January 27, 2008

The mystery of the disappearing blog

My rundown of my top 25 albums got interrupted when I went to Boston to solve (and, as it happens, win) the Mystery Hunt, and I haven't picked it up yet since returning. Sorry about that (assuming people are actually downloading the samples).

The Hunt was...okay. Not the weakest Hunt I've attended, but considering the circumstances of its creation, the fact that it came together at all, much less that it wasn't a complete disaster, is fairly miraculous.

I might have been grumpier in general about the Hunt, but a lot of the puzzles I worked on were actually quite satisfying to solve. I was only too happy to abandon puzzles when it seemed like further beating of my head against them would not be rewarding, and it turned out that many of those puzzles were, in fact, completely impossible to solve, so I'm glad I didn't spend more time on them. (The full answer for that last puzzle isn't up yet -- but it has something to do with finding the middle initials of G.I. Joe characters, and also rotating the circles in the knot pictures to make pairs of knots topologically equivalent. Obvious, really.)

But enough about the broken puzzles. Here are some fun ones that you might want to solve at home. (Note that not all of the explanation of the answers are up yet.)

X2. I didn't solve this, but the group that did enjoyed it, and it looked fairly straightforward but cool.

Treasure Map. A not-too-hard combination of a Concentration-style rebus and jigsaw puzzle.

The Cult of Helios. A cool little logic puzzle. Interpreting the diagram is tricky at first, but once you've sussed what's going on, it's lots of fun.

What Incarnation of Palindrome Are You? (Palindrome is the team that ran the Hunt.) Another puzzle I didn't work on, but my teammates clearly enjoyed solving it, and I thought the concept of an online quiz parody puzzle was amusing in itself.

Cross Examination. I never saw this puzzle at all! But it's a variety cryptic by someone I know, so probably it's worth solving. I'll give it a try soon.

Chimera. Just an insanely cool idea. You need to be familiar with World Puzzle Championship-type puzzles.

Rotating Slider. We solved this entirely on paper. Might be fun to solve it in the applet, but I decided that would melt my brain.

Picture Puzzle. This is a Some Assembly Required puzzle with most of the puzzle pieces not provided. Challenging, but with an incredibly cool payoff at the end.

God's Gift to Cartooning. Funny even if you don't get all the way to the final answer.

Little Rascals. I didn't work on this, but it's a hilarious concept. I'll probably try solving this one later as well, since knowing the gimmick doesn't ruin the puzzle.

Monopoles. I wouldn't bother with the final step of this, but if a bunch of hard Magnets puzzles sounds appealing to you, these are for you.

Muppet Theater. Not too hard, and it has Muppets!

Our Unfortunate Aunt Edith. This was pretty difficult, actually. Took a few of us, taking turns having insights, to get through it. But it was never unfair, and made for a satisfying solve.

Subservient Chicken Loves the '80s. What more do you need to know than that title? If you follow only one link in this entire entry, this is the one to follow.

The Dungeon. We didn't solve this, but we should've, because it's very clever! Boo to us.

At the Canyon. Quick, easy, fun.

Department Store. Much more approachable if you know the standard puzzle type that this is based on.

Six Easy Pieces. Most of the puzzle here is figuring out what the instructions are telling you to do. It solves pretty fast after that.

A Mind-Flexing Exercise. A cross between a Rows Garden and a Siamese Twins. Pretty hard to solve (there were three of us working on it for most of the time), but like Picture Puzzle, it has a mind-blowing payoff at the end.

Frame of Reference. Not too hard, even though there's more than one aha needed to get to the solution.

Quartermaster. Pretty straightforward. Recommended for diagramless fans.

Whew. Soon, some more mp3s for you.

Posted by Francis at 11:45 PM

Someone's downloading the samples. At least me, and I'm enjoying getting music recommendations. So far I love the Robert Plant/Alison Krauss stuff, and I didn't expect to.

Congratulations on the Hunt.

Posted by: kostia at January 28, 2008 02:29 PM

You solved Rotating Slider on paper? Shifting the letters manually? Man, that hurts my brain.

Generally, I agree with the above, though I don't know that Muppet Theatre is per se easy (we never got it). And Department Store was fine until we got a 4x4 grid of gibberish, at which point nothing more happened with it.

Posted by: Lance at January 28, 2008 03:47 PM

The last step of Department Store only looks like gibberish. Ken and I got hung up on it for a while trying to solve it as another example of the same puzzle type, but it's actually much simpler than that.

Incidentally, any readers intrepid enough to give these puzzles a try, I'm happy to try providing hints about any of them. E-mail me at the address in the left-hand column of the blog's main page if posting here would reveal too much about the puzzle.

Posted by: Francis at January 28, 2008 04:11 PM

Just so you know, complete solutions are up for all of these puzzles now except the following:

At the Canyon
Department Store
God's Gift to Cartooning
Rotating Slider

... which means if you want to see the solution for Knots and Crosswords, it's there now.

Posted by: Debby at January 29, 2008 06:53 PM

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