Solution to our May the 4th Jedi Logic Puzzle!

Last week, we celebrated Star Wars Day (aka May the Fourth) with a Jedi-themed brain teaser for our fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers to solve!

How do you crack this Star Wars-inspired Jedi mystery? Let’s find out together!


On a small planet in the Mid Rim, a group of Jedi defeated several squads of battle droids. Reporters had a hard time piecing together descriptions of the five Jedi who saved the day, even after interviewing many witnesses.

The only thing the reporters were sure of? The names of the five Jedi:

  • Drosco Wrs
  • Ko Duus
  • Pramyt Gorc
  • Wendo Grars
  • Seredwok

Each of the Jedi wielded a different color lightsaber (green, yellow, blue, orange, or purple). Each held a different title within the Jedi Order (Padawan, Knight, Master, Instructor, or Council Member). And each of them was a different species (Barabel, Bith, Nautolan, Twi’lek, or Wookiee).

Based on the information gathered below, can you figure out which lightsaber color, title, and species belongs with which Jedi?

1. Drosco Wrs (whose lightsaber is either orange or green) is neither the padawan nor the knight.

2. Either Ko Duus or the Bith is the council member, and the other has the yellow lightsaber.

3. The Jedi with the blue lightsaber (who isn’t on the council) is either the Twi’lek or the Wookiee; if Twi’lek, then Drosco Wrs is the instructor, but if Wookiee, then Seredwok is the instructor.

4. The padawan (who has neither the blue lightsaber nor the green lightsaber) is not Seredwok.

5. Wendo Grars (who isn’t the knight) doesn’t have the yellow lightsaber or the blue lightsaber.

6. The Barabel (who is either Pramyt or Seredwok) isn’t the Jedi with the purple lightsaber.

7. The master has either the purple lightsaber or the yellow lightsaber. Neither the purple lightsaber nor the yellow lightsaber are wielded by the Nautolan.

So, where do we begin?

Well, there’s a lot of information here about the lightsabers, and that’s where we can start.

We know that the Nautolan doesn’t have the purple or yellow lightsabers (rule 7) or the blue lightsaber (rule 3). Similarly, we know that the Barabel doesn’t have the purple lightsaber (rule 6) or the blue lightsaber (rule 3). But we can also deduce that it doesn’t have the yellow lightsaber, because either Ko Duus or the Bith have the yellow lightsaber (rule 2), and Ko Duus isn’t a Barabel (rule 6).

That means the green and orange lightsabers are split between the Nautolan and the Barabel. That also means that Drosco Wrs is either the Nautolan or the Barabel, because his lightsaber is either green or orange (rule 1). But since he can’t be the Barabel (rule 6), Drosco Wrs is the Nautolan.

Let’s start our chart there:

sw puz 1

But we know more about Drosco Wrs. He is neither the padawan nor the knight (rule 1) and according to his lightsaber color, he is not the master (rule 7). He is also not the council member, who must be the Bith or Ko Duus (rule 2), so he is the instructor.

Because he is the instructor, we now also know that the Twi’lek has the blue lightsaber (rule 3).

We also know that the Jedi with the blue lightsaber isn’t the padawan (rule 4), the master (rule 7), the council member (rule 4), or the instructor (since Drosco Wrs is the instructor and his lightsaber is either green or orange). That means that the blue lightsaber is with a Twi’lek who is a knight.

Let’s update our chart:

sw puz 2

If we return to the Barabel, according to our chart they’re not the knight or the instructor, and they can’t be the master based on their possible lightsaber color. So they’re either the padawan or the council member. But the council member is either Ko Duus or the Bith (rule 2), and Ko Duus can’t be a Barabel (rule 6). So the Barabel must be the padawan.

And since Seredwok isn’t the padawan (rule 4), Pramyt Groc is the Barabel and the padawan.

But that’s not all. We know that the Barabel’s lightsaber is either green or orange, and the padawan’s lightsaber can’t be green (rule 4), so we have our first complete row.

sw puz 3

It’s taken a lot of work to get here, but now things are rolling.

Drosco Wrs, our Nautolan instructor, could only have a green or orange lightsaber (rule 1), and since orange is the padawan’s color, we now know his lightsaber is green.

