The final MMMM of the year brings the mega-meta reveal. Each of this year’s 12 MMMM puzzles contains a rebus square with two-letter DYADS. If you JUXTAPOSE them, you get the phrase SE-LE-CT-AN-EI-GH-BO-RI-NG-SQ-UA-RE, or SELECT A NEIGHBORING SQUARE. For those solvers who had not yet figured out which squares to select, this puzzle gives the HEADINGS necessary to determine which 12 squares to choose. Using R for Right, L for Left, U for Up, and D for Down, and working your way through the R, U, L, L, U, D, D, U, R, L, L, and R squares adjacent to the rebus squares (one letter per month), you get DOUBLE VISION, the FOREIGNER hit, and this year’s mega-meta answer. As a number of observant solvers noticed, DIPLOPIA, the entry symmetric to HEADINGS, is the medical term for DOUBLE VISION.
Eighty solvers didn’t need to wait for this puzzle to figure it out, and received extra bonus bonus for their efforts. Gwinns was the first (by five minutes!), in May, after only seeing SE-LE-CT-AN-EI. Gwinns also correctly solved every meta, giving him the highest 2016 point total. Veep, Jangler, fheaney, and bng17 also solved the mega-meta in May.
There was a red herring again this year. For each of the first eight months, the two-letter rebus square also (diabolically) showed up in a clue. The first letters of the clued words spelled out I AM SORRY, while the first letters of their clues spelled out TRY AGAIN. Two solvers (Veep and Jangler) guessed I AM THE WALRUS (a plausible 12-letter song title) after three months and lost one bonus point each, marring otherwise perfect scores.
|SE||The state directly SE of South Dakota||IOWA|
|LE||Red LED sign in some convenience store windows||ATM|
|CT||You might get one in place of a CT scan||MRI|
|AN||ANA flies there nonstop from Tokyo||SFO|
|EI||Group that sang “AEIOU Sometimes Y”: EBN-___||OZN|
|GH||A-___ (slugger who admitted using HGH)||ROD|
|BO||Indelicate, as some HBO shows||RAW|
|RI||New Haven hospital known for its MRI facility||YALE|
Because of the large number of solvers who got the mega-meta before this final puzzle, I decided to add a little bonus. Twelve blue squares in the grid give an alternate set of direction headings, and point to 12 letters that can be anagrammed into another Foreigner song, and the first name of one of its band members. Using N for North, S for South, E for East, and W for West, the headings E, N, N, E, N, S, N, S, N, W, E, and E point to this set of letters: D,O,A,S,L,E,A,C,I,I,C,N. With a little work, they anagram to COLD AS ICE and IAN (McDonald). Believe it or not, I didn’t come up with this bonus question until after all 12 puzzles were done, so it was pretty lucky to find a nine-letter song by Foreigner in there along with IAN. Frank Longo also found that you can make SOUND STUDIOS by anagramming 12 appropriately selected adjacent squares.
Selected Solver Comments:
ASB Brilliant work all year. so glad you’re bringing it back in ’16.
chnest Another amazing year. I’m very excited that you’ll be doing it for at least one more.
Thanks to all of you who sent in appreciative comments like these on the 2015 MMMM – too many to list here, but I’m definitely feeling the love and excited about 2016 – thank you!
Paolo P. Just want to say I totally fell for that “rebus squares in acronyms in the clues” trick, and I then realized that I like red herrings better when I don’t notice them.
jefe Solving the mega-meta early would’ve been easier if i’d known “neighboring” excluded diagonally-adjacent That’s why people get bonus points for solving early!
Shawn P Congrats on a great year of MMMM! I also recently discovered and really like the music videos you have posted to YouTube over the past few months Thanks Shawn! You can check out one here.
The requisite groaners:
Heavy_B Feels like the first time…no, wait, it IS the first time I’ve solved the mega-meta.
mmurphy You truly are my Jukebox Hero.
Redhead64 Nice “Head Games” to close out the year.
A total of 115 solvers got the mega-meta correct this year, and 85 got the COLD AS ICE bonus answer. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM mug is Paolo P from San Diego. The average user rating for the puzzle was 4.37 stars out of 5, with an average difficulty level of 2.8. Thanks as always to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle or leave a comment. I really appreciate people taking the time and rating the puzzle – thanks!
Grand Prize drawing:
The 2015 Leaderboard is posted here. The 2015 Grand Prize Drawing winner will be posted within a week. A total of 67 subscribers solved at least 9 of the 13 puzzles and qualified for the drawing.
Finally, a big thanks to Frank Longo, Charles Montpetit, and Susan Keefer for help in editing, fact-checking, and brainstorming. I couldn’t have done it without you!
The 2016 MMMM starts January 19. Thanks for playing!
2015 MMMM Puzzles
(Yellow squares show the rebus, green squares show the appropriate letter for DOUBLE VISION, and red words show the red herring.)
(Click any puzzle to enlarge it)