World's Fair

Here presented is the final clue in our little experiment. It being the start of a story, a novel to be precise. In fact, we’re getting tingles just thinking how lovely it all comes together, and the challenge, of course, is to see whether you can break our mystery. We will present the answer soon enough – maybe next week, the week after that, or maybe because it’s always one of those two weeks, we’ll deliberately wait until the third.

If you have the answer, or any answer (and we’ve seen brilliance in those before [1,2]), please say so below in the comments. Or better yet, post something. We’ll link to it, actually, we’ll link to all of them. Also, if you like that sort of thing, answers will guide this novel which, to be sure, will be followed up – until we are all bored of it anyway.

By the way, the fastest, best, most complete (that is, correct) answer will prompt an interview between Ben, myself and the answeree (if there is such a word) on any scientific topic the winner chooses. Which, if it is good (really good), we’ll put up at the Science Creative Quarterly.

Anyway, enough banter, here is the final clue:


– – –


The fourth clue was a video (Quicktime required).

The first three were pictures (which can be made bigger if you click on the sidebar renditions).


(if you do compose a post, then please forward the URL to, subject heading: puzzle).


  1. #1 jenjen
    July 17, 2006

    Whoa… I could say I know the answer, but then I could be lying. Or maybe not. Anyway, need to digest this a bit more. It is, however, an excellent start to a novel. I’m already interested.

  2. #2 Katherine Sharpe
    July 17, 2006

    Wait…is that the start of an actual novel? Or a novel you have written the start of for the purposes of this Puzzle Fantastica? Or is figuring out the answer to that sort of like the whole point?

  3. #3 Shelley Batts
    July 17, 2006

    I posted a possible solution at my blog.

  4. #4 David Ng
    July 17, 2006

    I think it would be fun to have a go at using the conjecture presented to help guide a novel proper. Our intent, anyway, is to do many more of these puzzles, and having a unifying theme (whether it be a novel or other things) sounds like a great idea as well as a good excuse to hone those writing chops.

  5. #5 Jokermage
    July 18, 2006


    Elvis died at 42
    The Fish is plate 42 of Haekel’s book
    The Cow image is from 1942 movie
    In 1842, England switched from innoculation to vaccination for small pox

    The bird thing is all im missing. The score on the dart board maybe?

  6. #6 Ryan S.
    July 18, 2006


    Elvis died at 42
    The Fish is plate 42 of Haekel’s book
    The Cow image is from 1942 movie
    In 1842, England switched from innoculation to vaccination for small pox

    The bird thing is all im missing. The score on the dart board maybe?


    Thats it 42.

    Colin and Elvis also make an appearence in the Hitchhickers novels.

    Someone count those birds are there 42 of em?

  7. #7 Ryan S.
    July 18, 2006


    Elvis died at 42
    The Fish is plate 42 of Haekel’s book
    The Cow image is from 1942 movie
    In 1842, England switched from innoculation to vaccination for small pox

    The bird thing is all im missing. The score on the dart board maybe?


    Thats it 42.

    Colin and Elvis also make an appearence in the Hitchhikers novels.

    Someone count those birds are there 42 of em?

  8. #8 Jokermage
    July 18, 2006

    The SR-71 Blackbird was developed at Airforce Plant 42

  9. #9 David Ng
    July 18, 2006

    Ah yes, the homage to the Hichhiker’s Guide would have been nice, but alas, it is not the answer we were looking for.

  10. #10 Ryan S.
    July 18, 2006

    Drat, sry for the double post the internet has been erratic today. Got a 404 error thought it was gone.

    SO thats not ‘It’, eh.

    Whoa… I could say I know the answer, but then I could be lying. Or maybe not.

    Mind sharing, cause I’m more confused than ever. Then again I’m frequently confused.

    What I ‘got’ from this last clue was a reference to some sort of parasite. Obviously you can’t have the viral pox for 13 years… can you? So prolly bed bugs (Cimex lectularus). Can anyone else think of a something other kind.

  11. #11 Ryan S.
    July 18, 2006

    Ok a recap in a different perspective… maybe.

    A rare cowfish Tetrosomus gibbosus
    An human Homo sapiens sapiens
    A domesticated cow Bos taurus
    A fock of Blackbirds Terdus merula
    Bed bugs? Cimex lectularus

    Wow, kinda hoping something would jump out at me when I did that… I DEMAND ORDER FROM THE CHAOS!!… oh I’m ok just a little slip… *sob* why doesn’t make any sense *sob*

  12. #12 Jokermage
    July 18, 2006


    1) 42 is right, but my pox reference is wrong, therefore not the correct answer.
    2) Pox is totally wrong and we should focus on either Colin or the Bed for the reference.
    3) You are doing this whole thing just to demonstrate confirmation bias.

  13. #13 Jokermage
    July 18, 2006

    Other possibility: Multiples of 7?

    I’m starting to lean more towards the confirmation bias answer.

  14. #14 Jokermage
    July 18, 2006


    The bird movie? 21 seconds long.
    “maybe next week, the week after that, or maybe because it’s always one of those two weeks, we’ll deliberately wait until the third.” = 21 days
    Seattle World’s Fair: Century 21 Expo

    Yeah, that’s all I got for that line of thought.

  15. #15 Moo
    July 18, 2006

    Isn’t it a cowfish?

    And was that the world’s fair where they had the cow with window into its stomach?

  16. #16 sam.p
    July 18, 2006

    How would you even be able to check into that? You know, maybe we should be thinking more metaphorically. Like Dan Brown, since Dave did do a review of Da Vinci Code earlier. Most of those puzzles were wordplay and symbols. Maybe the solution is scientific but not necessary the logic behind it?

  17. #17 sam.p
    July 18, 2006

    I gotta say though that the 1962 answer was cool.

  18. #18 Ryan S.
    July 18, 2006

    ok here’s another stab in the dark.

  19. #19 Chris
    July 18, 2006

    Art immitating life

    fish,mamals,birds,bugs,humans in paintings,movies,video,book….

  20. #20 David Ng
    July 19, 2006

    Hey Ryan. Fish is Fish is a great book. Though kind of distressing for the child when read to (basically the fish almost dies), but cool nevertheless. Unfortunately, it’s also not the answer.

  21. #21 bobby d
    July 26, 2006

    Some sort of sickness (ala avian flu or mad cow) that originats in people who eat some beef (that came from a cow that ate a poison fish) at the world’s fair.

  22. #22 Alessandro Cima
    July 26, 2006

    Could the answer be ‘Kung Pao Fish?’

  23. #23 ThePolynomial
    July 26, 2006

    um, poissoning pigeons in the pox?

    I’ve got nothing…

  24. #24 Aaron Rhodes
    July 26, 2006

    Well, the best and most obvious answer I could come up with is:

    fish is to poison
    cow is to disease
    elvis is to fever
    bird is to flu
    colin is to pox

    However, MY guess is that in the fashion of the experiment is to take random things of vast meanings and have no mystery whatsoever to solve. The mystery is how the human mind can find links between everything.