So green, blue, and orange are all accounted for, and the council member cannot have a yellow lightsaber (rule 2), so the council member has a purple lightsaber, and the master has a yellow lightsaber.

Wendo Grars can’t have orange, blue, or green, based on our chart, nor can she have yellow (rule 5), so she has the purple lightsaber, making her the council member.

Our chart is looking pretty full now:

sw puz 4

Since Wendo Grars is the council member, Ko Duus must be the wielder of the yellow lightsaber (rule 2), which also makes Wendo Grars the Bith.

And process of elimination gives us one name left — Seredwok — and one species left — Wookiee — to assign.

So our completed chart looks like this:

sw puz 5

Oh, we also hid a little puzzly easter egg in this puzzle. Each of our Jedi names were anagrams of popular puzzles:

  • Drosco Wrs = Crossword
  • Ko Duus = Sudoku
  • Pramyt Gorc = Cryptogram
  • Wendo Grars = Rows Garden
  • Seredwok = Word Seek

Did you manage to unravel this devious Jedi-themed logic puzzle? Did you spot the wordplay in the Jedi names? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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May the Fourth Be With You!

Hello fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers! It’s Star Wars Day, and what better way to celebrate than with a puzzly Star Wars brain teaser!

Yes, we’ve created a Jedi-themed logic puzzle for you to unravel! Can you crack this Star Wars-inspired mystery?


On a small planet in the Mid Rim, a group of Jedi dispatched several squads of battle droids. Reporters had a hard time piecing together descriptions of the five Jedi who saved the day, even after interviewing many witnesses.

The only thing the reporters were sure of? The names of the five Jedi:

  • Drosco Wrs
  • Ko Duus
  • Pramyt Gorc
  • Wendo Grars
  • Seredwok

Each of the Jedi wielded a different color lightsaber (green, yellow, blue, orange, or purple). Each held a different title within the Jedi Order (Padawan, Knight, Master, Instructor, or Council Member). And each of them was a different species (Barabel, Bith, Nautolan, Twi’lek, or Wookiee).

Based on the information gathered below, can you figure out which lightsaber color, title, and species belongs with which Jedi?

1. Drosco Wrs (whose lightsaber is either orange or green) is neither the padawan nor the knight.

2. Either Ko Duus or the Bith is the council member, and the other has the yellow lightsaber.

3. The Jedi has the blue lightsaber (who isn’t on the council) is either the Twi’lek or the Wookiee; if Twi’lek, then Drosco Wrs is the instructor, but if Wookiee, then Seredwok is the instructor.

4. The padawan (who has neither the blue lightsaber nor the green lightsaber) is not Seredwok.

5. Wendo Grars (who isn’t the knight) doesn’t have the yellow lightsaber or the blue lightsaber.

6. The Barabel (who is either Pramyt or Seredwok) isn’t the Jedi with the purple lightsaber.

7. The master has either the purple lightsaber or the yellow lightsaber. Neither the purple lightsaber nor the yellow lightsaber are wielded by the Nautolan.

Good luck, fellow puzzlers! This puzzle requires NO actual knowledge of Star Wars to solve. All you need are your puzzly wits!

Let us know if you solved it in the comments below! And May the Fourth Be With You!


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Puzzling Virtually at Norwescon 43!

nwc43

Over the weekend, I participated in an online version of the celebrated sci-fi, fantasy, and horror convention Norwescon.

Although many of the convention’s panels and events have a writerly focus, plenty of attention is also given to art, films, games, and pop culture, so there was plenty for puzzle and game fans to enjoy at the event.

Naturally, since the convention was being held virtually rather than in person, some creativity was required to redesign events to be enjoyed from the comfort of attendees’ homes.

For instance, costumes were shown off through video or submitted photos — there was even a closet cosplay challenge held where participants had twenty minutes to create a costume based solely on what they could find in their closets!

As for my contributions, each year I host a themed scavenger hunt and an escape room for teen attendees to enjoy.

thumbnail_PBSH500

The scavenger hunt adapted to the format easily. We cast volunteers to portray different characters from the film The Princess Bride, and players had scheduled times to actually interact with them through Zoom chats. Players downloaded a PDF of the rules and some puzzles to be solved, and they would receive a code phrase upon completing each of their assigned tasks.

