2014 Puzzle 1: “State Lines” Solution

State LinesA total of 219 subscribers sent in the correct solution to the first puzzle of the year – a new MMMM record! The five theme entries for the puzzle, MISSISSIPPY CUP, DELAWARINESS, OREGOTH, LOUISIANIMAL, and KENTUCKERED OUT, all took a state name, dropped the last letter, and added some letters to make a made-up mashed-up word. There was a hit song from 2000 that fits this pattern and it was the answer to the meta: CALIFORNICATION by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (the April 2013 meta, as pointed out by mmurphy).

Mary B writes This is the first meta I’ve gotten! Ever! In my whole life. It’s also the first one I’ve done. At least I hope I got it! Congratulations Mary, you did.

Jeff G. writes  Great way to start the year! adamrosenfield agreed it was a nice gentle start to the year. And Tony_A also thought it a good gentle start to this year’s contest. I’m good for one or two correct answers each year, so I hope I haven’t peaked yet:)

Erin Milligan-Milburn writes The Chili Peppers are one of my least favorite bands, but the puzzle is fantastic! I’m from Delaware, so it was nice to be recognized for our lax corporate laws.

spongeamy jokes Is David Steinberg allowed to do this one?:)

I got a lot of great suggestions for cluing CALIFORNICATION. My favorite came from Golem who defined it as [Nancy Pelosi’s constituency in congress?].

Some other great clue suggestions (in no particular order) below:

[Silicone Valley activity?] Lisa from Queens
[Scene from Boogie Nights?] Abide
[Reason for a fallen Angel?] Mike W
[Sex on the beach?] Pete Mitchell
[Bay Area booty?] micmarc
[What’s missing from a nerdy Silicon bachelor’s life?] postrander
[Sex on the Long Beach?] Evan
[Hot tub activity after surfing?] Genefaba
[Moody’s blues on Showtime?] Brainboggler
[Moody’s cure for writer’s block?] FrotzNPL
[Napa Valley sin?] JasonGladden
[Extramarital use of redwood?] ab

A number of people suggested alternate theme entries, but unfortunately many didn’t drop exactly one letter from the state name. Several proposed entries met that constraint and would have worked well:

TENNESSEXY [Description of a hot Volunteer?] Chriss Popp
ALABAMBOO [Wood used on the Crimson Tide?] Dary Merckens
TENNESSEIZURE [Drug Raid at the Grand Ole Opry?] Gwinns

In the musical clue suggestion department, flipperista suggested cluing EMMA as [NOLA legend Sweet ___], and micmarc had a few good ones, including cluing ARUBA as [First word of “Kokomo”].

The average user rating was 3.77 stars out of 5, with a difficulty rating of 2.22 out of 5, making this the easiest-ever MMMM puzzle. The randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Bob Johnson from Ambler, PA.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this past year’s Tip Jar – I received a little over $300 from 20 subscribers, which will help defray some of the costs of running the contest. Much appreciated!

I also received a lot of great comments on the 2013 year – thank you! One suggestion I will use is to slot the hardest meta puzzle in October or November instead of December when people’s schedules get pretty crazy. A few solvers asked for more classical and jazz puzzles. It was originally my intent to do a wider range of genres, but so far most of my ideas (for 2014 as well) have come from rock and pop. I hope to broaden out a bit next year.

Thanks again to Matt Gaffney who continues to blog the MMMM at Crossword Fiend. As a reminder, you can anonymously rate MMMM (and many other crossword) puzzles there.

The next MMMM will come your way Tuesday February 4. As Quicks?lver writes, Here’s to another year of excellent and fun puzzles. Thanks for playing!