  25. #25 Alessandro Cima
    July 26, 2006


  26. #26 Alessandro Cima
    July 26, 2006

    Sorry, still thinking. Here’s another shot: flu shot

  27. #27 Kerry
    July 26, 2006

    The common thread must be something around eating. Probably eating enormous amounts. Think about it.
    Clues going backwards:
    5. I think, as said previously, that it must be bed bugs not pox. The “pox” are bites from the bedbugs eating him
    4. Swarm of birds eating whatever it can find
    3. “Cow is food machine” don’t need to say more
    2. Elvis is famous for eating extradinary amounts of food
    1. The fish is a piranha

    So maybe the common link is eating or maybe it’s food

  28. #28 Davin
    July 26, 2006

    I’d also guess vaccination. Mad cow, avian flu, world pandemic, fish virus in great lakes, and a giant space needle for vaccinating the world. But mad cow isn’t a virus right? I’ll tell you what virus I’d like to get….

  29. #29 Alessandro Cima
    July 26, 2006

    Vozrozhdeniye Island. I say this because of the Space Needle on the Elvis movie cover, Anthrax for the cow, Colin Powell from the novel intro, and the fish that lives in the seabed grasses. Colin Powell gave a presentation on Vozrozhdeniye Island warning of anthrax contamination. Chemical and biological munitions are suspected of having been dumped on the seabed there.

    Am I close?

  30. #30 David Worth
    July 26, 2006

    Just guessing, but is this something to do with the discovery of the small pox vaccine, derived from innoculation with cow pox?
    According to the IMDB, the tagline for the Elvis Worlds Fair film was “Swinging higher than the space needle with the gals and the songs at the famous Worlds Fair”. Is the word needle significant?

  31. #31 alex
    July 26, 2006

    I wonder if “It happened at World’s Fair” being cross-reference to the blog has more significance than Elvis himself…

  32. #32 jp
    July 26, 2006

    Like the idea behind the experiment, so I’ve got to participate even if I look stupid….so here’s a snowball:

    I stopped looking at the content and trying to link it all up, there were just too many possibilities for me.

    I looked at the packaging.

    Lithograph of fish
    Film still of cow
    DVD of Elvis
    Video clip of birds in garden
    Photo image of written and printed text

    Is the theme to do with the “technologies” by which the content is graphically represented? From drawing and litho to analog film to digital film to mini QT clip to electronic image of text? The sequencing may be wrong, but I remain tempted to avoid looking at what’s in the package and concentrate on the packaging. Form not content.

  33. #33 heather
    July 26, 2006

    instead of many individuals offering guesses to what might be called the “full solution”, wouldn’t we do better to work collaboratively at tiny elements of the puzzle, establishing smaller kinds of hypotheses and testing them collectively?

    in that spirit, then, here are some things i notice that might be explored further by other minds:

    i suspect the sequence of the clues is, indeed, relevant. some evidence to support that claim: at benjamin cohen writes the following: “Some commenters have gone for an analysis of numbers. Others are seeking common patterns. Few are treating the clues as accruing, while many are picking out minor features of each clue, interpreting the ‘real’ clue to be a visual subset of the main clue. Some consider the clues in aggregate; others hold them separate.” it’s notable that in that catalog of observations, he really only identifies one thing commenters *aren’t* doing–namely, treating the clues as cumulative. as a teacher, i hear teacherly instincts behind that noticing-of-the-absent. when we want our students to discover on their own and we see them failing to achieve the kind of understanding we’re looking for, we tend to observe what’s almost said, or almost suggested, or what only one or two students have done. it’s a strategy of allowing for experiential learning without leaving students hanging. i suspect that mr. cohen might not have intended this observation to be itself a “clue,” but that his teacherly practice insinuated itself here. also, the delivery of the first trio of images was very consciously named “fish-cow-elvis”–a choice that certainly emphasizes the *sequence* of the images. similarly, in the sidebar we now have the language “a fish, a cow, something to do with Elvis, a video, and the start of a novel”–again a sequence, admittedly a natural arrangement from the order the clues were originally presented in, but i still sense a *choice* being made there. finally, mr. cohen’s post on boingboing (where i heard about this whole project today) uses the language “so-called final clue”–the “so-called” seems a bit unnecessary, no? why would it be there if not to further emphasize the *accrual* of clues (consciously or otherwise)?

    rather obviously, i am neither a puzzler nor a scientist.

  34. #34 Alessandro Cima
    July 26, 2006

    Let me clarify my Vozrozhdeniye Island answer a bit: I think the answer involves the cleanup of the island and seabed agreed to by the U.S. and Uzbekistan. I know that Colin Powell was concerned about terrorists getting hold of the material left there and considered it an urgent matter to clean it up. This sort of ties in with the new clean bed in the little novel introduction. By the way, the Space Needle on the Elvis cover was a potential terrorist target in 2001.

  35. #35 Joe in LA
    July 26, 2006

    Well, these clues lead me to The Coronavirus, of which Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is the most well-known.

    How did I get there? Well it happened at the World’s Fair after all. My favorite of those, although I was born much too late to attend, was the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Think of it — the television, the zipper, urban planning, all of the optimism the future was going to hold, only to have it fade away as each of the countries left the fair to begin World War II.

    Well, if you follow the map at the 1939 World’s Fair from the Japan exhibit (G13) (a Japanese fish, no?) to the National Dairy Products exhibit (F12) (a cow gives milk) to the Aviation exhibit (T1) (birds do fly, especially in the motion offered by a video), it leads you right to the Corona Gate at the front of the World’s Fair. Since Colin in the novel does have an animal virus, that Corona could relate to another animal virus. Hence the “corona”virus that yes can cause illness in the “colon.”

    Well, that’s as close as someone who studied social sciences can get. Thanks for the puzzle guys!

  36. #36 Benjamin Cohen
    July 26, 2006

    Wow. I pipe in to acknowledge the many great moves toward solving this, but to note also that the solution has not yet been found.

    However, for fear that any single word I put in this post could be construed as an additional clue — I promise it is not the case — I won’t write more here.

  37. #37 Mat Leonard
    July 26, 2006

    Here we go: I think the guys at the World’s Fair blog (David and Ben) want to have a barbeque. Here’s my reasoning. The first three clues, a fish, a cow and Elvis Presley’s “It Happened at the World Fair.” Then, a home movie of birds in a backyard. Lastly, a beginning of a novel about someone who had the pox. Even though it was most likely an infestation of bedbugs, this makes me think of chicken pox. So, add all this up, there will be a barbeque happening in of one of the writers’ backyards, with fish, beef, and chicken to eat.

  38. #38 Seeth
    July 26, 2006

    Maybe it’s a meta-puzzle and the solution is the mystery. Like women.

