Sunday 29 January 2023

Thou Shalt Never Use External Tool...

Except When Given Permission by Dee

Bad Moon by Dee Dixon
The moon has feet!
Yes, Puzzleboxes tend not to be my thing but I had been led astray by a friend and bought the wonderful Angry Walter which made it into my top 5 of 2022. This certainly made me very interested in what Dee was going to produce in the future and then, at the last MPP, a prototype copy was doing the rounds which I studiously avoided playing with because I sort of knew that I wanted to buy and solve my own copy. I slantways watched a blind man solve it and throughly enjoy himself which reinforced my determination. After all, if a blind man can manage it then I might stand half a chance. Although...come to think of it, Allard seems to use the blind man to solve quite a few of his boxes that he cannot solve himself. I suspect that Ed is a savant! I was delighted a few weeks ago when Dee put out that he had made a whole bunch of them and put them up for sale. There were plenty for all interested puzzlers and it took 24 hours for them to sell out. Even I was able to get one in time.

I followed it as it moved stepwise across the USA and then stepped onto an airplane and promptly disappeared for quite a while. After a few weeks it suddenly arrived in the Royal Mail's hands (I presume that HM Customs and Excise had spent time examining and X-raying it before deciding it was not harmful. Except it was harmful to my mental health for a day!

The aim is to find the maker's brand inside the puzzle and, as with Angry Walter: 
no force or prying necessary
no spinning necessary
no striking or hitting necessary
no crying or whining unless necessary 

Then later, an emailed extra instruction that we cannot insert our fingers inside any further than the fingertips. Damn! He removes the only chance I have!

This puzzle had a wonderful progression... at first, you find something which is the only thing that moves and wonder what you can do with it. A little exploration shows that it can be removed and then further movement happens but stops abruptly but revealed something new. There are plenty of "what if I?" moments and some of them are rewarded with a lovely Aha! moment.

I struggled for a day with the second step. I had a "thing", I had a couple of places the "thing" would fit and it didn't seem to help. Stuck as usual. After a couple of evenings of doing the same thing over and over again, I heard something whilst doing that same thing. Yessss! Aha! It took me another little while to convert that sound into a step but I got there. This might explain why I am rubbish at puzzles - I spend most of my time playing whilst watching a noisy TV with Mrs S and maybe I miss these important noises?

As you explore there are more steps and more pieces to use. It really is a fun progression. After a few days I really thought I was getting somewhere and I had a small piece which I didn't know what to do with and in desperation, I wondered to myself:

"Self, do you think that putting this small piece inside the main puzzle and then pushing it further in with the main piece might be helpful?"

"Yes, I don't think it can do any harm and might just be helpful"

In the words of the venerable Captain Mainwaring: "You Stupid Boy". I performed the appropriate move and my latest piece of the puzzle disappeared inside and gulp, wouldn't come out again. I tried everything I could think of and even committed the cardinal sin of bashing it in various different directions to persuade it to come out. Nothing would work! I sinned again by inserting my fingers all the way inside and nope, it was out of reach. I had no idea where it had gone. Help! I have killed my new lovely toy. I got on FB messenger with Dee and he couldn't think where it could have gotten caught and apart from the bashing he did not know how such a thing could happen. He even apologised for me being stupid! Such a lovely man. He did give me permission to use other tools: JUST for retrieving this piece.

I took a wooden skewer which I could curve and tried to use that to dislodge it blindly - nope, that wasn't going to work either. I knew I had to take ultimate measures! Time to take it to work with me the following day and use something special:

I need access to a whole lot of toys to allow me to insert lots of nasty objects into all sorts of places. As an anaesthetist, I tend to stay at the top end of the lucky contestant as much as I can - I leave the other end to other specialists like Steve (although sometimes I have no choice - Eeeew). I sometimes use a video laryngoscope for either fiberoptic intubation or just plain intubation under indirect vision. It is a great way to see around corners. One of the devices we use is a Glidescope. I had some spare teaching disposables and had a little fiddle, much to the amusement of my ODP:

Light on and ready
Perfect fit and view
Aha! I could see that my piece had gotten wedged sideways into a groove in the base of the puzzle. I've put the phot behind a spoiler button Only click it if you really want to. BUT There is nothing in the photo that really tells you much about the solution to the puzzle.

Having established what was causing my problems I had another special tool. I usually use it for insertion of nasogastric feeding tubes or helping with intubation but it's equally good at retrieval of lost objects - I have only ever knocked out a tooth/crown once in 28 years as an anaesthetist!

Time to go fishing under video guidance
Yay! I had my missing piece and took the puzzle home to play later that evening. The final step took me a couple of evenings as I could not for the life of me work out how to use what I had to continue the odyssey. Finally, I realised there were some slots and pieces I had not used yet and with trepidation I inserted pieces into places and pushed...

Yesssssss! The Bad moon had revealed it's final secret:

Dee's mark is revealed.
I can heartily recommend playing with this puzzle if you get a chance. It is BIG and heavy (10" x 5" x 2.5" - 850g) made from Bubinga and European Beech. The grain and colour is stunning.


  1. You should give those other insertion places a try, it’s a lot more fun that you realize!

    1. Oh, I did try it. I was a junior physician for a couple of years before seeing the light and changing to anaesthesia. I tried all of those other insertion sites and didn’t like them very much! 🤢🤢 I’ll stick to the top end.
      I still catheterise if the surgeons are being tardy but it’s not something I feel a great urge to do frequently. 🤣

  2. Great story! How wonderful is it that these amazing high-tech puzzle solving/fixing tools can also be used to save lives?

    1. Save lives? Save puzzles? Same thing really! 😈