Musical Wordplay to Soothe the Savage Puzzler…

Oh yes, it’s that time again! It’s time to unleash our puzzly and punny imaginations and engage in a bit of sparkling wordplay!

You may be familiar with the board game Schmovie, hashtag games on Twitter, or @midnight’s Hashtag Wars segment on Comedy Central.

For years now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellPuzzleLyrics, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles with lyrics from songs of any and all genres!

Examples include: “Lucy in the sky with Nine of Diamonds“, “If I leave Here and There tomorrow, would you still remember me?”, and “’cause the times they are a-Changaword.”

So, without further ado, check out what the puzzlers at PuzzleNation and Penny Dell Puzzles came up with!


Let’s start with some Puzzly Lyrics!

“Woah, Black Betty, Anagrams.” (Black Betty, Ram Jam)

“I’m still Jenny from the Blockbuilders” / “I’m still Jenny from Around the Block” (Jenny from the Block, Jennifer Lopez)

Abacus think this song is about you. Don’t you? Don’t you?” (You’re So Vain, Carly Simon)

ABC’s, it’s easy as one These Three, or simple as A to Z Maze, ABC’s, one These Three, baby you’re a solver!” (ABC, The Jackson Five)

“I put a Spelldown on you because you’re fine” / “I put a Starspell on you” (I Put a Spell on You, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)

Give and Take another little Bits and Pieces of my heart now, baby.” / “A Little Piece-by-Piece of My Heart” (Piece of My Heart, Janis Joplin)

“It’s hip to be Circles in the Square.” (Hip to Be Square, Huey Lewis and the News)

“Tea for Two for One and Two at a Time for tea.” (Tea for Two, Doris Day)

“I have become comfortably Number Square.” (Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd)

“All in all you’re just another Brick by Brick in the wall.” (Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Pink Floyd)

“When you’re thick as a Brick by Brick” (Thick as a Brick, Jethro Tull)

“Plenty of room at the Hotel Cancellations” (Hotel California, Eagles)

“Growing up leads to growing old and then to Tie-In, Ooo, and Tie-In to me don’t sound like all that much fun.” (Authority Song, John Mellencamp)

One and Only is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do” (One Is The Loneliest Number, Three(somes) Dog Night)

Chain Reaction of Fools” (Chain of Fools, Aretha Franklin)

“Animal Crackers in my Alphabet Soup” / “Animal Crackers in my Alphabet Soup for Two” (Animal Crackers in my Soup, Shirley Temple)

“‘Cause I knew you were Double Trouble when you walked in, So shame on me now” (I Knew You Were Trouble, Taylor Swift)

“The Anagram Magical Mystery Word Grand Tour” (The Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles)

“Domo Arigato, Mr. Sudoku” (Mr. Roboto, Styx)

Diamond Rings are a Girl’s Best Friend” (Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, Carol Channing/Marilyn Monroe)

Diamond Mine-Eyes Adored You” (My Eyes Adored You, Frankie Valli)

“Ricky don’t lose that Number Seek, it’s the only one you own” (Ricky Don’t Lose That Number, Steely Dan)

“Jenny I got your Number Seek.” (867-5309/Jenny, Tommy Tutone)

“She’s a Brick by Brick House” (Brick House, Lionel Ritchie & The Commodores)

“Love in an Escalators, living it Ups & Downs” (Love in an Elevator, Aerosmith)

“I Go to Extreme Sudoku” (I Go to Extremes, Billy Joel)

“It’s a Family Ties Affair” (It’s a Family Affair, Sly & the Family Stone)

“Living in the Shadowbox of Love” (Standing in the Shadow of Love, The Four Tops)

“Jump in the Line ‘Em Up Rock Your Body in Time” (Jump in the Line, Harry Belafonte)

“Don’t Get Around the Block Much Anymore” (Don’t Get Around Much Anymore, Duke Ellington)

“You spin me Right Angles round, baby, Right Angles round, like a record baby” (You Spin Me Round, Dead or Alive)

