Sunday Morning Puzzle # 57 ---Eye Spy

This Sunday morning brings Special Agent Jones of the CIA to your door. Damn…you had seats on the fifty yard line for today’s big game. That’s unlikely to happen now. Whenever Agent Jones knocks you know you’ll soon be involved in a conundrum that pits your wits against the innermost regions of the world of criminal espionage. It’s mighty tough being the best cryptologist in the country.

Jones hands you a paper and asks, “What do you make of this?”

You read:

/ Defend Chip’s answer/ Critters discover messy store’s heater burning/ Preserve crappy candy wedge/ Skip one stone/ I passed big watermelons/ Stirred out beyond/

“Some sort of puzzle clues?” you guess.

Jones shrugs his shoulders and explains. The CIA monitors the mail of several people suspected of espionage. Last week the above message was mailed to Harvey Waters, one of the possible spies. The letter was copied by the CIA, and then passed on to Waters. The CIA’s top men spent many hours trying to decode the meaning of the mysterious text. But they could find nothing…no anagrams, no cryptograms, no traditional cryptics—zilch.

A Mr. Jonathan Temple of the Center for Advanced Puzzles, Enigmas and Riddles (C.A.P.E.R.) had sent the letter, according to the return address. The CIA investigated this “Center” (located in the hub of the seediest part of town), and interrogated Mr. Temple. Temple claimed he ran a mail-order business for hard core puzzle fans, and had simply sent the clues to everyone on his mailing list. He refused to divulge this mailing list or to explain the meanings of his odd missive.

To quote Mr. Temple: “We are the nucleus of the difficult puzzle world. It is against our sacred oath to disclose answers to our riddles.”

Jones continues, "We had no case against him, and none against Waters. The matter was therefore dropped. A day later, Waters eluded our agents and disappeared.

“This morning we had just cause to reinvestigate the Center. But it was closed down and Mr. Temple was nowhere to be found. The office for C.A.P.E.R. was abandoned.”

“What caused you to go there again?” you inquire.

“Last night the wife of Michigan Senator Donald Scott was snatched from their home in suburban Washington while the senator was away on a fundraiser. The household staff was tied up, and Mrs. Scott’s bodyguard was shot.” Jones looks at you desperately. “We need your help!”

“Senator Scott is in the middle of working on that tough new anti-espionage bill,” you recall. You pause to think for a moment and then ask, “What makes you think I can help? Is there a tie-in to the earlier mystery?”

“Yes,” replies Jones somberly. “The only clue at last night’s crime scene was a wadded up note accidentally dropped by one of the masked thugs. Here it is:”

/ Cassie perceives viral danger/ Second of Hoyt’s cars started/ Libs stalled shower galas/ Lumbered home for mirror/ Molest six robots in Montana/ Shooting hicks blessing Barry/ Harmony models Gail’s clothings/

"We are certain these are not any kind of puzzle clues at all. Instead, we suspect that at heart they are really some kind of code.

“Senator Scott is so upset he cannot work on his anti-spy legislation. We need your assistance immediately!”

But can you help?

Hmm, I think the answer is phonetic/sylabic in nature. But, I got nuthin

An e-mail sent to You this morning from Agent Jones:

I’ve got bad news and good news…

The bad: Senator Scott refuses to help us. We fear he may be planning to pay off a large ransom for his wife. We tried to explain to him that ransom payments are a bad idea, but he would not listen.

The good: We do, however, have a major break in the case. Harvey Waters has been captured. He was found riding on the Central Bus Lines last night by an alert DC cop. We arrested Waters and fingerprinted him. It was then we discovered that “Harvey Waters” is just an alias. His real name is Clyde Caspar, AKA Caspar the Ghost, and he is a wanted espionage criminal. Clyde refuses to talk. He’s quite arrogant, even to the point of telling us that he’ll be free in a matter of days. We’ll just see about that!

Now on to the real clue. We found another of those mysterious notes in Clyde’s coat pocket. Here’s the text:


/ There’s Tommy, grumpy miser!/ Mister Callahan needed wrestler/ Great sorrow near Haverton slowed the crosswalks/ Groundless threats grip Rufus/ Are slugs coy?/ Sofa comedy for person not uniform/ Dems bother angels/ Ann may ache next/ Finer macaws possessed newer feathers/ Don gumbled, he hated tavern snack/ The lowest concert’s song players/ Mary cured tribe’s ill/ Where the beetle glides/ Catsup should disturb any condiment joy/ Espy Doug carving fuzzy cheeses/ Wonder where Morris shouts/ Cat’s home bases burning/ Iraq: lust, ego/ Thinks Herb loves helium/ Undead men clobbered Dallas/ Hurricane showing weathermen water/ Note Moscow farm’s not rotating greenery/ Bess soured Lipton Black Ice T/ Trusts Amy Inge/ Bargains are truly hot/ Mayor tows narrow mop/ Limit goofy questions/


We are counting on you to decode this as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I plan to take several of our best agents back to the former C.A.P.E.R. building. My gut instinct tells me we can find out a lot more if we investigate that Center.
—CIA Agent Jones

The latest alarming e-mail from Agent Jones

Senator Scott has disappeared, and it looks like he is in the clutches of the enemy. On Tuesday he left his Senate office alone. We now know he drew a large amount of cash from the bank, and we assume it was to pay ransom. He has not been seen since this time. Last night we received an anonymous call claiming that the Senator and his wife were prisoners. They will only be freed if we release all the spies we’ve captured this year— including Clyde Caspar.

