Project Architeuthis

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I’ve noted the Project Architeuthis code-solving game advertised on the Puzzability site over the last few weeks but only visited the Facebook page last weekend. The game is presented by the Navy with puzzles written by the Puzzability staff — Mike Shenk, Amy Goldstein, and Robert Leighton. The production values are high as would be expected by the people involved and the social-media format of the puzzles is extremely clever. I generally don’t participate in on-line games that invite a lot of real-time interaction — I prefer to solve at my own pace — Project Architeuthis is going to be a spectator game for me.

Some crowdfunding reminders: Peter Gordon’s Fireball Fortnightly News Crosswords 2014-2015 is still taking pledges. If like crosswords that quiz solvers with current events you need to support this project. Also, puzzlehunt fans who haven’t purchased Trip Payne’s 2014 Triple Play Puzzles Puzzle Extravaganza should take care of that soon. Trip’s extravaganza is due to be released in August.

CURRICULUM VITAE: The Last Arabia Night

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THE LAST ARABIA NIGHT
(Murder mystery)

Players portray the passengers of the Steamboat Arabia on May 5, 1856, the night of its final voyage. Notable events of that fateful night included an ad-hoc wedding, the murder of the bridegroom Stud Flush, and a storm that caused the ship to sink near Kansas City, drowning all hands. Players exchange clues to determine the motive of the crime and identify the murderer.

arabia

The Kansas City Inner Circle was a fun-seeking organization created in the mid-1980s by Brad Redburn, a graduate school colleague and good friend of my mother Sybil. An early KCIC event was a murder mystery party on an Amtrak train. Mystery party kits were popular in stores at the time but Brad wrote his own scenario to accommodate the over-the-top theatrics that his guests would appreciate. In 1988 the wreckage of the Steamship Arabia was discovered near Kansas City and Brad proposed another murder mystery party on a Kansas City riverboat charter. He wanted to be a player this time so he delegated the writing responsibilities to Sybil and their mutual friend Barbara. My interest in games was well-established so I was recruited as an assistant.

Sybil and Barbara hatched an idea incorporating elements from Mark Twain’s “The Mysterious Stranger” and the Streisand film Yentl. The murder victim was a fugitive woman disguised as a man who becomes a reluctant bridegroom when “he” is accused of impregnating the daughter of a wealthy family. I originally had ideas of manufacturing historic artifacts that would convey clues of the murder plot but eventually settled on a simple structure of writing a solution, editing the solution into a series of sentences, and planting the sentences into envelopes to distribute to the players. The three of us came up with filler characters for the 60-plus party guests and indulged in low-level pun (Captain Batten D. Hatches) and camp (juggler Fuzzy Balls). The party was held in the spring of 1989; I couldn’t attend due to school commitments but learned afterwards that the game was a success. The structure of The Last Arabia Night would be a foundation to several murder mystery games I wrote in my college years.

 

Gridplay

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Musician Brian Cimmet, one of the founders of the Lollapuzzoola crossword tournament, created a composition as audio accompaniment of solving a crossword puzzle. A video of the composition — “Gridplay” —  appears below, with Dan Feyer as the solver of a Doug Peterson Saturday Stumper. It’s an amazing sensory experience.

 

AUTOFILL PROJECT: Slowly I Turned

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Default: 345328
Default with Spaces: 128137

NOTES: AV Club had an article about the new USA Network series Playing House (75). I notice that the title was a supervocalic, i.e. it has one instance of each of the five vowels A, E, I, O and U (and also one Y). The Supervocalics group on Facebook has been experiencing a surge in activity lately and I was planning to make a post about the show but Jeff Schwartz beat me to the punch. The latest post on Word Salad discusses supervocalics and the recent Facebook surge. Last weekend I visited my mom as she was buying a new car. The finance officer at the Toyota dealership used the term bumper-to-bumper (65) to describe all-encompassing warranty coverage. I usually associate the term with traffic. I added Ryman Eco (72) as a probationary entry. The website of this new outline-style typeface explains how its developers hope to reduce usage of printer ink. If the typeface catches on, it will be a new way to clue ECO in crosswords.

LISTS: This week I added sharedoc entries from Dave Shukan. Many of the entries in Dave’s lists betray his background as an IP lawyer: amicus brief (70), opposing party (70), surreply (55). He also manages to fill some holes in my database with classic pop culture references that I remember from my youth: GAF Viewmaster (55), Shrinky Dinks (80). Dave is about the same age as my brother, and I thought of my brother when I scored the entry Slowly I Turned (70). My brother learned the old vaudeville sketch from The Three Stooges movies and enjoyed re-creating the sketch for his friends, using me as the chump who gets smacked and knocked down.

