The year-ending meta meta proved to be a real challenge. Only four solvers managed to crack it, and three used an optional hint. You had to find JUST THE TWO OF US when you went LOOKING FOR CLUES in the nine contest puzzles. Exactly one clue in each puzzle contains the consecutive letters “US.”
|Puzzle 1:||SMILE||AmUSed look|
|Puzzle 2:||MAKE ME||RefUSenik’s rebuttal|
|Puzzle 3:||HOW||ModUS operandi|
|Puzzle 4:||USED TO||Not flUStered by|
|Puzzle 6:||I CAN||“___ Do That” (“A ChorUS Line” song)|
|Puzzle 7:||THAT||JUSt one of those things?|
|Puzzle 8:||REMEMBER||Make USe of one’s temporal lobe|
|Puzzle 9:||MUSIC||It USually has a key|
If you took the nine answers associated with those clues, you then had to SHAKE YOUR BOOTY to get the song lyric and meta answer: I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. The lyric is from “American Pie,” the meta answer to the fifth puzzle. It follows “A long long time ago,” which was on the right margin of the puzzle.
Midway through the week I realized that the difficulty level was harder than I thought and decided to offer a hint in exchange for reduced credit. Over 100 solvers asked for it. The hint was: Literal thinking will help you interpret two of the song titles. If you use literal thinking for the third, please send me a video.
Not only did I fail to receive a video of anyone shaking their booty (there’s still time), I also was again surprised that the hint didn’t help more people. Hats off to Abby Braunsdorf from Lafayette, IN, the only solver to get the meta meta without the hint. In Abby’s words: I didn’t think it was too hard. I hadn’t bothered to try intently until I could get all the puzzles printed out in one place, which I finally got a chance to do on the way out of work yesterday. I figured it out while walking home, but it was too cold to shuffle through all my printouts in the weather so I double-checked when I got home and sent it in. Kudos as well to Jeffrey Harris (who creates some fun puzzles here), Pete Mitchell, and Steve Williams, the only solvers besides Abby to submit the correct answer. Abby also wrote that it was more like a “mega meta” since the solution involved the previous puzzles, but not the previous metas. I agree.
Abby won the monthly MMMM coffee mug prize uncontested. For the random grand prize drawing, I went with a suggestion from Peter Gordon that points should be awarded in inverse proportion to difficulty (as measured by number of possible solvers/number of actual solvers). I gave solvers 1 point for solving each of the first three puzzles, 2 points for the next four, 5 points for Keyword Search, and a whopping 50 points for the mega meta (only 25 if you used the hint). You can see your point total here. Using a random number generator, I selected a number from 1 to 886 (the total number of points for solvers who got at least 6 metas) to get the winner….Steve Williams from Holbrook, MA. Even with the very large weight on the last puzzle, there was only a 20 percent chance that one of the four to solve it would be selected, but it is fitting that one of them wins the prize.
I got some amusing guess answers. Matt Gaffney sent in O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. Jeremy Horwitz sent in It’s been a hard day’s night, perhaps echoing his solving experience. My favorite was from Kevin Lee, who sent in “I said, Lord, take me downtown, I’m just lookin’ for some tush.”
That’s it for this year’s MMMM. Next year’s contest starts Tuesday February 5. Thanks for playing!
The orange colored answers in the grids below show the hidden song lyric: