Thursday, December 31, 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 27): Last Puzzle of 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 27): Last Puzzle of 2009:
Q: Take the phrase 'pray when.' Double four of these letters. Using these letters plus the four singles, rearrange all 12 letters to spell a familiar phrase. What phrase is it?
Anyone else think this is one of the easiest puzzles of the last twelve months? Let's hope the puzzles for 2010 are more challenging.

Edit: I really don't know the answer to this week's puzzle so I'll just wish everyone a...
A: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 20): After Dinner and Before a Job

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 20): After Dinner and Before a Job:
Q: Think of a familiar two-word phrase, five letters in each word. The second word starts with P. The phrase names something that is nice to have after dinner. Change the P to an S, and you'll get another familiar phrase that names something that's nice to have before you start a job. What phrases are these?
Whoever came up with this has created a neat little puzzle. I only wish I could come up with a neat little clue to go with it.

Edit: Neat is a synonym for clean...
A: CLEAN PLATE --> CLEAN SLATE

Thursday, December 17, 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 13): All The Digits Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 13): All The Digits Puzzle
Q: Name five two-digit numbers that are evenly spaced out — like 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40 — in which all 10 digits from 0 to 9 are used once each. What numbers are these?
The first answer came to me as I was driving and listening to the puzzle. However, as I was typing this clue, I came up with another answer that also works. How to give a clue without giving it away, I don't know.

Edit: The clues were to driving which should have made you think of either a car (ie. Car 54) or golf (ie. 18 holes). Those were the starting numbers of two of the four possible sequences.

The tens digit will either step by 1 (5,6,7,8,9) or by 2 (1,3,5,7,9) always ending on 9. The ones digit will also step by 1 (0,1,2,3,4) or by 2 (0,2,4,6,8) always starting (or ending) on 0. That leads to 4 possible sequences:
Starting with 10 stepping by 22 (20+2)
Starting with 18 stepping by 18 (20-2)
Starting with 50 stepping by 11 (10+1)
Starting with 54 stepping by 9 (10-1)
A: There are four possible sequences of two-digit numbers:
  • 10,32,54,76,98

  • 18,36,54,72,90

  • 50,61,72,83,94

  • 54,63,72,81,90
  • Thursday, December 10, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 6): Pleasantly I Anagrammed

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 6): Pleasantly I Anagrammed:
    Q: Take the letters in 'PLEASANTLY,' plus the letter I. Rearrange these 11 letters to name a well-known place. What is it?
    When they involve anagrams, we might be tempted to solve puzzles using methods online. Now I could have resorted to an online anagram applet, but this puzzle can easily be solved by hand. I suggest using the latter method for more enjoyment.

    Edit: Hidden hint -- Take the first letters of "...solve puzzles using methods online. Now I..." and you get the word spumoni. Quoting from Wikipedia, Spumoni "is a molded Italian ice cream made with layers of different colors.... This dish comes from Naples, and the three-flavored Neapolitan ice cream evolved from it."
    A: NAPLES, ITALY

    Thursday, December 03, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 29): I'm not a Poet...

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 29): I'm not a Poet...:
    Q: Think of three six-letter words starting with B, G and F. The last five letters of the words are the same and in the same order, yet none of the words rhymes with any of the others. What words are these?
    This puzzle is rather easy and I don't have time to come up with a clever clue, but this does remind me of our annual Christmas Puzzle from 2006 entitled Close But No Rhyme. It's based on the same concept of non-rhyming words that only differ in their first letter. Enjoy.

    Edit: The clue word was "rather". Also, question #17 on our Christmas puzzle used 2 of the 3 words.
    A: BATHER, FATHER and GATHER

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 22): Okie-Dokie!

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 22): Okie-Dokie!:
    Q: Think of a word containing the consecutive letters O-K. Remove the O-K, and you'll get a new word that's a synonym of the first word. What words are these?
    The first thought I had when I figured out this puzzle was the Latin phrase "cavit lukom". You can argue that I haven't got the right conjugation but looking back on it, I still contend that the clue is useful nonetheless.

