# This is why we puzzle

What kind of puzzle solver are you? Let’s map it out!

# 1

Nail item before each paper item (7)
After shooter’s return, receive big chunk (6)
Encourage bone disease (4)
Lost charge of gold and silver - lies! (4)
Theater costume’s warmth (4)

# 3

You’re getting close, but you have to get close to finish it off!

“Gotcha!” guy (6)
LSD part (3)
What to do with a dirt road (4)
What’s left over when you get closer? (3)

Hint for 3: (not part of the puzzle)

_____ depression (5)
Generic reptile (6)
Oregon player (4)

• We can see that each note has a point or a line. If we split these points and lines where there is a white note, we can obtain .- . ----. -.- .-. -, which is AE9KRT in morse code. I don't know if it is relevant in any mode... Maybe a key? – Turvo Mar 22 '19 at 10:05
• @Turvo You are putting clues in comments that everyone can see. Please look in the editing help for spoiler tags. – JeffC Mar 22 '19 at 15:43
• I’ve just realized that I should’ve included better hints for #3, judging by how much everyone was struggling on it. Sorry! Hopefully the edit will make things easier :) – HTM Mar 25 '19 at 19:28

Nail item before each paper item (7)

CLIPPER = nail item, (paper)CLIP before PER (= each)

After shooter’s return, receive big chunk (6)

NUGGET = big chunk, GUN< (= shooter) + GET (= receive)

Encourage bone disease (4)

SPUR = encourage, = bone disease

Lost charge of gold and silver - lies! (4)

BULL = lies, BULLION (gold and silver) - ION (charge)

Theater costume’s warmth (4)

HEAT = warmth, hidden in tHEATer

These are all

Singulars of NBA team names.

In #2, the composer's name "Gerri H. Dern"

...anagrams to RED HERRING.

M Oehm and Quuxplusone found the answers to #2:

ROCKET, NET, JAZZ.

The hint to #3:

_____ depression (5)
MANIC, which is MAGIC with one letter changed

Generic reptile (6)
LIZARD -> WIZARD

Oregon player (4)
DUCK (Oregon Ducks) -> BUCK

“Gotcha!” guy (6)

This could be CAPTOR -> RAPTOR (from LeppyR64 in the comments)

LSD part (3)

This is SIA (singer of the band LSD). With one change whis makes SIX, referring to the (Philadelphia Seventy) Sixers.

What to do with a dirt road (4)

PAVE -> PACE (Pacers)

What’s left over when you get closer? (3)

In the comments, arbitrahj pointed out that this could refer to the spare letters from each clue after the necessary changes. So with C, A and V left over this one would be the CAV(aliers).

Quuxplusone and Zimonze figured out the meta:

When you place the cities on a map, they form letters.

#1 is Los Angeles (Clippers), Denver (Nuggets), San Antonio (Spurs), Chicago (Bulls) and Miami (Heat).
#2 is New York (Nets), Houston (Rockets) and Salt Lake City (Jazz).
#3 is Toronto (Raptors), Philadelphia (76ers), Indianapolis (Pacers) and Cleveland (Cavaliers).

The lines spell the letters MVP, answering the question:
What kind of a puzzle solver are you? – A most valuable puzzle solver!

• If you split the morse code four dashes you get 'ENMMRKA' which is an anagram of 'MARKMEN' - not sure if that helps (you could also split them to make 'ENTORKA') – Smock Mar 22 '19 at 10:09
• Captor -> Raptor? – LeppyR64 Mar 25 '19 at 16:28
• @LeppyR64 Makes sense! – jafe Mar 25 '19 at 18:54
• The ??? clue could be composed of the changed letters in the other clue. C_V, maybe CAV? – arbitrahj Mar 30 '19 at 20:58
• @arbitrahj I think you might be right. – jafe Apr 1 '19 at 5:51

The notes

The dots and dashes above and below the notes are . -. ---- .-. -.- .-. Ths is Morse code, but the letter separations are not in place. The only complete English word that can be made from that is .-. --- -.-. -.- . -, or ROCKET. This follows the theme jafe has spotted: The Houston Rockets are an NBA team.

