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Joined: Sat Jun 10th, 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado USA
Posts: 1648



A Story Puzzle
by Carroll Crosby


There are more than 160 film titles within this puzzle. 

How many can you find?

    Returning home from Apocalypse, wearing a lean, hungry, quenchless look, Odysseus was greeted by a fearless and doubting Penelope who wasn't about to let him assimilate into the mainstream without an obstacle or two.  Before removing his cap and staying for supper, Odysseus would have to satisfy her great expectations or resign himself to oblivion.  There were questions needing answers and answers for Penelope to question.  She was very good at that.  In fact, she was notorious.  After all, once one has been to Apocalypse who's to say just who is who or what anybody is about anymore?  Certainly not Penelope.  She had no idea who he was.  But even if he was selling something of value she wasn't buying!  So, she quizzed him on some rather personal and obscure — indeed, esoteric — anti-social behavior surrounding their courtship which, sadly for Odysseus, began somewhere back in grammar school under parochial eye and the firm, prodigiously prohibitive thumb of Mother of Little Mercy.  Establishing Odysseus' right to a heaping bowl of Galician goulash and gooseberry dumplings must have seemed to Penelope as perfectly normal. If going to Apocalypse takes a toll from those left behind, it took from Penelope the ability to remember from one fine day to the next.  In fact, every morning she is born again.  That is, unless she takes a nap in the middle of the afternoon.  In that case she is born again twice in the same day.  Needless to say that this was a precarious and dangerous position to which Odysseus would have to allow a period of adjustment.

    "So you think you're home," said Penelope quizzically and without committing herself to anything so demonstrative as excessive interest or over-attentiveness.  In short, her demeanor was of such a lethargic nature she nearly keeled over into the pot of boiling Galician goulash and was born again.

    "I do," mumbled Odysseus through a gooseberry dumpling.

    "What's this?" she snorted.  She was big on snorting.  Once she snorted up an avocado and nearly faced having a lobotomy to have it removed.  Luckily the wire coat hanger handy and Penelope had the presence of mind needed to insert it.

    "What's what?" he chortled.  He never chortled.  Perhaps it was something caught in his throat.

    Penelope was going through his flame-resistant canvas carryall covered with decals and stickers from just about everywhere from Mayerling to a streetcar named Desire.  There were artifacts from the thief of Baghdad whom he met while ransacking some rather auspicious museums.  There was a handbook on short-shot insertion, superimposing, and voice over linguistics — all in Arabic.   There was also a sword, a whetstone and some mosquito netting.  The thing that caught the eye of Penelope was a strange-looking object was a hot potato mistaken for a grenade and taken from a native with big brown eyes whom Odysseus thought remarkably civil company after their misunderstanding was corrected.  Against all odds they shared whispers in the dark and some rather intimate moments in the shadows.

    "It's called a potato and it comes from the good Earth," he said.  Then he went on to tell her about the curious nature of Nature on Earth and the voyage home — explaining much of what he thought might adhere to an extremely dubious and disengaging atmosphere.  But it didn't since her mind, though not completely nuts, seemed to have gone with the wind, so Odysseus returned to concentrate on his goulash and to reminisce upon his incredible journey to Apocalypse.

    First there was the shock and awe when he had reached is final destination.  Then there was the long boat ride to "the thick of it" — as the natives referred to the hostile metropolis of Apocalypse.  It was a town without pity and it often crossed his mind that he might find himself kidnapped and held hostage.  Then he was held up and detained by four bandits on horseback.  When he finally did reach Apocalypse it was lilac time and the calla lilies were in bloom.  There seemed to be no action at all, and then there was more action than anybody could possibly want.  The agony and the ecstasy seemed without limits. The vanilla sky went ablaze, all went hot, and Odysseus went into a heavy sweat right down to his socks.  And he went on and on until he came to a clearing in the woods where he met some local savages who shared a single eye and partook in some extraordinary rituals before escaping a terrible flood which claimed the entire tribe just as a cold snap was setting in.  Some rather revealing customs were later uncovered when the weather warmed and the frozen flood melted, leaving the natives in attitudes closely relating to those they were in before the big freeze.  It was all very X-rated and those who didn't think so were branded the condemned by the Vatican and quickly transported in a litter drawn my six Marlon Brando look-a-likes to where all who dared to ask were escorted.  The fact that Odysseus' interest in life grew in direct proportion to his dwindling curiosity should create little wonder.  However, he pondered this for hours.  Then pyrotechnics, glory, glamour, and everything else flew everywhere and cleared the air from here to eternity.  And then it was all over.  Some came running to see what the hullabaloo was all abot, but by the time they got there the remains of the day held little interest.

    After going to Apocalypse there is really little else one can do but turn around and go back home —‘though home was a place in the sun and out of the past.  The ferry that had been parked by the river’s bank had been blown to kingdom come and all along Windom's Way to the boulevard of broken dreams which led to the street with no name.  Swimming and walking against the wind all that distance home to a skeptical Penelope seemed to him more than anyone has a right to deserve.  Her constant questions!  Her nagging!  The general and esoteric riddles to solve by such-and-such a time or he would be forced to go to bed without supper!  Or worse, no supper and no bed!  Their marriage – though more of an alliance – hung in the balance of Odysseus' cunning logic and Penelope's hapless memory that needed, time after time and forever and a day, rekindling.  The wild one he had married caused Odysseus to despair.  He thought about defection to the other side.  But that was out of the question in no time flat.  After Apocalypse, there is no other side — just a few tourist traps with some out of sight, illegal and forbidden flesh merchants, but that is all.  He worried about that because of his constant and nagging sense of lurking fear, however his lust for kept him alive.

        Meanwhile, Penelope continued her fishing, hoping to entrap poor Odysseus with inexplicable riddles which, properly solved, would prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was indeed who he said he was.  She was not about to host an open house for any old Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice.  Odysseus dealt with this as best he could.  He kept silent in the knowledge that he would have the last laugh and because he owed it to himself to survive!  In the last two weeks since leaving Apocalypse he had managed to learn enough about her malady to acquire the knack needed to vibrate her autonomic nervous system into five easy pieces that he could individually charm with certain key words designed to make clear that obscure object of desire.  And still she remained a matter of resistance right down to her last tango in Paris.  If only the four horsemen of the Apocalypse hadn't made off with her only hope for rising above the common choir of universal harmony.  Placid bliss and meditation, Sunday, bloody Sunday mornings and Penelope just wasn't his cup of tea!  Chances are they never would be.

    Out of the blue there was an awful racket, two tennis balls (one was formal, the other was come as you are), and an army of dead Trojans who were chewing on arms and legs and other body parts.

    "Well," Penelope observed with remarkable insight, "if it's not Jehovah's Witnesses it's somebody else."

    Then, something strange happened.

    Penelope was at the sink de-stemming gooseberries when Anastasia, their pet Rarrie, came bouncing in from chasing Cleo from 5 to 7 times around the block.  They were both worn out and missing shoes, so she gave them each a cuff behind the ear to satisfy their strange and prurient tastes.  She never went out of her way to tip a Rarrie, especially the miniatures.  Standards, however, are another breed altogether.  She thought once or twice of raising standards, but their stomachs hung low to the ground making them prone to drag in pebbles, sewer pipes, bottle caps, and stray children.  Then Penelope let out with a piercing scream and dropped her gooseberries.

    "What's the ruckus?"  Odysseus inquired.

    "The drain!" cried Penelope, pointing.  However, she wasn't pointing at the drain.  In her excitement she had lodged her finger in her throat and was pointing in the direction of her esophagus.  But once she had disengaged her finger she turned it in the direction of the drain leading out of the kitchen sink into the open water beyond her ability see.  No matter what they did neither Odysseus nor Penelope could get the water to flow down clockwise.  This was discovered true of all the drains throughout the house -- all went contrary.  Furthermore, one of the Rarries was chewing on some eucalyptus.  But, since neither of them had ever seen or knew what eucalyptus was, they paid it no mind.

