Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Golden Apple Tale

The Golden Apple Tale was (self?)-published in 1982 by “Cam Kaskgn” via “Fantasy Press”.  Fantasy Press might be an appropriate name for a publishing company that may have never existed. That’s the first sign that this little gem is going to be interesting. The book is out of print, but you can find a black & white PDF copy here: http://kspot.org/trove/tgat.pdf

The clues (or mis-directions?) begin on the cover. The author’s name is “Cam Kaskgn”. The name appears to be a pseudonym. Much has been discussed about Jef Raskin being the true author.  He was the 31st employee at Apple and the Mac (Cam spelled backwards!) was his brainchild. AND the number of letters works out. You can google him yourself for more details. The prize and the story are all tied to apples, so it might make sense. It’s all very curious, but perhaps only a rabbit hole that distracts from solving the main puzzle.

Though a relatively small book, it’s packed with clues, hints, codes, puzzles, anagrams, computations, plays on words and I’m sure some other things I’ve missed. It’s also packed with mis-spellings and apostrophe abuse. I’m not sure if those are clues or just irritating sloppiness. Of course it was 1982ish so the typewriter probably didn’t have spell/grammar check.

Page 2 provides us a few more clues. “Illustrated by Karen Wagner”.  Going back to the author’s name, “Kaskgn” is an alphabet soup of Karen, Wagner, Raskin. Curious, again, but helpful? Also on page 2, we find “Fantasy Press”, the mysterious seemingly non-existent publishing company. Publication date is 1982, the same year that Raskin left Apple. 

Page 3 is where I think we get our first real clues to help identify our starting point. In the introduction, Cam tells us about the treasure to be found: “Adorned with diamonds and other precious stones this unique 18 karat apple is accented with hand filigreed 14 karat white and yellow gold. This remarkable jewel and accompanying 14 karat chain, entirely hand crafted by Jeffery B. Juhas, a talented and innovative goldsmith of Preusser Jewelers, is truly an extraordinary treasure to behold.”

According to his LinkedIn profile Juhas was a custom jeweler at a jewelry store in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan (Preusser Jewelers) from 1978 – 1985. In 1985 he became the President/Manager (until 2005, when he opened his own Jewelry store: Juhas and Sullivan). The profile also shows he received a BS in Math from Grand Valley State University. So here’s a guy that’s smart, motivated and moving on up. My hunch is that he’s the author. The BS in Math is very telling, in my opinion. Jef Raskin (the Mac guy) received a BA in Math. I suspect that, during the 1970s and 1980s, Juhas was very interested in Raskin’s career and computer developments. It could be that the whole Golden Apple Tale was a tribute to Raskin and the Mac (rather than being something that Raskin himself did).

I reached out to Jeff Juhas via email and received this response shortly before publishing this post:
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Martin,

I am not the author. Many people have contacted me over the years and those people and myself have not heard from Cam since the book was released. Sorry to disappoint.

Jeff
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, bummer.

There’s one more clue on Page 3 that I’ll come back to later…

Some seemingly valid solutions to hidden clues are public knowledge:
The phrase “PLACE IN ORDER” can be unscrambled from letters hidden in the illustrations.
The words “PINE TREES” are found by putting together the bold letters from the state names.
The word “CASSIOPEIA” is decoded from the map of the states.


Here’s the original poem:
Although the Sun rises in the East
Low lands will have frost
Tomorrow is another day
Over and over again

If your clock stops,
Watch someone elses.
Hands are helpful,
But a shovel works best.

Chose a City, then proceed to this rhyme,
Miss Muffet’s meal didn’t cost a dime.
Travel 3 leagues plus 2/3's more west,
Before you decide to exit and rest.

In your quest,
Do not rest long.
Your hunt ends,
Where your return begins.

Seek a presage
to give you a clue.
Three are 2’s and
Two are 3’s.

Some trees have leaves,
And some have needles.
At this point in time,
They all look like hay stacks.

That with which
you’ve seen to be so,
Use as a map
In the rain, wind, or snow.

Your Quest draws nearer
So don’t get to smart.
In order to retrieve,
You must first construct.

From the remainder,
Locate the Omphalos.
Man has two feet,
So look that far down.

Graviety is important,
So don’t treat it lightly.
A car has two headlights,
Discard the two dimist.

Friends are caring,
But gossip will spread.
Don’t let it bother you,
or go to your head.

Some stars at night,
Rest on the horizon.
Be very quiet or
you might wake one up.

