Wednesday, June 2, at 12 ET

2010 Post Hunt

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Dave Barry, Tom Shroder and GeneWeingarten
Post Hunt founders
Wednesday, June 2, 2010; 12:00 PM

Post Hunt founders Dave Barry, Tom Shroder and Gene Weingarten takes your questions on this year's weird, wacky event.

Post Hunt founders Dave Barry, Tom Shroder and Gene Weingarten took questions before the third-annual Post Hunt, a wild afternoon of brainteasers in downtown D.C. The transcript is below.

Learn more about the 2010 Post Hunt here. First time at the Hunt? Check out our FAQ, or revisit last year's puzzles for a taste of what you're in for.

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The U.S. Capital of Blame: Or is it Capitol? Anyhoo.

Who is going to take the blame for the unmitigated disaster that this Post Hunt will have been? No one could have expected the scope of this disaster next weekend.

Speaking of imminent disaster, I am looking forward to some horrible puns in your response.

Tom Shroder: Clearly the blame for the disaster-to-be that is the Post Hunt falls not a half mile from the Main Stage in the Obama White House. The president's response to this crisis has been sluggish, at best.

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Arlington: Every year you write something about not keeping ketchup in the refrigerator. Last year it WAS NOT a clue. Well, is it a clue this year?

Gene Weingarten: I find this interesting. Dave came up with the astonishing, slap-to-the-forehead revelation that you don't have to put ketchup in the refrigerator a couple of years ago, at the age of 60. The reason he did not know this before -- AS ALL OF US DO -- is that, in terms of food sophistication, Dave is roughly on the level of a 12-year-old. He also won't eat lobsters because they look like insects, or olives because they resemble eyes. I swear I am not making this up.

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Fairfax, VA: This will be my first hunt, so I am unclear what special equipment might be useful. I have heard that diagrams of telephone number pads and keyboards are sometimes useful.

Gene Weingarten: It will be immensely helpful to bring a bathysphere.

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Timing question: I have a teammate who, for some bizarre reason, was unable to completely reschedule her life to accommodate the start of the Hunt. Is the timing of the endgame already set, so that we can determine whether she could make it back in time for that, and to help us with the main puzzles?

Gene Weingarten: Yes, the endgame begins at 3 p.m. sharp, at the main stage. I believe you have a very good shot at winning, because you have correctly spelled several words involving double consonants.

I don't mean to embarrass Tom, but have I ever told you all about his astonishing spelling dysfunction? He is a complete idiot when it comes to double consonants. True fact: Tom, who has edited three Pulitzer prizewinning stories and several books, who regularly has some of the best writers in the country coming to him for advice, whose website, storysurgeons.com has brisk traffic from authors who pay him handsomely for his help, once sent me the following message:

"Is it Brittish or British?"

Tom Shroder: Usually I just say limey.

Gene Weingarten: No, usually he just says "limmey," and then I have to correct him.

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Crofton, Md.: Hey Gene, My wife and I were gonna do the Post Hunt for her birthday and I was wondering if I could get you to sign a copy of "Old Dogs Are the Best Dogs."

Tom Shroder: Heck, Gene will even sign your dog.

Gene Weingarten: The most exciting thing I was ever asked to sign was a pair of panties. They were not occupied at the time. Dave, what is the most exciting thing you were ever asked to sign?

Dave Barry: I have signed breasts. But they were mine.

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Arlington, Va.: At what juncture during the day will you pay homage to pregnant chat producers/celebrity bloggers?

washingtonpost.com: For the record, the producer of this chat does not meet that description (you can stop freaking out now, Ma).

Dave Barry: I have never really known -- I mean REALLY known -- what "juncture" means.

Gene Weingarten: We are being produced today by the un-pregnant Ms. Amanda McGrath.

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Washington, D.C.: Why the return to the same site for the second year in a row? I can understand not returning to the giant parking lot that used to be the convention center, but is it that tough to find large meeting places? DuPont Circle and Lincoln Park seem promising (or maybe Capitol Hill is too residential). The zoo? The Ellipse? Is the Mall out of bounds because of tourists? The reflecting pool near the Grant memorial at the base of Capitol Hill could be neat too--send us off to the botanical gardens or the courtyard between the National Gallery and the East Wing. Will we be repeating the same puzzles as last year as well?