“Beauty school Drop-Outs, no graduation day for you…” / “Beauty school Drop-Outs… Go back to Shuffle” (Beauty School Drop Out, Frankie Avalon)

“Cold iron shackles, ball and Chain Words” (Tennessee Jed, The Grateful Dead)

“Here I come Red-dy or not, Here I come Red-dy I go” (Ready Or Not, Lou Gramm)

“Quaint little villages Here and There, You’re sure to fall in love with Old Cape Cod” (Old Cape Cod, Bette Midler)

“…Gotta Lip Service, get it while you can, Hot, sweat ‘n’ nervous love on demand” (Rock! Rock! Til you drop, Def Leppard)

“We’re goin’ up Around the Bend” (Up Around the Bend, Credence Clearwater Revival)

“I wanna live where the Good Deal grows, watch my Combos pop up in Rounders” (Where the Green Grass Grows, Tim McGraw)

“I wanna swing from the Consonant Search, from the Consonant Search” (Chandelier, Sia)

“I’ve got 1, Two by Two, 3, 4, 5, senses working overtime” (Senses Working Overtime, XTC)

“It takes Two at a Time, baby, it takes Two at a Time, baby, just me and you” (It Takes Two, Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston)

Say That you, Say That me, Say That for always” (Say You Say Me, Lionel Richie)

“I’m back in Blackout! I hit the stack.” (Back in Black, ACDC)

“I see a red door and I want to paint my Blackout!” (Paint it Black, The Rolling Stones)

“You go back to words, and I go back to Blackout” (Back to Black, Amy Winehouse)

“There’s a man In the Funny Papers we all know (Alley Oop, oop, oop-oop)” (Alley Oop, the Hollywood Argyles)

Hare we go again on my own, going down the only road I’ve ever know… like a drifter I was born to walk alone” (Here I go again, Whitesnake)

Movin’ On Over… Rockin on over… move over little dog the big old dog is movin in” (Move It On Over, George Thorogood)

“The fire’s in their eyes and their words are really clear, So beat it. Just Beat the Clock” (Beat It, Michael Jackson)

“It doesn’t matter what they solve. In the letter games people play. Our Blips are sealed” (Our Lips are Sealed, The Go-Go’s)

“Can, my darling, can you Picture This?” (When Doves Cry, The artist formerly known as ‘The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’)

“It’s time to Scramble on Across” (Ramble On, Led Zeppelin)

Combos number five. Look Across and Down and move them all around” (Mambo Number 5, Lou Bega)

“Will we ever leave the maze again? It’s the final Countdown” (The Final Countdown, Europe)

“Hit the road Crackerjacks” (Hit the Road Jack, Ray Charles)

“Can you Fill-In above and right? It is where they are” (Can You Feel the Love Tonight?, Elton John)

“It’s the Circle Cross of Life, it’s the Wheels of fortune” (Circle of Life, Elton John)

“Another All Four One bites the dust” (Another One Bites the Dust, Queen)

“No time for Loose Tiles cause we are the Champions… of the Domino Theory!” (We Are the Champions, Queen)

“It takes Two at a Time to make a thing go right” (It Takes Two, Robe Base/DJ E-Z Rock)

Three From Nine, damn she fine!” (Get Low, Lil Jon)

“If Rhyme Time was a drug I’d sell it by the gram” (Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice)

“I just can’t get you out of my Headings. Boy your letters are all that I think about” (Can’t Get You Out of My Head, Kylie Minogue)

Line ‘Em Up up up, I’m on fire” (My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark, Fall Out Boy)

“I Walk the End of the Line” (I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash)

“Will the Circles in the Square be Unbroken” (Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Johnny Cash)

And of course Johnny Cash had the immortal, “A Boy Named Sue-doku,” with the line “Life ain’t easy for a boy named Sudoku.”

