2019 Puzzle 5: “Dropouts” Solution

The May MMMM challenged solvers to find a hit from the ’80s. In the easier (default) version of the puzzle, ten grid entries are starred. The puzzle’s title, “Dropouts,” makes a strong suggestion as to what to do. The clues for each of the starred entries can also be used to clue another word formed by “dropping out” a single letter, as follows:

BABIES or BABES Newborns
DEBIT or DEBT Red ink entry
STENOG or STENO Shorthand pro, for short
ROILED or RILED Agitated


If you take the letters that drop out in order, you get M-I-S-S-I-N-G-Y-O-U, or Missing You, the 1984 hit by John Waite, and this month’s meta answer.

I made available a harder version of the puzzle that omitted the asterisks. A number of solvers were up to the challenge, and (self-reportedly) cracked the meta using only that version. Unfortunately, quite a few folks mentioned finding the harder version after starting on the easier one. Sorry! Next time there’s an alternate version I will mention it in the email subject line.

A hearty MMMM welcome to folks that came here through the Washington Post! For new solvers, note that that triple-starred (***) clues relate to the mega-meta, not the meta.

Meta Song:

I always challenge myself and my band to do a cover of the meta song each month. I was really happy how this one came out.


Selected Solver Comments:

kzcondor   Very nice, but the asterisks make it way too easy. Would’ve been much better without them.

sfhock   I don’t think I would have gotten this without the stars, so thanks for that!   Different strokes…

mmurphy   I’m assuming you mean the John Waite song, though the Diana Ross song is also okay. Just as long as you don’t mean the one by Dan Fogelberg, in which case I’ve lost all respect for you.

CrimsonHoo   Now, will you perform the Dan Fogelberg song or the John Waite song? I like both, but slightly prefer the Fogelberg one.   Different strokes again…John Waite! (although I like the Diana Ross one too).

Sam   Love how the song title works perfectly with the meta.

Raygirl   What an ear worm! … Looking forward to the cover of this one for sure.

susaberry   lost one star because debit isn’t a red ink entry, it’s just a left hand entry. but that wouldn’t let the puzzle work, and I can’t think of a better clue, so you got it back.   (Whew). I tried hard to do better on both DEBIT (for the definition) and STENOG (because it’s such a dated term).


Alternative Music Clues:

jagoandlitefoot suggests cluing OSO as [“Menos el ___” (not-exactly-self-titled album by Minus the Bear)]

Evan suggests cluing PIG as [Farm animal-inspired song by Weezer with the lyric “I play with my friends in the mud”]

Jesse LansnerFlipperista, Matt in the Hathaverwench and many others asked How did you not clue VIOLENT as [___ Femmes]?  I agree!  (senior moment)



Peacelisa   Almost got roiled, but finally took it somberly til the end.

DanAmrich   First timer to your puzzles. Why did I Waite this long?

Pundog   Worth the Waite.

Ira   The meta answer is….Wait(e) for it….Missing You.

m5rammy   The only question that remains: why *do* somber babies select insane debit?

Flinty Steve   I saw what you did with poseur/poser: missing “u” – ha!

Opus P   Like taking candy from a Baby!


A total of 377 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.25 stars out of 5, tied for highest of the year, and the average difficulty rating was 2.63 (on the easy side). This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Leslie Simon of Pittsford, NY. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

Thanks for playing and see you in a month!