Do the impossible- by cheating!

Well, not cheating, necessarily… let’s just say liberal interpretation of the rules.

You know those tasks in fairy tales that the hero must accomplish to win the girl? Or the kingdom? Or whatever it is that they want? As the result of many wiki walks and forum lurking, I have compiled a list of tasks that should be completely impossible, but really aren’t if you’re clever enough. Who knows, they could be useful, in case you ever run into a smart-alecky fae, or write a book where the main character has such misfortune, or if you just want to make sure your boyfriend/girlfriend is clever enough. Two notes before we get started:

1) These are not the kind of impossible tasks that are only accomplished with the help of swarms of random animals, witches, or Hermits™ of various kinds. These are the kind of solutions that could reasonably be done with tools we all have around us, by normal people. Because not all of us have a freaking personal genie, Aladdin…

2) Wording is key. Keep that in mind, if you ever get trapped by the Fae or by a group of vicious lawyers. The task is all in the wording, and a single word can dictate whether a task is truly, truly impossible or just your regular breed of impossible. For example, there’s a big possibility gap between “eat a mountain of bread by yourself” and “eat a mountain of bread”.

Without further ado, bring on the tasks!

“Well, shucks.”

Carrying water in a sieve. This one’s a classic, but is fortunately not as hard as it is old. Solutions: Plug the holes with mud or moss so that the sieve can carry water. If that’s not practical, or doesn’t actually work (I’ll admit, I’ve never actually tried it myself), there is another way. Carry the water inside of another container placed within the sieve. That way, you’re still technically carrying water within the sieve. Technicalities are beautiful. (On a side note, remember the container within a container trick. Anytime you need to trap or carry something that should be impossible, just whip out this neat little solution. Example: Trapping smoke within a cage or some such thing.)

Making a rope out of ashes. Also a classic, this one shows up in several old tales, with several different solutions. Solution one: make a rope out of straw, then burn it. Easy. But if your going for a stricter interpretation of  ‘ash rope’, you could soak a rope with salt water and let it dry, then burn it. I heard it will keep it’s shape- but then again, never actually tried it.

Task: Buy with one coin an item that will fill an entire room. Some failed solutions are trying to fill the room with grain or feathers. Honestly, I like the feather idea (how fun!), but it doesn’t cut it. The real solution? Buy a candle, and fill the room with light.

Not exactly what I meant; just go with it. Use your imagination.

Getting an object (jewel, crown, stuffed duck, etc.) from the middle of a large rug without tools or touching the rug with your feet. Oh, and the rug is too big to just stretch over. So, roll up the rug until you get to the middle. Simple. Even my little sister solved this one, admittedly after coming up with a bunch of other weird solutions involving technology unavailable to your average medieval bloke.  (No, you cannot build a robot and have it get the crown for you!! Why? BECAUSE YOU CAN”T!!!! Do you have robot-building material in your pocket? HUH? Do you? Besides, do you even know how to build a robot?!? I thought not…)

Have a man dive into a lake without getting his hair wet. This one is obviously an older one, because the modern invention of swim caps pretty much renders it pointless. But, let’s just say you don’t happen to have a swim cap. Or maybe you’re just the cool kind of person who wants to go with the cleverer, more awesome solution. In that case, what you would do is find a bald man, and have him do it. Or, if you’re desperate (really desperate, if you happen to be a girl), shave your head and do it yourself.

Bring it.

Oh no! Now your task is to fight someone (or do some active thing- run a marathon, perhaps?) without spilling a drop out of a full cup of water. And let’s just assume you’re not Jackie Chan and can’t do this through sheer skill and martial arts prowess. (And if you are Jackie Chan, may I just take this moment to thank you for visiting my blog?) Now, if the judge is stupid and words this one wrong, you could always just set the dang thing down before you begin. But if they specify that you can’t let go of the cup, what do you do? Drink it!

There’s this big bedroom, with a bed on one side, and a candle on the other. Your task? Blow out the candle and make it to the bed before the room goes dark. And trust me, no matter how fast you think you are, you are not faster than the speed of light. The solution: do it during the daytime with the windows open. That way the room is certainly not going dark anytime soon. Alternately, if the room has no windows, you could always pick up the candle, sit down on the bed, then blow the candle out.

Here’s a couple of impossible tasks, from the tale The Wise Old Woman. What if you had to run a single thread through a long, crooked log? Then you tie the thread to an ant, put honey on the other side of the log, and the ant will run it through. (See, there’s a proper example of a creature of some sort helping you. Notice the completely normal behavior of the ant- it’s not talking, offering you advice, or sorting piles of grain at your request…) Next, what if you had to make a drum that sounds without being beaten? You could seal a bumblebee inside a small hand drum, which will beat itself against the sides to try and escape. However, my little sister thought this was cheating, as it is still technically “beating” the drum. In an unusual bought of cleverness, she suggested you could go into an echoing cave, beat the drum once, and listen to the echo. That way, the drum would make sound without being beaten. Two solutions- take your pick.