        Meanwhile, dead Trojans, Girl and Boy Scouts were getting blood all over everything in their attempt to get into the house.  The flesh-eating zombies, with greed in their eyes, had gotten blood all over the walkway leading to the front door of the red house, the front door itself, and all the windows including the rear window which Penelope had Windexed earlier in the day.  They made a bloody mess of it while playing some sorts of cruel game, which involved their hanging one another from the clothesline in all sorts of grotesque positions.  Some applauded these mischievous doings while the others simply watched, grabbed their crotches and picked their teeth.  Penelope, having been brought up in an urban environment, pretended not to notice the goings-on outside their home and continued to ponder the kitchen sink.

    In the meantime, Odysseus unzipped his carryall and emptied his pockets of the reel time he had carried back with him from the movies in the multiplexes of the Apocolypsean suburbs.  He was real big on going to the movies and had become an avid reel time collector.  To an already sizable collection, he now added a grade Z Roger Corman and a bit of the jailhouse rock upon which someone named Harvey had painted JESUS SAVES and it was quite pretty in pink.

    In no time at all, Penelope took Odysseus to the brink of tedium where he nearly doubled-over under her questioning.

    "Why is it raining frogs and Yoo-Hoo cans?" she asked, while returning from putting the Rarries out for the night – missing a finger from having pointed it at one of the dead Girl Scouts who quickly sucked up Anastasia and was now about to make dessert of Cleo.

    Odysseus carefully explained how it had something to do with the last wave of reverse magnetic flux and polar drift and that she needn't blame the Masons.  She thought that rather scientific.  The ultra-violent downpour continued; cars were eating people, tomatoes were eating people, Gene Kelly stopped dancing and singing in the rain when several of the cat people mistook him for a giant canary.  In short, if ever there was a fine mess – this was it!

    Odysseus saw this as illuminating to opaque and then to cryptocrystalline clarity.  Bells rang and so forth and he told her so.

    "Bells are ringing," he said.

     Of course this started Penelope vibrating, giving him time to form a most unusual vision concerning Apocalypse now as well as his reel time collection.  What Odysseus lost in the stars was nothing compared to what he found in Xanadu: Two full pockets and half a sandwich bag filled with reel time (the half with the bottom still on it, of course).  He felt as though he was blessed with a pocketful of miracles.

    Odysseus frequented the movies daily collecting reel time and remaining calm when, several seats to the left of him, a really sweet looking old lady got herself transported into Ivanhoe and took up George Sanders' part — a heavy part for a woman half her age.  Down front somebody levitated until somebody else complained about not being able to distinguish the Normans from the Saxons.  Then there was a momentary flash, sending another poor soul to fall out behind the screen, while another to get stuck inside George Sanders' lapse dissolve.  Once, somebody boarded the African Queen, removed all the gin and left Katherine Hepburn pouring something overboard resembling a mixture of scouring pads and brightly lit Frisbees.  But, there was no explaining any of this to Penelope.
  Odysseus sat tediously trying to recreate Devil's Tower in gooseberry dumplings when Penelope offered him seconds.

    "Frankly, my dear," sneered he, "I don't see how you can talk about food at a time like this."

    "Humph," snorted she.

    And then he up and disappeared right under her nose.

    Odysseus soon found himself at the seashore just beyond the blue lagoon, sifting sand with Melina Mercouri while having a metamorphosis, which turned him into something strangely inexplicable.  Then he waited, rolled on the beach at bit, and removed a thorn from the foot of Charlton Heston.  For though Odysseus was something else altogether, he wasn't quite sure what to do after living happily ever after.  So he took a nap.

    But he would think of something soon after the big sleep.



Joined: Sat Apr 19th, 2008
Location: Your Vivid Imagination
Posts: 200
Brilliant! My head is still spinning. More than I could count. I think I even started to find titles that didn't exist.