We have been able to keep this out of the press, but for how long? Our cover story is that the couple is on a second honeymoon somewhere in Cental Asia. We realize that unless we do something fast the true story will leak. My superiors are considering meeting the villains’ demands.

Somehow, we must discover where the Scotts are being held. I think it is somewhere close by, probably right here in the middle of Washington — but that’s just a hunch.

Now for some new clues:

We found an old crumpled note amidst the discarded newspapers in the recycling bin outside the ex-C.A.P.E.R. building. It was exactly between last Wednesday’s and Thursday’s editions— so we believe it is a draft of a letter sent at that time. Here is the text:


**/Don’t sow mushy ocean olives/ Doris Parks had killer twin cousins/ Sense how I doctor Sue/ Destroys Benson ratings/ Pure joy: yo-yos/ Teen girls baffled guests/ Dreadful warts doomed Marcie/ Four hotties wed frogmen now/ Beatles can’t replay Clash covers/ Mac the Knife/ **


We found another clue as well. A thumbprint discovered on this note belongs to Maryann Crispini. As you may know, Ms. Crispini is one of the most wanted spies in the world. I suspect she has been behind all of the spy trouble we have had recently. She’s also a genius, a cold-blooded assassin, and a master of disguise. If you can help catch her and save the day…NOW would be the time to do it!

[Biotop and spies both ready to taste victory…]

Yet another e-mail sent to You from Agent Jones:

We got a call from an informant (Unlucky Larry) who told us he had a copy of another mystery letter— but to hurry because his life might be in danger. Larry had spent the evening drinking and had met an unsavory gentleman who just might be a spy.

When we arrived at the halfway house that Larry called home, we quickly went up to his second floor room. Inside we found Larry dying from a gunshot wound. Then we heard a noise from the balcony—but by the time we got out there all we could see was the figure of a woman racing off into the middle of the street below. We sent the DC police out after her, but she was not found. Maryann Crispini, no doubt!

Meanwhile, Larry was gasping his last breaths:

“Note…still in my pocket. I don’t know…its meaning. Met a weird fellow in a bar. He said he was…from C.A.P.E.R. whatever…that…is. He said…that you cops would never catch them…because…you had searched all around the Center…and …found nothing…The guy…told me that…a famous spy…works…right here in Washington as… as…---------”

It was here Larry fell silent. We found a note in his pocket with the following message:

/ Pledge: Let Freddy the Dentist floss/ Pledge: Limit ape smells/ Shy pandas create stereo machine/ Homer’s not lucky/ Pledge: Ease disease/ All thread red…darn!/ Caresses Trixi Tupper’s bosom/ “Hurt you last month…GOOD!” hisses Dad/ Bossy, cattle uncool/ Stressed the treatment…intern may mind/ Norman contends Joe ate cavern bat/ The drillers hit sewer streams/ Conway has American parade celebrate his tulip/ Butchers sharks/ Wet fleshy worms wanted/ Ten fundamental ideas erased/ Casbah had grayest patio/ Dating French bride’s brother Greg…expected messy tryst/ Ointment: itchy cream soothes toe/ Disrupt Dope mystery/


We’ve scoured that damn Center for Advanced Puzzles, Enigmas, and Riddles office over and over. Where’s the Center for Answers to Puzzles, Enigmas and Riddles? That’s what we need! What to do? Time is about up. Our government has decided to release all the spies tomorrow. They hope this will get the Scotts back. We’ve got just one more day to solve this…

I have tried every trick I know from British-style cryptic crossword clues and I’m nowhere…

E-mail to Monkeymensch from Agent Jones.

Our experts don’t believe these are cryptic style clues. Oh they may masquerade as such…but something different is going on here, we suspect. After all, how could Maryann Crispini and those nefarious spies possibly know for sure that their agents would be able to solve the clues and get their message if they were indeed cryptics. No, they may be designed to look like cryptic clues, but our experts think that the crux, the focal point, of the investigation should be somewhere other than decyphering these supposed individual clues.

I know there is an answer to this around here somewhere. I know there are clues for us somewhere. But where?

P.S.-- Word is all the spies get released tonight at midnight. There is still time to turn this around. Precious little time. HELP!!
Agent Jones

Ai! Again with the backwards messages–you know I can’t do those. Finally figured out what was going on with all that stuff about “center” and “heart” and so on. And here I thought the capitals were important. All right, just give me a few more minutes.

Urgent e-mail to Agent Jones: Maryann Crispini is working as the basement research librarian at the Library of Congress. She plans to ice the Scotts as soon as the spies are released. And I’m pretty sure that clue about the tavern snack was supposed to read "Don grumbled…

E-mail to Agent Jones:

I failed to mention that you should look for the Senator (and presumably his wife) in the boiler room below the L of C.

An e-mail to Peregrine from Agent Jones:

Congratulations! This case has been among the most baffling of my career.

I thought you’d like to know that we took Clyde Caspar out of jail and led him to a room under the guise of releasing him. Imagine the look on his face as his sneer turned to anger and dismay. We had Maryann Crispini and the rest of the gang waiting for him —all in handcuffs. The Scotts were also there, with the senator promising that he’d have the new anti-spy legislation ready to introduce to Congress this week.

I even enjoyed pointing out her little typo to the perfectionist Maryann Crispini. “Grr… No one’s perfect,” she grumbled …er “gumbled.”

I’ve got to admit there were sure a lot more clues in the little adventure than say, the poetry problem of a few months ago. Centers, pits, cores, and nuclei and halfway houses just seemed to keep cropping up. Even the title we gave this little problem contained a clue. And Maryann and Clyde certainly were names with hints as well. Good job. I hope you take a long rest. Until we need you again…stay centered!