Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pic-Tac-Toe (6th edition)

Thinking more about the 4x4 puzzle suggestion (Pic-Tac-Toe-Nail?) I made a couple of weeks ago, and seeing K-Lyn's awesome debut of a near-wordless puzzle, I now realize there are challenging ways to create this puzzle that have nothing to do with how obscure the themes are. I could try a wordless puzzle, an all-word puzzle, or maybe one from pictures I take myself.

In honor of the World Series (and as a timely response to a request for sports themes by reader Ookami Snow), below is an all-baseball puzz well, I tried. Didn't happen.

To solve the following Dane Cook promo-free puzzle, then, come up with a theme that unites any line of 3 images. Usually that means there are 8 themes: 3 rows, 3 columns, 2 diagonals. But read on...

(Click the image to enlarge. Guess the themes in the comments.)

A few notes before you get started:

1. As usual, I would consider one theme -- the backslash diagonal (\) connecting pictures 1, 5, and 9 -- more difficult than the others. Slight warning: that theme could be viewed as a little controversial, but NOT for any religious reason.

2. There are actually 10 themes to this puzzle. I've noticed that the middle column has two completely different (yet equally correct) themes. Then K-Lyn helped me discover that you could say the same for the bottom row. So: 2 themes for the middle column, 2 themes for the bottom row, and 1 theme everywhere else. (I guess there's a lot going on in that 8th picture.)

SOLVED! K-Lyn of And She Was... is something fierce, nailing 7 of the 10 themes. Then Bill of Shakespeare Teacher picked up on the aforementioned backslash diagonal, and eventually conquered the two 2nd themes. They seem tired now.

Double themes? Maybe a bad idea.


K-Lyn said...

Bummer about the baseball one not working. I'm in a bit of a frenzy today. Oh, how I love October.

K-Lyn said...

Bottom: OPEN

Left: RED
Middle: BIBLE
Right: PARK

Slash: DOORS

Neel Mehta said...

Oh, how I love October.

It's called Actober now. (The "Red Sox and Me" video there starts out kind of amusing.)

You've figured out 7 of the 10 themes. Still unsolved:

MIDDLE COLUMN (2nd theme)
BOTTOM ROW (2nd theme)

Bill said...

Honestly, I'm pretty stumped here. And I'm hesitant to post my usual "think outside the box" responses because of the religious themes.

Neel Mehta said...

Well, if it helps, there's only one religious theme (for the middle column), and K-Lyn already came up with it.

That's not to say that what's depicted in pictures 2 and 8 are religiously irrelevant. But (with apologies to Jesus) picture 5 has used up all of its religious value at this point.

Additional impressions:

1. The 2 themes of the bottom row require you to notice almost exactly the same things. It's actually kind of impressive that I planned one theme and K-Lyn came up with one that was just as good.

2. I would consider the 2nd theme of the middle column to be monumentally obscure. Not hard, just obscure. I was actually planting a red herring there in which just pictures 2 and 8 had a commonality -- it's why I chose that image for picture 2. But after a few seconds' worth of research I learned that picture 5 embodies that theme as well.

3. When composing this puzzle I thought about Annalisa's comment that she's not so good with the pop cultural references, so I thought I should tone that down. Aside from South Park, picture 8 is the only one that reflects pop culture. That info will help you figure out the second theme to the middle column.

4. I would consider the backslash diagonal controversial for 2 reasons. First, the answer reflects the way I learned something, but with some checking I can see that others may have learned it differently (i.e. with slightly different words).

Second, the title of the image 1 (which you're not expected to know) is why I chose that image. But picture 1 is, based on appearance alone, the least precise.

And picture 9 is by far the most helpful.

5. Final hint: my mind works in tangential and musical ways, such that the same song pops in my head every time I'm working with a particular theme. In the case of that diagonal, my mind wanders toward a song by Technotronic, circa 1989-1990. Specifically one verse.

Neel Mehta said...

Huh. I just noticed that image 2, for the purposes of the 2nd theme, is kind of related to South Park. Creepy how it's all connected like that.

