Wicker Park Street Puzzle
July 7, 2005 11:50 AM   Subscribe

Puzzle filter: I saw this drawn on the street in Wicker Park, Chicago, and couldn't figure out what it meant. I took a photo because I knew I could count on you all to help. Any ideas? (View at original size for better view.)
posted by kdern to Media & Arts (17 answers total)
This is pure speculation on my part, but it looks like a Boggle grid to me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:04 PM on July 7, 2005

I don't think it's a Boggle grid; there's no Q in Boggle (it's "Qu" on the face of the die). Also, just to double-check, the rows are AFUN PESW OTIB MQYV, right? The shadows make it a little unclear, but if all 16 letters are different, as they appear to be, then I'm guessing that's a P and not another F.

Hm. All five vowels are present, and in an X-shape in the top left of the grid. No other patterns popping out at me just yet...
posted by wanderingmind at 12:19 PM on July 7, 2005

I think DA is right. Someone just generated a Boggle game. Besides, the grid, the letter frequencies are about right. The Boggle dice are:


As you can see, there is no Q and O appears often. In fact, in your photo, the distribution is pretty even with only O appearing twice. The excluded letters are:


Note especially the absence of Q, X and Z - two of which are rare and one, as mentioned above, nonexistent. On the other hand O appears on 5 dice - appearing twice on one of them! So, the word square would be a very typical Boggle grid.
posted by vacapinta at 12:19 PM on July 7, 2005

post-preview: I thought the bottom letter was an O not a Q. If im wrong, the above doesnt hold.
posted by vacapinta at 12:21 PM on July 7, 2005

that's clearly a Q on the original.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:22 PM on July 7, 2005

oh, sorry, as you noticed.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:22 PM on July 7, 2005

biotopes biotope feisty moiety 	potsie 	unstep 	unstop 	unwise 	unwits 	bites
bytes 	estop 	feist 	fusty 	moist 	moots 	mopes 	motes 	pesto 	pesty
poets 	stoop 	stope 	suety 	topes 	unset 	unwit 	wites 	apes 	bise
bite 	bits 	byte 	fets 	feus 	funs 	fuse 	moot 	mope 	mote
mots 	oots 	opes 	opts 	pest 	pets 	poet 	pots 	sept 	site
step 	stop 	suet 	tepa 	ties 	tivy 	toea 	toes 	toom 	tope
vies 	vise 	wise 	wist 	wite 	wits 	ape 	apt 	bio 	bis
bit 	efs 	fet 	feu 	fun 	its 	ivy 	moo 	mop 	mot
nus 	oes 	oot 	ope 	opt 	pea 	pes 	pet 	pom 	pot
sea 	sei 	set 	sib 	sit 	sty 	sue 	sun 	tea 	tie
tis 	toe 	tom 	too 	top 	toy 	uns 	use 	vie 	vis
wis 	wit 	yom
posted by Saucy Intruder at 12:24 PM on July 7, 2005

What's the letter to the right of the A? Is it an F?
posted by iconomy at 12:31 PM on July 7, 2005

It seems to be an F to me.
posted by wanderingmind at 12:35 PM on July 7, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry - I wish I had another photo of it to clarify.
posted by kdern at 12:41 PM on July 7, 2005

I seem to recall a game from my childhood that used a grid like that (drawn with chalk on the pavement) For the life of me, I can't remember how it was played, but I'm pretty sure it involved one-foot hopping from letter to letter to spell out words.
Does that ring a bell with anyone?
posted by Thorzdad at 12:50 PM on July 7, 2005

Ok, further support for the Boggle theory comes from the fact that if you assume the Q was meant to be Qu, then that is a possible Boggle roll. Meaning its consistent with the dice. That is, if you number the dice above 1-16, then that roll would be, using dice #:

first row: 5,9,12,14
second row: 11,3,4,2
third row: 7,6,10,16
last row: 8,15,1,13



There's a few variations but not many actually. Also, notice that in the case above, it doesnt happen to matter whether the second letter is an F or a P. :)
posted by vacapinta at 12:53 PM on July 7, 2005

Yeah, Thorzdad, that's what I thought at first, as well. I never played the game, but I remember reading about it.
posted by muddgirl at 12:54 PM on July 7, 2005

I think it's ARUN, not AFUN. That means the eight most frequently used letters of the English language are contained in that set. If it is a representation of a Boggle board, it seems to be pretty dense. Possibly it's (nearly?) optimally dense for Boggle boards without repeating characters.

But that would be a totally weird thing to find written on a street.
posted by Galvatron at 1:04 PM on July 7, 2005

I'll second Thorzdad. I remember a grid shaped hopscotch-like game that I played as a kid, although I don't remember the rules either.
posted by teg at 2:39 PM on July 7, 2005

It's ARUN, it's hard to see the whole R but it's there.
posted by puke & cry at 2:48 PM on July 7, 2005

"Instead of numbers, each square in this game of hopscotch contains a letter....A player must hop a path through the board that spells out a word or short phrase. An element could be added such that players can decide a letter (or two, vowels not allowed) to “trap”, that they would write down on a piece of paper or chalk in a secret place in the playground. If your opponent lands on that space, they must start over! (You may yell 'boom' if you wish.)"
Phonics Hopscotch
"Using chalk outside or masking tape inside, outline a large square and then make smaller sections inside. Write letters in the sections and ask child to 'jump to fff.' The traditional hopscotch shape doesn’t work well because letters are spaced along a narrow line."
Also ... ABC Hopscotch.
posted by ericb at 3:20 PM on July 7, 2005

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