    Edit: If you followed my hints you would take that bogus Latin phrase and write it backwards as MOKULTIVAC. After removing the OK you have MULTIVAC. If you Google for that you'll find that Isaac Asimov had a loosely connected series of stories involving a fictional computer called Multivac. One of those stories was Jokester (1956).
    A: JOKESTER --> JESTER

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 15): How About Tele-Commuting?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 15): How About Tele-Commuting?:
    Q: Name an auto manufacturer and a telecommunications company, both well-known companies, whose names are exact opposites of each other.
    I'm still going through the following lists so I think I'll quickly step out of the way and let others provide their clues.
    List of Automobile Manufacturers
    Telecommunication Companies

    Edit: It's after the deadline, so I'll reveal my hints (going through = wading, quickly step = sprint). I'm not sure my answer meets the "exact opposites" criteria. If you have a different answer, add it to the comments.
    A:
    FORD - to cross a body of water by wading (moving or proceeding with difficulty or labor)
    SPRINT - to run or go at top speed especially for a short distance.

    Update: I'm 99.9% sure that Ken has the intended answer. It fits the criteria of being tricky and also *exact* opposites.
    A: KIA and NOKIA

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 8): Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 8): Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...:
    Q: If you write 'WOW' in capital letters and hold up a mirror at the side of the word, you'll see 'WOW' perfectly reflected in the mirror. Here's the puzzle: Think of a nationality and write it in capital letters. If you remove one stroke from the first letter, and one stroke from the last letter, and hold up a mirror at the side, the name of the nationality will be perfectly reflected in the mirror. What nationality is it?
    Looking at the comments that were added to end of last week's puzzle (regarding this week's puzzle), the most prevalent misunderstanding is what is meant by removing a pair of strokes and then looking at the reflection. Personally I hate it when a puzzle needs explanation but I think it is necessary this week to clear up the confusion. Basically if you take the name of the nationality as written in uppercase letters, it won't be horizontally symmetric. But if you remove a stroke from the first letter, and a stroke from the last letter, the remaining pattern of strokes will look the same when you reflect them in a mirror.

    The alternate interpretation, and perhaps how this could have been made more elegant is to think of shifting a stroke in the first and last letters slightly. Then the resulting reflection would be of the original nationality, rather than just a horizontally reflective pattern of strokes.

    Edit: The two hints hidden above were "prevalent" and "I hate it". René Préval is the current President of the Republic of Haiti.
    A: HAITIAN --> IIAITIAII

    Thursday, November 05, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 1): Noah Adams has False Teeth?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 1): Noah Adams has False Teeth?:
    Q: Take the name 'Noah Adams,' as in the former host of All Things Considered. Add the phrase 'false teeth.' You can rearrange all 19 letters to name a famous work of literature. What is it?
    I may not be as clear-headed in the morning, but am I the only one that thinks there's an extra article in the answer?

    Edit: The two hints were "morning" and "am" which point to A.M. or Arthur Miller, the playwright.
    A: (The) Death of a Salesman

    Thursday, October 29, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 25): Where in the World...

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 25): Where in the World...:
    Q: Take the name 'Boris Karloff.' It contains the letters of 'Oslo' in left-to-right order (although not consecutively). Now write down these three names: Leonardo da Vinci, Frank Sinatra, Stephen Douglas. Each conceals the name of another world capital in left-to-right order, although not in consecutive letters. What capitals are these?
    I wasn't able to post the puzzle earlier because I had just pulled an all-nighter. We had intended to get to bed at an hour that was reasonable. However, since we needed to construct our Halloween costumes in time for the parade today, we couldn't settle for inaction.

    Edit: Three airport codes are hidden in the last word of each sentence (alL-nigHteR=LHR, rEaSonaBle=ESB, InaCtioN=ICN). Doesn't really help you solve the puzzle, but it might have confirmed you had the right locations.
    A: LONDON (England), ANKARA (Turkey), SEOUL (South Korea)

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 18): Bonnie Raitt Anagram

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 18): Bonnie Raitt Anagram:
    Q: Take the name of the singer Bonnie Raitt, rearrange these 11 letters to be two words that are loosely synonyms. What are they?
    Hope I have the right answer; it relies on the words being loosely related since I wouldn't say they are direct synonyms.

