Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Off-Day Puzzle Grand Finale (#13): Solution

Well folks, thanks for sticking through the Grand Finale Puzzle. Based on both your comments and emails, I understand solving it was quite an exhausting endeavor, not only to decipher the Riddle, but perhaps even more so in executing what it instructed. I admit that to some degree this was intended, as I wanted to put together a puzzle that was both worthy of the grand finale and that, unlike the past few puzzles, would result in only a handful of correct solutions.

In anycase, on to the solution. In the hints I alluded to three stages of solving the Riddle. This is what I meant:

• Stage I - Figuring out what the Infant Boys lost in the crowd of 3,000 are (Riddle lines 1-4)
• Stage II - Finding the Infant Boys out of the crowd of 3,000 (lines 5-17), and
• Stage III - Figuring out what to do with the Infant Boys once you found them (lines 18-20).

With that in mind, here is a line-by-line analysis and explanation of the Riddle:

Ten little infant boys scattered in a crowd; the faces of the chosen ten 3,000 others cloud.
->The crowd of 3,000 refers to the approximately 3,000 posts on SoSG since its inception (actual number is 2,931 at the time of this writing, including unpublished drafts). The infant boys are ten 'chosen' posts that must somehow be picked out of the 3,000.

Not from seven brides were the infant boys begotten; but rather from their seven grooms (two all but forgotten).
->The seven brides and their grooms represent, via the "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" reference, the seven brothers (i.e., Sons of Steve Garvey) who author this site and thus beget the posts ('infant boys').

All within the past two years the infant boys were born; but from minds and not from wombs the chosen ten were torn.
->SoSG (and its posts) is two years old. And the posts were created from the collective minds of SoSG's seven authors.

Your first task is to find each one but understand what’s sought (a literal interpretation serve you well will not).
->I didn't want anyone running around their neighborhood literally looking around for little infants.

Read the following ten lines from a famous book; and if they’re kept close to your heart you’ll know for what to look:
->To save you the trouble of scanning through all 3,000 posts to find the chosen ten, I included the excerpt from a favorite childhood book, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. By sheer luck, almost every line in the novel's central poem corresponded very well with one of SoSG's past posts (or more accurately, with a photo from one of SoSG's past posts). It was almost as if Agatha Christie had SoSG in mind when she wrote it (although I cannot yet prove this). In anycase, her poem thus serves as a roadmap to help you find the ten chosen posts, as follows:

“Ten little infant boys went out to dine, one choked his little self and then there were nine;
->Refers to this post.

Nine little infant boys sat up very late, one overslept himself and then there were eight.
->Refers to this post.

Eight little infant boys traveling in Heaven, one said he'd stay there and then there were seven;
->This is one of the few lines from Christie's poem I had to slightly alter. She wrote it as "Eight little Indian boys traveling in Devon" largely because the novel took place in the UK. Thankfully, by substituting "Heaven" for "Devon" I was able to maintain the rhyme, allude to death, and match it up with this post.

Seven little infant boys chopping up sticks, one chopped himself in halves and then there were six.
->Refers to this post.

Six little infant boys playing with a hive, a bumblebee stung one and then there were five;
->I was almost at a loss for a matching post here (as a search for "bee", "bumblebee", and "hive" turned up nothing), until I faintly remembered this post involving the Blind Melon bee girl.

Five little infant boys going in for law, one was not allowed back out and then there were four.
->I also changed the original wording here. It was originally "Five little Indian boys going in for law, One got in Chancery, and then there were four," another UK reference. I re-worded it so it could allude to this post.

Four little infant boys going out to sea, a red herring swallowed one and then there were three;
->Refers to this post.

Three little infant boys walking in the zoo, a big bear hugged one and then there were two.
->Refers to this post.

Two little infant boys sitting in the sun, one got frizzled up and then there was one;
->Refers to this post.

One little infant boys left all alone, he went out and hung himself and then there were none.”
->Refers to this post. Yes, that is possibly the worst play-on-words involving William Hung ever.

Gemini, Pisces, Aries, and Virgo the first four; Leo and Aquarius, then Virgo comes once more.

Cancer and another Cancer bring us up to nine; the last one who hangs from a noose, Pisces was his sign.
->To further help you weed through all 3,000 posts, the astrological signs narrow down when each post was made. The first chosen post, for example, is a Gemini and was thus posted (or 'born') between May 21 and June 20. These astrological signs coupled with the Agatha Christie poem hopefully made the hunting process manageable.

But once you find the chosen ten you’re only halfway done; next you must extract the truth harbored by each one.
->There is more to each of the chosen 10 posts than meet the eye. Even after you identify and find each of them, you have to figure out what to do with them.

For while the boys’ cherubic faces cast a mirthful spell, peer behind each one’s façade and secrets he will tell.
->If you click on the relevant image in each chosen post (again as clued by Agatha Christie's poem), the hidden binary clue will be revealed.

Ten secrets from ten infant boys your task it is to purge; and if you do as they instruct the answer will emerge!
->In the 10th clue, it will give you specific instructions as to what to do with the 9 previous clues. Follow the instructions (convert binary sequence to text, than create a tinyurl from the result) and the answer will emerge...Cory Wade!

Congratulations to Jose, Fanerman, Steve, and Mr. Customer for solving the puzzle (in that order). As always I'd be interested in hearing anybody's thoughts on the puzzle, whether or not you solved it. Thanks again for your participation, I will post the final Puzzle Season I Rankings soon (although I guess the season champ is a foregone conclusion). And Sax and I will soon be sharing our future puzzle plans with you!

Orel said...

Truly amazing, EK. I had no idea you were rooting around in our old posts like that! I was too busy to participate yesterday, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have solved this puzzle. Congrats to the solvers!

Steve Sax said...

Incredible job, EK...or should I say, Hercule Poirot? But Snorlax isn't really a bear...I suppose Andruw is, however (a bear of a contract)...

Eric Karros said...

Actually, Agatha Christie did originally pen that verse as "Three little infant boys walking in the zoo, a Snorlax hugged one and then there were two." It got changed somewhere along the editing chain.

Steve said...

EK... that puzzle obviously took a lot of time and effort. Good job! But please forgive me for all the negative thoughts I had about you as I was searching through all the archives...

Can't wait 'til next year!

DanGarion said...

Oh damn. I had got to the point where I was looking for posts from specific time frames because of the signs, but I thought I wasn't doing it right and gave up...

I even saw the first two posts and wrote those down... oh well.

jose said...

The peer = click clue was key for me. I knew it had to do with the old posts, but I never bothered to click on the pictures until I read that one.