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He's a castaway who'd eaten another guy. He's small so he can't reach the right button except with his umbrella. They're fish and the bowl broke.
September 8, 2008 9:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for more riddles like "the seagull sandwich" and "the guy who goes to work every day, takes the elevator to the 35th floor, gets out, walks the stairs to the 38th except when it rains" and the one where Romeo and Juliet are dead on the floor surrounded by shards of glass. Though preferably harder and better. Thanks!

And as I can't see how this can not turn into a spoilerfest I'd like to apologise on beforehand....
posted by Skyanth to Grab Bag (41 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
 
Get this game. Pure genius.
posted by nasreddin at 9:47 AM on September 8, 2008


Searching for Lateral Thinking Puzzles or Situation Puzzles will give you more results than 'riddles'.
posted by Science! at 9:48 AM on September 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


A man is found dead in the middle of a field with a pack on his back.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:49 AM on September 8, 2008


You COULD preserve the mystery this way -- I'll post the questions, you can email me for the answers. (And no, I won't make you guess unless you want to.)

1. There is a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts inhabited by only 6 people. One morning, Massachusetts state police are summoned there because there's been a murder. They investigate the scene and find that the victim's body is lying in a field, in the middle of a patch of a leafy plant, and there have been signs of a struggle. When they see this, the police immediately decide to round up the other five inhabitants and keep them in holding for 24 hours, knowing that by then, they will have proof of who the murderer is. Why are they so sure?

2. A man is found shot to death in a room with 53 bicycles. What happened and why?

3. A man is walking down the street when he suddenly sees an albatross hanging in a butcher's shop window. He runs in, takes a bite out of the albatross, and then runs out and sprints down the street screaming, "I'm free! I'm free!" Why?


....If other people want the answers, I'll post them, or you can all email me. But these kinds of little mysteries are great fun (my cousins were REALLY into these when they were younger).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:51 AM on September 8, 2008


Two men walk into a bar and order the same drink. One man drinks quickly, walks out of the bar, and is unaffected. The other man drinks slowly, then falls off the bar stool dead.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:53 AM on September 8, 2008


....And upon review, my number 3 is a variant of the "seagull sandwich" one. Never mind. But, uh, there's the other 2.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on September 8, 2008


Ooh, weapons-grade, you've reminded me of another one -- a man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of water. Instead, the bartender pulls a gun out and points it at him. After a moment, the man says, "thanks!" and walks out. Why?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:54 AM on September 8, 2008


Because they're gone.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:05 AM on September 8, 2008


They are usually called Lateral Thinking Puzzles, as said above. I've been collecting them for about 20 years or so and have about 50 of them written in a notebook somewhere. I can't get to it this week, but if you MeMail me with a reminder, I'll transcribe and send them sometime soon.
posted by Miko at 10:07 AM on September 8, 2008


You must specify that the questions posed are answerable by "yes" or "no".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:08 AM on September 8, 2008


doing a google search on "53 bicycles" led me to this page that appears to have some.

yeah, I'm the type who loves to cheat on things like this. But I knew the "drink quickly and you're okay/drink slowly and you die" one, and the glass of water/gun one too.
posted by Lucinda at 10:08 AM on September 8, 2008


1) A bell rings, a man dies. A bell rings, a woman cries. What happened?

2) Two people are dead in a cabin on a mountain. What happened?

3) A man is found hanged inside his own barn in 1923. The barn is empty save for him and the rope, there are only his muddy footprints leading to the middle of the barn, but the rafter he is hanging from is far too high for him to have reached it himself. What happened?

4) A man is reading the evening newspaper late at night. When he finishes, he goes to bed. In the morning he picks up his copy of the morning newspaper, and shortly thereafter kills himself. What happened?

Anyone know the proper html tags for invisi-text on AskMefi?
posted by tzikeh at 10:11 AM on September 8, 2008


Anyone know the proper html tags for invisi-text on AskMefi?

I'd suggest the Rot13 thingy.
posted by Lucinda at 10:14 AM on September 8, 2008


rot13, great idea. POST ANSWERS!
posted by Skyanth at 10:19 AM on September 8, 2008


The man was afraid to go home, because the man with the mask was there.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:22 AM on September 8, 2008


A whole bunch of lateral thinking puzzles can be found here. The concept was invented by Edward de Bono. Check out some of his books and games, he's an incredible thinker.
posted by Cobalt at 10:45 AM on September 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


There's a fun game called "Crack the Case" which has a ton of these. It's great to play in a group.
posted by amarynth at 11:00 AM on September 8, 2008


A naked man lies dead in the desert, holding half a matchstick in his hand. What's the background?
posted by springload at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2008


I got many of mine from this book. there are several other, similar books available.
posted by Miko at 11:02 AM on September 8, 2008


A man is pushing his car. Why is he arrested?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:12 AM on September 8, 2008


It's not the best example, but...

