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List of Futility Closet Podcast episodes

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The Futility Closet Podcast is a weekly history podcast presented by Greg and Sharon Ross. Each episode presents a curious subject from history, as well as a lateral thinking puzzle.



# Title Original airdate
1"Calendar Reform, Doll Mansions, and Hitchcock’s Vertigo"[1]17 March 2014 (2014-03-17)
Several proposals for calendar reform, giant doll houses of the Dutch golden age, a perplexing moment in an Alfred Hitchcock film, and the first Futility Closet Challenge.
2"Mass Hysteria, Airborne Sheepdogs and Mark Twain’s Brother"[2]24 March 2014 (2014-03-24)
Panic over the return of Halley's comet in 1910, the disappearance of Harold Holt, balloon-borne sheepdogs during the Franco-Prussian War, Orion Clemens and the Nevada state constitution, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
3"Extreme Pedestrians, Kangaroo Stew, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge"[3]31 March 2014 (2014-03-31)
Lillian Alling's trek from New York City to Russia, more on the messenger dogs of Paris, the importance of October 4th to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
4"Mystery Airships, Marauding Lions, and Nancy Drew"[4]7 April 2014 (2014-04-07)
UFO sightings of the 1890's, dazzle camouflage, lions in Illinois and England, the Stratemeyer Syndicate, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
5"Mailing People, Alien Shorthand, and Benjamin Franklin"[5]14 April 2014 (2014-04-14)
Henry Box Brown and other human parcels, a cipher by Benjamin Franklin, a metal ball from the sky, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
6"Texas Camels, Zebra Stripes, and an Immortal Piano"[6]21 April 2014 (2014-04-21)
The use of camels in the western United States during the 1850's, a theory on the orign of zebra stripes, the further aventures of Box Brown, and Avner Carmi's immortal piano.
7"Louisiana Hippos, Imaginary Epidemics, and Charles Lindbergh"[7]28 April 2014 (2014-04-28)
The flight of L'Oiseau Blanc, a proposal to import hippos to Louisiana, outbreaks of psychogenic illness, and another Futility Closet Puzzle.
8"Owney the Mail Dog, Candy Bombers, and Bertrand Russell"[8]5 May 2014 (2014-05-05)
A terrier named Owney who became the mascot of the U.S. postal service, the story of Gail Halvorsen the "candy bomber", feral hippos from Pablo Escobar's menagerie, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
9"The Monkey Signalman, Racetrack ESP, and Toxic Dumps"[9]12 May 2014 (2014-05-12)
A baboon named Jack who served as a railway signalman in South Africa, a young journalist who dreamed the winners of horse races, the Stringfellow Acid Pits, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
10"A Baboon Soldier, Lighthouse Rescues, and a Parliament of Owls"[10]19 May 2014 (2014-05-19)
A baboon who accompanied his owner during the First World War, the heroic lighthouse keeper Ida Lewis, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
11"A Woolf in Sheikh’s Clothing"[11]26 May 2014 (2014-05-26)
The Dreadnought Hoax, Benjamin Franklin's thoughts on whistles, and another Futility Closet Challenge.
12"The Great Race, Grace Kelly’s Tomahawk, and Dreadful Penmanship"[12]2 June 2014 (2014-06-02)
The 1908 New York to Paris auto race, a tomahawk that passed back and forth between Alec Guinness and Grace Kelly for 25 years, and a poet's feelings about his wife's bad handwriting.
13"An Ingenious Escape From Slavery"[13]9 June 2014 (2014-06-09)
Ellen and William Craft's daring escape from slavery, a legal loophole in Yellowstone National Park, and the poetry of Piet Hein.
14"The Unsinkable Violet Jessop"[14]16 June 2014 (2014-06-16)
The close calls of Violet Jessop, curious incidents involving the International Date Line, and a puzzle about Salvador Dali's brother. (Note: This marks the debut of the lateral thinking puzzle segment.)
15"The Flannan Isles Mystery"[15]23 June 2014 (2014-06-23)
The vanishing lighthouse keepers of Eilean Mor, the inheritance of Robert Louis Stevenson's birthday, the story of Esaw Wood, and a puzzle in which a drink of water necessitates a tow truck.
16"A Very Popular Sack of Flour"[16]30 June 2014 (2014-06-30)
Reuel Gridley and his flour sack, H.L. Mencken's translation of the Declaration of Independence into American vernacular, and a puzzle about a place where tourism increases the price of electricity.
17"An Aircraft Carrier Made of Ice"[17]7 July 2014 (2014-07-07)
A project to build an aircraft carrier out of ice, a love note preserved on a Yorkshire tree, and a puzzle about two dead men in a remote cabin.
18"The Mystery of the Disappearing Airmen"[18]14 July 2014 (2014-07-14)
The disappearance of two airmen from an L-class blimp in 1942, miscellaneous items from Greg's notes, and a puzzle about a drink of water that kills hundreds.
19"Testing the Post Office"[19]21 July 2014 (2014-07-21)
W. Reginald Bray's experiments with the British postal service, Lucius E. Chittenden's 12,500 signatures, and a puzzle about the anxious train journey of a Wall Street banker.
20"Life Imitates Science Fiction"[20]28 July 2014 (2014-07-28)
The Cleve Cartmill affair, Mark Twain's advice against being too clever, and a puzzle about the failure of a seemingly perfect art heist.
21"A Gallant German Fighter Ace"[21]4 August 2014 (2014-08-04)
The Charlie Brown and Franz Stigler incident, the Nature fakers controversy, and a puzzle about a man who tells his nephew that his dog will be shot.
22"The Devil’s Hoofmarks"[22]18 August 2014 (2014-08-18)
Mysterious hoof prints found in the snow in Devon in 1855, more on Franz Stigler, and a puzzle about how to sneak into Switzerland across a guarded footbridge.
23"A Victorian Poisoning Mystery"[23]25 August 2014 (2014-08-25)
The Pimlico poisoning mystery, a novel without the letter E, and a puzzle about a sure-footed American's visit to a Japanese office building.
24"The World’s Worst Poet"[24]1 September 2014 (2014-09-01)
The life and poetry of William McGonagall, a boy's plea for federal funding to clean his messy room, and a puzzle about a man's outrageous behavior in front of children.
25"An Australian Enigma"[25]8 September 2014 (2014-09-08)
An unidentified corpse found on an Adelaide beach, Franklin Adams's ode to the thesaurus, and a puzzle about the surprising consequences of a gunshot.
26"A Practical Joke on a Grand Scale"[26]15 September 2014 (2014-09-15)
The Berners Street hoax, more on the Tamam Shud case, and a puzzle about an octopus stuck in a tree.
27"The Man Who Volunteered for Auschwitz"[27]22 September 2014 (2014-09-22)
The heroic deeds of Witold Pilecki, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, and a puzzle about how hitting a target could save thousands of lives.
28"The Real-Life Sherlock Holmes"[28]29 September 2014 (2014-09-29)
The physician who inspired Sherlock Holmes, miscellaneous items from Greg's research, and a puzzle about how having one's car damaged might be a good thing.
29"The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser"[29]6 October 2014 (2014-10-06)
The story of Kaspar Hauser, more on the tree octopus, self-landing airplanes, and a puzzle about a man who buried fifteen luxury cars in the desert.
30"The Oak Island Money Pit"[30]20 October 2014 (2014-10-20)
The Oak Island mystery, and a puzzle about a woman's errands and her husband's death.
31"Pigs on Trial"[31]27 October 2014 (2014-10-27)
The phenomenon of animal trials, the source of Futility Closet's name, and a puzzle about a ringing bell and a man's death.
32"The Wow! Signal"[32]3 November 2014 (2014-11-03)
A 1977 radio signal interpreted as a sign of alien life, miscellaneous items from Greg's research, and a puzzle about why a man drives a long distance at only 15 miles per hour.
33"Death and Robert Todd Lincoln"[33]10 November 2014 (2014-11-10)
Robert Todd Lincoln's relationship to presidential assassinations, the legal rights of chimpanzees, and a puzzle about why Australia would demolish a perfectly good building.
34"Spring-Heeled Jack - A Victorian Supervillain"[34]17 November 2014 (2014-11-17)
The seven-decade career of Spring-Heeled Jack, the efforts by Alexander Graham Bell to save the wounded James Garfield, and a puzzle about a police manual with instructions in a language that none of the officers speak.
35"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[35]24 November 2014 (2014-11-24)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.
36"The Great Moon Hoax"[36]1 December 2014 (2014-12-01)
A series of fabulous articles that appeared in the New York Sun in 1835, Hasidic rabbis in Montana, and a puzzle about how a woman's new shoes end up killing her.
37"Edgar Allan Poe’s Graveyard Visitor"[37]8 December 2014 (2014-12-08)
The Poe Toaster, a psychiatric diagnosis of Winnie-the-Pooh, and a puzzle about a man shooting a monk.
38"The Thunder Stone"[38]14 December 2014 (2014-12-14)
A giant boulder transported to Saint Petersburg to serve as the pedestal for a statue, reports of oil pit squids in Indiana, and a puzzle about a stamp collector who is angry to discover a good bargain.
39"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[39]22 December 2014 (2014-12-22)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.


# Title Original airdate
40"The Mary Celeste: A Great Sea Mystery"[40]5 January 2015 (2015-01-05)
The mysterious abandonment of the Mary Celeste, more on the legal rights of great apes, and a puzzle about a woman who does nothing when her sister is drugged.
