Thanks for a great Hunt! The cover art for the magazine was awesome, and we were really looking forward to buying T-shirts based on it. Was there a reason that that (rumored) design was scrapped? Are there any other ways we can support the Post Hunt?
We really enjoyed the 5 puzzles, were lucky enough to solve them, were excited to take on the Final End Game, then a lot of that enjoyment and excitement turned into a certain palindrome auction item when it looked like we had to count almost 700 words on a dense page of text!!! Felt like the End Game became less about puzzle-solving and more about ability to complete an incredibly tedious and time-consuming task -- especially with it being so easy to be off by 1 or 2 in your count, in which case you had to do the whole thing over again! Seriously, it couldn't have been the 32nd, 35th, 60th, and 66th word?!?!?!
Hey, WE had to count and recount all those words too! But yeah, that was tedious and difficult. Not that this will make you forgive us, but it was difficult to get the "DEGREE" words into the instructions text in a way that would seem natural while still making all the points we needed to make. We figured if you were willing to translate Gene's column into German, then counting would be a breeze by comparison.
You're right; that was not a great idea. Although it did provide us with that one wonderful moment when, right after we announced the 3 p.m. clue and everybody was sitting down to count words, one young man went sprinting out of the park, headed to God knows where,
I'll admit that I didn't solve the Firefox puzzle, because I didn't know, when you click on it, it goes to the Web. I thought it went to the Firefox home page, like Google and Explorer do. So, color me stupid. But on the upside, I really enjoyed that bizarre little skit. Excellent work, cursing man!
The skit-sters were fabulous.
The skitsters were Caitlin Gibson (Firefox), Dan Zak (cursor), Rachel Manteuffel (mouse), David Montomery (Ned the Newshound), Tim Jucovy (chicken), and magazine editor Lynn Medford (pig.)
A stage note here: The firefox costume head was so heavy, poor Caitlin kept losing her footing and toppling over like one of those punching bag dummies. We OWE her. Big time.
We want to thank Blake Ross for supplying the Firefox costume. Thanks, Blake.
I actually solved the "number" puzzle, only because anybody who does crossword puzzles knows that -- at some point -- "flower" is going to mean "the Thames river" and "shower" is going to mean "one who handles prize dogs." Also, when I first looked at the pictures on the Hunt map, I tried to think of alternate word meanings. I figured the scuba-diving monk might be a "deep friar." And possibly the crying guitar player would end up being someone sitting in a "blue rocker." But I'm VERY disappointed that the king holding a baby didn't turn out to be a large fan next to a toilet -- an "air to the throne."
Yo Gene, did you actually walk the puzzle? Since we didn't start at Franklin square, but did the other sites first (as you suggested), we added 2 miles to our route - walking back and forth to judiciary square. Was the idea to help fight obesity? The route was over 5 miles, not counting the search for the bowling pins. We spent a lot more time walking than puzzle solving. We usually have time to stop for a snack to work on clues, but all our thinking had to be done while walking - the chess one was hardest to solve while walking :-)
Because I love you all, I am going to share an extremely humiliating and intimate fact.
For the fifth year running, I was severely crippling by the end of The Hunt, not because I have artificial knees but because something irritating happens at the tops of my thighs after miles and miles and hours and hours of nonstop walking in jeans. I think it would not happen if I were about 10 pounds lighter. Anyone else suffer from Hunt Chafe? And yes, I know this is TMI.
If you think Hunt Chafe is bad, try Listening To Gene Describe His Hunt Chafe.
This year I brought Hunt Chafe ointment. It barely helped.
It's good that you still have a Ned the Newshound costume hanging around. But what happened to those blue Post Point costumes, that looked like diaphragms? Use those next year!!
Those keys! Stop moving my keys! How can we solves the puzzle if peoples keep touching the keys, my Preciousssss???
So were the keys there as nothing but a red-herring? Or did I miss something?
They were keys on a board. A key board. A KEYBOARD. To go with the MOUSE and the CURSOR. Which are parts of a COMPUTER. I can go on like this ALL DAY LONG because my computer has a CAPS LOCK KEY.
Thanks for once again putting this on. We had a great time. We have two complaints though and are sharing them for when you start planning next year: We got the "dreaded number" reference, went to 11th and H and hung out there for a while, but never got the next clue. We have no idea where they were handing that out. We tried every corner of that intersection. Also, we decided to go to the furthest clue first and work back, especially since you had advised people to go where it was less crowded. We arrived back at Franklin Square around 2:40. It took about 10 minutes to hear the "web" clue and figure it out and by then it was too late to go to the web, which was several blocks away, and make it back by 3. We had no idea the clue we had saved for last would send us back to where we already had been, and that we wouldn't have time to go there. Anyway, looking forward to next year.