Bill said...


One two, buckle my SHOE
Three four, close the DOOR
Five six, PICK UP STIX

Neel Mehta said...

Nice. (Too many hints?)

For the purposes of this puzzle, it's "3, 4, knock on the door." As I said, there are a few variations on this nursery rhyme, "shut the door" being the most common. So if you learned it differently, you'd think I was wrong.

Before the night is over...

K-Lyn said...

Yes, I learned it shut the door and I don't think I ever would have got it. Just not the train of thought that I was on.

I also can't for the life of me come up with alternate themes. I think my brain decided they were solved and just can't see anything new.

Neel Mehta said...

I think my brain decided they were solved and just can't see anything new.

I wondered if that would be a problem. I think that, under normal situations, the 2nd theme of the bottom row would be easy to guess.

1. I've always been good at identifying car makes and models based on their side profiles. So when I look at picture 7, the shape of that back door gives me a very specific idea of what kind of car that is.

2. Ask yourself why you guessed BIBLE for the middle column's 1st theme. Sure, there's Moses and Jesus, but why did picture 8 belong? Also consider my earlier hint about recent pop culture. Put it together and that's your theme. Once you know it, try to make pictures 2 and 5 fit the same theme.

3. To put it another way: the middle column's 2nd theme is exactly like the BRANDS OF CHILI theme from 2 weeks ago. That puzzle would have been near impossible if the bottom picture hadn't referred to chili directly. The same applies here: what picture 8 represents is your theme.

Bill said...

Okay, if you Wiki "Neon Bible" you actually get an album with Picture 8. That's cool, but I still don't know the answer. The band, Arcade Fire, doesn't seem to have any other songs or albums that fit the other pictures, and I don't know where to go from there.

I mean, there's an Isaac Hayes album called Black Moses, and a Deep Purple album called Knocking at Your Back Door, but that seems like too much of a stretch.

I am not able to identify cars by their side profiles, but I can deduce that it is likely a Dodge Neon, since the restaurant has a neon sign in the window. So let's do this one:

Bottom Row, Answer 2: NEON

Mainline Mom said...

This game is WAY too hard for my mommy brain.

Neel Mehta said...

Mainline Mom: Your "mommy brain" is wired to simultaneously handle at least the following: two small children, a spouse, in-laws, a career, and Penn State football. (And that's just the stuff I read about!)

My little, puzzle-addled, bachelor brain bows to yours.

Bill: I sense a deep exhaustion regarding this puzzle, so it's good news that you've finished it. The 2nd themes are in fact ALBUM TITLES and NEON.

In the disco era, Knock on Wood was both a song and album for Amii Stewart.

Neel Mehta said...

For the record, here are the 10 themes.

Top row: ILLUSTRATIONS (by Jeannie Foster, Aaron and Allen Hicks, and Trey Parker/Matt Stone)


Bottom row (1st theme): NEON (Dodge Neon, Neon Bible, neon "Open" sign)

Bottom row (2nd theme): OPEN (open car door, open book, "Open" sign)

Left column: RED (woman's red jacket, red flower, red car)

Middle column (1st theme): CHRISTIANITY (Moses, Jesus, Bible)

Middle column (2nd theme): ALBUM TITLES (Black Moses by Isaac Hayes, Knock on Wood by Amii Stewart, and Neon Bible by Arcade Fire)

Right column: PARK (South Park, Marine Park school, parked cars or parking lot)

159 (\) diagonal: THAT NURSERY RHYME (1, 2, buckle my shoe; 3, 4, knock at the door; 5, 6, pick up sticks)

357 (/) diagonal: DOOR

Anticipatory rebuttal: "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" was never an album title, and besides, the center image shows Jesus knocking on the door of a mere mortal.

And Isaac Hayes voiced the character of Chef on South Park.

K-Lyn said...

OK...I see your damned unsolvable puzzle and raise you a FULLY wordless over at my place. Beware the red herrings!!!

Bill said...

Hmmm, I'll see your wordless puzzle, and bump you up another 3D puzzle.