U.S. Trivia for Independence Day!

historyoftheflag

[Image courtesy of NWI Times.]

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in the United States.

Over the last sixth months, freedom has certainly been on the minds of many of us in the U.S., and across the world. People are out in the streets, fighting for freedom, while at the same time many are choosing to curtail some of their personal freedoms in order to help contain the Coronavirus and prevent spreading it to others.

During these uncertain times, people have been cleverly adapting and finding new ways to socialize. One way that has certainly worked for me and friends has been hosting virtual bar trivia nights. With programs like Google Hangouts, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, Streamyard, and others available, it’s amazing what you can accomplish from the comfort of your own home.

And I’d like to share some of that puzzly entrepreneurial spirit with you.

In honor of July 4th, I’ve collected some America-themed trivia I’ve used in previous trivia nights. Feel free to test your own knowledge with them OR use them in your own puzzly endeavors!

(Some are multiple choice and some aren’t, because I usually start with multiple choice in early rounds and then abandon that format in later rounds. Please adapt as needed.)

So, without further ado, let’s get quizzy!


1.) What is the only state in the USA that doesn’t share a letter with the word “mackerel”?

2.) With a distance of 1,523 mi from East to West, what is the second widest state in the United States?

3.) What is the only jurisdiction in the US where people drive on the left-hand side of the road?

4.) The city of Kanorado sits on the border between what two states?

5.) What is the area code for Brevard County, Florida, home of Cape Canaveral?

6.) What NASA mission was intentionally underfueled to prevent the astronauts from attempting an unauthorized moon landing on their own?

7.) What entertainment company convinced a U.S. court to rule that their characters weren’t human in order to save on taxes from toy sales?

A. Haim/Saban (Power Rangers)
B. Hallmark Entertainment (Zoobilee Zoo)
C. Kenner (Stretch Armstrong)
D. Marvel (X-Men)

8.) Designed by Benjamin Franklin and known as the Fugio cent or the Franklin cent, the first official circulation coin in the United States bore what inscription?

A. America First
B. A Penny Saved
C. Mind Your Business
D. God Bless America

9.) What entertainment company is the second largest consumer of explosive devices, only behind the U.S. Department of Defense?

A. The Walt Disney Company
B. Universal Studios
C. World Wrestling Entertainment
D. Platinum Dunes, aka Michael Bay’s production company

10.) There is no national monument in Washington, D.C. dedicated to U.S. service members who fought in what war?

A. World War I
B. World War II
C. Korean War
D. Vietnam War

Let us know your answers in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you!


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Let’s Play Crossword Bingo!

Crossword.

If you solve enough crosswords, you’re bound to encounter some words more often than others.

Maybe the word has grid-friendly letters or a letter pattern that facilitates editing. Maybe it’s an otherwise obscure item that crosswords have kept in the zeitgeist.

Or maybe it’s a just three-letter word with vowels on either end, be it a female sheep, a tavern drink, a mine find, or fury, and that corner just won’t be completed without one of them.

Some solvers find fault with those words, the constructors who use them, or the outlets that publish puzzles featuring them. Other solvers, however, find fun ways to acknowledge their ubiquity.

For instance, a reddit user under the handle “atleasttheresmusic” created a bingo card based on words that crop up regularly in The New York Times crossword:

xwd bingo 1

Not only did they hit some classic examples of crosswordese, but they even managed to categorize their entries, highlighting crossword tropes like “short, poetic words” and the frequent use of abbreviations.

Between the bingo card itself and the many suggestions shared by fellow puzzlers in the comments, I couldn’t resist taking a crack at making a crossword bingo card of my own:

xwd bingo 2

As you can see, I’ve also organized the columns by category; from left to right, there’s abbreviations, names, vowel-heavy words, 3-letter entries, and non-U.S. terminology.

I couldn’t fit every entry I wanted to — EKE/IKE fell by the wayside, as did EWER — but I managed to jam a fair amount of crosswordese and personal pet peeves onto the card. Plus, given how often ALEE and ALOE appear, they’re basically a free space in the center of the card.

So how did I do, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? What words should I have included? Did the cleaner card created by “atleasttheresmusic” win out over mine, or did we both succeed in having some fun at the expense of crosswords?

And, most importantly, how quickly would you get BINGO if you used one of our cards? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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Weeks After Fenn’s Treasure Was Found, Questions Remain

[Image courtesy of Westword.]

The hopes of thousands of would-be rich treasure seekers were dashed a few weeks ago when Forrest Fenn announced that his treasure, hidden a decade ago, had been found.

It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago. I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot.

I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries.

So the search is over. Look for more information and photos in the coming days. f

In the days since, interest in the treasure has peaked, quite possibly making the entire endeavor more famous now at its conclusion than it was during the height of the hunt.

fennfound2

[The chest, supposedly just before Fenn hid it in the Rockies.]