 

ANTI-MATCH RESULTS: Route 66

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38 entrants got their kicks by participating in this Anti-Match game They are abbreviated in the results as follows:

AA – Andy Arizpe
BS – Ben Smith
DF – Dan Feyer
DK – Dan Katz
DMK – Debbie Manber Kupfer
DP – Doug Peterson
DS – Dave Shukan
EL – Eric LeVasseur
EM – Eric Maddy
ES – Eric Suess
FH – Francis Heaney
JA – Jackie Anderson
JCa – Joe Cabrera
JCh – Joanna Cheng
JCo – Judy Cole
JH – Jeffrey Harris
JK – Joshua Kosman
JS – Jeffrey Schwartz
KB – Katherine Bryant
KS – Katje Sabin
ME – Marc E
MJ – Matt Jones
MK – Monica Krausse
MSe – Mike Selinker
MSp – Marc Spraragen
NC – Nathan Curtis
PB – Peter Broda
PM – Paul Melamud
RK – Ronnie Kon
RR – Rick Rubenstein
SD – Sam Donaldson
SK – Steve Kinsky
SW – Scott Weiss
TG – Tom Gazzola
TKF – TK Focht
TO – Tanis O’Connor
TP – Trip Payne
WZ – Wil Zambole

 

RTE66

1) Now you go through St. Louis…

Catholic Saint Medals is a mail-order retailer of medals and jewelry depicting patron saints of the Catholic Church. Choose one of the top twenty male patron saints, according to medal sales as reported by the company’s website (www.catholicsaintmedals.com).

St Andrew (17) – MJ
St Anthony of Padua (3) – EL, MK, WZ
St Bartholomew (17) – RR
St Christopher (16) – AA, DP, DS, FH, JA, JCh, JH, JS, KB, ME, MSp, NC, PB, RK, SW, TKF
St Elmo (17) – DK, EM
St Francis of Assisi (3) – BS, DMK, TG
St Jerome (17) – JCa, JCo
St Joseph (1) – PM
St Jude (2) – JK, SK
St Luke (17) – DF
St Mark (17) – SD
St Patrick (1) – TP
St Sebastian (2) – ES, KS
St Thomas Aquinas (2) – MSe, TO

I expected that Christopher would be a popular answer, and not just from the fact that he is the patron saint of travelers and motorists thus apt for the theme of this game. I didn’t predict that he would be so popular as to be a spoiler for all who chose him along with the those whose chosen saints were reasonable but just not in the top twenty. The unchosen St. Michael tops the CSM list with Christopher, Anthony, and Jude next in line. Other saints in the top twenty are Peter, Valentine, and Peregrine, the saint associated with those fighting cancer.

2) …Joplin, Missouri…

The Ahrens-Flaherty musical Ragtime won the 1998 Tony Award for Best Original Score. Choose a Broadway musical that won the Best Original Score Tony in a subsequent year. As a selection aid, the initials of the winning musicals appear below, in alphabetical order.

A / AQ / H / ITH / KB / M / N / NTN / P / SA / TBOM / TDC / TLITP / TP / U:TM

Aida (1) – ES
Annie (6) – SK
Avenue Q (4) – DP, JA, RK, SW
Hairspray (1) – MSe
In the Heights (4) – DK, NC, TKF, WZ
Kinky Boots (1) – JH
Matilda (6) – KS, RR
Memphis (2) -PM, SD
Newsies (1) – JCo
Next to Normal (2) – FH, JCa
Spring Awakening (4) – AA, DF, MK, TP
The Book of Mormon (4) – DMK, JCh, MSp, PB
The Drowsy Chaperone (1) – MJ
The Light in the Piazza (5) – BS, EM, JK, JS, KB
The Producers (2) – ME, TG
Urinetown: The Musical (3) – DS, EL, TO

The 1999 winner Parade was the only unchosen correct answer. Annie was a Best Original Score winner back in 1977 and Matilda the Musical lost to Kinky Boots last year.

3) …And Oklahoma City is mighty pretty…

Besides Oklahoma City, choose a U.S. state capital that is also the state’s most populous city according to 2012 U.S. Census estimates.