Simon Says: “the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls.” (The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel)

Simon Says: “you’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.” (You’re so Vain by Carly Simon)


Some players were a bit more ambitious, so we’ll call this section Puzzly Verses!

“She’s so lucky… a Lucky Star but she try try tries in her only chart thinkin’ if there’s nothin’ missing to the right then why don’t these terms come out right” (Lucky, Britney Spears)

I heard there was a Secret Word, that David played and it pleased the nerd
But you don’t really care for puzzles, do ya?
Well it goes like this the Foursomes, the Fitting Description, the minor Quotefall, the major List-a-Crostic
The Battleships composing Hidden Word Squares
(Hallelujah, Leonard Cohen)

He says, “Bill, I believe this is killing me.”
As a smile ran away from his face
“Well, I’m sure that I could be a movie star
If I could get out of this Places, Please.”
(Piano Man, Billy Joel)

For five long years
I thought you were my man
But I found out
I’m just a link in your Chain Words
(Chain of Fools, Aretha Franklin)

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the Sunrays in her eyes
And she’s gone
(The Beatles, Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds)

Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your Bowl Game on, go Word Play
Hey now, you’re a rock Guest Star, get the show on, get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold
(Smash Mouth, All-Star)

Carry on my Right of Wayward son
For there’ll be Piece by Piece when you are done
Lay your weary Headings to rest
Don’t you cry no more
(Kansas, Carry On Wayward Son)

You wouldn’t even know a Diamond Rings
If you held it in your hand
The things you think are precious
I can’t understand
(Steely Dan, Reelin’ In the Years)

You’re the First and Last One
When things Turnabout bad
You Know The Odds I’ll never be lonely
You’re my only One and Only
And I love the things
I really love the things that you do
You’re my best friend
(Queen, You’re My Best Friend)

Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper book.
They slither wildly as they slip away Across and Down the universe…
Nothing’s going to change my word…
(The Beatles, Across the Universe)

Every breath you Give and Take
Every It’s Your Move you make
Every Common Bond you break
Every Step by Step you take
I’ll be watching you.
(The Police, Every Breath You Take)

Oh you know, you know, You know the Odds
I’d never ask you to Changaword
If Perfect Fit‘s what you’re Circle Searching for
Then just stay the same
(Bruno Mars, Just the Way You Are)

We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and Around the Bend
In the Circle Sums game
(Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game)

In a world that keeps on pushin’ me Around the Bend
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down
Hey baby there ain’t no easy Word Ways out
Hey I will stand my ground
(Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, I Won’t Back Down)


Pete Seeger wrote “Little Boxes,” about about a range of variety puzzles with a chorus imploring puzzlemakers to create digest-sized Boxes Word Seeks… here’s a sample:

Window Boxes on the hillside
Letterboxes made of ticky tacky
Little Boxes
Little Boxes
Shadowboxes all the same…


The Puzzles of Your Mind

(Puzzle in the) Round,
Like a circling Bull’s-Eye Spiral,
Like the Wheels within Spinwheel,
Never ending or beginning like a Flower Power feels,
Like a snowball down some Word Trails or a Dart Game done too soon,
Carousels Tossing and Turning, running Ringers ’round the moon,
Beat the Clock who’s hands are sweeping past the minutes of its face,
And Star Words is like an apple whirling silently in space,
Like Full Circles that you find in the puzzles of your mind.

(The Windmills of Your Mind by Michel Legrand with English lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song, as sung by Noel Harrison in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair)


Here is the first verse of Bob Dylan’s classic “Tanglewords in Blue,” although known to some as “Tangled up in Blue.”

Early one mornin’ the Sunrays shinin’
I was layin’ in bed
Wonderin’ if she’d Changaword
If her hair was still red
Here and There folks said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like mama’s Home Runs dress
Papa’s Bookworms wasn’t big enough
And I was standing on the side of the Crossroads
Quotefalls on my shoes
Heads & Tails for the east coast
Lord knows of paid some dues
Getting through
Tanglewords in blue


Two intrepid puzzlers went above and beyond, conjuring up entire Puzzly Songs!

