2021 Puzzle 9: “Odd Men Out” Solution

The September MMMM challenged solvers to find an alternative rock band. The title, “Odd Men Out,” suggests what to do to solve the meta. Removing the odd-numbered letters from each of the four 12-letter theme entries gives four new six-letter words, as follows:





For this last one, eagle-eyed solvers may have noticed that MICKEY is in the grid. Is there a connection? Yes! [Famous Disney mouse] can clue both MICKEY and MINNIE, and there are three other pairs that work this way as well. But first, take note that the clues for the 12-letter themers each have a parenthetical number at the end: (1) in the clue for AMBIENT NOISE, (2) for UPHILL BATTLE, (3) for STUBBORNNESS, and (4) for SANDBOARDERS. Let’s arrange them in this order to make the next step easier:

[Famous Disney mouse] clues MICKEY and could also clue MINNIE,
[Bad actor in the Bible] clues USURER and could also clue PILATE,
[Some cuts of beef] clues SHANKS and could also clue T-BONES,
and [Loves to death] clues EATS UP and could also clue ADORES.

The first letters of these “alternative” six-letter words spells out M-U-S-E, or Muse, an alternative rock band and this month’s meta answer.

I originally titled this puzzle “Alternative Rock,” without a suggestion to omit odd letters, but in the end decided that might have been just a little too hard. How’d you do this month?


Meta Song:

The Kindred Souls took a break in Telluride and learned this song, one of my favorites. We had so much fun with it I think it’ll be on our next cover record. Aubrey Richmond sat in for Martha McDonnell, who is returning to Broadway to perform in the Dylan musical “Girl From the North Country.” Enjoy!


Selected Solver Comments:

JPG   1st time getting the meta (I hope).   Congratulations and welcome!

Bob J   I presume choosing an alternative band as the answer for a meta that involves alternating letters was not a coincidence. Thanks for the puzzle.   Yup! LesY noticed too.

gpagano   I admit I was hoping the four found words would use the mechanism one last time to get the final answer.  That would have been a fun bonus (dang…wish I had thought of it).

Tyler Hinman   Would be an interesting dilemma if there were a band called the Ombudsmen.

JustinW   Was confused about ordering till I realized I forgot about the parentheticals. Too bad you couldn’t order top to bottom by themer or 6 letter entry.  I tried hard, but had to resort to parentheses in the end.

thanman2   One of my all-time favorite bands; I cannot WAIT to see what song you choose!

Hollie   Can’t wait to hear this month’s song! Time to show off your vocal range!!   Love that some of you are looking forward to the covers along with the puzzles. It’s been really fun for the band to have to learn a new tune every month.


Alternative Music Clues:

Jazz, metal, rock, and hip-hop suggestions this month. MMMM solvers have diverse tastes!

pbfrommn suggests cluing BUD as [“In Walked ___” (Thelonious Monk tune)].

Norm H points out two entries could have been clued by referencing bands: ATLAS (Genius) and LUNA.

Lee F suggests cluing IN LEAGUE as [“___ with Satan” (song by Venom)].

ab suggests cluing ADRIENNE as ADRIENNE Bailon of the hip-hop group 3LW.

SoftRockRenegade expresses surprise that I didn’t clue BOATMAN by referring to the Vulgar BOATMEN, “one of the most underappreciated bands of the last 35 years!”



Slash   Your cover of this band should be a-muse-ing!

HunterX   I Adored this Minnie mental workout! Better than doing Pilates. Now I need a T-Bone steak…

DIS   This one had a nice even flow to it.

FrotzNPL   1-Across shall henceforth be known as the Origin of Symmetry (at least in this grid).

Jwaan   Too bad they’re not called Mues, because then we’d have “Minnie Pilate Adores T-bones.”

kat   Really had to Dig Down to figure out this one. The puzzle was nearly driving me to Madness.


A total of 272 solvers found their way to the correct answer this month. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.22 stars out of 5, and the average difficulty rating was 2.86, on the easy side for September. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Regina Cassidy from Staten Island, 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 next month!