Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Answers to the Christmas Book Contest

 Yesterday I posted the clues to deciphering my brother's annual book gift. Today I'm going to give the answer away. If you want to puzzle it out yourself, skip to yesterday's post and try your hand.

For the first year nobody guessed the entire thing, leaving me a little proud and a little sad. Our game was to extract ten letters from the clues to spell the author's name, and figure out which letter was a ruse.

1. According to Groucho Marx, this kind of person is a critic. The letter that occurs three times in this kind of person might be the first letter in his name.Attributed to Marx and many others, the famous line goes, "Everyone's a critic." Marx even showed up on magazine covers with the quote as a tag line. 'E' shows up three times in "Everyone."

2. Three Stooges. Marx Brothers. Beatles. Such different acts, yet when we talk about them, their names all begin with the same letter. If Clue #1 is a fake, then this letter is the first in his name. If not, it’s the second.Rarely do you call them "Beatles," right? It's "The Beatles." "The Three Stooges." "The Marx Brothers." That leaves this number a 'T.'
3. According to Norm MacDonald, this organ only understands violence. One day, he says, it will attack and kill you. Today, its first letter is probably the third letter in our mystery.Cassie Nichols correctly pegged this as "heart." That'd mean our letter is "H.'

4. What’s the difference between “then” and “than”? One of them has a letter to share with us.Naturally, it's either an 'E' or an 'A.' On Twitter @ got the vowel correctly as 'A.'
5. This famous comedian refused to receive the Mark Twain Prize for several years because of the kind of language that was used at the event. He eventually accepted. The third letter in his last name might go here.Bill Cosby is the comedian who spent an infuriatingly long time not taking the honors. That'd leave us with 'S,' except this one was the bogus unclue. In fact, @ figured that out in piecing together the next letter to form the author's first name.
6. The seventh element on the Periodic Table, and something you’re inhaling right now, might be helpful here.Nitrogen is the seventh element, with the symbol 'N.' Excluding Mr. Cosby, our author is "Ethan."
7. If we’re not talking about Bob Dylan’s Modern Times, then we must be talking about this man’s movie. His first and last names match, making this clue so obvious it seems like it must be the unclue.How do they match? The same first letter: Charlie Chaplin. So it's a C-man.

8. Your mouth can speak any letter, but this is the only one your lips can spell. Enjoy not snickering over this joke in front of Grandpa.By the way, both my brother and sister failed to not snicker over #8 in front of Grandpa. The letter any pair of lips can form is 'O.' As my brother struggled over this clue I actually managed to say "Oh" and make the shape right in front of him three times. It felt a little too good.
9. This letter is redundant. It’s occurred somewhere in the name already, and occurs for the second time here. Is it the last letter?This could have been any letter that already showed up. It's actually an 'E.' That might seem obtuse, but not if you know who directed #10.

10. If this is the last letter in his name, then it’s the first in the title of the movie that beat your beloved There Will Be Blood for Best Picture at the Oscars in February, 2008.No Country For Old Men was the winner that year, directed by the Coen Brothers. The first letter 'N,' which coincidentally spells out "Ethan Coen." He wrote the excellent short story collection, The Gates of Eden, which I gave to two people this holiday season, including my brother.

Merry Christmas, everyone, and thanks to everyone who played!


  1. He figured out the name eventually, though a few got him stuck. He seems to like the book.

  2. Wow, John, awesome game. I'm going to check out the collection too, I love the Coen bros, studied some of their films for "Cinema as an Art Form" in college, a favorite class, and I think I've seen 'em all. Merry Christmas.


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