Originally, the above statement was the only confirmation we had, save for Fenn’s comments in a local interview, that the chest had been found “a few days” before he broke the story.

Additionally, he told the Santa Fe New Mexican:

“The guy who found it does not want his name mentioned. He’s from back East,” he said, adding that it was confirmed from a photograph the man sent him.

The commenters on Fenn’s website kept flooding the page with messages, questions, and their own suppositions, leading to additional pages being added to allow for more comments.

As you can imagine, the reactions run the gamut from joy that the treasure had been found to disbelief that it was over. Some shared their own solutions and progress, comparing notes and wondering how close they’d been to completing it.

Some wished to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a new treasure hunt, or for a marker to be placed where the treasure was found, so other aspiring hunters could verify their own solutions to his poem.

Others demanded more proof, positing that Fenn had retrieved the treasure himself, or that he’d never hidden it at all.

Reactions were less mixed elsewhere. Given how many times emergency personnel had been called out to rescue treasure hunters over the last decade, more than one outlet reported that entire search & rescue departments were relieved to hear the treasure hunt was over.

fennfound3

Ten days after the initial announcement, Fenn posted three images, including the one above. He again claimed the finder wished him to remain silent.

Now, it’s reasonable to assume that this photo is the one he was sent by the solver. Fenn’s comment accompanying the picture is frustratingly vague: “Photo of the chest taken not long after it was discovered.”

fennfound4

It certainly appears that the box has weathered some sort of exposure — particularly that key — and the accumulated dirt and debris along the rim seems to indicate the box was buried at some point. (Check out this YouTube video for a more in-depth breakdown of the box and its contents.)

The other two photos raise more questions.

fennfound5

Here, Fenn wears a bracelet mentioned in a previous interview, one that he claimed he wanted back. He said the bracelet was wet when it was found. That indicates the chest wasn’t sealed tight enough to prevent the elements from getting in. (It does make you wonder why only some of the treasure was in ziplock bags, not all of it.)

fennfound6

Fenn’s comment accompanying this photo: “Removing objects from the chest. It is darker than it was ten years ago when I left it on the ground and walked away.”

He claims these photos are proof the treasure was found. But if he’s going through the treasure after it was found, that means either the mysterious finder brought the treasure back to him, or he went “back east” to meet the treasure hunter. (It does look like a hotel conference room or something similar.)

Or, as some nonbelievers claim, this is just more misdirection. The photos could have been taken at any time. Or Fenn had the treasure all along.

Again, the vagueness that permeates everything about the end of the Fenn treasure hunt makes it hard to believe events have progressed as Fenn stated.

Tony Dokoupil, who wrote about Forrest’s treasure hunt for Newsweek and is credited for helping publicize the treasure hunt, believes that the chest hasn’t been found and the announcement is a hoax. He claims that Forrest wants to be found with the treasure after his death, as a way of ensuring that his name will be remembered for years to come.

What Dokoupil doesn’t explain is how ostensibly calling off the treasure hunt now would effectively help him do so.

Some of Fenn’s other comments recently seem to lend credence to the idea that he’s lying about the treasure. In previous statements, he said he hid the treasure. In the recent post with the released photos, he says, “It [the chest] is darker than it was ten years ago when I left it on the ground and walked away.”

Is that nitpicky? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s an inconsistency borne from an older man who simply didn’t keep his story straight.

forrest fenn

[Image courtesy of The Santa Fe New Mexican.]

The multiple lawsuits we discussed in our previous post are still ongoing. Is concealing the solution part of an effort by Fenn to prevent further lawsuits from solvers who were close, but ultimately failed and might blame Fenn or the unnamed solver? Is it an attempt by Fenn to help the solver avoid paying taxes on his newfound loot?

Among doubters, the prevailing theory seems to be that the treasure was never hidden at all, and the whole thing has been a publicity stunt to sell his book.

Others believe Forrest when he said the goal of hiding the treasure was to get people out to enjoy nature. Some YouTubers are taking a similar path, posting videos with clickbait titles like “How We Found Forrest Fenn’s Treasure,” only for the end result to be them talking about enjoying the journey, not actually reaching the destination.

That might be enough for some, but for many more, they’re waiting for further proof. I, for one, must count myself among the doubters.


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Puns: What Sweet Music They Make

Wordplay Wednesday 599

There’s nothing like a bit of shameless punnery to improve my mood. Sure, a deftly crafted and immaculately executed pun can be a delight, but there’s something about a labored, ridiculous pun that just brings me joy.

You know, like the one about going into surgery and being given two options: an old anesthetic or a paddle to the face.

It was an ether/oar situation.