Tom Shroder: It is surprisingly hard to find spaces in the heart of the city roomy enough to safely stash 10,000 people. And then there's the whole permitting and permissions process, which by the way, they don't let Gene, Dave and I anywhere near. But, just like last year, the Elipse will play a role in this year's Hunt.

Tom Shroder: Before Gene goes bezerk, I MEANT Gene, Dave and ME.

Gene Weingarten: I would never have embarrassed Tom by pointing that out.

Tom also meant Ellipse. Double consonant. The man is just a source of such pleasure for me.

Gene Weingarten: Tom also meant berserk.

I want to reiterate, he is a genius editor. He just has this spelling thing. And it's so entertaining!

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Arlington, Va.: In the unlikely event that I have to make a phone call during the Post Hunt -- is the area code for D.C. still 202?

Tom Shroder: That's for us to know and you to find out.

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NoVa: So you guys put on a Post Hunt in Washington and a Herald Hunt in Miami. Are they the same kind of events or different?

Tom Shroder: They are the same in that none of us could ever solve any of the puzzles if we hadn't made them up.

Dave Barry: Also, one is farther south.

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The perfect team: What do you think would be the dream team? I have never participated in the Post Hunt, but I am hoping to make it on Sunday. Based on the past challenges, I think the best team would be 4 people (more than that would be unwieldy).

1. Someone with a good mind for numbers and patterns 2. A word person - ear for puns and homophones 3. Artistic type with creative mind 4. Wildcard - the goofy bastard who will make random comments all day, one of which will be right

What do you think?

Gene Weingarten: That's a pretty good team, actually. I'd add Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Tom Shroder: Someone from the NSA, an accountant, a rocket scientist, and a 10-year-old.

Dave Barry: A pharmacist can be very helpful.

Gene Weingarten: You know who would be good to have on your team? Tom. If any spelling was needed, someone else could do it.

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The U.S. of H.: You're described as "founders". You're fathers. You are founding fathers.

How does it feel to be all-knowing objects of worship?

Dave Barry: I am used to it.

Tom Shroder: Interesting you should connect the ide of being a father with the idea of worship. Clearly, your children have not yet learned to talk.

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NoVa: If George Washington came back to life and happened to be in Freedom Plaza this Sunday, what do you think he'd say about the Post Hunt?

Tom Shroder: He'd probably wonder what was the deal with the naked middle-aged dude on stage.

Dave Barry: He'd be like, "Microbes have EATEN AWAY ALL MY FLESH!!"

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Clifton, Va.: Very disappointing I thought the WP was a sponsoring a real hunt with maybe Angus Phillips in charge. Not the young ladies currently managing this hunt. The WP would get a better response and raise some big bucks for charity with a quail or pheasant hunt with Angus. Not some hunt for left wing Prius driving spandex wearing leg shavers(male) and leg shaving(females).

Gene Weingarten: We didn't intend to disclose this, but you got me mad. To solve one puzzle on Sunday, you are going to have to strangle a water buffalo with your bare hands.

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Arlington, VA: Is it true that Winston Churchill once called the Post Hunt "a riddle wrapped inside an enigma and flushed down a high-flow toilet"?

Dave Barry: And then he threw up on the publisher. That was a GREAT Hunt.

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Virginia: Can I bring my dog to the Post Hunt? He could probably solve more of the puzzles than I can.

Dave Barry: Especially the puzzle we call "Whose urine is this?"

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HereThere, CA: Any truth to the rumor that Dave Barry has written a book and might travel around the country to promote it?

Tom Shroder: No way!

Gene Weingarten: Dave's book, "I'll Mature When I'm Dead," contains a chapter about the movie he and I wrote. I don't want to give anything away, but the anecdote involves whether large breasts are better than small breasts. (No.) (They aren't.)

Also, vis a vis the title, I'd like to point out that back when I was editing Dave, he was the mature half of that team.

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Arlington Park, Virginia: I have a question on etiquette. I know that you, as well as various Washington Post employees, are going to be busy. That said, is is appropriate to say hello? Or does the "no eye contact rule" apply?

Tom Shroder: By all means say hello, and ask Gene to sign your dog.

Dave Barry: Gene would also like it if women asked him to dance.

