puzzle 8:45, meta DNF (Matt)
We’re on edition six of the Muller Monthly Music Meta, so let’s congratulate Pete on his half-year anniversary. He started off easy on us but has toughened things up considerably the past few months, and October’s puzzle continued that trend. In fact, it’s the first Muller Music Meta that I’ve failed to solve.
I haven’t made up my mind on the meta yet; it treads a fine line between lovely mosaic and jumbled mess. Decide for yourself: instructions read Four albums by the same well-known band are alluded to in this puzzle. The meta is the first one chronologically and the four album’s covers were described in some way: 6-down is BRICKS AND MORTAR, which describes the cover of Pink Floyd’s famous 1979 album “The Wall”:
4-down and 42-across form the music festival BURNING / MAN, which also describes the combusting gentleman on the cover of their 1975 album “Wish You Were Here”:
57-a and 40-d form WHEN / PIGS FLY, which describes part of the cover of their 1977 album “Animals” (that’s a huge floating pig between the two leftmost smokestacks):
And the last one, which I had to have Pete explain to me (Brendan Quigley had told me the answer after I’d given up, but he wasn’t sure what the 4th album was himself): I’d noticed that BLACK and EBONY appear symmetrically opposite and leaned up against lots of black/ebony squares, but I didn’t see their connection. The idea is that it’s their album “Dark Side of the Moon,” whose cover is perhaps the most famous of any album in music history:
This makes DARK SIDE OF THE MOON the meta answer, since it’s the first of the albums chronologically (1973).
I like the following about this meta:
1) The idea of using album covers as the meta’s basis.
2) The idea of pointing to the album covers in a variety of ways.
3) The bizarre-looking grid and its lively fill.
But there are a few things that bother me about it:
1) The trick for “Dark Side of the Moon” seems inconsistent; in the first three, the descriptions are clearly of what’s going on on the album’s cover. But for DSoTM’s trick we’re referencing the album title, not its cover, which is famously a prism refracting light, not the dark side of the moon. I don’t mind the hodgepodge of references but to step away from the cover concept for this one entry doesn’t seem logical.
2) The asymmetry of the theme answers. The meta was tough in part because it was so knotty to figure out what were theme entries and what was fill; for a while I convinced myself that even BRICKS AND MORTAR was just fill! WHEN PIGS FLY and BURNING MAN being broken up so distantly was also a bit strange, though their very strangeness could have served as hints to the meta.
3) I didn’t solve it. Perhaps I’m just bitter?
Here are two of the more humorous false paths I took in the three hours I spent trying to crack this one: 1) spotting RUMORS (starting from square 43) and TUSK (NE corner) told me I was just about to crack the meta, but no MIRAGE or TANGO IN THE NIGHT. But it’s RUMOURS anyway, of course. 2) The clue for 28-a reads [Dir.from 6 to 40 in this grid] for SSE. Just in case I started at the 6 and went SSE towards the 40, and the first four letters were B-A-N-D. That cost me 10 minutes.
So overall I liked more things about this meta than I disliked; unless I’m missing a subtlety (tell me in comments if so) the biggest ding comes on the “Dark Side of the Moon” issue mentioned above, but that’s not enough to negate the cleverness of the covers idea combined with with a grid that was, in the end, more lovely mosaic than jumbled mess.
Let’s say 4.00 stars, and now with the pressure to be perfect off of me I’m looking forward to redeeming myself in November.