BAM. Silly punnery afoot.

You can find it in many forms, like crossword clues and Tom Swifties. There’s even the O. Henry Pun-Off competition each year where punsmiths from all over the world gather to show off their linguistic limberness.

And what a treat it is when the puns are packaged in a song.

malinda 1

I recently stumbled across a wonderful example on YouTube when I found the channel belonging to singer, musician, and actress Malinda Kathleen Reese. Her channel, simply called MALINDA, has over 250,000 subscribers, and features not only her lovely voice and impressive musical chops, but a wide variety of creative endeavors involving music.

She’s crafted songs about subjects both joyful and sad, often incorporating submissions and suggestions from her viewers. One is made up entirely of old Facebook statuses she posted. Another features compliments she’s received online, while a third is composed from hate comments.

MalindaKathleenReese

Whether she’s singing what she sees, composing a symphony with a deck of cards, testing the reliability of the website RhymeZone by using it to write a rap, or performing with an orchestra of singers and musicians assembled for a virtual performance, Malinda is as ambitious as she is innovative.

And, as you might expect from this blog post’s introduction, she has a song made up entirely of shameless puns.

Enjoy, won’t you?

What a treat!

You can check out Malinda’s works on her YouTube page and stay up-to-date with her current projects on her Twitter account, and if you’re feeling so inclined, support her on Patreon so she can continue making marvelous musical melodies like the one above.

Thanks for brightening our days, Malinda!


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Don’t Be a Square! Check Out These Puzzly Theme Park Ideas!

Long-time readers know that we often host in-house wordplay contests. Not only do we invite our friends at Penny/Dell Puzzles to participate, but our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers as well!

This month, the challenge was to envision a Penny/Dell-inspired theme park!

Participants could create rides and attractions, provide slogans or ads, and whatever else came to mind for this imaginary puzzly paradise! Bonus points for any punny references to Penny/Dell puzzles or magazines!

With both text descriptions and art submitted, covering everything from individual rides to entire brochures, let’s check out what some clever puzzly minds came up with!


PENNYDELL PARK DIRECTORY

RIDES

BURIED TREASURE: Ahoy, mateys! Arrrrrr you ready for adventure? Do you have what it takes to locate the pirate’s booty? Come aboard your own private galleon on the BURIED TREASURE ride, me hearties!

TIME MACHINE: Crafted by Emmett “Doc” Brown himself, this DeLorean TIME MACHINE presents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit any time in the past or future. The opportunity to change history or view what is yet to come is all yours!
*Pennydell Park takes no responsibilty for any detrimental consequences that may occur due to your actions during your time-travel adventure.

TOP TO BOTTOM: In this thrill-seeking ride, you will ascend to the top of a tower that overlooks Pennydell Park. Enjoy a relaxing moment or two as you take in the scenery from above. Then, without warning, you will plummet to the bottom of the tower at frightening speeds. You will be taken from TOP TO BOTTOM again and again, resulting in either the excitement of a lifetime or the need for a family-sized package of motion sickness medication.

GAMES

A TO Z MAZE: Are you up to the challenge of this labyrinth of letters? In this game, you will enter a complicated maze in which each of the 26 letters of the alphabet are hidden. Upon finding each letter, you will receive a specially-marked token. Players who collect all 26 tokens win the a-maze-ing prize of a year’s supply of ALPHABET SOUP.

WHEEL OF FORTUNE: In this simple game of chance, players will spin the WHEEL OF FORTUNE to reveal what they’ve won. Prizes range from the terrific to the horrific. Will you walk away with a fist full of cash or a can full of trash? A tropical cruise or an old pair of shoes? Try your luck now!

FOOD AND DRINK

Don’t forget to stop by one of our famous snack stands for our delicious specialties! Now featuring ooey-gooey BROWNIE BITS AND PIECES, the classic popcorn treat CRACKERJACKS (with good prizes like they used to have!), and the ever-popular BANANA SPLIT PERSONALITIES – now with even more personalities than ever before!


puzzleopolis


UNAPPROVED ADVERTISEMENT

Welcome to Penny’s Easy & Fun  Variety Puzzles   Queasy & Fun Ride-It-Free Puzzles Theme Park!

Here you can enjoy some of our famous puzzly rides and games like:

  • Anagram Tragic Squares
  • Mine of Diamonds
  • Keep on Grooving
  • Cheat the Clock

Also, don’t forget to catch the Blinkwords 182 concert and enjoy a free slice of Domino’s “tastes good in Theory” pizza before you leave!


double trouble ride


WELCOME TO PUZZLYWOOD

With the postponement of this year’s Kentucky Derby, an exciting alternative would be to check out the Puzzle Derby at the newly opened Puzzlywood Theme Park, located at the Crossroads of Pigeonhole, which may be in Tennessee or Kentucky, nobody is really sure, but You Know the Odds.