  39. #39 Dave
    July 26, 2006

    Hypothesis: Each clue depicts an odd number of organisms:

    Fish: 1
    Cow: 1
    Elvis: 7 (people on the cover)
    Birds: 43 (including ones that fly into frame)
    Novel: 3 (The narrator, the reader and Colin).

    Could be disproved if my bird tally is off…

  40. #40 bzdyelnik
    July 26, 2006

    best i can do is: the ivory-billed woodpecker

    it’s apparently not “dead” (like colin in the novel, and like elvis, who may have used tetrodotoxin from the cowfish to enter a coma), and its presumed non-extinction is being “milked” by certain organizations for increased funding (perhaps like the owners of elvis’ creative properties).

  41. #41 Dave
    July 26, 2006

    Ok so the numbers thing may be wrong. I too have been wondering about the cow connection. The Fish is a cowfish, the cow is, well, a cow, and Elvis sang “Milk-cow Blues Boogie”. The birds could well be Cow birds, and the pox in the novel could be cowpox. I’m having a cow over this problem. :)

  42. #42 Ecila
    July 26, 2006

    All I could get out of the clues was all animals on earth, with each animal represented by an image, fish-anything in the water, cows-animals on land, man-who can pretty much go anywhere, and then birds-who can go into the sky.. At first I thought it was just vertebrates, but then the novel beginning kind of threw me. Perhaps the bedbugs represent the invertebrates? Something about evolution and extinction, maybe? Or perhaps the different technologies in representing the clues is the answer? Technology leading to extinction?

  43. #43 Adam
    July 26, 2006

    a WWII guy named colin involved with a turret plane/bomber

    1 “turret”fish
    2 “plane” in movie
    3 cow pic from “WWII”
    4 no idea my computer sucks too much to get quicktime, people mentioned birds so…. birds => birdshit => death from above => “bombs”
    5 “colin”

  44. #44 Andrew Norris
    July 26, 2006


    I could be dead wrong here — I probably am, actually.

    But even as there have been a variety of fascinating theories regarding the *content* of the various clues, what has struck me most is the breath of the approaches to representation that depict those contents, and the variety of adaptation present.

    The first clue is a series of 3 images.

    The first image is a JPEG adaptation of an illustration (I’m not sure what kind — a lithograph). It appears to be a representation of a type of fish that doesn’t actually exist (are there really fish with teeth?), though I could be mistaken.

    The second image is a JPEG adaptation of what appears to be a mid-20th century composite photograph adapted to a poster with a text overlay. It is a representation of a cow containing a machine, with text portraying the cow as a “food factory.”

    The third image is a JPEG adaptation of a DVD cover and DVD (partially depicted), which is itself an adaptation of an Elvis film from (I believe) the 1960s. There are a variety off representations present.

    The second clue (fourth item overall) is a QuickTime adaptation of a recorded film or video featuring birds, among other things.

    The third and final clue (fifth item overall) is a GIF adaptation of text purporting to be the start of a novel. The text depicts the beginning of a story featuring a child (Colin), the pox, and “the Bed.”

    One candidate solution is the evolution of representational media: illustration, photograph, film, video… novel. The problem is that the novel would either be ordered first or second, depending on how you ordered it with respect to the illustration.

    Another candidate inpterpretation would be simulacra: copies for which there is no original. The fish is an illustration of a non-existent type, the composite cow photo is fantastic and impossible, the film is fictional and depicts no real events or people. The problem is that the video seems to be a representation of things that exist.

    Which leaves me with representation: a variety of representational media are used, and all are concrete representations — as opposed to, for example, abstract paintings, or instrumental music, which do not function as representations of anything. This is the only solution I can devise to the puzzle that utilizes all of the clues — though admittedly, it does so while discarding much of the *content* of those clues.

  45. #45 Alessandro Cima
    July 26, 2006

    It’s possible that my Vozrozhdeniye Island answers need expanding to include the drying of the Aral Sea around the island as possible evidence of global warming. That drying will eventually expose the seabed. The video seems to include a blow-up fish or pool in the yard that is deflated. A boat is sitting on the ground. Also, cows contribute to global warming via their methane emissions. The Seattle Space Needle could represent the gathering of scientists in Seattle to discuss global warming. At any rate, I think there’s a connection between Space Needle, cows/methane/anthrax, the cowfish that lives in the seabed which includes seagrass and coral which are threatened by global warming, and the Colin Powell nervousness about the Aral Sea drying and exposing the old biological munitions underneath it. Perhaps the answer is global warming.

  46. #46 jzb
    July 26, 2006


  47. #47 Tim
    July 26, 2006


    Just a thought.

  48. #48 Joe in LA
    July 26, 2006

    OK, OK, well then if it is not SARS, then the second attempt would be that it is — BREAKFAST.

    Take (Fish) OIL, (Cow) MILK, (Bird) EGGS, and then you (Elvis) GYRATE to make scrambled eggs for breakfast. Oh, the last clue? Well, what better excuse then breakfast to GET OUT OF BED?

  49. #49 gavin
    July 26, 2006

    The answer is this: Pesticides

    1. Tetrosomus gibbosus is a poisonous fish that can make humans ill.

    2. “It Happened at the World’s Fair” is a movie involving a cropduster (and a chubby Elvis Presley and lots of cheez).

    3. Cows produce meat and milk for us using the energy they get from feed (hay, corn, etc) grown with pesticides.

    4. Birds and other animals feed on small insects that have eaten vegetation treated with pesticides; the chemicals are passed along the food chain, from the creatures that eat the plants, to the animals that eat these creatures, and so on.

    5. People get “sick”, experiencing various adverse effects of the pesticides that make their way through the food chain to us. This is not a story about the sick people, though. It’s a story about pesticides (like the bed in the final clue, this is the reason for the sickness).

  50. #50 TJ
    July 27, 2006

    I’m going with cow.

    Cowfish, cow, Elvis the cow, cowbirds, cowpox.

    If that’s NOT it, c’est la vie … if I go any longer I’ll get a pox on. Which is bigger than a bos on.

  51. #51 Persaram Batra
    July 27, 2006


  52. #52 Charlotte
    July 27, 2006

    From the first three clues, I gathered the theme was Selective Breeding/Agriculture

    The Fish: Haeckel�s biogenic theory for formation of race was adopted by the Nazi party in their disturbed attempt to furnish conditions for a superior master race. He spent much of his life immersed in evolutionary theory and saw connections between natural selection and artificial selection (selective breeding).

    The Cow: This poster was used to indicate the potential of future agricultural promise � improved milk production � make the cow a machine.

    The Movie: Elvis flew a crop duster (a way to select which plants will survive) and the backdrop was the World�s Fair (often a showcase of agricultural innovations).

