Solving the Puzzles

Last week in THIS POST, I presented you with a couple of puzzles inspired by the puzzle hunts competitions that I participate in each year.  I followed up on Monday with a couple of hints.  Based on the limited instructions we were provided and Monday’s hints, we know that…

1)      These are puzzles

2)      The solution will be an English word, name, or phrase

3)      Each clue will lead us to the one-word title of a movie

4)      Capitalizing our answers will be helpful

Now let’s walk through the solution to the first puzzle:

TRAINING DAY
1.  Home for an elevator
2.  Hoffman’s Roll
3.  With theme by Falco?
4.  Up now for Cincinnati: Dick Tracy
5.  James Bond: Space Marshall
6.  Paging Adele Dazeem
7.  Attack on…GROSS!
8.  #2 and #4 bomb in the desert
9.  No Soundwave?  No thanks!
10.  Ocean’s other 11
11.  #6 is drawn to Cyclops.

1.      Elevators run in shafts.  Shaft is the name of a movie, so that makes sense. 

2.     Dustin Hoffman has been in many films, and a few of them have one-word titles.  How do we narrow it down?  An actor plays a role, but the clue uses the spelling “Roll.”  That is not a mistake.  Looking through Hoffman’s filmography, two possibilities emerge: Tootsie (based on Tootsie Roll candy) and Sphere (A sphere can roll).  “Roll” in the clue is capitalized, indicating a name.  Therefore, Tootsie Roll is the reference here, making our answer Tootsie.

3.     Theme indicates music, and 80’s artist Falco is best known for one song, “Rock Me, Amadeus.”  Since we’re looking for one-word movie titles, Amadeus is our obvious answer here.

4.    Dick Tracy was played on film by Warren Beatty, so we need to be looking at Mr. Beatty’s filmography.  So what about the “Up now for Cincinnati” part of the clue?  It sounds like something that would be said at a baseball game.  Cincinnati’s professional baseball team is the Reds, which is also the name of a Warren Beatty film.  Our answer is Reds.

5.    This one is admittedly difficult.  The obvious answer here is Moonraker, but something doesn’t quite fit.  “Space Marshall”?  Bond is a secret agent, not a lawman out of the old west.  If we look through the filmographies of our various Bonds, only one film has a one-word title, is set in space, and has our Bond actor (in this case, Sean Connery) playing a marshal: Outland.

6.    A quick Google search will reveal that “Adele Dazeem” is what John Travolta mistakenly called Idina Menzel when he introduced her at the Oscars to sing a song from the film Frozen, which is our answer.

7.    “Attack on…” immediately brings to mind (or to Google) the popular anime series Attack on Titan, but that doesn’t fit our puzzle.  What about the inclusion of “GROSS!”?  Another word for gross is “ick.”  Titan…ick.  Titanic?  Seriously.  Yes.  Seriously.  That’s the answer.

8.    Clues #2 and #4 refer to Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty respectively.  A Google search of their names with bomb, desert, or both quickly leads us to Ishtar.

9.     The key here is to identify Soundwave.  Since it is written as one word with a capital letter, it is obviously a name.  Our friend Google (or growing up in the 1980s) will reveal that he is a Transformer.  Our answer is Transformers.

10.   None of the Ocean’s films fit our one-word title format, so we need to look at the actor who played Ocean, in this case, George Clooney (Yes, Sinatra played him as well, but you won’t find anything in his filmography that fits the clue.).  Clooney has a few one-word titles, so we need to look at the rest of the clue: “other 11.”  What, beside his criminal crew from the first Ocean’s film, has 11 people?  A football team.  The only one-word film on Clooney’s resume about a football team is Leatherheads.

11.    Clue #6 referred to Idina Menzel.  Cyclops in this clue is capitalized like a name.  James Marsden played the character Scott Summers, codenamed Cyclops, in the X-Men films.  The only movie that fits the pattern starring both actors is Enchanted.  There’s a further hint in the use of the word “drawn” in the clue, since many sections of Enchanted, including the wedding of Menzel and Marsden’s characters, are animated.

So we now have the following list (and based on our hint, we will make sure to capitalize the names):

1)     Shaft

2)    Tootsie

3)    Amadeus

4)    Reds

5)   Outland

6)    Frozen

7)    Titanic

8)     Ishtar

9)      Transformers

10)    Leatherheads

11)    Enchanted

Focusing on our capital letters, we find the words STAR OF TITLE.  The title of the puzzle is “Training Day,” which is also a film starring Denzel Washington.  Washington or Denzel Washington is the solution.

Now let’s move on to the second puzzle:  

He Left A Trail
1.  That’s how you define “good,” Mr. Hill?                                           $5,000,000
2.  Wielder of Mew-mew?                                                                      $4,000,000
3.  My stepmother is one, too, Ripley                                                   $3,000,000
4.  Anyone know how to get pig blood out of a prom dress?            $6,000,000
5.  I dreamed a dream about a dream in a dream                               $2,000,000
6.  Heaven does not welcome Bourne and Batman                            $1,000,000
7.  Actually, I was not entertained                                                         $8,000,000
8.  Rogers’ pretend monarch                                                                 $1,000,000
9.  Gilderoy’s great Dane                                                                       $5,000,000
10.  Cameron creates a world of cash                                                   $4,000,000

Based on our instructions, we know that this will follow the same format as the last one.  This time, though, we have also been given dollar amounts.  We’ll leave those alone for the moment and handle what we know how to do.  One more we begin the search for one-word movie titles.

