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"I work in NYC, and was dragged into a very curious situation today."
July 12, 2012 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, a New York Redditor was approached by a shaggy man and handed a $50 bill and a cryptic note.

The code was swiftly cracked:

There's plenty more money to make figure this out and prepare to meet july 19 fifty sixth and sixth hot dog stand outside [intentional left blank] cafe ask for mister [intentionally left blank]

Later in the day, the shaggy man himself weighed in:

You may not believe me, but I will remind you of your personalized backpack [personal information redacted] You have recruited the help of friends, the offer is now on the table for them too. I cannot have strangers inquire about me, rather we will use a proxy. Here is the next step: DWY JLRR QUBPKSJ IL NDLM OQD OUCEQMW KGXI CSH RFRM XL WEZUXKJ. YME QLPRBAZ OQD TPVJG HPM UK CQJS H. PPVD BFSRST NJYT KR. BFPU EWP BMHY BTK WL VGB FXK R PXFE DTC GPBQL QWHKI JFA QRPE EJW EYC KLJ HCB JHGN.

Later still, another decoded message:

YOU HAVE MANAGED TO FIND THE MESSAGE WITH THE HELP OF FRIENDS. YOU CHANGED THE RULES NOW SO WILL I. JULY TWELVE FOUR PM. FIND THE BLUE JAY AT SIX AND A HALF AND FIFTY SIXTH AND TELL HIM YOU ARE THE LAST

Is this a scam? A job offer? Or possibly a new frontier of viral marketing?
posted by jbickers (244 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sweet! Free $50!
posted by papercake at 7:15 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The event was even captured on film.
posted by griphus at 7:16 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A new reality show, The Fifty Dollar Stranger?
posted by ahimsakid at 7:16 AM on July 12, 2012


Sure, papercake, but there's more where that came from.

Plenty more.

[I vote for new frontier of viral marketing.]
posted by notyou at 7:16 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sounds sorta like an ARG.
posted by Edgewise at 7:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I invoke Occam's Razor (so the Shaggy Man can shave).
posted by chavenet at 7:18 AM on July 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


you know if I made a billion million dollars, this is what I would do ALL DAY.
posted by The Whelk at 7:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [69 favorites]


Reminds me of this.
posted by odinsdream at 7:21 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh man. It would totally be worth $50.00 to show up incognito at a MeFi meetup, hand someone the cash and a cryptic note and watch the Metatalk thread as they attempt to crack my unsolvable code.

Mwahahahaha!
posted by bondcliff at 7:22 AM on July 12, 2012 [19 favorites]


Either viral marketing or someone involved in an alternate reality game.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 7:23 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this feels like marketing. I saw it last night, and I strongly suspect it's fake. The story is just too pat, and pulls on too many strings -- apparently homeless man handing someone $50 is a big one, because that's a curiosity trigger, and then the puzzle to get you hooked, and then the promised payoff for your cleverness.

That's gotta be marketing.
posted by Malor at 7:23 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's viral marketing. Kill it! Kill it with fire!
posted by devnull at 7:23 AM on July 12, 2012 [16 favorites]


griphus: "The event was even captured on film."

Nah, It's The Viper...
posted by symbioid at 7:25 AM on July 12, 2012


Be sure.. to drink.. your Ovaltine. Ah sunnuvabitch.
posted by pyrex at 7:27 AM on July 12, 2012 [60 favorites]


The meeting time was at hand. I spotted the shaggy man across the street. He just stared as I approached him. I stopped close to him - but far enough that I could make a quick escape. The shaggy man had a gleam in his eye. After a few awkward moments, he finally spoke.
"Have you heard the good news about Amway?"
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 7:28 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


If it's a marketing thing, the question for me is: is the redditor (delverofsecrets) an intentional part of the marketing team or is he being played by the marketing team for his connection to Reddit?

Also, note the account's first post on Reddit, from four months ago, here.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 7:29 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would watch this movie. Oh my.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:29 AM on July 12, 2012


So a guy who's reddit name is delverofsecrets runs into a "a raggedy dressed man" that hands a cryptic note and money? Seems suspicious and too perfect of a set up. Also, his first Reddit post (if I'm looking at his profile correct) is "You have 30 days to spend $30 million with a few rules, how would you spend the money?". Seems like either a marketer or somebody that really really wants to be part of mystery and intrigue.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:30 AM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


Every road leads to Batman.
posted by fight or flight at 7:31 AM on July 12, 2012


Anybody know if this cryptogram was ever cracked?
posted by symbioid at 7:32 AM on July 12, 2012


Sounds like he's about to enter Liar Game or something like Eden of the East.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 7:32 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh good grief we have to waste time promoting pranks and marketing here now too? Please, leave this on reddit...
posted by trackofalljades at 7:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: Pepsi XGFQ
posted by thanotopsis at 7:35 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


YOU CHANGED THE RULES NOW SO WILL I.

Shaggy Man is Rick Astley.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:38 AM on July 12, 2012 [44 favorites]


Metafilter: a weblog for discussing Reddit threads about advertisement campaigns.
posted by Nelson at 7:38 AM on July 12, 2012 [15 favorites]




So is it an *actual* advertising campaign or is everyone especially cynical and grumpy today?
posted by Edison Carter at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2012


So is it an *actual* advertising campaign or is everyone especially cynical and grumpy today?