41"The Tragic Tale of the Lady Be Good"[41]12 January 2015 (2015-01-12)
A WWII bomber lost deep in the Libyan desert, convoluted family trees, and a puzzle about Thales of Miletus and a stubborn mule.
42"The Balmis Expedition: Using Orphans to Combat Smallpox"[42]19 January 2015 (2015-01-19)
A Spanish mission to vaccinate its American colonies, updates on the Lady Be Good, and a puzzle about a man who finds it more convenient to drive two cars than one.
43"Ben Franklin’s Guide to Living"[43]25 January 2015 (2015-01-25)
Benjamin Franklin's self-improvement plan, Natan Sharansky's use of mental chess to maintain his sanity in Soviet prisons, and a puzzle about why the Pentagon has so many bathrooms.
44"Ballooning to the North Pole"[44]1 February 2015 (2015-02-01)
S.A. Andrée and his attempt to reach the North Pole in a balloon, the White House's plan in the event that Neil Armstrong became stranded on the moon, and a puzzle about why a plan flying upside-down would impact a woman's job.
45"Crossing Africa for Love"[45]8 February 2015 (2015-02-08)
Ewart Grogan's trek from Cape Town to Cairo to win the hand of his sweetheart, the criminal history of Duckburg, and a puzzle about a groom who drowns on his wedding night.
46"The 1925 Serum Run to Nome"[46]16 February 2015 (2015-02-16)
The 1925 serum run to Nome by dogsled, a song inspired by S. A. Andrée's arctic balloon expedition, and a puzzle about a lost accomplishment of ancient civilizations.
47"The Scariest Travel Books Ever Written"[47]22 February 2015 (2015-02-22)
The jaundiced travelogues of Favell Lee Mortimer, the movie career of a sled dog, the domestication of foxes in the Soviet Union, and a puzzle about strange noises in a soccer stadium.
48"The Shark Arm Affair"[48]9 March 2015 (2015-03-09)
A series of murders that began when a captive tiger shark vomited up a human arm, a letter repeatedly printed in The Paris Herald, more on Favell Lee Mortimer, and a puzzle about an unpunished killing at a sporting event.
49"Can a Kitten Climb the Matterhorn?"[49]16 March 2015 (2015-03-16)
Reports that a kitten climbed the Matterhorn in 1950, a striking display of dolphin intelligence, and a puzzle about a perplexed mechanic.
50"The Great Tea Race"[50]23 March 2015 (2015-03-23)
The competition by clipper ships to deliver the season's first shipment of tea, the significance of mulch to Groo the Wanderer, and a puzzle about the effects of Kool-Aid on a woman's relationships.
51"Poet Doppelgängers"[51]29 March 2014 (2014-03-29)
Five poets seen by witnesses when their physical bodies were elsewhere, more on the Matterhorn cat, and a puzzle about an international traveler who is not asked for his passport.
52"Moving Day in New York"[52]6 April 2015 (2015-04-06)
The ancient custom of moving day in New York City, improbable escapes from shipwrecks, and a puzzle about a burglar's ingenuity.
53"The Lost Colony"[53]13 April 2015 (2015-04-13)
The disappearance of the Roanoke Colony, an eyewitness account of an early steam locomotive, and a puzzle about why writing a letter might prove to be fatal.
54"Escape From Stalag Luft III"[54]20 April 2015 (2015-04-20)
An escape from a P.O.W. camp by means of a vaulting horse, the tradition of moving day in various cities, and a puzzle about an injured hiker who beats his wife back to their RV.
55"The Dyatlov Pass Incident"[55]26 April 2015 (2015-04-26)
The Dyatlov Pass incident, how Dwight Eisenhower might have delivered the Gettysburg Address, and a puzzle about why signing her name might entitle a woman to a lavish new home.
56"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[56]4 May 2015 (2015-05-04)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.
57"Jules Verne’s Lost Novel"[57]11 May 2015 (2015-05-11)
The long-delayed novel Paris in the Twentieth Century, listener mail about the Dyatlov Pass incident, and a puzzle about how a man's breakfast turns deadly.
58"English as She Is Spoke"[58]18 May 2015 (2015-05-18)
A notoriously inept Portuguese-English phrasebook, a rendering of Hamlet's "to be or not to be" soliloquy into jargon, and a puzzle about a man who places an ad before robbing a bank.
59"The Wizard of Mauritius"[59]24 May 2015 (2015-05-24)
An 18th-century French engineer who claimed he could detect ships beyond the horizon, a 400-year-old parlor trick, and a puzzle about why throwing a beer can at someone might result in a promotion.
60"The Day They Hanged an Elephant"[60]1 June 2015 (2015-06-01)
A circus elephant hanged for murder, an update on an inventive bank robbery, and a puzzle about the escalators in London's Tube stations.