Conveniently, “PLACE IN ORDER” has the same number of letters as there are stanzas in the poem. So I re-arranged the poem, matching the stanza to the letter. This is the result. Note that some letters repeat (R and E) so it’s possible that the stanzas are “flip-flopped”.




Although the Sun rises in the East 
P
Low lands will have frost 
Tomorrow is another day 
Over and over again 
Chose a City, then proceed to this rhyme, 
L
Miss Muffet’s meal didn’t cost a dime.  
Travel 3 leagues plus 2/3's more west, 
Before you decide to exit and rest. 
Some stars at night, 
A
Rest on the horizon. 
Be very quiet or 
you might wake one up.
In your quest, 
C
Do not rest long. 
Your hunt ends, 
Where your return begins. 
Some trees have leaves, 
E
And some have needles.
At this point in time, 
They all look like hay stacks. 
Seek a presage 
I
to give you a clue. 
Three are 2’s and 
Two are 3’s. 
That with which 
N
you’ve seen to be so, 
Use as a map 
In the rain, wind, or snow. 
Your Quest draws nearer 
O
So don’t get to smart. 
In order to retrieve, 
You must first construct. 
Graviety is important, 
R
So don’t treat it lightly. 
A car has two headlights, 
Discard the two dimist. 
From the remainder, 
D
Locate the Omphalos. 
Man has two feet, 
So look that far down. 
If your clock stops, 
E
Watch someone elses. 
Hands are helpful, 
But a shovel works best. 
Friends are caring, 
R
But gossip will spread. 
Don’t let it bother you, 
or go to your head. 



Stanza by Stanza
Although the Sun rises in the East 
Low lands will have frost 
Tomorrow is another day 
Over and over again

There’s no punctuation in this stanza and it drives me crazy. I didn't make sense of this sense until I had worked on the second stanza (see below). Some have suggested that the first letter of each line tells you the city “ALTO”. Alto, Michigan is near Lowell, Michigan which kind of sounds like "Low lands". Interesting... let’s jump into the second stanza for more clarity (including how I jumped to Michigan).

Chose a City, then proceed to this rhyme, 
Miss Muffet’s meal didn’t cost a dime. 
Travel 3 leagues plus 2/3’s more west, 
Before you decide to exit and rest.

I chose Grand Rapids, Michigan the mailing address found on page 3, the largest city near Alto and Lowell, and home to Jeffery Juhas (the jeweler who made the golden apple). “Miss Muffet’s meal” that "didn't cost a dime" was free. And what did she eat? Curds and whey. "Free whey" = freeway. Let’s go back to page 3 and take another look at that PO Box.  It’s not 1196. It looks more like 1 196, which looks like I 196, which is a freeway that runs through Grand Rapids.



But where to start? Let’s go back to the first stanza where the sun rises in the…EAST. Looking at I-196 you’ll find its starting point in the East (and if you look a bit more to the East you'll see Lowell and Alto). That’ll be our starting point to measure 10.25/11 miles. Converting from leagues to miles doesn’t appear to be such an easy thing I guess. Depending on whether they’re nautical or not and based on which era and other factors, the conversion can be different values. So I’m looking at either 10.25 or 11 miles as my distance because, as a wise man (FF) once said, "Indecision is the key to flexibility" or something like that.




Anyway, where do we find ourselves after going roughly 10.25/11 miles? At 10.25 we're exactly at exit 70, so we should “decide to exit…” But what about “...and rest”? This might be a reference to eternal rest. If you’ll notice on the map, there’s an Indian Mounds Dr near the exit (or exactly 11 miles from our origin). Indians featured prominently in this story so maybe that’s a hint. There were dozens of Indian mounds in Grand Rapids. They were Indian burial sites dating back to the first century AD.


Let’s head there and see what happens. But which direction? North or south?


Some stars at night, 
Rest on the horizon. 
Be very quiet or 
you might wake one up.

At this point the poem appears to move into astronomy…and how. On page 28, there are multiple constellations visible.

1. Cassiopeia
2. Camelopardalis
3. Ursa Minor
4. Ursa Major
5. Draco
6. Cygnus
7. Cepheus
8. Lyra



Much of the story takes place in the autumn. So I took a look at the autumn night sky in 1982 and compared it to the image on page 28 (overlay on the right). The constellation “Draco” is important here for several reasons.  Draco is the representation of Ladon, which in Greek mythology, was the serpent-like dragon in the garden of Hesperides that guarded...wait for it…the golden apples. So let’s be very quiet, lest we wake him up. He also points us in the direction we need to go because we’d have to look toward the northern horizon to see him. So we’ll travel along Indian Mounds Dr to the north.






