2018 Mega-Meta: “Déjà Vu” Solution

Each year the MMMM features a mega-meta, hidden across all 12 monthly puzzles. This year’s mega-meta was a popular song from the 1980s. Solvers get extra bonus points for figuring out the mega-meta before the final 13th puzzle, the mega-meta reveal. A total of 36 people solved the mega-meta before this puzzle was published.

The 2018 mega-meta reveal contains 12 unclued Across entries. The middle entry, DOUBLE CROSSINGS, clued as [Betrayals, and, in a way, what you’ll find 12 times in this puzzle after filling in the missing clues], tells you what to look for. Each of the unclued entries has a corresponding Down entry with an appropriate clue. For example, ROSE intersects VASE [Still life subject] – a clue that could also be used for ROSE. The list of intersecting words and their clues is shown below. Appropriately for a puzzle entitled “Déjà Vu,” the 12 intersection letters spell out H-E-R-E-I-G-O-A-G-A-I-N. The first/last Across entries are WHITE/SNAKE, pointing to Whitesnake’s big hit, Here I Go Again, the 2018 mega-meta. Thanks (or hate mail) to Milo Beckman for the idea of not cluing 12 entries in this puzzle to make it harder!

[Eye color] HAZEL WHITE
[Undershirt choice] TEE HANES
[Letters on some vintage phone buttons] PRS OPER
[Still life subject] VASE ROSE
[Showy bloom] IRIS LILY
[Brutish sort] GOON OGRE
[“Heavens!”] OHNO GOSH
[Jazz player’s instrument] AXE PIANO
[Tedious task] GRIND SLOG
[Cutting] ACID SNIP
[Garden of Eden inhabitant] MAN SNAKE


Meta Song:

Here’s my band (Skip Ward, David Silliman, Missy Soltero, and John Whoolilurie) joining me for an acoustic version of this classic song, along with a recap of the 2018 MMMM puzzles. The line “Here I Go…” happens twelve times in the song, and my trusty video editor Mike Collin put in each of the twelve puzzles at the appropriate time. Enjoy!


Each of this year’s MMMM puzzles contained exactly one pair of intersecting words that were clued identically. The intersections worked the same way as they did in this puzzle, spelling out Here I Go Again.

Click + to see all twelve intersecting mega-meta clues.


[Legend of pop] JOHN CHER
[Playwright David] IVES MAMET
[Musical separator] BAR REST
[Certain musical composition] MOTET ETUDE
[Cruise destination, perhaps] RIO ISLE
[At a slow tempo] LARGO GRAVE
[Type of saxophone] ALTO TENOR
[Kind of test] ROAD ORAL
[Notable vocal quality of Garth Brooks] RANGE TWANG
[Swamp thing?] GATOR TOAD
[Plant growth facilitator] SOIL RAIN
[Like many Beatles recordings] MONO ANALOG

Part of the challenge of solving the mega-meta early was to avoid the insidious 2018 red herring – this year it manifested in a bit of JUGGLERY – a word formed by spelling out the middle letters of eight words clued as palindromes, one in each of the first eight puzzles of the year.

Click + to see the eight red herring clues.


[Palindromic Steely Dan song with a missing master tape] AJA
[Palindromic mummified monarch in a Steve Martin song] TUT
[Palindromic substance associated with Mark McGwire, briefly] HGH
[Palindromic movie monogram] MGM
[Palindromic menu modifier] ALA
[Palindromic major multiday celebration] TET
[Palindromic preposition in many metrical works] ERE
[Palindromic Mad/Moody separator in Harry Potter] EYE

In addition to the palindromic red herring, the monthly puzzles contained another trap. In order to not make the mega-meta too obvious, I included extra non-intersecting repeated clues in many puzzles to draw attention away from the intersecting ones.

Congratulations to the 36 people who managed to avoid these traps and solve the mega-meta before this puzzle came out – well done! Five solvers managed to get the mega-meta after only two months. A big shout-out to them: Louis LanaEric PrestemonRich PardoeBrent Holman, and Jonathan McCue.


Selected Solver Comments:

RPardoe  WOW – What an excellent construction to summarize the year. I was expecting instructions to go back over the previous 12, not the entire mega meta theme compressed into one 15×15 grid.   Thank you!

adamrosenfield   Nice job sneaking in the band name at 1A/72A *and* having them perform double duty in the meta!   Glad you noticed!

Jonesy   Took me ages to realize that the first 12 months had several clue combos that were double but only some actually crossed!   Yes, I’m a sneaky bastard.

Raygirl   The video that made Tawny Kitaen a household name…   I didn’t know her name, but that’s a great video!

jsolomon1999   Another challenging and exciting year of puzzles. I went down the jugglery wormhole, but still loved it. I look forward to every MMMM Tuesday.

Arby   Very impressive Mega-Meta – both well hidden and obvious in hindsight – well done!


Alternative Musical Clues:

bschoner suggests cluing PRS as [Santana’s luthier].   For Paul Reed Smith, of course.

Evan suggests cluing ESCHER as [Artist whose work inspired the scene in the film “Labyrinth” where David Bowie sings “Within You”].

Alan suggests cluing ITS IN as [“The Shoop Shoop Song (___ His Kiss)”].



mmurphy   Love that 80’s hair meta!

Yvensong   If it had been a snake it would have bit me!

JWaan   Little confusion when I thought TEE and HANES were the “crossing,” but then I realized you were just being a tricky WHITE SNAKE.

Paul Coulter   Here We Go Again (I hope) for 2019!   Indeed! See below…


A total of 183 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.47 stars (highest of the year – thank you!), and the average difficulty rating was 2.89. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Kevin Newman from Dallas. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.


The updated 2018 Leaderboard has been posted here. Please let me know if you think your score is not correct. A total of 113 people have qualified for the Grand Prize drawing by getting at least nine metas this year. Congratulations! The drawing will take place this coming week and the winner will be announced on January 8.

I’m pleased to announce there will be a 2019 MMMM, and the first puzzle of the year will be coming your way January 15. Thanks for all your kind words inspiring me to do this for another year, and for being part of the MMMM community!


2018 MMMM Puzzles
(click images to enlarge)