61"The Strange Custom of Garden Hermits"[61]14 June 2015 (2015-06-14)
The 18th-century English practice of hiring hermits to live on the grounds one's estate, the western stories of Karl May, and a puzzle about some very generous bank robbers.
62"Marconi Catches a Murderer"[62]21 June 2015 (2015-06-21)
A fugitive murderer caught with the aid of wireless telegraphy, a letter from Winston Churchill to Winston Churchill, and a puzzle about a sober man who is denied a second beer.
63"The Rainmaker"[63]28 June 2015 (2015-06-28)
A cloud-seeder who may have caused a flood in 1915, and a puzzle about a housebreaker who doesn't get prosecuted.
64"Murder at the Priory"[64]6 July 2015 (2015-07-06)
The unsolved poisoning of Charles Bravo, an update on garden hermits, and a puzzle about a shooting death that is definitely not a homicide.
65"The Merchant Prince of Cornville"[65]13 July 2015 (2015-07-13)
A Chicago real estate developer who claimed that Cyrano de Bergerac plagiarized his own unpublished play, an update on Karl May, and a puzzle about a Civil War private who refuses to fight.
66"Eighteen Holes in Vietnam"[66]20 July 2015 (2015-07-20)
An Air Force officer who was guided out of enemy territory by using his knowledge of golf courses, a video game based on the Dyatlov Pass incident, and a puzzle about a military force that bombs its own allies.
67"Composing Beyond the Grave"[67]27 July 2015 (2015-07-27)
People who claimed to have received new compositions from dead musicians, and a puzzle about a man who earns $250,000 for going on two cruises.
68"The Niihau Incident"[68]2 August 2015 (2015-08-02)
The Niihau incident of 1941, miscellaneous items from Greg's research, and a puzzle about a man who can't sell a gold letter opener.
69"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[69]10 August 2015 (2015-08-10)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.
70"Sunk by a Whale"[70]24 August 2015 (2015-08-24)
The wreck of the whaleship Essex, an athlete who shipped himself from England to Australia in a crate, and a puzzle about an international traveler's impressive feat of navigation.
71"Godless in Missouri"[71]31 August 2015 (2015-08-31)
A town in Missouri founded as an anti-Christian utopia, and a puzzle about how a woman can suddenly be 120 miles away in just a few minutes.
72"The Strange Misadventures of Famous Corpses"[72]7 September 2015 (2015-09-07)
Notable corpses whose parts have disappeared, more on a couple who claimed to have communicated with the spirit of John Lennon, the possibility of hiding code in knitting, an extremely prolific diarist, and a puzzle about why a pilot would deliberately land in a field of grazing livestock.
73"The Tichborne Claimant"[73]14 September 2015 (2015-09-14)
The Tichborne case, and a puzzle about why family businesses are more successful in Japan than in other countries.
74"Charley Parkhurst’s Secret"[74]21 September 2015 (2015-09-21)
The story of Charley Parkhurst, a Gold Rush-era stagecoach driver who was discovered at death to be biologically female, listener mail about the town of Liberal, Missouri, and a puzzle about a lucky driver and his passenger.
75"The Sea Devil"[75]28 September 2015 (2015-09-28)
Felix von Luckner's exploits during the First World War, and a puzzle about how a product intended to prevent drug abuse ends up encouraging it.
76"Get Out of Jail Free"[76]4 October 2015 (2015-10-04)
P.O.W. escape kits hidden in board games, listener mail about Jeremy Bentham's head, Victorian tattoos, and Felix von Luckner, and a puzzle about murderous cabbies and moviegoers.
77"The Sourdough Expedition"[77]12 October 2015 (2015-10-12)
An early effort by four gold miners to climb Denali, a ghoulish tourist destination, and a puzzle about a painter who blamed himself for World War II.
78"Snowshoe Thompson"[78]19 October 2015 (2015-10-19)
A Norwegian immigrant who used skis to deliver mail to snowed-in settlers in western Nevada, listener mail about P.O.W. escape aids, and a puzzle about how lighting a cigarette results in a lengthy prison sentence.
79"One Square Inch of the Yukon"[79]25 October 2015 (2015-10-25)
The Klondike Big Inch Land Promotion, the fictional poet Enoch Soames and his real-life appearance at the British Museum in 1997, and a puzzle about a prizewinning farmer who gives away his best seeds to his competitors.
80"‘Black Like Me’: Race Realities Under Jim Crow"[80]2 November 2015 (2015-11-02)
A white man's journey through the segregated south disguised as a black man, the orientation of crescents on flags, an improbable submarine rescue, and a puzzle about a man arrested for winning a prize at a county fair.
81"The Typhus Hoax"[81]15 November 2015 (2015-11-15)
A Polish doctor who created a fake typhus epidemic to spare his neighbors from Nazi death camps, four schemes involving tiny plots of land, and a puzzle about a library that waives a fee for a lost book.