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Northern Virginia: Which brunch foods would be best to get us ready for the Post Hunt -- Red Bull with prunes, or margaritas with jalapeno poppers?

Tom Shroder: I recommend the three-egg scramble, with onions, peppers and peyote.

Gene Weingarten: I recommend matzoh brei. Jews tend to win this thing.

Dave Barry: Whatever you do, don't refrigerate the ketchup.

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Northern Virginia: Does the Washington Post Hunt have a cute plush mascot that I can buy?

Gene Weingarten: No, but "Barney & Clyde" probably will. It's an adorable cuddly bunny rabbit named Adolf.

I'm not allowed to talk more about "Barney & Clyde," the new comic strip my son and I have been developing over the last five years and which starts in the Washington Post and other fine papers on Monday. I am not allowed to talk about "Barney & Clyde" because it would seem like unseemly self-promotion. There is also a character named Lucretia who has a great body.

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Northern Virginia: Here is a deep philosophical question. Suppose our team solves the Hunt puzzles and we're running for the finish line. Suddenly we see a sleeping baby in a baby carriage, rolling bumpety-bump-bump down a hill into the path of traffic. Do we stop and help (and lose), or keep going?

Tom Shroder: My guess is the baby has the Hunt figured out, and you are going in the wrong direction.

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Centreville, VA: My friend recently broke her foot and will be on crutches / in a wheelchair for the Hunt. How do you think this might affect our chances of winning? Do you make accommodations for people with physical disabilities? i.e. Can we get a head-start? ;o)

Tom Shroder: We don't ask anyone to do anything in the Hunt that Gene hasn't done on his make-believe knees.

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Perfe, CT: Gene,

With sincere regrets, I must decline your invitation to the upcoming Hunt. Were it not for a previously scheduled event, a 50th anniversary out of state, I'd be there. It was a close call in any case.

But, will there be any baseball themes? I hope so. I am curious about the nature of perfection that only you can answer, which only came to mind as I contemplated "...in order to form a more perfect Union."

All perfect games are not equal, therefore some must be more perfect; but what criterion is most critical? Fewest pitches, but that means the extreme is all the outs are made by the fielders. Most strikes, could be same as above. Most strike outs. I kind of like this one, except it would need a secondary consideration, balls?

Please help.

Gene Weingarten: This question pertains to an item in my chat update from yesterday, but at its heart it is actually about The Hunt, for reasons that will become clear.

I have actually given this issue some thought in the past, and have an answer. An argument could be made that the Most Perfect Game would be one in which each batter struck out on three pitches; in other words, a game in which the pitcher was literally untouchable. I reject that argument.

A Perfect Game is, by its nature, a team effort; it is, more than anything else, elegant. It combines great pitching with flawless fielding, specifically, flawless fielding under mounting pressure, as the perfect innings continue and a single miscue would ruin it all.

A pitcher mowing down every batter on three strikes is, basically, the antithesis of this. It is brutish. Thuglike. A show of force, not of skill.

To properly gauge perfection in an athletic endeavor, one must consider what it means to be an athlete. What distinguishes the athlete from the rest of us is efficiency of motion; he or she simply accomplishes things more swiftly, more precisely, more deftly, with the least wasted effort and energy.

The Most Perfect Game is the Most Efficient Game, ergo, the game that delivers the perfect win with the fewest number of pitches. The Most Perfect Game Possible would involve 27 pitches.

To date, The Most Perfect Game Pitched belongs to Addie Joss of the Cleveland Naps, who required only 74 pitches -- about three per batter -- to beat the Chicago White Sox on October 2, 1908. Adding to the wonderfulness of this accomplishment is that the score was 1-0, meaning the outcome of the game was a nailbiter, too. The only run was unearned.

Two other things should be noted about this game: 1) Joss's catcher was "Nig Clark," and 2) Joss died of meningitis three years later.

The reason this question is actually about The Hunt should be obvious: The Hunt is exactly like a perfect game because neither of them directly involves lasagna.

Tom Shroder: Could someone please summarize Gene's response? I fell asleep after something like the 50th paragraph.

Dave Barry: I have pitched several perfect games, but you don't see me making a big deal about it.

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Arlington, VA: Do we need to bring empty bleach bottles to pee in, or will there be bathrooms/Porta Potties?