In your quest, 
Do not rest long. 
Your hunt ends, 
Where your return begins.

Sounds like we’re almost there! Indian Mounds Dr goes north for a while, but shortly there’s a turn around that will bring us back south. Let’s stop at this turn and explore a bit.



Some trees have leaves,
And some have needles. 
At this point in time, 
They all look like hay stacks.


This part is extra tricky because we’ve reached one of those stanzas that might be flip-flopped. Maybe it’s the wrong “E”??? We’re also moving into BOTG territory I think. And we’re using the night sky as a guide because "at this point in time" = night and "they all look like hay stacks" = the silhouettes you'd see. And we’re keeping in mind “PINE TREES” (the bold letters from the state names).


Seek a presage 
to give you a clue. 
Three are 2’s and 
Two are 3’s.


A presage is a sign or warning that something, typically something bad, will happen. Great. This stanza is still up in the stars (perhaps). The second part of this stanza may be a reference to the constellation of Cassiopeia. Cassiopeia has 5 main stars. If we do some rounding, three of the constellation’s stars are magnitude 2 and two of the stars are magnitude 3. But again, BOTG looking for a presage? 

Not sure what was here in 1982, but when we stop at the "return" I found a sign (presage). It says “stop”!


That with which 
you’ve seen to be so, 
Use as a map 
In the rain, wind, or snow.

We’ve seen CASSIOPEIA decoded in the book and we’ve seen the constellations in the illustration. Let’s keep looking at the constellations focusing on Cassiopeia, especially where Cassiopeia would be in autumn when there might be rain wind or snow.


Graviety is important, 
So don’t treat it lightly. 
A car has two headlights, 
Discard the two dimist. 


I hate this stanza. I can’t get past mis-spellings and the overall perplexity. The clues in here must be vital. Going back to Cassiopeia, we’ve already identified two stars that are magnitude 3. The higher the magnitude, the dimmer the star. So let’s get rid of the two dimist (Delta and Epsilon) and see what happens. We’re left with three stars that make a “V” shape which seem to point like an arrow (with Alpha as the tip)!


Alpha 2.2 mag
Beta 2.3 mag
Gamma 2.2 mag
Delta 2.7 mag (dimist)
Epsilon 3.3. mag (dimist)


From the remainder, 
Locate the Omphalos. 
Man has two feet, 
So look that far down.


An omphalos is a religious stone artifact. In Greek, the word omphalos means "navel". Omphalos stones were erected in several places around the Mediterranean Sea; the most famous of those was at Delphi.


I’ve put the constellation map over the street view at the “Return”. I tried to line up North as best as I could and based on the orientation of the constellations in the book (and Polaris). Based on the arrow shape that was the “remainder” I then drew a line from Cassiopeia to the ground ("where your return begins" because that's where "your hunt ends") . You’ll never guess what’s there.


If your clock stops, 
Watch someone elses. 
Hands are helpful, 
But a shovel works best.


This final image is a close up of where the red line points in the previous image. Is that our "omphalos"? Dig here? Two feet down? Or mark off two feet in a specific direction? The clock in the story is at about 11:52. Do the hands tell where to dig in relation to the rock? But what about the PINE TREES?? I feel like I’m missing something. It’s been 35 years since this was published…the terrain must have changed considerably. Old trees gone, new trees there. And those posts look like they were placed there more recently than 35 years ago. If the jewel was in the ground there, maybe it was dug up by workers when the barrier was installed? That post is dangerously close to the 11:52 position. 


Friends are caring, 
But gossip will spread. 
Don’t let it bother you, 
or go to your head.


Are there clues here? Or is this just a closing congratulatory/warning stanza?


I've spent considerable time exploring this area (BOTG) and have not found the Golden Apple jewel. I plan to keep looking since it doesn't take much for me to get there. Needless to say, the area has been considerably scoured.

If you do venture out based on this solution and happen to find it, please let me know! It would be awesome to know of a happy ending, mostly so I can stop obsessing over this thing.

Also, feel free to poke constructive holes in this solution. Maybe it's the right area, but I'm off somewhere?

What about the PINE TREES which I never used? Maybe PINE TREES is the wrong anagram. What other anagrams can you find?