2014 Puzzle 12: “Road Trips” Solution

Road Trips

This month’s MMMM challenged solvers to find a band suggested by the puzzle by going on three “trips,” each composed of two or four songs. The key to solving the meta was realizing that every one of the 10 “trip” songs specifically mentions, or is set in, a U.S. city or state.

TRIP 1:  LULLABY (mentions and set in the Hollywood Hills) // CHAINS (mentions Seattle) // TAKE IT EASY (mentions Winslow, Arizona) // BIG CITY (mentions Montana)

TRIP 2:  UPTOWN (Uptown refers to a district in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis) // HOT DOG (mentions and is about Texas)

TRIP 3:  HOTEL YORBA (a hotel in Detroit) // IKO IKO (about Mardi Gras Indian tribes in New Orleans) // MOVIN’ OUT (mentions Hackensack and set in New York City) // DOCTOR WU (mentions Biscayne Bay, Florida)

If a song mentioned one place but was set somewhere else, you had to pick the place mentioned. This matters for BIG CITY, which mentions Montana but is set in L.A.

After figuring out the relevant cities / states, solvers had to map out the trips to produce something like this:

NIN which kind of looks like nine inch nails, the logo for a band that’s the meta answer: Nine Inch Nails.

A total of 50 solvers got the meta, and they collectively rated it the highest regular-season MMMM puzzle ever (thanks!), assigning it an average of 4.40 stars out of 5. The average difficulty level was a medium-hard 3.67 out of 5.

Some solver comments:

Abide   A real TOUR de force!

Erin Milligan-Milburn   I had fun breaking out Microsoft Paint for this one!

Sheep1234   That was amazing. By far, the best meta-solving rush I have gotten in a while. The whole thing is just mind-blowing in its elegance.

DIS   The puzzle was very hard, since I didn’t know most of the songs. For the meta, all I knew were Winslow and Hackensack (and NOLA, once it was clear they didn’t all name the place). So I did a lot of googling. I really like the way this meta works.

The randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug this month is master puzzler Jeffrey Harris (aka Jangler). It’s the rare month when Jangler is not the first name to show up on the Leaderboard for a correct solution. This month, though, he was beaten by weijus and Brent Holman. At least Jeffrey gets a mug in which to drown his sorrows.

Thanks to Matt Gaffney for reviewing the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can comment on and rate the puzzle.

The final puzzle of the 2014 contest will be coming your way on Wednesday, December 31. And in case you were wondering, there will be a 2015 contest!

Thanks for playing and see you on New Year’s Eve.