Throughout the first month of the Brain Exploder we’ve had hundreds of correct answers to BE puzzles. It makes most of us glad to know McSweeney’s readers are so intelligent, but one person at BE HQ is pissed. His name is Tom. Tom thinks it’s time for an old-fashioned Pittsburgh Puzzle Parry-In-A-Pen Match, and for reasons we won’t go into here, it’s company policy to keep Tom either happy or constantly occupied with long errands to the suburbs.
So here’s this week’s Exploder with little explanation and few instructions. The first person who can tell us what the numbers and letters below refer to, represent, or have in common with each other will receive two McSweeney’s books. Anyone who wants a clue can request one by email, but they will be ineligible for the Parry-In-A-Pen title and grand prize. If no one can crack the puzzle without receiving a hint, an entrant will be chosen from all correct (hint-aided) answers to win one McSweeney’s book. As always, Brain Exploder contestants are on the honor system. All entries must be received by Friday at midnight.
And so, courtesy of Tom, here is this week’s puzzle:
JG43, RH46, ET56, LC58, SD59, DM97, AJ98, JL03
Will Milford cracked the code just hours after the puzzle was released early Wednesday morning. We received hundreds of entries before the Friday deadline and by then more than three-dozen individuals had solved the puzzle on their own. Several dozen others solved the puzzle after receiving a subtle clue.
Judy Garland, 1943, Girl Crazy
Rita Hayworth, 1946, Gilda
Elizabeth Taylor, 1956, Giant
Leslie Caron, 1958, Gigi
Sandra Dee, 1959, Gidget
Demi Moore, 1997, G.I. Jane
Angelina Jolie, 1998, Gia
Jennifer Lopez, 2003, Gigli
We’d like to acknowledge the first ten people after Will who answered the puzzle correctly. They are, in order:
Heather Ann Kaldeway
Many entrants were tripped up by Angelina Jolie, who also starred in Girl, Interrupted. However, that film was released in 1999, not 1998. Several suggested the letters and numbers represented the names of chromosomes and, now that we think about it, we’re not sure they don’t. The most common incorrect guesses surmised that the numbers indicated not years in which the actresses made a film beginning with the letters “GI,” but rather years in which those actresses were divorced. After a hasty check we were surprised to learn this correlation holds true (or nearly does) for half of these women. It’s both a strange coincidence and a sad comment on 20th century Hollywood marriage.
We received many valiant, unsuccessful (and frequently half-finished) stabs at a solution, but our favorite this week came from Anthony Vitigliano:
I think it has something to do with Australian cricket players, their first and middle initials and the year they were born… in reverse. Examples:
RH Sams born 1964 <— reverse = RH46
JG Ferrant born 1934 <— reverse = JG43
JL Chambers born 1930 <— reverse = JL03
ET Odumbe born 1965 <— reverse = ET56
LC Davis born 1985 <— reverse = LC58
Presumably, Anthony is still working on that.