During your past 53 years of constructing Hunt puzzles, have you spent more time tinkering with them to make them easier, or tinkering with them to make them more difficult? Or has this changed over the years?
Every year we try to avoid the near-disaster of the previous year. So we go in cycles. Sometimes, they are too easy. Sometimes, too hard. We try to vary our incompetence, for your hunting pleasure.
Based on past Hunts, what do you think the Post Hunt 2012 winning team will look like? Go ahead and predict -- how many men, how many women? Government employees, students, or flabby old guys?
One will be a curvaceous woman dressed in black; one will be wearing an American-flag-themed costume; one will be wearing a flying suit made of... No, wait, that's the Avengers.
There will be at least one Jew on the winning team. There always is. Be sure to get yourself a Jew by Hunt day.
One of my favorite past times is "photobombing" tourists' photos here in DC. Can each of you post a picture of you photobombing the other 2 with a new and interesting face that I can copy Sunday? My dream is to be able to make a comment like this at some point during the day "I went for a full Weingarten but had to settle for a Barry because the photographer was getting suspicious."
You should probably warn people that Metro trains run VERY slowly on the weekends, due to construction and repair. If you're taking a train to Franklin Square Park on Sunday, ALLOW EXTRA TIME. (Two or three hours should do it.)
So, D.C. still has the same area code, right? And they're still not a state?
This really has nothing to do with The Hunt, but I am weirded out by modernity, dagnabbit, specifically how an area code no longer gives you any clue where a person is from. My daughter, who lives in Washington D.C. and works in Gaithersburg, has an Ithaca, N.Y. phone number.
Also, people who ride their bicycles on the sidewalk should be hornswoggled.
Okay, I just looked up hornswoggled and discovered, to my astonishment, that it doesn't mean beat up or whipped. It means hoaxed. I have been misusing this word my whole life.
But the Hunt will be great! It's in good hands.
What was your question? Oh right, two, oh two.
OK, just how much walking -- and, more importantly, running -- will be necessary to win this year's hunt?
The Hunt is not strenuous! You'll be perfectly fine as long as you're in reasonable physical condition and have completed a marathon in the past two weeks.
Well, there IS some walking, but nothing that Gene won't be able to do, and his knees are made of pudding.
At one point we will make you do squat-thrusts, though.
Running shoes Notepad Scissors Pens Smartphone Pickled red herring Anything else?
Are there going to be any puzzles that involve flying sheep? I got a refundable ticket to DC just in case there are. -- Jimmy, Tucson, AZ
If you think it's easy to attach propellers to those things, then you do not know much about aerodynamics.
The puzzle doesn't actually involve the flying sheep. It is built around what drops FROM the flying sheep.
For most of my adult life, I thought a "veal" was a baby sheep.
Dave, how come you don't tweet more? And Gene, how did you score a "fake" twitter feed before Dave (other than the fact that, you know, you asked for it) (literally)?
Is there a theme, or motif, we will see in this year's hunt? Like that year it was all about presidents? (maybe this year it could be birth certificates and unicorns...)
Yes. The official hunt theme this year is: "Ketchup -- You Do NOT Need to Refrigerate It."
Themes? We don't need no stinkin' themes!
Actually, every year the theme is the same: Tom Was Wrong About Everything And Had to Be Overruled.
The National Dairy Council is one of your sponsors, but unfortunately I am lactose intolerant. Does this mean that the Post Hunt will make me gassy and flatulent?
Is it true that you begged the National Dairy Council to be a Post Hunt 2012 sponsor, just so you could go around saying, "What a friend we have in cheeses"?
I should point out that brie, like catsup, should be served room temperature.
We already know that the Washington Post hunt is the sneakiest, cruellist, filthiest puzzle event in the U.S. But is it the biggest?
No. That would be U.S. tax code.
My 6-year-old son just LOVES to put ketchup on everything -- hot dogs, french fries, breast milk, you name it! So I usually buy Ketchup in a Drum at our local Costco. My question is, can I freeze the leftover ketchup?
Don't make me track you down and kill you.
I recently discovered that originally, in China, catsup was made with fish.
It's "catsup," by the way, as I believe we established last year in this space.
The thing I jus LOVE about the catsup/breast milk combination is that lovely pink coloration.
It's like a combination of female exudate!
I probably shouldn't say that. I take this one back. Hunt producer, let's make sure to kill this answer.
I'm sure we're all grateful to Gene for sharing that thought with us!
Have any Post Hunt puzzle ideas ever been nixed for being too disgusting?
We had one where there were going to be two giant dead insects, and the answer was going to be John and George. Maybe we'll still use that. So please forget this when you're done reading it.