A man lies dead in a locked room; there's some sawdust under the bed. Another man looks through the keyhole and laughs.

Gur svefg zna jnf gur fubegrfg zna va gur jbeyq. Gur frpbaq fubegrfg zna phg gur raq bss uvf zrnfhevat fgvpx; gur fubegrfg zna, guvaxvat ur unq tebja, xvyyrq uvzfrys.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:32 AM on September 8, 2008


Rot13 is NIFTY-KEEN!

The answers to mine.

For the murder in the small island in Massachusetts:

Gur "cngpu bs yrnsl cynagf" gur ivpgvz jnf ylvat va jnf cbvfba vil. Vg gnxrf 24 ubhef sbe n cbvfba vil enfu gb fubj hc. Fb cbyvpr arj gung nyy gurl unq gb qb jnf ebhaq rirelbar hc naq jnvg gb frr jub oebxr bhg va n cbvfba vil enfu -- sebz fgehttyvat jvgu gur ivpgvz -- naq gurl'q unir gurve xvyyre.

For the 53 bicycles:

Gur "53 ovplpyrf" jrer npghnyyl 53 Ovplpyr oenaq cynlvat pneqf. Gur ivpgvz unq orra cynlvat cbxre, naq jnf pnhtug purngvat jvgu na rkgen Npr -- gung'f jul gurer jrer 53 pneqf vafgrnq bs 52 -- naq jnf fubg.

For the man who asked for a glass of water and had a gun pulled on him:

Gur zna jub nfxrq sbe gur tynff bs jngre unq gur uvpphcf. Gur onegraqre chyyrq bhg gur tha gb fpner uvf uvpphcf njnl vafgrnq. Vg jbexrq.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:34 AM on September 8, 2008


Ooh, and I can try guessing at one -- tzikeh, my guess at your #3:

Gur zna unq fgbbq ba n ovt oybpx bs vpr gb ernpu gur ensgre. Gur vpr zrygrq njnl haqre uvf srrg, yrnivat uvz unatvat sebz gur ensgre.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 AM on September 8, 2008


tzikeh: can you post the solutions (encoded) to #3 and #4? They are killing me.
posted by 8dot3 at 12:25 PM on September 8, 2008


These were all published in a book called "Stories With Holes."
posted by sourwookie at 12:27 PM on September 8, 2008


Here's another source of quite a few.
posted by tomierna at 12:35 PM on September 8, 2008


I made up one of my own!

An ornithologist sees an unexpected bird-- and dies moments later.

Ur fnj gur oveq fhpxrq vagb gur ratvar bs uvf nvecynar.
posted by moonmilk at 1:47 PM on September 8, 2008


This question is biased against people who grew up in a Soviet gulag and were forced to learn to read Rot13 to combat the French spies.

Lame.
posted by Precision at 1:57 PM on September 8, 2008


Q: The music stopped, and then she died. Why?

A: Fur vf n pvephf cresbezre, jnyxvat oyvaqsbyqrq ba n gvtugebcr jvgu ab arg. Gur zhfvp fgbccvat vf abeznyyl ure phr gb whzc bss gur ebcr bagb gur cyngsbez. Va guvf pnfr, gur zhfvp fgbccrq gbb rneyl.
posted by googly at 2:23 PM on September 8, 2008


Q: A bell rings. A light flashes. 50 people are dead. What happened?

A: Gurl jrer ba n obng, gur oryy jnf gur ohbl fvtanyvat gur fuber, gur yvtug jnf sebz gur yvtug ubhfr, gurl penfurq ba gur ebpxf.
posted by metastability at 3:07 PM on September 8, 2008


Wait, no one is going post this one?

Q: A man is lying dead in the desert with a ring on his finger. How did he die?

