Friday, August 18, 2017

Butterfly Feelings

Now for something pleasant.  And painful.  From the international man of mystery and mayhem, the Dutch devil of devious delights – that’s right, Wil Strijbos, the brilliant puzzle designer from the Netherlands – comes more mischievous merriment.  Last summer I wrote about one of my favorite puzzle boxes, the long awaited PachinkoBox from Strijbos.  That box is immensely clever, satisfying and fun to solve.  But the year prior to that I fumbled through his Butterfly Box (aka “Pleasure and Pain” Box).  I say that I fumbled, not to appear self effacing, but to admit that I fell right into his trap.  The one he set on purpose for everyone who attempts to solve this box.  I don’t want to explain exactly what happened (some of you will know quite well anyway) as this may give quite a bit away about the solution.  That would be a shame, as it would violate Wil’s request not to give any hints or solutions to his puzzles, especially the ones like the Butterfly Box.  It would also be a shame since I now want anyone else who tries this puzzle to suffer like I did.  Wil should name his next puzzle box “Schadenfreude”.  I suppose enough time has passed that I can now happily write about this wonderful puzzle.

Butterfly Box by Wil Strijbos

Most of what you need to know about this puzzle “box” (technically a box since it has space inside, although that is not the main goal) is apparent from examining it.  A large metal block with an anodized green front plate is adorned with a very large, very heavy solid brass padlock affixed to a bolt on top.  A cuff which is locked in place is also present, with the word “LOCK” inscribed, but it is upside down.  Your task is to unlock the padlock, right the cuff, and lock up everything with the puzzle back to the starting position.  On the back of the metal block “box” there is an etching which to me looks like a butterfly – perhaps the reason behind the name.  But what of the puzzle’s nickname – the "Pleasure and Pain" box?  The whole affair is certainly a pleasure to look at and handle, being extremely well built and unusual in appearance.  Fiddling about with it produces some expected and some unexpected results, and you may very well find the means to unlock the padlock.  Quite pleasurable.  Nevermind the pleasant looking fellow who may strangely appear out of nowhere and send an odd pleasantry.  A little additional dexterity and maneuvering and perhaps you will even have reset it all back to the start as instructed.  Pleasure all around.  Perhaps a month might even go by, while you politely wonder what all the fuss was about.  But at some point, doubt will creep in, prompted by the paranoia induced by other puzzlers in pain.  Or even by Wil Strijbos himself, wondering whether congratulations are truly in order.  That will be the moment when you revisit the puzzle, and realize you are a fool.  Or at least, Wil’s fool.  That was no pleasantry from the mysterious pleasant fellow – it was a plaintiff cry!  A painful process indeed ensues, and it will literally be many weeks before you can finally say you have succeeded in mastering this masterpiece.  And that’s all I’ll say, so that you, too may suffer the pleasures someday.

Simple pleasures await inside this box.  So why do I have butterflies in my stomach?

To toast this marvelous, menacing box, I’ve devised a tasty tipple sure to catch your fancy.  Since Wil “caught” me in his trap I raise my glass to him with the “Butterfly Catcher” cocktail.  Created by Adele Stratton of San Diego’s fabulous secret bar, Noble Experiment, the “Fly Catcher” is a perfect summer drink which highlights the bright sweet flavor of watermelon and balances it with smoky mezcal and bitter Campari, all sweetened with a touch of almond syrup.  The drink is absolutely delicious.  I infused the mezcal in mine with dried Butterfly Pea plant leaves, for a number of reasons.  First of all, this allowed me to call it the Butterfly Catcher, which was useful for obvious reasons.  Next, Butterfly plant leaves lend a brilliant blue or indigo color to things, which makes the drink look lovely.  If you mix the drink without the acid component (such as the lime juice in this drink), then add it slowly later, you can watch the drink change colors from bright blue to purple, which is a nice cocktail magic trick.  Additionally, the Butterfly Pea plant has been used in ancient Asian medicine for its reported antistress, antianxiety, antidepressant, tranquilizing and sedative properties – which may be very helpful after trying to solve this puzzle.  Finally, the Butterfly Pea plant is from a particular plant genus which I suspect Wil Strijbos would enjoy.  Those of you who know your taxonomy will understand.  Wishing you all the pleasures, with no pain, that life has to offer – cheers!

Butterfly Catcher adapted from Adele Stratton

Butterfly Catcher – adapted from Adele Stratton

1 ½ oz mezcal infused with Butterfly Pea leaf
1 ½ oz watermelon juice
¾ oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz Campari
½ oz orgeat
Pinch of salt

Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into a favorite glass filled with crushed ice.  Don’t be fooled – this will ease your pain.

This pair will give you butterflies

For more from Wil Strijbos:

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