Dave Barry: Legally, you can pee in or on any government building, because YOU ARE PAYING FOR THEM.

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Arlington, Va.: If I come dressed in drag will I have a better chance of winning? I'm a 6'3", 340-lb, hairy, hairy man.

Tom Shroder: Whatever you do, don't wear horizontal stripes.

Dave Barry: Make sure you ask Gene to dance.

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Arlington, VA: So the answer to a Post Hunt puzzle is always a number. Is one of the answers going to be "TWO Pulitzer Prizes"?

Tom Shroder: Actually, the Hunt staff has THREE Pulitzers. We use them as drink coasters.

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Arlington, VA: I always have terrible trouble solving the Post Hunt clues. Do you think I might get smarter if I purchased several copies of "I'll Mature When I'm Dead" by Dave Barry and "Fiddler on the Subway" by Gene Weingarten, and/or read Tom Shroder's website, "Story Surgeons"?

Tom Shroder: No. But an envelope filled with unmarked small bills might help.

Dave Barry: It just now strikes me that all of these books are available in bookstores and would make ideal Father's Day gifts.

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Tsup, CA: OK- Here's the thing about Ketchup- Restaurants don't refrigerate it because they give the same bottle to ten tables every day, so the bottle only lasts a week. When the bottles sit around for a month or so after being opened, they carbonate and eventually ruin some poor slobs shirt. Amazingly, everyone who has had a shirt ruined by bad ketchup in a restaurant buys their shirts from Brooks Brothers.

Dave Barry: You sound to be me like some kind of Communist pervert.

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Lebensraum, Deutschla, ND: The "Today In Slate" ad on this page refers to a story on how Hitler is making the European economic crisis worse. Is Hitler, or Europe, or the economic crisis, somehow connected to the Post Hunt, or to the Hunt braintrust (and I use the word "braintrust" loosely)?

Dave Barry: I think Hitler is also behind this pesky oil spill.

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Kissimmee, FL: Gene, it's your pal Rears here. I'm coming to Post Hunt because you promised you would kiss me if I did. Can I expect the same warm reception from Dave and Tom? Will Dave let me play his guitar?

Gene Weingarten: We will all kiss you at the same time.

Dave Barry: And Gene will dance with you, as he is a big dancer.

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Washington, D.C.: Will hot women in mini skirts get extra clues, if you know what I mean?

Gene Weingarten: No, but we definitely encourage this, if for no other reason than the rope-climbing puzzle.

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National Weather Service: There's a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms on Sunday. Will you apologize to the American public for your poor scheduling?

Dave Barry: The National Weather Service is who should apologize.

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Arlington, VA: Is there a Date Lab couple this year? I enjoyed reading about the couple last year, but wondered why they participated. You could have a wall full of Thinkology diplomas, and the Post Hunt would STILL make you look like a feeble-minded, drooling stooge in front of your blind date. So what's the attraction?

washingtonpost.com: We're hoping there will be, but we could still use some applicants. Send us an e-mail at datelab@washpost.com ASAP if you're up for an unusual blind date.

Gene Weingarten: Noted.

Dave Barry: Did we tell Al and Tipper?

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NoVa: Suppose our team is minding its own business, solving Post Hunt clues, when suddenly the now-unemployed Jack Bauer appears out of nowhere and screams at us, "STAY OUT OF MY PERIMETER!!" What do you suggest we do?

Tom Shroder: I can't really help you there, but I can recount that last year, as we were pointing a 12-foot cannon at the White House, we got a visit from the Secret Service. It was tense there for a minute, until we agreed to point the cannon at the Capitol.

Dave Barry: If you run into Jack, whatever you do, do NOT swallow your cellphone SIM card.

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Downtown, DC: Is someone going to be constantly manning a P.A. system to direct this thing? In other words, will this be an open-mike Hunt?

Gene Weingarten: We need more C-word jokes in this chat.

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Bethesda: What happened to re-naming this thing the Republic Hunt (or something similar)?

Gene Weingarten: Ah, good. Thanks!

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Arlington, VA: Say! That Post Hunt map is simply tremendous! What magnificent artist drew it?

Oh ... too early. Never mind.

Tom Shroder: Otis Sweat. He is magnificent. Check out his website. When you are home, alone, and over 21.

Gene Weingarten: TOM IS NOT KIDDING. NSFW.

