No Forwarding Address

Percy Fawcett set out to solve a mystery and only compounded it. In 1925, after studying ancient legends, the British archaeologist became convinced that the dense Matto Grosso region of western Brazil concealed a lost city that he called “Z.” In May he set out with two other men into the uncharted jungle, leaving a note that none should try to rescue them if they did not return.

They didn’t. The decades that followed brought many rumors: Fawcett had been murdered by Indians, killed by a wild animal, stricken with amnesia or felled by illness. In all, 100 rescuers in 13 expeditions have died trying to discover what happened to him. To this day, no one knows.

“A Rat Caught by an Oyster”

Mr. James Wrigley, master of the Golden Lion inn, at Liverpool, going into his cellar, October 26, 1759, having some oysters there, a large Norway rat, endeavouring to seize an oyster that was open, it closed, and held him so fast, that he was carried into the kitchen, and exhibited to some hundred persons, while alive.

Annual Register, 1759

Batting Next …

Cricketer I.L. Bula played nine first-class matches for Fiji between 1947 and 1954.

Sportswriters must have been glad he didn’t use his full name — it was Ilikena Lasarusa Talebulamainavaleniveivakabulaimainakulalakebalau.

Chess Detective Work

Retrograde analysis involves looking into a chess game’s past, rather than its future. Here’s an example from Henry Ernest Dudeney (1917):

Dudeney retrograde analysis

“Strolling into one of the rooms of a London club, I noticed a position left by two players who had gone. This position is shown in the diagram. It is evident that White has checkmated Black. But how did he do it? That is the puzzle.”

The solution is unique. Can you find it?

Click for Answer

Daniel McCartney

Daniel McCartney never needed a diary — he could remember every day of his life since age 9. On his death in 1887, the Cardington, Ohio, Independent published this account:

That the reader may more clearly understand what has just been written, I will give Mr. McCartney’s answer to a question of my own: ‘Wife and I were married on the 28th day of January, 1836; give the day of the week, the kind of weather, etc.?’ He gave answer in a few seconds. ‘You were married on Thursday, there was snow on the ground, good sleighing and not very cold; father and I were hauling hay; a sole came off the sled, we had to throw the hay off, put a new sole on the sled and load up again before we could go.’

The writer (whose name is not given) met McCartney again a dozen years later and asked the same question. McCartney gave the same details.

Not So Fast

n2n + 41 produces prime numbers for all integers from 0 to 40 — but it fails when n equals 41.

“Singular Expedient”

A strange story is that related in a paper on ‘English and Irish Juries,’ in All the Year Round. The president judge in the case, Sir James Dyce, chief justice of the Court of Common Pleas, astonished at the verdict of acquittal in so plain a case, sought an interview with the foreman, who, having previously obtained a promise of secrecy during his lifetime, confessed that he had killed the man in a struggle in self-defence, and said that he had caused himself to be placed on the jury in order to insure his acquittal.

— Charles Bombaugh, Facts and Fancies for the Curious From the Harvest-Fields of Literature, 1905


“Remember, we’re all in this alone.” — Lily Tomlin

“To — — –“

Here’s a valentine written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1846. His sweetheart’s name is hidden in it — can you find it?

For her these lines are penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the starts of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name that, nestling, lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly these words, which hold a treasure
Divine — a talisman, an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure —
The words — the letters themselves. Do not forget
The smallest point, or you may lose your labor.
And yet there is in this no gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Upon the open page on which are peering
Such sweet eyes now, there lies, I say, perdus,
A musical name oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets — for the name is a poet’s too.
In common sequence set, the letters lying,
Compose a sound delighting all to hear —
Ah, this you’d have no trouble in descrying
Were you not something, of a dunce, my dear —
And now I leave these riddles to their Seer.

Click for Answer

In a Word

adj. amenable to flattery