82"Stealing Abe Lincoln"[82]23 November 2015 (2015-11-23)
A plot to steal the body of Abraham Lincoln and hold it for ransom, and a puzzle about a simple technique for reducing the odds of dying of a heart attack.
83"Nuclear Close Calls"[83]30 November 2015 (2015-11-30)
The story of Stanislav Petrov and other nuclear near misses, listener mail about crescent moons and newcomers to India, and a puzzle about the fatal consequences of a man's departure from a job.
84"The Man Who Never Was"[84]7 December 2015 (2015-12-07)
Operation Mincemeat, listener mail about Scottish titles and mountain-climbing cats, and a puzzle about one worker's seeming unwillingness to help another.
85"Raising Chicago"[85]14 December 2015 (2015-12-14)
The Raising of Chicago, a bear that almost started World War III, and a puzzle about the importance of a ringing phone.
86"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[86]21 December 2015 (2015-12-21)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.
87"A Sleuthing Cabbie, Edward VI’s Homework, and a Self-Aware Crow"[87]28 December 2015 (2015-12-28)
Miscellaneous items from Greg's research, including Arthur Conan Doyle's encounter with a perceptive Boston cabbie, a computer's attempt to rewrite Aesop's fables, and Gene Tunney's thoughts on Shakespeare, as well as a puzzle about how a man on a park bench can recognize a murder at sea.


# Title Original airdate
88"Mrs. Wilkinson and the Lyrebird"[88]4 January 2016 (2016-01-04)
A widow who befriended a lyrebird and increased scientific knowledge of the elusive species, Seattle's extensive regrading project, and a puzzle about a prolific actress who was never paid for her work.
89"An African From Baltimore"[89]11 January 2016 (2016-01-11)
A self-described African savage who was really an impostor from Baltimore, a congressman's sarcastic panegyric to Duluth, and a puzzle about an acclaimed actor who loses a role.
90"The Candy Bar War"[90]18 January 2016 (2016-01-18)
A boycott of candy stores by Canadian teens, the first automobile trip across the United States, and a puzzle about the intentions of a masked man.
91"Voyage of the Damned"[91]25 January 2016 (2016-01-25)
A ship of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany turned away from every port, opportunities for hermits in Seattle, and a puzzle about a condemned woman who is content with her fate.
92"The Forgotten Amendment"[92]1 February 2016 (2016-02-01)
Gregory Watson's ten-year mission to get a long-forgotten constitutional amendment ratified, an underhanded way to win a poetry contest, and a puzzle about how someone can murder a corpse.
93"The Old Flying Days"[93]8 February 2016 (2016-02-08)
Charles Cyril Turner's first-hand accounts of Edwardian aviation, the nuances of attempted murder in the Sammy Yatim case, and a puzzle about a motel guest's deliberate noisemaking.
94"The Living Unknown Soldier"[94]22 February 2016 (2016-02-22)
An amnesiac World War I veteran who was claimed by many families, another proposed amendment, and a puzzle about an unpopular baseball victory.
95"A New Day at Charleston"[95]29 February 2016 (2016-02-29)
A slave who freed himself and seventeen others by commandeering a Confederate ship and sailing it to Union lines, a debate over the proper treatment of killer bears, and a puzzle about a hijacker's surprising request.
96"The Abduction of Edgardo Mortara"[96]7 March 2016 (2016-03-07)
The abduction of a Jewish boy by the Catholic Church in 1858, Benjamin Franklin's musings on cultural bigotry, and a puzzle about an unexpected soccer riot.
97"The Villisca Ax Murders"[97]14 March 2016 (2016-03-14)
The unsolved murder of eight people in a small town in Iowa, the further adventures of Felix von Luckner, and a puzzle about some fickle bodyguards.
98"The St. Albans Raid"[98]21 March 2016 (2016-03-21)
A Confederate attack on a small Vermont town, the maritime tradition of line-crossing ceremonies, and a puzzle about a groundskeeper's strange method of tending grass.
99"Notes and Queries"[99]28 March 2016 (2016-03-28)
A collection of brief items, including Frederick the Great's spider, an unfortunate oil tanker, The Book of Heroic Failures, a statue with the wrong face, an actor who could ad-lib in iambic pentameter, a French Canadian girl who auctioned herself, and a puzzle about some curiously lethal ship cargo.
100"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[100]4 April 2016 (2016-04-04)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.
101"Jerome"[101]11 April 2016 (2016-04-11)
A non-communicative legless man discovered on a Canadian beach, explosive rats of World War II, and a puzzle about a computer that works better when its users sit.
102"The Bunion Derby"[102]18 April 2016 (2016-04-18)
The Trans-American Footrace, more facts about spiders, and a puzzle about why a man needs three cars.