    The quicktime video eludes me . . . blackbirds are often a bane to a farmer�s existence for crop plants � but, that seems a stretch.

    The Pox seems not to be smallpox as mentioned above, but rather Syphilis. Syphilis has a rather interesting history and was not always genital specific. It has evolved over the years to find its niche. (I played with the idea of syphilis being the theme � pulled in the cow and movie on that one too but lost the thread).

    Perhaps the theme is then evolution. Evolution could be defined as changes in the gene pool of a population (microevolution). This could apply to artificial selection/selective breeding . . . and agriculture in essence is breeding the desirable stock (choosing the most desired phenotypes and in turn the most desired genotypes).

    But the birds? Population? Changing frame of reference? Microevolution? Again a stretch which leads me to believe I am pushing it.

  53. #53 valerie
    July 27, 2006

    Fish, Cow, Food, Fat, Film, The Birds, Brother, Bed

    What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

  54. #54 Alessandro Cima
    July 27, 2006

    I’m trying another possible direction with ‘grass.’

    Gary Lockwood was in ‘Splendor in the Grass.’ (Look at the DVD cover)
    Also, from that cover, the Seattle Space Needle… Seattle has a sculpture called ‘The Grass Blades.’
    The cow grazes on grass.
    The cowfish lives in seagrass on the sea bed.
    The birds are eating in the grass.
    Colin is a character in ‘The Secret Garden,’ which features lots of grass. He also happens to be a bedridden character who revives when in the garden.
    Strange connections I think, but they are there.

  55. #55 Cody
    July 27, 2006

    My guess is that the puzzle is about the relation of culture to the evolution of species.
    1) is a wild fish, representing nature.
    2) is a domesticated animal, the cow has been genetically created through breeding by mankind.
    3) represents culture – the movie of Elvis is an icon of the change from farming and domestication to modern society.
    4) is the pigeon, a parasite that lives on the trash generated by people in large cities.
    5) clue is pox, a virus originating from fast population growth in unsanitary conditions. (hence names like cowpox or chickenpox)

    The five examples taken together are a timeline of the result of increasing population density. 1-state of nature, 2-domestic animals, 3-culture and art, 4-pest animals feed on our waste, 5-viruses spread more easily in denser cities. In other words, the effect of humans on the evolution of traits in other organisms has increased likewise with population and culture. At the current point, our culture of science allows us to generate new varieties of life at our whim!

  56. #56 Jim
    July 27, 2006

    I’m just gonna go with “Disease Transmission Vectors” and stop there.
    If i am right, i’ll explain my thought process in another post. If not, then i won’t take any more of your time.

  57. #57 Jan de Wit
    July 27, 2006

    Just came across this via boingboing, here’s an idea that popped into my head after reading this post by Mat Leonard:

    “The first three clues, a fish, a cow and Elvis Presley’s “It Happened at the World Fair.” Then, a home movie of birds in a backyard. Lastly, a beginning of a novel about someone who had the pox.”

    I don’t know about the fish and the cow yet, but if you take some elements out of the last three items as follows:
    – World Fair
    – home from ‘home movie’
    – page from ‘first page of a novel’,

    You get World Fair homepage; a bit self-referential but ok.

    The fish and cow could be represented on the map of the world fair on the home page: there’s a fisheries building and an agriculture building…

  58. #58 Benjamin Cohen
    July 27, 2006

    Please note that some people have also posted their thoughts at a later update to this Puzzle, at this link. Their contributons may be useful (and I’m not giving anything away by noting this — just keeping everything on the up and up).

    One thing to add is that, at that link, the fish is identified by Chris as such: “definitely a type of cowfish (Tetrosomus gibbosus).” It’s my understanding that the fish is also of the type Ostraciontidae.

  59. #59 Alessandro Cima
    July 27, 2006

    Now I need to throw things on the table and see if anything clicks. I’m working on these things:

    greenhouse gases
    global warming
    grass bed
    grass is greener
    grass is greener on the other side

    In keeping with green, gasses, and global warming idea, I come up with something along the lines perhaps of carbon sequestration under the ocean or in coal beds.

  60. #60 Dave
    July 27, 2006

    From my blog post:

    “The puzzle is more meta than just ‘What is the connection between these items’, and the question is really “What is the correct answer when there is more than one valid interpretation of the data?”. The answer to that is, I think, “Whatever you believe until proven wrong”.

  61. #61 sue
    July 27, 2006

    Yep, what he said:

    “However, MY guess is that…the experiment is to take random things of vast meanings and have no mystery whatsoever to solve. The mystery is how the human mind can find links between everything.
    Posted by: Aaron Rhodes | July 26, 2006 05:23 PM”

    I’d bet on that before all these other super specific answers. Although there does seem to be an eating/pestilence kind of vibe to it all. I bet it has seomthing to do with Dow Chemical.

    Or napalm.

  62. #62 gary
    July 27, 2006

    The domestication of something wild

  63. #63 doublelibra
    July 27, 2006

    Stages of development on Earth:
    1. Oceanic life (fish)
    2. Land-based animals (cow)
    3. Humanity (Elvis)
    4. Post-humanity (birds in backyard noticeably absent of humans, birds also representing distributed intelligence or ‘hivemind’)
    5. Survival of mind/intelligence (in the end was the Word..)

    It’s about the advent & development of life on earth and the transition to post-biological intelligence.

  64. #64 Didi Hylobates
    July 27, 2006

    Cowfish, boxfish. Cow. Box. [couldn’t view video] Chicken Pox/Cow Pox in Inset box.

  65. #65 sue
    July 27, 2006

    Addendum: after reading over some of the other posts, I’ve really decided that Puzzle Fantastica is The World’s Fair itself. Kind of fractal-like, where the whole thing is contained in a tiny subset of the thing. like those water snake ballon things, turing itself inside out. like in the movie version of contact, inside the human eye is the whole universe.

    I mean: c’mon.
    1. We have the Haeckel fish thing (a guy famous for cataloging nature). a.k.a. Natureland

    2. The cow and elvis movie might somehow fit into the Art/Science divide.

    3. The video clip of the birds, a.k.a The Film Building.

    4. The Novel excerpt, a.k.a The Book Building.

    All individually imbued with enough semi-related subcontext to get us all discussing and hashing out theories. About environment and ethics and whatnot. With links to other sites, books, thoughts, people.

    The cumulative effect of all of it being the experience of the World’s Fair itself. By taking part in the PF as a microcosm, we are creating and living the experience that is the WF as a macrocosm. This is not a story about the people involved (as intersting as our flights of fancy might be), but The Bed where it all takes place.

    Hallelujah and amen.

  66. #66 shreyas
    July 27, 2006

    So far, the solutions discussing the media for the clues, have been the most interesting ones (Lithograph, DVD, Photograph, QT movie, Book text). I can’t help thinking that the text in the novel (discussing the fact that the “bed” is more important than the “boy”) implies that the solution is in the “bed” for the clues i.e. the media.

