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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

Semi-Real Time Mystery Hunt Update v. 2008 by Laura N. '09

Okay, so Bryan just started a Mystery Hunt LiveBlog, but I’m being immature and want to do it too, so you guys will just have 2 entries to read to keep yourself up to date. No big deal, right?

Friday, 16:19
Anyway, I just got out of class and ran home to get my laptop. So nothing interesting has happened yet on my end, but stay tuned!

Friday, 16:22
I’m sitting at my kitchen table, eating leftover baked ziti I just heated up. I got sidetracked, okay? I’m chatting with Adelaide ’09, who is currently studying in France. We’ve been trying to chat all week, but the 6 hour time difference makes it a little complicated sometimes. We finally caught each other, and Adelaide is more important than Mystery Hunt. The puzzles aren’t solving themselves, but they can wait an hour.

Friday, 16:39
Jordan ’11 just ran into her room. Then she ran back out, pausing just long enough to explain that they needed some maps for a puzzle. This sort of frantic searching for resources will be pretty common this weekend.

Friday, 16:45
Adelaide and I are now talking about Sam ’07. This is relevant (to you, dear reader), because Sam was basically the coolest blogger of all time. Go read his archives. Seriously.

Friday, 16:55
In response to Isshak’s question: this year’s theme is a mystery. Someone named “Otto Awkward” has been murdered, and we’ve been charged with the task of figuring out who had the means, motive, and opportunity to do it. We’re given a “little black book” with lots of contacts in it. We’ve got to solve the puzzles, figure out how the contacts should be grouped together, and contact some of them for more information about the case. But the contacts won’t give up information easily, so the only way to convince them is to solve the puzzles and figure out what we’ll need to give them in exchange for our next clue.
Mystery Hunt is all about the meta.

Friday, 17:19
I arrive at Hunt Headquarters. Somebody give me something to do….

Friday, 18:14
James ’11 loves comics, so he gravitated towards the puzzle “World of Comics.” Right now I’d love to tell you the current research topic I’m bashing my head on, but that might give something away to other teams. Sorry!

Friday, 18:45
Aaaand all of that research was completely useless to solving the puzzle. Well, we got it anyway, on to the next one. (I’m still really bitter though. Grr.)

Friday, 19:15
In the last 30 minutes, I’ve discovered 2 things: I cannot recognize actors and actresses to save my life, and creating tables in wiki markup is the worst thing ever.

Friday, 22:31
Choice quotes I’ve been keeping track of since my last update:
“What do these people have in common? WHAT?!”

“Hey, that’s the font the Asgard uses on its menu!”

Me: “Oh my God I’ve SEEN that movie! I would have KNOWN that!” (This is a huge accomplishment for me. I never get movie clues. Like, ever.)

“I last slept like…33 hours ago.”

“Where are there neon room numbers?”

“It doesn’t make sense, there are two images with no difference except that the one of the images is a higher resolution.”
*Someone else runs in*
“That’s not the only difference!”
“There’s a different difference?”

Saturday, 0:19
Oh my God I’ve been working on the same puzzle for foooouuuur hoooouuuurssss and I’m getting delirious….

Saturday, 0:45
I just got off a Skype call with our remote solvers in Boulder. We’re both working on a horrendous crossword, and we’re going to take some digital pictures, upload them to the Internet, and compare. I love technology.

Saturday, 2:13
Somebody: “Do you recognize this as a font?”
Snively: “No, but this looks like a really doable puzzle.”
Me: “Ha! Don’t talk to me about doable puzzles.”
Other guy: “I’ll keep working.”
Snively: “Well, do you know who that cat is?”

Saturday, 3:51
And we are closing in on 9 hours working on this puzzle.
Wes: “Laura…now I know why you’re so bitter about the world.”

Saturday, 5:27
This puzzle has 132 movie titles. 132. We are now re-checking all 132 of those answers. In order to finish the rest of the puzzle, each of them has to be exactly correct.

Saturday, 5:32
3 of them were wrong.

Saturday, 5:52
Okay, maybe that one was actually right the first time.

Saturday, 7:32
Chris: “He’s calling something in.” (This means calling Hunt HQ and checking if an answer is right.)
Dan: “Oh, did you figure it out?”
Chris: “No, he’s just calling in an answer so they know we’re not dead.”
Wes: “While you’re there, call in aardvark for our puzzle!”
Me and James: “It’s NOT aardvark!”

