Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 10.2

Let’s take a break from feminist strippers, pot smoking, and legal hookers with today’s Inquisition. It’s just a fun a riddle. Feel free to use the comments to discuss it with other readers as well as to offer your solution.

My first is followed by my second;
Yet should my first my second see,
A dire mishap it would be reckoned,
And sadly shocked my first would be.

Were I but what my whole implies,
And passed by chance across your portal,
You’d cry, `Can I believe my eyes?
I never saw so queer a mortal!’

For then my head would not be on,
My arms their shoulders must abandon;
My very body would be gone,
I should not have a leg to stand on.

Can you name me?

(I’ll give hints in the comments should the riddle prove too difficult. Also, we apparently don’t have a spoiler tag, so if you can figure out how to hide spoilers, please do so with your solution.)

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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81 Comments

  1. It’s GLaDOS!

    This was a triumph.
    I’m making a note here:
    HUGE SUCCESS.
    It’s hard to overstate
    my satisfaction.
    Aperture Science
    We do what we must
    because we can.
    For the good of all of us.
    Except the ones who are dead.
    But there’s no sense crying
    over every mistake.
    You just keep on trying
    till you run out of cake.
    And the Science gets done.
    And you make a neat gun.
    For the people who are
    still alive.

    Jonathan Coultan Still Alive

    I’m not sure what the answer is really.

  2. Okay, it’s two words or a compound word. It is talking about electrical equipment, perhaps, or something marine-sounding. The device has a “head”, which detaches, and an “arm”. There is no body or leg. Perhaps a squid or a hair dryer in the shower. Perhaps screws and nails and a hammer and screwdriver.

    What are other thoughts?

  3. I was thinking along the lines of a clock… seconds, face but no head, arms but no shoulders… but then I remembered they’re hands and not arms.

    I don’t have time to think about it anymore. I’ve cashed my bong, so I have to get back to work – by which I mean dancing naked and having sex.

  4. @Sam Ogden: Can you change font colors using HTML in comments? If so, make the font white, between two black brackets [], so people know where to highlight (or not to highlight).

    See? I can figure out the riddle of hiding spoilers, but not the actual riddle!

  5. OK, so it’s something whose name consists of two words (probably a compound word). The two words, individually, name things that are in conflict with each other. The full name describes something with arms but no legs, shoulders, body or head.

  6. “The two words, individually, name things that are in conflict with each other….’

    Heh, all I could think of was “group thought” “rap music” and “guiltless family dinners”

    But that’s just me,

    Ok ok, will actually try to figure this out… (having flashbacks to Blain….)

  7. Okay a HINT:

    Look at the line “I never saw so queer a mortal!’”; particularly the word mortal.

    What does that imply?

    Do people normally use that word to refer to animals or things? Or do they use it to refer to something else?

    I’m going to be away from my computer for a few hours, but I’ll offer another hint later tonight, if necessary.

  8. Okay, I did some continued aggressive Googling. And I actually found the answer (at least I believe I did – certainly fits the riddle).

    I’m going to confirm the “mortal” hint. I’ll also say we’ve all been on the wrong track.

  9. My compliments,

    I couldn’t figure that one out in a Thousand years but I got all the riddles in “Conquests of Camelot”. ( For you “yunguns” that I would brag about that shows that I have ZERO skill at riddles, they were EASY in that game).

    I do love to ask any and all psychics: “What’s in my pocket?” (“The Hobbit” but be careful, it’s a “lead into” drug for “Lord of the Rings”). But I must, sadly, disqualify myself for lameness… (That’s what SHE said…)

    Good luck all,

    rod

  10. Sorry, I was out having a good time and couldn’t check in on the progress of this thread until now.

    The “mortal” hint was to clue you into the fact that the riddle refers to a person.

    The clues in the riddle make sense when you know the answer, but to help out a little, I’ll give you a further hint.

    HISTORICAL FIGURE.

  11. If it be a person in a corporeal body,
    my first guess leans toward that Sexy Jesus hottie.
    Though it is a historical figure meaning they actually real,
    So then my answer is a schizophrenic who’s dual realities begin to congeal.

  12. @Sam Ogden:

    Sam – I found an answer online that is a pun, not an actual Historical Person. The place I found the answer is also fairly reputable (i.e. – not Yahoo! Answers ;) ).

    I don’t want to ruin everyone’s fun – could you please e-mail me at my account of record and I’ll send you what I found?

  13. @Chasmosaur:

    Okay, folks, Chasmosaur has pointed out to me (and rightly so) that the one solution to this riddle is indeed NOT an historical figure. And after further consideration, it seems the non-historical figure solution may indeed be the best/correct one. So my last clue can be ignored if you wish. My apologies for sending you down a vague path. I hang my head in shame.

    Let me give you a little background on the riddle and perhaps that will help. As some commenters have hinted, the riddle comes from a publication called The Ingoldsby Legends — a collection of myths, legends, ghost stories, and poetry written by Thomas Ingoldsby (actually a pen-name of Rev. Richard Harris Barham).

    They were printed in 1837 as a regular series in various magazines. They were very popular, and were published in book form in 1840 and 1843.

    Barham apparently had lots of time to play with his stories, so although based on real legends and mythology, they are usually deliberately humorous parodies or pastiches of medieval folklore and poetry. Plus, they are teeming with innuendo, doublespeak, and puns.

    And knowing that many Victorian era writers were enamored of racy puns might help with this particular riddle. Although keep in mind the answer may not seem all that racy to us in 2008.

    So for a further HINT that should make this easy to solve:

    Think of something common to music, photography, stamps, and families.

    BTW, congrats to Chasmosaur for being the first with the answer!!

  14. @Chasmosaur:

    Okay, since we’ve kind of stalled and since Masala Skeptic will be posting today’s Inquisition soon, I’ll go ahead and post the solutions.

    First, the pun solution; the one that is most probably corect given the creator of the puzzle and the era in which it was created:

    Album, or as it used as a pun, al(l)bum, or all bum.

    Second, although it now seems it doesn’t fit as well, the historical figure solution; the one that I have heard from puzzle people and riddlers all over the world:

    Napoleon Bonaparte

    If anyone is interested, here’s another puzzle I created myself, made up of riddles. It’s a lot less obscure than Ingoldsby, and might I say much easier to solve.

    I hope this puzzle will be fun
    Find seven answers not just one
    The first sees giants on common ground
    The next describes things always around
    The third is an ungrounded matter of race
    And the next it keeps you in your place
    Number five means to designate
    And six of diamonds can seal your fate
    The last, they may end the puzzle or
    Finalize a bigger score
    Now if you’ve solved these riddles fast
    Stack your answers first to last
    Be sure what crosses is also down
    And become a puzzler of renown

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