    Edit: It's after the deadline so I think it is okay to reveal my hint. It was Hope+I = Hopi, as in the Native American Tribe/Nation. There were others I considered using like Oneida, Cherokee, etc.
    A: BONNIE RAITT --> TRIBE, NATION

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 11): Name That Beverage

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 11): Name That Beverage:
    Q: Think of a beverage with a 2-word name. The first word has 3 letters and the second word has 9. Arrange the letters of the 9-letter word in a 3x3 box with the first 3 letters across the top, the middle 3 across the center and the last 3 across the bottom. If you've named the right beverage, you can read down the center column to get the 3-letter word in the beverage's name. What beverage is this?
    This should be another easy week for everyone. I thought of a few 3 letter words and the 9 letter word came to me instantly. Given that it is so easy, I'm not going to give a hint on the puzzle.

    Edit: Okay, that was a fib. I did provide several hints. The first clue was "instantly" since most people use an instant mix to make this beverage. Also, if you look at the first letters in "hint on the..." you'll see that they spell hot.

    I don't know if you also noticed that one word was different in my standard reminder (first comment below). This was so the initial letter of each sentence (Here, Once, Thank you) would also spell out HOT.
    A: HOT CHOCOLATE

    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 4): Chain Reaction

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 4): Chain Reaction:
    Q: The challenge is to find a chain of 'C' words to connect 'carbon' to 'circuit.' Each pair of words completes a compound word or familiar two-word phrase (e.g. CASH COW or CREDIT CARD). Will's chain has seven words between 'carbon' and 'circuit' for a total of nine words. The answer doesn't have to match Will's, but each word has to start with 'C,' and each has to combine with the words before and after to make a compound word or familiar two-word phrase.
    You can work this forward and/or backward; I did both. In retrospect I shouldn't have had so much trouble finding the joining word in the middle. It's hard to give clues without revealing the answer. I'll just say I'm pretty sure I have the same list as Will.

    Edit: The hint above referred to the middle word in the chain which coincidentally was "center".
    A: CARBON - COPY - CAT - CALL - CENTER - COURT - CASE - CLOSED - CIRCUIT

    Thursday, October 01, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 27): Name That Country...

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 27): Name That Country...:
    Q: Take the family name of a famous world leader in history. Drop the last letter, then switch the last two letters that remain. The result will name the country that this leader led. Who is it and what is the country?
    Gee, I planned to get this puzzle posted earlier, but I've had a lot on my plate. My hint this week: Work backwards; it's much easier.

    Edit: The hiddens clues were Gee (G) and Plate (China). Put them together and you have the answer.
    A: Chiang Kai-Shek (CHIANG) --> Country (CHINA)
    I actually found it easier to work backwards thinking of country names, flipping the last two letters and seeing what letter might be added to make a name. CHINA became CHIAN which immediately made me think of CHIANG (Kai-shek).

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 20): Higher Education

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 20): Higher Education
    Q: Name a well-known university. Move the last letter three places earlier in the name. The result will be a phrase meaning 'represent.' What's the university and what's the phrase?
    Did you hear about the blonde that wanted a higher education? She did her homework in a tall tree. Okay, that was a silly joke. Back to giving clues on the puzzle. I don't know about you, but I didn't much care for the movie; however, I really did enjoy the play.

    Edit: The hints this week were "tall tree" (which is the literal translation of Palo Alto) and of course the famous Big Game ending called The Play
    A: STANFORD --> STAND FOR

    Sunday, September 13, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 13): Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 13): Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
    Q: Take a familiar French word with three letters. It's a word everyone knows. Then take its meaning in English, also with three letters. Say these two words one after the other, and phonetically they'll sound like another French word everyone knows. What word is it?
    Well, I must admit I know very little French. And despite the title, I wouldn't recommend learning conversational French from songs.

    When I saw this puzzle, I tried to make MOI or OUI work. We've all heard Miss Piggy utter "moi" (meaning me). And isn't "yes" one of the first words we learn in whatever language we are studying? Unfortunately MOI-ME and OUI-YES, don't result in familiar French words.