103"Legislating Pi"[103]24 April 2016 (2016-04-24)
The Indiana Pi Bill, the nomenclature of turkeys, and a puzzle about a perplexing baseball game.
104"The Harvey’s Casino Bombing"[104]2 May 2016 (2016-05-02)
The Harvey's Resort Hotel bombing, dubious lawn care shortcuts, and a puzzle about a man who tears up a winning ticket.
105"Surviving on Seawater"[105]8 May 2016 (2016-05-08)
Alain Bombard's controversial theory of ocean survival, 19th-century pedestrianism, and a puzzle about a luckless burglar.
106"The Popgun War"[106]23 May 2016 (2016-05-23)
A showdown between the U.S. Army and three boys with a toy cannon during army exercises, facts about guinea pigs, and a puzzle about praiseworthy incompetence.
107"Arthur Nash and the Golden Rule"[107]29 May 2016 (2016-05-29)
A businessman who ran his factory according to the Golden Rule, a rhyme on the miracle of metabolism, and a puzzle about the secrets of Chicago pickpockets.
108"The Greenwich Time Lady"[108]6 June 2016 (2016-06-06)
A London businesswoman who delivered the time door to door, the colorful history of bicycle races, and a puzzle about a stymied prizewinner.
109"Trapped in a Cave"[109]12 June 2016 (2016-06-12)
A cave explorer who was trapped below ground and became a media sensation, Ronald Reagan and baseball, and a puzzle about a fatal breakfast.
110"The Brooklyn Chameleon"[110]20 June 2016 (2016-06-20)
The countless impersonations of Stanley Clifford Weyman, and a puzzle about why the police would arrest an unremarkable bus passenger.
111"Japanese Fire Balloons"[111]27 June 2016 (2016-06-27)
The Japanese balloon bombs launched against the western US, the use of cannons for telling time, and a puzzle about how to find a lost tortoise.
112"The Disappearance of Michael Rockefeller"[112]4 July 2016 (2016-07-04)
Michael Rockefeller's disappearance in New Guinea, the ingenious techniques of early sportscasters, and a puzzle about a baffled mechanic.
113"The Battle Over Mother’s Day"[113]11 July 2016 (2016-07-11)
The founder of Mother's Day and her combative relationship with her creation, a Hitler-saluting dog that scandalized the Nazis, and a puzzle about a man who is fired for doing his job too well.
114"The Desperation of Donald Crowhurst"[114]18 July 2016 (2016-07-18)
Donald Crowhurst's doomed attempt to circumnavigate the world in a yacht, an update on Japanese fire balloons, and a puzzle about a computer that turns on the radio.
115"Gettysburg’s Unknown Soldier"[115]25 July 2016 (2016-07-25)
A Gettysburg casualty identified by a photograph of his children, a comedy of manners written by a nine-year-old girl, and a puzzle about a letter that copies itself.
116"Notes and Queries"[116]8 August 2016 (2016-08-08)
Several brief items, including the love affair that inspired the Rolls Royce hood ornament, a long-distance dancer, Otto von Bismarck's use of dogs to intimidate visitors, and a Spanish prison break using Esperanto.
117"The Road to En-dor"[117]15 August 2016 (2016-08-15)
A pair of Allied prisoners who used a Ouija board to hoax their way out of a Turkish P.O.W. camp, the role of a cactus in a World War II naval attack, and a puzzle about a cigar-smoking butler.
118"The Restless Corpse of Elmer McCurdy"[118]22 August 2016 (2016-08-22)
An outlaw whose embalmed body was passed around the western United States for sixty years, the disappearance of the Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader, and a puzzle about some mysterious hospital deaths.
119"Lost in the Taiga"[119]29 August 2016 (2016-08-29)
The Lykov family and their four-decade isolation in the Siberian wilderness, more on the role of Esperanto in a Spanish prison break, and a puzzle about a self-incriminating murderer.
120"The Barnes Mystery"[120]5 September 2016 (2016-09-05)
The murder of Julia Martha Thomas by her maid Kate Webster, the unlikely origins of a Mary Poppins character, and a puzzle about penguins in a canoe.
121"Starving for Science"[121]12 September 2016 (2016-09-12)
The story of Russian botanists who battled starvation while guarding a seedbank, an update on Donald Crowhurst, and a puzzle about how to improve the safety of tanks.
122"The Bear Who Went to War"[122]19 September 2016 (2016-09-19)
A Syrian brown bear that joined a Polish army corps during World War II, an update on Agafia Lykov, and a puzzle about a murderous daughter.
123"Washington D.C.’s Hidden Tunnels"[123]26 September 2016 (2016-09-26)
A Smithsonian entomologist with a secret passion for digging tunnels, an update on World War II balloons, and a puzzle about a thief's change of heart.
124"D.B. Cooper"[124]3 October 2016 (2016-10-03)
An infamous hijacker, musical disk drives, and a puzzle about a bicyclist's narrow escape.