I believe we find out this afternoon at 2 o'clock.
posted by jbickers at 7:46 AM on July 12, 2012


The Slenderman can't be that desperate for new victims.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:49 AM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]


So a guy who's reddit name is delverofsecrets runs into a "a raggedy dressed man" that hands a cryptic note and money? Seems suspicious and too perfect of a set up.

I'm all for sneaky, fun, crypto-based viral marketing. Seems pretty obvious that's what this is though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:49 AM on July 12, 2012


Another ski resort?
posted by zoinks at 7:51 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


As Edgewise said above, this sounds like the trailhead for an ARG. Are ARGs usually advertising campaigns? Yes. They are. They are dramatic, compelling content, designed to draw viewers' interest into a narrative so that they will attach positive connotations to the products and services that they are associated with. You know what else qualifies as advertising campaigns under this rubric? Everything on commercial television, the contents of every magazine and newspaper ever, and the content of for-profit websites. I believe those things are acceptable to discuss on MetaFilter, and in any case, if you don't think this is a good post, FIAMO or take it to MeTa.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:52 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


This is less the start of a good movie idea and more the start of an average episode of Simon and Simon.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:55 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


From Hacker News:
In order to further my procrastination this evening, I Googled the OP's username found a Twitter account that synced up with the OP's reddit interests (seems to be obsessed with magic the gathering), except that he's located in.... New Zealand. Not NYC.

Neither his Twitter or blog talk about this incident. Interestingly enough his first reddit submission was an AskReddit with a type of challenge/riddle. So its possible he just likes fabricating riddles for karma
Not definitive proof that it's bullshit, but considering how unlikely it was not to be bullshit in the first place, it's enough for me.
posted by gilrain at 7:56 AM on July 12, 2012 [14 favorites]


I could really use that $50 to pay for signage to attract Bill Murray to my house party.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:57 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


BILL MURRAY IS THE BATMAN
posted by fight or flight at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, spooky coincidence. A homeless guy came up to me the other day and handed me a 3 REAL dollar bill with scribbling on the edges that read "W1LFUKYRK@4M3TH". Not sure what code he's using, anyone care to help?
posted by cog_nate at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


ALWAYS BE SURE TO SKI TAOS

WTF!?!?!?!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:04 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


gilrain: From Hacker News: [...] I Googled the OP's username found a Twitter account that synced up with the OP's reddit interests (seems to be obsessed with magic the gathering)

I would say this is inconclusive. "Delver of Secrets" is the name of a Magic: The Gathering card. So, if two different people happen to choose that as a username, odds are that they are both into MtG. It would be as if you found two people with the username "OmarLittle" and were surprised that they were both into The Wire.
posted by mhum at 8:04 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


It's The Dude!
posted by stormpooper at 8:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shaggy man story - or shaggy dog story?
posted by carter at 8:09 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Viral marketing.
posted by duffell at 8:10 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


It would totally be worth $50.00 to show up incognito at a MeFi meetup, hand someone the cash and a cryptic note and watch the Metatalk thread as they attempt to crack my unsolvable code.

I would take the fifty and quit while I was ahead, but then I've never been a very good gambler.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:12 AM on July 12, 2012


JULY TWELVE FOUR PM.

ARG for the Steam Summer Sale.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:14 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would take the fifty and quit while I was ahead, but then I've never been a very good gambler.

The first part of your sentence contradicts the second part.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:15 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


ARG for the Steam Summer Sale.

Ah, my only weakness. That, and bullets.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:15 AM on July 12, 2012


A friend and I were involved in a very similar game to this that played out over the past several months.

However, he got many of his clues/cryptograms via a series of letters and packages postmarked from around the globe. One clue was a package containing a locked box and key -- neither of which fit into each other, naturally. Eventually, via a series of extremely cryptic clues, he was led to the key to the locked box, which was stuck to the bottom of a precisely-located rock at the National Arboretum. They key eventually opened up a fantastically-creepy box truck in an Ikea parking lot.

Oh, and there were some completely crazy (and deviously hard) puzzle clues left for him on a website. Other clues came in the form of dinners at fancy restaurants, where the main course was served on a chess board (set up as an in-progress game, along with a prepaid cell phone, over which he needed to play out the game with the anonymous prankster; the chess board's initial configuration and the entrees actually ended up being clues themselves too; the waitstaff were in on it!).

We really need to write some kind of blog post about it, because the whole thing was fantastically epic -- like a real-world version of The Game.

In the end, there was no huge corporate entity behind the thing. It was a group of his friends from grad school, all of whom were evidently bored with their day jobs, and inadvertently created an awesome puzzle game for him (and many of his acquaintances; it was never planned to become as lengthy and elaborate as it did). It was a ton of fun, both for the people who participated, and the ones pulling the strings behind the curtain. He genuinely had no clue who was orchestrating the thing the entire time.

So, there's one data point against everybody's cynicism.
posted by schmod at 8:16 AM on July 12, 2012 [66 favorites]


> So a guy who's reddit name is delverofsecrets

To be fair, Delver of Secrets is a Magic the Gathering card, released within the past year.