    I also think that the “correct” solution, once it presents itself, will be blindingly obvious, and will be the only thing that actually makes sense. Far too many of the current solutions seem to follow a best fit approach to the data, and the hypotheses presented only kinda-sorta work. Let us try to look for something that can be the only possible solution to the problem.

    No answers so far, but hopefully somoene can jump onto this line of thinking and take it to the next level. Kinda like modern scientific research really.

  67. #67 sue
    July 27, 2006

    addendum #2: as they used to say in fancy grad school, the poet writes the poem in such a way as to instruct the reader HOW to read the poem. the thing itself, if well constructed, is a how-to manual of its own experience. the act of reading it teaches how to read it better.

    the PF as a skeleton key to the process of the WF itself. It’s a puzzle, a metaphor, and nothing at all. It’s what you make it. “What we have here is a success to communicate.”

  68. #68 Kevin Smith
    July 27, 2006


    – the fish can belong to a school
    – a bunch of Elvis’s are known as Elvii
    – a cow can belong to a herd
    – the birds belong to a flock
    – the bed bugs in the mattress belong to an infestation (I made the leap that the Pox was actually a misdiagnosis of bed bugs.

  69. #69 Alessandro Cima
    July 27, 2006

    I’ve found another way to look at this thing. It does sort of connect to my greenhouse gas idea because of the

    What about idol, sacred cow, christian fish, flock, and resurrection?

    Idol for Elvis.
    Sacred cow for, well… the cow.
    Christianity for the fish.
    The flock for the bird video (which has a big fish in it too)
    Resurrection for Colin’s miraculous recovery.

    I’m probably way off here, but it’s worth a look.

  70. #70 Joe in LA
    July 27, 2006

    Well, then maybe the horoscope. The fish is for Pisces, The cow for Taurus, Elvis (who had a twin brother) for Gemini. I can’t see the video — are the birds ramming something, hence Taurus? Oh, of course, Colin must have the crabs, of Cancer fame…

    Ai yi yi! Back to the drawing board.

  71. #71 Gelf
    July 27, 2006

    Unless something better occurs to me, my current working theory is “polio vaccine.”

    We’ve got lots of cow-related things: a cow, cowfish, cowbirds, cowpox. The cowpox story points to a fifth cow-related thing: vaccines, which got their name from the use of cowpox exposure to inoculate against smallpox.

    The link between Elvis and vaccines is that Elvis’ televised polio shot (in 1957, as far as I have been able to determine) is widely credited for popularizing polio vaccinations in the United States. Elvis received the Salk vaccine, but in 1962, the year of the Seattle Century 21 World’s Fair, the Sabin vaccine was first licensed for public use. For what it’s worth, Salk was also listed among the “celebrity” attendees of that particular World’s Fair, the theme of which was “science.”

  72. #72 Charlotte
    July 27, 2006

    They are all boxes . . . will explain my logic later if this is indeed the link we are going for.

  73. #73 jfry
    July 27, 2006

    i think the clues integrate aspects of the worlds fair into the progression of human thought in biology, relationship to our environment, and technology (see posts by cody, sue, andrew norris, etc.)

    or the role science plays in how we relate to our environment.

  74. #74 jenjen
    July 27, 2006

    Wanted to point out a satellite clue that is found at the post about moles (link). The image clearly has the same “50” as depicted in the video. I think there are possibly two key points here – that is, the video is (1) of Dave’s lawn or (2) something about moles(?)

  75. #75 bobby d
    July 28, 2006

    I, too, think it is COW. Cowbirds, a cow, a cowfish? 3 of 5 are money right off the bat, and it’s only a small leap to cowpox. It seems to be the most obvious solution to fit 4 of 5 almost immediately.

  76. #76 Alessandro Cima
    July 28, 2006

    I’m backing up and sticking with my ‘grass’ theory. There’s just too much grass involved in everything about this puzzle. I cannot believe it to be accidental. Gary Lockwood’s ‘Splendor in the Grass’ role. Elvis apparently sang a lyric in the movie about ‘greener grass.’ The cow lives and eats in grass. The cowfish lives and eats at the grassy sea bed, sometimes called grass beds. The birds are obviously eating in the grass. Children have apparently been playing on the grass. And the novel intro parallels somehow a storyline in the novel ‘The Secret Garden.’ It seems very focused on the bed and its rejuvenative effect.

    So I have a hunch that the grass is where this puzzle wants to take us. Things are lying in the grass all over. Splendor in the Grass, living in the grass, eating in the grass, lying in the grass. Wordsworth wrote a line in a poem about ‘splendour in the grass.’ He connects directly to Walt Whitman, who wrote ‘Leaves of Grass.’

    So I suggest that the answer lies in the grass.

  77. #77 Mike
    July 28, 2006

    Collectives, or collective consciousness

    The first two images were undoubtedly obtained from wikimedia and historycooperative while the third is likely from IMDB. All of these sites are created and maintained by collectives.

    The flock of birds is obvious.

    The novel is being written by more than one author and is to be shaped by the guesses to this puzzle; another collective act.

  78. #78 Tock the Dog
    July 28, 2006

    My words: Mirror, Nexus, Klein Bottle, Self-Reflexive, World’s Fair Map and Puzzle-icity Stunt.

    Putting the meta-experiment aside for a moment, I don’t think the puzzle is something that can be solved by seeking a internal relationship between the five clues, each of which has complex meanings of their own.

    However, they do have something in common: all have direct relationships, intweavings with, one or more element of your blog, “The World’s Fair.”

    I can put this theory forward with the initial three evidence/clues and it continues to hold true in the face of the new evidence offered by the additional two.

    The fish, as earlier posters have pointed out, is drawn by Ernst Haeckel, mentioned in your ‘about’ section. The picture falls into “Natureland” in your map. And to a lesser extent, the Art/Nature non divide.

    The Cow with robot innards, as a very early poster pointed out, refers back to “The Cow: A story.” That story features a philosophical discussion on the meaning of life for robots and cows. The picture falls alternatively into the “Ethics Palace.” (“A cow is a food factory”?) or “The Art/Science divide.”

    The Elvis movie, which has the most obvious tie with “The World’s fair” of any of the clues, is also of course a film and goes into the film building (‘Science in film in general’.

    So far, so good. Enter the meta-experiment, which I think has been well understood by earlier posters: a live scientific experiment in how theories rise and fall to fit evidence. The readers’ comments themselves, full of links to the outside web, fall cartographically into the “Website building.”

    The film of Dave’s backyard refers to one of the website’s creators. I see this as the weakest part of my solution, but maybe other readers can help. It also, obviously, could fall into the film building. Or “Natureland.” Or the “about” section. It doesn’t fit very well into the Art/Science divide, an exeption among the clues.

    Finally the book goes into the Book Building, as a study of about writing.