The bells, they made me deaf!

Missing a very important Jimmy Stewart film, though.





Last edited on Tue Aug 5th, 2008 06:46 am by HarveyRabbit


Joined: Sat Jun 10th, 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado USA
Posts: 1648

Look again between jail house rock and pretty in pink.  :)


Joined: Wed Jul 12th, 2006
Location: Nottingham, United Kingdom
Posts: 202
Looks fun - will look in detail when i have a spare hour, but i am suprised that you did not fit in -

'Can Hieronymous Merkin ever forget Mercy Humppe and find true happiness?' (1969)

or 'I Killed my lesbian wife hung her on a meat hook and now i have a three picture deal at Disney' (1993 Directed by Ben Affleck)

or 'Long Strange trip, or the Writer, the naked girl, and the Guy with a hole in his head' (1999)






Joined: Sat Apr 19th, 2008
Location: Your Vivid Imagination
Posts: 200
Aha! Found it! I thought it was there but I just couldn't see it was, you know...invisible :)




Joined: Sat Jun 10th, 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado USA
Posts: 1648
As far as I know, I invented the "story puzzle."  Maybe not.  I've never been the first to do anything.

Anyway, I'm still working on getting this one up to 200 film titles without expanding the text more than a quarter to half a page..  Then I plan to do one with song titles and others with play and book titles.

I'd like to market these, but I haven't a clue for where to begin.   I truly need your help.  Any ideas--suggestions?

Last edited on Tue Aug 5th, 2008 06:41 pm by Edd


Joined: Mon Jan 21st, 2008
Location: Michigan USA
Posts: 29
A couple years ago a producer asked me to write a murder mystery using as many Jimmy Buffett song titles as possible. It was then turned into a game for the audience; not only did they have to figure out whodunnit, but whoever wrote down the most titles they heard got a prize. It was fun, particularly when a large group of Parrot Heads came to see it.


Joined: Thu Jan 24th, 2008
Location: Peyton Place, New Hampshire USA
Posts: 861

Me eyes are killing me.

Bloom (the  movie 2004)
Ulysses(the movie 1967)

You will find the movie on

Bloom the movie, which is about Ulysses the Book, which sort of ties in with your brillant new work
Ask me about Ulysses the book.  I did it for course at Harvard Extension and got meself 4 credits which were straight "A"s

Didn't think I had it in me, but I love James Joyce

Was that supposed to be 9-5? the movie (1980)

Last edited on Wed Aug 6th, 2008 04:29 pm by Potabasil


Joined: Fri Jun 9th, 2006
Location: Oz, Minnesota USA
Posts: 1093
Edd...try "Games" magazine. They do all kinds stuff like this.



Joined: Sat Jun 10th, 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado USA
Posts: 1648
Firstly, I thank you all for your input. 

HarveyRabbit, "brilliant" is my favorite word.

Imelda, finding a way to insert "Ulysses" was difficult since Odysseus and Ulysses are the same person.  I'm still thinking about it.

Playful, the titles you suggested are two of my favorite movies.  I show them everytime the neighbor has me babysit her kids. 

EJT, then you already know what fabulous fun a project like this can be.

timmy, I Googled them and found submission information.  As soon as I add an additional 40 titles I will be contacting them.  Thanks for the tip.

Below are 161 titles.  There may be yet more I did not intend, but inserted themselves by happenstance.  If you find any PLEASE let me know.   If you have a suggestion for a quick and easy insertion PLEASE let me know (no nasty reference intended).  The titles below are in the order in which they appear in the Story Puzzle.

