2016 Puzzle 9: “Externalities” Solution

Externalities 2The September MMMM asks for a well-known song. Twelve clues are starred, six on each side of the puzzle: BANK, NINE, DUST, RAIN, TAP, AFFAIR, STONED, ONE, LINE, TIME, LUSH, and REAL. The puzzle’s title, “Externalities,” hints that there may be something that needs to go outside the grid. But what? A search down the center of the grid turns up a “broken” JONI MITCHELL, an important clue that helped many get to the answer. One of Joni’s most famous songs talks about looking at clouds, love, and life from different perspectives, and each entry corresponding to a starred clue can either be preceded or followed by CLOUD, LOVE, or LIFE, to form either popular songs (e.g. “Cloud Nine” or “One Love”) or familiar phrases that also happen to be obscure songs (e.g. “Dust Cloud” or “Love Tap”). The Joni Mitchell song in question, of course, is Both Sides, Now, the answer to the September meta. A total of 85 solvers figured it out.

For those unfamiliar with “Both Sides, Now” (!), googling something like “Clouds Love Life song” identifies the song pretty quickly. Solvers loved the meta this month, giving the highest rating of the year, at 4.33 stars out of 5. They thought it was pretty hard, too, rating it an average of 3.88 out of 5. Thanks for all the great feedback!


Selected User Comments:
weijus   This was perhaps the best one you’ve done. VERY hard, but totally fair, and I loved the AHA. Also happens to be one of the only songs guaranteed to get me teared up.

ErnieBucket   Thanks for a reason to listen to the Supremes. (“Stoned Love”)

m5rammy   I had absolutely no idea. Then I started thinking that “I’m It” could also be “imit.” and suddenly I noticed someone hiding in the puzzle! Then it was only a matter of figuring out which of her songs fit the 12 words.

LuckyGuest   Awesome, with a click so loud you could probably hear it from there!

Pancho   Wow. Just wow. And one of my favorite songs of all time, to boot.


Paul Coulter   From every way I look at it, this meta’s outstanding on all sides!

jeremiahsjohnson   I love this meta, right out loud!

and one of my favorite comments of the year…

Tyler Hinman   Stoned Love and Lush Life nearly prevented me from getting this one. But so it goes.


Clues That Could Have Been Musical:

fheaney   SCAM = [“The Royal ___” (Steely Dan album)] and OTTER = [Noted jug-band member Emmet]

Evan   BONES = [Folk percussion instruments which, despite their name, are just curved wooden sticks]

Steve Blais   AMISH = [“Weird Al” Yankovic parody “___ Paradise”]


This month’s randomly selected winner of an MMMM coffee mug is James Wentworth of Sydney, Australia (our first international winner!). 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 for another challenge!