    Edit: My hints take a little bit of explaining. We have MOI or OUI. MOI translates to ME. Then you have the word "OR". And OUI is YES, but in another language would be SI. So all together you have ME OR SI which sounds like MERCI.

    Several people will probably complain that MER is not a common French word, but those people just haven't done enough crossword puzzles. Plus you could have solved this working backwards, which is exactly what I did.

    One additional hint, if you read my standard reminder at the top of the comments, you'll notice I left off the "Thank you" at the end.
    A: MER + SEA --> MERCI

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 6): Element-ary School Math Puzzle

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 6): Element-ary School Math Puzzle:
    Q: Take the names of the first nine elements of the periodic table: hydrogen, helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and fluorine. Select one letter from each of these names in order to spell a familiar nine-letter word. Hint: It's a word used in math.
    Did I give this away with the reference to elementary school in the title? Well there are many terms we learn in our formative years of school, so I don't think it's too big of a giveaway. However, if it did spoil the puzzle for you, get over it. On the other hand, if you want another clue, look to a puzzle we had in August.

    Edit: The puzzle in question was from August 2008 where the answer was FRACTION/RATIO. This week's hint was "get over it..."
    A: NUMERATOR

    Thursday, September 03, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 30): Take me to your Leader

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 30): Take me to your Leader:
    Q: Name a famous leader in world history — the name by which this person is usually known. Change the first letter of the leader's name to the previous letter of the alphabet, rearrange the result, and you'll name what this person was the leader of. Who is it, and where was this person the leader?
    I haven't a clue, yet... sorry, I'm no real help at the moment.

    Edit: Here's the hidden hint "I'm no real help..."
    A: NERO --> ROME

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 23): I like knocking down pins

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 23): I like knocking down pins:
    Q: Think of two words that each mean 'bowler.' Put them together, one after the other, and you'll name a sport in two words that is not related to bowling.
    On a different note, remember how bowling used to be frequently televised? I don't think I've seen it that much these days...

    Edit: There isn't much need for me to explain my hints, but the title refers to knocking things down. That applies to bowling or the answer to the puzzle. Similarly, both bowling and this sport used to be frequently on TV, all the time it seemed in the early 70s; now not so much.
    A: ROLLER DERBY

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 16): Beware of Invisible Cows

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 16): Beware of Invisible Cows:
    Q: Think of a common street sign with three words: four letters in the first word, four letters in the second word and three letters in the last. Drop the last letter of the first word in the sign and you'll get a new word that is a synonym of the last word in the sign. What is the sign?
    Mr. Shortz states that it is a "common street sign" so I'm sure it's not Beware of Invisible Cows. However, I'm suspicious; I've looked up and down a list of Road Signs and don't see the answer. No doubt I'm thinking too hard so let me ponder this a bit more.

    Feel free to add clues in the comments, but no outright answers or spoilers, please.

    Edit: Remember Will didn't say traffic signs. That was a clue. In addition, hopefully my clue indirectly made you think of animals.
    A: CURB YOUR DOG (Cur = Dog)

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 9): Would you like cream and sugar with that?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 9): Would you like cream and sugar with that?:
    Q: A waitress walks up to a breakfast table with five logicians and asks, 'Does everyone here want coffee?'
    The first logician says, 'I don't know.'
    The second logician says, 'I don't know.'
    The third logician says, 'I don't know.'
    The fourth logician says, 'I don't know.'
    And the fifth logician says, 'No.'
    To whom did the waitress bring coffee — and why?
    No doubt the waitress has to be a logician too. This reminds me of a related joke:

    René Descartes walks into a diner and orders a cup of coffee. The waitress asks if he wants cream and sugar to which he replies, "I think not". He promptly disappears.

    Edit: The answer isn't too difficult if you just think of each person's reply choices...
    A: The waitress asks, "Does EVERYONE here want coffee?"

    If the first logician didn't want coffee, he knows that not EVERYONE wants coffee so he could have replied "No." But he doesn't yet know what the others are thinking so he answers "I don't know." This tells us he wants coffee.