All of that redditor's posts are within the past four months, and mostly concern, wait for it, Magic the Gathering.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 8:20 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yesterday a bearded man came up to me. He had a small scrap of paper in his hand. He said, in low muffled tones, "here, take this paper."

"What would you have me do with it?" I wasn't as shocked as I maybe ought have been.

"Put you mark on it, your mark, your name. Let me know that you've been here. Here...with me."

So I did. I marked the paper. I scratched my name onto its surface. And I handed to paper back to him.

"Good. That's good," he stared at the paper for too long. At my name. As though it meant more to him than his own. "By the end of three working days, you bank account will be credited with £71." He bid me farewell and disappeared into the crowd behind him. Only a moment later his voice called out, "don't forget to look! Look! Sometime in the next week, in the paper. Look!" And then nothing.

I stumbled away, half unbelieving what just happened. As I felt into my pocket my fingers fell upon another piece of paper. I withdrew it from the terminal darkness, uncrumpled its folds, and let my eyes survey its terrain. It was blank but for three large letters. A mysterious message in an unknown tongue: J S A.
posted by Jehan at 8:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile somewhere in a trendy office in Manhattan an insufferable social media strategist is taking screen grabs of Mefi and high fiving a colleague, unaware that I am at blue jay@6.5&56th, on a roof top, with a sniper rifle.
posted by Damienmce at 8:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


you know if I made a billion million dollars, this is what I would do ALL DAY.

Even doing it every day with a new person (which would be hard to maintain at that level of puzzling, I suppose), it would only cost you ...

$18,250 per year.

One a week is only $2,600 per year. I'd bet if you really wanted to, you could afford that. I spend more than that on liquor and drugs.

It was a group of his friends from grad school, all of whom were evidently bored with their day jobs, and inadvertently created an awesome puzzle game for him (and many of his acquaintances; it was never planned to become as lengthy and elaborate as it did). It was a ton of fun, both for the people who participated, and the ones pulling the strings behind the curtain.

By the way, I would like this for my next birthday. TIA.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on July 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


I wonder what it says about my nerd type that I'm more fascinated by the inclusion of double sided cards, of which Delver of Secrets apparently is, in Magic the Gathering than I am about the Mysterious 50 Dollar Hobo?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:29 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


So a guy who's reddit name is delverofsecrets runs into a "a raggedy dressed man" that hands a cryptic note and money? Seems suspicious...

It would be far more suspicious if it was some guy named "just somebody that you used to know." Giving away the game, really.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:30 AM on July 12, 2012


If this does turn out to be marketing, I feel a little sorry for what will befall the company behind it.
posted by the jam at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


the Mysterious 50 Dollar Hobo

Not to be confused with the Hobo with a Shotgun.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:36 AM on July 12, 2012


I am hoping this ends up being a flash mob for a new Black Eyed Peas video.
posted by tommccabe at 8:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Hobo with a Shotgun

I assume that's how the Hobo gets the $50 in the first place.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:39 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seeing that the new Magic The Gathering Core Set 2013 comes out on... wait for it... wait for it... *GASP* JULY 13, 2012 (aka tomorrow)... I think we can be pretty sure this is viral marketing of some sort.
posted by tittergrrl at 8:40 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]




I am hoping this ends up being a flash mob for a new Black Eyed Peas video
My hobo, hobo, hobo;
My fiddy dollah hobo ...
posted by octobersurprise at 8:47 AM on July 12, 2012


I actually walk through 6 1/2 Ave to get to work (or from work to lunch) quite often.
It's a great shortcut.
posted by yeoz at 8:48 AM on July 12, 2012


Seeing that the new Magic The Gathering Core Set 2013 comes out on... wait for it... wait for it... *GASP* JULY 13, 2012 (aka tomorrow)

Seems reasonable, but then why would the original date have been set to next week?
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:49 AM on July 12, 2012


Can we just wait and find out what it actually is before hating on it?

Oh, no, we can't: this is the Internet.
posted by Edison Carter at 8:50 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


'Seems reasonable, but then why would the original date have been set to next week?"

Well, if the OP is involved, the plan all along would be that he take it to reddit ... so ... the 'rules have changed' bit was orchestrated.
posted by Tevin at 8:51 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


My vote's for a Dark Knight Rises ARG.
posted by synecdoche at 8:51 AM on July 12, 2012


People will gather and discover an advance screening of The Dark Knight Taps Two Blue Mana in which Batman duels Bane over a foil Nicol Bolas ante.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]




Oh didn't even think of Dark Knight! Thank god they are doing this too, otherwise I would never have known that film was coming out!
posted by tittergrrl at 8:59 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can we just wait and find out what it actually is before hating on it?

But we already know what it is. It's a program cynically crafted to create engagement on Reddit. And here, in this very forum, a supposed Weblog of the best of the Internet. This very thread is now part of their advertising. It is offensive. The hating is self defense.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


People will gather and discover an advance screening of The Dark Knight Taps Two Blue Mana in which Batman duels Bane over a foil Nicol Bolas ante.

Have you ever fully understood a sentence and wondered where, exactly, you life took a turn?
posted by griphus at 9:02 AM on July 12, 2012 [20 favorites]


Oh didn't even think of Dark Knight! Thank god they are doing this too, otherwise I would never have known that film was coming out!

