290. Going Nuts for Fun and Profit

Early tomorrow, my granddaughter Arden is picking up her mom – my daughter Judy Taylor – and they’ll drive to Eugene, Oregon.  Judy will be in a craft show there where she’ll demonstrate and sell her rug hooking projects and supplies.

Whenever we’d go on car trips when Judy was little, we used to play games like “The Minister’s Cat”, or contests where we’d have to find the next letter of the alphabet on signs whizzing by.

Now that summer’s here, in case you’re going to be taking to the road on a short or long trip and need some group entertainment, you might try solving Minute Mysteries. 

The object of minute mysteries (aka lateral thinking puzzles) is for you to unravel the mystery, based on very limited and somewhat ambiguous clues.  You are given a scenario (usually involving a death of some sort), and you have to deduce what has happened.  Someone must look at the solution so that you can ask them questions to try and figure it out.  The questions have to be phrased so that the only possible answers are yes, no or not relevant.  There is no limit to the number of questions, and it can be helpful to have multiple people working on the case.

Here’s an example to show you how it works:

1. Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice all live in the same house.  Bob and Carol go out to a movie, and when they return, Alice is lying dead on the floor in a puddle of water and glass.  It is obvious that Ted killed her but Ted is not prosecuted or severely punished.

The solution:  Alice is a goldfish.  Ted is a cat.

Here’s a few more Minute Mysteries in case you want to collect some for future use:

 2.  A woman comes home with a bag of groceries, gets the mail, and walks into the house.  On the way to the kitchen, she goes through the living room and looks at her husband, who had blown his brains out.  She then continues to the kitchen, puts away the groceries, and makes dinner.

The solution:  The husband killed himself a while ago; it’s his ashes in an urn on the mantelpiece that the wife looks at. 

3.  A woman has incontrovertible proof in court that her husband was murdered by her sister.  The judge declares, “This is the strangest case I’ve ever seen.  Though it’s a cut-and-dried case, this murderess cannot be punished.”

The solution: The sisters are Siamese twins.

4.  A man walks into a bar and asks for a drink.  The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at him.  The man says, “Thank you,” and walks out.

The solution: The man has hiccups; the bartender scares them away by pulling a gun.

There.  Now don’t say you can’t think of any way to relieve long-trip boredom. Make up a few Minute Mysteries of your own, or else check out some more ready-made ones at this website:

http://www.math.umass.edu/%7Ediehl/mysteries.html

 Have a happy trip and drive carefully!  Safe boating is no accident!

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