In the 2032th xkcd comic Cueball utters a sentence that may (and probably does) contain a word puzzle.

transcription below

[Cueball and Megan standing together, musical notes hanging in the air as if music is played]
Cueball: Parts of this aria were composed by Brian Eno's opera star au pair at the start of his post-live era.
Megan (thinking): ...parts...start...eno...aria...
[Caption:] My hobby: Messing with word game enthusiasts by using words that make them sure there's a puzzle to solve

The title text (which may or may not contain a puzzle) reads:

Eno's storied aria was once soloed by judge Lance Ito on the alto oboe at Ohio's AirAsia Arena.

Is this indeed a puzzle and if so, what is its solution?

  • $\begingroup$ I’m not sure whether to be amused at the fact that this proves Randall’s methods of riling up a puzzler or simply intrigued...but darn it if I’m not curious myself as to the answer to this question! $\endgroup$
    – CGreen
    Aug 14, 2018 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ I'm amused at Randall's curious notion as to what will mess with a wordplay fan. It's not as if Cueball's words sound like a riddle or a crossword clue. $\endgroup$
    – Rosie F
    Aug 14, 2018 at 7:20
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ I see no reason to believe this is a puzzle: it's simply a bunch of words that commonly appear in crosswords. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Aug 14, 2018 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ There's an unusually high number of words starting with "a" and "o": ("of"), "aria", "opera", "au pair", ("at") and ("of") and even more in the title text: "aria", "once", ("on"), "alto oboe at Ohio's AirAsia Arena". The bottom text on the other hand contains only one word that starts with "a" and that is "a" and pretty hard to avoid. I would suspect something in binary, A being the 1st character of the alphabet and O looking like 0, but there's not enough information for a meaningful hidden message. $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2019 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ The title text, 100101011, is 299, one less than 300. 101011 is 43, one more than 42. There are 16 words with A and O in the comic and title text, decoded as ASCII they give [+. Doing the same with the entire transcript also results in nothing helpful. Using every A and O in the visible text gives nothing as well. Using the entire transcript results in õû'ç¸Ü. There's an unusually high number of modified "u"s in there… No, just kidding, this is a dead end. $\endgroup$ Jan 8, 2019 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


Personally, I do not think this is a puzzle, as he says "I like messing with word game enthusiasts by using words that make them sure there's a puzzle", and he wouldn't be messing with them if there was a puzzle.

Correct me if you've found a puzzle, as currently everyone just thinks there's no puzzle at all. As Deusovi says, "I see no reason to believe this is puzzle: it's simply a bunch of words that commonly appear in crosswords."


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