Su and her husband Sum Doku created Puzzlywood Brick by Brick to celebrate their love for all things puzzly. As guests Zigzag into the main area of the park, known as the Circles in the Square, they are met by the Scoremaster who directs them to the Digital Display, where guests can select their Place Cards for the Puzzle in the Round or Pair Off for a little Double Trouble at the End of the Line.

Also at Right Angles from any of the Escalators, and in The Shadow of the Four Corners, solvers have the Right of Way on the Word Trails where they may come Face to Face with the Quote Calculator or the Number Sleuth, each of whom will offer a little Give and Take to help guests make Heads & Tails of the attractions under Camouflage. Decisions, Decisions, you will need a Strategy.

Puzzlywood also boasts a vibrant nightlife, as guests are continually Spellbound by the Throwbacks at the park Disco. For a quieter evening guests may enjoy the sweet bluegrass sounds emanating from the Fiddler’s Frame.

All Four One is the friendly motto of Puzzlywood where Three’s Company and the Letterboxes are always overflowing with Secret Messages penned by happy visitors, including many Guest Stars!


Did you come up with any puzzly theme park ideas, fellow puzzler? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.

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Intersections of Puzzle and Poetry

The more you look, the more you can find puzzles in all sorts of interesting places. We find them in literature, in historical documents, and in popular culture.

So it should come as no surprise that puzzles can be found in the world of poetry as well.

We’ve covered a few examples where poetry and puzzles have overlapped in the past, whether it’s the creations of Peter Valentine, the works of Edgar Allan Poe, or the art of carmina figurata.

carminafig7

But that’s only scratching the surface.

One of the most common ways that puzzly techniques find their way into poetry is through acrostics. Acrostics spell out messages with the first letter of each line or verse.

One of the most famous is a poem by Lewis Carroll at the end of Through the Looking-Glass where he reveals the identity of the girl who inspired his famous stories:

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July—

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear—

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream—
Lingering in the golden gleam—
Life, what is it but a dream?

Carroll certainly offers the most famous example, but I must confess that my favorite example comes from a story on Wikipedia. Poet Rolfe Humphries was banned from Poetry Magazine for life for an acrostic aimed at a diplomat and former president of Columbia University. The acrostic quite bluntly read “Nicholas Murray Butler is a horse’s ass.”

Of course, the message reading down — also known as an acrostich — isn’t the only way these messages can be hidden.

There are also examples of mesostich — where the word or message is spelled with letters in the middle of the verse — and telestich, where the last letters of each line spell a name or message.

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[Image courtesy of Twitter.]

These techniques were also used in ancient Greek inscriptions, where one particular example, AL205, featured acrostich, mesostich, and telestich messages at the same time.

Other puzzly stylings have also allowed poets to flex their wordplay muscles.

For instance, David Shulman wrote a 14-line sonnet about George Washington’s famous river crossing where every line is an anagram of “Washington crossing the Delaware”:

A hard, howling, tossing water scene.
Strong tide was washing hero clean.
“How cold!” Weather stings as in anger.
O Silent night shows war ace danger!

The cold waters swashing on in rage.
Redcoats warn slow his hint engage.
When star general’s action wish’d “Go!”
He saw his ragged continentals row.

Ah, he stands – sailor crew went going.
And so this general watches rowing.
He hastens – winter again grows cold.
A wet crew gain Hessian stronghold.

George can’t lose war with’s hands in;
He’s astern – so go alight, crew, and win!

There are also ABC poems, a form where the goal of each poem is to use words starting with each letter of the alphabet in order. You can find some entertaining and impressive examples here.

Some poets, however, have flipped the puzzle poem on its head by treating the poems like puzzles. The folks at UVA’s Puzzle Poetry group utilize Tetris-like puzzle pieces with words on them to assemble poems.

poetry_puzzle_da_header_3-2

[Image courtesy of the University of Virginia.]

The concept dates back to 2017, a creation of Neal Curtis and Brad Pasanek, serving as a way to both explore and deconstruct the art of poetry itself by making a puzzle out of it.

It’s a very cool idea, reminiscent of how magnetic poetry sets allow you to turn your fridge into a canvas by assembling and reworking the order of the various available words.

Puzzles by their very nature are about finding a solution, bringing order out of chaos, whether it’s assembling puzzle pieces, answering devious crossword clues to fill a grid, or unraveling a tricky brain teaser that pushes you to think in a different way.

And since poetry is all about expressing truths in a personal way, it makes a lovely sort of sense that puzzly techniques would intertwine with this thoughtful, elusive form of art.


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You can also share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and explore the always-expanding library of PuzzleNation apps and games on our website!