(The code phrases, when properly combined, revealed a secret word which would “trigger” a surprise video.)

Their more puzzly tasks included using instructions to whittle down a list of 40 possible ingredients down to the three Miracle Max would need for his miracle pill for Westley, as well as solving a logic puzzle to find evidence that an ROUS was innocent of a royal guardsman’s disappearance.

And on the last day of the convention, they attended the wrap-up panel where we explained the hunt in full, thanked the cast, announced the winners, took suggestions for a theme for next year’s scavenger hunt, and even played a Cameo video from a member of the film’s cast as a surprise for all the attendees!

It was a rousing success.

3po top half

Adapting the Star Wars-themed escape room for a virtual format was far more daunting. After all, one of the most satisfying aspects of escape room solving is to actually physically solve puzzles, unlock containers, open doors, and defeat all sorts of key locks, combination locks, and more.

My solution to this problem was to still allow players to “unlock” and open something, just something virtual: password-protected PDF files.

wall unit 2

[This “panel” required a 5-digit code and a 3-digit combination to unlock.]

I created a webpage with images of all the “locked” panels for them to virtually open, each of which had symbols to indicate what sort of lock there was, as well as links to the password-entry screens. As they found keys and solved puzzles, they coordinated to try different panels and see which keys and codes unlocked the PDFs, which then opened to give them new tools and puzzles to solve.

It wasn’t the most elegant solution, but once players got the hang of it, they were soon racing through the room, using a built-in chat window to keep track of items they hadn’t used and working out passwords in real time.

One of the players even started livestreaming her efforts to solve a pipe puzzle on Twitch so everyone could solve along with her. It was a very cool and innovative way to virtually solve!

Hopefully, we’ll be back in person for next year’s convention and we can get back to opening locks and running around for a proper scavenger hunt. But either way, it’s nice to know we’re adaptable and creative enough to still pull them off in the virtual space when circumstances arise.

After all, as long as the players had fun, we can definitely call it a win.


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The Fun Side of Crosswordese

Crossword.

Anyone who solves crosswords is familiar with some aspect of crosswordese, even if they don’t know it by that name. Crosswordese consists of words that appear frequently in puzzles, but not nearly as often in conversation or common use. My favorite variation on that definition is “words that crop up a lot in grids but are otherwise pretty useless.”

Part of becoming a better solver is building a personal lexicon of crosswordese and common crossword words so you’re not getting tripped up by the same obscurities, peculiarities, and cruciverbalist celebrities that so often occupy those black-and-white grids we enjoy.

Some of these words seem destined to remain obscure. ETUI will most likely never become commonplace. Most people don’t fence, and couldn’t tell an EPEE from a foil or a saber.

Oona-Chaplin

[Image courtesy of Celebs.Infoseemedia.com.]

Others are cyclical. OONA was Chaplin’s wife, until her granddaughter of the same name become a featured player in the first few seasons of Game of Thrones. Similarly, both ELSAS Lancaster and the movie feline have Frozen to thank for that name gaining new life in puzzles these days.

(Here’s hoping there’s a crop of Eastern-European actresses that will storm TV and film soon and breathe new life into clues for ONA, UNA, UTA, and OSA.)

But, for the most part, crosswordese evokes negative feelings. It’s easy to come up with a list of the words that irk us — the ones we’ve never encountered in the real world, or the ones that we simply cannot remember, even after filling them into a dozen grids or more.

But today I’d like to focus on the ones I do enjoy, the strange words I’ve learned through crossword solving and construction that have broadened my vocabulary and sent my mind down unexpected tangents and pathways I would’ve never otherwise wandered through.

edsel

[Image courtesy of Driving.ca.]

EDSEL

It’s amazing how a convenient letter pattern can keep an infamous failure in the minds of solvers decades and decades later. It was only manufactured for two years, and that was SIXTY years ago. And yet, whenever I see “Ford flop” or something similar as a clue, I always smile. It’s universal at this point.

