Muller Monthly Music Meta, November 2023

puzzle 9-something and needed two Googles in the Oregon section of the grid on ELLORA and LUNGS; meta 20 mins (Matt)



Back on track! After getting 27-ish Muller Metas in a row I missed the last two, but now I’m back in business. Pete and co-constructor Mack Meller present us with a wide-open grid with no obvious theme entries; the longest entries are a quartet of 10s (DUAL DEGREE, ANKLE BOOTS, PASSED BALL, ACEY-DEUCEY) which don’t look like theme since they’re stacked. So let’s just let our eyes wander through the grid and see what we see…

With the title “Postal Inspection” we might be looking at USPS abbrevs for states, one of the most commonly-used meta techniques. And lo, there they are, occupying all but one letter in 10 of the long Acrosses:

23-A: [The “N” of PRNDL] = NEUTRAL (NE + UT + R + AL)
26-A: [Split payment?] = ALIMONY (AL + I + MO + NY)
31-A: [Presidential following?] = MOTORCADE (MO + T + OR + CA + DE)
34-A: [Apple Music alternative] = PANDORA (PA + ND + OR + A)
42-A: [Word often seen in parking garages] = COMPACT (CO + M + PA + CT)
49-A: [A place?] = OAKLAND (O + AK + LA + ND)
55-A: [“Little” film character] = MERMAID (ME + R + MA + ID)
58-A: [Michael Douglas’s “Disclosure” co-star] = DEMI MOORE (DE + MI + MO + OR + E)
66-A: [Plain] = VANILLA = VA + N + IL + LA
68-A: [Magic place?] = ORLANDO = OR + LA + ND + O

Those unused letters spell out contest answer RITA MORENO. Seemed a bit random at first, but then I remembered this:

Cute meta, getting one more wrinkle out of postal abbreviations. 4.15 stars. Good to be back on the board!

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12 Responses to Muller Monthly Music Meta, November 2023

  1. Pete Muller says:

    Thanks Matt

    Welcome back on the board!

    260 correct this month…

  2. Eric H says:

    After having not gotten the meta answer in a MMMM puzzle for four or five months, I was almost resigned to not getting any more of them this year.

    The title had me looking for postal codes as soon as I filled in the grid. But I only noticed a few, so I put the puzzle aside for a bit.

    When I came back to it, the damned things were everywhere! It didn’t take long to see that each of the longer Across answers was a bunch of postal codes and a leftover letter. I’m frankly a bit surprised that I hadn’t noticed it sooner.

    The mechanism brings up two questions: How does one find words that work in that way? And what else could you spell out in a grid in this manner?

    I’m looking forward to December’s puzzle.

  3. jefe says:

    The posted image is last month’s puzzle

  4. Me says:

    Great puzzle this month! Can someone explain: 76A. Face creams? = PIES

  5. Rammy M says:

    The last row starts YESNO
    The four corners of the grid are a Y and 3 Ns
    There is a clue about Ctrl-Y, and 3 clues that start “the N of …”

    That had me stuck for a while.

  6. sym says:

    America would also be a possible theme answer (A + ME + RI + CA)

  7. Eric H says:

    Pete Muller’s write-up on his website mentioned some of the alternate clues I suggested.

    I had almost as much fun thinking up those as I did solving the puzzle.

    Here’s my full list for anyone who might be interested:

    23A: Indie rock band ___ Milk Hotel NEUTRAL

    26A: “I’ll miss you when I’m lonely/I’ll miss the ____ too” (Harry Nilsson lyric) ALIMONY [The song is “Don’t Forget Me,” which I first heard as a cover by Neko Case]

    42A: Word before disc COMPACT

    49A: ___ Coliseum (Bay Area concert venue) OAKLAND

    66A: ___ Ice (stage name of Robert Van Winkle) VANILLA

    68A: Desired assignment for Kevin Price in “The Book of Mormon” ORLANDO

    78A: Sheila E., to Alejandro Escovedo (or New Pornographer Kathryn Calder, to New Pornographer Carl Newman) NIECE

    10D: Setting for the Everly Brothers’ “Take a Message to Mary” JAIL

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