125"The Campden Wonder"[125]10 October 2016 (2016-10-10)
The Campden Wonder, Vladimir Putin's dog, and a puzzle about a little girl's benefactor.
126"The Great Australian Poetry Hoax"[126]17 October 2016 (2016-10-17)
A fictional poet invented to spoof modernist poetry, more musical peripherals, and a puzzle about a railroad standstill.
127"Rowing Across the Atlantic"[127]24 October 2016 (2016-10-24)
Two Norwegian immigrants who rowed across the Atlantic, the use of animals in war, and a puzzle about a thwarted burglar.
128"The Battle for Castle Itter"[128]7 November 2016 (2016-11-07)
The strangest battle of World War II, aerial bombings in the United States, and a puzzle about a bottled pear.
129"The Voynich Manuscript"[129]14 November 2016 (2016-11-14)
An illustrated codex written in an undeciphered alphabet, the ritual of the hostage MP, twins married to twins, and a puzzle about a tormenting acquisition.
130"The Unlikely Ultramarathoner"[130]21 November 2016 (2016-11-21)
A 61-year-old potato farmer who unexpectedly won a 500-mile race from Sydney to Melbourne, Operation Unthinkable, listener mail about Castle Itter, the difference between no and nay, and a puzzle about a Japanese baby shortage.
131"Escape From Libby Prison"[131]28 November 2016 (2016-11-28)
The most successful prison break of the American Civil War, a classic trope involving a barrel of bricks and a pulley, and a puzzle about an admitted forger who is found innocent.
132"The Mad Gasser of Mattoon"[132]5 December 2016 (2016-12-05)
A panic over a gas-wielding criminal in a small Illinois town, the concept of identical cousins, and a puzzle about a midnight stabbing.
133"Notes and Queries"[133]12 December 2016 (2016-12-12)
Several brief items, including a pilot who saved Buckingham Palace, Mark Twain's visit to a palm reader, a tiger killed in a Singapore hotel, a Union regiment full of Norwegians, the prolific output of Georges Simenon and Anthony Trollope, the Nüshu script, and a puzzle about a gift that should only be given once.
134"The Christmas Truce"[134]19 December 2016 (2016-12-19)
The Christmas truce of 1914, James Thurber's Aunt Sarah, and a puzzle about an anachronistic twin.
135"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[135]26 December 2016 (2016-12-26)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.


# Title Original airdate
136"The Boston Molasses Disaster"[136]9 January 2017 (2017-01-09)
The Great Molasses Flood, a song about the 15th Wisconsin, Scandinavian onomastics, and a puzzle about a provocative Facebook photo.
137"The Mystery of Fiona Macleod"[137]16 January 2017 (2017-01-16)
The Scottish writer William Sharp and his elaborate female alter-ego, an update on tigers in Singapore, and a puzzle about a surprisingly unsuccessful bank robber.
138"Life in a Cupboard"[138]23 January 2017 (2017-01-23)
Two people who spent years confined in tight spaces, microplots on Islay, listener mail on Nordic linguistics, and a puzzle about a ballerina's silent reception.
139"The Painter’s Revenge"[139]30 January 2017 (2017-01-30)
The art forgeries of Han van Meegeren, an update on D.B. Cooper, and a puzzle about an eyeless fruit burglar.
140"Ramanujan"[140]6 February 2017 (2017-02-06)
The self-taught mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, listener mail about Carson McCullers's sexuality and Audrey Hepburn's war record, and a puzzle about a well-proportioned amputee.
141"Abducted by Indians, a Captive of Whites"[141]13 February 2017 (2017-02-13)
A white child captured by Comanche and later reluctantly recaptured, a socialist art forger, and a puzzle about why a crowd won't help a dying woman.
142"Fingerprints and Polygraphs"[142]20 February 2017 (2017-02-20)
The origins of fingerprinting and lie detectors in law enforcement, the phenomenon of phantom ships, and a puzzle about a beer company's second thoughts.
143"The Conscience Fund"[143]27 February 2017 (2017-02-27)
The U.S. Treatury's Conscience Fund, an update on Audrey Hepburn's role in World War II, and a puzzle about an illness cured by climbing poles.
144"The Murder Castle"[144]6 March 2017 (2017-03-06)
A prolific 19th-century serial killer, listener mail about fireworks disasters, and a puzzle about an intransigent insurance company.
145"The Pied Piper of Saipan"[145]13 March 2017 (2017-03-13)
U.S. Marine Guy Gabaldon's unorthodox method of taking prisoners, the erotic origins of Wonder Woman, and a puzzle about an elusive murderer.
146"Alone in the Wilderness"[146]20 March 2017 (2017-03-20)
Joseph Knowles's survivalist stunts, the roots of nostalgia, and a puzzle about some busy brothers.
