A man goes into a restaurant, orders albatross, eats one bite, and kills himself.
May 3, 2002 11:04 AM   Subscribe

A man goes into a restaurant, orders albatross, eats one bite, and kills himself. Real-life scenario? Perhaps not. But it's up to your friends to guess what happened via a series of yes/no questions. Anyone remember these? (found at rinkworks which also has the Book-a-Minute Book Reviews)
posted by vacapinta (22 comments total)
Soylent green is made of PEOPLE!
posted by uftheory at 11:19 AM on May 3, 2002

Pretty bad. Most of those stories aren't satisfying at all... and some of them are just morbid. It's just like... ok then, terrific. And normally I like those kind of puzzles too.
posted by askheaves at 11:20 AM on May 3, 2002

Man sets himself on fire, and dies.

Solution: He saw one too many pop-up ads for credit cards and such, and just couldn't bear it anymore.
posted by raysmj at 11:24 AM on May 3, 2002

Well, foo on you. I love these games! My favorite one was always "When the music stopped, she died." The best part is when you get a particularly infuriating one and your friends have gotten so far that they refuse to give up, but they just can't figure out that one vital clue. That, my friends, is power :-)
posted by starvingartist at 11:25 AM on May 3, 2002

the albotross one took me AGES to solve.

others i like:

"The music stopped, and she died."

"There is a cabin in the woods. In the cabin is a dead man. Outside the cabin is a dead bear. Behind the cabin is a trail of broken trees."

The elevator one.
posted by o2b at 11:28 AM on May 3, 2002

sorry, raysmj. I have all that stuff disabled on my browser.

Try this
posted by vacapinta at 11:40 AM on May 3, 2002

I love these things. They provide hours of entertainment on the trail when backpacking with friends.
posted by treedream at 11:41 AM on May 3, 2002

What a great link. I've spent many a night hanging out with friends while we all tested each other with these clever little things. The great thing about these puzzles is that you get to torture your friends and give your brain a work out at the same time.
posted by iconomy at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2002

God, I love these. I had friends who I shared a beach house with who I kept stumped for two summers with "A rope breaks. A bell rings. A man dies."
posted by mkultra at 11:43 AM on May 3, 2002

This is similar to most any episode of CSI. The run of the average plot is similar in design to a lateral thinking puzzle. The first few minutes of the show reveal a hard to believe crime scene and the rest of the hour attempts to explain it.

Like the episode where they found a dead scuba diver in a tree that had been in a brushfire. The cause of death appeared to be drowning, but he was nowhere near a body of water when found. Turned out that before the fire his body was carried to the field and left propped up near the tree. When the brushfire occurred soon after, it heated up the oxygen tanks which then exploded, jettisoning the dead body up into the tree.

Or the episode where there was an old lady found dead in her home, surrounded by fifty housecats. On the surface it looked like the cats turned on her for food, but the cause of death turned out to be a single puncture wound which was too long to have been caused by any housecat. That was a fun episode. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 12:14 PM on May 3, 2002

Most of these are pretty dumb. Like this one:

A man is lying dead in a room. There is a large pile of gold and jewels on the floor, a chandelier attached to the ceiling, and a large open window.

Well, obviously the homeowner caught him and shot him. Big whoop. There are in fact many perfectly ordinary scenarious that could explain the scene described; they give you no reason to look beyond the obvious. Now the midget one (which I've heard before) is good: it's completely inexplicable until you "get it."
posted by kindall at 12:31 PM on May 3, 2002

How does it make sense to talk of a solution to these? There are any number of possible explanations. For example:

#2 In the middle of the ocean is a yacht. Several corpses are floating in the water nearby.

So, here are the first few things that pop to mind:

- they just happened to pick an area with a lot of poisonous jellyfish, they got stung and died
- there's one person still on the yacht, who shot the rest, and is now looking for the ignition key
- the dinner they all ate before going for their swim was contaminated with some bacterium, and they all got food poisoning, cramped up, and drowned
- they are near shore in Southeast Asia and some local fisherman set off a dynamite charge in the water, and they all got concussions

...how long shall I go on? More to the point, how are you supposed to guess which of the umpteen possible solutions they had in mind? Or am I completely missing the point?

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:36 PM on May 3, 2002

Mars, I think the fun is in the game of finding the solution using yes/no questions, not in the solution itself (these are meant to be played with two or more people, one of whom knows the answer and fields yes/no questions). It tests your logic abilities rather than your ability to guess the "right" solution.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2002

My thoughts exactly, Mars. Furthermore, why do these scenarios always involve someone dead or dying?
posted by me3dia at 12:52 PM on May 3, 2002

Two words: Encyclopedia Brown. Awww yeah!
posted by Danelope at 12:58 PM on May 3, 2002

Mars like so:

You: "Did the people go swimming?"
Friend: "Yes"

You: "Did they drown?"
Friend: "Yes"

You: "How did they drown?"
Friend: "For the last time, only yes or no questions!"


me3dia, probably because that adds the mystery and intrigue. At one point I was really obsessed with these lateral puzzles, but now I waste my time on other things (reading mainly).
posted by Why at 1:00 PM on May 3, 2002

Some of these are good, but many of them are plum-stupid. Like the guy who gets an eye operation to make him see, goes through a tunnel, and decides he's going to kill himself because he's gone blind again- until he sees the cigarettes? That's beyond moronic...
posted by hincandenza at 2:32 PM on May 3, 2002

I love these things. They provide hours of entertainment on the trail when backpacking with friends.

Exactly. That's the point of these - interaction with other people, hanging out waiting for the bus in Guadalajara, or sitting on the beach in Bali, or....

They're not meant to be parables or even faintly realistic stories about anything. They're meant to be fun - a game to play with others.

Thanks for the reminder vacapinta - I used to love these when I was on the road.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:38 PM on May 3, 2002

My POW: they're amusing, but too open ended. A good logic puzzle should have a surprising but rewarding and ultimately logical answer. Click and Clack often do a good job here.

The man/bell/dead situations can be fun to discuss and speculate, but to insist that there's One Correct Answer is unfounded.

A math equivalent would be shouting "29!", asking for the formula that evaluates to it, and waiting for people to intuit that you mean "square root of (20 squared + 21 squared)".

There's a parallel in the old Sierra Online adventure games (see The Death of Adventure Games).
posted by kurumi at 3:54 PM on May 3, 2002

Argh. "POW" should be "Point of view."
posted by kurumi at 3:55 PM on May 3, 2002

You could drive strangers in a chat room insane with one of these puzzles, which is another one of its charms.
posted by iconomy at 4:50 PM on May 3, 2002

For brain-teasing nothing beats the classic Monty Hall problem in my opinion.
posted by crunchburger at 9:28 PM on May 3, 2002

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