1.  Returning Home
2.  Home
3.  Odysseus
4.  Fearless
5.  Penelope
6.  Mainstream
7.  Obstacle
8.  Great Expectations
9.  Notorious
10.         Who is Who
11.         Something of Value
12.         Courtship
13.         The Firm
14.         Dumplings
15.         Perfectly Normal
16.         One Fine Day
17.         Born Again
18.         Dangerous
19.         Period of Adjustment
20.         I Do
21.         The Wire
22.         Mayerling
23.         A Streetcar Named Desire
24.         The Thief of Baghdad
25.         The Thing
26.         The Eye
27.         Hot potato
28.         Big
29.         Big Brown Eyes
30.         Against All Odds
31.         Whispers
32.         Whispers in the Dark
33.         Shadows
34.         The Good Earth
35.         The Voyage
36.         Nuts
37.         Gone With the Wind
38.         Incredible Journey
39.         Shock and Awe
40.         Final Destination
41.         Metropolis
42.         Town Without Pity
43.         Without Pity
44.         Kidnapped
45.         Hostage
46.         Bandits
47.         Lilac Time
48.         Bloom
49.         The Agony and the Ecstasy
50.         Without Limits
51.         Vanilla Sky
52.         In the Woods
53.         Savages
54.         The Big Freeze
55.         Branded
56.         The Condemned
57.         Glory
58.         From Here to Eternity
59.         All Over
60.         Some Came Running
61.         The Remains of the Day
62.         A Place in the Sun
63.         Out of the Past
64.         The Ferry
65.         Kingdom Come
66.         Windom’s Way
67.         Boulevard
68.         Boulevard of Broken Dreams
69.         Street With No Name
70.         The Wind
71.         The General
72.         The Balance
73.         Time After Time
74.         Forever and a Day
75.         The Wild One
76.         The Other
77.         The Other Side
78.         Out of Sight
79.         Illegal
80.         Forbidden
81.         Flesh
82.         Lurking
83.         Lurking Fear
84.         Lust for Life
85.         Alive
86.         Beyond
87.         Shadow of a Doubt
88.         Open House
89.         Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice
90.         Alice
91.         The Last Laugh
92.         Survive!
93.         Two Weeks
94.         The Knack
95.         Five Easy Pieces
96.         That Obscure Object of Desire
97.         A Matter of Resistance
98.         Last Tango in Paris
99.         The Four Horsemen
100.    The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
101.    Sunday, Bloody Sunday
102.    Chances Are
103.    Out of the Blue
104.    Body Parts
105.    Anastasia
106.    Cleo From 5 to 7
107.    Around the Block
108.    Missing
109.    Scream
110.    Ruckus
111.    Open Water
112.    Clockwise
113.    The House
114.    Trojans
115.    Boy Scouts
116.    Blood
117.    Flesh-Eating Zombies
118.    Zombies
119.    Greed
120.    The Red House
121.    Windows
122.    Rear Window
123.    Bloody Mess
124.    Cruel Game
125.    Hanging
126.    The Others
127.    Kitchen Sink
128.    Unzipped
129.    Reel Time
130.    Z
131.    Jailhouse Rock
132.    Harvey
133.    Pretty in Pink
134.    The Brink
135.    Frogs
136.    The Dead
137.    The Last Wave
138.    Downpour
139.    Dancing
140.    Singing in the Rain
141.    The Cat People
142.    Giant
143.    A Fine Mess
144.    Bells are Ringing
145.    Apocalypse Now
146.    Lost in the Stars
147.    On the Waterfront
148.    Xanadu
149.    A Pocketful of Miracles
150.    Ivanhoe
151.    The Normans
152.    The African Queen
153.    Devil’s Tower
154.    Seconds
155.    At the Seashore
156.    The Blue Lagoon
157.    Sand
158.    Metamorphosis
159.    On the Beach
160.    Happily Ever After
161.    The Big Sleep


Joined: Thu Jan 24th, 2008
Location: Peyton Place, New Hampshire USA
Posts: 861
Did ya not add the Blooming movie "Bloom" (LOL)


Joined: Sat Jun 10th, 2006
Location: Denver, Colorado USA
Posts: 1648

You missed it.  "Bloom" is between "Lilac time" and "The Agony and the Ectasy."  (#48)


Joined: Thu Jan 24th, 2008
Location: Peyton Place, New Hampshire USA
Posts: 861
Silly Imelda

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