I'm not going to post the answer. Y'all should know it.
posted by metastability at 3:12 PM on September 8, 2008


There are a lot of "a man was found dead..." ones:

1. A man is found dead, naked, in the middle of a nowhere and holding only a straw.

Ur jnf va n fvaxvat nve onyybba fuvc juvpu unq gbb zhpu jrvtug. Rirelbar nobneq guerj nalguvat haarprffnel njnl (vapyhqvat pybguvat, juvpu vf jul ur jnf anxrq). Gurer jnf fgvyy gbb zhpu jrvtug ba gur fuvc, fb gurl nyy qerj fgenjf gb frr jub jbhyq or qhzcrq svefg. Guvf thl tbg gur fubeg fgenj.

2. A man is found dead, in a wetsuit, in the middle of the forest.

Gurer jnf n sberfg sver. Uryvpbcgref jrer frag bhg gb fpbbc hc jngre sebz gur bprna gb qbhfr gur synzrf. Gur zna jnf qvivat va uvf jrg fhvg ng gur gvzr, naq jnf pnhtug hc va bar bs gur fpbbcf.
posted by hooray at 3:39 PM on September 8, 2008


I always remember this one from fourth grade because I was the only one in my class to get it:

The man was afraid to go home, because the man with the mask was there.

Gur zna vf ba 3eq onfr, naq gur zna jvgu gur znfx vf gur pngpure ng ubzr cyngr.
posted by zardoz at 6:30 PM on September 8, 2008


I direct your attention to two highly-regarded books on the subject by Agnes Rogers, How Come? (1953) and How Come...Again? (1960), both published by Doubleday & Co. My copy of the former was lent out and stolen; I have not made the same mistake with my copy of the latter. Check your local library.

All the puzzles in the second volume are original with Rogers and her circle of friends; the first volume is about half hers and half public domain stuff.
posted by DandyRandy at 7:44 PM on September 8, 2008


A sample...

The expedition was ill-fated from the beginning. Before the goal was reached, the leader met with an accident and as a result suffered a severe head wound. This widely-reported mishap had just occurred when another member of the party fell and was badly bruised. Despite his injuries, however, the leader was not taken to a hospital, nor was a doctor summoned. He recovered through the simplest of home remedies.

How Come?

Wnpx naq Wvyy jrag hc gur uvyy gb srgpu n cnvy bs jngre...
posted by DandyRandy at 7:51 PM on September 8, 2008


A man dies. Why?

Gur zna jnf Evpuneq Cynagntrarg, Qhxr bs Lbex, jub va sbhegrra-svsgl svir unq punyyratrq gur evtug bs Urael Obyvatoebxr'f tenaqfba Urael IV gb or xvat. Evpuneq jnf qrfpraqrq va gur qverpg znyr yvar sebz Rqjneq VVV'f svsgu fba Rqzhaq Qhxr bs Lbex naq guebhtu uvf zbgure, Naar Zbegvzre, va gur qverpg srznyr yvar sebz gur guveq fba Yvbary Qhxr bs Pynerapr. Guhf, ur unq orggre gvgyr gb gur guebar guna Urael IV. Evpuneq Qhxr bs Lbex unq zneevrq Prpvyl Arivyyr. Cebhq Pvf, nf fur jnf pnyyrq, jnf gur qnhtugre bs Wbna Ornhsbeg. [Gur Ornhsbegf, puvyqera bs Wbua bs Tnhag Qhxr bs Ynapnfgre naq uvf zvfgerff Pngurevar Fjlasbeq, unq orra yrtvgvzvmrq ol gurve unys-oebgure Urael VI (Obyvatoebxr) jura ur jnf xvat, ohg unq orra oneerq sebz gur guebar.] Nf n erfhyg, gur fbaf bs Evpuneq Qhxr bs Lbex naq Prpvyl Arivyyr -- Rqjneq VI, Rqzhaq Rney bs Ehgynaq, Trbetr Qhxr bs Pynerapr, naq Evpuneq VVV -- va snpg, unq qverpg yvarntr gb Rqjneq VVV ol guerr bs uvf fbaf, n zbfg vzcerffvir pynvz. Urael IV'f dhrra jnf gur Serapujbzna Znetnerg bs Nawbh, naq gurve fba Rqjneq bs Ynapnfgre unq nyernql orra gvgyrq Cevapr bs Jnyrf, gur genqvgvbany ubabe tvira gb urvef bs gur Oevgvfu pebja. Juvyr Urael IV jnf n cvbhf naq crnprshy zna, uvf dhrra Znetnerg unq ab vagragvba bs frrvat ure fba frg nfvqr, nf ur jnf ol gur Cneyvnzragnel Npg bs Nppbeq, va snibe bs Evpuneq Qhxr bs Lbex naq uvf fbaf. Svtugvat orgjrra gur evinyf oebxr bhg naq va yngr sbhegrra-fvkgl Evpuneq Qhxr bs Lbex jnf xvyyrq ol Znetnerg'f sbeprf nybat jvgu uvf frpbaq fba Rqzhaq Rney bs Ehgynaq naq uvf oebgure-va-ynj, gur Rney bs Fnyvfohel.
posted by magic curl at 12:38 AM on September 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