147"The Call of Mount Kenya"[147]27 March 2017 (2017-03-27)
Three Italian prisoners of war who broke out of their camp to climb Mount Kenya, the role of mirages in the sinking of the Titanic, and a puzzle about an ineffective oath.
148"The Perfect Murder"[148]3 April 2017 (2017-04-03)
An unsolved murder in Liverpool, the radio program Lights Out, and a puzzle about an eccentric golfer.
149"The North Pond Hermit"[149]10 April 2017 (2017-04-10)
A man who lived alone in the Maine woods for almost thirty years, suspicious content in wartime crosswords, and a puzzle about an ineffective snake.
150"The Prince of Nowhere"[150]17 April 2017 (2017-04-17)
Gregor MacGregor's deadly colonization scam, and a puzzle about Liechtenstein's flag.
151"Double-Crossing the Nazis"[151]24 April 2017 (2017-04-24)
Juan Pujol García's network of fictional spies, a mirage of a floating Chicago, and a puzzle about a winding walkway.
152"Lateral Thinking Puzzles"[152]1 May 2017 (2017-05-01)
A collection of lateral thinking puzzles.
153"A Victorian Stalker"[153]15 May 2017 (2017-05-15)
A London teenager who repeatedly broke into Buckingham Palace, more on confusing flags, and a puzzle about an extraterrestrial musician.
154"Spared by a Volcano"[154]22 May 2017 (2017-05-22)
The sole survivor of a volcanic eruption, Indian terms of address, and a puzzle about a gruesome hike.
155"The Giraffe Who Walked to Paris"[155]29 May 2017 (2017-05-29)
A Sudanese giraffe given as a gift to the King of France, the coronation of Queen Victoria, methods of age reckoning in East Asia, and a puzzle about a child's surprising recovery.
156"The Most Dedicated Soldier"[156]5 June 2017 (2017-06-05)
A Japanese soldier who fought World War II until 1974, listener mail on H. H. Holmes, and a puzzle about an offensive compliment.
157"The Brutal History of Batavia’s Graveyard"[157]12 June 2017 (2017-06-12)
The grisly aftermath of a Dutch shipwreck, the demonetization of Indian banknotes, and a puzzle about some invisible Frenchmen.
158"The Mistress of Murder Farm"[158]19 June 2017 (2017-06-19)
The murderous Belle Gunness, another Buckingham Palace intruder, body farms, and a puzzle about a bet with the devil.
159"The Mozart of Mathematics"[159]26 June 2017 (2017-06-26)
The peripatetic mathematician Paul Erdos, listener mail about cannibalism on a Japanese island, and a puzzle about a senseless stabbing.
160"The Birmingham Sewer Lion"[160]3 July 2017 (2017-07-03)
A lion loose in the sewers of Birmingham, listener mail about the Wow! Signal, the use of English nicknames in Korean companies, and a puzzle about an incomprehensible language.
161"The Girl Who Fell From the Sky"[161]10 July 2017 (2017-07-10)
The sole survivor of a plane crash in the Peruvian rainforest, listener mail about H. H. Holmes, the Chinese zodiac, and Erdos Numbers, and a puzzle about the shape of doorknobs.
162"John Muir and Stickeen"[162]17 July 2017 (2017-07-17)
John Muir's adventure with a dog, actors who learned their lines phonetically, and a puzzle about a season for vasectomies.
163"Enslaved in the Sahara"[163]31 July 2017 (2017-07-31)
American sailors enslaved in the Sahara, listener mail about a Colorado molasses disaster, a Flemish hermit, Agafia Lykov, the death of Hannah Twynnoy, decimal time, and a puzzle about a familiar guitar.
164"Vigil on the Ice"[164]7 August 2017 (2017-08-07)
Augustine Courtauld's solitary vigil at a weather station on the Greenland ice cap, bears opening doors, and a puzzle about some unexpected evidence.
165"A Case of Mistaken Identity"[165]14 August 2017 (2017-08-14)
A man twice convicted of another man's crimes, listener mail about volcanic deaths, vasectomies, and noble socks, and a puzzle about a numerical sacking.
166"A Dangerous Voyage"[166]21 August 2017 (2017-08-21)
Two U.S. servicemen who sailed a fishing boat from the Philippines to Australia, listener mail about Casablanca, lighthouses for sale, and a puzzle about a towing fatality.
167"A Manhattan Murder Mystery"[167]28 August 2017 (2017-08-28)
The unsolved murder of playboy Joseph Bowne Elwell, the strange downfall of Michael Marin, and a puzzle about an unpunished vandal.
168"The Destruction of the Doves Type"[168]4 September 2017 (2017-09-04)
The loss and recreation of the Doves typeface, more on bear-proofing doors and the Elwell murder, and a puzzle about a slumped child.


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