2024 Puzzle 3: “Magical Mystery Four” Solution

March’s MMMM challenged solvers to find a well-known pop rock band. The 13×13 grid contains two long entries, which look like they are related to the puzzle’s “Magical Mystery Four” title: FANTASY NOVELS and INTANGIBILITY. More noticeably, 20 clue answers don’t make sense without the addition of one more letter. For example, the answer to 8-Down [Word before Man or Maiden in heavy metal] is RON, but should be IRON. Similarly, the answer to 5-Down [“Vega$” star Robert] is RICH but should be URICH. What’s going on?

As shown on the left (in orange), appending each of these 20 letters to the grid creates four new five-letter entries: MUSHU, SPIKE, LADON, and SMAUG. How familiar are you with mythological creatures?

When our co-author Andrew came up with this idea, I had only heard of SMAUG, the evil dragon in “The Hobbit.” Google to the rescue! Turns out LADON, MUSHU, and SPIKE are also fire-breathing creatures of fiction. There’s one pop rock band that captures this theme, and it’s the answer to this month’s meta: Imagine Dragons.



Meta Song:

I told my incredibly talented friend Andrea Magee (who was visiting me from Austin) that I needed to record an Imagine Dragons cover, and she was excited to help out. Enjoy!


Selected Solver Comments:

AxelPlays   At first, I thought that I was losing my mind – “why won’t this answer fit?”

MarivicMooch   Just discovered this. What fun!

yack   Easy (and clever) meta but a very tough grid to make up for it!   

Pancho    Who knew there were so many dragons in fantasy and mythology?


Alternative Music Clues:

BHamren suggests cluing TITO as [One of the Jackson 5].

shirk suggests cluing RAPIDS as [“In the ___” (1974 Genesis song)].

Evan suggests cluing COLON as [Punctuation mark in the Queensrÿche album “Operation: Mindcrime”] and BLUTO as [“I’m Mean” singer in the 1980 film “Popeye”].



Abide   Pete’s Dragon puzzle!

Jennybean   Was feeling confused and then Puff! I think I got it!

gpagano   Given the band’s songs, I was expecting the blank areas to be where the demons hid.

Ril0riley   You should feel a little smaug about this puzzle, you were on fire. But the challenge was ultimately toothless.

Jwaan   The meta was a Natural with those dragons sitting up there On Top of the World. But parts of the puzzle brought the Thunder and needed Warriors who do Whatever It Takes to solve. For me the TEO/COLON cross was Radioactive.

JDubbs80   I’m On Top Of the World that I got this one.

michaelm   March MMMM did not drag on too long, thanks!


Totals this month:

547 correct,  20 incorrect

Rating:  4.17 out of 5 stars

Difficulty:  2.62 out of 5

Monthly mug winner: Cathy Hersh from Watertown, MA

Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

Thanks to Tamara Brenner for the graphic.

Thanks for playing and see you next month!