Complaint Letter (Solution)

by Alan Deckelbaum

Each of the three middle paragraphs hints strongly at a feature of spelling. (This is hinted at in the opening paragraph, and by the fact that Donna Martin is a fictional character played by Tori Spelling.) The first paragraph hints at words with silent consonants, the second at heteronyms (a word which can have two different meanings, each with its own pronunciation), and the third at exceptions to the rule "'I' before 'E' except after 'C.'" By identifying all of these words in the corresponding paragraph and reading the first letters, you get the phrase:


Mammoth Cave has a place named "Ole Bull’s Concert Hall", yielding the answer BULL.

The key words are capitalized below.

Dear Virgil Malloy-­

I am quite disappointed by the complete lack of style and substance in modern “music.” The industry has spiraled out of control, and it is imperative to reverse this disturbing trend. I have spelled out my advice below. If you pay attention to my letter, I’m sure you will notice an immediate improvement.

Music is too loud! How can anyone prefer the storm of a MIGHTY drum to the soothing AUTUMN wind of a muted clarinet!? It MIGHT or MIGHT not be an easy change, but you OUGHT to heed my advice: True music TALKS to the audience, and dialog is most potent if the volume is cut in HALF. My CAMPAIGN is not new: Cage showed us the ANSWER many years ago with his masterpiece, 4’33”. Nothing is more beautiful than silent musical consonance. Music is a story, and there is no need for a loud novel if an inaudible VIGNETTE is adequate. You must therefore impose a strict limit of EIGHTY decibels on your music.

I really hate how musicians dress nowadays. It’s so distracting! When I see a CONCERT, I feel like I’m watching some sort of absurdist fashion show. Music should be solely about the OVERALL sound and meaning of the NUMBER. A musician must CONDUCT himself in a dignified yet unassuming manner: True music can ENTRANCE any audience, even if played on a crackly RECORD in a dark room. A TEAR came to my eye when I listened to some old Frank Sinatra albums in my HOUSE last night. Sinatra was a true artist-­‐ he would always perform in a suit, and he wouldn’t worry about needless visual distractions. Current dress is not APPROPRIATE, and it takes away from music’s real meaning. I therefore suggest imposing the rule that everyone involved with a LIVE performance, from the LEAD guitarist to the stage manager, be required to wear a simple suit. Musicians should be encouraged to have unique sounds and express unique ideas, but they ought to look the same!

Song lyrics are terrible! Just because a phrase has lots of silly rhymes doesn’t mean it has real meaning. I can think of tons of sayings that rhyme but are false. “Liar liar, pants on fire?” I don’t think anyone’s LEISURE pants have ever caught fire from telling a lie. I might be ANCIENT, but I’m not stupid. My grandson told me last Thursday, “beer before liquor, never sicker.” Always wanting to SEIZE the opportunity to prove a rhyme incorrect (I do have some foolish TENDENCIES), I tried the aforementioned experiment last night. It wasn’t the most pleasant night, but NEITHER was it the worst I’ve ever had. The experiment proved my point, ALBEIT in an unpleasant manner that left me to the tender MERCIES of a terrible hangover. Nevertheless, this proves that you must EITHER disregard any saying that rhymes, or you should instead assume that the opposite is probably closer to the truth! To solve this problem, I suggest that any advice stated in the form of a rhyme be removed from all songs.

Ms. Donna Martin