They did one for The Dark Knight, too. ARGs don't tend to be about raising awareness of a product.
posted by synecdoche at 9:04 AM on July 12, 2012


And here's your chance to make another fifty dollars for...

What do these people buy, tattered hats? Beard dirt?

-Cave Johnson
posted by Slackermagee at 9:09 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


Hobo with a Shotgun

I know, I know
It's serious
posted by chavenet at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2012 [21 favorites]


These things would be so much more compelling if they made the slightest effort to write convincingly in the voice of a real person.
posted by Scram at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


If people would stop trying to sell me shit, I might actually buy it.

Also I ... "hope" is the wrong word ... I would find it more amusing than horrifying, let's say ... if this were just an actual supervillain serial killer.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:12 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


How does one configure Adblock Plus to block these posts?
posted by univac at 9:13 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


He's going to tell him who the Zodiac killer was.
posted by Fnarf at 9:14 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Zodiac Killer turns out to have been a viral marketing campaign gone horribly wrong.
posted by Xoebe at 9:17 AM on July 12, 2012 [12 favorites]


It was Drew Carey's brother, duh.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:18 AM on July 12, 2012


D r i n k y o u r O v a l t i n e
posted by DBAPaul at 9:35 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


you know if I made a billion million dollars, this is what I would do ALL DAY.

The Millionaire, 1955.
posted by Zed at 9:52 AM on July 12, 2012


A shaggy man, you say? Did he have a Great Dane with him?
posted by jonmc at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Lovely bit of social engineering, here. It's textbook how him throwing out a bullshit name of someone who might work there, "Marsha," is what gets him the in, because his target assumes he knows "Margie."
posted by gilrain at 10:07 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although, that dude may have just been confused and playing along so he didn't look like he didn't know his own business.
posted by gilrain at 10:09 AM on July 12, 2012


Is this a sex thing? I hope it's a sex thing.
posted by mullacc at 10:12 AM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


To be fair, Delver of Secrets is a Magic the Gathering card, released within the past year.

Oh, must not be a sex thing. Damn.
posted by mullacc at 10:13 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a viral campaign for the 1st Annual American Invitational Obese Cat Shaming and Declawing Championships on The Puppy Channel (TPC). Duh.
posted by Mister_A at 10:21 AM on July 12, 2012


inaugural
posted by humboldt32 at 10:37 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This post is calling him a "shaggy man". As far as I can tell, the original post calls him "a raggedy dressed man". I’m not sure where the change happened, but neither phrase rings true, and that was the moment when I decided it was a story made up by the poster, with viral marketing also being likely.
posted by bongo_x at 10:38 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Whelk's comment reminds me of a conversation with a friend a few years back, kicking around what we'd do if we won the lottery.

He said, "I'd bash my car into every car out in the parking lot over there & then give each person $25k to go buy a new one."
posted by yoga at 10:49 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


A raggedy man?
posted by dirtdirt at 11:02 AM on July 12, 2012


BILL MURRAY IS THE BATMAN

No one will ever believe you.
posted by Doohickie at 11:05 AM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


> One a week is only $2,600 per year. I'd bet if you really wanted to, you could afford that. I spend more than that on liquor and drugs.

You're not seriously suggesting that we get by on $50 less of alcohol and drugs per week, are you?
posted by davelog at 11:44 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


"You have 30 days to spend $30 million with a few rules, how would you spend the money?"

This would make a really great movie...
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:50 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're not seriously suggesting that we get by on $50 less of alcohol and drugs per week, are you?

Well, of course not. I'm just saying that if you really wanted to, you could. (I personally cannot see why.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:51 AM on July 12, 2012



"You have 30 days to spend $30 million with a few rules, how would you spend the money?"

This would make a really great movie...


My wife and I were recently kicking around what a remake, set today, might look like.
posted by never used baby shoes at 11:58 AM on July 12, 2012


Hate to break it to you guys, the Pryor version was already a remake. The original Brewster's Millions goes all the way back to 1902.
posted by absalom at 12:10 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't care if it is marketing. This kind of random shit just makes me happy on the inside. I wish more marketing involved mysteries.

Also puts me in mind of the idea that advertising is one of the best and most creative art forms we have right now. Sad, but often true.
posted by windykites at 12:47 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


The raggedy man is a formerly wealthy captain of industry who gave almost all of his money to George Romney's kid Mitt. (You remember George who kept running for president despite the fact that no one would vote for him?)
Anyway, the former billionaire is now slightly deranged but unable to kick the 'give money away' habit, so he passes out $50.00 dollar bills with what he thinks are directions to the nearest MITT IS IT office.
posted by Cranberry at 12:52 PM on July 12, 2012


If anybody's interested in seeing this go down, here is--supposedly--a live stream
posted by rossmeissl at 12:52 PM on July 12, 2012


All the expectant people, where do they all come from?
posted by The Whelk at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2012


ITS A WIZARD
posted by The Whelk at 1:01 PM on July 12, 2012


FALSE ALARM HE WAS NOT OUR WIZARD.