NE’ER

There’s a lot of poetic license — see what I did there? — taken with poetry terms in crosswords, and most of them are well-and-truly overused. But for some reason, NEER ne’er bothers me. In fact, I enjoy seeing it. It probably has to do with “ne’er-do-well,” which is an incredibly fun term to throw around. It’s right up there with “deipnosophist” and “raconteur” as far as descriptive terms that need to make a comeback.

iago

[Image courtesy of Digital Spy.]

IAGO

He was first clued as a master manipulator from the works of Shakespeare, then as a conniving Disney sidekick who slowly turns toward the light over the course of the franchise. In either case, he’s a fascinating character whose handy combination of vowels ensures he’ll be a part of crosswords for years to come.

obiwanobi

[Images courtesy of StarWars.com and Polina Couture.]

OBI

As someone who is both a Star Wars fan and deeply interested in Japanese culture, I always enjoy when OBI makes an appearance in a grid. (More for the former reasons than the latter, if I’m being honest.)

In fact, this blog entry inspired me to search XWordInfo to see when OBI started being clued as part of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s name (twice, which is weird yet lyrical) and not just as a Japanese sash.

Although the character debuted in the first Star Wars film in 1977, his name wasn’t used in The New York Times crossword to clue OBI until 1990!

These are just the first common crossword entries that came to mind. There are a few others, not to mention all of the neat animals — mostly bird-related or African in origin — that crop up in crosswords. KEA and ROC, IBEX and ELAND, OKAPI and RATEL, just to name a few.

But now I turn the subject over to you, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers. What are your favorite common crossword words or bits of crosswordese that appear in grids but don’t irk you? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.


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Weird Versions of Monopoly!

When it comes to board games, there’s no game more ubiquitous than Monopoly. Everyone has played it, every household has a copy somewhere, and whether you enjoy the game or not, you still have a favorite game piece.

Not only has Monopoly conquered game shelves around the world, but there are so many specialty versions of the game that you’re guaranteed to find one just for you. From The Golden Girls and Star Wars to Hello Kitty and Littlest Pet Shop, from cat lovers and horse lovers to Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, there are an insane number of Monopoly variants on the market.

sunmaid

And some of these Monopoly games are just plain weird. (Heinz, Sun-Maid, and Best Buy all have their own versions!)

So today, we thought we’d take you for a stroll down Memory Lane (which was renamed Mediterranean Avenue in the 1950s) to revisit the board game everyone knows, but in forms you might not have seen before.

These are the weirdest, least likely, and most baffling versions of Monopoly I could find. (Oh, and if you’re looking for Cheaters Edition, we’ve already covered that one.)

Enjoy!


First, let’s look at the different ways they’ve tried to update Monopoly over the years.

monopoly electronic banking

Electronic Banking Monopoly

One of the bright spots of playing Monopoly is the colorful money. Whether you’re the banker or one of the players, you can’t resist rifling through stacks of fake cash.

So when Monopoly announced that they’d be updating the game with a calculator, credit cards, and even electronic banking, I couldn’t help but ask, “Why?” No amount of tech, no matter how cool, can duplicate dropping a $500 dollar bill.

monopoly-ultimate

Ultimate Banking Monopoly

Again, this version has cashless gameplay, as well as property values that rise and fall as you play. Although the property value gimmick is an interesting change, losing the money seems to suck a lot of the fun from the experience.

monopoly-revolution

Monopoly Revolution

No, you’re not overthrowing the elites and eating the rich in this version of the famous game. Instead, they just made the classic board round. (Oh, and also added an electronic aspect to track players’ money and add sound effects.)

Several of the branded versions of Monopoly have also used the circular board, many claiming that it helps make the game more compact and portable.

millionaire-monopoly

Monopoly Millionaire

In this greed-fueled version of the game, the first player to reach a million dollars wins. This does strip down the game — eliminating railroads, utilities, and tax spaces — as well as limiting the number of players to 4, but they make up for it by adding upgradable tokens and twists through Fortune Cards and Millionaire Lifestyle spots (instead of Chance and Community Chest).

This boils Monopoly down to its roots, and you feel slightly dirtier just by playing it.

monopoly empire

Monopoly Empire

Similar to Monopoly Millionaire, this isn’t a race to acquire property and muscle out your competitors, it’s a race to fill your tower with billboards representing different companies. And you can up the rent you charge as your tower grows.

Spaces are brands, tokens are brands, brands brands brands.

