Monday, August 18, 2008

Off-Day Puzzle #9: The Lost Prophecy of Nostradamus

Happy Puzzle Day, folks! Here's today's casse-tĂȘte:

Premise: Five centuries ago, in a small town in the south of France, an infant was born to a grain dealer and his wife. From these modest beginnings, the infant grew into a boy, the boy into a man. That man would go on to author The Prophecies, a collection of over a thousand predictions divided into three volumes that today stand as the most widely renown works of their kind ever written. They have been credited by many as foretelling some of the most epic events in history, including the Great Fire of London, the French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon and Adolf Hitler, and both World Wars. The visionary of whom I speak is, of course, none other than Nostradamus.

Fast forward to last week at a rest stop off the New Jersey Turnpike. Upon reviewing the snack options offered by the stop's lone vending machine, I decided upon an inviting bag of Ranch-flavored Corn Nuts. As I fished through my pocket for some coins, a quarter escaped my grasp, and I ruefully watched as it dropped to the pavement and rolled under the machine. Reluctantly, I knelt down, rolled up my sleeve, and tentatively swept my hand under the machine, hoping it would quickly be met by the cold touch of metal.

To my surprise, my hand instead came across a weathered piece of paper. Curious, I picked up the document and looked it over, and despite its brevity (only one page), it soon became clear that I had stumbled upon Nostradamus' oft-rumored-but-never-located fourth volume of prophecies.

"Are you effin' kidding me?" I thought to myself. "Nostradamus' lost Prophecy right here in my hands?!?" Comprehending the magnitude of my discovery, I went straight to Kinko's to make photocopies. I also had the prophecy scanned to an electronic file despite the hefty $2.49-per-page cost (can you say 'rip-off'?) because I figured come-on, this is Nostra-freakin'-damus we're talking about. And hey, it was only one page.

So here, dear readers, is today's off-day puzzle, courtesy of the Great Nostradamus, with an assist from Kinko's:

(click on image to enlarge)

Question: To whom is Nostradamus referring when he writes of 'the Being' (and why)?

Puzzle Rules: Comment freely, but if you have the solution, please don't give away the answer to everyone in the comments section. Instead, do the following:

  • Email us your solution explanation (and please include your screen name somewhere in the email), and
  • Post a comment simply saying you have emailed your solution attempt so I know to check our email.

And remember, the correct solution and the correct methodology must be submitted to receive full credit. Solutions arrived at through luck or incorrect methodology, even if correct, receive participation credit only. Deadline is midnight PT, and the solution will be posted sometime tomorrow. Thanks, and good luck to all!

Bonus! In addition to the prizes we're awarding to the Puzzle Championship Series, we're also giving away a participation prize for this individual puzzle. Here's how it works: All solution attempts submitted via email before the deadline - correct or not - will be entered into a pool*. From this pool, one name will be randomly selected in a manner both objective and transparent to be revealed later. As long as the person drawn is willing to send us his/her mailing address, they will receive a wonderful Dodger-related prize item.

*each name is entered only once, regardless of the number of solution attempts submitted

_______________________________________________

Hint #1 (9:08am PT): The prophecy is indeed solvable, and less open to subjective interpretation than most of Nostradamus' prophecies. The Being is indeed a Dodger, and keep in mind I created this puzzle approximately 2 months ago. Er, I mean Nostradamus did 500 years ago. You know what I mean. I hope.

Hint #2 (10:00am PT): Every line of the prophecy has some significance, although some are more important than others. There are several critical clues hidden throughout. If you locate them, put them together, and interpret them correctly, you will be 100% certain that you have the indisputably correct solution.

Hint #3 (10:51am PT): You won't need baseball-reference.com for this one. Stats or teams played on are irrelevant. As mentioned in the comments, someone who knows little about baseball could conceivably solve the puzzle, but it would be somewhat easier if he/she knew a bit about baseball/the Dodgers. And although every line has some level of importance, there is at least one major hint in each stanza.

Hint #4 (12:05pm PT): Don't try to necessarily match the literal meaning of the prophecy's words to the history or characteristics of a particular player - the solution is somewhat more abstract, but at the same the answer will be spelled out in no uncertain terms once you understand the prophecy.

Hint #5 (1:35pm PT): If I were to categorize each of the 12 lines of the prophecy as either more important ("A") or less important ("B"), they would go: B, A, B, A; B, A, B, A; B, A, A, B.

Warning (Not a Hint) (1:36pm PT): The solution, which will be posted tomorrow, is not for the faint of heart or easily frightened.

Hint #6 (2:00pm PT): Only the names of the players are relevant, nothing else about them matters.