Hmm, I don't know why you missed the three (or four?) volunteers in staff shirts right on 11th street near H standing out in the middle of the sidewalk. I hung with them for a while and Hunters were walking up without seeming to have a problem. Your point about the amount of walking is well taken. There was too much space between the puzzles, and we were only saved from catastrophe by the unbelievably perfect weather. If it had been 92 and 99% humidity, we would have had Hunters dropping like very confused flies. Not ... going... to... happen.... again.
Speaking of dropping, Caitlin Gibson, who ably played the Firefox, kept falling down. It turns out that those costume heads weigh a lot and if you are a slim person with a high center of gravity, it turns you into a Drinking Duck.
Why did you decide to give the answer to the bowling clue when so many people had gotten it right?
I never believe that show of hands for getting the correct answer is a true reflection. But we have to make snap decisions at the end that are driven by a simple fact: We design the Hunt so that in order to solve the very challenging endgame you have to have solved all five Hunt puzzles first. We figure that just due to the partially random way team brainstorming works, you need a lot of teams to solve all five puzzles in order to have a large enough pool of contenders to ensure the endgame will be solved within an hour. So when 2 pm comes and in our wanderings we are not finding many teams who got the bowling puzzle correctly, we begin to worry that we won't have that critical mass that guarantees the endgame will get solved. We decided to give all those teams that DID solve it a half hour head start, then let other teams who did not get a crack at the endgame after 30 minutes passed.
We thought, based on surveying the crowd, that that was the puzzle most people failed to get. Apparently we are idiots.
To reiterate, it didn't matter. The winners hadn't needed the hint, and for those of you who did, it didn't seem to help.
Here's the thing. I had a great time, and my little team will be back next year. We solved all of the preliminary puzzles and have nothing but praise and admiration for the organizers and hosts of this event. Especially those forced to wear fuzzy outfits. Where I am a little disappointed is in the winning team. While such a large team doesn't offer any meaningful advantage when it comes to the initial 5 puzzles, it offers a virtually insurmountable advantage in solving the end game. Instead of attempting to run from place to place, such a large team can exploit the power of networking to maximize coverage and minimize time. And while this approach is completely withing the rules, and certainly is effective, there is still something about this approach that seems a bit tacky.
You can count on the fact that next year, the distances won't be so vast. But, hey, if you can't beat em, why not show up with a bigger team next time?
Look at it this way: They won about $4.25 apiece.
I contend that a larger team is not necessarily a better team. Four seems ideal -- you can still split up. A huge team can sometimes mean a committee system: too many voices operating on consensus judgment, which is not always good.
Did you guys intentionally throw in "duck" clues to throw people off track? Gene gave an odd warning about ducks in the park before the Hunt began, and his entire column was about ducks...
Coincidence. But there WERE ducks in the park.
What was not coincidence were the multiple references to German. We just did that. For fun.
On a scale from Mitt Romney to Mel Gibson, how drunk was Dave while he was describing the answers and endgame at 4:00?
I was sober, but reading notes provided by Shroder, which put me in Ozzy Osbourne territory.
I have said this before, but it bears repeating: Shroder is always wrong. One year, he should be a Puzzle. We just put him out there, and whatever he tells you, do the opposite.
If you could change anything about Post Hunt 2012, what would it be? Besides the chess puzzle, I mean.
That was a VERY excellent auctioneer. So amazing to hear the prices being chanted at top speed -- "nine-nine-nine-nine-do-I-hear-ten?" He had some funny jokes, too, especially about the poop. How did you find him to hire?
I worried a bit beforehand about how the Post Hunt crowd would mingle with the long-time residents of Franklin Park -- homeless people as well as ducks. Were there any problems? (I did notice a couple of ducks flying away at top speed, with panicked looks in their eyes.)
A team of ducks came in fifth. They were Miami ducks.
I didn't witness any problems, but I did note that by the end of the Hunt, a couple of the park's long-term residents were gleefully handing out free bottles of water. Not sure how that came about, but it was heartwarming, and headturning. In fact, when I stepped into a pothole as I was turning my head, one of the benefactors observed that a twisted ankle was what I got for not accepting a free bottle of water.
That chess puzzle. Whaaaaaat? Still don't get it.
Each of the Hunts usually has a defining characteristic -- The One With the Big Head Presidents, The One With the Flying Sheep, etc. Congratulations! Looks like the 2012 Post Hunt shall forever be known as "The One With the Giant Poop"!
