2032: Word Puzzles

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Word Puzzles
Eno's storied aria was once soloed by Judge Lance Ito on the alto oboe at Ohio's AirAsia Arena.
Title text: Eno's storied aria was once soloed by Judge Lance Ito on the alto oboe at Ohio's AirAsia Arena.

Explanation[edit]

This is another comic in the "My Hobby" series, where Randall presents his hobby of fooling other people. This particular hobby seems to be a case of Nerd Sniping. Cueball knows that Megan is a word game enthusiast and - while both are probably at a party - he presents a complex sentence rather than just doing small talk. And he is successful as we can see that she is just thinking about the proper solution to that puzzle where probably none exists.

The dialog, caption, and title text contain many words that appear frequently in crossword puzzle answers because they fit well with intersecting words, in part because they have a high density of vowels. Some of the terms (parts of, start of) are also commonly used in cryptic crossword clues to indicate that nearby words should be combined or split to create an answer.

Brian Eno is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer, writer, and visual artist. He is best known for his pioneering work in ambient music and contributions to rock, pop, electronic, and generative music. He was born on 15 May 1948, and is still an active artist. But live concerts by him were rare and may not happen ever again. However, the aria was not written by himself but by his au pair who is also an opera star. And this happened after Eno ended his live career.

The title text goes further on this puzzle and asserts that Lance Ito was playing the aria solo on an oboe at the fictive Ohio's AirAsia Arena. Ito is well known as the judge in the O. J. Simpson murder case.

The kind of puzzle that Megan thinks she is solving is called a "Cryptic" or cryptic crossword, which has markedly different rules than ordinary crosswords. If Cueball's statement had been "Part of this aria is an Indian garment" the answer would have been "sari", because a part of the phrase "this aria" is the sequence "sari", which in turn is an Indian garment. Cueball's actual statement contains quite a few familiar cryptic puzzle triggers. The word "composed" can be a hint of a preceding or following anagram, in this case of "this aria" or of "by Brian" or of even longer adjacent strings. Although "opera star" could be a famous singer, say "Caruso", it might also be the name of an opera followed by the name of an astronomical star. "Au pair" could be any of its ordinary meanings, say "nanny", but might also be "earrings" (because Au is the chemical symbol for gold, and a gold pair could be earrings). The word "start" is often a hint to take just the beginning of a word, so "the start" would be "t", or "start of his" would be "h" or "hi". The New York Times runs a cryptic crossword as its "second Sunday puzzle" every other month or so, and there are other regular cryptic crossword venues. There are various guides on the web for solving cryptics, such as this one at The Atlantic: Puzzler Instructions.

Transcript[edit]

[Cueball and Megan standing together. He makes some gestures with his hand and some musical notes are above him while Megan holds her fist before her mouth.]
Cueball: Parts of this aria were composed by Brian Eno's Opera Star au pair at the start of his post-live era.
Megan (thinking): ...parts...start...eno...aria...
[Caption below the frame:]
My hobby: Messing with word game enthusiasts by using words that make them sure there's a puzzle to solve


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Discussion

Is it a real word puzzle?

Who wants to labouriously check if he's double-bluffed and used an actual word puzzle for this comic? :D 162.158.154.181 17:45, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

"Jeopardy" is misspelled in the description. Can someone who is logged in please fix? Many of the "clue" words can also be rearranged, anagram-wise, to form new words, e.g., parts ≈ strap. 162.158.74.243 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Most words have 2, 3, 4 or 5 characters. I do not believe, it is a simple crossword puzzle, otherwise he would not fool people. Sebastian --172.68.110.4 18:17, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

Some thoughts
  • Cueball is messing with Megan and not presenting an answer what the "reminiscent of Jeopardy answers" would imply.
  • Lance Ito is a judge well known for the O. J. Simpson murder case.
  • Brian Eno is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer, writer, and visual artist. Read the Wiki article to learn more.
  • No idea what "Ohio's AirAsia Arena" could imply.

--Dgbrt (talk) 18:37, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

Almost all the words in the alt-text / title-text are open to multiple pronunciations from a phonetic standpoint. Often they're placed next to a word containing the same sound with a different spelling, or the same spelling with a different sound.
Once again Randall is creeping me out with this, as yesterday I complained about the spelling of "tear" with a comment including this line:
tire tier tear tear tare tar ... teer?
Randall so often does comics that feel intimately in touch with what I'm doing or saying the day before that it's almost spooky. If I weren't an outlier in so many scatter plots I might almost begin to feel "ordinary".
ProphetZarquon (talk) 22:35, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
Moved from the explanation (discussion goes here)

