Muller Monthly Music Meta, March

puzzle 13ish; meta: 10 mins (Matt)


Title: “Moving Target”
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a musical supergroup.
Answer: The Traveling Wilburys

Eight wacky answers in this one, and each seemed somehow close to being a phrase without quite being one. Let’s take a look:

15-A: [Street sign next to the Three Little Pigs’ house?] = SWINE AVE
26-A: [Director’s call for C-3PO and R2-D2?] = CUE ROBOTS
62-A: [Help bagpipe players stay afloat?] = BUOY SCOTS
76-A: [Musician adept at distinguishing micro-intervals?] = TONE SAGE. Not meta-related, but the word “distinguishing” looks and sounds wacky out of context.
10-D: [Fine imposed by restaurant management on slow servers?] = WAITER TAX
12-D: [Marks left on a knight’s sword after slaying a dragon?] = HILT SINGES
40-D: [Pile of rocks dedicated to “Masters of the Universe”?] = HE-MAN CAIRN
45-D: [People from Pickering pretending to be from Pittsburgh?] = PA PHONEYS. Where’s Pickering?

My in for the meta was on BUOY SCOTS, which sounds a lot like “boy scouts.” That was close, but TONE SAGE is where I figured it out fully: you take one letter from these wacky phrases, move it somewhere else in the entry, and a non-wacky phrase appears before you as if by magic. Like so:

SWINE AVE — move the W and you’ve got SINE WAVE
CUE ROBOTS — move the B and you’ve got CUBE ROOTS
BUOY SCOTS — movie the U and you’ve got BOY SCOUTS
TONE SAGE — move the S and you’ve got STONE AGE
WAITER TAX — move the I and you’ve got WATER TAXI
HILT SINGES — move the L and you’ve got HIT SINGLES
HE-MAN CAIRN — movie the R and you’ve got HERMAN CAIN
PA PHONEYS — move the Y and you’ve got PAY PHONES

In grid order (see diagram) those moved letrers spell WILBURYS, and since those letters “traveled” to form new phrases it’s gotta be the Traveling Wilburys, a.k.a. Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and George Harrison, who put out two albums back in the day (both of which I owned on cassette).

I liked this meta quite a lot. I haven’t seen the mechanism before, and Pete’s choice of meta answer gives you that one extra twist to figure out at the end, plus a little grin when you realize that the letters have “traveled” within their entries to deliver the goods. I imagine this one must’ve been a bear to construct, too. Getting WILBURYS in order, among other aspects, looks like no easy task.

4.75 stars. Lovely concept and execution. This guy is 3 for 3 in 2021 and you probably are as well. Let’s keep it rolling in April.

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11 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, March

  1. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    Glad you liked it!

    485 correct answers this month – more if I accept just “Wilburys,” which a number of people sent in…still deciding on that one.

  2. Jeff G. says:

    Excellent meta! Lots of chuckles figuring out the funny phrases and I laughed out loud when I saw the Traveling Wilburys! Great job Pete!

  3. Paul J Coulter says:

    Great meta. That was some all-star line-up in the Traveling Wilburys. I was slowed down a bit since I originally had ONE-STAGE (as in some rockets) for the TONESAGE transformation. Thus, I wound up with WILBURYT when I had them all. I thought the T might stand for Traveling, but I wondered where the S had gone. I knew this couldn’t be quite it, since the awkwardness would hardly be up to Pete’s invariably high standards. It was only when I searched for the S again that I realized TONESAGE could also change to STONEAGE.

  4. Jim S says:

    Great meta. My struggle was from entering “WAITERTAb” in the grid – couldn’t make heads or tales of what that should be even after backsolving and knowing it had to be the “I” that moved, so I finally had to google the Jazz musician to find my mistake (DEB seemed like it could be legit!).

  5. BryanF says:

    Great meta! This one jumped out at me because I kept saying “Swine Wave” instead of “Swine Ave” because it was so fun to say and to think about a bunch of pigs moving in a sine wave pattern made me laugh. So then the moving letters idea clicked and I started discovering the others. Lots of fun!

  6. Jack Sullivan says:

    Wilburys v. Traveling Wilburys

    Per Wikipedia “ The Traveling Wilburys (sometimes shortened to the Wilburys)…”

    If the answer were The Rolling Stones would Stones be OK?

    On the other hand, the title is Moving Target and the mechanism involves traveling letters.

    I submitted Wilburys but I would understand a rejection

  7. Tony says:

    My Aha moment was BUOY SCOTS as well. After seeing that, I looked at the other themers I had entered and wrote down all the “traveling” letters.

    Sad that only Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne are the only members of the band still with us

    I’m a nice guy, so I’m willing to let those who submitted Wilburys slide since they basically understood the Meta. Maybe give a half point?

  8. rachaar says:

    How many “End of the Line” jokes did you get from solver comments that you had to sort through for your post, Pete? :) (spoilers: I’m one of them, and I was one of the ones NOT selected for publication, lol)

  9. Heather says:

    Just found these puzzles earlier this month. My husband and I LOVE them. I found myself rearranging the answer clues in my head at 5am this morning and woke my husband to tell him I had figured out the answer!

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