Mad Scrambles by Bob Lodge Part I: Introduction

You will be asked to repeatedly expand, scramble, and shuffle a String (I'll write it throughout the contest that way for emphasis) of letters, until a directive appears, whose answer is the goal of this contest.  Extended complicated directions must be followed with great care.  Any error or omission could render the final result incomprehensible and meaningless.  If any step doesn't jibe with the work so far, STOP, and find errors before further steps compound them.  In this challenging gauntlet of many small steps, just one mistake may tumble the house of cards!  Can you make it all the way?

Most of the Parts that follow are of three types. 

The Scramble sections will alter the String, either by adding new words or letters, or by rearranging what is already there.  Other sections may generate words or letters to be added, or alter words into non-words (perhaps still referred to as words) and still others make keys to insertion points, to tell where to add the new words.  While some puzzles generating data may be worked independently, others may not, and all Scramble sequences that alter the String MUST be done in order.  For instance, if you are to remove the 3rd letter, then later switch the 5th and 6th letters, those letters would have been the 6th and 7th letters before the 3rd letter was removed.  Doing the two steps in the reverse order will produce a different result!  So, throughout the contest, each step is performed on a word, list, or String as it results from any previous steps, thus the order they are done is of paramount importance.

Below is the beginning form of the String.  It has 108 letters.  You must guard it well and maintain it as you progress, adding and rearranging letters.  It will remain a scramble of letters, despite changes, until the very last step, when a message will appear suddenly.  However, as you progress, some occasional Checkpoints may help you to stay on track.  Go back if they don't check.  If you copy it to a document in a fixed width font such as Courier New, then you can line up columns for manipulation and counting.



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Part II: Info: Cryptograms, Pictures, and Variables

All bold, underlined, upper case, non-italic WORDS appearing in this contest are ENCRYPTED using the same key.  It is probably best to gather all 38 of them together early on, and decode all at once. 

There are also ten pictures, [Fig 1] through [Fig 9], some partly obfuscated, to supply information.  4a and 4b are different posters for the same film.

Two sets of variables, all different integers, have constant values throughout the puzzle.  In Part VI, a b c and d are found, and in Part VIII, six values α β γ δ ε and ζ are solved.  Note: Variable ordinals use th, even ending 1 2 or 3. (e.g. nth may be 42nd)

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Part III: Six easy words

Each word has four letters, with the 2nd letter the only vowel.  Only 2 vowels are used, 3 of each.

* First word of anti-drug catchphrase from 1980s 

* Meaning of one-word anagram of COINS OF AIDA    

* First word of state capital with the most words 

* Word in film title ending in a color and a month 

* First syllable of POTUS whose last syllable begins

   the String 

* Follows mutual, equity, and money market 

Arrange the six answers in alphabetical order, then number them #1-#6.  Modify four of them by moving one letter as follows:

#1 and #5 -- Move the vowel to the end. 

#3 -- Move the last letter in front of the vowel. 

#4 -- Move the first letter to follow the vowel.

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Part IV: Scramble 1 -- First change of the String

Carefully insert the six words from Part III, in order, into the String in these exact positions:

#1 - Just before the 100th letter

#2 - Just before the City of BIQNVT

#3 - Just after #2

#4 - Between the initials of the most distant


#5 - Just after the LAST word in the catchphrase

      mentioned above

#6 - Between a nurse and a doctor (not a dentist)

Now the String has 132 letters.  There are 5 pairs of double letters.  (If there are not, go back and find mistakes.)  Cut the String between the middle pair, and swap the two segments.  The String now begins and ends with the same letter.

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Part V: Scramble 2 -- Twelve Easy Pieces

Divide the String into 12 equal segments.  Label each with a month, Jan-Dec in order.  Checkpoint: The four intact double letters should be in Jan, Feb, Jun, and Jul.  Reorder months, with String segments attached, according to this cryptogram:


Now drop the months and reattach the segments, in the new order, back into a single 132-letter String.

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Part VI: Three ZIP Codes = Seven Integers

String will now be cut into eight segments of varied size.  The first starts at the beginning, and this section will yield seven ordered integers in the 1-132 range, representing interior first letter positions of the 2nd through 8th segments.

Preface: a b c and d are integers in ascending order (a and d are prime), whose product is half the ZIP code of the northernmost U.S. town named the same as the highest point in DPZCN County.  They will also be used in other future sections of this contest.   


Two "rectangles" on the map of the continental U.S. each have 4 right angles, on land, and all sides aligned N-S and E-W.  (The narrowing of longitude closer to the pole is small enough to ignore.)  Each nests into a portion of a state boundary that is a right angle corner, so two adjacent sides lie on the border, while the other sides and the entire area lie within the state.  The corners may be any of four orientations (NW-NE-SE-SW), but the boundary sides of the two rectangles combined are one of each; top, bottom, left, and right, thus the two state "corners" are oriented diagonally opposite.

