2016 Puzzle 6: “Prime Directive” Solution

Prime Directive

The June MMMM, “Prime Directive,” challenged solvers to find a hit from the ’80s. The title hints at prime numbers being involved in some way, but how? The grid contains 13 theme entries, and 13 is a prime. Turns out that doesn’t matter! The key is to string the theme answers together and start counting, selecting only the letters corresponding to prime numbers. Doing this gives you the Police’s smash hit, Don’t Stand So Close to Me, this month’s meta answer, as shown in the graphic below (click to enlarge).

stand so close graphic

This meta stumped a lot of solvers and broke quite a few streaks, but 77 people managed to find their way to the correct answer. Three out of the first four theme songs contain heavily repeated choruses, which allowed me to deviously (cue evil scientist laughter) create a rabbit hole in the clues mentioning the number of repeats. The most popular incorrect answer was “867-5309,” which somewhat surprisingly turns out to be a prime number.

Selected Solver Comments:

arctan   As a math major, loved it!

Ira   Excellent puzzle and meta!

Raygirl   Super satisfying. Thanks!

Jeff G   I was thrown off by the 30 times and 40 times, and Ben Folds Five… Thought for sure the answer was in the clues, but what a great aha moment when I caught on! 

Jonesy   Almost broke the streak this week!!

Brian Cross   This is the first of these puzzles I’ve tried, but will definitely be back for more.   Welcome!



jefe   I wasn’t told there would be any math.

Abide   “There’s a lotta blank spots on my grid today…”

Howard B   Call the Police on this one. I still can’t believe I solved this. Amazing!


Clues That Could Have Been Musical:

Mike W suggests [Home of Lee Ho Fook] as a clue for SOHO (from Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”).

Evan suggests cluing DARE as [Weird Al’s “___ to Be Stupid”] and LORDY as [Neil Diamond song].

Charles Montpetit suggests using [Bee Gees album] for IDEA.

Solvers rated this puzzle higher than any other regular-season puzzle since I started the MMMM (thank you!) at 4.47 out of 5 stars, and the sixth-toughest (4.10 on a scale of 1 to 5). This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Eric Maddy from Huntington Beach, CA. Thanks as always to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend (despite having his winning streak broken this month), where you can rate the puzzle and/or leave a comment.

No one has cracked the mega-meta yet. Nine incorrect submissions so far.

Thanks for playing, and see you in July (which should be easier for most solvers)!