"It's an existentialist flash mob we don't know why we're here"
posted by The Whelk at 1:02 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


How do you keep a bunch of internet addicts in suspense?
posted by charred husk at 1:04 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


By not answering that question?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:06 PM on July 12, 2012


The top comment right now (and the one after it) insightfully point out that both locations coincide with BASE Entertainment which has a new spy exhibit coming out soon.

sorry if that was that a joykill
posted by brenton at 1:06 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Come on, the premise was already debunked by the time this arrived to MetaFilter. It smells like a promotion for TDKR. And as an HN user points out:
I doubt any homeless man or $50 was involved, that's just to goose the curiosity level.
posted by Tobu at 1:07 PM on July 12, 2012


There's a double game being played, the real spy is using the crowd to break into an office building. LAYERS WITHIN LAYERS.
posted by The Whelk at 1:07 PM on July 12, 2012


Nothing seems to be happening at all.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:07 PM on July 12, 2012


for some reason I'm reminded of Cosmopolis.
posted by The Whelk at 1:08 PM on July 12, 2012


I dunno, it looks like it has just turned into a HUGE impromptu game of freeze tag. Either that or the streaming is terrible.
posted by jbickers at 1:09 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I was in a Target in LA the other day (my first time in a Target, actually), and the gent ahead of me at the cash was... homeless-looking, we shall say. He was purchasing a large bottle of Orange Soda. That's it. $2.

He had two singles on the counter and he was making a series of elaborate markings on them with a Sharpie. Every time it looked like he was finished, he would switch bills or flip the bill and keep going. The line was getting longer. The man kept "writing".

I said, "tell you what, I'll pay for his drink. Just add it to my bill." The cashier said, "He's almost done." I looked at him as if to say, "How can you tell?!" and lo-and-behold, the man said, "Here" and handed the two singles to the cashier and left, saying, "God bless."

I paid for my items and told the cashier I wanted the man's two singles. He gave them to me.

I then went to lunch. As I'm eating, I look at the first bill. He has marked front and back. Squiggles and scribbles, something that looks like a signature and other scratches that look like hobo hieroglyphics. I go to the second bill. Identical in every way.

I then went to Trader Joe's. I then headed home. Maybe an hour had passed.

As I walk past the corner of La Brea and Santa Monica (where the Target is), the man is standing on the corner, his back to me. I slow my approach, wonder what he's doing. He bends over, removes something from his bag. It's his orange soda.

He lifts to his mouth, then keeps lifting... as I pass, he empties the entire contents of the bottle over his head.

True story.
posted by dobbs at 1:09 PM on July 12, 2012 [26 favorites]


> True story.

Now you have to post pics of one of those marked bills.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:11 PM on July 12, 2012


....and now its turning into a Magic The Gathering game? I don't-what?
posted by The Whelk at 1:12 PM on July 12, 2012


THE HOT DOG STAND IS A LIE
posted by The Whelk at 1:16 PM on July 12, 2012


Okay now it's literally just Mad Mad Mad Mad World "Jay's cleaners! the J in the sign is blue!"
posted by The Whelk at 1:17 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Taken to the cleaners....
posted by mudpuppie at 1:18 PM on July 12, 2012


It turns out the real monster was MAN
posted by The Whelk at 1:20 PM on July 12, 2012


Is that huge crowd all there for this one thing?
posted by mudpuppie at 1:21 PM on July 12, 2012


Be sure.. to drink.. your Ovaltine. Ah sunnuvabitch.

It rarely ceases to amaze me how some people will accepting being jerked around if it's in the guise of being some puzzle or game. "Oh, a caesarian shift cypher! Let me devote the next thirty minutes my life to untangling this gordian knot! What's this, it leads to another cryptogram? THE GAME'S AFOOT!"

If some random guy comes to you on the street with this, it's almost certain to be Ovaltine all the way down.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 PM on July 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


What if they threw a nothing and everyone showed up?
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is that huge crowd all there for this one thing?

No, that's just a coincidence; there's also a meetup of mpeg artifact enthusiasts today.
posted by cortex at 1:22 PM on July 12, 2012 [13 favorites]


OH GOD THE SUN HAS GONE NOVA
posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on July 12, 2012


" Ovaltine all the way down"

'Turtles all the way down' is one of my favorite phrases.

Ovaltine all the way down, though, is streets ahead.
posted by Tevin at 1:24 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is actually a viral ad for better phone batteries.
posted by cortex at 1:25 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or backpacks that charge them.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:26 PM on July 12, 2012


It's a public awareness campaign for developing credulity for online stories
posted by The Whelk at 1:26 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I like the Redditors that are telling everyone that the police are coming on assumption that it's an Occupy Something.
posted by charred husk at 1:28 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Russian Tea Room? Feeling peckish?
posted by mudpuppie at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2012


OCCUPY EXPECTATIONS
posted by The Whelk at 1:29 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now you have to post pics of one of those marked bills.

Front and back. Looks like my original take on them as "identical in every way" was a little off. There are a few differences.
posted by dobbs at 1:32 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


yes yes but is it art?
posted by The Whelk at 1:38 PM on July 12, 2012


Now it's a cop video!
posted by mudpuppie at 1:40 PM on July 12, 2012


and the cops have arrived!
posted by The Whelk at 1:41 PM on July 12, 2012


Everyone is assuming this is some sort of marketing ploy, but I'm imagining some creepy guy in a van across the street looking at the crowd and thinking, "Damn, I won't be able to abduct ALL of them. I just wanted the one guy..."
posted by charred husk at 1:41 PM on July 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


Christ.