Hint #7 (3:36pm PT): North = up, south = down, east = right, west = left. that may seem obvious, but it's important.

Hint #8 (5:57pm PT): When Orel wrote me an email saying "I'm rewriting it in MS Word," I suspected he was on the right track (although he hasn't yet solved it). How would that help, you ask? It's all in the Prophecy. Nostradamus was a deep if subtle guy.

Last Hint #9 (7:37pm PT): Here's an earlier draft that I, er, Nostradamus wrote. He ended up revising it at the urging of his editors after a series of consumer focus groups suggested it was not cryptic enough and could thus compromise his image:

Early Draft of Lost Prophecy

Ok, I'm going to sleep now. Good night, and good luck!

Solution: click here

68 comments:

Jose said...

Wow, I am completely stumped so far.

karina said...

I sent an email. Good morning!

QuadSevens said...

Very interesting. An email has been sent.

Eric Karros said...

Good morning Jose and Karina. Just read your email Karina, alas it is not correct. The Being is indeed a Dodger though. And despite having the incorrect solution, your name has been entered into the participation prize lottery!

Do you think a hint is needed? If so I'll post one shortly.

Eric Karros said...

Just read yours too Quad. Unfortunately it is also incorrect.

Erin said...

I would like a hint, please.

Mike Scioscia's tragic illness said...

Emailed, though I'm just taking a shot in the dark.

QuadSevens said...

Answer emailed.

karina said...

Emailed another answer, too.

Steve said...

I sent something in...

Eric Karros said...

Sorry MTSI and Quad, still not correct. But you guys are now both in the prize lottery, along with jose and karina.

Let me know if you want hint #2.

Jose said...

Sure, I could use a hint.

Eric Karros said...

Sorry Karina and Steve, also incorrect. I will post another hint shortly...

berkowit28 said...

I must say that "buried north to the south" sounds intentionally obfuscating, if not outright meaningless. If that was not intentional, do you think maybe you could expand a bit, or clarify a bit, in a hint? Add some punctuation, or something?

Eric Karros said...

Berko - that line is actually a fairly important one, and reveals more than it might initially seem to.

Eric Karros said...

And Berko, I hope you don't mind I deleted your duplicate comments.

A 2nd hint has been posted.

berkowit28 said...

In fact, I appreciate it. (Still no wiser, I'm afraid, but pondering. That's an "o", not an "a"...)

QuadSevens said...

Email sent.

Erin said...

Yeah, I got nothing. I'm going to need another hint.

berkowit28 said...

Got the solution (pondering succeeded). Email sent.

karina said...

Changed my mind, emailed my reasoning.

Erin said...

I'm going for a run. Hopefully the answer will come to me while I sweat.

Eric Karros said...

Erin, I suggest recording the prophecy on your iPod and listening to it while you run.

I'll post another hint shortly.

Eric Karros said...

We have a winner! Congrats Berko!

Quad, Erin, and Karina, still not correct. Think less about the specific and detailed backgrounds of each Dodger. Someone who knows little about baseball could conceivably solve the puzzle, but it would be somewhat easier if he/she knew a bit about the Dodgers.

karina said...

another guess emailed, while i have to get dresses for work later...

QuadSevens said...

New email sent in.

Eric Karros said...

Sorry Karina, Neebs, Quad, and Gil
Gamesh, your answers are still not correct. And please remember to let me know here if you send in a solution.

Another hint will be forthcoming...

Eric Karros said...

4th hint posted. Berkowit28 is still the only one with the correct solution, and I'm sure he'll tell you that when he got it, he didn't really need confirmation he was correct. Right Berko?

berkowit28 said...

Correct. It even turns out that what I thought was the first clue that inspired me to my hypothesis was totally misinterpreted by me (I got it wrong). But I was able to see immediately that my answer was right (i.e. see how the puzzle works) - it couldn't possibly be wrong. Then you'll notice a few other clues in the stanzas to confirm - although I still don't see all of them.

Eric Karros said...

FYI, so far eight people have submitted solution attempts and thus are entered into the prize lottery: Karina, MSTI, Quad, Steve, Neeebs, Berko, and Gil Garesh.

Eric Karros said...

I sense people's brains are stagnating. I've posted another hint.

QuadSevens said...

You are one with the force EK.

cigarcow said...

I was having such a good day today... why did I start with this?

cigarcow said...

Ha, I totally got it! I'm emailing now.

Eric Karros said...

I'm not sure whether to expect a serious or facetious solution from you, Cigarcow. I am in suspense as I go to check the email...

Eric Karros said...

Nope, sorry cigarcow. Valiant effort though. Remember, nothing matters about the players except their names.

