2015 Puzzle 7: “Ionic Columns” Solution

Ionic ColumnsThe July MMMM challenged solvers to find a classic rock album. The tightly packed grid (84 words, 40 blocks) with no discernible theme entries had many scratching their heads. The title, “Ionic Columns,” pointed the way – Greek letters were hidden in 12 of the 15 columns: BETA, ALPHA, TAU, OMICRON, UPSILON, TAU, OMICRON, PHI, ETA, EPSILON, LAMBDA, LAMBDA, spelling out BAT OUT OF HELL, the classic album by Meat Loaf. The reference to a bat coming out of hell originated with Aristophanes, which makes the use of Greek letters even more appropriate.

“Ionic Columns” received the highest average rating of any MMMM this year, garnering 4.3 stars out of 5. The difficulty level was second-highest, rated on average 3.53 out of 5. While many loved the puzzle (see some comments below), a few solvers thought the fill wasn’t up to the usual MMMM standards.


Some solver comments:

jsolomon1999   Source of my favorite meta puzzle mantra: “let me sleep on it, and I’ll give you an answer in the morning” (from “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”)

ASB   I spent way too long trying to play with the periodic table. “Mg” in OMG, “Si” and “Na” everywhere

kaymook   Holy zeus, when you finally see those hidden letters, it’s amazing. I’d give you VI stars if I could!

Blind Pursuit   Thanks for finding a new way to drive me nuts (just doing my job!)

ab   That’s some bad-ass construction

Anonymous   One of the few puzzles so far this year to make me say “wow” out loud

Paul Coulter   I’d beta lot this one sets a nu high for ratings (Groan!)

m5rammy    No “nu”s might have been better news. Also I did “notice” the word going up the diagonal. (Tried really hard to eliminate them, but couldn’t. The NOTICE thing is cool – I hadn’t noticed it)

Spelvin   I wish the PHI jumped a black square, but I’ll allow it. Genius grid. (I just couldn’t make it happen with a split PHI. I hope you can forgive the imperfection)

Ertchin   I admire that you fit all of that into the grid, but I think the puzzle just suffers too much for it. (Can’t please everyone)

Evan   Was III just a red herring? (I wanted something different in the middle so I thought III, which looks like a column, would be cool. Amusingly, the Leaderboard was slow to update, causing one panicked solver to worry that the answer was actually “Bat Out of Hell III” –certainly not a classic!)

Clues that could have been musical:

fheaney   SPYHOP seems like it should be a musical genre mixing stuff like the James Bond theme with hip-hop beats and rap verses. (Nice!)

Mike W   DANG could be Roger Miller 1964 hit ” ___ Me”

Todd G   Dierks Bentley’s song “What Was I Thinkin'” mentions “hood-slidin’ like BO DUKE”

Evan   BLAST = [Green Day song “Having A ___”] and RAW = [Wiz Khalifa song in which he repeats the title at least 25 times]

Charles Montpetit   The title could have been “Isn’t it Ionic” (groan)

Six more solvers cracked the mega-meta this past month, earning 17 bonus points: Ertchin, jefflouie, Bob J, Chris Popp, weijus, and Andeux. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Steve Williams from Holbrook, MA. Thanks as always to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle and/or leave a comment.

Thanks for playing and see you next month!