    Similarly, the second logician has determined that the first logician wants coffee. Now we are in the same situation as the first logician. If the 2nd logician didn't want coffee, he could say, "No." But because he replies "I don't know." it means he also wants coffee.

    The same logic applies to the 3rd and 4th logicians.

    The fifth logican has determined that all the rest want coffee. If he also wanted coffee, he would reply "Yes" because he can accurately determine that everyone wants coffee. However, he doesnt want coffee and therefore answers "No", because he is the lone logician that doesn't want coffee and therefore NOT everyone wants coffee.

    Summary:
    The waitress (being the consumate logician herself) brings coffee to logicians 1 through 4. Logician 5 is not served coffee.

    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 2): Show Me the Money!

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 2): Show Me the Money!:
    Q: Take a slang term for money. Change one of its letters to the next letter of the alphabet. Rearrange the result, and you'll get another slang term for money. What are the words?
    To be honest, I haven't figured this one out yet. I thought I was close with BEAN and BANK, but it fails the "next letter" rule.

    Edit: I must admit I'd never come across the term Do-re-mi as slang for money. There were less than 300 entries so I don't think I was alone.
    A: DO-RE-MI --> DINERO

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 26): A Tale of Two Cities

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 26): A Tale of Two Cities:
    Q: Name a well-known U.S. city in six letters. Drop the first and fourth letters so the remaining four letters, in order, will name another well-known U.S. city. What cities are these?
    Hint: The two cities are in adjoining states.
    Would it help if I gave the hint Fraxinus?

    Edit: Fraxinus is the latin name for the Ash tree. In Spanish (as Geri figured out) it is Fresno.
    A: FRESNO (California) --> RENO (Nevada)

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 19): On Vacation -- Returning Soon

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 19): On Vacation -- Returning Soon

    Our vacation to Madagascar finishes up in a couple more days, but I'm still not around to supply any hints. Perhaps once I return I can add to the comments. Until then you are on your own; play nice.

    Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any outright spoilers before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here. Thank you.

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 12): On Vacation -- Autopilot Engaged

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 12): On Vacation -- Autopilot Engaged

    We're still on vacation in (just add Z), but I didn't want to leave you without a place to post comments on the puzzle. Somebody help me out by posting a copy here. Then feel free to add your *hints*.

    Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any outright spoilers before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here. Thank you.

    Sunday, July 05, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 5): I Won't Divulge the Answer

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 5): I Won't Divulge the Answer:
    Think of two terms that mean 'to divulge information.' Write them one after the other with no spaces between words. The result is a nine-letter word for a card that you might hold in a card game. What card is it?
    I must admit I've been a little pre-occupied getting ready for our trip so I didn't add a post earlier. We'll be gone by the time Thursday rolls around, so I won't be entering this week. But feel free to discuss it here. Incidentally, do you know where we are going? I wonder if it was inspired by a recent puzzle...

    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 28): Apparel Synonyms

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 28): Apparel Synonyms:
    Q: Take 'tire' and 'exhaust.' They're both things a car has. But as verbs, in a non-car sense, they're synonyms. The challenge is to name 2 articles of apparel, things to wear, each with 4 letters, and as verbs, in a non-apparel sense, the 2 words are synonyms. What words are they?
    No hints are necessary, just pay attention to the example Will gave.

    Edit: For the on-air puzzle, Will gave the example "Hit or Miss" with *Hit* being a synonym for both verbs. And incidentally, after a pair of socks go in the dryer, one always seems to go *miss*ing.
    A: BELT and SOCK

    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 21): Find a TV Celebrity with No Curves?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 21): Find a TV Celebrity with No Curves?:
    Q: Take the name Kevin Kline. The first and last names both have five letters. Written in capital letters — KEVIN KLINE — each name consists of exactly 13 straight lines and no curves.

    Name a well-known TV personality with five-letter first and last names. Each name contains exactly 14 straight lines and no curves. Who is this?
    Though I could have probably figured this out the "normal" way, I approached this programmatically. I took a couple of lists of celebrity names (first and last) and put them in a spreadsheet. I modified a function I had created earlier to count vowels and instead made it count the number of strokes (I = 1, LTVX = 2, AFHKNYZ = 3, EMW = 4, everything else = 1000). I then filtered the list down to 5 letter names each with 14 strokes (39 first names and 44 last names). As it turned out, only one name fit the puzzle... I should have seen that sooner.