On the plus side, you can’t go bankrupt in this game. I guess you’re too big to fail.

gold monopoly

Monopoly Luxury Edition

Of course, there are blinged-out versions of Monopoly that are larger, more ornate, and designed more as discussion pieces than games to be played.

But nothing quite compares to this $10,000 edition of the game with 18-karat-gold dice, diamond ornamentation, and actual money. (Oh, except for the FAO Schwarz version with actual currency that costs $100,000. It’s insane.)

monopoly live

That is, except for Monopoly Live, which features an electronic talking tower with motion sensors.

Yeah, the infrared tower runs the game. No dice, no cards, no money. Everything is managed with the tower and a few interactive game pieces on the board.

Have you ever wanted to play board games with Big Brother? Now you can!


Now let’s look at some of the intriguing licenses and branding the game has embraced over the decades.

monopoly tut

Monopoly: Tutankhamun and The Golden Age of the Pharaohs

Go big or go home. Based on the King Tut exhibit that toured the world in the mid-2000s, this game has you building shrines and pyramids instead of houses and hotels, along with gold versions of the classic game pieces. (Bummer, I wanted to be a scarab or the unblinking red eye of Ra!)

Honestly, this is weird, but pretty cool.

monopoly-millennial

Monopoly for Millennials

The most “OK Boomer” of the editions of Monopoly I could find, this one can’t seem to decide if it’s celebrating millennials or mocking them.

On one hand, you’re buying experiences instead of properties: retreats, music festivals, etc. On the other hand, the game box itself says, “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway,” while the game has spaces like “Parents’ Basement” for you to land on.

Hasbro_MonopolyHouseDivided-1-1024x576

Monopoly: House Divided edition

Hey, does regular Monopoly not provoke enough ill will or table-flipping in your household? Why not try a version where each player is a candidate trying to earn votes in different states?

Yeah, in this one, your token indicates party loyalty — red or blue, how lovely — and features everything from fundraising, Executive Power spaces, and a White House token.

monopoly pizza

Monopoly Pizza Game

Pizza and board games have been tag team partners for mellow game nights forever, but this is something else entirely. In Monopoly Pizza edition, you’re trying to collect as many pizza slices as you can.

This is actually a pretty cute idea — and friendlier to kids than the soul-crushing real estate version we all know — but it’s hard not to be jarred by the pizza box packaging and menu-style gameboard.

It makes me hungry instead of angry. I guess that’s a win.

monopoly angry birds

Angry Birds Monopoly

Oh, and speaking of anger, check out this fusion of board games and app games.

In this strange mix of property acquisition and dexterity, you get to pick up characters AND fire tiny figures at cardboard pigs across four different worlds (versions) of Angry Birds.

It’s a very busy game board — Mousetrap-level busyness, to be honest — but makes a valiant attempt to bring both games together.

com-edition-featured-1

.Com Monopoly

Would you like to play a business-inspired game while reminiscing about the delightful highs and lows of the dotcom bubble bursting? This version has got you covered, replacing houses and hotels with households and offices.

With properties like Lycos and Yahoo! on the board — as well as “timely” tokens like a surfboard, a pixelated hand-style cursor, and a virus — this is a nostalgic trip back to the days when modems screeched at you to indicate a successful connection and your dad could ruin a four-hour song download by picking up the phone to call your grandma.

Monopoly-Unicorns-Vs.-Llamas-Board-Game

Monopoly: Unicorns vs. Llamas

If you’re looking for a kid-friendly version of House Divided, there’s always this sugary-sweet version of the game. In this version, players are members of either Team Unicorn or Team Llama, and they’re trying to buy up spaces for their particular animal. But instead of properties, you’re buying yearbook-style awards for your creature like “most huggable.”

Rainbow-splashed and glitter-bombed to the extreme, this game is very weird — was I supposed to know llamas and unicorns have some sort of rivalry? — but also very cute.


And here we go. The weirdest official version of Monopoly I could find.

Are you ready?

Let’s do this.

bass fishing

Monopoly: Bass Fishing edition

Bass Fishing Monopoly.

The outdoorsy version of Monopoly — in that you just sit around until it’s your turn to do something — bass fishing was clearly begging for its own dedicated version of Monopoly. You can stop rubbing that lamp, your wish has been granted.