There will actually BE one puzzle this year that we had to fight to keep from getting nixed as "too disgusting." See if you can guess which one it is!
And see if you can guess whose idea it was!
The Post Hunt puzzles are always so intricate. Are they constructed in an atmosphere of helpful, supportive, synergistic teamwork?
It's more of an atmosphere of Weingarten-emitted flatulence.
The truth is that once, more than a quarter century ago, Dave seriously proposed that we try to conduct our brain-storming sessions in an all-positive-feedback mode. What a moron!
Tom is always wrong. I cannot emphasize that enough.
Usually there are vendors at the Post Hunt, selling products or handing out promo materials. Will anyone this year be offering those cute "Adolf" stuffed bunnies from the comic strip "Barney & Clyde"? Because I sure would like one.
I don't have an answer to that, so I will take this opportunity to reiterate the fact that there is no need to refrigerate ketchup.
No Adolf, unfortunately, but I believe Ms. Fox will be offered in blow-up companion doll format.
Are you going to finish those fries?
Yes, but first I am going to apply ketchup to them, if I can find some that has not been refrigerated by some idiot.
How well do you think Albert Einstein would've done in a Post Hunt?
He came in fourth last year.
Would Miss Manners advise that it is proper to present a lavish tip to each of the Post Hunt founders?
Yes, of course, BUT IT WILL NOT HELP YOUR CHANCES.
Tom is lying. Tips beget tips, if you know what I mean. This reminds me of the one time I was actually offered a bribe. I went into an antique story in Albany and when they learned I was a reporter the woman told me that the store was in dire financial straits and if I wrote about the store I could keep the antique gold watch I was looking at. She was pleading.
Now you are probably wondering what I did.
You want me to say that I didn't take the watch but I figured out a way to write about the store anyway.
Yeah, I want me to say that, too. But I was 23 and callow and freaked at being offered a bribe, and I put the watch down, walked out and didn't write about the store. It closed not long after. I just remembered this for the first time in almost 40 years and it is making me sad. Thanks a LOT.
I'm sure we are all grateful to Gene for sharing that memory!
Since they took over Freedom Plaza, shouldn't Hunters mount a counterattack to take it back?
True fact: We are grateful to the occupiers. Because they're all over Freedom Plaza we were forced to find another venue, and that led to some happy things.
Is a team of one allowed?
Please pardon my interrupting the Hunt theme, but my condolences to Dave Barry on the death of his sister-in-law, Kathi Kamen Goldmark -- the best friend of countless aspiring novelists and a compassionate source of support. I enjoyed her novel, as well as the writers' blog that she wrote with Sam, and will always admire her for founding the Rock Bottom Remainders band. She really made the world better, and seemed to have an exuberant, rollicking good time while doing so.
Thanks. Kathi was an amazing person.
If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, what would he think of the Post Hunt?
He'd think, "Whoa, I'm too old for this, being as how I am like 300."
Not that we need the help, of course. Since y'all have used DC references before, you should throw the locals a curve ball and make a reference that only Miami folks would understand.
There is usually A LOT of walking in the Post Hunt. This year, the Hunt is located near the Capital Segway company on Eye Street. Could we rent Segways on Sunday and ride them around, like dorks?
Unfortunately, Segways are not permitted in the Oval Office, which is where you will have to go for the final... Wait, I shouldn't be giving this away. Never mind.
Hunt Rules, Vol. I, Page 357, Paragraph 12, Section 8, Subsection 19: You do not need to go into ANY buildings to solve Hunt puzzles. Just saying.
The weather will (fortunately) be good for Sunday's Post Hunt. But sometimes it's really hot and humid. Do you think the Florida contestants have an advantage when it's hot because they're used to it?
Will any semi-famous Washington Post employees work at the Hunt again this year, such as the lovely and talented Hank Stuever?
What's the best breakfast to have before heading out to the Post Hunt? Granola and yogurt; sausage and hash browns; or pancakes with syrup and sprinkles?
I just want sympathy. I'm missing the Hunt this year and I'm SO SAD ABOUT IT. I've missed it once before and my friends tried calling me to get help with a clue and I was totally useless because I was trying to figure out what the significance of giant, fake statues was for the Hunt. Anyway I'm just all kinds of bummed out about it and to make it worse, I'm sure the weather will be terrible in D.C. on the day of the Hunt and I'll be stuck in beautiful, sunny, Southern California. Gross.
How many beers were harmed in the making of Post Hunt 2012?
Those were consenting beers.
How many people are expected this year? Based on current trends, my estimate is about 40 million...
I'm guessing you work for the federal government.
Will any restaurants in the area be open on Sunday? Because our group tends to get powerful hungry after walking around a lot. Sincerely, the Donner Party
There will be an all-of-you-you-can-eat buffet.