Atlanta (4) – FH, JH, JS, SD
Boise (5) – ES, MSe, PB, SW, TKF
Boston (3) – DMK, DS, MSp
Charleston (1) – MK
Columbia (1) – TP
Columbus (1) – SK
Denver (2) – DF, KB
Des Moines (2) – NC, PM
Honolulu (5) – EM, JCo, MJ, RK, RR
Indianapolis (3) – BS, EL, WZ
Juneau (6) – KS
Little Rock (3) – DP, JCa, TG
Phoenix (3) – AA, JK, ME
Pierre (6) – JCh
Providence (3) – DK, JA, TO

Correct answers are based on city-proper populations, thus Columbus ranks higher than Cleveland and Cincinnati even though those two cities are twice as large when regarded as metropolitan areas. Juneau ranks third in Alaska, behind Anchorage and Fairbanks. Pierre is South Dakota’s ninth most populous city.

4) …You see Amarillo…

Choose an 11C word that comes from Spanish and contains a double L pronounced as a Y. The word must appear as a single-word, uncapitalized, boldface entry — no plurals or inflections. The pronunciation must be confirmed by 11C, either indicated by a “y” symbol or implicitly suggested by the omission of an “l” symbol.

Amontillado (3) – JCo, RK, RR
Banderilla (1) – PM
Caballero (5) – BS, MJ, MSe, MSp, SK
Cholla (1) – AA
Cigarillo (2) – TO, WZ
Cordillera (1) – DP
Llama (1) – TP
Llanero (7) – JK
Llano (7) – DF
Paella (5) – DK, ES, JA, TG, TKF
Pasilla (7) – NC
Pollo (7) – JS
Quesadilla (5) – EL, KS, ME, PB, SW
Sopaipilla (1) – FH
Tomatillo (2) – DS, SD
Tornillo (1) – MK
Tortilla (6) – DMK, EM, JCa, JCh, JH, KB

Llanero and pasilla are not 11C. Pollo appears in the phrase “arroz con pollo” but not as a single-word entry. Llano is an entry but, strangely, 11C does not confirm a “y” option in its pronunciation notes.

5) …Gallup, New Mexico…

The Gallup organization conducts annual polls to determine the most admired man and woman “living today in any part of the world.” U.S. Presidents and First Ladies are popular responses to the polls. The 17 individuals pictured below, none of whom have ever held the position of President or First Lady of the United States, were named by at least one percent of respondents in the 2013 Gallup polls. Identify one of these individuals.

Untitled-1

Angela Merkel (8) – BS, DP, FH, JCa, JK, MJ, SK, TKF
Barbara Walters (2) – DS, SW
Bill Gates (2) – JH, TO
Billy Graham (2) – JCo, TG
Clint Eastwood (1) – DF
Condoleezza Rice (1) – ES
J K Rowling (4) – AA, DMK, JA, NC
Jack Nicklaus (9) – RR
Malala Yousafzai (3) – EM, KB, PM
Maya Angelou (2) – KS, WZ
Mitt Romney (1) – DK
Oprah Winfrey (3) – MSp, RK, SD
Pope Francis (1) – MK
Princess Kate (3) – JCh, JS, PB
Queen Elizabeth II (1) – TP
Ron Paul (3) – EL, ME, MSe

Angelina Jolie and Ted Cruz were the unchosen celebrities.

Tiebreaker:

What was the length of Route 66, in miles, according to the sum of the two numbers obscured on this sign outside the Midpoint Cafe.

66-Midpoint

Tie scores will be broken by the answer closer to the correct distance.

1000 – JH
1011 – JA
1200 – SW
1806 – DP
1812 – SD
1885 – PB
1959 – TG
1970 – JS
2000 – MSp
2101 – DK
2111 – RR
2120 – TP
2150 – EM
2160 – MJ
2170 – JK
2196 – JCa
2222 – DF
2278 – CORRECT, EL
2300 – AA, ES, MK, SK, TKF
2400 – BS
2430 – KS
2488 – ME
2498 – PM, TO
2500 – KB
2552 – RK
2587 – JCh
2600 – MSe
2662 – DS
3000 – DMK, FH
3168 – JCo
3198 – NC
3350 – WZ

6) …Flagstaff, Arizona…

Listed below are situations in auto racing (Indy and/or NASCAR) that are signaled by flags. Choose one of the situations and identify the color(s) of the associated flag. Your answer must include a letter followed by the flag color(s); the number of colors on the flag is indicated in parentheses. For multicolor flags you do not need to indicate patterns, just the colors.

a – Ambulance on course (2)
b – Caution; slow down (1)
c – Driver must return to pit to consult with race authorities (1)
d – Lead driver beginning final lap (1)
e – Oil, water, or debris on course (2)
f – Passing flag; slower drivers should yield to faster traffic (2)
g – Race is stopped (1)
h – Start of race/safe to proceed (1)
i – Winner has crossed finish line (2)

a – red/white (2) – ES, JCo
b – yellow (7) – JK, KS, MJ, MK, NC, SW, TG
d – white (5) – DS, MSe, RR, TKF, WZ
e – red/yellow (1) – PM
f – blue/yellow (2) – BS, ME
g – red (3) – AA, EL, KB
h – green (1) – JA
i – black/white (16) – DF, DK, DMK, DP, EM, FH, JCa, JCh, JH, JS, MSp, PB, RK, SD, TO, TP
i – red/white (17) – SK

The consultation (c) flag is black.