    The “puzzle” as a whole, as its categorizing suggests, goes into “Knoxville ’82: Where Miscellany Thrive.”

    If this doesn’t approximate an answer, I hope it’s close enough to show someone else the way. If it is more or less the answer, thanks to those who posted before me.

    “If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”



  79. #79 Tock
    July 29, 2006

    Brief followup:

    Also, it extends to things that will appear on the blog. So the video of Dave’s backyard was followed by another, focusing in on the Moles.

    The beginning of the novel implies a future, yet to appear.
    My explanation (one post above) would be discredited if this were the only installation of the novel.


  80. #80 Tock
    July 29, 2006

    In other words, the solution to the puzzle is, it’s a scientific/artistic analogue of the map mapping the World’s Fair Blog.

    The things of the blog are in, on, all around and through, referring to, connected with, consisting of, and beyond the clues.

  81. #81 Joe in LA
    July 29, 2006

    OK, well if none of my above answers have been identified as correct, then it is not SARS, an omelette nor the horoscope.

    Stepping on the shoulders of those above who believe it centers around this blog, one more idea… How about George Ferris. He built bridges (over the fishies), railroads (to move cows to market), and of course the Ferris Wheel (first happened at the World’s Fair — see the top of this page). It picked up people to bird’s eye level, and they got sick until they got up! It all fits! Yay!

  82. #82 Keith
    July 30, 2006

    “Animal Husbandry” by Laura Zigman

  83. #83 Alessandro Cima
    July 31, 2006

    The first of a five-part series of articles about warming and pollution problems appeared in the Los Angeles Times yesterday. I could not help but notice that the article used the expression ‘a pox on the oceans’ as if it were a common phrase. It also discussed toxic, primitive organisms causing problems for coral on the sea bed. As I read it, I could not help but point out to anyone who would listen that there seemed to be a connection between the article and this puzzle. I won’t describe the reactions I got, but I am still leaning toward the healthy environment, grass, global warming idea.

  84. #84 Benjamin Cohen
    July 31, 2006

    We applaud again all of these wonderful approaches to the puzzle — such imagination!, such enthusiasm!, such inventiveness! — but acknowledge that the solution has yet to be found. We also ease out of this comment post (as an earlier one) before readers start to interrogate our every word.
    — BRC (and on behalf of DN)

  85. #85 Joe in LA
    July 31, 2006

    Hmmmmm. Now, that is a huge set of clues in Benjamin Cohen’s most recent post.

    Certainly, “applause” set the birds in motion, and Haekel gave great “acknowledgment” to the fish. Now, “imagination” was required for the novel, “enthusiasm” is Elvis’ trademark, and what “inventiveness” must occur to create a mechanical cow.

    If he had only elaborated for only one or two more sentences, I am confident he would have led us to the only obvious solution. Drats! Why does he have to be so darn laconic, terse, and concise!!!

    Now given his previous comment regarding Ostraciontidae — which secretes ostracitoxin poisonous to other fishes and themselves — which is also known as a “box” fish, it is obvious he is telling us that we must think outside the box. Hmmmmm.

  86. #86 Juliana in SF
    August 1, 2006

    I love this horrible torture! I was so sure that a recent solution was the correct one that I completely gave up thinking about it. Now I can start tormenting myself again and I’m looking forward to it. I just wanted to say that this has been a lot of fun.

  87. #87 rsuchNYC
    August 1, 2006

    Monty Python

  88. #88 xoxo
    August 1, 2006

    Maybe that’s an Elvis “Cover” His most famous cover being Hound Dog maybe?

  89. #89 Joe in LA
    August 1, 2006

    OK, team, we have to keep trying.

    I am still looking for commonalities. That may not be the best response to the clues. Perhaps, some other pattern? But, nevertheless, one more try…

    I see a common connection to HONEYCOMBS, as follows:

    After all, boxfishes are known for their hexagonal or honeycomb skin and skeleton patterns.

    The cow ruminates with the reticulum compartment of its stomach that has a honeycomb-like lining.

    Elvis had many songs referring to honeycombs — Cross My Heart and Hope to Die (“I miss those kisses from your honeycomb, This humble bumble bee just wants to fly back home”), Cindy, Cindy (“I wrote it in a letter, carved it on a tree, Told it to a honeycomb, told it to a bee), and In Your Arms (“Just like a bee in a honeycomb, I’m gonna make myself right at home, In your arms, In your arms).

    Recent studies have shown that bacterial spores, that could have caused Colin’s problems, also have hexagonal, honeycomb structures.

    Still can’t view the bird video — any help there? Exhibiting a hive mentality, perhaps?

  90. #90 Jen F.
    August 2, 2006

    I’m just going to throw this out there and see what happens. I think it’s about the development of biological warfare. I’m probably way off base, so I’ll save my logic for someone who might actually care to ask.

  91. #91 Nils
    August 2, 2006

    they are all square

  92. #92 John
    August 2, 2006

    Is there perhaps a significance to the fact that Bed is capitalized in the final sentence? And perhaps to the choice of the name Colin for the story?

  93. #93 Alessandro Cima
    August 2, 2006

    I think that one should be able to figure out the answer by just looking at the first three clues. I think the three pictures were given first and then the fourth and fifth (video and novel) were added later. So, if those clues are simply added clues, the first three should suffice. I think maybe I am trying to consider too many facts. I am going to try looking only at the first three, come up with an answer, then check to see if that answer has anything to do with the final clues.

  94. #94 Alessandro Cima
    August 2, 2006

    I’m working on something that interests me about these clues. Why is it that the paragraphs from the novel are not simply typed into the HTML of this page? Rather, they are presented as a graphic. I’ve noticed that every single image, including the video, combines graphics or imagery with some form of writing, either numbers or words. The fish has an ‘8’ on it, etc.

    Words/letters/graphics. Ideogram. Pictogram.

    Also, one more thing. The picture having to do with Elvis… the little picture on this page is not the same picture that comes up when you click the little picture on the sidebar. What comes up is a picture of a DVD box that is missing the little picture of Elvis’s face down by his foot. The little picture is not a DVD. It is a picture of a poster.

  95. #95 jfry
    August 2, 2006

    all the pictures seem a little different when you click on the sidebar. The cow image is darker and doesn’t have the rounded edges. And the fish one maybe is the same, but becomes huge and expands beyond my screne.

    and the initial post did make sure to reference both the images below and on the side.
    the video and novel sidebar images don’t link.

  96. #96 jfry
    August 2, 2006

    Another observation – It’s also interesting how they phrase the clues:

    “The clues: a fish, a cow, something to do with Elvis, a video, and the start of a novel.”

    The first two are the animals they show, the third is only Elvis-related, and the fourth and the fifth are just the medium.

    I might be picking apart language too much, but hey, what else have I got to work with?