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VA: Will I need to bring contraception?

Gene Weingarten: In the past, it has been helpful.

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Orlando mom: need a job, not a stupid hunt. this is not the year for such a thing. meh.

Tom Shroder: But for us, it IS a job. What else are we going to do?

Gene Weingarten: First prize is two grand, dude.

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Arlington, VA: By the way, are you going to finish those fries?

Tom Shroder: No, we're just going to wrap them up in our Pulitzers and toss them. Why?

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Everglades, FL: Will there be Burmese pythons, or should bring our own?

Dave Barry: We have Burmese pythons IN OUR TROUSERS.

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Arlington, VA: Are any restaurants open in that section of D.C. on Sunday, or should we pack a lunch?

washingtonpost.com: The Going Out Gurus put together a list of eateries near the Hunt.

Gene Weingarten: Good. There are bathrooms, too, but not a LOT of bathrooms. That's part of The Hunt: Bladder control.

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Showing My Early Disapprov, AL: BOOOO!

Dave Barry: That was Weingarten's idea.

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Safe-T: For last year's Hunt, we had to walk an awful lot of ground. Are we permitted to use sidewalk transportation such as rollerblades, Segways, jet-propelled riding mowers, etc., or does D.C. have some stupid law against that?

Tom Shroder: The Russian T-90 MBT tank is the official vehicle of the Post Hunt.

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How will they go on?`: Weren't you fellas supposed to bring the potato salad to today's MENSA luncheon?

Dave Barry: If they're so smart, how come they asked US to bring it?

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Arlington, VA: Which is the best team name -- the Tickle Me Congressmen, the Sticky Pedals, or the Dead Orphan Annies?

Gene Weingarten: The Dead Congressmen.

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Fairfax, va: Are the puzzle locations stroller-friendly? Will it be a slew of spot to go to or will it be limited to 5-6 (until the end game)? Just want to figure out how kid-friendly it is.

Gene Weingarten: Totally kid friendly.

Dave Barry: Except for the bear.

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Springfield, VA: Any truth to the rumor I just started that the reason that Steven Strasburg has not pitched for the Nationals yet is because he wanted to take part in the Post Hunt?

Tom Shroder: Not sure, but I doubt he'd have much of a chance, because the winner will have to be able to throw a 100 mph fastball. I believe he tops out at 99.

Dave Barry: Also, because of his contract, he cannot wrestle the bear.

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This is for the Humor Update: I'm a bit surprised that you've labeled Kenny Rogers as a very good pitcher yet put Mark Buehrle as a nobody. Maybe it's your NY bias (although Rogers sucked as a Yankee so why would you think he's good), but Buehrle and Rogers are very similar pitchers with Buehrle probably a little better.

A comparison using standard stats Rogers career stats - 219 W, 156 L, 4.27 ERA, 3302 IP, 1968 K, 1175 BB Buehrle - 138 W, 102 L, 3.82 ERA, 2122 IP, 1212 K, 485 BB

Rogers has pitched 50% more innings but Buehrle has at least a few more years to go in his career as he's only 31. Their winning % are almost identical at 58%, they strike out almost the exact same number per 9 innings at 5.36 for Rogers and 5.14 for Buerhle, but Buehrle walks 1 fewer batter per 9 IP. ERA advantage goes to Buehrle.

When comparing more advanced stats like fielding independent pitching (to normalize the defenses behind them), Buehrle's FIP is 4.18 while Rogers is 4.38 (similar scale to ERA). This shows that Buehrle has been a little bit better than Rogers.

In terms of wins over replacement player, Buehrle has been worth approximately 4 wins per year on average. Another pitcher that's worth roughly 4 wins per year is Andy Pettitte.

Buehrle may not be a HOF pitcher, but he's better than you think.

Dave Barry: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Gene Weingarten: This is even too boring for ME.

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NoVa: Al and Tipper were supposed to be on our Hunt team, but now they're all like "boo-hoo, Splitsville, we're bummed." Do you think Bill and Hillary would be good replacements?

Gene Weingarten: If I could go back in time to 2001, the first thing I'd do is to try to prevent 9/11. But the second thing might be to go to Vegas and get odds on a bet that Al and Tipper would split before Bill and Hill did.