1)     The clues this time around are a bit more difficult and some of them will not be as easily parsed with Google.  In this case, you know that a man named Hill is involved as is the word good, since it is in quotes.  If we do a search on one-word movie titles and open one of the resulting lists (Such as THIS ONE), a title jumps out at us: Goodfellas.  Reading about that film will confirm that the main character is Henry Hill.  Our answer is Goodfellas.

2)   Mew-Mew is capitalized, indicating a name.  This Mew-Mew can be wielded, which probably means a weapon.  Google’s autofill is helpful here, since typing in “Mew-Mew” brings up “Mew-Mew-Mjolnir” and “Mew-Mew Thor.”  Mjolnir is the name of Thor’s hammer, which he does indeed wield.  “Mew-Mew” is a reference to what the character Darcy calls Mjolnir in the movie Thor.  Our answer is Thor.

3)     The name Ripley immediately brings to mind Alien.  This is quickly confirmed with a Google search of “My stepmother is,” which leads us to the film, My Stepmother is an Alien.  Our answer is Alien.

4)    Pig blood and a prom dress should immediately suggest Carrie.  If you don’t know the film or the reference, a Google search of the those terms will immediately get you to the same answer.

5)      The first part of the clue seems to reference Les Miserables, which does not fit our one-word movie title format.  But then there are additional levels of dreams in the clue.  That alone will be enough for many people; however, if not, a Google search of “dream in a dream” and “movie” will quickly lead to Inception.

6)      While there have been many actors to play Batman in movies, there’s only one Jason Bourne: Matt Damon.  Knowing that, we can deduce that the Batman actor we want is Damon’s frequent collaborator, Ben Affleck.  There’s only one film with Damon and Affleck that involves Heaven: Dogma.

7)   This clue sounds like someone answering the question, “Are you entertained?” (Or, in this case, “Are you not entertained?”)  That may be enough for most people.  If not, a Google search of “I am not entertained,” “Are you entertained?”, or “Are you not entertained?” will lead you to Gladiator.

8)   The first question is “Who is the Rogers?” referred to in the clue.  Steve Rogers immediate springs to mind, but he’s Captain America.  He doesn’t have a monarch, and he certainly doesn’t pretend to have one.  He’s all-American!  It must be someone else.  A Google search of other famous Rogers will bring up a few names, such as Roy Rogers, Ginger Rogers, Kenny Rogers, and Fred Rogers.   Determining which Rogers has anything to do with a pretend monarch is where your knowledge or a lot of research will come into play.  Fred Rogers, better known to children everywhere as Mr. Rogers, has a part of his show set in the Land of Make-Believe.  This pretend land was ruled over by King Friday.  Friday is the one-word movie we are after.

9)   We have a couple of places where we could begin on this one.  Great Dane may immediately bring to mind Scooby-Doo, but in this case “great” isn’t capitalized.  So let’s look at “Gilderoy.”  What kind of name is that?  Harry Potter fans (and those who perform a Google search) will immediately get to Gilderoy Lockhard, from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, who was played in the film by Kenneth Branagh.  A look at Branagh’s filmography reveals several one-word titles, but only one that fits the “Dane” (as in someone from Denmark) part of the clue: Hamlet, a film Branagh both starred in and directed. 

10)  There are a few famous Camerons.  Cameron Diaz, James Cameron, and Ferris Bueller’s friend come to mind.  Only one of these, writer/director James Cameron, can be credited with creating a world, Pandora, from his film AvatarAvatar is currently the highest-grossing movie of all-time, which certain qualifies as a word of cash.  Our answer is Avatar.

All right!  Now let’s list our answers like we did for the previous puzzle.

1)      Goodfellas

2)     Thor

3)      Alien

4)      Carrie

5)     Inception

6)     Dogma

7)     Gladiator

8)      Friday

9)     Hamlet

10)  Avatar

And taking the first letters again, we spell out GTACIDGFHA.

Um…uh oh.  That’s a whole lot of nothing.

Now we’d better take a look at the other part of the puzzle: the dollar values.  This list looks like the weekend grosses for these movies, but they didn’t come out in the same year, much less the same weekend.  Let’s be a bit less literal.  Maybe we should use the values of the numbers as a way to order the letters.  We immediately hit a problem, though.  Two films are listed at $1,000,000 (Or 1.  Since all of the numbers end with 6 zeros, we’ll just ignore the zeros and focus on the millions place digit), so which one would we put first?  And we’re going to run into the same problem with the number 4 films.  Also, either way we put the #1 letters, DF or FD, is not encouraging for making an English word.  We need to look elsewhere for our answer.

Looking at the numbers again, we can see that each number is relatively small.  In fact, it’s either equal to or less than the number of letters in the film title it follows.  Perhaps these numbers refer to a letter position.  What does that get us?

Goodfellas =  5, which is F.  So going down the list:

goodFellas

thoR

alIen

carriE

iNception

Dogma

gladiatOr

Friday

hamlEt

avaTar

This spells out FRIEND OF ET.  Now we’re getting somewhere.  In the movie E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, the name of E.T.’s friend is Elliott.  The title of the puzzle confirms our answer, since Elliott did indeed leave a trail of Reese’s Pieces for E.T. to follow.  The solution is Elliott.

If you enjoyed that and are interested in trying more puzzles, check out the past puzzle hunts sponsored by the Canon Information Systems Research Australia (CiSRA), the Sydney University Mathematics Society, and the Melbourne University Mathematics and Statistics Society.  You can look at previous year’s puzzles and still use the solver to check your guesses.

And if you’re aware of any other puzzle hunts, please let me know.  I’d love to find another source.

 - Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter