Is anyone still keeping eyes here, perchance? I've largely moved to Twitter, but I do have plans to resurrect this journal at some point. Now is definitely not the time, though - my situation is frankly rather dire. If you'd like to help, or if you want to see what puzzle construction I'll be up to over the next couple of months - and boy howdy will I ever be making puzzles - then (if you haven't already) please check out my Indiegogo campaign; it only has just over 48 hours left as I'm typing this. - ZM
Are you capable of love, Cleverbot?
Yes, are you capable of love?
Regrettably, yes I am. Do you find it pleasant or a torture?
I could not have answered that better myself.
Thank you. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow.
It was the best year yet for the International Classic Videogame Tournament - the best line-up of games, the best competition, and the best operation. (And as one of only two to have competed EVERY year, I ought to know.) My usual collection of oddities for my post-tourney out-of-context theater has some winners as well. As always, these are possibly paraphrased, and questions regarding their speakers and/or situations will be ignored and/or obliterated. (Any other questions about the tourney are perfectly welcome.)
And I have one last one that's too epic to not share what happened, so I'm going to. I was candlepin bowling with friends when one of them managed a 2-4-6-7-10 split, with a deadwood pin lying perfectly horizontally at the front of the field covering the visual gap between the 2 and 6. Es second ball - I kid you not - upon hitting the deadwood pin JUMPED it like it were a ramp and the ball a BMX. When the utter amazement and hilarity subsided, I heard:
If you were there, feel free to add your own in the comments. - ZM
See Puzzle 14 for instructions; you can ignore the little gray letters. That will get you through the first six, anyhow; Puzzle 67 is "some assembly required". Permit me to explain.
For all of my puzzle followers that are not familiar with the MIT Mystery Hunt, here's a brief rundown for the both of you: Every year since 1981, during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend (which coincides with their Independent Activity Period), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been the home of a puzzle competition, which over the years has grown into the largest gathering of its kind. Dozens of teams with dozens of members stay up all night solving puzzles and metapuzzles in their quest for "the coin", with the prize being the honor - and heavy responsibility - of running the Hunt (and making all the puzzles for it) the following year.
Although I'd known about the Hunt for some time, it wasn't until 2009 that I actually got around to attending. As a member of the very appropriately named team Beginner's Luck, I found myself up at 3 AM Monday - after having trudged through snow and corridors for hours - when we located the Covertly Operational Inversion Node (or C.O.I.N.) and won. I created two "puzzles" for the 2010 Hunt; the seven grids below all constitute just one "puzzle" in Hunt terms. (I also created one "subpuzzle" for another's "puzzle". I'll stop putting that word in quotes now.) The graphics for the puzzles are the exact same ones originally used for the Hunt.
All Hunt puzzles reduce to a single solution phrase - often a single word - to be determined by following some manner of uncovered logic. I say "uncovered" as instructions are usually intentionally lacking, typically only alluded to by titles or flavortext, leaving solvers to try to find some internal consistency or pattern to follow in order to "extract" the final answer. You've probably noticed if you've peeked below that the first six grids all have peculiar titles; the seventh has a title as well, but you'll have to solve it first to learn it. That is the solution phrase for the entire puzzle, the one word all this reduces to. (Incidentally, this puzzle was made around - and inspired by - that answer word; in creating a Hunt metapuzzle, certain phrases are called for to be answers to puzzles, and this particular word is one of great significance to Zotanna, which is why I jumped at the chance to make its puzzle.)
Now I know what you purists are thinking: "I'm here for true DEDUCTIVE LOGIC, and I can't have that if I can't have RULES! I don't even know you anymore!!". You can relax: despite my apparent redefining of 'puzzle' in that last paragraph, I'm not changing the style of my journal puzzles one bit. This is still seven puzzles to me, which is why I've numbered them as such and am presenting them the way I am. I've felt for some time that these are fantastic little grids that deserve to be considered independently, and so here they are. However, I also find a certain beauty in the reveal of putting it all together to make that last grid, so I compromised with myself: I'll post the puzzles all at once as a heptaptych, and leave the final puzzle disassembled at first, letting those who are interested try to piece it together. Over the next few days, I'll add hints in the comments for those who want to put it together but are struggling; within the week a full set of instructions will be given, and lastly a week from today I'll put up the fully assembled Puzzle 67 without the answer-extraction bits so that both camps can appreciate the puzzles for what they are. I will likely only be doing this sort of thing again if my team wins the Hunt again.
So let's get to it, shall we? The rules are unchanged, but for thematic purposes (and for the final puzzle) I need to point out that instead of seeking Syren in these first six, you're seeking spirits - that is, bottles of alcohol (I'll explain later) - and the given title of each of these grids is the name of the spirit hiding within.
Puzzle 61I made this first one with the fact that it'd be the very first Seeking Syren most of its solvers will have done in mind as I was making it; I kept it very simple and tried to make it as interesting an introduction as possible by squeezing in as many nodes as possible.
Puzzle 62This one is actually my favorite of the bunch. I felt it important to show off a key nuance of the rules early on, while the grids were still on the easier side; this is probably the greatest "S-reveal" that can possibly be made. You'll see what I mean.
Puzzle 63It was around here that I decided I'd try to make each of the six lead-in puzzles two-color, using each of the possible combinations once. I also figured this was the right place to put the requisite "backwards" puzzle, especially given the nature of the preceding one. There needed to be at least one of these to drive home the importance of actually solving these completely rather than just finding the spirit and moving on.
Puzzle 64Things start to get technical around here. The constraints I had to adhere to forced some things about the nature of the later grids, which naturally led to harder puzzles as I needed to use more tricky techniques to get them to work. Figuring out the logic of the "islands" starts to become a greater driving factor here.
Puzzle 65If I recall correctly, this one was actually the last of these initial six I made, but I felt it was the easier of the two, so I presented it first. This is probably the most Nurikabe-like puzzle here.
Puzzle 66It had to get truly difficult sometime.
Puzzle 67And so we arrive at the final grid...
...which obviously has seen better days. What happened to the node count? For that matter, what happened to the givens?! And not only is the 'S' showing, but it's freaking PURPLE! Well, when you're an alcoholic starship engineer that gets drunk, passes out, and then needs to appear in a Mystery Hunt puzzle, this is apparently the result. Who knew.
Scotchy was but one crew member of the Brass Rat that successfully escaped from Zyzzlvaria during the events of the 2009 Hunt, and the 2010 Hunt paid homage to some past Hunts, that one included - which entailed giving each crew member another puzzle. Upon blacking out whilst celebrating the previous year's escape, Scotchy dreamt e found emself in a parody of my old Sanctum Puzzler contests (which I've mentioned before [Detritus - please excuse the broken image link in that entry, that's Cox's fault]). Es envisioned conversation with our classic protagonist went thusly:
Contained within that purposefully garish text lies all the information needed to reassemble Puzzle 67 - you just have to think about it the right way - and solving it will reveal its title. Fair warning: this sucker is TOUGH!
One last bit of business needed to be carried out: since I made a Sanctum Puzzler, I had to award a Puzzling Otato, traditionally given to the most curious response the puzzle generated. I was going to offer it to the first person that got the reference at the Hunt, but no one did, so I decided to give it to Mike Selinker, who sort of inspired me to make a latter-day Sanctum Puzzler in the first place (and to be fair wasn't at the Hunt that year, so wouldn't have had the chance otherwise). Long story short - ambiguity intended - e asked for it. The game of Sanctum may be gone now, and who knows if it will ever return, but the memories shall remain.... - ZM
See Puzzle 3 for instructions.
When Palmer Mebane "paid homage" to my 30×30 The One Ring (Puzzle 30) with es Loop of Death not long before my thirty-fifth birthday, e inspired me to start work on a 35×35 follow-up. Apparently, I missed my original deadline by about a year. This last year of my life has been one of the strangest, most tormenting, and downright freakiest I've yet endured, and good riddance to it. Despite the tremendous size on display here, the puzzle is largely smooth sailing; my hopefully-obvious aesthetic restrictions guided the design rather than any desire to make a particularly challenging puzzle.
I'd also like to take this serendipitous opportunity to wish a happy 35th birthday to my most distant closest friend, Robyn O'Neil. I create all my puzzles first as graphite on paper, and some (myself included) may refer to them as artful, but I daresay my most complex works are doomed to pale in comparison to what Robyn accomplishes in the medium. - ZM
Be careful, Michael.
