The puzzle is broken up into three sections to indicate solving order. In the First section, you see 26 clues. Each clue is both very easy to solve, and also very strangely worded. The answers to the clues are also in alphabetical order.
To solve this part:
- Answer the clues.
- Notice that each answer can be associated with 1, 2 or 3 colors. Further notice that these colors are in the set of RED, ORANGE, YELLOW, GREEN, BLUE, WHITE. (As hinted at in the flavor “six kinds of shady”.)
- Notice that each clue has been worded to include a word or phrase that can be paired with NATO letter to form a common word, phrase or title. This is subtly hinted at in the flavor as well with “clear communication” and the acrostic of the final four words, “not always the objective.”
- Finally, map each of the 26 answers / color sets to one letter of the alphabet.
|Founding X-Man who was a bit of a Romeo (if you ask Abigail Brand)||Beast||Blue||Alfa Romeo||A|
|Long-time roommates who like to take baths, talk to pigeons, and watch the tube.||Bert and Ernie||Orange, Yellow||X-ray Tube||X|
|Oil company responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, which caused a 2.4 million barrel oil sheen across the Gulf of Mexico||BP||Green, Yellow||Charlie Sheen||C|
|Treat called “bengala de doce” in Rio||Candy cane||Red, White||Rio Bravo||B|
|The distribution of fans for this football team extends far across Illinois.||Chicago Bears||Blue, Orange, White||Uniform distribution||U|
|Genus of trees that includes clementines, limes, and lemons, of course||Citrus||Green, Orange, Yellow||Golf course||G|
|The median price for a single-family home in California recently topped 800,000 of these||Dollars||Green||Hotel California||H|
|Popular 2005 book about the “hidden side of everything” that includes a story about real-life brothers Winner and Loser.||Freakonomics||Green, Orange||Oscar Winner||O|
|Southeastern European country in which butter beans are known as “Gigantes”||Greece||Blue, White||Lima Beans||L|
|Store that sells a high chair named ANTILOP||Ikea||Blue, Yellow||High Sierra||S|
|One of Montreal’s sister cities is Milan, in this country||Italy||Green, Red, White||Montreal, Quebec||Q|
|Movie in which the protagonist is bleeding from his mouth, due to being hurt in the titular simulated world||Matrix||Blue, Red||Romeo Is Bleeding||R|
|Ray Kroc opened the first one of these east of the Mississippi in 1955.||McDonald’s||Red, Yellow||Mississippi Delta||D|
|Raymond Lewis Jr.’s college football team||Miami Hurricanes||Green, Orange, White||Juliett(e) Lewis||J|
|Don’t preach about imperialism to this captain of the Nautilus.||Nemo||Orange, White||Papa Don’t Preach||P|
|Nickname for the flag flown outside American social halls||Old Glory||Blue, Red, White||Americal Social Foxtrot||F|
|The scariest Halloween figure since Mr. Myers is David S. _______!||Pumpkins||Orange||Mike Myers||M|
|Victoria might prefer this expansion to the game that won the 2017 Spiel des Jahres.||Queendomino||Blue, Orange||Victor/Victoria||V|
|Onion that’s sometimes chopped up and sprinkled on a baked potato (along with sour cream)||Scallion||Green, White||Whiskey Sour||W|
|Movie filmed within the largest free-standing cell block in the world, The Ohio State Reformatory||The Shawshank Redemption||Red||Cell Block Tango||T|
|Long-running animated show that’s been produced using digital ink since season 14||The Simpsons||Yellow||India Ink||I|
|Batman battles this guy in the rain, in the movie named after this fight.||Superman||Blue, Red, Yellow||November Rain||N|
|A low one of these is caused by the moon’s location with respect to Earth.||Tide||Blue, Orange, Yellow||Echolocation||E|
|If you are really bored while sitting on the can, you could conceivably doodle on a roll of this.||Toilet Paper||White||Yankee Doodle||Y|
|Monty Python sings (repetitively) about how much they like these objects, when they're not tromping around Arthur’s kingdom.||Traffic lights||Green, Red, Yellow||Zulu Kingdom||Z|
|Fruit with ~12 grams of sugar per cup, as Harry Styles surely knows||Watermelon||Green, Red||Kilograms||K|
The next step is to figure out why we’re using only those colors. Those six colors appear together as a set in one very specific place: the six sides of a Rubik’s Cube. This is also hinted in the title, which is a reference to a quote by Ernö Rubik that’s quite applicable here: “If you are curious, you'll find the puzzles around you. If you are determined, you will solve them.”
Specifically, each color set from our table above aligns with the color arrangement of one cubelet on a Rubik’s Cube. With the association of letters to color sets, we can now associate each cubelet (of which there are 26, as the center of Rubik’s Cube isn’t visible) with a different letter of the alphabet. To do this, you can find a cube and write on it, or you can get creative with Google Sheets.
On to the second section, titled Then. Some of these clues are more ambiguous than others. Each answer is a word you can find on the cube, after one 90° rotation. (Hinted at by “14 moves away” in the flavor.) The answers and turns are indicated here. Turns are valid for a cube that has yellow in front (F) and orange on the left (L).
|Musical group, maybe||TRIO||R|
|Type of tree||PALM||L'|
|Gold medal volleyballer||ALIX||D|
At this point, the cube should be arranged in a pleasant snake-like pattern (in Cube parlance, this design is called the Anaconda), like so:
Parsing the letters on this path, using the enumeration for assistance, you can read:
X IS ART BY WHOM
X is attached to the cubelet colored orange and yellow. The final bit of flavor asks you to find “the shady culprit’s full name.” Orange and Yellow is the title of a well-known painting by the famous abstract artist MARK ROTHKO, which is the answer.