There are half and quarter notes, fifteen in total. They form a Baconian cipher with I/J and U/V treated as the same letter. The half notes are B, the quarter notes are A. (The ♩=65 is a hint: 65 is the ASCII code of A.) This decodes to NET. (Brooklyn Nets)

The notes are just a scale, but some of them have a flat symbol. Again, jafe has found that these are the notes of the F minor key. That is a literal key: It can be used as a Vigenère key on the title, which yields: "Now You Has Blank". Hm.

Building very slightly on M Oehm's answer, the third word hidden in Part 2 is

JAZZ, because if you take the key (FMINOR) and Vigenère it into the title of the song, you get (literally) "Now You Has Blank", which is a reference to the Cole Porter standard "Now You Has Jazz." And of course JAZZ fits the theme of NBA team names.

For part 3, I'm stumped, but some ideas might include:

"LSD part"

SUN, via extremely obscure song title "Lucid Sun Divine" by some Spotify group named Mary Pranksters (no relation to Mary Prankster). I highly doubt this.

Somehow a reference to either LAKE(?) Shore Drive in Chicago, or pounds/shillings/pence. waves hands vaguely

The list of remaining possible words is still pretty long, even assuming there wouldn't be a twist at the end (which I bet there is). It's probably not going to be a "name the ones that are missing" kind of thing. But for the record:

Atlanta HAWKs
Boston CELTICs
Charlotte BOBCATs
Cleveland CAVALIERs
Dallas MAVERICKs
Detroit PISTONs
Golden State WARRIORs
Indiana PACERs
Los Angeles LAKERs
Memphis GRIZZLY(ie)s
Milwaukee BUCKs
Minnesota TIMBERWOLF(ve)s
New Orleans HORNETs
New York KNICKs
Oklahoma City THUNDER
Orlando MAGIC
Phoenix SUNs
Portland TRAIL BLAZERs
Sacramento KINGs
Toronto RAPTORs
Washington WIZARDs

I am fairly confident that the next step (besides making any headway on Part 3) will be to

"map it out"; that is, map the states or cities identified so far and see whether it makes a suggestive picture. Those cities are:
Los Angeles (CA), Denver (CO), San Antonio (TX), Chicago (IL), Miami (FL), Houston (TX), Brooklyn (NY), (Salt Lake City) UT.

Based on everyone else's findings and the flavourtext let's map it out,

I plotted the locations of the NBA teams for each part and they very likely spell the final answer (??? (3)) of MVP as arbitrahj's answer suggests. The question What kind of puzzle solver are you? supports this.

Part 1

LA, Denver, San Antonio, Chicago, Miami

Part 2

Utah, Houston, Brooklyn

Part 3

No idea, 3 places don't make a recognizable P. I fiddled with the possible solutions based on number of letter clues but nothing really works.

• Well, the numbers of letters restrict the answer, but none of them really fit. – Zimonze Mar 24 '19 at 18:15
• Also I should clarify that the fourth clue in #3 is purely part of that puzzle, not the meta – HTM Mar 24 '19 at 19:28

Wild partial guesses for #3:

“Gotcha!” guy (6)

WIZARD (magic trick, gotcha?)

LSD part (3)

SUN (Orange Sunshine is one popular type)

What to do with a dirt road (4)

PACE (Pacing in angst at "what to do?",pace at which you drive?)

??? (3)

MVP This doesn't line up with my guesses, but the map could spell out M from part 1, V from part 2, and P from part 3, and the final clue could be the authors vote for 2019 NBA MVP and complete the letter P.

Here’s my attempt on the first one:

Nail item before each paper item (7)

Stapler

After shooter’s return, receive big chunk (6)

Reward

Encourage bone disease (4)

Soda (?)

Lost charge of gold and silver - lies! (4)

Bond (chemical bonds?)

Theater costume’s warmth (4)

Coat