Saturday, August 6, 2016

Long Distance Call

Right about now a group of “international playful people” are gathered together in a (mostly) undisclosed location of the world, enjoying that beautiful city, some clever and unique mechanical puzzles which have never been seen anywhere in the world before, and best of all each other’s company.  I can’t join them in person this time but am sending this week’s post out to them and wishing them all a great time.  Last year at this time I featured a few puzzle boxes which were created by artists known to that group, whose creations were even entered into the international puzzle design competition which is hosted at that event.  One was the “Crypsis” box by Kelly Snache, a gorgeous box with a hinged lid and a distinctive butterfly resting on top.  Twirling the colorful knobs on each side might lead you to discover the correct sequence of moves needed to open the box, but beware –Kel is a mischievous fellow!  Another was the “Big Ben” puzzle by Brian Young of Mr. Puzzle fame.  Big Ben is a beautifully carved model of the famous London clock tower which sets you off on a journey of discovery. Along the way you solve steps, navigate a maze, find various tools and brainstorm just how you might use them to ultimately solve the endgame, which is to reveal the golden bell which gives the clock tower its name.  If that sounds like fun to you, you’re not alone – Big Ben won the Jury Grand Prize Award at the competition last year.

The SMS Telephone by Brian Young
Brian is at it again with the “SMS Telephone” puzzle.  I thought I would feature it this week in honor of that gathering I mentioned.  You know, those “interesting, polite pals” of mine.  It seems like as good a time as any to mention it, since it’s an “impossible, painful piece”.    What I mean is that these reviews are usually only done once a puzzle has been successfully solved.  Perhaps that lends authenticity to the review?  Or perhaps bragging rights to the author?  Well, I’m glad I never claimed to be able to solve every puzzle box – I would be regretting that boast right about now.  Most puzzle boxes aren’t really that hard to figure out, honestly.  But the SMS Telephone, that’s a different story altogether.  For now its secrets are well hidden and remain locked away.  I can’t even “phone a friend” on this telephone, since almost no one in the world has opened this puzzle yet, either!  The SMS Telephone is a handsome little sculpture which resembles an old fashioned Australian telephone box.  It comes complete with handset cradled on top connected to the main box by a wire and a rotary dial, all standard old fashioned issue. Which is all very confusing, since this is called the “SMS” telephone – and that is the ultimate challenge of this puzzle.  Hidden inside are a few compartments and again tools to find which you will need to use to solve the final mystery, which is to receive an SMS message from this old telephone.  Brian has deliberately built in false moves and booby traps to keep you from figuring things out, and apparently he really doesn’t want anyone to call him.  The line remains dead over here at any rate.  I’ll let you all know if I ever solve this one, and if you have any ideas, send me a text!

I'm getting "no signal" here ...

As you know, I’m “insistently pushing potions” to pair with these “intriguingly perplexing puzzles”.  For this “intensely pesky phone” I’ve settled on something decadent and indulgent.  This one should be sipped slowly for desert, perhaps to relax you after a long day of arguing with the phone company and getting absolutely nowhere.  The “Chadburn” is a delectable combination of tawny port, aged rum, pear liqueur and chocolate bitters which is rich and rewarding.  It was created by Martin Cate, the proprietor of “Smuggler’s Cove”, the landmark “tiki” bar in San Fransisco which helped fuel the recent tiki renaissance.  

The Chadburn by Martin Cate - pears and port, anyone?

The drink is named after the chadburn telegraph, the onboard nautical communications device which was utilized starting in the 19th century by the ship’s pilot.  It would send a message down to the engine room to alert the engineer about a change in speed or power.  The chadburn telegraph consists of a large dial face set in brass with a handle or lever which swivels around to the desired setting.  It’s classic and old fashioned look often remains intact even on modern devices which house state of the art communications.  It seem a perfect compliment to the old fashioned “SMS” telephone – and it’s a much easier solution, one you can stir right up.  I’ll be sipping one and toasting my friends across the globe as I continue to “interrogate possible ploys” on this wooden phone.  Cheers!

Intoxicating Pair Paradise

The Chadburn by Martin Cate:

½ oz tawny port
½ oz pear liqueur
2 oz aged rum
6 drops Bittermens Xocolatl Chocolate Mole Bitters
Stir ingredients over ice and strain into a favorite glass.

For more information about Brian Young:

For the Big Ben puzzle please see:

For Kel Snache's Crypsis please see:

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