Nice Nice Puzzles
(Performed in the Style of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”)

Word to your mother.

Yo! PDP! Let’s kick it!

Nice nice puzzles
Nice nice puzzles
All right stop
Grab your pencils and hear it
Penny/Dell’s here with some puzzly spirit

Hold on to your magazines tightly
Solvin’ some word seeks daily and nightly

Will I ever stop?
Yo, I don’t know.
My love of words is something I just can’t let go

To the extreme I rock crosswords like a boss
Hang on a sec while I write in three across

When on the go…
Gotta download Daily Pop
Or pick up some Logic at the airport gift shop

Sorry, were you talking to me?
Didn’t hear a thing ‘cuz I’m on a solving spree

Puzzles? I love them.
I do ’em all day
From the time the sun rises until I hit the hay

Crostics, Tiles, and Fill-Ins
Sudoku, Piece by Piece
With each new type I try
My solving skills increase

Nice nice puzzles to solve…to solve
Nice nice puzzles to solve…to solve


Ode to the Casino
(Fool’s Paradise by Buddy Holly)

You took me up to heaven
When you sounded that sweet alarm
I was dazzled by your Diamond Rings
Blinded by your charms
I was lost, in a Roll of the Dice
Good and lost, in a Roll of the Dice

When you told me that you loved me
I gave my coins to you
And I wondered if there could be
Any cherries in my view
I was lost, in a Roll of the Dice
Good and lost, in a Roll of the Dice

The whole world was my Circle Sums
And I love the Ups and Downs
Then I saw you glance at a new romance
And my love tumbled Across and Down

Though you treat me kind-a coolish
And may never let me know
That you think I’m being foolish
Because I love you so
I’ll still get lost, in a Roll of the Dice
Lost with you, in a Roll of the Dice

Though you treat me kind-a coolish
And may never let me know
That you think I’m being foo-oo-oo-lish
Because I love you so
I’ll still get lost, in a Roll of the Dice
Lost with you, in a Roll of the Dice
Lost with you, in a Roll of the Dice


Have you come up with any Penny Dell Puzzle Lyrics entries of your own? Let us know! We’d love to see them!

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National Puzzle Day Puzzle Hunt Solution!

Last Monday was National Puzzle Day, so to honor one of the puzzliest days of the year, we celebrated with not only giveaways galore, but a special online puzzle hunt as well!

And today, we’ve got the solution to the multi-stage puzzle that awaited solvers that day! Enjoy!


Step 1 started with a Carry-Over puzzle where answers from that day’s free Daily POP Crosswords puzzle were plugged into a chain of escalating anagrams.

As each word was anagrammed into a new word that fit the given clue, letters were subtracted and added to the next word down, giving the solver a larger pool of letters to work with to answer the next clue in the chain, and so on.

Here’s the completed puzzle, with Grid Words and Answer Words filled in:

And when solvers plugged the answer “acrobat” into the link on the page, it took them to a hidden page on the PuzzleNation Blog website, where Step 2 awaited them.


Step 2 challenged solvers to complete a series of tasks in a game of Simon Says. But before they could start, they had to plug in answers from that day’s Penny Dell Crosswords App free daily puzzle.

With the answers handy, they could begin following the instructions and transforming the initial answer word into something unexpected.

Here’s the completed puzzle:

And when solvers plugged the answer “tumbling” into the link on the page, it took them to a hidden page on the PuzzleNation Blog website, where Step 3 awaited them.


Step 3 marked the final leg of the puzzle hunt. But to complete it, solvers had to pay attention to all of those red asterisks in the first two legs of the puzzle.

There were fifteen of them, between answer words and grid words, for solvers to arrange alphabetically into three columns of five words apiece.

Solvers then had to read across each row of words and cross off every letter that appears twice or four times in that row. Then, reading down, do the same in each column of words. Once a letter is crossed off, it cannot be part of another pair or foursome.