7) …Don’t forget Winona…

The following words and phrases are mnemonic devices culled from Wikipedia and related to various mathematical and scientific concepts:

  • FOIL
  • GOOD XYLOPHONES USE VERY INTERESTING MUSICAL RHYTHMS
  • KING HENRY DIED BY DRINKING CHOCOLATE MILK
  • KINKY PEOPLE CAN OFTEN FIND GREAT SEX
  • MAY I HAVE A LARGE CONTAINER OF COFFEE
  • MY VERY EDUCATED MOTHER JUST SERVED US NACHOS
  • OH BE A FINE GIRL KISS ME
  • OIL RIG
  • PLEASE EXCUSE MY DEAR AUNT SALLY
  • ROY G BIV
  • SOHCAHTOA
  • TORONTO GIRLS CAN FLIRT AND ONLY QUIT TO CHASE DWARVES

Identify the concept represented by one of these mnemonics. Your answer may either be a short explanation of the concept or a list of the elements corresponding to the letters/words of the mnemonic.

First, outside, inside, last (multiplication of binomials) (13) – DK, DS, JA, JCa, JH, JK, KB, KS, SD, SW, TG, TO, WZ
Gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, infrared, microwaves, radio wave (electromagnetic spectrum) (2) – JS, RR
Kilo-, hecto-, deka- , base unit, deci-, centi-, milli- (metric unit prefixes)  (1) – PB
May I have … (Digits of pi) (2) – FH, JCh
Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune (Solar system planets) (1)  – MK
O, B, A, F, G, K, M (stellar classification) (4) – EL, MJ, TKF, TP
Oxidation is loss reduction is gain (redox reactions) (3) – AA, ES, PM
Parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction (order of operations) (3) – DF, DMK, JCo
Kingdom, phylum, class, order, class, genus, species (taxonomic classification) (2) – DP, ME
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet (visible light spectrum) (3) – MSp, RK, SK
Sine opposite/hypotenuse, cosine adjacent/hypotenuse, tangent opposite/adjacent (trigonometry ratios) (1) – EM
Talc, gypsum, calcite, fluorite, apatite, orthoclase, quartz, topaz, corundum, diamond (Mohs scale) (3) – BS, MSe, NC

Several entrants cited the mnemonics as their favorite category in the game and demonstrated how many they knew along with choosing one to be their official answer. Some entrants misgauged the obscurity of the FOIL method, but no one chose a wrong answer.

8) …Kingman…

Identify one of the chess pieces in the illustration below. The illustration includes both standard and nonstandard “fairy” pieces. The pieces are arranged in alphabetical order; verifiable alternate names are acceptable.

66-chess

Archbishop (1) – WZ
Berolina pawn/Antipawn (2) – JH, PB
Bishop (12) – BS, DK, DMK, JA, JCo, KB, ME, MK, MSe, MSp, SD, TKF
Grasshopper (3) – FH, PM, SW
Knight (2) – RK, SK
Pawn (4) – EL, EM, RR, TG
Queen (6) – AA, DF, JS, KS, NC, TP
Rook (8) – DP, DS, ES, JCa, JCh, JK, MJ, TO

I included the fairy pieces as a way to bulk up the number of correct answers but I don’t think many entrants were familiar with them (grasshopper was the only one I had heard of). See the Wikipedia article on fairy chess pieces for the unchosen correct answers and dozens of other unorthodox piece types.

9) …Barstow…

Choose a seven-letter word that contains five different consonants that are in alphabetical order within the word. For purposes of this category, Y is a vowel. The word must appear in 11C as a single-word, uncapitalized, boldface entry or as an explicit or implicit plural or inflection of such an entry.

