Title: “Four by Fours” by Pete Muller
Prompt: The meta for this puzzle is a rock group.
Answer: SPLIT ENZ
October already? It would seem so. Pete’s challenge this month is, well, Mullerian — no overt theme entries (judging by length), just scan the grid with your pattern recognition powers set to 11 and see what pops out.
“Four by Fours” was the title, and with sixteen 4-letter entries in the grid I wondered if they would form two 4×4 magic squares. They did not, so I looked for other ideas. Shading the sixteen four-letter words did the trick, as my brain on “rest mode” managed to find VIVA/CITY at 51-A and 71-D, and then off to the races. The list of eight four-letter pairs forming eight-letter grid entries is:
Clearly not by chance, but now what? Second step was to notice that each of these eight 8-letter words also appears in a clue. They are:
47-A: VIVACITY = ZIP
53-A: COVERING = LID
63-A: RAVENOUS = STARVE
66-A: THINKING = ISM
12-D: PLEASURE = NICER
31-D: MODERATE = EBB
38-D: FEATHERS – PLUME
39-D: BANDAGED= TAPED
So from the first letters of those (ZLSINEPT) I anagrammed to the 1980s New Zealand band SPLIT ENZ, which both describes the meta mechanism (the two ends of each 8-letter word are split, u must reattach them). And I of course grinned when I realized that in addition to their one big hit, “I Got You,” they also wrote an execrable semi-hit called “Crosswords,” which must’ve been Pete’s hidden reason for choosing this obscure-ish band as his meta-answer.
But no! Amazingly he was unfamiliar with this song, making SPLIT ENZ an especially lucky meta answer! I know there’s a more logical way to order SPLIT ENZ than anagramming but I saw the anagram right away so never puzzled out the proper route. And now it’s 11:03 and I need to post so someone pls post the intended path there in comments.
4.50 stars, fun. My streak continues! See you next month.
155 correct this month.
You don’t need to anagram – the entries starting with S-P-L-I-T-E-N-Z go in that order from left to right…
I’m as bad at solving metas as I am at solving cryptics. And I’m pretty bad at cryptics.
From the puzzle’s title, I figured the four-letter answers in the corners were part of the meta solution. But it never occurred to me to include the other four-letter answers, such as 5D and 9D. And it’s not at all clear to me how one would know which four-letter answers would pair up to make eight-letter words — or even that one would need to do that.
But the puzzle itself was fun.
(It’s not just the MMMM puzzles; I can never get the metas in Evan Birnholz’s WaPo puzzles. There always seems to be a key first step towards solving the meta that I just don’t see.)
good puzzle, but dang it, I didn’t try L to R
I had the 4 letter words, I had the 8 letter words, and the clues with those words.
Maybe because I’ve never heard of the group (I think), and looking at the Across then Down order, or numerically (which is also Down then Across order) nothing popped out (and some other rabbit holes)
Oh well.next time next time
This puzzle was as hard as a Gaffney or Shenk WSJ puzzle. I’d have never been able to create such a monster like this one, nor suss it out with the multiple steps that Matt took.
another white pop music puzzle theme. good god man, try inclusion for a change.