Solution to Unraveling the Mystery
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Answer: LATE ONSET
by Alan Huang
The body of this puzzle is blank, but someone seems to have called in a bunch of wrong answers. Curiously, the submissions span twenty years—but all of them happen in mid-January, specifically on the Saturday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That’s because each submission is actually the correct answer to a puzzle from that year’s Mystery Hunt. As the flavortext indicates, we need to figure out the reason they are now marked as incorrect.
The reason can be found by tracking down the solution writeups for the puzzles. Each answer comes from a cluephrase in its original puzzle, which has become out of date in some way during the intervening years. We need to find an updated answer that works for the same cluephrase in the present day. The flavortext also notes that this puzzle has no rate limiting on guesses, in order to let us confirm subanswers along the way.
|Year||Incorrect Answer||Puzzle||Cluephrase||Updated Answer||H||M/S||Indexed||Notes|
|2011||AMERICAN||Crowd’s Chant||LEAGUE WITH DH||NATIONAL||1||8/8||L||The American League has had the designated hitter rule since 1973; the National League has adopted it starting in 2020.|
|2008||TUESDAY||Campsite||FINALE DAY OF WEEK||FRIDAY||2||5/6||A||Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, a sequel miniseries, aired in its entirety on Friday, November 25, 2016.|
|2001||SENSORY CORTEX||Agoraphobia||ROGER HACKETT and VINCENT SIMMON||RICH XYTIS||3||7/9||T||The original extraction takes the first word of each man’s company at the time. They and their latest ventures can be found on LinkedIn.|
|2016||SPORTAGE||The Case of the Dangerous Game||FOURTH GEN KIA SUV||SORENTO||4||4/7||E||The fourth generation Sorento was introduced in 2020.|
|2013||CARL SAGAN||Digging Up Music||HOST OF PBS DOCUMENTARY WITH THIS COMPOSER||NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON||5||16/17||O||The documentary in question is Cosmos; Tyson has hosted both Cosmos series since 2014. (Admittedly, those series do not have the same composer as the original.)|
|2011||STINGRAY NEBULA||Unlikely Situations||JANUARY 14TH XKCD TITLE||MAGNETIC POLE||6||4/12||N||This refers to the most recent January 14th when an xkcd came out, which was in 2019.|
|2014||OPERATOR TEST||Operator Test||QUAGMIRE||UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY||7||16/20||S||Quagmire was a 2004 puzzle whose extraction was to call in the title, QUAGMIRE. Operator Test’s cluephrase was QUAGMIRE, indicating to call in the title, OPERATOR TEST.|
|2005||JANE AUSTEN||Evil Empire||SHE WROTE EMMA||ELEANOR CATTON||8||1/13||E||Who can be said to have written Emma, other than Jane Austen? Well, the screenwriter for the 2020 film adaptation was Eleanor Catton.|
|2010||RIKER||Sorry, I Love These Big Wrong Musical Numbers||NUMBER ONE FOR PICARD||PIT BULL||9||3/7||T||The 2020 series Star Trek: Picard features Picard’s pit bull, named Number One.|
In the timestamps of the submissions, the hours provide an ordering, the seconds give the length of the updated answers, and the minutes index into that answer. The final answer is LATE ONSET.