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Arlington, VA: Who do you think has a better chance of winning the Post Hunt: old, fat people who can draw on their brains' vast storehouses of historical knowledge and trivia to solve puzzles; or young, fleet people who can use the Twitter Nets to look up information?

Gene Weingarten: Young, fat people.

Dave Barry: Who cheat.

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A Heather and Maggie Collaboration: Double double-dactyls for your pleasure....

Higgledy Piggledy, Washington Scavengers, Chasing wild gooses then pulling out hair.

Tom, Dave, and Weingarten, Egoreliably, Plucking the answers from Out of thin air.

AND

Higgledy Piggledy Parents and Post Hunters For two years have yielded diapers with poos.

Two-thousand Ten, thanks to Strollerodectomy, We've only brain farts to blame when we lose.

Gene Weingarten: I'm not publishing these; they're terrible. Though I like "gooses."

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Dave eat some lobster: I did not eat lobster until I was 23 because my dad and his friend let me play with live lobsters right before they boiled them. Hello a 6 year old doesn't eat their playmate. But lobster does taste really good so don't miss out, Dave.

Dave Barry: If you woke up in the middle of the night and found tiny lobsters crawling around on you, you would scream, quote, "EEEK!! INSECTS!!! You would NOT think, "Hey, I wish these were larger so I could eat them with melted butter!"

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Here: Hey. Where the hell is everyone. I'm at Freedom Plaza ready to start.

Dave Barry: No, this one's in MIAMI, you moron.

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Annapolis, MD: Greetings! After participating in the inaugural 2008 DC hunt but missing last year due to her pesky law school graduation, my sister and I are looking forward to Post Hunt 2010! This year presents an added obstacle for our team: I am approximately 8.75 months pregnant. While I am really excited about the birth of our first child, I'm going to be really bummed if it means missing out on the Post Hunt AGAIN. I was wondering if it would be permissible to use some form of transportation to get from puzzle site to puzzle site. I have always wanted to try a segway; I figured this might be the perfect opportunity. I would also be willing to accept piggy-back rides, a perfectly viable option since I am the size of a petite killer whale right now. Any other suggestions for getting around would be greatly appreciated!

Gene Weingarten: Whatever you do, do not use a pogo stick.

Tom Shroder: Every year, we run into dome fully adult human beings who claimed to be in utero during one of the early Hunts in Miami. If your baby grows to adulthood and introduces his/herself at a future Hunt, we'll be, like, 8 zillion years old.

Tom Shroder: I have a case of happy fingers. That should be SOME not DOME.

Dave Barry: I think you should be carried around by the man who got you into this predicament.

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tropichunt.com guyÖ, FL: I have two questions for you all...well, a few, anyway: 1) Will there be an advance online copy of the Hunt magazine, and, if so, when will it be available? 2) Will folks from Florida have a chance at winning? 3) Does the brand of ketchup have any influence on the ability to keep the bottle out of the refrigerator? What if you live near the North Pole and keeping it in the refrigerator is warmer than keeping it in your pantry?

Dave Barry: These are all good questions.

Gene Weingarten: When I did a story about Eskimos, I learned the following actual fact: Eskimos DO use refrigerators. They use them so their food doesn't freeze. They use refrigerators to keep their food WARM.

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DC: Any guess as to how many people from Miami may attend this year? Those of us who live inside the beltway don't have as much experience and are worried those Floridians have a leg up.

Tom Shroder: In terms of the "leg up" situation, I believe Dave already addressed this in his discussion of our relationship to Federal buildings, especially federal fire hydrants.

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Towson, MD: Hello Gentlemen. Each year my church puts on a vehicle- based treasure hunt. But this year, inspired by the Post Hunt and commitment to environmentalism, we designed a walking hunt in Towson. It was great fun. The first clue for the end game was "Whisper 'underpants' to belly dancer." One team transposed the words and tried to whisper to the belly dancer's underpants. My question-will scantily clad women feature prominently in this year's Post Hunt? My wife (the belly dancer) asks, "How about scantily clad men?" We'll see you Sunday.

Tom Shroder: Dave has agreed to emcee naked.

Dave Barry: Unlike some, I am not ashamed of my body.

Gene Weingarten: This answer was supposed to appear about 15 minutes ago, before the answer about someone seeing a naked man onstage. So it would have been funnier. I am in charge of the "flow" here.