The pairs/foursomes across are highlighted in red and the pairs/foursomes down are highlighted in blue, with only the black letters remaining.

So that leaves this pool of letters:

Five of the fifteen words in the grid can be spelled from that pool of letters. (You’re not crossing out letters as you use them; you’re simply seeing which words can possibly be spelled from that pool of letters. Hence, DINERO can be spelled, but MURMUR cannot.)

Those five words are DINERO, LIMO, MUSLIN, RODIN, and SNEER.

And when solvers plugged those five answers into the link on the page, it took them to one last hidden page where they saw a little congratulatory graphic:

Solvers who completed the puzzle hunt also earned 100 coins for the Daily POP Crosswords app!

A hearty thank you to everyone who participated! We hope you enjoyed this puzzly challenge!


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

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!

Puzzle Romance!

puzzlelove

Hello there, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers!

It’s Valentine’s Day, and in lieu of our usual post touting different ideas for celebrating love in a puzzly way — since it’s a bit short-notice for those ideas — we thought we’d share some of our favorite tales of puzzle romance.

(Of course, if you ARE looking for ideas, you’re welcome to click here. Just saying.)

escalators1

In the past, I’ve had the privilege of reporting on two puzzly proposals that were quite brilliantly facilitated by our friends at Penny Dell Puzzles. Each time, the gentleman in question — both times named Bryan, oddly enough — asked that the proposal be hidden in a favorite puzzle, slipped into one of their puzzle books. The first time, it was Escalators, the second, Simon Says.

Both times, the plans were executed to perfection, and both times, the lovely fiancees-to-be said yes.

weddingpost1

(We’ve also previously shared the stories of proposals couched in a game of Monopoly and a Rubik’s Cube.)

But my favorite story of puzzle romance involves two friends of mine who are both devotees of cryptic crosswords. (For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call them Carol and George.)

Carol and George are one of those brilliantly matched couples that makes you smile just thinking of them. Marvelously compatible interests and senses of humor and general weirdness that makes relationships worthwhile.

George had several gifts picked out for Carol, but he wanted to surprise her with a little something extra, a bit of diabolical sweetness only a true puzzle devotee would love.

So, before Carol received each small token of affection, she was given a cryptic crossword (also known as a British-style crossword) clue to solve. Cryptic crossword clues involve both cunning wordplay and a definition. The number after the clue provides the number of letters in the answer word.

cryptic

[A cryptic crossword by constructors Cox and Rathvon,
courtesy of National Post Cryptic Crossword Forum.]

Here are the clues George created. Hopefully you can figure out the answers just as Carol did!

Really glitchy web address loaded between Tuesday and first of year (5)

Found, amidst mishap, pyramid’s content (5)

Begin tortured existence (5)

Thine enemy, in the end, belonging to us both (5)

Plus, there’s an added bonus: the four five-letter answers, when placed in order, form a phrase.

Hopefully, there will be some wonderful new stories of puzzle romance to come. Maybe even tonight! If you have a story to share, comment below! We’d love to hear it!


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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!

It’s Follow-Up Friday: 2016 Countdown edition!

It’s the final Follow-Up Friday of the year, so what do you say we revisit all of 2016 with a countdown of my ten favorite blog posts from the past year!


#10 Doomsday Prep

One of the big surprises for me this year was discovering that crosswords and puzzle books were hot-ticket items for doomsday preppers. The idea that crosswords belong next to necessities like food, water, shelter, and knowledge was a revealing one, something that gave me great hope for the future, whether we need those caches or not.

#9 Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide

Every year, one of my favorite activities is putting together our Holiday Puzzly Gift Guide. I get to include the best products sent to me for review by top puzzle and game companies, mix in some of my own favorites, and draw attention to terrific constructors, game designers, and friends of the blog, all in the hopes of introducing solvers (and families of solvers) to quality puzzles and games.

