A long time ago, in a corn maze far, far away…

Corn mazes are a wonderful puzzly tradition synonymous with the arrival of Fall and the end of Summer.

And one particular corn maze in Evansville, Indiana, has captured the attention of the masses with one lifelong Star Wars fan’s tribute to Carrie Fisher, the actress who portrayed Princess Leia Organa, who sadly passed away last year.

The maze was designed by Jeremy Goebel of Goebel Farms, who has been responsible for planning and executing corn maze designs as part of his duties on the farm — he’s been there 16 years! His previous maze designs include Darth Vader, the film The Force Awakens, and the starship USS Enterprise from the Star Trek series.

Each design is quite time-consuming to bring to life. Planting the Carrie Fisher design took 40 minutes — amazingly fast, courtesy of a tractor computer and GPS coordinates — and the initial plan dates back to February.

From an article in The Evansville Courier & Press:

The process used to be much more labor-intensive. The first year the Goebel family decided to make a corn maze they cut the rows by hand in mid-August, when the corn was tall and strong.

“It was not a great time to make a maze,” he said.

The second year they cut out the design earlier. The process involved a lot of guesswork. Goebel had to measure out the pathways in the field as he went.

“The third year we started using GPS,” Goebel said.

The maze is now open to the public for their enjoyment. As both a Star Wars fan and a maze enthusiast, this is the perfect puzzly way to combine those worlds in a satisfying fashion for all.

Do you know of any other dazzling corn mazes that will be challenging fellow puzzlers this Autumn, PuzzleNationers? Let us know in the comments below!


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: PUZZLES…IN…SPACE edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’m posting the results of our #PennyDellPuzzleSciFi hashtag game!

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

For over a year now, we’ve been collaborating on puzzle-themed hashtag games with our pals at Penny Dell Puzzles, and this month’s hook was #PennyDellPuzzleSciFi, mashing up Penny Dell puzzles and anything and everything having to do with cartoons, animated film and television shows, characters, catchphrases, famous lines…anything!

Examples include The Day The Earth Stood Syll-acrostic, Captain James T. Kirkuro, Keep ON Asi-moving, or Mystery Person of Interest.

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


Star Wars!

Obi Wan & Only KenKen-obi / Obi-Ken Kenobi

Star Words: Attack of the Pine Cones

Star Words: The Empire Strikes Blackout!

X-word fighter

Anagram Skywalker

“These Three aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” / “These aren’t the Drop-Outs you’re looking for”

“Do or do not. There is no Try-Angles.”

”May the Fore ‘n’ Aft be with you”


Star Trek!

“Beam me Ups and Downs, Scotty!”

“The Double Trouble with Tribbles”

Deep Space Nine of Diamonds

Captain Jean-Lucky Star

Captain Kathryn Right of Way

“Make the Connection so.”

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of A Few Choice Words.”

“Live long and progressions”

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kenken


Starspellman

Simon Says: In space, no one can hear you scream.

Battleships Galactica

Nineteen Eighty-Foursomes

Slaughterhouse Fancy Fives

A Wrinkle in Rhyme Time

Piggyback to the Future

Triplex Machina

The Frame-inator

“May the Solicross be with you” [Glenn’s note: I know this sounds like Star Wars, but it feels more Spaceballs to me.]

“Now that’s the worst disguise ever. That guy’s gotta be an Analog.”

Double Trouble in Little China

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplaces, Please

Flower Powers for Algernon

WordbEnder’s Game

Penny’s next puzzle…The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything (answer on page…42)

So It GOes FISH

Heads & Tails from the Darkside

A Clockworks Orange

Galaxy Word Quest

Face to Face/Off

3rd Rock from the Sunrays

Tales from the Crypt-ograms

Two at a Time Lords

Doctor Who’s Calling

Close Encounters of the Three of a Kind

“Curse your Sudoku but inevitable betrayal!”

“You can’t Give and Take the sky from me.”

Doomsday Bookworms

Spanners

Weird and Wacky Science Words

RoboCombos

When Word Games Collide

The Puppet Mixmasters

Godzilla vs. Guess Who

Ringersworld

E.T. the Exchange Board

“E.T. Phrase Craze”

Flash Grand Tour

War of the Word Quest

Alphanumeric-ageddon


And the PuzzleNation readership got involved as well! @HereLetty delivered the terrific Galaxy Quotefalls and War of the Wizard Words!

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

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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: Tile-r Swift edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today I’d like to return to the subject of puzzly tributes.

We’ve featured several puzzle-fueled tributes over the years, from the Star Trek brain teaser we posted in honor of Leonard Nimoy to artistic renderings of famous film monsters in the medium of Rubik’s Cubes.

And, given the three awards she won at this week’s Teen Choice Awards, it’s appropriate that I stumbled across a tribute to Taylor Swift in one of the puzzliest forms imaginable:

A train of thousands of domino tiles.

Beyond the meticulous, creative, and mind-boggling delight:

You know you’ve made it when you find your hard work immortalized in domino form. =)

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

A Puzzle in Honor of Leonard Nimoy

Late last week, news went out that actor, sci-fi luminary, and respected advocate for science Leonard Nimoy had passed away. As a fan of much of his work — not just Star Trek, but Fringe, In Search Of…, and numerous other shows made better by his presence — I was sad to say goodbye to such a terrific and influential figure.

And so, I thought it was only appropriate to honor him in true PuzzleNation fashion: with a Star Trek-themed brain teaser.

This puzzle was created by a University of Kentucky mathematician and puzzler named Raphael Finkel, and came to my attention thanks to a post on IO9.com. It’s a logic puzzle that will really test your deduction skills, perfect to honor pop culture’s most famous Vulcan and their great tradition of logic and reason.