Backers (1) – SK
Backlogs (5) – JCo
Backsaw (1) – DMK
Badgers (2) – DK, JS
Beckons (2) – TKF
Bedlamite (5) – TO
Budgers (5) – MK
Calmest (1) – EL
Chakras (1) – RR
Chemist (4) – DP, ES, JA, JCh
Chintzy (2) – BS, DS
Clement  (1) – MJ
Codgers (1) – RK
Columns (3) – AA, JCa, TG
Compost (1) – NC
Cudgels (1) – FH
Defrost (1) – ME
Figment (2) – JK, SW
Florist (3) – EM, JH, MSe
Fulminate (5) – DF
Gymnast (2) – MSp, PB
Hampers (3) – KB, KS, SD
Imprest (2) – PM, TP
Laments (5) – WZ

Budger(s) is not 11C. The other incorrect answers had too many letters; I’m not sure if the entrants misread the category or took “seven-letter word” to mean “a word of at least seven letters.” I considered excluding answers ending in “s” for this category but decided to keep it broad to balance the categories with fewer answers.

10) …San Bernardino

The illustration below features an early menu for the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant, which debuted in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1948. Identify one of the nine 1- or 2-word items partly obscured on the menu.

66-menu2

Coffee (3) – DS, EM, KS
Drink (13) – WZ
French fries (3) – DK, JCh, SW
Hamburger (6) – AA, DF, DMK, JA, MSp, RK
Milk (6) – EL, JK, JS, RR, SD, TO
Orange drink (2) – MJ, PB
Root beer (12) –  DP, ES, FH, JCa, JH, MK, MSe, NC, PM, SK, TG, TP
Shakes (4) – BS, KB, ME, TKF
Whole (13) – JCo

No one was tempted by the tempting CHEESEBURGER and the thirst-quenching COKE was similarly unchosen.

FINAL SCORES

1    PM    1    2    2    1    3    1    3    3    2    12   [30]
2    EL    3    3    3    5    3    3    4    4    1    6    [35]
3    ES    2    1    5    5    1    2    3    8    4    12    [43]
4    MK    3    4    1    1    1    7    1    12    5    12    [47]
5    BS    3    5    3    5    8    2    3    12    2    4    [47]
6    TP    1    4    1    1    1    16    4    6    2    12    [48]
7    AA    16    4    3    1    4    3    3    6    3    6    [49]
8    ME    16    2    3    5    3    2    2    12    1    4    [50]
9    MSe    2    1    5    5    3    5    3    12    3    12    [51]
10   WZ    3    4    3    2    2    5    13    1    5    13    [51]
11    KS    2    6    6    5    2    7    13    6    3    3    [53]
12    TG    3    2    3    5    2    7    13    4    3    12    [54]
13    PB    16    4    5    5    3    16    1    2    2    2   [56]
14    SK    2    6    1    5    8    17    3    2    1    12    [57]
15    DS    16    3    3    2    2    5    13    8    2    3    [57]
16    MJ    17    1    5    5    8    7    4    8    1    2    [58]
17    RR    17    6    5    3    9    5    2    4    1    6    [58]
18    DMK    3    4    3    6    4    16    3    12    1    6    [58]
19    RK    16    4    5    3    3    16    3    2    1    6    [59]
20    TO    2    3    3    2    2    16    13    8    5    6    [60]
21    SW    16    4    5    5    2    7    13    3    2    3    [60]
22    JK    2    5    3    7    8    7    13    8    2    6    [61]
23    NC    16    4    2    7    4    7    3    6    1    12    [62]
24    EM    17    5    5    6    3    16    1    4    3    3    [63]
25    JCo    17    1    5    3    2    2    3    12    5    13    [63]
26    TKF    16    4    5    5    8    5    4    12    2    4    [65]
27    FH    16    2    4    1    8    16    2    3    1    12    [65]
28    DF    17    4    2    7    1    16    3    6    5    6    [67]
29    KB    16    5    2    6    3    3    13    12    3    4   [67]
30    JS    16    5    4    7    3    16    2    6    2    6    [67]
31    JCh    16    4    6    6    3    16    2    8    4    3    [68]
32    JA    16    4    3    5    4    1    13    12    4    6    [68]
33    MSp    16    4    3    5    3    16    3    12    2    6    [70]
34    DP    16    4    3    1    8    16    2    8    4    12    [74]
35    JH    16    1    4    6    2    16    13    2    3    12    [75]
36    DK    17    4    3    5    1    16    13    12    2    3    [76]
37    SD    17    2    4    2    3    16    13    12    3    6    [78]
38    JCa    17    2    3    6    8    16    13    8    3    12    [88]

Congratulations to Paul Melamud for taking the top score! Thank you all for playing!

Apologies in advance for any moderation errors. Bring such matters to my attention and I will amend the results as soon as I can.