This is one of those rare occassions when I feel I should give an answer that imparts some actual information.
Tom misspelled occasions.
I'd like to remind you, seriously, that this is one of the greatest editors in America. He has stunning problems with double consonants. The rule I have urged him to follow is that when in doubt, decide which is right and then do the other.
Please let Tom do the talking. He's got a seriously sexy voice. I don't care if he says libarian or inneresting or whatever. Just let the man talk. Please. Oh puh-leeze. Oh, and maybe also please could he wear a tight-fitting shirt?
Whatever you say, Madame Secretary of State.
Just for you, I won't wear my bald wig.
He says "vunerable." He denies this -- he has denied it repeatedly -- but he is lying and I will prove it. When I have it on tape it is going on the Internet.
When did you start working on this year's Post Hunt?
In the spirit of bi partisanship& togetherness, can we all agree NEVER to have a gut wearing a Dodgers uniform holding a pink umbrella in all future Post Hunts?
After the Post Hunt, where do we go to get our parking validated?
I believe they'll do that for you at the city impound lot.
What the hell's the matter with you people?
Any good reason why we're not at Freedom Plaza this year, or did you get bored of the same location after 3+ years?
We are stimulated by new venues. You DON'T want to mess with us when we are stimulated.
Has anyone ever won the Post Hunt (or Herald Hunt) more than once?
Yes. One team won the Hunt, I believe, three times, and would have gone on to win more, if they hadn't been torn to shreds by an angry mob of thousands.
Are participants under the age of 18 allowed to participate? Or will they be reprimanded if they do? Would really love an answer to this question as it is unclear. Thanks!
They're welcome to participate in everything but the Heroin Challenge.
As we have been pointing out since the Truman Administration, sometimes kids will point out solutions their rocket-scientist parents completely miss because they are WAY too obvious.
As we have pointed out at least since the Truman administration, kids often see things their rocket-scientist parents completely miss.
What is the best way to prepare for the Post Hunt? One of my teammates says "Yoga, meditation, and gingko biloba." Another one solves math problems in her head while jogging 4 miles a day. What do you think?
Dave also uses that "solving math problems in his head" technique, but I don't think it's for doing well in the Hunt.
While you don't have to hurry for the first 5 puzzles, the endgame has always been a frantic mess of running. I've been training and exercising just for the endgame state so I can beat everyone there, but on behalf of the other hunters any chance there will be less of a frenzied mob this year?
We expect no Endgame mobs this year. This is not an easy Hunt.
What you just said ... was that a clue? It WAS, wasn't it?
We had Dale Hunter on our team as Enforcer, but he bugged out on us. Do you think Stephen Strasburg's pitching skills might come in handy?
POST HUNT is to FUN as POOP is to [what]?
A FUNNY CAPITALIZED ANSWER.
Is the Post Hunt kosher? I need to know.
Yes, except for the Bacon Challenge.
Do you think Siri could solve a Post Hunt?
Little-known fact: Siri's voice is actually done by Snooki. Please put this on the Internet.
You said to bring a cellphone with texting capabilities, but I don't hold with them newfangled gadgets. Could I bring a typewriter and an ear trumpet instead?
Is this Vice President Biden?
Where does this year's Post Hunt rate on the scale of difficulty?
...my time has come to place in a Hunt. Right, guys? I mean, I do have a better chance this year, don't I? Given all my previous experience?
Not that this has anything to do with your question, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
So will any of the clues be hiding in Gene's moustache this year?
We have a signed contract with this years Hunt sponsors that prevents us from making any jokes involving Gene's mustache. There may also be some DC criminal code proscriptions.
Tom is jealous. He has begged me for my mustache so he can glue it to his head.
Dave, I've been a fan of yours for a long time, and read your blog every day. I'm a few months older than you, and also come from the New York area. (lawn-GUY-land) Was your sense of humor influenced by the whacky humor of Big Dan Ingram on WABC radio? Mine has been. (Although I never heard Big Dan say "booger".)
I still remember "DAAA-aaan Ingram."
Also the greatest jingle ever:
Who's everybody listen to when the day is through-oo?
Who is the DJ, the big fat Daddy Cool?
Baba Lou, baba lou a-yay
Baba Lou, baba lou a-yay
Baba Lou, baba lou a-yay
The Big Bob Lewis Show!
(can anyone find this audio and send it in?)
The approach and they way you had to think about last year's puzzles was a shift from 2010's puzzle. How are the puzzles going to be different in approach other than the fact that they are litterally different puzzles?
One Post Hunt founder who shall remain nameless (WEINGARTEN) has boasted that the 2012 Hunt will be particularly sneaky, devious, sly, sadistic, underhanded, and perverse. He has hinted that it would make Machiavelli whimper, "No fair, you guys!" Is this true?
