Muller Monthly Music Meta, October 2023

puzzle 6:35; meta DNF (Matt)


I broke my monster, multi-year MMMM streak last month, so the pressure was off this month. Which means that I solved it easily with all that pressure removed, right? Well, we’ll see. 90 minutes before deadline and I still don’t have it, so let me blog my thoughts and see if that does the trick (it does work surprisingly often).

Six theme-length across entries, which doesn’t necessarily make them theme. They are:

17-A [Wily] = SLY AS A FOX
21-A: [Tony’s cousin?] = OBIE AWARD
32-A: [Greyhound needs] = BUS DRIVERS. I know “greyhound” is also a drink, and the two main ingredients turn out to be…gin and juice!? Might be important for a music meta…
41-A: [Singer whose album “We Are” won the Album of the Year Grammy in 2022] = JON BATISTE. Contain the letters in JONAS in order and The Jonas Brothers are a band of brothers. Could be something or maybe I’m as head-in-the-clouds as Snoop Dogg (see previous clue’s note)
51-A: [Where you might learn how to fix a woofer] = VET SCHOOL
58-A: [Like maraschino cherries] = VERY SWEET. “maraschino” is an anagram of “harmonicas,” as I learned long ago from GAMES Magazine. Meta-related? Unlikely…

So those are out theme entries, I’m assuming. Here are some things I have noticed:

27-D: [Like the question “Did you solve the meta?”] = YES/NO. Somewhat sus clue/answer pair, or could just be our meta-maestro being funny at what happens to be the central down entry. There are some NOs in the grid as there are in most crosswords, but I don’t see a YES anywhere so I’m calling this a dead end.

Following up on an early potential rabbit: JON BATISTE containes JONAS as in the Jonas Brothers, and then BO#OBIE in the fourth row could be DOOBIE (as in the Doobie Brothers) if you change its first letter to a D. Similarly you can almost get EVERLY from the E#VERY in Row 13. But can’t find anything else beyond that.

So that’s all I’ve got at the moment. With 75 minutes left, let me take another look and see if anything pops out. Over an hour left and no streak on the line, so no need to panic. Right? Right?

“Bands” in the title could mean “music bands,” or it could mean acrosses or downs or diagonals. Didn’t see anything on the diagonals, and the aforementioned almost-“X-Brothers”-named-bands finds on the acrosses didn’t work out.

Looking now at suspicious fill, and a few squares stick out. Why DOA/OAST instead of DEA/EAST in the Virginia section of the grid? Could’ve been DEA/EAST. On the other hand, OAST has become less crosswordese-ish since the craft beer revolution.

But why BALI/IED in the Oregon section? That could simply have been BALL/LED. Why not ACHES/SLUR/HAT/BASH/UCLA/SHUT there? Gets rid of ALPES, ULEE, and IED. Something’s almost definitely happening in Oregon. But what?

OK, I’m afraid I got nothin’. Submitting Def Leppard as my answer as a WAG. Let me know what I missed…I got 27-or-so in a row and then missed two straight! Egad.

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12 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, October 2023

  1. You were close, Matt. The first word in each theme answer is the name of a “band of brothers” minus two letters.

    SLY –> ISLEY Brothers
    OBIE –> DOOBIE Brothers
    BUS –> BLUES Brothers
    JON –> JONAS Brothers
    VET –> AVETT Brothers
    VERY –> EVERLY Brothers

    The deleted letters from each set of brothers are the first two letters of three-letter entries elsewhere in the grid:

    ISLEY –> IE –> IED
    DOOBIE –> DO –> DOA
    BLUES –> LE –> LEV
    JONAS –> AS –> ASI
    AVETT –> AT –> ATE
    EVERLY –> EL –> ELS

    The third letters in those entries spell DAVIES, the surname of the brothers Ray Davies and Dave Davies from THE KINKS.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Damn! I was right there. Just didn’t make the leap to 2 letters instead of 1.

    *Muller!* (shakes fist)

  3. Eric H says:

    The only unusual thing that I noticed was that eight answers, all basically in the lower half of the grid, had doubled vowels, and a couple of those answers were weird (VOOM and MOOM). But if those doubled vowels are the “brothers” of the title, I can’t get anywhere with them.

    It’s been so long since I’ve gotten the meta answer for a MMMM puzzle that I can’t really remember the last one I got. That’s discouraging. It’s some consolation that a meta whiz like Matt Gaffney has been struggling with them too.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the puzzle.

    • Eric H says:

      Just read Evan Birnholz’s explanation.

      That’s a clever mechanism. There’s no way in hell that I would have figured it out myself.

  4. Rammy Meyerowitz says:

    One of my rabbit holes had to do with the central “YESNO”:
    The end of the first words in the theme answers spelled …
    JO(N) … but then
    VER(Y) … ?

    and there were also the 2 additional symmetrical 2-word across answers, to confuse things

    so many rabbits. but good puzzle. I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t got there (with a little nudge)

  5. Giovanni P. says:

    This was a toughie for sure. I had to get a nudge to focus on the first words, otherwise I would have been hung up on potential surnames like FOX, WARD and RIVERS (which when combined with the UOMO underneath, almost gives the lead singer of Weezer!)

    Better luck next month Matt. Though apparently it will be the hardest of the year…

  6. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt!

    Only 146 correct this month…and quite a few people mentioned needing help.

    I’m surprised that after DOOBIE, EVERLY, and JONAS, you didn’t think you were on to the mechanism…


    PS. There was a mess-up on the meta prompt (only) at the WaPo version of the puzzle which was found and corrected mid-week. Apologies to anyone that was misled!

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Yeah but when solving metas you’ve got one bird on each shoulder, the first one whispering “let it go! move on! that’s not it!” and the other one saying “keep going! you’ve almost got it!” and I never know which one to listen to

  7. HoldThatThought says:

    I’m a big proponent of “2 is a coincidence, 3 is time to leave town.”

  8. clonefitz says:

    My tale of woe for this meta: I had my mind set from the beginning that the answer was going to be OASIS. When I figured out the mechanism and started working through the details, the first letter I got was the final S, then I got the A and the I. Since I was focused on OASIS, I never realized I was only looking at five of the themers instead of all six. When the first and third letter didn’t turn out to be O and S, but D and V, I began wracking my brain for a band that had DAVIS brothers. A Google search led me to the Spencer Davis group, which featured Steve Winwood and his brother. Didn’t seem like a great answer, but maybe this connection was more well known than I’d realized so I submitted it. Then when I did not appear on the list of correct solvers, I went back and triple checked to see if OASIS wasn’t somehow correct. That’s when I finally realized I had missed the themer for the Avett Brothers, which would have given the E that I needed for DAVIES, which would have led me to the correct answer. Like math teachers always say, “Gotta check your work!”

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