Saturday, 9:53
Screw this ?!@#&*$ puzzle, I’m going to sleep.

Saturday, 20:00
Back to Hunt HQ. I’m officially 12 hours sleep shifted!!!

Saturday, 22:06
So far I’ve looked at ANOTHER horrendous crossword, some pictures of Muppets, and not much else. Just for the sake of completeness, I updated the wiki our team uses with my detailed commentary on “Guilty Pleasures,” left instructions to find our work with the operator (person who answers the phones and keeps everyone organized), gathered up our work and put it all in a safe place with the operator. I took a picture for your enjoyment. (And yes, if I spent 15 hours working on the puzzle, I was willing to spend 5 minutes blurring out the answers we have so far. Not that I really expect any other teams to be reading my blog for tips…but hey, I’m being paranoid.)

Saturday, 22:21
Evan: “Hey guys, they just released hints for Frontal Lobotomy, Talk to Me, In Other Words, Character Witness, Global Coolness, Manual Transmission, and Facebook.”
General chaos ensues as people shout at each other and scramble for laptops, papers, and highlighters.

Sunday, 3:33
I just walked in to HQ and immediately heard, “Laura! You’re responsible! Be operator for a few hours!”
So, now I get to feel all special and important and sit here, answering phones and coordinating remote solvers and such. There are, of course, lulls in the action, which I intend to fill by working on the only puzzle I’ve worked on all weekend, since I think I’m the only person left who actually give a ?@#& if it ever gets solved. But I did just call in my first answer as operator (meaning someone else solved a puzzle and I answer the phone call from HQ to verify that it’s correct), so that’s exciting!

Sunday, 4:13
I just called in another correct answer for someone else, and everyone cheered for them. Sigh. If only I could solve the ONLY puzzle I’ve worked on for more than 15 minutes all weekend…Currently reviewing all of the clues…

Sunday, 8:02
This just plain sucks.

Sunday 16:10
Operator says:
“btw, talk to li-meilim – they were working on guilty pleasures
also, they’ll kill you if you get the answer before they do :)
i told them you shared the sentiment”

Email from Ben:
Did you win yet?

aaaaaaaaahahahahahaha I’ve been working on the same ?&*!@#$?(*!@ puzzle for 2 straight days and I can’t DO IT.
*curls up into fetal position and cries*
But wait, has it been 2 straight days? I can’t tell. What time is it? What day is it? Am I tired or not? I DON’T KNOW.

Sunday, 20:33
Email sent to all hunters:
“We are pleased to report that the Evil Midnight Bombers What Bomb at Midnight found the coin at 8:28 pm on Sunday January 20, 2008.”

Evan: You realize we don’t have a chance at second, right?
Nathan: Why do you say that? Everyone else went home!

Now it’s time to clean up, and go home, and CRY because I never solved the puzzle I dedicated all weekend to.

Yay for Mystery Hunt. =)

34 responses to “Semi-Real Time Mystery Hunt Update v. 2008”

  1. Isshak says:

    Lol okay we are ! Good luck Laura ! I hope you’ll post pictures too.
    Anyway what is this year’s mystery hunt about ? What did you get ?

  2. Laura, I LOVE being on people’s blogs. Thank you for the boost to my ego!

    Also, I really like how you have your times in military time. I mean, I know it’s probably just to make it sound more official, but I like to think it’s partly in honour of my being in France.

  3. Also,

    The reason I’m in France is because I’m studying abroad through one of the many MISTI study and work abroad programs organized at MIT. I know Sam ’07 blogged about his two summers in Europe through MISTI-Germany, but what many people don’t realize is that MISTI also organizes study abroad programs, and I don’t know if that’s been on the blogs yet. So if you’re interested, go check out .

  4. Paul says:

    Dr. Awkward was the winning team of last year’s hunt; hence why “Otto Awkward” was the name of the person murdered.

  5. PS says:

    I think creating a Twitter user is faster (but not cooler =P) than update an entry for live-blogging

    Anyway, good luck to all; and use your silly cap for a while after some hours of thinking-cap-mode

  6. Piper says:

    I must say that the opening was extremely entertaining, with the whole murder and all ^.^ And yay for liveblogging!

  7. Snively says:

    THE ANSWER IS NARWHAL! It’s a perfect ASCII representation of a narwhal . . . or russia. . . or an otter with a rose in its mouth. THIS HUNT IS INSANE!!!