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Hunt Baby Hunt, Alaska: Will Sarah Palin be participating in this year's Hunt?

Dave Barry: She has formed a team with Joe McGuinness.

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Bowie, MD: This is a question for Dave. Gene has given Tom the adorable nickname "The Butcher," in tribute to his editing prowess. Which of these nicknames do you think is most appropriate for Tom's editing?

(a) The Butcher (b) The Surgeon (c) The Gardener (d) The Howitzer

Or if you have some other appropriate nickname, please share.

Dave Barry: "The Receding Hairline."

Tom Shroder: Ain't no "receding" about it. It has arrived at its destination.

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I am not Andy the Tropic Hunt Guy, VA: Will the financial incentives for telling Gene he is fat return or has the down economy brought that bonus system to a close?

Tom Shroder: Gene has embarked on the new No-Refrigerator Diet, and is currently under 7% body fat. Ask to see his six-pack

Dave Barry: He flaunts it when he dances.

Gene Weingarten: They fixed the refrigerator. I am fat again.

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Greenville, SC: Why is it called an ear of corn?

Gene Weingarten: Well, it used to be called a "penis" of corn, but people objected.

Tom Shroder: Now Gene is giving away Hunt clues.

Dave Barry: This is slightly off-topic, but: There is no need to refrigerate ketchup or mustard.

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Rockville, MD: Two questions: (1) Do we need a texting cell phone this year? Some ads don't say so. (2) Any puzzles require a lot of walking this year, like last year's statues, or are all 5 at a single location this time?

Gene Weingarten: You won't need a texting phone. And there will be some walkage.

_______________________

G'burg, MD: "Someone from the NSA, an accountant, a rocket scientist, and a 10-year-old."

How did you know that's what the SI Loser's team is made up of- plus a librarian and a genius 21-year old bio major with an incredible vocabulary.

Tom Shroder: That's pretty much what ALL Washington teams are made up of.

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NoVa: When is the earliest we can get a copy of the Post Sunday Magazine (that is, what time are they on the newsstand)? Is there any place to get an early copy?

Tom Shroder: A complete Hunt issue will be viewable online Saturday morning.

Dave Barry: This is assuming we finish the Hunt planning meeting, currently scheduled for Saturday night.

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Carlisle, PA: Lobsters ARE insects. Crustaceans are sea bugs. They crawl around on the floor and have exoskeletons. Dave is smart.

Gene Weingarten: Yes, I do believe that Dave pointed out in a column years ago that they are indeed in the same phylum. It's exactly how humans are mice.

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Weaverville, NC: Gene has long said that he prefers small breasts. But while "Dave Barry"would fit on a pair of A cups, "weingarten" would need a set of double Ds.

Dave Barry: You have given this a lot of thought.

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Falls Church, VA: Will there be an advantage for local residents like there was 2 years ago (Caps Name, Old Home)?

Dave Barry: We do what we can to compensate for the inherent superiority of the Miami people.

Gene Weingarten: There is actually a certain Darwinian advantage the Miamians have: They pay THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to get here. They're self-selected clever and rich.

_______________________

Arlington: Do you try out the puzzles beforehand on volunteers (or flunkies), to see if they're too easy or difficult? Or do you just know this by now, after 75 years of doing Hunts?

Gene Weingarten: We tend to take enormous gambles. This year we are taking the biggest ever, I think, on one puzzle. We have no way of knowing for sure how easy or hard it will be.

Dave Barry: What he means is, we haven't designed the Hunt yet.

_______________________

Anonymous: I happend to like cold ketsup.

Gene Weingarten: It is either catsup or ketchup. Not ketsup. Unless you are Tom.

_______________________

Long Island, NY: Will there be cornholing or dwile flonking?

Dave Barry: No. Congress is not in session.

_______________________

Tom?: Wait--is this the infamous TOM THE BUTCHER?!

Tom Shroder: Mais bein sur, mon ami.

_______________________

Gene Weingarten: I don't know French, but I'm guessing Tom spelled that wrong, too.

_______________________

planning: Was the woman who chained herself to the White House fence yesterday and had her daughter pour black paint on her part of a clue?

Dave Barry: Are you suggesting that the way to win the Hunt is to pour black paint on Gene? There is only one way to find out.