One rectangle, in state A, is about d miles tall and c miles wide.  The two boundary sides are each with different states, so for example it cannot be the NE corner of IN, as a detailed map shows it nests into a 4-mile jog in the MI border, and one side of the rectangle would border both MI and OH.  Even smaller similar jogs are found in NW TX at NM and SE MT at SD, precluding them as answers.  A town at the exact center of the rectangle has a two-word name. 

The second rectangle, in State B, is b miles tall and 1 degree of longitude wide.  Here both boundary sides are with the SAME state, C.  A town at the center also has a two word name, whose second word is the same as the first word of the other name, of the town in State A.

Find these three 5-digit ZIP codes:

{1} {2} The ZIP codes of the two 2-word towns at the centers of the two rectangles in States A and B, and

{3} The largest ZIP code containing unequal adjacent digits in descending order, used for PO Boxes in a large (>25k) town in State C, about a miles from the southernmost point of a neighboring state.

Put the ZIP codes in an order (out of six possible ways) so when run together, then separated into seven numbers, six 2-digit and the last a 3-digit, they are in ascending order.

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Part VII: Scramble 3 -- Pieces of Eight

The 132-letter String from Part V will now be cut into eight segments.  The first one starts at the beginning.  The seven numbers found in Part VI are the simple counted positions of the first letters of each of the remaining seven String segments.  Count the letters and separate the String into 8 smaller Strings, and finally, alphabetize them.  Checkpoint: Just one pair of segments have same first letters.

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Part VIII: Two ZIP Codes = Six Greek Integers

For use in future sections, find six integers, more than zero and with no leading zeros, named α β γ δ ε and ζ in increasing order.  First, find these:


{1} The ZIP code of C..., in a short alphabetical drive through Alto, Baldwin, C..., and ANSKONTC.  It takes well under 30 minutes, but beware speed traps!

{2} [Anagram of what they did regarding SKTNT, where his name is first mentioned in DTBVS [U + e], where U = the age at death of the author of [Fig 1], and e = b + c - (a + d)] : [Given name of eponym of the routine of doing a round-off onto a springboard, a back handspring onto a horse, then performing a salto]  :: [Surname of fugitive in [Fig 2], on the Most Wanted list of a town using a ZIP code that is a palindromic multiple of the year of the [U - e]th birthday of the actor who, in the film where XYKKDP plays a character whose name appears twice in the title, was a character with the same name as the actor who plays a character named OBXVPIQT in the film in which an actor (who played the title role V in V's Peril, V's Magic Fountain, and V and the Slave Girl) played the character with the same name as the actor who once played a character named YEZYOZYZOO] : [Place whose ZIP code is sought here].

Each ZIP code is three values run together, using the same pattern and order of numbers of digits.

Checkpoint: Two are composite, and four are prime.

Caution: Take care to never confuse a and α (alpha)!

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Part IX: Twenty-five Words

Answer the 25 definitions [01]-[25] below.  Each is a single English word or a name, save one foreign word and two abbreviations, but all are called Words even after scrambling later.  In the later sections, this list will be referred to as Words, underlined and capitalized but not bold.  Cross-referencing precludes their being solved in order.  Hint I: With one exception, these 25 answers are in alphabetical order!  Hint II: Definition: Definitive U.S. stamps (as opposed to commemoratives), often called regular issues, are sometimes issued in large sets piecemeal over many years.  Most references list them together at the date the series began, so later additions to the set may appear earlier in the catalog than their actual issue date, which is still properly noted.  U.S. stamps are at

[01] First word of the title of a film in which a W named [03] portrays himself, where W anagrams both first names of the actors in the scene, from a film made ε years earlier, with the line: "I haven't got much time, so if you love your country, if you're a patriot, you listen and you listen hard."

[02] USPS abbreviation of the state seen in [Fig 3]  Hint: The town name initial is in the [Fig 7] logo.

[03] First name of the author of The X Elements of X Success, where X is the adjective in the title of a leap year film whose title character is played by the actor who, the next leap year, played the part of YBIL in a film whose title is a familiar β-word catchphrase first uttered by a man with the same name as the title character in a film whose cast includes the actress made popular by her role of Jill (with co-stars playing Kris and Sabrina) and one of the actors seen on a coin in [Fig 4a] (and also [Fig 4b]) on the birthday, the year his age became both a square and a cube, of the eponym of the structure in [Fig 5], from which RBCBVPIB Island can be seen, looking south on a clear day

[04] Surname of [03], spelled backward, which is still a word

[05] Thing seen on a KUT stamp whose Scott catalog number is the product of the numbers of the two of these 25 words which appear consecutively in one of the titles mentioned in [23] 

[06] One-word title of film with the last starring screen role (she did some later TV and voice work prior to her death) of the actress who had once portrayed the wife of a character, portrayed by the actor on the coin in [Fig 4b] touching the one referred to in Clue [03], in another film, whose cast includes two major Hollywood stars (each born over 100 years ago but in the 20th century, which began in 1901) with first names almost the same except that, for each, the first letter is that of the other's surname (such as Joe Miller and Moe Jones)  Hint: One of the two letters is in the logo in [Fig 7].  See also Clue [11].