Six Fearsome Heroes

Grobly Grizik is planning to write a novel fashioned after Star Trek: The Next Generation. In this novel, six of the crew members compete both at Fizzbin and at Tri-Dimensional chess. Each crew member gets two independent rankings for proficiency at these games (one ranking for each game), with “1” ranked lowest and “6” highest.

Every crew member has a personal hero among the crew, and every crew member is afraid of some crew member. Everyone is the hero of somebody, and everyone is feared by somebody. Nobody either fears him/herself nor counts him/herself as a hero. Nobody fears his/her own hero.

From the given clues, discover every crew member’s ranking at Fizzbin and at Tri-D chess, as well as whom he/she fears and whom he/she counts as a hero:

  • Geordi ranks 2 at Tri-D Chess.
  • Picard ranks two positions behind Troi at Fizzbin.
  • Troi is feared by the person Geordi fears.
  • Worf’s hero ranks 3 times lower at Tri-D Chess than the crew member who is best at Fizzbin.
  • Picard’s hero fears Geordi.
  • Data’s hero is not Geordi.
  • Data is the hero of Riker’s hero.
  • The person who is worst at Fizzbin is better than Troi at Tri-D Chess.
  • The person ranked number 3 at Tri-D Chess is ranked 4 positions higher than Data at Fizzbin.
  • Riker is feared by the person Picard fears and is the hero of Worf’s hero.
  • Riker is ranked 2 lower at Tri-D Chess than the crew member ranked 2 at Fizzbin.

Let us know if you solve this diabolical puzzle. And please share your favorite Nimoy roles and memories. He was a remarkable talent and will be missed.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

Puzzles at Sea with Jonathan Coulton!

Fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers, I’ve got something special in store for you today. Friend of the blog and Penny Press puzzle editor Jason Keeley is guest-blogging for me today, sharing his experience tackling an impressive puzzle hunt aboard a cruise ship earlier this month.

So, without further ado, take it away, Jason!


[Jonathan Coulton, your host for the next eight days…]

I just got back from JoCo Cruise Crazy 5, an 8-day excursion to the Caribbean on a massive ship. In brief, Jonathan Coulton is a musician famous on the internet for his songs about robots, zombies, and disaffected mad scientists. Five years ago, JoCo (as his fans sometimes refer to him) decided to invite a bunch of his fans onto a cruise ship, take them to some tropical destinations, and entertain them along the way.

He also brought a number of other performers with him, from stand-up comedians to TV personalities to other musicians. Guests such as singer Aimee Mann, Grant Imahara of Mythbusters, and Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation have all been a part of previous JoCo Cruises.

[A few of the guests from this year’s JoCo Cruise: Wil Wheaton,
author Patrick Rothfuss, and author John Scalzi]

Curtis Chen isn’t here just for a vacation or to listen to his favorite musician perform, though. Oh no, he, and his group of talented puzzle writers, are here to bend your brain.

Curtis, believing that many of his fellow passengers probably shared his love of puzzles, volunteered his time to put together a “Puzzle Hunt”: a series of puzzles, often unified by an overarching theme. Once on the ship, he released a couple of puzzles each day, all of which eventually feed into a final “meta” puzzle.

There were no prizes, except for a large button and bragging rights, but the Puzzle Hunt has been quite successful over the past five years. It hasn’t been uncommon to see a handful of people clustered around a nearby table after each day’s puzzles have been released, helping each other out.

[A group gathered around a table, except they’re tackling a few games
from our friends at Looney Labs instead of the Puzzle Hunt…]

This year’s Puzzle Hunt was titled “Number Five is Alive,” and the puzzles were themed around helping a self-aware computer come to terms with its new-found sentience. It begins quite innocently, with a page of knock-knock jokes, except some of the words were replaced with pictures.

Then it ramps up to an acrostic and a Star Trek-themed Sudoku. Then, they put out a modified clock with flashing LED lights. As they flash and spin, I realize that they are spelling out words in semaphore. Luckily, Curtis supplied solvers with a handy cheat sheet for that particular alphabet.

But halfway through the decoding process, something hits me: I should have been turning the clock at certain times so that the 12 was in different positions. Otherwise, most of the message is gibberish!

That sort of thing represents the two-step nature of many of the Puzzle Hunt puzzles. It’s often not enough to be see that “debase sing sin laugh far furry” is a broken speech-recognition software’s way of interpreting the familiar saying “the best things in life are free.” You’ll also have to extract certain highlighted letters from that phrase (and all the others) to build a final quote, which is the information you’ll need for the meta puzzle.

And this year’s meta puzzle was a doozy.

Once I had the keywords from the previous 12 puzzles, I entered specific letters from them into three different grids that appeared to be a random collection of circles and lines. These connected circles spelled out encouraging phrases (such as “Thanks for helping me!”), but I knew I wasn’t finished.

Another sheet gave me instructions for folding these three grids, origami-style, until I had three shapes which had to somehow be fitted together in a certain way to form one three-dimensional object. I struggled with it all throughout lunch, but when I finally figured it out, it was a moment of triumph. The connected circles on the outside now spelled a question that led me to a final keyword, earning me a special sticker to put on my button. Success!

[A huge assortment of games available for guests to play…]

While there were no shortage of concerts and events to attend on the cruise ship, I went out of my way to participate in this enjoyable and challenging event. Curtis and his team of puzzlers (John, Josh, Sean, Corby, and DeeAnn) put together a series of puzzles that taxed my intellect and facilitated conversation with the other passengers. Kudos to them all!


Thank you to Jason for his outstanding writeup of Number 5 is Alive and the JoCo Cruise in general!

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!