Firefox Ubiquity users: rot-13 plugin.
posted by nev at 7:36 AM on September 9, 2008


The book How Would You Move Mount Fuji? has lots of good ones.
posted by kepano at 8:02 AM on September 9, 2008


What Miko said. There are, I believe, a dozen Lateral Thinking books by Paul Sloane. I own eleven of them. And several others as well. And MindGames. I LOVE Lateral Thinking puzzles, and use them as "warm-ups" when I host Game Night at my house. A couple of my favorites:

1. In 1421, three men lived in the same village, within a mile of each other. They were normal/average men who traveled about the village regularly, at various times during their lives. But none of the men ever met or even saw each other. Why?

2. A man receives a package in the mail. He opens it, examines it, and forwards it on to another man. This man does the same; open, examine, forward. This happens three more times. Then, when a sixth man finally receives the package, he opens it, examines it, and throws it away. Why?

(Interested parties may submit questions via Mefi mail.)
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 10:17 AM on September 9, 2008


Sorry I flaked on checking this thread again!

ROT-13:

1) A bell rings, a man dies. A bell rings, a woman cries. What happened?

Gur zna naq uvf jvsr yvir va n ubhfr ba gur bprna. Gur zna yvxrf gb fjvz va gur bprna, ohg ur fgnlf pybfr gb ubzr fb gung ur pna urne uvf jvsr evatvat n unaq oryy fb gung ur pna sbyybj gur fbhaq onpx gb fuber. Jura n funex uvgf n ohbl, gur ohbl oryy tbrf bss, naq gur zna fjvzf gbjneq vg - njnl sebz gur ubhfr, naq vf rngra ol gur funex. Jura uvf jvsr pbzrf bhg gb evat gur unaq oryy, ur qbrf abg erghea naq riraghnyyl fur ernyvmrf ur vf qrnq.

2) Two people are dead in a cabin on a mountain. What happened?

Gur gjb crbcyr ner n cvybg naq pb-cvybg; gurve cynar penfurq. Gur "pnova" vf gur pnova bs n cynar. Gung'f gur jbeq gung znxrf guvf bar fb zhpu sha gb cynl.

3) A man is found hanged inside his own barn in 1923. The barn is empty save for him and the rope, there are only his muddy footprints leading to the middle of the barn, but the rafter he is hanging from is far too high for him to have reached it himself. What happened?

Gur zna oebhtug n ynetr oybpx bs vpr sebz gur vpr ubhfr gb fgnaq ba, naq unatrq uvzfrys. Nf gur qnl terj jnezre, gur vpr zrygrq vagb gur tebhaq.

4) A man is reading the evening newspaper late at night. When he finishes, he goes to bed. In the morning he picks up his copy of the morning newspaper, and shortly thereafter kills himself. What happened?

Gur zna ehaf n yvtugubhfr. Ur jnf abg rkcrpgvat nal zber fuvcf gung riravat, naq fb jrag gb orq. Va gur zbeavat ur ernqf bs n fuvc gung jrag sne sebz vgf pbhefr, penfuvat naq fvaxvat pybfr gb uvf ybpngvba. Unq ur yrsg gur yvtugubhfr fvtany hc, gurl jbhyq unir fheivirq.
posted by tzikeh at 12:37 PM on September 9, 2008


Q. A man riding a train is reading a newspaper. The train enters a tunnel. There is a loud bang and when the train leaves the tunnel, the man is dead. What happened?

A: Ur fubg uvzfrys. Ur jnf oyvaq naq ur'q whfg tbggra fhetrel gb frr sbe gur svefg gvzr. Jura gur genva jrag vagb gur ghaary, ur gubhtug ur unq tbar oyvaq ntnva, naq xvyyrq uvzfrys.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:02 PM on September 9, 2008


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