[07] Subtitle of work by composer whose birth year is that of the person mentioned in [21] with two digits interchanged, cataloged with a G number that is the ZIP code, with the odd digits removed, of a place DKVBO is closer to than to NVCKI or DYVKM

[08] First word of title of a Shakspeare play whose characters include twins, one of whom is named GPKVB 

[09] Contributing cause of SPVANX (8 letters)   

[10] German for the English word that is the last syllable of the surname of the W referred to in [01]   

[11] RKEENN division of the maker of a popular TIBRL whose name is the longest word in the title of an animated short film that won that category's Oscar exactly δ years after the year the two Hollywood stars in Clue [06] both received Best Leading Actor Oscar nominations, and one of them won! 

[12] Palindromic wedge shaped shelter type, sans floor 

[13] Top word in the standard solution to the puzzle using these letters, based on a popular 1880 sliding block puzzle:


║ P ║ L ║ A ║ Y ║


║ D ║ R ║ U ║ M ║


║ I ║ N ║ T ║ O ║


║ E ║ A ║ R ║


[14] The surname of probably the most famous ______, with two halves interchanged, becomes that of the actress known for portraying INVVPN in the film with the debut of another actress whose more recent roles include characters named JPIQ-JPIQ and MPKZ-MPKZ. 

[15] Word immediately preceding the only previous occurrence of the last word, in the entire poem excerpted in [16]  Note: A key reference has a critical typo.  Try another source if stymied.

[16] Denomination (spelled out) in cents, of a U.S. definitive stamp honoring an important American leader whose birthplace is in Nebraska, who died on the ζth birthday of the American poet who wrote this apparent description of a burglary:

...two could creep:

One hand the tools, the other peep      

To make sure all's asleep.

[17] αth word in the entire literary piece excerpted on a U.S. definitive stamp depicting a female face, issued the date of death of the film actress who portrayed Zelma La Claire

[18] In the referenced quote, [24] is the αth word following it.

[19] The generic Hamilton Beach item whose model number is the ZIP code of the southernmost town in the northernmost county in the easternmost state bordering the westernmost state bordering the state part of whose flag is seen in [Fig 6]

[20] Last word of the title of the sequel to the film in which a female character's surname is that of a male character (played by an actor whose monogram is in the obscured logo in [Fig 7]) in a Law & Order TV episode that first aired on the (posthumous) birthday of one of the four composers of: Elijah, Oratorio for Choir and Orchestra (op. 70); 6 Trio Sonatas for 2 violins and basso continuo (op. 1); Cantique de Jean Racine, for chorus and orchestra; and Liturgy of St John Chrysostom for a capella choir (op. 31), when the year ended in the same two digits as the sum of the ages of that composer and one of the other three (on his most recent birthday)

[21] Item seen on the stamp of SNMPRK whose Scott catalog number is the year of the γth birthday of the person depicted on the U.S. stamp whose catalog number is half that of the stamp depicted in [Fig 8] 

[22] Word following these two: last half of [23], [17] in a formerly ubiquitous telephone message

[23] First word inside parentheses in the titles of Rhonda Graphics Top Ten Maya Tips & Tricks

[24] Word preceding "...the Y of Z." in a speech in the work referenced in [08], with Y and Z being two nouns (one plural) that anagram the three words immediately preceding the phrase "the influence of VPCYKCOKDYPR QOKZIAXBCNO" in an abstract that is published on the internet.  All but one of these 25 answers have fewer letters than the singular noun Y.

[25] The two letters blacked out in two places in [Fig 9]

Checkpoint: The total letter count for the 25 Words is 128.  Only two Words start with vowels.  There are no double letters in the list.

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Part X: Scramble 4 -- Quick Scramble Using Word List

You now have two lists: 8 String segments (referred to as Strings), from Part VII, and the 25 Words just completed, both alphabetized except for one "misfit" Word.  If both lists are correct, the next steps can only be done one way.

First, locate two Spaces, intervals between Words, in the Word list.  Space 1 is where the out-of-order Word is located, between the Words that precede and follow it.  Space 2 is where the out-of-order Word would fit, between two Words, if you wished to move it into alphabetical order in the list.

Still thinking alphabetically, in the String list, identify the two consecutive ones that would fit into Space 1 (ignoring the out-of-order Word there), and a third String that would fit into Space 2.

Move that third String between the first two, then change its first letter so that it is once again in alphabetical order.  Notice that this movement is entirely within the String list, with no movement of Strings to the Word list.

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