: New: Puzzled Pint @ Zeitgeist

Puzzled Pint has been around for years, but until tonight I hadn't been. It was always far away. It was a monthly puzzling get-together. Folks would gather at a bar to solve puzzles. A few days ahead of time, a puzzle would go up on the web site. Solve the puzzle to find out which bar to go to. It started in Portland, OR. Then spread to more cities. In 2015, it showed up in San Francisco, and then I couldn't keep saying "It's too far away." Except its first month in SF, I solved the which-bar puzzle and saw the gathering was way across town and I was really tired. But the second month in SF, it was at Zeitgeist, which was near an N Judah stop.

So I went. I hopped off the streetcar, went past the needle exchange and made my way to Zeitgeist. Up until now, I haven't been cool enough to go to Zeitgeist. But puzzles made me cool enough.

When we site-monitored at ETPH3, I'd asked Yuan about the folks who attend Puzzled Pint in the South Bay. Was there a lot of overlap with The Game-ists and BANGers? She said: some, but mostly it's different people. So as I walked into Zeitgeist, I was battening down my introverted hatches to face a gale of unfamiliar people. But a few steps in I realized that I was looking right at Girts. So… maybe I didn't know many people here, but I knew one and that was good news. Especially since the place was kind of dark, so my chances of spotting folks in the crowd were not great.

Girts had messaged Deb, asking if he could join her team. She'd said yes. But she wasn't around. So maybe she'd headed down to South Bay. Didn't she usually play in the South Bay? I messaged Deb, asking if I could join her team. Girts checked his messages: yep, he had a message from Deb saying she was in Mountain View. So: No Deb.

Soon we had our drinks. (Zeitgeist has an impressive beer selection, but they'll give you a plain ol' ginger ale if you ask nicely.) We stopped by GC's table to pick up puzzles. They handed us some sheets of paper, a candle, and a box of matches. They told us we didn't have permission to light the candle. So maybe soon we'd have a cool story about how I got kicked out of the Zeitgeist biker bar. (Spoiler: we did not get kicked out.)

The puzzles were really great! They were all by Andrea Blumberg. They all involved folding, spindling, and/or mutilating the sheets of paper. (I wondered if they'd all been printed up in Portland. Some of them required careful printing; e.g., making sure that the front side of the paper and the back side of the paper lined up juuuust right.) The "Arachne" puzzle used a darned creative mechanic I hadn't seen used before…which I'm not going to describe because, y'know, spoilers. All the puzzles were fun. Girts was fun to solve with because (a) he's really smart, (b) unlike me, he'd noticed that the instructions had told us to bring scissors, and (c) he's not so hep to American cultural references, so that gave me a way to contribute even when I hadn't brought scissors.

GC, Saurabh and Kevin, came to check up on us. I asked how they got into this. Kevin said he'd been wanting to play Puzzled Pint, but hadn't wanted to go to the South Bay, he wanted it in San Francisco. So he figured the way to make that happen was to host it in San Francisco. So here he was. But how had he heard of it? Oh, from friends up in Portland. And he wrote puzzles for a living? (Wha?) Because he worked on Kingdom of Loathing. (Oh! And here I realized that someone(s?) from KoL followed @octothorpean... yep, Kevin Simmons.)

Soon we were out of puzzles. Girts knew that we should turn in our answer sheet. We needed a team name pronto. Thus we became Team "Waiting for Deb." We'd been clever enough such that I even got home at about my bedtime instead of very late. Except then I stayed up to type this in before I forgot everything. So now I'm pretty sleepy.

Anyhow, thank you for a fun evening, Puzzled Pint people and Girts!

Tags: puzzle scene paper

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