The October MMMM, “Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad,” challenged solvers to find two classic rock songs by the same band. In the puzzle, the clues for TEN and IVS are starred, and there are ten four-letter words in the grid. Not a coincidence! Each of the four-letter words is one letter away from a band name:
BADE –> SADE
CORE –> CURE (with “the”)
ALBA –> ABBA
CARY –> CARS (with “the”)
TORO –> TOTO
ASEA –> ASIA
BRIO –> TRIO
RASH –> RUSH
RATA –> RATT
TRIX –> T-REX
Starting at 3 o’clock and proceeding clockwise, the replacement letters spell out SUBSTITUTE, a classic song by The Who. The removed letters anagram to BABA O’RILEY, another Who classic (sometimes called “Teenage Wasteland,” an appropriate name for the collection of discarded letters).
Those two songs are this month’s meta answer.
Subscribers also received a version of the puzzle without the asterisks on the clues for TEN and IVS, named “Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad (JV).” As a number of you guessed, JV stands for “Jangler Version.” Not surprisingly, Jangler was once again the first solver to get the answer this month (yes, he used the JV).
This was definitely the toughest MMMM of the year, with only 25 solvers cracking the meta. The average difficulty rating was 4.34 out of 5. It was also the highest-rated puzzle, getting 4.48 stars out of 5.
A number of people lobbed in Hail Marys. Two of the best guesses: Mike W sent in TUSH / LEGS by ZZ Top, two related four-letter song titles. weijus sent in BABE / LADY by STYX, two four-letter song titles by a four-letter band. Finally, andeux made me laugh out loud with his submission: I’M A LOSER / HELP by the Beatles.
Brent Holman pointed out that the other three-letter entries on the main vertical transverse, USC and RHO, are two one-letter replacements away from USE WHO. Yes, that’s a coincidence!
This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Jeremy Conner from Los Angeles.
Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can optionally rate puzzle and/or leave comments.
Thanks to all of you who sent in praise for the puzzle this month. I really appreciate the love. I work hard on these puzzles, and my sole goal is to create a fun solving experience. Thanks for playing and see you next month.