The Whelk is killing it in this thread.
posted by notyou at 1:42 PM on July 12, 2012


In the good way, I mean.
posted by notyou at 1:42 PM on July 12, 2012


Turns out this is how you get recruited to Hogsworts these days and it failed MISERABLY
posted by The Whelk at 1:43 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Who roller skates through a crowd with a kid??"
posted by mudpuppie at 1:45 PM on July 12, 2012


A failed crowdsourcing campaign crowdsourced its own crowd to source itself back to life.
posted by gilrain at 1:45 PM on July 12, 2012


SOON ALL WILL BE REVEALED!
posted by The Whelk at 1:46 PM on July 12, 2012


"I never knew boredom and excitement could meld into one emotion"
posted by The Whelk at 1:47 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is going to be the go-to way to create a public distraction in future heist movies, mark my words.
posted by The Whelk at 1:48 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


STORM THE BUILDING!
posted by mudpuppie at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2012


I'm pretty sure this was how Stand on Zanzibar started.
posted by griphus at 1:50 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm imagining a group of Marketing people looking out the window going WHAT DO WE DO NOW?!
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hey the OP is here
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on July 12, 2012


They've found the OP on the stream
posted by rossmeissl at 1:52 PM on July 12, 2012


HE HAS THE NOTE
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on July 12, 2012


SHOW US THE 50$!

and there was much rejoicing.

This is like performance art.
posted by The Whelk at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2012


OMG I"M SO SOMETHING RIGHT NOW
posted by charred husk at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2012


Did anyone stay behind to keep an eye on Chez Reddit while everyone else went to 56th street?
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2012


Someone has a microphone in his face....
posted by mudpuppie at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2012


"i was expecting like ...ten people."
posted by The Whelk at 1:53 PM on July 12, 2012


...and then everyone helps the OP move.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:54 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


CITY WIDE CONGA LINE
posted by The Whelk at 1:54 PM on July 12, 2012


I can't watch video at work

SOMEONE PAINT ME A WORD-PICTURE
posted by griphus at 1:54 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A GREAT MUMBLING BREAKS OUT
posted by The Whelk at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know how I'm throwing my next birthday party.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2012


He is getting the celebrity treatment!
posted by polywomp at 1:55 PM on July 12, 2012


Lots of college-aged dorks in polo shirts with camera phones
posted by The Whelk at 1:56 PM on July 12, 2012


Seriously what is going to happen when this guy's phone battery dies
posted by rossmeissl at 1:56 PM on July 12, 2012


Their sweat glistens on their brows like Mountain Dew as their hero enters the crowd. His words of wisdom are lost to muddled time due to poor microphones.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:56 PM on July 12, 2012


Maybe this was all an elaborate ploy by the OP to make a hundred friends....
posted by polywomp at 1:57 PM on July 12, 2012


OP is being interviewed by mashable it seems.
posted by The Whelk at 1:57 PM on July 12, 2012




Seriously what is going to happen when this guy's phone battery dies

Everyone hears a Cloverfeild monster scream
posted by The Whelk at 1:57 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the biggest nothing that has never not anythinged.
posted by charred husk at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


THE BLUE JAY IS HUGE
AND BLOODTHIRSTY
THE HORROR!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


I want someone to just dump like 5 k worth of dollar bills onto the crowd.
posted by The Whelk at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2012


and boo cops and herding people across the street.
posted by The Whelk at 1:58 PM on July 12, 2012


TURNS OUT THE SECRET WAS INSIDE OF US ALL ALONG.

AS THE VOID IN THE CENTER OF OUR BEING.
posted by The Whelk at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


griphus: "I can't watch video at work

SOMEONE PAINT ME A WORD-PICTURE
"

HERE YOU GO. I SUCK AT PAINT THO
posted by Rock Steady at 2:00 PM on July 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


Turns out the Mystery Hobo is on GMT time and is really pissed off nobody was there six hours ago.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A tip, viral marketers: Raggedy men don't write that legibly.
posted by iamck at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


apparently there is another code on youtube? It's like the most boring mystery series ever.
posted by The Whelk at 2:01 PM on July 12, 2012


THE HARDY BOYS AND THE CASE OF THE INTERNET THREAD.
posted by The Whelk at 2:02 PM on July 12, 2012


Ah yes the heroic PM message checking scene
posted by The Whelk at 2:02 PM on July 12, 2012


The OP is starting to softshoe.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:02 PM on July 12, 2012


Better than the "pee on him?" scene, which is where that almost went.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2012


NANCY DREW AND THE SHADOWY DORK.
posted by The Whelk at 2:03 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


YOU HAVE FAILED OP NOW BLUE JAY WILL COME CLAIM WHAT IT HIS
posted by charred husk at 2:06 PM on July 12, 2012


This mystery brought to you by M. Night Shyamalan.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:06 PM on July 12, 2012


The username backward is his phone number ....so .... it turns out this was all the dream.
posted by The Whelk at 2:07 PM on July 12, 2012


"I see boring people."
posted by mudpuppie at 2:07 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're all dead and this is purgatory.
posted by The Whelk at 2:07 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's right we're dead....serious about mysterious viral marketing!
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2012


4chan has your phone number now, dude. I am SO sorry.
posted by charred husk at 2:09 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