You kept saying stuff about ketchup in the pre-Post hUnt chat, but today I never saw any puzzles with ketchnup. Did you forget about the ketchup?
So what was that giant swirl of poop made out of? I sure wasn't going to get up close enough to touch it. Eww.
I answered this earlier, but to repeat: The poop was poop.
Lots of interest in the poop. We had to FIGHT for the right to use that poop. Some more mature types thought it may be offensive. Fortunately, we had Weingarten on our side. He's like some kind of miracle anti-maturity formula.
Were there any near-disasters before or during the 2012 Post Hunt?
Between 9 a.m. and noon, Gene formally declared 17 separate States of Emergency, a new personal record for him.
And at least one of Gene's alarms was a legitimate near-disaster: we had a period on Friday where the endgame text messaging system crashed and burned. We had to devise an emergency alternative end to the endgame and have it at the ready in case the system crashed again on Sunday.
I am not an alarmist. I am a realist. Someone has to be. These other two guys are Pollyannas. "It's gonna go swell!"
I watched the mouse-pig-hound-chicken-fox cursing-guy skit a couple of times and couldn't figure it out. And then some little kid, a boy about 8 or 9 years old, walked up to the stage, watched it once, and solved it instantly. $*&^$%# whippersnappers!!!
The dreaded red "number" took us a while, but did feed into the end game (we recognized the word play for "tower" pretty quickly because of that previous clue) so while difficult, it played an extended role in the theme! Thanks again for such a great day and great event! Can't wait until next year. Well done to all
I'm publishing this because it is relentlessly positive.
What do you do to insure picture-perfect weather for each year's hunt? My daughter would like an outdoor wedding but is afraid to risk the elements.
The key is to have a giant poop.
Not that it mattered, but not all cell phones have cameras. There are still plenty of older phones that, while capable of text, don't take pictures.
We figured most teams would have ONE person with a camera.
I am sure that you are taking some heat for inverting the color on the chess-board, but it didn't take that long to figure this out once we stopped getting annoyed at that stupid music and actually listened to what was being said.
Yeah, after talking to a bunch of people, we realized that people were still solving it fine; it was mostly a matter of being slowed down for a bit.
So we decided to do the super far-away puzzle first, then did the stage puzzle last, only to find out we had to go all the way f*$#@^! back to 4th & Tatooine. We solved the puzzles in fairly good time (and walked pretty fast the entire time), but between having to scour for bowling pins and having to go to 4th & D TWICE, we BARELY made it back to Franklin Square by 3:00. That web-browser sandwich board could have been anywhere -- why so far away?? Do you hate us? Have we not bought enough copies of your books??
I'm truly sorry. We badly miscalculated how far people had to walk. And by "we," I mean "Tom."
What a pisser!! But it was a FUN pisser.
That's the best kind of pisser.
I heard Dave say one of the puzzles was submitted by a reader. How do I submit my puzzles for next year?
We'll let you know when we figure it out. I'll mention it in a chat, and Twitter, and whatnot.
I notice that both Tom and Gene have mentioned Caitlin falling down. Will Dave be mentioning it too, or is this some sort of new in-joke that we will hear 2038 times, or is this a new Hunt challenge (count the number of times Caitlin-falling-down is mentioned!)?
There is no need to refrigerate ketchup.
When we arrived at the stage we found a bunch of half-dressed people messily devouring popsickles. It was with some relieve that we discovered that this wasn't actually the clue.
Well, it will be NEXT year.
I think you should keep that poop statue at least until next April Fool's Day. Find some jerk with a "No Dog Poop" sign on his lawn and ... surprise!
We would do that, except the Smithsonian has asked for the poop.
Let's be clear: I hate every single one of you. But the one I hate the very most is Dave Barry for saying in the beginning that we could solve the puzzles in any order and that it was okay to come back to the Firefox puzzle later. Sure, except that the answer key to that puzzle was a 20 minute walk away, so when we got there with 45 minutes left to go, we had to scramble to make it in time. At the Spy Museum, it said to look for "the dreaded red number" so we stood on the corner and from there we could see the giant V of the Verizon sign - meaning five. We figured it was dreaded because everyone hates Verizon (Fact.) When we walked over, the V turned into a backwards 7. It say "from a different type of perspective" so we thought to ourselves: "NAILED IT!" I don't really hate you guys; in fact, I love you immensely. Thanks for another great hunt. It was a lot of fun.
I love you back, even though you hate me the very most.
By hating Dave the very most, do you mean that you hate him more than you hate Tom and me, or do you mean that you hate him more than anyone else on Earth hates him? Because I just don't think that's true.