_______________________

San Jose, CA: How did you realize that there are others who share your bizarre thought patterns such that these puzzles are actually solvable?

Tom Shroder: Someone wins every year.

Dave Barry: Which is proof that there are aliens among us.

_______________________

Alpharetta, GA: What was your favorite clue of all time? Do you ever recycle clues - such as great clues from Tropic Hunts for the Post Hunt?

Dave Barry: Sometimes we recycle them without realizing it. And then we go, "Oh MAN, we already DID that one." And then we feel like idiots. And then we have another beer.

Tom Shroder: Because we ARE idiots.

_______________________

Washington, DC: Hi Gene,

I'd like to respectfully request that, in honor of the Tropic Hunt, we change the name of this event to the Potomac Hunt.

Thanks!

Dave Barry: I think we did this joke in last year's chat. Like 850 times. But it's still great!

_______________________

Silver Spring, MD: "MBT tank" is like "ATM machine" or "PIN number".

Off with his head!

Dave Barry: Or refrigerating ketchup.

_______________________

Chicago, IL: When will it be OK to include Al and Tipper references in the Hunt?

Also, should we bring our own firearms or acquire them locally to stimulate the DC economy?

Dave Barry: You do not need firearms to participate in the Hunt. On the other hand, a flamethrower would be handy.

_______________________

Alice's Restaura, NT: I was a disk jockey in Albuquerque 1967-71, my undergraduate college years, with the Tuesday night folk music show (the period is also known -- per Utah Phillips, PBUH --as the Great Folk Scare of the 60s). When AR came out, I played it weekly. It's 18 minutes and 20 seconds long. Just enough time for me to go down the hall to the bathroom; I learned the words in order to time my break.

My mother's cousin's husband was the guy who crawled around on his knees in the Oval Office digging out Nixon's hidden microphones with a pocket knife. He once told me that the infamous gap on the tape was 18 minutes and 20-some seconds long.

That's why Nixon had it erased. Not because it had incriminating evidence about Watergate, but because it caught him listening to Arlo.

I have talked to Arlo, and he agrees with this explanation.

tk

Dave Barry: It took you 18 minutes to go to the bathroom?

_______________________

Woof: This is not about the Post Hunt, but it's right up your alleys:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/booster_shots/2010/06/dogs-can-potentially-sniff-out-prostate-cancer-french-researchers-says.html

Gene Weingarten: Actually, we have a cat-sniffing prostate puzzle this year.

_______________________

Alexandria VA: When you say "I don't mean to embarrass Tom" do you mean "I like to seize any opportunity to embarras Tom"?

Gene Weingarten: Duh.

_______________________

Arlington, VA: Gene Weingarten: I don't know French, but I'm guessing Tom spelled that wrong, too.

Yes, he did.

Gene Weingarten: Yay!!!!

_______________________

Future Locations: Year One found us galumphing about downtown. Last year, you had us chasing down clues in Chinatown/Penn Quarter. We're back in downtown again this year, beginning the shindig at Freedom Plaza. Where will next year find us?

Dave Barry: We've had an attractive offer from Yemen.

_______________________

Barry-Shroder-Weingarten: Godel-Escher-Bach. The similarities and possibilities are mind-boggling.

Tom Shroder: The difference, of course, being that THEY would know who WE were.

_______________________

DC or FL, You Choose: What do you think was your most successful Hunt? And your least successful?

Gene Weingarten: That's like asking a parent which child he loves the most.

Dave Barry: We had one Hunt in Miami wherein after the Hunt, instead of the usual endgame, we had the finalists (this was Gene's idea) go on ANOTHER Hunt, which was (being totally Gene's idea) insanely complicated, so it took HOURS to get a winner, so almost everybody was gone by the time we announced the results. Other bad things have happened, and they were always because of Gene's ideas. Including the time the finalists had to go into a toilet stall -- where Gene was sitting on the toilet -- and give Gene the answer. (It was "Number Two.")

_______________________

Gene Weingarten: Okay, folks. Thank you all, we're pulling the plug here and heading off to Hunt Central for a few beers.

See y'all on Sunday. Be there before noon.

Gene Weingarten: And don't worry about the bear.

Dave Barry: Keep that ketchup at room temperature.

_______________________

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