God who created this ARG Damon Lindelof? NO ANSWERS.
posted by The Whelk at 2:09 PM on July 12, 2012


Maybe we can spin this into a kind of contemporary folktale.
posted by The Whelk at 2:10 PM on July 12, 2012


Turns out the ARG was cancelled, but nobody told the first actor with the 50 dollar bill. The guy who was supposed to shout "Watch Season Three of The Killing!" is currently dressed as Spidey in Times Square.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:11 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is a really roundabout way to advertise smoked ham products
posted by The Whelk at 2:13 PM on July 12, 2012


"Russian Tea Room guys?"
posted by The Whelk at 2:13 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Al Capone's vault!
posted by mudpuppie at 2:13 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


after the last person leaves, an exhausted Professor Frink runs up, panting, "wait wait come back!"
posted by The Whelk at 2:14 PM on July 12, 2012


The Whelk:
""Russian Tea Room guys?""
No! I'm still bored! Start rioting or something!
ENTERTAIN ME
posted by charred husk at 2:14 PM on July 12, 2012


"You know what's not a mystery? The money you can make selling Amway!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:14 PM on July 12, 2012


They should have known I am not in New York.
posted by BlueJae at 2:15 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, a blank screen. Must be adblock doing it's job.
posted by PipRuss at 2:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]




HIS SHORTS ARE PAINTED ON.
posted by The Whelk at 2:21 PM on July 12, 2012


BY THE WAY DID YOU KNOW THERE'S A NEW BATMAN MOVIE COMING OUT
posted by JHarris at 2:22 PM on July 12, 2012


Introducing the latest villain to his Rouge's Gallery...the EXPECTATOR
posted by The Whelk at 2:23 PM on July 12, 2012


I AM LAST.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:24 PM on July 12, 2012


Why are so many people stuck on the Dark Knight Rises angle? I haven't seen a single shred of proof that points in that direction. And no, that one reddit user getting a VERY confused person from a marketing agency on the phone doesn't' count.
posted by matt_od at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2012


PREPARE FOR THE END... of high prices!
posted by synecdoche at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I AM LAST.

NO, I AM.
posted by THREAD KILLER at 2:26 PM on July 12, 2012


Wait, wait, wait...

Who is "Bat Man"?

Is he the night?
posted by griphus at 2:27 PM on July 12, 2012


DAMMIT GRIPHUS
posted by The Whelk at 2:28 PM on July 12, 2012


Wayne Industries also sells time shares in sunny Florida.

Shitty product, but they have a hell of a marketing team.
posted by Tevin at 2:31 PM on July 12, 2012


Is it Ghostbusters 2?
posted by uncleozzy at 2:38 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I went to lunch and now the stream is dead and it sounds like still nothing has really happened unless I missed something.
posted by cortex at 2:42 PM on July 12, 2012


This is what's really happening.
posted by PipRuss at 2:46 PM on July 12, 2012


The OP showed up an hour late (with the note, though he didn't produce the bill). Turns out to be kind of a schlub. Spent the next hour being interviewed by Reddit people and Mashable like a celebrity.

The username that posted the follow-up note in the Reddit thread was his phone number, backwards. After stating that he began to get phone calls and turned his phone off.

He's going to try to follow up on the whole thing but his parents surprised him with a vacation so he's not really sure when he'll be able to. Then he left and was questioned by the cops, which is when the stream went dead because they all went drinking at the Russian Tea Room.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:49 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am last.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:07 PM on July 12, 2012


However PipRuss, enhancements on that photo reveal the blurred businessman in the right to be non other than Clark Gregg...
posted by The Whelk at 3:17 PM on July 12, 2012


Suddenly I'm lost:
was "Mr.Input", redditor 2220944379, the original poster, delverofsecrets?

Is that what this imagemacro means?
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2012


He claims no. He said that people had found him on Facebook because he carries a backpack with his name emblazoned on it, and that they had then somehow found his phone number. He didn't explain how the person who responded with the whole Blue Jay gambit found his number, but I guess he's implying that the raggedy man pieced together his identity by using Facebook?

And yes, that's what that image means. He stated during the livestream that the username was his number backwards, and immediately began receiving calls.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:26 PM on July 12, 2012


mudpuppie: "because they all went drinking at the Russian Tea Room."

So, the Russian Tea Room made a very smart 50 dollar investment?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:26 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Alright, so

On July 11 delverofsecrets receives a $50 bill and an encrypted note from some shaggy/raggedy guy. Note decodes to proposing an appointment, numbers on the bill ate a UNIX timestamp for July 19.

He later receives a private message on reddit from an account that is his phonenumber backwards. That message contains an encrypted note, which changes the appointment to July 12 at the Blue Jay.

At the appointment on July 12, an old bearded man appears and has a message which he whispers to someone. delverofsecrets is an hour late, and has another appointment (a date) in like an hour.

Mashable coverage (prior to today's appintment) here.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 3:37 PM on July 12, 2012


I would watch this movie. Oh my.

You should dig up a copy of The Game.
posted by Sara C. at 3:40 PM on July 12, 2012


You should dig up a copy of The Game.

