1. What is the difference between "unlawful" and "illegal?"
2. As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Each wife had seven sacks; Each sack had seven cats; Each cat had seven kits. Kits, cats, sacks and wives, how many were going to St. Ives?
3. How many flies does it take to screw in a light bulb?
4. "I am unable," yonder beggar cries, "To stand or move!" If he say true, he lies. --John Donne, British poet (1572-1631)
5. 500 starts it; 500 ends it; 5 in the middle is seen. The first of all letters, the first of all figures take up their stations between. Draw all together and then you will bring before you the name of an eminent king.
6. (NEW) Some months have 30 days; others have 31 days. How many months have 28 days?
7. (NEW) If two is company, and three is a crowd, what are four and five?
8. (NEW) If you were alone in a dark, cold room with a candle, a woodstove, a gas fireplace, an oil lamp and only a single match, which would you light first?
9. (NEW) What are two things that you can absolutely not eat for breakfast?
10. (NEW) "Brothers and sisters I have none, but that man's father is my father's son." Who is "that man"?
11. (NEW) A man fell off a 20 foot ladder without injury. How could this happen?
12. (NEW) Before Mt. Everest was measured, what was the highest mountain on Earth?
13. (NEW) Can a man legally marry his widow's sister in the State of California?
14. (NEW) Donald's father has three sons: Huey, Louis and . . . ?
15. (NEW) How do you spell "hard water" with only three letters?
16. (NEW) How many blocks that measure 1" x 1" x 1" can you put into a 12" x 12" x 12" empty box?
17. (NEW) How many bricks does it take to complete a 1000-square-foot home?
18. (NEW) How many letters are there in the alphabet?
19. (NEW) On the Ark, how many of each animal did Moses take?
20. (NEW) How many times can you subtract 5 from 25?
21. (NEW) Cowboy Callaghan rode into town on Friday; he stayed in town for two days and rode out of town again on Friday. How could he have done that?
22. (NEW) Everywhere on Earth yesterday always comes before today except in one tiny place. Where?
1. "UNLAWFUL" IS AGAINST THE LAW AND "ILLEAGLE" IS A SICK BIRD: There is a "joke" element to this riddle that I had hoped to avoid on these pages, but the red herring component is so vivid that I decided to bend my rules. The red herring is in the presentation of "illegal" in the already established context of "unlawful." There is a second red herring in the spelling of "illegal," which means that there's also a pun. Had it been written as "ill eagle," there would have been no confusion and therefore, no riddle.
2. ONE: This is an almost ancient riddle. Everything in the poem other than the first line is red herring. The second man in the poem with all of his wives and critters were, presumably moving away from St. Ives.
3. TWO: The red herring in this riddle is the presentation of it as a typical "light bulb" joke, as though the answer would be more complex. The red herring, then, creates a pun out of the word "screw."
4. THE BEGGAR LIES ON THE GROUND: This riddle makes use of pun on the word "lies," created by the apparent paradox in the contrast between "say true" and "lies." The entire paradox is a red herring to suggest that the beggar is a liar, when, in fact, his veracity is never really in question.
5. DAVID: The numbers 500 and 5 create a red herring leading you to believe that you're looking for a number. The idea of the answer being the name of a king should be a hint that the numbers are Roman numerals, but most people, myself included, don't see the hint until after the riddle is solved for them. "D" is the Roman numeral for 500; "V" for 5. The "A" is clear enough, and the "I" is compared with (that would make it a metaphor) the Arabic numeral for one.
6. All 12 months have 28 days.
7. 4 and 5 are 9.
8. You would need to light the match first.
9. These you cannot eat for breakfast: lunch and dinner.
10. The son of the speaker.
11. He was on the lowest rung.
12. Mt. Everest was still the tallest.
13. No, a dead person can marry no one in any state.
14. Huey, Louie and DONALD.
15. I-C-E. (This riddle also included a pun: "hard."
16. You can put only one block inside of any empty box. After that, it's not empty.
17. It takes only one brick to complete the home.
18. Eleven: T-H-E-A-L-P-H-A-B-E-T
19. Moses didn't take any animals on the Ark; it was Noah.
20. You can subtract 5 from 25 only once. The second time you subtract, it's from the number 20.
21. Cowboy Callaghan's horse is named Friday.
22. Yesterday comes after Today only in the dictionary.