2018 Puzzle 11: “Process of Elimination” Solution

November’s MMMM challenged solvers to find a hit from the ’90s. The grid contains no obvious theme entries, leaving some scratching their heads. Where to look? One grid entry provides the way in: NO DOUBT is clued as [Ska punk band fronted by Gwen Stefani, and what you’ll have when you find the meta answer]. What if you cross out every occurrence of {D,O,U,B,T} in the puzzle? Doing that with NO DOUBT leaves an “N.” There are five other grid entries composed of the letters in “DOUBT” plus a single other letter, as follows:


In order, the remaining letters spell a big ’90s hit by the Cranberries, Linger, this month’s meta answer.

A few solvers (jefe was first) asked about the one other stray “B” in the middle right part of the grid forming BSE and BOAR. This was an unfortunate last-minute editing mistake. I originally had SSE/SOAR in that location and didn’t want to duplicate SE, since it also occurs in S.E. ASIA. I made the change and somehow forgot about the meta mechanism. Oops! I don’t think this made it harder to get the meta, but if it in any way gave you a “lingering doubt,” sorry!


Meta Song:

This one was really fun to learn and came out great. Singing lead is Rebecca Liberman (Bex) along with Katie Jacoby on violin, Skip Ward on bass, and David Silliman on drums.


Selected Solver Comments:

Mlessie    Aha moment was great. No doubt, indeed.

Laura M   I know this one was way easier than the last two months which I didn’t get, but I feel good about it anyway.  You should!

docison   Very clever and well hidden.

LB800   Love this song. R.I.P. Dolores O’Riordan. 🙁   She left us too soon.

thanman2   It helps that I was very much into the Cranberries 25 years ago (OMG has it really been 25 years?!).

Maggie W   Very nice! This is definitely not the first MMMM where I initially thought I didn’t know the song, listened to it, and said, “Oh, of course!”


Alternative Music Clues:

Stribbs points out that cluing RAIN with the Madonna song turns that whole row into ’90s references (along with ANI and SARAH).

Evan suggests cluing ALI as [UB40 lead singer Campbell].



Verve   hanks fr prviing nlemishe pzzling clariy!   Y’re welcme!

RPardoe   Lingered over the puzzle like a zombie…then CRANBERRY (can’t say AHA, wrong group).

Shawn P   Hopefully you’ll announce that there will be another season of MMMM because I’m in so deep. You know I’m such a fool for you! Do you have to let it linger?

Nothing final yet, but I’m hoping to be able to do a 2019 MMMM. Thanks for the encouragement!


A total of 105 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.31 stars (highest of the year so far!), and the average difficulty rating was 3.41. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug (not his first one!) is Andrew M of Lafayette, CA. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

A total of 36 people have solved the mega-meta so far, with only one month to go in the 2018 contest.

Thanks for playing and see you next month!