  97. #97 Juliana in SF
    August 2, 2006

    Ok, here’s my collection of random notes. I’ll try to edit out the ones that have already been discussed. (Forgive me if I end up repeating some that have been mentioned already.)

    Syphilis was sometimes called “the pox.”

    A colin is a kind of north american quail, also known as a “bobwhite.”

    The name Colin means “young creature.” Diminutive form of the medieval name Col or Colle, a short form of Nicholas (Greek) “people of victory.”

    The fish is covered with tesselating hexagonal scales.

    The fish is of the order “tetraodontiformes’ (four teeth, or four-tooth-shaped). Cows have four stomach chambers.

    I found a map of the tetrosomus gibbosus’s habitat that showed israel as a primary location, but other sources describe a much broader habitat.

    Did anything of interest happen at the 1993 World’s Fair in South Korea, “almost 13 years” ago? (Couldn’t find anything.)

    The 1939 World’s Fair in NY had milking machines and syphilis cures.

    The video is a panorama. It pans from right to left. Seems like the camerman is rotating, maybe about 180 degrees? In other words, maybe the clue is not about the video’s content, but something else.

    Someone’s thoughts about the cow pic:

    Ok, I think the rest of my notes are various observations that have already been made elsewhere. I hope something here helps!

  98. #98 Joe in LA
    August 2, 2006

    Further thoughts…

    To add credence to the honeycomb concept, the 1967 World’s Fair included a Fuller geodesic dome similar to the fish’s scale structure.

    Another concept is that the fish and cow are facing left, while on the video box, Elvis is NOT facing left, but in fact Joan O’Brian is facing left. She prominently played a nurse, not only in this movie, but also “Operation Petticoat” and “It’s Only Money.” So, perhaps it relates to nursing, more directly related to the milk-giving Cow as the clue before.

  99. #99 AC
    August 3, 2006

    Ivory-billed Woodpecker?

  100. #100 Joe in LA
    August 3, 2006

    With persistence being a highly sought after quality, here is my theory of the day — moving from complexity to simplicity to nothingness.

    The first clue is a COWFISH, the type of fish in the first clue. Remove the last four letters, and you get:

    COW, seen in the second clue. Remove the first letter, and you get:

    OW, the first of Elvis’ last words, “Ow my head hurts man.” Then when you remove the last letter, you get:

    O, the shape the birds make when they fly in a circle. Now when you take away the O (letter), you get:

    0 (the number). Just as in the novel, as things go away…

  101. #101 Benjamin Cohen
    August 3, 2006

    Now that’s not the answer, but, wow, how elegant, Joe!

  102. #102 slump
    August 3, 2006

    Here’s my weak attempt:

    Does it have anything to do with idioms or sayings?

    1. Like a fish out of water.
    2. ?
    3. ?
    4. Birds of a feather flock together.
    5. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

  103. #103 Alessandro Cima
    August 3, 2006

    Time to just throw a bunch of things up in the air and see what lands. At the risk of looking stupind I am going to post what enters my head as I free-associate on the puzzle clues.

    I’m observing and thinking about these things:

    Scales, music, 8, 13, octave, bluegrass music, herd, heard, music scale heard, left, to the left, left to right, left foot, left side, swing, pink and blue, title, preface, forward, four-poster bed, hide, border, edge, fence, margin, black edge, black margin, white edge, white margin, no margin, limit, 00101, on, off, 0, 1, binary, inside the box, outside the box, notes, notes in the margin.

    I must admit that I’m a little hung up on the small Elvis picture that becomes a completely different picture when you click it. No one would put that in a puzzle unless it meant something… right? The cow also, which appears to have some writing in the upper and lower margins when it’s small, but not when clicked to expand.

  104. #104 Joe in LA
    August 3, 2006

    Well, Benjamin, I am glad you appreciate the elegance, and I, in turn, do appreciate the response. But, we must keep trying, and while this one is far from elegant, here goes…

    Considering the concept that introduces this puzzle of the nature of evidence. One of the most interesting examples of the quandry of determining evidence is the scientific rationale for the set of Jewish laws of Kashruth — the dietary rules that decide if food is Kosher. These rules are not easily explainable via science. There are parallels to those trying to reconcile faith and science with respect to evolution.

    The Wikipedia relates this well, that there is a line of thought that these rules “were given because of the well-known Jewish tendency to rationalize and probe – a sort of reminder that, while the Universe is generally explainable, one cannot possibly understand everything.”

    Among the rules, well, of the things in the waters, to be kosher they must have fins and scales, hence the first clue that is the fish.

    Also, of the beasts of the earth, to be kosher they must have cloven hooves and chew its cud, hence the clue that is the cow.

    As to the Elvis-related clue, let’s come back to that one.

    The rules for fowl are a little more complicated, but they may not be birds of prey or scavengers. I cannot see the bird video, but I must assume that in the bird clue those in the video may pass this test though.

    But, Elvis, Elvis. How can he be connected here. I knew he was just crazy about fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches, which are kosher, but not a close enough link at all.

    So, I did a little bit of research, and lo and behold, Elvis was Jewish! Check this out: So, Elvis’ religion creates a very strong relation (no pun intended) here.

    Now, as to Colin. Please note that he was approaching his 13th birthday. It is at this age, that a male child would be considered to reach the age of maturity and be responsible for his own actions, or Bar Mitzvah — literally the son of the commandments — including the laws of kashruth. During the ceremony of Bar Mitzvah, a blessing called an aliyah is given, literally meaning to rise or ascend, just as Colin was finally able to do from the bed central to this novel.

  105. #105 Jordan
    August 4, 2006

    The connection is obviously Hitchcock. I do not care to explain how I came to this conclusion, but a little research should make everything clear.

  106. #106 Alessandro Cima
    August 4, 2006

    The answer could not have anything to do with ‘Herpes,’ could it?

    I came up with Hepatitis. Elvis had it apparently. And his mother died of it supposedly. Then I moved on to Herpes. There’s a 24-hour test for Herpes called, get this… the ELVIS test. It stands for ‘Enzyme Linked Virus Inducible System.’ Fish get it. Birds get it. Cows get it. I don’t know, it just seems like a possibility. Does anyone agree with this line of inquiry?

  107. #107 Alessandro Cima
    August 4, 2006

    By the way, shingles (aka Herpes Zoster) is caused by the Chickenpox virus.

    Part of what got me started on this line of thinking was that the puzzle creator used the word ‘tingles’ at the top of this page and italicized it. Could be a hint.

  108. #108 Joe in LA
    August 9, 2006

    OK, I give up!

  109. #109 Benjamin Cohen
    August 9, 2006

    Stay strong Joe in LA! More to come!!

  110. #110 Alessandro Cima
    August 10, 2006

    Let’s not give up, Joe in LA. All answers, in the end, are somewhat disappointing. It’s not knowing that’s more fun.