Pretty much nothing Gene says is true. Anything Tom says is true, but probably mispronounced.
As I believe we have mentioned, none of us actually remember any previous Hunts, or even this one, so it is unlikely that Gene can say with an accuracy whether this is or is not the sneakiest Hunt ever.
Did any of the three of you fight to get it back? Did you come up with any other new ideas for this year's Hunt?
Our daughter has done the Post Hunt with us every year since you started but this year she is in Italy singing with her college choir. Any suggestions for how we can make her feel included? Answering this question might do the trick.
I've heard that to win the Post Hunt, you have to possess the brains of Stephen Hawking and the athletic stamina of Usain Bolt. Unfortunately, our team has the brains of Bristol Palin and the athletic stamina of Fat Elvis. Do we still have a chance?
I would just like to point out that Usain Bolt, by virtue of being a sprinter, HAS no stamina. He is all fast-twitch. You or I could probably beat him in the mile.
I heard that the Hunt has been outlawed in several states for being inhumane. What are your thoughts in this?
Nothing in the Hunt is illegal, except perhaps the Incest Challenge.
There seems to be some controversy (in a recent Post chat) over whether Tom Shroder has a sexy voice or a semi-literate one. You should end this argument by asking your friend David Von Drehle to record the Hunt phone clues. Anyone who can keep people interested in a C-SPAN speech called "1862 and the 37th U.S. Congress" obviously has the sexiest, most mellifluous voice in the universe.
What the fudge does it mean if some dead President burned a goldfish? Is that a clue and I am then supposed to go some place in the DC area to find another clue, or is that a code for something? How does one interpret a lame clue into a location? How exactly does this hunt work?
On Sunday, will any drugstores in the area be open? Not for drugs, I mean. For bottled water, snacks, etc.
No, I am not ready for The Hunt. What am I supposed to wear? I am supposed to wear clothes, right?
This is Benjamin Franklin. You kids get off my lawn!
Sure! Here, hold this kite string.
Would this be a good bonding activity for a crotchety dad and his ill-tempered daughter?
What should be done to people who ride their bicycles on the sidewalk while pulling a grocery shopping cart beside it? Because, random dude who did this, where was I supposed to walk my dogs? In the street with the cars?
This is like asking what should be done to people who murder other people while jaywalking. The first crime makes the second irrelevant.
If you are an adult and you are habitually riding on the sidewalk, you need to be publicly humiliated. I yell at them: "Get a tricycle" unless they are large muscular people.
My team wanted to create matching t-shirts for this year's Hunt, but we couldn't get it organized. Do we still stand a chance of winning?
FACT: 82 percent of all winning Hunt teams wore matching underwear.
Do my chances of winning improve if I show up with a raging hangover?
I understand that you shouldn't keep ketchup in the refrigerator. But what about mustard?
Will there be Porta-Potties this year? Or should we carry a plastic bottle?
It doesn't have to be plastic.
Tom, Gene was kind enough to share with us the secret method to extracting clues from you during the Hunt: "It will be of enormous value to you -- hint, hint -- if during the Hunt you walk up to Tom and smear some saliva in his hair." (Gene Weingarten, May 02, 2012 12:25 PM) My question is: does this work for all three of you, or do Gene and Dave require different bodily fluids to activate their willingness to share? I ask because we won't have much time, and it would be a real shame to waste it on trial-and-error experimentation. -Team Stoopid
Dave, Tom and Gene. Will you all have your hair professionally washed and styled before the Post Hunt on Sunday?
If our team wins, can we get some discount bordatella and leptospirosis vaccines for our dogs? I'll bet you know a good veterinarian who can help us out (hint hint).
Molly is actual a critical-care specialist. She don't give no stinkin' injections. She works almost exclusively with animals with dramatic problems, like having been cut in half.
I left catsoup out on the counter and it started smelling really funky. Also, the neighbors are complaining about missing cats.
Sometimes, if a cat is too far gone, Molly will make catsoup out of it.
Dave, are you on my flight right now? Where are you seated?
I am in fact on an airplane at this moment, attempting to travel by air from Orlando to Miami. Nobody has ever done this.
Can the Hunt cope?
Journalists are not supposed to be any good at math. So why are the Post Hunt puzzle answers ALWAYS a number?
There's got to be a reason, but it doesn't add up, does it?
My 11 year old will routinely tell classmates "the answer is always a number". Even in PE.
As I understand it, we all used to be fish. Until we became zygotes.
Okay, we seem to have gotten to the end of the sane questions. I'm declaring us down.
Thank you all, and we hope to see some 15,000 of you out there on Sunday!