This is proving to be more difficult than I thought. Even the mighty Quad, Jose, and Orel are stumped. I have another hint in mind but it might make it too easy. I'll try to think of a different one.

Erin said...

I think getting the solution in the last puzzle was just a fluke, because I really have no idea how to do this one.

QuadSevens said...

I'm starting to see that I really struggle with word based puzzles. The planets puzzle gave me a hard time too.

Eric Karros said...

Well Erin, you aren't alone. One more hint on the way shortly...

cigarcow said...

I'm wrong?? That's unpossible.

Jose said...

Just sent mine in.

Eric Karros said...

Loney Fan and Fanerman, where are you guys today?

QuadSevens said...

Email sent in.

Eric Karros said...

Attention folks! We finally have the 2nd correct answer. Congrats Jose!

Erin said...

I sent in my answer.

It is not correct.

Erin said...

And I just sent in another answer, which is also probably not at all correct.

This whole thing about someone who doesn't know a thing about baseball being able to solve the puzzle makes it all the more confusing, since I do know about baseball, and I can't rid myself of that knowledge.

Eric Karros said...

Sorry Quad. The directions are important, but not in the manner in which you used them.

Eric Karros said...

And sorry also Erin. And yes, it's technically possible to solve it without knowing anything about baseball, but it'd definitely be more difficult.

Gil Gamesh said...

Another attempt...

StolenMonkey86 said...

I sent an email.

Eric Karros said...

Hey Gil, just read your message, sorry not correct. I'd say that in the 3rd line of your answer (not the 3rd line of the prophecy), you misinterpreted the prophecy. Interpret that line correctly and it might help.

And to clarify my earlier statement to Erin: it would only be easier for someone who knew about baseball because he/she would recognize players' names. You don't have to actually know anything about the players themselves.

Eric Karros said...

And sorry Stolen M, also incorrect - players' histories are not relevant.

karina said...

I sent a couple of emails.

Eric Karros said...

Sorry Karina...

Is anyone still out there? Should I post one more hint?

FYI, participation prize lottery now includes: Karina, MSTI, Quad, Steve, Neeebs, Berko, Gil Garesh, Cigarcow, Stolenmonkey, and Erin.

Erin said...

One more hint is the only chance I have to ever solve this one.

karina said...

I'm here, too.

Eric Karros said...

Ok, one more hint posted.

berkowit28 said...

Well, I disagree with eric a bit. I believe there is one clue which could be a considerable help in narrowing down possible answers quite a bit, and for which you'd have to know something about baseball and the Dodgers.

It's no help in figuring out how the puzzle works or finding the one true solution. But if you let your mind wander over the puzzle with just a few possible answers in mind, you might have a better chance of seeing the solution. You never know. These things tend to be more "eureka!" than careful deduction. The deductions can help confirm the answer after you know what it is. That's my experience, anyway.

Eric Karros said...

Hey, don't go confusing everyone now, Berko.

Seriously, your thoughts, particularly as the first solver, are very valuable. I sometimes have trouble seeing these puzzles objectively. I would like to add though that based on your email, I think I know to what you refer, and that just happens to be a coincidence. Your interpretation of that line did indeed help you, but it is not what the author of the Prophecy intended (I checked with Nostry himself). But in retrospect, if others interpret it the same way, then yes it could help them in that same way.

I just don't want people going off on wild tangents based on a liberal interpretation of a line connected with an obscure incident from a player's past.

Anyhow, I guess everyone should take Berko's and my thoughts as they see fit.

karina said...

Eric, i sent you another email (i hope you are not in the other side)

karina said...

Just in case, i think i've sent my last email regarding this puzzle.

Erin said...

The new hint didn't help me at all. Once again, when I see the answer tomorrow, I'll be annoyed with how I could have figured it out if only I'd paid attention or something.

Eric Karros said...

Sorry Karina. Final hint posted, I'm going to sleep now. Solution will be posted tomorrow.

And just FYI (and this is not a hint, so please don't try to find a clue in it), I was half-joking about the solution not being for the faint of heart. But only half-joking...

Good luck and thanks everyone for participating!

Steve Sax said...

EK, nice puzzle.

And since you're clearly Nostradamus, can you please tell us who wins the NL West this year?

StolenMonkey86 said...

I think I got it.

Daniel said...

I just barely saw the puzzle now, and am disappointed I didn't know about this series earlier. Solved it and sent in the answer. Thanks for the diversion!

QuadSevens said...

A late night revisiting of this puzzle has only succeeded in providing more frustration. Congrats to all who found the answer.

fanerman said...

I just sent a solution. Good night!