2013 Puzzle 9: “Missing Theme Entry” Solution

Missing Theme Entry

It’s month 9 of this year’s contest, so I decided to make this puzzle a little harder by omitting the title. A total of 64 solvers didn’t need it. They figured out that six colors of the rainbow were referenced in song titles containing a word from each theme entry:

OL MAN RIVER      “Ol’ Red” by Blake Shelton

THE CRUSH              “Orange Crush” by R.E.M.

MELLOW OUT         “Mellow Yellow” by Donovan

KEITH MOON         “Blue Moon” by the Marcels

MOOD RING            “Mood Indigo” by Duke Ellington

LAURYN HILL      “Violet Hill” by Coldplay

Each of the above artists was also mentioned in one of the clues. From there it didn’t take long to figure out that the missing theme entry had to reference “Green Onions” by Booker T. & the MGs. I thought SWEET ONIONS was the obvious choice, but I also accepted OUR ONIONS and PREP ONIONS (especially since the solver said he couldn’t decide between PREP and SWEET).

On Friday I offered solvers hints in exchange for reduced credit. A total of 18 solvers used the first hint, the puzzle title, “Colour My World,” to solve the meta. They received half credit. One-quarter credit went to three solvers who also needed the “Rainbow Connection” title to get there.

There were a number of colorful traps to fall into. “Green River” by CCR is a well-known song, and Blake Shelton has a song (and an album) called “Red River Blue.” The Neville Brothers have a song called “Yellow Moon.” Perhaps the biggest trap this month involved identifying the theme entries. A number of solvers thought the long Down answers (JOEY BISHOP and RAISES CAIN) were part of the theme and that the short Across answers (MOOD RING and THE CRUSH) weren’t.

It’s interesting how people’s musical knowledge varies. Mega-meta solver Abby B wrote that “Mood Indigo” and Duke was a dead giveaway, while adamrosenfield never heard of Ol’ Red, Green Onions, Mood Indigo, or Violet Hill, but I was able to figure it out from just Orange Crush, Mellow Yellow, and Blue Moon (and the latter I really only know as an expression, not as a song).

Congrats to the seven (!) people who solved the mega-meta before this puzzle came out. Vraal and jeremiahsjohnson were mentioned in last month’s write-up. Also getting it were Abby BjJanglerNPLSteve Williams, and Cenarius. Congratulations (and (100/7) + 5 = 19.3 bonus points) to them! As a reminder, you can still get 5 bonus points for solving the mega-meta before the puzzle comes out in December. Only 20 people have solved all nine puzzles without a hint. Many more are still eligible for the grand prize drawing – you need eight correct solutions to qualify.

The biggest laugh I got this month was from test-solver Frank Longo who pointed out 25-Across/6-Down could be a possible submission.

The average user rating for the puzzle was 4.04 stars out of 5. Solvers thought it was the hardest puzzle of the year so far, rating it 3.67 on a scale of 1 to 5. This month’s lucky winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Tom Cassidy of Staten Island, NY.

Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend. If you’re so inclined, you can anonymously rate the puzzle at that site. (The highest-rated puzzles each year get recognized.)

Thanks for playing. The next MMMM comes out Tuesday, November 5.