  111. #111 Joe in LA
    August 10, 2006

    Gotcha Alessandro. It is like the fact that the wanting is sometimes more pleasurable than the getting. OK, I buy that.

    OK, so here goes. Maybe it has something to do with what the subject of the clue does to its environment as some have begun to explore above.

    We all know the cowfish poisons, killing life, but potentially in defense of its own. Hmmm, while the cow fertilizes, promoting growth, the birds eat seeds preventing it. While Elvis dusted crops, removing pests, the bed hosted pests, enabling them to thrive.

    Please discuss amongst yourselves…

  112. #112 ROBIN
    August 11, 2006

    I still like 42. It was the answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, and I think it is the latest value for the Hubble Constant. Can I keep it even if it’s wrong?

  113. #113 Joshua Stoll
    August 11, 2006

    fish,cow,dvd all things we consume.
    birds are in act of consuming.
    boy is being consumed by bugs. we consume the bed.

  114. #114 Christy M.
    August 11, 2006

    I’m hampered because my computer won’t play the Quicktime video, so I’m relying on what has been said, but my answer is Viral Internet Curiosity.

    The fish, if I’m not mistaken, is a mock-up of the Babel Fish from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which brings together all manner of seeming nonsense into coherency, like the internet.

    The cow-machine demonstrates the constant information consumption of the human-machine, constantly digesting, melded with the internet.

    Elvis is the spreading and staying power of things which are not actually original, but are stylishly rendered. Most of the crap that spreads around the internet is like that. In this case, it shows something popular, (Elvis), and it references The World Fair–which is what brings this all together–but it’s still basically just rehash.

    And, more importantly, the point of all the pieces together is to fire up the viral internet curiousity that makes this site what it is.

    The birds on the lawn are us, pecking away, anonymously seeking our little worms of information to swallow whole and possibly disgorge later.

    The novel speaks of a viral disease. When Colin leaves the bed, or the seat of his illness, i.e. the internet, the illness disappears.

    Finally, as the clue goes on Boing-Boing, another spreader of virals, “If you get it, you’ll know you got it.” We are all the answer, performing it because we’ve got it.

  115. #115 David Cassel
    August 11, 2006

    Oh, and also, adding to my earlier theory: Elvis is dead. Buried, decomposing, his body becoming nutrients for the grass in that yard which the birds are eating. (Although I still think they’re eating the bird seed Elvis benevolently scattered around for them.)

  116. #116 hf
    August 12, 2006

    solution: the answer is whatever YOU make of the information presented in the puzzle.

    postulate: each of the original 3 items was a “clue” that the initial 3 individuals who “knew” the puzzle chose.

    they chose their clues for their own reasons – which are immaterial, actually. however, im sure that their reasoning will be fascinating to read about once the puzzle has been solved. in fact i could hypothesize (like the others) as to what each item originally meant to the original supplier of its representation. whether the clues combine together or not is also immaterial. again, it will be fascinating to read about whether there actually WAS a unifying theme present among the initial presentees.

    the basic premise is that the worlds fair brings together people and ideas into one place. this puzzle works similarly. the fair itself is just a signpost along the journey of discovery.

    the followup clues are similar signposts, just as prior fairs have been. birds flocking together into a yard with items strewn about… a novel that is constructed thru active participation… a collage of the amusing connections that have been presented thus far…

    i am assuming that this is indeed a meta-puzzle.

    if im correct, then i would be willing to add my clue and interpretation to the mix of the initial-3. in particular, my clue is the link ive provided to rosie-odonnells-gay-wedding.

    to be fair (sorry, i enjoyed that pun), i should at least look up the theme for the upcoming fair. otoh, many people show up to these events without any prior knowledge and/or disregarding the themes purportedly used…

  117. #117 Ben Good
    August 13, 2006

    It’s not just a rhyming progression: box, ox, rocks, flocks, pox?

    If that’s right, I think I’m going to be lynched.

  118. #118 Nathan
    August 18, 2006

    Ok, here is my small, small contribution.

    I’m starting to think it has something to do with parasites, or parasitic relationships.

    If the pox are in fact bed bugs, then those bugs are parasites.

    Cowbirds, are themselves parasites; they often steal the nests of others instead of making their own.

    The cow picture, seems to represent a parasitic factory living inside the cow. Or perhaps you could say that humans are parasites of the cow, it being a “food factory” and all.

    Now, for where I’m struggling. Not sure how Elvis or the 1960’s world fair have anything to do with parasites. Maybe there was an exhibit there related to parasites.

    And the fish is the most difficult. The only thing I’ve discovered is that these cow fish are often very susceptible to parasitic mold when kept in an aquarium.

    Hope this is helpful! I love this thing!

  119. #119 Jen F.
    August 28, 2006

    OK…I know a lot of you are savoring the suspense, BUT IT’S KILLING ME!! I want to know the answer already! I can come up with way too many things that MIGHT be the answer and in the end, I don’t know what kind of answer is being sought. Is it something tangible, or perhaps an idea is being represented? We can have neverending speculation on what it means, but I don’t want to be the guinea pig for other people’s amusement, airing out the inner workings of my mind. I say OUT WITH THE ANSWER!

  120. #120 David Ng
    August 28, 2006

    The answer will be given on September 5th. Unless, of course, someone gets it before hand. We will do our best to make sure that the manner we divulge the answer is nothing less than awesome.

  121. #121 Joe in LA
    September 2, 2006

    OK, Benjamin and David, but now I really, really stand by my August 9 post above…

    Only the fact that September 5 is just around the corner is keeping our holiday weekend spirit alive. We look forward to being awed…

  122. #122 Kids stories
    June 15, 2009

    As if the answer wasn’t 42. that one was really good. Sorry this comment is really new. but I wanted to try and guess, but I am clueless. It feels so weird commenting now. This discussion happened 3 years ago. I am commenting on someones past. Freaky!

  123. #123 seviÅŸme
    June 17, 2009

    Most of the crap that spreads around the internet is like that. In this case, it shows something popular, (Elvis), and it references The World Fair–which is what brings this all together–but it’s still basically just rehash.

  124. #124 yatakta seviÅŸme
    June 17, 2009

    which are immaterial, actually. however, im sure that their reasoning will be fascinating to read about once the puzzle has been solved. in fact i could hypothesize (like the others) as to what each item originally meant to the original supplier of its representation. whether the clues combine together or not is also immaterial. again, it will be fascinating to read about whether there actually WAS a unifying theme present among the initial presentees.

  125. #125 seviÅŸme
    June 18, 2009

    Cross My Heart and Hope to Die (“I miss those kisses from your honeycomb, This humble bumble bee just wants to fly back home”), Cindy, Cindy (“I wrote it in a letter, carved it on a tree, Told it to a honeycomb, told it to a bee), and In Your Arms (“Just like a bee in a honeycomb, I’m gonna make myself right at home, In your arms, In your arms).