Sorting ash from lentils, or barley from wheat, or (huge piles) of any such annoying grain. Note, this task isn’t so much impossible as it is really, really annoying. If you added a time limit, then it could become an impossible task. And there are two sets of rules for tasks of this nature. In one, you have to sort the grains, meaning both types must be there in the end. In the other, you merely have to separate two or more annoying things- it doesn’t matter where they end up. For the second kind, you could get a flock of birds to eat the lentils or the type of seed they like. Hey- they’re separated, even if those lentils are not coming back. For the first kind, where you have to actually have the piles, the only solution I can come up with is using wind to separate them. Such as blowing the ashes into a bag. Admittedly, not the best, but Cinderella’s solution involves talking to birds. *sigh*

Cutting water. Or any liquid. Solution: freeze the water. There’s not much to elaborate on, really.

Eh, close enough for me.

Next, the fiendish task of capturing a rainbow… There are two solutions to this one. Firstly, you could put a mirror inside a jar, and angle it to reflect a rainbow. Secondly, (if you happen to be really rich), you could always show up with an opal!

And finally, we have some riddle-style commands, such as having to appear before a challenger neither naked nor clothed, neither riding nor walking, in neither day nor night. To get around this tricky set of conditions, make like a fish and wear a fishnet, show up with one foot on a goat, and at twilight (or an eclipse, if you’re the dramatic type). You could also crawl, but hobbling along balanced on a goat is just cooler.

Very lastly, here’s a rather riddle-ish solution, from a character who could have a career as a lawyer. (From Ironside, by Holly Black) The faerie Kaye is forbidden from seeing the one she loves until she can find a faerie that can tell a lie, but is promised his hand if she can. She solves this by claiming she is able to lie, without mentioning that she means lay down on the ground. Yep, a promising future in the law field!

Well, that’s all for my comprehensive list of impossible tasks and how to solve them. You could also check out this page on TV Tropes (I got some of the tasks off of there), but I found it was mostly a list of books and stories that had impossible tasks in them, not the tasks themselves. Not exactly the straight list I was looking for. Actually, there was no list like that, so I just made it myself.

Done. (whew)

Ciao,

Zepher

Now for a special addition: step-by-step solving ! Here’s some steps for coming up with solutions for these kind of things by yourself. Let’s go with a well known impossible task from the song Scarborough Fair, which doesn’t have a solution presented as part of the song. “Tell her to make me a cambric shirt… without a seam or needle work.”

Hmm… seemingly impossible at first glance, right? Well, never fear! Lawyer-man and his comprehensive dictionary are here!

It’s Lawyer-man! Duh du dun!

The first step is to look up the definition for “seam”, to see how liberal a meaning we can get away with, here. Copied word for word from Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: seam \sém\ n 1: the joining of two pieces (as of cloth or leather) by sewing usually near the edge.

Well, yay! That makes things easy. All we can’t do here is sew. So, what other ways are there to join two pieces of cloth together? The solution is to use glue, and just stick the piece of the shirt together, technically (man, I love that word) leaving no seams. If you need to go medieval, you could use bookbinder’s glue. Or dried honey, if you want to be a druid and go eco-friendly.

Unfortunately, if you continue reading the dictionary, there is a second definition of seam that seems to eliminate this solution. ²seam vt  1 a:  to join by sewing   b:  to join as if by sewing. Well, crap. A seam can also be joined as if by sewing. If you have a strict task-giver, glue might not cut it (remember: it always depends on the wording and how adherent to being a jerk the judge is. I would say most would pass the glue thing, since it follows the first and primary definition of seam, and the other definition appears to refer to welding.) But just in case… It looks like Lawyer-man just has to go deeper into the exciting world of definitions, loopholes, exceptions, and dictionaries!

If we look at the definition of shirt, Webster’s own tells us that a shirt is really “a garment for the upper part of the of the body: as a cloth garment usually having a collar, sleeves, a front opening, and a tail.” Well, alright then. There is one very important word in this definition that allows success- the word usually. Which means “not always.” So a shirt usually has sleeves and whatnot,  but it doesn’t have to. Which means any garment covering the upper body is technically (there’s that word again) a shirt.

Square piece of cloth. Cut a hole in the middle. Boom. Poncho.

Oh, the heroic work of lawyers.

PS. If you have any more of these tasks, or another solution to any of the ones mentioned above, please add them in the comments!

Fake Embarrassing Stories

Have you ever been to one of those parties where the main entertainment is everyone sitting in a circle and telling their most embarrassing story? What a stupid game! I mean, embarrassing stories are kept secret for a reason- you try and forget them for the rest of your life as soon as they occur. The world, however, has it against you, and seems to insist on dredging up the worst moments of your life. And forcing you to relive them in front of a group of strangers. Swell.