  8. “Ha! Don’t talk to me about doable puzzles.”

    That should go on a T-shirt.

    Wish I could be there…maybe I’ll make the trek up north for next year’s hunt.

  9. Isshak says:

    Thanks Laura ! LOL I Love the last quote ^^

    Too bad we prefrosh can’t help you, it would have been cool.
    Live blogging is cool ! Keep it up ! ^^

  10. Edgar says:

    I agree with Isshak, please keep it up for us curious people wanting to be already at MIT solving four hour puzzles! =)

  11. MITParent says:

    This blog is hilarious. My ’11 daughter is on a Mystery Hunt team, and I don’t expect to hear anything from her for several days. grin

  12. Bryan says:

    Please tell me you’re not doing Odd One Out because this puzzle is AWFUL

  13. Bryan says:


    what say your team and my team combine forces?

    wink wink nudge nudge

  14. Isshak says:

    How many puzzles are there ? Are you on to something? Do you have any clue on the murderer ? So much suspens ! ^^

  15. Jayne says:

    haha. Have you gotten any sleep? smile

  16. my daughter is participating too and i am so anxious to hear all about it. when will we know the winners or have they already been announced?

  17. Anonymous says:

    ooooh, a murder mystery, like clue!

    i know the answer!

    laura ’09, in the library, with final exams!

  18. Isshak says:

    Try Odd one out, it’s an easy way to craziness.

  19. bob says:

    f6nQ3i hi great site thx

  20. SpotWeld says:

    Otto Awkward…

    Like the back seat of a Volkswagen?

  21. Snively says:

    Ok, so at this point, the puzzles are so ridiculous/impossible/convoluted that our brains, after being raped repeatedly for over 2 days (and me running on 1.5 hours of sleep), are about to explode inside our skulls and leak out our eyes.


  22. Paul says:

    Hey Laura, did you find the puzzle that referenced Veronica Mars and the biker gang? wink

  23. Isshak says:

    Wow there’s something about facebook ? Post it please ! (along with the hint of ocurse).
    Well, back to the wargaming puzzle…

  24. Laura says:

    What?! A puzzle referenced VMars and I missed it?!?!

  25. Isshak says:

    We could help you with the puzzle Laura.
    Is Ben Jones playing too ?

  26. Isshak says:

    What’s the puzzle ? Maybe we can help. It’s 10:40am here so I’m not tired and my mid is ready to take in more puzzles !
    P.S: I’m still working on wargame, I think it hasn’t been solved yet, but I actually don’t know about that !

  27. Harrison says:

    Ahahaha Guilty Pleasures sucked but we eventually got it. The puzzle that’s driving me insane is Bad Beat Jackpot it just doesn’t work ever ever ever ever ever

  28. Snively says:

    The hunt is still in progress, we anticipate it not ending for quite some time.

  29. Priya says:

    Hey Laura, I have a question: what color is your hair? — it looks dark in some of the pictures, but on the banner it looks more red-ish…
    Either way it’s pretty though!

  30. Paul says:

    Hate to break it to you Harrison, but Bad Beat Jackpot definitely works. I managed to pick up on the justification, then another hunter extracted the solution. Don’t focus on all the information available, you’ll get to it! ^_^

    Laura – the VMars-related puzzle is “Hack Writers.” Best of luck if you can figure out how to actually solve it, I got pretty far but eventually it stumped me (and now I’m no longer working on the Hunt – more on why later).

    Happy Hunting to everyone!

  31. Rhys says:

    I love that I’m not the only one that wasted 15+ hours of my life on “Guilty Pleasures”. My team was cruel to me however, as another team eventually told us the secret of getting the titles to go together but my team (there were 5 of us total) decided that since we hadn’t figured it out for ourselves that if I wanted to call in a answer to it, I had to finish solving it the long way…

    Alas, I was determined to finish the damn thing, so I can confidently inform you that it is in fact possible to solve enough of it the “hard way” to get an answer.

  32. Hooligan says:

    Hi, I’m one of the people you probably talked to when you called in your answers. Just wanted to let you know that the constructor of “Guilty Pleasures” was an idiot and walked out halfway through the Hunt (to the joy of the entire team) and the puzzle was poorly constructed and had several errors. Sorry you wasted so much time, but at least it wasn’t your fault you couldn’t solve it!