A lot of you found the August MMMM challenging. Only 113 people (down from 176 last month) came up with AMERICAN PIE, the correct answer. How did they get there? The central down entry, MARGINAL EFFORTS, hinted at what you had to do to get the meta – write an extra word in the margin to give an equally valid answer for the nine starred clues:
(DON) IMUS for a radio show host
(MCLEAN) VIRGINA for CIA headquarters
(AMERICAN) WOMAN for a decade-starting hit
(PIE) CRUST for a cobbler’s top
THE US(A) for the top London medal winners
ALL DAY (LONG) for sunrise to sunset
HUEY (LONG) for the “Kingfish”
SUMMER(TIME) for a cotton-growing season, and
CHIC(AGO) for a band with 1970s hits
On the left side are DON MCLEAN and AMERICAN PIE. On the right is the first line of the song: A LONG LONG TIME AGO.
Anthony Antonakas wrote “Loved the puzzle! I work in Alexandria (and am a federal employee), so Mclean jumped right out at me.” As an aside, a few people thought the CIA was in Langley. Well, it is. Langley is an unincorporated community in McLean, VA. So technically the CIA is both in Langley and in McLean.
Along with the regular version of the puzzle, solvers had the option of trying an “expert” version that did not have stars for the nine clues. Many people reported starting with the expert version and then reverting back to the regular version. The following solvers only used the expert version (apologies if I left anyone out): Anne Erdmann (a few minutes for the meta), Jangler (6 minutes total), Al Sanders (11:30), Dan Feyer (10-15 minutes), Ken Lauterbach (15 minutes while watching the Olympics), Travis Hime, and Jim Schooler.
As always, I got some good suggestions for clues that could have been musical. I was reminded of folk singer Dan BERN, who has a great song called “God Said No.” Dan Seidman suggested SONIC Youth, as did Michael Marcus (who also mentioned Bach AIRS.) Continuing on the classical music theme, Blanche Schulz mentioned the tale of TSAR Saltan by Rimsky-Korsakov. John Wilson suggested I could have used Shakira’s greatest hits record “ORAL Fixation.” Another solver suggested the Stones’ “UNDER My Thumb.” And finally, Charles Montpetit wondered if every clue could be music-related and came up with a resounding yes. You can see the entire list of his music-themed clues here.
This month’s winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Emily O’Neill from Victoria, BC (currently 4 for 4 in the contest). Matt Gaffney kept his streak alive with 20 minutes to spare. You can read about his solving journey here. Including Matt and Emily, there are 64 solvers who are 4 for 4 going into September.
Thanks for the comments and feedback. The next MMMM puzzle will be posted on Tuesday September 4.