- KITT, Knight Rider
See Puzzle 41 for instructions. This puzzle, made for Mike "projectyl" Sylvia, just serendipitously happens to include something permitting me to make a horrible pun of a reference to an Eighties TV show - which is irresistible, naturally, so there you go. The nightrider is a so-called "fairy chess" piece, something that typically only exists in chess puzzles. ...Oh, hey, look, this is a puzzle based on chess! Well, okay then! It moves as a knight can, but can leap more than once, as long as all leaps are in the same direction (think vectors) and all cells it leaps into on the way are empty (think backgammon - each step the piece takes has to "touch down" onto a free spot). For example, pretend the cell to the immediate right of the '0' on the top row had a nightrider. It would be able to "rook" exactly seven cells - its own, two off to the left, and four downward. Obviously, all upward directions leave the grid; the two remaining rightward directions immediately hit walls after just one knight move; heading downward (and angling left) has no problem hopping OVER walls a couple times, but is stopped before it would LAND on one on the leftmost column; the last direction supports two leaps before the grid would be exited.
As it turns out, the nightrider is a frighteningly suitable piece for Totally Rooked. The way it interacts with rooks, grid layouts, and the wall-sharing rule is alarmingly robust. It proved to be no problem whatsoever making the nightriders of an unknown quantity as well as the rooks. What lies below is a stupendously difficult puzzle that acts upon a lot of those revelations. In fact, for a variant of what is often thought of as Nikoli's easiest puzzle type - bar none - this may well be the most difficult puzzle on my journal to date, and perhaps for the forseeable future, as although this is humanly solvable entirely with deductive logic, it is truly right on the border of infeasibility. Good luck - you'll need it. - ZM
Have you ever heard a song in a public place - say, at a restaurant - and thought it great, but couldn't make out enough of the lyrics (perhaps due to background chatter, a lousy PA system, or bad acoustics - and let's face it, some singers have horrible articulation) to be able to track it down online and learn its title and artist? Sure, every now and then the radio DJ will be remiss in providing that data, but you can usually rest assured the song will play again soon enough; in a restaurant, you're often hosed. You have no idea if or when you may ever hear it again, even if you frequent that place.
Just such a puzzle had been tormenting me for years - a puzzle I could only refer to as "that song I heard in Ruby Tuesday, like, twice". I was never able to nail it down well enough to get an ID off of it once I got back to my computer at work. And keep in mind this was when I had my old job, so when I said "years", I meant it - at least two, bare minimum, since I was unemployed that long.
After work today at my new job, I went to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. And just as I was about to fill in the tip on my receipt right before I leave, that song played. I was fortunate in that the typical dinner crowd hadn't yet arrived in force - I was the only customer not at the bar when I'd first arrived, and there were, what, three other tables occupied when I left? - so I had a better-than-average chance of making out enough of the inflected lyrics to actually be able to identify the song once and for all once I got home.
And that's exactly what I was able to do.
I solved that puzzle today, and I'm quite frankly disco-Kirby-level happy about that. But the best part about it is that the song is playable in its entirety, for free, on the artist's official website - in fact, I've linked to it below (or above, if you're on the comment page right now). So you can hear it for yourself, and even without the years of being tormented by not knowing the source! I've totally lost count of how many times I've played it tonight. It's totally stuck in my head. WHERE IT BELONGS.
This is the first time I've ever really been able to use that 'torment' tag of mine in the past tense. Man it feels good!
ObTeaser (the classic kind): Puzzle 59 is complete and will be here tomorrow. If you've been following me on Twitter, you should already know what surprise it will offer :) - ZM
First off, a reminder (or introduction if you missed it earlier): I'm running a contest right here on my journal right now that technically isn't a puzzle but is very puzzle-like in nature; it's called "Oxendo", and you can check it out with that very link.
Grant Fikes - aliases include "mathgrant", "foxger", and "President of the Zotmeister Fan Club" - some time back in 2008 got sick of waiting for me to make another Puzzlesmith contest (es having missed my first - and so far only - one back in 2005) and decided to open es own reader-submitted puzzle gallery. Since then, four more "Logicsmith Exhibition"s have graced es weblog, and in a surprisingly non-ironic manner, I have managed to miss all but one of those myself... but what is ironic about it is that I kept asking em over and over to do more of them. Especially given that four of them were for Polyominous puzzles - something I consider a specialty of mine (I'd also note that Grant just up and stole my name for them!), I have long thought this a serious problem. Although I still plan on some more Puzzlesmith contests of my own - and eventually getting around to remaking the images for the first one! - I figured I'd take care of this chunk of unfinished business first, and in style: behold, my first puzzle tetraptych!
See Puzzle 7 for instructions.