I completely missed the Bowling Pins puzzle site. Didn't see it on the map, or something. I hear it was real nice. Anyway. What were the bowling pins made out of? The one in Franklin Park felt like extra-sturdy Styrofoam.
Okay, so exactly how long did it take for the winning team to solve the Hunt? Twelve minutes, like *someone* predicted, or until the end of time?
You can see the winning photo for yourself at the bottom of the End Game explainer: 3:37 p.m.
We had spotters at the clock site, and the moment the first photo was snapped is seared in my memory: 3:37.
By the way, the clock was in the window of the Laughing Man tavern, directly across the street from the -- and I am not making this up -- Church of the Epiphany.
If the clue given at noon is the "aptly-named noon clue", why is the clue given at 3:00 called the "final clue"?
It always seems like there is a lot of grumbling, but as a team-member said "It wouldn't be the Hunt if something didn't get screwed up." Here's the thing, the Hunt is basically a big piece of performance art, flash mob, and street party. Each year that I have gone I have had a fun time. And if things go "wrong," well that's just part of the challenge. For example, solving the chess problem occurred because we simple *assumed* that mistakes would be made. It's a fuzzy logic kind of thing.
Do you have video solutions of this year's puzzles like you did for last year?
First off, a few expected glitches aside, congratulations on another successful Post Hunt. Now, my team actually identified the proper page of the magazine where the sun, indeed, does not shine. One of us actually thought about counting the words, but quickly abandoned it as being simply so tedious as something that only a sadist would conceive. (In retrospect, this should have been a hint that we were on the right track.) Be that as it may, how confident are you that the winning teams actually decoded this text to make that phone call and didn't simply encounter the 10 pin through chance or guile?
Very confident, because we deprogrammed them afterwards. The team that finished second actually had not solved one of the puzzles, but realized they had to make a letter transposition, and searched the clue page for that letter in a transposed context. Totally fair and good way to solve it.
1. Blind ambition, let it lead you even more than now. 2. Rectitude, I would offer mine if I had any. 3. Thingamajigs. Buy one and let's do some hoping and changing with this economy
Is this the vice president?
I'm jealous, not because they won but because I don't know half that many people who could peacefully co-exist over the course of such a stressful afternoon.
It was like Woodstock, only bigger.
I was able to solve 3 and 3 1/2 puzzles in the last two Hunts, but not a single one this year. Why?
How drunk did you guys have to get to come up with that one?? :-)
Why does everybody always assume alcohol was involved? Whatever happened to plain old heroin?
Baby powder. Before you put on the pants. The more the merrier. Ok, maybe not merrier.
. . . because I saw a picture of Dave leaning against it.
It was very FIRM poop. The best kind.
Is it the rule every year that the text of the clue associated with the five answers (the numbers that answer each of the five main clues) is only useful for the Endgame? My team wasn't sure and a Post Staff member refused to tell us; thus we puzzled over those riddles prematurely.
Yes, the five real clues you get from solving the main puzzles are all designed to work with the endgame.
How does the number of players at this Hunt compare to previous Post Hunts? How do you estimate crowd size?
I would say this was at least tied for last year as the largest turnout ever. It is likely more, since the area of the park was bigger to begin with than Freedom Plaza.
Isn't the 7 pin to the left of the 8 pin? And isn't the bloody V a red number on the front of the Post Magazine, and if you stand in the perspective of the hunter or Napoleon you see a typed Fourteen? And why do you hate me so much? Keeping my leg elevated after yesterday, Bill
But the 7-pin wasn't standing, so, as the poem indicated, it was knocked down on the first roll, and not relevant. Oh, and, nothing personal. We hate everyone.
Particularly diabolical this year--my team has placed in the past and, while we solved all five puzzles, we never left Franklin Square during the endgame. Speaking of Franklin Square, I imagine the uncertainty of occupiers at Freedom Plaza caused the relocation. I hope it doesn't stay at Franklin Square, though. I live downtown and know it very well but it's just not as pleasant to wade through construction areas like K St and City Center as it is to play on the Ellipse and Pennsyvalnia Ave. But definitely a fun year, once again--thanks!
You are welcome.
In the middle of the map there is the picture of a horse in a party-hat and blowing a noise maker. Under the pressure of the moment I convinced myself that this could be a donkey, as in the party-game "pin-the-tail on the donkey." We all know that there is a more earthy term for donkey - a term that can also be associated with the phrase "where the sun doesn't shine." All of which is why we were wandering around the place at 3:15 making the cops in front of Ford's Theater a little nervous.
