to see this one quickly, though with just 184 right answers with 30 minutes to go it’s clear that the idea is pretty well-concealed. I began by free-scanning the grid, and noticed that four of the long downs contain the bigram AT (BEAT WRITER, FIRE AT WILL, ANDRE WATTS, GREAT WHITE). Was about one second from writing that off as coincidence until I noticed that three of those four are in fact concealing EAT. Didn’t seem to lead anywhere either, though, and after a few seconds I was about to move on when I noticed a W nearby in each, and then the whole pattern emerged: in each of the six long downs, we have a string containing the letters in WATER in some order.

What 1970s hit could that indicate? A few more seconds’ though put Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in my mind, since in cryptic clue fashion you might say those anagram letters are “troubled.” And then I saw the elegant finale: the letter over those five letters in each entry spells, in order, BRIDGE.

I thought this was a lovely and elegant meta. Difficult to see — if I’d missed it on the first go-round, I probably would never have found it — but so simple in retrospect, and the undulating placement of theme entries does indeed resemble troubled waters buffeting a bridge from below. And the reason you don’t often see the many-long-non-theme-entries gambit to mask what is and isn’t theme is that it’s very difficult to pull off, so bravo to Pete for the second month in a row for making it work so effectively.

4.75 stars. I liked it a lot.

This entry was posted in Daily Puzzles and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, September

  1. Rammy M says:

    I noticed the 4 “TW”s together, then the other 2 answers with additional letters between,
    narrowed it down to the 5 specific common letters.
    OK, “water”, scrambled. nothing comes to mind.
    google: 70s hit water: first result: … of course! we even had that album back in the day.

    Double checking the grid: found the “bridge” and that was the “click” to be positive it was right.

  2. Katie M. says:

    Don’t forget the title “Just Beyond the Surface”. That’s where you find BRIDGE.

  3. jefe says:

    After solving the grid (but before getting to the meta), I was already wowed. Six 9s (and two 7s) going across with six 10s and two 8s going down. I had to double check that this was still a regular 15×15. The odd fill is minimal (making allowances for the lesser-known music names like EXENE).

    THEN I got to the meta, which is absolutely stellar. With a nudge from the title, I started noticing the letters in WATER in the downs, and was stunned to find six instances, all in natural phrases. I thought the “Beyond” in the title would mean below, but the last themer precluded that, so I looked above. B-R-I- and my mind was re-blown.

    Slightest of dings for two instances of REATW, but I want to nominate this puzzle for everything of the year.

  4. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    186 correct answers this month.
    This was a fun one to construct and & I’m glad people seem to like it.

  5. Louis D says:

    For some reason I almost immediately noticed the six instances of WATER, but then got stuck for a few days. One of the things that threw me off is that BEAT WRITER anagrams to WATER BITER, which is what you might call a GREAT WHITE.

  6. david glasser says:

    This was a lovely meta, and it also warmed my heart when I finished it to know there would be a lovely video to look forward to. Honestly I kinda needed it today, a day where the sun has effectively not risen in California.

Comments are closed.