Coming to Criterion in September.
posted by matt_od at 3:43 PM on July 12, 2012


Is this the old bearded guy?
posted by Ad hominem at 3:49 PM on July 12, 2012


yeah, this is the other picture that's floating around
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 3:56 PM on July 12, 2012


They showed the OP that picture, and he said it wasn't the same guy. Who the hell knows who to believe, though?
posted by mudpuppie at 4:02 PM on July 12, 2012


How do you keep a bunch of internet addicts in suspense?

(Turn paper over)
posted by bendy at 4:09 PM on July 12, 2012


How do you keep a bunch of internet addicts in suspense?

(Turn paper over)


You misspelled pinch to zoom and swipe left on an iPad.
posted by fragmede at 4:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


You should dig up a copy of The Game.

You should dig up a copy of The Magus.
posted by m0nm0n at 4:21 PM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


At least he'll have something to talk about on his date.
posted by mullacc at 4:25 PM on July 12, 2012


Here is another.

Damn redditors harassing some poor old dude. Leave the graybeard alone, he just wants to sip tea, wear sandals with black socks, practice his recorder and code up some Free Software on his DEC Alpha.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:28 PM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


OP is going on a date at 6pm on a Thursday? I bet they are going to a spin class together or some shit.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:37 PM on July 12, 2012


"Okay, so we broke the cipher, but it's just someone jerking us around. The plain text is gibberish: Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Sorry everyone. I hope this douchebag got a good laugh out of it."

"Does anyone else hear that noise?"
posted by Ritchie at 6:18 PM on July 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


The raggedy man is a formerly wealthy captain of industry who gave almost all of his money to George Romney's kid Mitt. (You remember George who kept running for president despite the fact that no one would vote for him?) Anyway, the former billionaire is now slightly deranged but unable to kick the 'give money away' habit, so he passes out $50.00 dollar bills with what he thinks are directions to the nearest MITT IS IT office.

Or he wants revenge against Mitt, and he thinks Bain Capital = Bane, so he wants everyone to see the movie.
posted by homunculus at 6:32 PM on July 12, 2012


Neat con/stunt. Who's not to say that this wasn't just an amusing cover for something else going on?

/waiting for the copycats
//watching way too much leverage/white collar/person of interest/burn notice
posted by porpoise at 8:31 PM on July 12, 2012


Joakim Ziegler: "So, the Russian Tea Room made a very smart 50 dollar investment?"

Maybe the Lux Lounge is trying to claim back some lost business, and/or attract new waitstaff, ever since it suddenly became impossible for them to attract new employees last year...
posted by schmod at 9:46 PM on July 12, 2012


Puzzle Solved.
posted by shipbreaker at 2:12 AM on July 13, 2012


Puzzle Solved.

SAD TROMBONE
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:48 AM on July 13, 2012


EDIT AS OF 10:38am 7/13 Received a phone call today threatening violence against me and my family, going so far as to name members of my family and their addresses, unless I delete this post. The caller also told me not to show up on the 19th and to inform anyone planning to show up on the 19th that nothing would happen. This will be my last message from this account before I delete it. I'll also be changing my number later today. I am sorry if a resolution to this never happens, but I'm not willing to risk my family's safety for a few extra dollars.
So, it's either not an ARG or advertising, or someone's viral ad ploy got wrecked by internet trolls.
posted by stopgap at 8:12 AM on July 13, 2012


When that guy has a walk-on cameo in The Dark Knight Rises, reddit is gonna plotz.
posted by cortex at 9:14 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


GOTHAM CITY, STREET

Cop: "What are you doing here, it's past midnight?"
OP: "Oh, I'm just waiting for when the Dark Knight rises."
posted by griphus at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2012


Received a phone call today threatening violence against me and my family, going so far as to name members of my family and their addresses, unless I delete this post.

Time to call in the party van.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2012


As Edgewise said above, this sounds like the trailhead for an ARG. Are ARGs usually advertising campaigns? Yes. They are. They are dramatic, compelling content, designed to draw viewers' interest into a narrative so that they will attach positive connotations to the products and services that they are associated with. You know what else qualifies as advertising campaigns under this rubric? Everything on commercial television, the contents of every magazine and newspaper ever, and the content of for-profit websites.
Those things are ad supported, they are not the ads themselves. The other thing is that they are paid for, and the distinction between ad and content is clear. They don't lie to you, they don't waste your time, and they don't hijack other people's resources to spread. In fact, you could argue that if "meme theory" were real that "naturally" viral things are "legitimate" memes, while stupid marketing campaigns really are "viral". Bitching about them is a memetic version of the immune system. Spreading anti-viral memes is the way the internet's immune system functions. (To extend a metaphor way past it's breaking point)
posted by delmoi at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2012


Why are so many people stuck on the Dark Knight Rises angle? I haven't seen a single shred of proof that points in that direction. And no, that one reddit user getting a VERY confused person from a marketing agency on the phone doesn't' count.
Maybe it's a viral marketing plot from WB. They hijacked this plot by having random people speculate it's a viral for the new batman movie. Parasite memetic viruses infecting other viruses.
posted by delmoi at 10:07 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


New Zealand
lonelygirl15?
posted by vsync at 2:46 AM on July 14, 2012


So ..... I gather nothing happened on the 19th. Was the guy who posted the reddit thread trying it on with everyone or what?
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:49 PM on July 20, 2012


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