Someone with a really big newspaper sleeve?
The Secret Service. Please do not tell anyone.
If Napoleon was so able, how come he was defeated and sent to Elba?
He was able ere that.
Had a fantastic time at the Post Hunt, even got a few right this year....but that diabolical number clue....ugh! Brilliant but so tough! My question is about the distances between the puzzles. Our team moved at a pretty good pace, and didn't linger long at all at the auction or chess game. But that trip to the chess game took a huge amount of time. Any thought that the puzzles were a bit too far apart this year? Thanks for a great hunt, see you next year--
So true. "Yeah, I guess," is never a good sign that you've solved the puzzle. It should feel more like the moment I witnessed when two large Hunters did a thundering chest bump in the moment of revelation.
who still calls the internet the "web"????
People designing a Hunt. Who wants to know?
Where on earth were the other bowling pins? We searched the areas of Pins 1,4, 7, and 9 thoroughly, and so figured out that the answer had to be 268 by elimination. However, while we admit to not looking for the 6-pin, we did search for the 2-pin... to no avail! Where was it?
Two of them were in Canada.
We had to skip the Post Hunt for the first time since my team had coxsackie (aka hand, foot and mouth disease). It's running rampant in NoVa. What did we miss?
A really big poop.
In the pre-chat, you guys alluded to an internal debate over whether some part of the end game was too difficult. Which part was that? And was Dave's announcement that the final clue corresponded to the first numerical clue (15) your way of seeking to address that concern?
Nope, the discussion was over the difficulty of getting people to figure out that they had to text "your name and phone number" instead of their name and phone number.
At the auction, my husband translated "Civic" into Roman numerals, yielding 207. There was no 207 on the clue page, but he came up with "To O-7", which would have sent us to New Jersey Ave and Mass Ave. We declined to do that; I'm glad he was barking up the wrong tree!
We need to design a Hunt wherein at some point you have to bark up a tree.
has a mascot? And it's incredibly sad? How old is that costume?
I see that Andy (@tropichunt) mentioned he didn't think this year's Hunt was that difficult. From your experience, was this year's Hunt more devious that other years?
I think it was on the harder end of the spectrum. And you didn't see Andy hoisting that oversized check at 4 pm, did you?
I have not participated in all of the Herald Hunts, but I think this was the hardest of the 5 Post Hunts. Which is good, because people are more experienced.
I thought the design of this year's Hunt was the best yet (and I was on a team that didn't really come close to solving it). Building in some time-consuming work and extra difficulty after the final clue worked well because it prevented the mad rush of people swarming intersections, and I'd encourage you to use that technique in the future. My only complaint would be that the chess game failed to produce that "aha" moment you strive for, partly because of the color mix-up but also because it seemed strange to just be trying to spell out any number rather than having a specific set of correct "knight moves." Anyway, great job and I look forward to next year's Hunt!
The chess clue was Gene's idea.
Do you think this year's winning team will lead to more large teams? After all, $166.67 still buys a lot of beer.
Some day, the entire mass of Hunters will all be one big team, kind of like The Borg in Star Trek.
If I never, ever hear "Night Moves" again in my lifetime, it will be too soon. Almost 24 hours later and I STILL can't get it out of my head. Thanks, guys!
One year, in Miami, some volunteers had to dress as mermaids and listen to "Under the Sea" for three straight hours. On the other hand, there was a lot less walking.
You SHOULD thank us. It could just as easily have been "A Horse With No Name."
In one of the very earliest Hunts, we had an endless loop of Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line." But as I recall, just a single lyric. Several people killed other people that year to make the noise stop.
We figured it out. Granted, it wasn't quite what we expected, and we did have to taser a guard (I guess you weren't expected there to be guards there on a Sunday), and it did take awhile to cut it loose, but we loaded into our van and we should have the winning clue back to the Post building early tomorrow afternoon, depending on traffic.
We are standing by with a suitcase full of cash.
I thought one of the puzzles would be a Sidewalk-Bicycle-Riding Challenge?
I do not find that amusing. At ALL.
Is the Smithsonian really taking the poop? Why oh why do they want it?
Dave sometimes says things that are not entirely accurate. For example, one time he wrote that it was so hot in Miami, even the statues have armpit stains.
You know, if you "reverse" 15, like the colors on the chess board were, you get 51, a possible clue answer. I spent half of the afternoon trying to figure out what "cluck" would be in the past pluperfect.
We're not sure, but it has an umlaut.
My counter said i took over 15,000 steps. How many is that per correct question? There would have been more correct if our team didn't decide the sun don't shine in that bar.
But you would have been crankier.