It’s not so bad at first. You’re generally enjoying yourself, laughing at other people’s expense, and everything is just peachy. Suddenly, it’s your turn, and you realize that you don’t have anything planned to say. It’s really embarrassing, actually.

Never fear! We’ve come up with a solution to save you from actually having to reveal one of those awful moments in your life! Alternately, if you live a really sheltered life or have a really bad memory, to save you from not having anything to say. The trick is to be prepared for these kind of sticky situations.

Here are a few pre-made stories for you to use. They require a bit a adaptation and story telling ability, but you’re going to have to figure that one out. I’m not going to do all the work for you…

(Note: none of these fake embarrassing stories have ever happened to any of the members of the Ninja Gang. None of them. Ever.)

Mild: For those of you who aren’t daring enough to go for an actual embarrassing story. Because you will have to pretend these actually happened to you.  They’re just one-liners, because, well, they’re mild.

You were studying so hard that you forget to take your clothes off before stepping into your running shower.

Someone caught you reading a book upside-down, and thought that you were eavesdropping instead of reading.

You tripped and fell on your face while wearing a kilt. In front of a bunch of people. Ouch.

Medium:

Your friend’s dad tells you to clear the table. You start laughing, because he’s smirking, and you really can’t tell whether he’s joking or not. You assume he’s joking, because he’s smirking, and well, that’s not the sort of thing you’re supposed to do when you’re having dinner at a friend’s house. Turns out he wasn’t joking. He gets this twitchy frown on his face as you start cracking up at what was obviously meant to be a serious command.

You are at a school auction- you know, the kind that they use to raise money? Anyway, they also had a raffle drawing as part of the fun. Since you like fun, you bought yourself a raffle ticket. Finally, late in the program, they begin to draw the raffle tickets. Some people get massage tickets, one man got a manicure set (gotta wonder what he’s going to do with that), and one lucky bloke won a state of the art sound system. You vaguely wonder why the school needs more money if they can afford to give away things like that. Eventually, it comes to the grand prize. An all expense paid trip for two to the Caribbean. Oh, yeah. That’s the one you want. And you lucky dog, the number the guy with the microphone is reading… is yours!!!! Yes! You get up and start doing your patented victory dance right in the aisle. People are staring, of course, but you don’t care. Your too busy  patting your belly and whooping loudly, exulting in your victory, when the man comes up to check the number on your raffle ticket to confirm your win. And whoops, looks like you were wrong. Sucks for you.

Here’s another. You’re at your little sister’s soccer game, cheering her on. Aren’t you a nice person? You also brought your old chocolate lab, Gimly (or Fido, if you’re feeling boring), because he likes to get out of the house occasionally. You let him off leash to roam around a bit, and the old man looks like he’s enjoying it. Soon, it’s half time in the game (or a team calls a time out. I’m not clear on the rules of soccer.) The point is, the game has paused. That means that everybody in the stands gets an extremely clear view of your dog Gimly going out and taking a big old dump, right smack dab in the middle of the soccer field. And everyone knows it’s your dog, too, hard as you pretend you’ve never seen the stupid thing in your life. Really. Never seen it before.

Serious:

You’re dancing at a formal dance–you do these kind of things, because you’re classy like that. The dance ends, and your partner spins in and you dip her for a finale. But she weighs a bit more than you expected, and your arms weren’t prepared, you swear! You drop her on her noggin. Everyone turns to look at you. She starts crying, gets up and slaps you, and then leaves. Some obnoxious punk in the background starts applauding and the entire room laughs.

Getting an embarrassing gift. It’s your birthday party. Yay! You’re sitting around the coffee table, opening gifts from your friends and family. Your grandma hands you a brightly wrapped present. You open it with a smile on your face, which quickly fades, and you force it back until your cheeks hurt. Out of the package you pull some wildly patterned underwear! Everyone is watching–your friends, your cheeky little brother, and of course your potential love interest. If you want to make it even worse, tell about how your grandmother relates the tale of how she came across this deal at the thrift store. Only two dollars! What a steal!

You’re on your way to the public restroom, along with some friends. You’re talking animatedly to your friend of the opposite gender, and you’re so caught up in the conversation that you don’t notice as you walk into the bathroom with your friend. You look around and suddenly realize that you’re in the wrong place. And everybody’s staring at you. And maybe someone starts screaming, if you want to go that far.

Hot: For the truly daring.

You show up at a Star Trek convention dressed as a Star Wars character. Enough said.

Ninja Gang AMVs

So T. and Raven both make AMVs. Here are a few of them. They’re nothing spectacular, but T. won the AMV contest at Anime Oasis last year (2012), and again this year (2013). Raven won second place this year.

T.

This was the one that won last year.

And this won this year.

Raven:

On vimeo because youtube is ridiculous about copyright.

This one placed second (2013)

And this is Raven’s latest.