The kind of puzzle that Megan thinks she is solving is called a "Cryptic", which has markedly different rules than ordinary crosswords. If Cueball's statement had been "Part of this aria is an Indian garment" the answer would have been "sari", because a part of the phrase "this aria" is the sequence "sari", which in turn is an Indian garment. Cueball's actual statement contains quite a few familiar cryptic puzzle triggers. The word "composed" can be a hint of a preceding or following anagram, in this case of "this aria" or of "by Brian" or of even longer adjacent strings. Although "opera star" could be a famous singer, say "Caruso", it might also be the name of an opera followed by the name of an astronomical star. "Au pair" could be any of its ordinary meanings, say "nanny", but might also be "earrings" (because AU is the chemical symbol for gold, and a gold pair could be earrings). The word "start" is often a hint to take just the beginning of a word, so "the start" would be "t", or "start of his" would be "h" or "hi". The New York Times runs a cryptic crossword as its "second Sunday puzzle" every other month or so, and there are other regular cryptic crossword venues. In case you are interested, there are various guides on the web for solving cryptics, such as this one at The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/puzzclue.htm. (-- John?)

I am sure there are many more sources for cryptic crosswords. It is my understanding that it is the common mode of crossword puzzles in Britain. Surely some British papers run them routinely. Momerath (talk) 04:06, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
This sounds like the most correct explanation to me so far, much moreso than the strictly crossword-based interpretation. I think this should be in the explanation.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 22:44, 13 August 2018 (UTC)
Why was this moved from the explanation? This is a far better explanation then what remains there. 162.158.38.172 07:52, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I've moved this because it's written like a comment (including the sign). And I think at first we should focus on the My Hobby thing, Cueball is messing with someone. If you're also sure, like Megan is, that there is a puzzle to solve then Cueball is probably messing you too. Nevertheless all mentioned items and persons have to be explained. --Dgbrt (talk) 09:16, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I think it's a given that Cueball is messing with Megan, and that the focus should be why Megan thinks this is a word puzzle. The current explanation says the "text contain[s] many words that appear frequently in crossword puzzle answers", which seems an unlikely explanation to me. Surely the trigger shoud be many words and constructions that appear frequently in word puzzle clues (not answers), and I think John gave a good explanation of why this shounds like a word puzzle clue. Sandor (talk) 17:17, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I agree with Sandor. This should be put into the explanation.Justhalf (talk) 20:34, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I agree that the explanation as a cryptic puzzle makes much more sense than an explanation that the sentence uses words common in crosswords. Where's the puzzle in saying solutions to crossword puzzle questions? In general, it also seems a little arrogant to remove someone else's explanation unless it's obviously wrong. If you disagree, just change it to say it's a "possible interpretation". 172.68.47.36 17:46, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I put it back in the explanation, with only minor tweaks. It's too good to leave just in the comments. -boB (talk) 20:37, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
Few remarks:
  • I didn't remove anything, I just moved something to this discussion to be discussed here because "it's written like a comment".
  • This comic is on the first place a typical Category: My Hobby comic. Fooling others is a long term hobby by Randall.
  • The puzzle (also that from the title text) has no solution.
  • The title of this comic is "Word Puzzles". Cryptic puzzles as given in the link are much more complex and different to that how Cueball talks.
And guesses like "If Cueball's statement had been" or "could be a famous singer" don't explain that much. If this is really a cryptic puzzle I would like to get the path how to solve it and what's the possible solution. I doubt there is any.
Nevertheless everyone is welcome to add more interpretations, but please don't write it like a comment. Think about the readers.
--Dgbrt (talk) 20:22, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I liked the explanation as it was, because it was explaining how Megan, and other puzzle solving people, would likely be trying to solve Cueball's fake puzzle, giving examples of the kinds of things they would be looking for. You see Megan fixating on words like "start" and "parts", as if she's treating it like a Cryptic puzzle. Yes, signing it like in the comments isn't right, but the rest of it felt just fine for the explanation section, but best located after the more direct explanations. -boB (talk) 18:56, 16 August 2018 (UTC)

Although Randall says he is messing with us, the fact that he is so much cleverer than any of the rest of us means that Cueball's statement might even be a legitimate cryptic clue. --John 108.162.219.214 18:40, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

If anyone has an account on https://puzzling.stackexchange.com/, that community might be able to figure out if it's a legit puzzle. 162.158.142.64 20:59, 13 August 2018 (UTC)

I just asked at puzzling.stackexchange: https://puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/69502/is-this-a-puzzle-if-so-what-is-the-solution. 141.101.96.209 02:03, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
One answer supports my statement above: "I see no reason to believe this is a puzzle: it's simply a bunch of words that commonly appear in crosswords." Just sayin. --Dgbrt (talk) 09:16, 14 August 2018 (UTC)

Two words: Nerd Sniping Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 07:21, 14 August 2018 (UTC)

"opera star" = "au pair a[t the] star[t]"? --162.158.88.230 07:43, 14 August 2018 (UTC)

When I first read this sentence, I thought he just wanted to be needlessly verbose for a simple joke, like here. Fabian42 (talk) 08:16, 14 August 2018 (UTC)

In the explanation, I think there's a misunderstanding of "post-live". Death is "post-life", while "post-live" is the period after an artist stops performing live (in rock conerts, on stage, etc.). The artist may still be alive, and even produce studio albums. So, according to the comic, Brian Eno has stopped performing on-stage, but has still continued to create music (e.g. compose an aria). - Assaf 141.101.107.30 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

My thoughts exactly - post-live does not mean after death! Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 12:44, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for mentioning this. The phrase is still incorrect so I'll do an update. BTW: Is the concert on this album June 1, 1974 the last or maybe even the only live performance Eno has done? --Dgbrt (talk) 13:52, 14 August 2018 (UTC)

I arranged all the important words in the main text on a Scrabble board. The total score of all the letters is 69. The total from my arrangement is 116. -- Misterblue28 (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Reminiscent of the alliterations in BoJack Horseman.