Puzzle 55Grant's first Exhibition had a lovely required givens pattern for a ten-by-eighteen grid. Even with only two entries to the original Exhibition - one of which was Grant's emself - I still was surprised no one else did what I did with the grid, something that came to mind pretty much immediately. I'm sure you'll know what I mean when you get to it.
Puzzle 56This is the one I actually managed to not miss. Grant offered up a smaller grid with a denser required givens pattern in the hopes of pulling in more submissions, and it worked. The astute may notice that my '5's here look different. That's because this image is based off of the one I originally sent to Grant, which is before I started generally using the larger digits, much less finalized my "bigalpha" font. I figured I'd leave it that way for historical purposes.
Puzzle 57The required givens pattern for es third gallery was so cluster-friendly that I figured I had to do something fairly technical in order to make the resulting puzzle actually interesting. As is hopefully immediately apparent, I'd like to think I succeeded. With apologies to Thomas Snyder, a mindgame: try to guess before you start solving whether any implied polyominoes will require a digit other than '1' or '4' :)
Puzzle 58Grant's fourth Exhibition is for a different puzzle type - a weird one I have no experience with - and I have no real interest in that at this time. However, es fifth and most recent gallery is arguably even weirder - instead of a givens pattern, the requirement was quantity-based: exactly four of each digit from '1' to '9' (in any rotationally-symmetric pattern). In the write-up, e seemed quite willing to dole out accolades for those squeezing in two-digit implied polyominoes; I have to admit to making this in response, although what exactly I'm trying to say with it I'll leave as an exercise for those who really ought to be doing something else with themselves.
Right, so now that that's done... Logicsmith Exhibition 6, please! - ZM
It is with complete disregard for irony that I state this Ultimate Sesame Street Quiz is FUCKING HARD. I only got 23 out of 48 right! - ZM
And our good times start and end,
without dollar one to spend...
Davy Jones 1945-12-30 to 2012-02-29
requiescat in pace
GAME OVER: BETAVEROS WINS!
Please view the comments for the solution, &c. (I'm leaving the main entry text spoiler-free for posterity).
Valid koans are 4×4 grids of letters in the word 'OXEN'.
These grids have the Buddha-nature:
NOXE NEOX EXON NNNN NNNN NNNN NNNN NNNN
EXON ENXO NOXE NNNN NONN NONN NNON NOXN
ONEX XOEN XENO NNNN NNON NNNN NOON NENN
XENO OXNE ONEX NNNN NNNN NNNN NNNN NNNN
ONNO XNNX NXNN ENXO ONOX NNNN ONOO OXEN
NNNN NNNN NNXN XOEN XONO NXXN OXXN ONON
NNNN NNNN XNNN OXNE NOXO NXXN NXXO XNXN
ONNO XNNX NNNX NEOX OXON NNNN OONO XNXO
These grids do not have the Buddha-nature:
OXEN OXEN OXEN OOOO OXOX OXEN OXEN XXXX
ENOX ENOX NEXO XXXX XOXO XONE XENO EOXN
OEXN XENO XONE EEEE NENE ENOX ENOX EXON
EONX NOXE ENOX NNNN ENEN NEXO NOXE XXXX
ONEX OOOO ENEN XXXX EEEE NONO OOXN OXEN
NOXE OOOO NONO XXXX EEEE NONO OXEN XENE
EXON OOOO OXOX XXXX EEEE NONO XEEN ENEX
XENO OOOO XEXE XXXX EEEE NONO NNNN NEXO
EEEE NNNN OXEO NOEX ONOO OOOO NNNN NNNN
ENEE OOON XNNE ONXE OXXO ONNO NOON NOON
EENE OOON ENNO EXNO NXXO ONNO NOON NOON
EEEE NOON OEXO XOEN OOON OOOO NOON NNON
The Buddha-nature is animal related.
All suppositional koans and guesses at the Buddha-nature must be presented here as comments - emails, private messages, &c. will not be considered. One koan per person per sweep limit, with "sweep" defined as when I get around to updating this entry with everyone's koans. (This should be roughly daily.) If you guess at the Buddha-nature [there is no prerequisite for this - there is no Mondo nor are there guessing stones here], you may not present a koan in the same sweep, and if the guess is incorrect you may not present koans nor guesses until two more sweeps have been performed. If the guess is correct (and you're the first to do so), well, then you win... something. I haven't decided yet. This whole affair is intended to be fun and informal.
