Saturday, January 9, 2016

Resistance is Futile

There is a particular puzzle box on my shelf which has been sitting there for a while, beckoning me.  It’s particularly stunning to look at, composed of a tapestry of wooden shapes and types, so it’s marvelous simply as a piece of art.  But that’s not why it beckons.  Contained within its walls lies a unique challenge which sets it apart from most puzzle boxes.  Yes, there is a complex series of over 30 moves to discover, in order to open the box.  But a few additional moves will then allow the box to be separated into its 6 individual sides.  And finally, for the ultimate challenge, each side can be dismantled into many, many distinct interlocking pieces until the entire box has been deconstructed to 80 individual pieces.  Which may render the box into a bundle of sticks forever, if the foolish adventurer loses track of how to put it all back together again.  This fear is what keeps many from ever attempting the complete deconstruction of this box.  And of course, what compels many to do it.  I knew I would have to face the challenge eventually, and resistance was futile.

Stickman No. 5 aka The "Borg" Box by Robert Yarger

The Stickman No. 5 Puzzlebox was created by Robert Yarger, a modern virtuoso of the craft.  His designs are highly prized for their originality, complexity, artistry and beauty.  Like all of his puzzles, this box has a nickname.  The “Borg Box” is so named for its resemblance to the space ship used by the “Borg”, the collective of alien beings from the Star Trek series.  The Borg exists as a single cybernetic organism of many species who have been assimilated into the collective and function with a hive mind to create the whole.  The analogy seems appropriate to this puzzle box, which is composed of 80 unique pieces made from different species of exotic hardwood, including maple, walnut, cherry and bloodwood, which all interlock, with no glue, nails, joints or fasteners, to create the complex and unique whole.  As if that wasn't enough, the main function of box, as a secret-opening puzzle box, is wonderfully challenging and complicated, with well hidden and cleverly engineered moves and sequences.  Robert mentions in his description of the box that it is enough of a challenge to merely solve how to open it.  He cautions those who would attempt to take the whole thing completely apart to be forewarned and “May God Have Mercy On Your Soul”!  You can ship your disastrous failure back to him for reassembly, but he will charge you for the shame.  Like I said, who could resist picking up that gauntlet?

Quite a challenge just to open the box

The reason for existence and ultimate goal in life of the original Borg, the fictional alien race of assimilated cyber organisms, is to “achieve perfection”.  If they were drinking cyborgs, they might like a “Perfect Martini”.  As I’m sure you know, the classic martini is composed of gin and dry vermouth, with varying ratios of each depending on the fashion of the times.  I’ve discussed the history of the martini before.  Vermouth is an aromatized, fortified wine, unique to each producer, and often made from a proprietary and historical combination of plants and herb infusions.  Dry white vermouth is the classic addition to a martini, but sweeter red vermouth, made from red wine, also has a long history with the martini and is found in many variations.  Lengthy discussion regarding how to make the “perfect”, as in “ideal”, classic martini aside, a “perfect martini” also refers to the variation of using both dry and sweet vermouth together.  

This martini is "perfect"

I've also discussed the technique of using both red and white vermouth before, in the “Perfect Duet” cocktail.  For this Borg-worthy perfect martini, I have combined a classic style gin with two special vermouths, Cocchi Americano white and Carpano Antica Formula red, to create the “Resistance is Futile”.  This medley of different species melds together seamlessly in a way which will assimilate you instantly, and gladly.  Cheers!

The "Resistance is Futile" cocktail

The Resistance is Futile:
2 oz gin
½ oz Cocchi Americano vermouth
½ oz Carpano Antica Formula vermouth
Stir all over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and assimilate.  RIF.

You will be assimilated ...

For more information about Robert Yarger:

For more photographs of the Borg deconstruction, click here:

Challenge accepted ...

1 comment:

  1. Sigh! As you know I deliberately don't collect boxes to protect my finances but I make exceptions for Stickman boxes and those with other types of puzzling involved. The Borg box is my ultimate - it's a burr and a box! Fantastic! I have got the Shapeways version but beautiful wood is my thing! I would love to get hold of this one for my collection!