"Are you still looking for a star for your Transgender Teddy Roosevelt Planes Trains and Automobiles reboot, Plans, Trans, A Canal, Panama?"
"You know the actress Courtney Portnoy? She portrayed the formerly portly consort in the seaport resort. Courtly roles like the formerly portly consort are Courtney Portnoy's forte. This was supposed to be Courtney's crossover coronation. But that's sorta been thwarted unfortunately 'cause Courtney's purportedly falling short of shoring up fourth quadrant support."
"But Courtney, more importantly, audiences are going to adore your tour de force performance as the forceful denim-clad court reporter in "The Court Reporter Sported Jorts", the jet-setting jort-sporting court reporter story."
162.158.63.154 Steve

Would it make more sense to interpret "Brian Eno's opera star au pair" as "Brian Eno's au pair, who is an opera star" rather than "an au pair to an opera star which belonged to Eno"? It seems to make more sense, and there isn't anything that I can see that necessarily divides "opera star" and "au pair" into two separate clauses (such as "opera star's au pair").162.158.187.25 16:44, 14 August 2018 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable. I'm not native English but I thought the more complex variant would fit into this comic. Maybe I'm wrong and I don't mind when you or someone else is changing it. --Dgbrt (talk) 16:59, 14 August 2018 (UTC)
I've done the proper change. --Dgbrt (talk) 17:17, 14 August 2018 (UTC)

- 559: No Pun Intended is related: there too Cueball talks about a hobby where he tries to fool people to think there's some hidden layer under his words. This usually works out better for him than the opposite, 153: Cryptography or 410: Math Paper, when tries to fool people that he's giving a serious presentation but it's all just a joke. 162.158.92.154 08:41, 15 August 2018 (UTC)

Isn't there a page that lists all the comics in the "My Hobby" series? If so, we should add it in a Trivia section and make sure to update it with this comic. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 13:18, 15 August 2018 (UTC)

Ok, I see the link to that page was shared in an earlier discussion post, and this comic was added to that page. Now we just need to consider whether or not a link should be added somehow in the explanation, similar to the link in 1995: MC Hammer Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 13:28, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
Dangit anyway, I'm starting to feel like a Cueball! I now see the page IS linked at the top, but it's not obvious it's to the My Hobby series page - I thought it linked to some webpage on the word "hobby" instead. I'll rework it slightly to be clearer. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 13:36, 15 August 2018 (UTC)
You're talking about the category "My Hobby" which is always shown at the bottom of the comic page. Your rework is clearer - I just thought the simple word "hobby" for that link would be enough. Nevertheless the "My Hobby" category is not only about word puzzles, so I changed your edit slightly. --Dgbrt (talk) 16:59, 15 August 2018 (UTC)

I saw this comment on the Guardian's cryptic crossword blog[1], which makes the point that it contains both the short vowel-heavy words American crosswords are notorious for using ("aria", "Eno", "opera", "era", arguably "au pair") and the common cryptic indicators ("parts of", "composed", "at the start"). In addition I see some semordnilaps ("parts", "Eno", "star", "live era", arguably "opera"[2]) and other anagrammable words ("this"="hits"="shit"="Sith", "Brian"="brain"="bairn"="Rabin", "post"="pots"="opts"="stop"="spot"="tops"). Also "star"+"p"="parts", "star"+"t"="start", "op"+"era"="opera", and "opera" in Spanish sounds like "au pair, ah" at least according to this[3] pronunciation video. There are many potential wild goose chases here. 172.68.65.90 12:59, 17 August 2018 (UTC)

Also ARIA occurs backwards in "au pAIR At the start" and the alt-text's "AIRAsian arena." Not sure if it's necessarily a cryptic, since it could just be wordplay without a definition.172.69.62.226 00:13, 11 October 2018 (UTC)

Of course another reason it sounds like a word puzzle is simply that the whole scenario sounds impossibly contrived! Ciphergoth (talk) 04:35, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

Is there any reason to think this explanation is actually incomplete, or were we just waiting to see if there as a real puzzle here? GreatWyrmGold (talk) 19:42, 3 November 2018 (UTC)

I would support marking this correct. Ciphergoth (talk) 20:50, 3 November 2018 (UTC)
Thanks for your input, if not done by you I will remove the incomplete tag. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:04, 3 November 2018 (UTC)