: New: Comics Report: Torso, Goldfish

It was a good holiday season. My cousin-once-removed Paul was in town, and once again wanted a treasure-hunt game. And once again, he wanted to be on Game Control, not just playing. So he and his dad made up some puzzles (mostly rhymes that riddle-ishly described locations around my parents' house) and then some of us grown-ups went into a solving frenzy.

Also, Bryan the mathematician told me about a recent topic of inquiry: pizza apportionment. No, really, people got a paper out of this. Suppose there's a round pizza cut into random-sized wedges. You and an opponent are grabbing slices of pizza, taking turns grabbing one slice. You want the most pizza, but there are rules about which slice you can grab. If you're first, you can grab any slice you like. But after that first slice is gone, you can only grab one of the two slices that are adjacent to the gap. So you can find some interesting questions around this situation: if you know this about the wedges, how can you maximize your pizza-grabbing?

Bryan explained how if there's an even number of slices and you pick first, you can guarantee you'll get at least half of the pizza. Paint half the slices of pizza blue and half of them red, alternating. Which has the larger total area, red or blue? Suppose it's blue. When you go first, choose a blue slice. Your opponent must take a red slice, exposing another blue slice which you can take. And so on around the pizza. It wasn't clear to me why I'd still want so much pizza after I'd slopped paint all over it. I guess it's because these mathematicians have spent so long as starving grad students that they're not so picky anymore. Anyhow.

What? Oh right, I'm supposed to be talking about comics. Torso and Goldfish are Cleveland crime comics by Brian Michael Bendis. Goldfish is fiction, the story of a con man in Cleveland who's in the struggle of his life and must fast-talk like never before if he is to... Uhm, it was OK. Torso is the story of Elliot Ness after he was done being an untouchable. He tried to clean up Cleveland. But in Cleveland, he didn't have untouchables. He had a bunch of touchables; the local government was even better at blocking him than he was at fighting crime.

Better he should have become a mathematician. Abstract pizza is much safer to deal with than serial killers.

Tags: comic puzzle scene where's the pizza

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