“Warm smell of colitas rising up through the air.”
“Scaramouch, scaramouch, will you do the fandango”
“Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov.”
If none of these lines (or seven others) rings a bell for you, solving this month’s meta would have been close to impossible. The record-low 13 solvers who solved this year’s hardest MMMM found the highlighted words that “You Don’t Hear Very Often” at the beginning of 10 symmetrically located clues and then figured out WHO SAID IT:
NABOKOV is from the Police (“Don’t Stand So Close to Me”) and clues PNIN.
RASPUTIN is from the Indigo Girls (“Closer to Fine”) and clues NEVA.
GAVOTTE is from Carly Simon (“You’re So Vain”) and clues DANCE.
ESTELLA is from Alanis Morissette (“Ironic”) and clues WARD.
POLITESSE is from the Rolling Stones (“Sympathy for the Devil”) and clues CHIVALRY.
COLITAS is from the Eagles (“Hotel California”) and clues PIGTAILS.
TOLSTOY is from Simon and Garfunkel (“Cloudy”) and clues IVAN.
SCARAMOUCH is from Queen (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and clues CLOWN. My usually infallible editor wants me to tell you that Queen used the preferred spelling “Scaramouch,” not “Scaramouche,” which appeared in the clues. He apologizes to anyone whose solving experience was affected by this error.
CATORCE is from U2 (“Vertigo”) and clues TRES.
SEAMSTRESS is from Elton John (“Tiny Dancer”) and clues ROSS.
If you take the first letter from each of the band names, you get PICARESQUE, an unusually named 2005 album from (appropriately) the Decemberists, who appeared on “The Simpsons” last year.
The trick this month was figuring out that the important information was not in the grid, but in the clues. None of the other clues in the puzzle started with an unusual word associated with a well-known song.
New solver Andrew F. writes oh man… these are fun
j writes That was a really nice meta, executed especially well. (Also: so that’s what “colitas” (literally) means…)
Vraal didn’t like the work involved in tracking down all the lyrics: I think it’s a lovely puzzle and all, but I feel tired, not happy, to have solved it. (Ed. note: sigh)
These last two solvers are joined by only three others (ab, jeremiahsjohnson, and JanglerNPL) in solving all 11 puzzles and the mega-meta this year. Congrats to these five on their perfect 2013 record!
In the “effusive praise for the constructor” department (please send more), Chriss Popp writes Wow, again! Thank you so much for what has truly been an amazing year of puzzles. I just loved this one.
The 13 solvers (plus a few others who sent in wrong answers) rated this puzzle the toughest of the year (4.33 out of 5 in difficulty) and gave it 4.24 stars. Brent Holman from San Francisco is the first repeat MMMM coffee cup winner, which means he gets to pick the answer for a future puzzle.
The final MMMM of the year will be posted Tuesday, December 31. There are still bonus points available for getting the mega-meta before this puzzle is published. Because the mega-meta refers back to the first 11 puzzles of the year, I’ve made available unlocked Across Lite versions of all the 2013 puzzles at the 2013 Contest Page. (Thanks Peter Gordon for the suggestion.)
Finally – There’s still time to enter the Crossword Construction Contest. I will be accepting submissions until December 20 and you can enter more than once.
Thanks for playing!