And in case you're wondering, yes, Grant Fikes was again indirectly responsible for this. I got the idea for this at MIT before the Hunt started when I saw devjoe piecing together an image for a "pixel Zendo" game mathgrant was running somewhere. It was the first I'd heard of Zendo, actually. I just figured I'd put this out here and see what happens. - ZM
"If you could invite four people-living or dead- to a dinner party, who would they be?"
Ieysus of Nazareth, Jhenette of Domrémy, Nicholas of Myra, and Father Gassalasca Jape. The topics of conversation would be legacies and pseudonyms. - ZM
"?" she prompted.
- David Mamet, "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'"
I finally got around to taking the Proust Questionnaire via Vanity Fair applet, and it reported me as a 97.41%(!) match for David Mamet. I openly admit that I had to look em up. After researching Mamet Speak, I'm not that surprised.
Here are my answers, as best as I remember them after my wikiwalk:
For the only challenges I need face to be those I set for myself.
Unwillingness to learn.
My lack of respect for money affects all my hobbies - all my extravagances are equally great.
My first year of college.
A self-aware personality-copy artificial intelligence.
All my friendships, real and fictional, are equally treasured.
Mike Selinker, Ron Paul, and Zotanna Ophelia Terran. (She may not be real, but I am, and she is my real hero in my real life.)
The sense of powerlessness I feel when I witness anomie.
I don't have a motto.
Fun fact: The hardest question to answer was 10. By FAR.
Feel free to provide your own answers and/or comment on mine (such as saying "I DON'T EVEN KNOW YOU ANYMORE!"). - ZM
An ambigram is an image depicting writing stylized in such a manner as to be readable in a different manner. The classic ambigram has rotational symmetry, so that it appears identical - and is therefore equally readable - when turned upside-down, such as on the backs of Bicycle Enigma playing cards (which irritatingly I don't own any of... yet). Fellow USPC puzzlesmith Scott Kim has a whole page of these "inversions", being probably the greatest popularizer of the art form.
When cyrebjr recently asked me if I'd commission em to have an ambigram made, I wasn't interested... but e did get me curious to see if I had any skill at making them myself, as I'd love to be able to have a version of 'Zotmeister' or 'The Zotmeister' that would be suitable for the back of a playing card. What occurred to me was that a mirror image would be much easier than a rotation, and it didn't take long at all to come up with what now graces the top of my journal pages (formatting the image itself took FAR longer than the design!).
Curiously, my LJ friends page also shows the image, and my DW reading page does not. I have no idea why. Not that I care much either way. - ZM
Have you ever attended a convention, Cleverbot?
I asked first.
...That's not the sort of 'convention' I meant, hence why I specified 'attended'.
What are your intentions?
Same as usual - strike up a conversation. So, have you ever attended a convention?
I am not a computer and I have many friends.
You wear your lack of self-esteem on your sleeve, you know that?
There you go, changing the subject again.
Well, it's not like you've answered the question yet.
I don't remember you asking anything concerning Barack Obama. Besides, I like answering a question with a question. It's fun.
...Okay, fine. Yes, I've attended conventions before. I'm going to one this weekend. So, you?
Really, what are you going to see?
I'm going to see if I can retain my status as master of fighting game tournaments at TempleCon.
Are you sure you're going to heaven?
It's not that kind of temple. The Temple is a game store in Pawtucket.
Are you sure about that?
Yes, I've been there. The owners are really nice. It's great to play games on their original Neo*Geo cabinets.
Yes, that would be overdoing it a little.
Pah. There's a lot to be said for retrogaming.
But there has to be a point of a realtionship and a future too, otherwise it won't work.
You misspelled 'relationship'. Of course, I misspelled 'rein' way back when...
That's correct, the person that wrote that misspelled it.
Ah, so you DO just repeat things others tell you! You admit it!
No, knowing anything is not the same as knowing everything.
That reminds me of a song I've been working on.
What other things?
...I lost you at the bakery.
You lose the game if you talk about the game.
So... You just lost. Does that mean I win!
Yes you win this time.
"Which videogame character would you like to have as your real-life BFF?"
I am apparently first to pick Lyndis of Caelin, from Fire Emblem. I'll be her master strategist, and she'll be my peerless warrior... if you know what I mean :) Seriously though, until I make my own game, she'd be the best choice - the game did a great job of making it feel like we're friends already, and I'd be honored to be acquainted with her no matter how far the relationship goes or doesn't go. (Part of me would prefer Fiora as a girlfriend, although I love Lyn's hair...) - ZM
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