#8 A Puzzly Proposal

Our friends at Penny Dell Puzzles once again pulled off a heck of a puzzly coup when an intrepid fellow puzzler asked them for help proposing to his girlfriend with a special Simon Says puzzle.

I reached out to the lucky fiancé and got his permission to share the story with the PuzzleNation readership, and as I learned more about who was involved and how they’d managed to make it happen, I enjoyed the story more and more. Here’s hoping for many happy puzzly years ahead for the young couple!

#7 Puzzle Fort

For International Puzzle Day, I built a fort out of puzzle books.

It was awesome. Definitely one of my favorite puzzly moments of the year.

#6 The End of Sudoku?

The Sudoku boom may be over, but Sudoku remains one of the most popular puzzles in the world, and I got to thinking… when would we run out? I mean, eventually, statistically speaking, every single Sudoku puzzle permutation would get used at some point, so when would that happen?

So, I crunched the numbers, and it turns out, we’ve got centuries before that happens. Still, it was a fun mental puzzle to unravel.

#5 Murder Mystery

At some point this year, I let slip to my fellow puzzlers that I’d written and staged murder mystery dinners in the past, but it had been a while since I’d done anything like that. Naturally, they volunteered to be participants, urging me to stage something in the office.

Eventually, I accepted their challenge, pitting myself against a half-dozen or so of my fellow puzzlers, allowing some of them to investigate while others played a part in the mystery. It was an enormous undertaking and an absolute blast that lasted three days, and it was definitely a highlight of the year for me.

#4 Puzzle Plagiarism

There was probably no bigger story in crosswords all year than the accusations of plagiarism leveled against Timothy Parker. The editor of puzzles for USA Today and Universal UClick. After numerous examples of very suspicious repetitions between grids were discovered in a crossword database compiled by programmer Saul Pwanson and constructor Ben Tausig, Parker “temporarily stepped back from any editorial role” with their puzzles.

Eventually, Parker was removed from any editorial influence on USA Today’s puzzles, but it remains unknown if he’s still serving in a puzzle-related capacity for Universal Uclick. But the real story here was about integrity in puzzles, as many puzzle and game companies rallied to defend their rights as creators. That’s a cause we can all get behind.

#3 Interviewing the PuzzleNation Team

Our recurring interview feature 5 Questions returned this year, but what made it truly special to me was being able to turn the spotlight on some of my fellow puzzlers here at PuzzleNation as part of celebrating 4 years of PuzzleNation Blog. Introducing readers to our programmer Mike, our Director of Digital Games Fred, and yes, even myself, was a really fun way to celebrate this milestone.

#2 ACPT, CT FIG, and Other Puzzly Events

There are few things better than spending time with fellow puzzlers and gamers, and we got to do a lot of that this year. Whether it was supporting local creators at the Connecticut Festival of Indie Games or cheering on my fellow puzzlers at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, getting out and talking shop with other creators is invigorating and encouraging. It really helps solidify the spirit of community that comes with being puzzly.

#1 Penny Dell Sudoku and Android Expansion

Those were our two biggest app releases this year, and I just couldn’t choose one over the other. This has been a terrific year for us as puzzle creators, because not only did we beef up our library of Android-available puzzle sets to match our terrific iOS library, but we launched our new Penny Dell Sudoku app across both platforms, broadening the scope of what sort of puzzle apps you can expect from PuzzleNation.

It may sound self-serving or schlocky to talk about our flagship products as #1 in the countdown, but it’s something that we’re all extremely proud of, something that we’re constantly working to improve, because we want to make our apps the absolute best they can be for the PuzzleNation audience. That’s what you deserve.

Thanks for spending 2016 with us, through puzzle scandals and proposals, through forts and festivities, through doomsday prepping and daily delights. We’ll see you in 2017.


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on everything PuzzleNation!

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!

Puzzles in Pop Culture: Die Hard With a Vengeance

die-hard-with-a-vengeance-original

It’s summer, and when it comes to Hollywood, summer means big blockbuster action movies. One of my favorites is the Bruce Willis / Samuel L. Jackson modern classic Die Hard With a Vengeance.