Yeah, you land on equipment, boats, and places to fish, as well as random spaces for large AND small-mouthed bass.

But that’s not all.

Seriously. It’s not all. If you want to really splash out, there’s an even more specialized version out there dedicated to bass-fishing lakes. All the properties are lakes, though there are still random fish spaces.


Let’s end with a nice one, shall we?

monopoly-glass

Monopoly: Glass edition

Designed with a tempered glass board and translucent game pieces, this game is absolutely beautiful. It feels crisp and clean and delicate. It’s a conversation piece, basically, but one you can play.

It’ll set you back about $80 on Amazon, and it doesn’t inspire the same adrenaline rush as Bass Fishing Monopoly, but it sure is pretty to look at.


There you go, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers. I hope you enjoyed this trip to various Boardwalks, Park Places, and community chests.

Keep in mind, these are just the weird ones actually licensed by Monopoly. Next week, I’ll be covering the weirdest ones made by outside parties!


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Famous Director Stumbles Into Trivia Trap!

pub-trivia-750-x-340

[Image courtesy of Buzztime.]

It’s no secret that I love trivia. I enjoy bar and pub trivia nights, I compete in an online trivia league (Learned League), and I’ve served as a quizmaster myself. I delight in slipping trivia into puzzles — from encrypted content to tricky crossword clues — and I happily peruse trivia books whenever I find them.

Recently I was reminded of one of my favorite trivia stories, and I thought I’d share that story with you today.

It all starts with a few tweets by filmmaker Rian Johnson, director of Brick, Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Knives Out.

rian johnson 1

rian johnson 2

He then shared this text from Wikipedia:

rian johnson 3

Yes, as many fans and readers had commented, keen-eyed Columbo viewers had discovered the name “Frank” on Columbo’s ID, but the famous detective’s first name was never spoken or mentioned onscreen.

I had encountered a similar problem with a trivia game years ago that asked for the first name of the character Gilligan from the TV show Gilligan’s Island. I had no idea, and got the question wrong.

But as it turns out, Willy, Gilligan’s first name, was never mentioned on the show. The show’s creator always envisioned the character with that name, but it was never officially canon. (Bob Denver, who played Gilligan on the show, often joked that the character’s name was actually Gil Egan, but it ran together when yelled, as it so often was.)

GilligansIsland_74.jpg

[Image courtesy of Gilligan’s Island Wiki.]

As far as I know, the Gilligan error was simply that, a mistake. But the Columbo error, as mentioned in the Wikipedia article, is an example of a copyright trap.

A copyright trap is an intentionally false, seemingly trivial piece of information in a larger work, intended to help demonstrate plagiarism if the larger work is ever stolen or copied. (After all, anyone who had done their own research would have discovered it was incorrect and left it out, or at the very least, not included it as part of a wholesale act of plagiarism.)

And the more you learn about copyright traps, the more ridiculous and intricate they become.

There have been:

  • false cities (aka paper towns) on maps, like Agloe, New York, and the paired cities of Beatosu and Goblu in Ohio, as well as trap streets, fake mountain peaks, and more
  • false dictionary entries (like esquivaliance in the second edition New Oxford American Dictionary)
  • false encyclopedia entries (like the story of a photographer named Lillian Mountweazel who exploded on a shoot for Combustibles magazine)
  • false movies (like Dog of Norway, a fictional film mentioned in The Golden Turkey Awards, a book I actually own, alongside its sequel, Son of Golden Turkey Awards)
  • a false member of the German parliament
  • false Google searches (which were used to purposely expose the search engine Bing for copying Google’s search results)

columbo

[Image courtesy of RadioTimes.]

Although Mr. Worth’s Columbo trap did reveal the thieving nature of the designers of the original Trivial Pursuit, it failed to protect him. It also failed to protect trivia fans, as this and other spurious bits of trivia continue to percolate throughout trivia books, webpages, and other sources. (I’ve found easily misproven false trivia everywhere from IMDB to Ripley’s Believe It or Not books.)

So enjoy your trivia, but keep your eyes peeled, fellow puzzlers and trivia-hounds. You might just get tripped up by a copyright trap one of these days.


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