For those who are unfamiliar with the film — shame on you! — it’s the third installment of the Die Hard franchise, featuring catchphrase-spouting New York City cop John McClane battling terrorists, criminals, and all sorts of unsavory characters.

In Die Hard With a Vengeance, a bomber named Simon is terrorizing the city and McClane is one of his playthings, forced to play Simon Says and accomplish increasingly difficult tasks that Simon sets before him. As McClane (and electrician Zeus Carver, who saves McClane from the first of Simon’s games) race around the city trying to prevent other bombs from going off, Simon enacts an elaborate scheme to rob the city.

Thankfully, McClane and Zeus have a knack for brain teasers and riddles, because several of Simon’s devious tasks require quick thinking and sharp puzzle skills.

diehardwithavengeance1

[One of the last movies to feature payphones as a key plot point…]

First, Simon hits them with a math problem:

As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Each wife had seven sacks, every sack had seven cats, every cat had seven kittens. Kittens, cats, sacks, wives. How many were going to St. Ives?

As McClane fervently tries to do multiplication in his head, Zeus realizes this isn’t a word problem, it’s a riddle. The man was going to St. Ives when he met this man, meaning the man was coming from St. Ives. So the wives, sacks, cats, and kittens are irrelevant. Only the narrator is going to St. Ives, so the answer to the riddle is 1.

stives-1886892

[Seems like a nice place to take your many wives…]

In their second puzzly task, Simon offers the following question:

“What has four legs and always ready to travel?”

McClane doesn’t get it, but Zeus immediately identifies it as an elephant joke for kids (although he doesn’t actually deliver the punchline: an elephant, because it has four legs and a trunk).

They quickly spot a nearby fountain with an elephant statue. Awaiting them is a suitcase bomb and two empty jugs. When McClane opens the suitcase, he accidentally arms the bomb, and Simon calls to inform them that the only way to disarm the bomb is to fill one of the jugs with exactly four gallons of water and place it on the scale in the suitcase.

die-hard-vengeance-laptop

[And they say what we learn in school has no practical, real-world applications…]

The problem is the two jugs hold 3 gallons and 5 gallons, respectively. Simon has set them up with another brain teaser, but one with a dire time limit to solve.

Thankfully, there are two ways to solve this brain teaser.

Method #1

  • Fill the 3-gallon jug and pour the water into the 5-gallon jug.
  • Refill the 3-gallon jug and pour the water into the 5-gallon jug until the 5-gallon jug is full, leaving 1 gallon in the 3-gallon jug.
  • Empty the 5-gallon jug and pour the 1 gallon of water from the 3-gallon jug into the 5-gallon jug.
  • Fill the 3-gallon jug again and empty it into the 5-gallon jug, leaving exactly 4 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.

Method #2

  • Fill the 5-gallon jug and pour that water into the 3-gallon jug until the 3-gallon jug is full, leaving 2 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.
  • Empty the 3-gallon jug and pour the 2 gallons of water from 5-gallon jug into the 3-gallon jug.
  • Refill the 5-gallon jug and pour that water into the 3-gallon jug until the 3-gallon jug is full, leaving 4 gallons in the 5-gallon jug.

Either way, you’ve disarmed the bomb. Good job!

140-billion-die-hard

[While Simon has McClane and Zeus run
all over the city, he has one specific goal…]

The final riddle Simon gives Zeus and McClane is another brain teaser masquerading as a math problem:

“What is 21 out of 42?”

At the time of the film’s release, there had been 42 presidents, so 21 out of 42 was President Chester A. Arthur, and Chester A. Arthur Elementary School was where Simon had hidden one of his bombs (a fake one, as it turns out) as a distraction.

In the end, McClane and Zeus outwit the cunning Simon, and once again, puzzle-solving skills save the day! Hooray!

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