    Edit: Clues: vowels, turned, solve the puzzle...
    A: VANNA WHITE

    Thursday, June 18, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 14): Ready for a test?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 14): Ready for a test?:
    Q: Think of one word that starts with 'te' and another word that starts with 'st' — and they're synonyms. Hint: The 'te' word has two syllables; the 'st' word has one.
    Anyone else worried that there might be several possible answers this week? I always hated when teachers had one answer in mind on a test that was worded such that there could be several potential answers. On the other hand, it must be hard as a teacher to design a test so it accurately measures whether students understood the material that was taught. Oh well, we'll see at the end of the week if we passed or failed this test.

    Edit: My hints were 'worried ... [about] a test' (stressed), 'taught' (synonym for 'taut' (tense)'. In the first comment, I mentioned 'emphasize' (stress).
    A: As I mentioned, there are numerous good answers. The two pairs I liked the most were:
    TENSION and STRESS
    TEMPEST and STORM
    Check the comments to see other choices.

    Thursday, June 11, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 7): TV Personality Puzzle

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 7): TV Personality Puzzle:
    Q: Think of a famous TV personality with five letters in the first name and four letters in the last name. Change the first letter of this celebrity's first name to M. Drop the first letter of the last name. Read the result in order, and it will spell something this person is famously known for doing many times. Who is this person?
    This may not be much help, but the celebrity has played the role of a step-sister...

    Edit: As mentioned in the comments, the celebrity in question has provided the voice of the ugly step-sister in several of the Shrek movies...
    A: LARRY KING --> MARRYING

    Thursday, June 04, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 31): Indian Wrestle Anagram

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 31): Indian Wrestle Anagram:
    Q: Take 'Indian wrestle,' rearrange the 13 letters to get three words that are all related. What are they? Hint: The word lengths are five, four and four letters, respectively.
    We'll have to see whether or not people can restrain themselves from giving obvious clues. Personally, I don't have time to provide a good clue because I'm off to Chicago for a couple weeks and haven't finished packing. P.S. If anyone is thinking of a certain common phrase, the puzzle answer would be misquoting it.

    Edit: A few clues above: whether = weather, Chicago = the "windy" city. And if you were thinking of the phrase associated with the postal service, you might want to read the comments below... it only has one of the words.
    A: SLEET, WIND, RAIN

    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 24): Famous Person Puzzle

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 24): Famous Person Puzzle:
    Q: Think of a famous person whose first and last names both have seven letters. Only two different consonants appear in this full name, each used more than once. Out of the 14 letters in the name, 13 of them appear in the first half of the alphabet, A-M. Who is this person?
    I'm so sorry guys... I dropped the ball on getting the puzzle posted on Sunday. For anyone that wants some hints, look to the comments in the prior puzzle post. I must admit that my initial attempts to figure this puzzle out were hampered by my method. I had a list of common first names pulled from census data and I filtered them by the rules above (no more than 2 consonants, vowels "aei" with possibly one extra from the set "ou"). It came up with mostly female names like Cecilia and Lucille. I now see why my method was doomed to fail.

    Edit: I said I "dropped the ball" which was a reference to the story of Galileo dropping two objects of different mass from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa as an experiment to disprove Aristotle's theory that objects fall at a speed relative to their mass. The story is probably apocryphal, but should have been a clue to Galileo. The other hint implied that the name was not one you would find in a list of common names...
    A: GALILEO GALILEI

    Friday, May 22, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 17): Back to Words

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 17): Back to Words:
    Q: Think of a 6-letter word in which the third letter is 'S'. Remove the 'S' and you'll be left with a 5-letter word that means the opposite of the 6-letter one. What is it?
    For anyone that gave up on the difficult puzzle last week, don't worry. This week's puzzle is so easy that it sounds like NPR will be deluged with answers.

    Edit: We have a synonym for "give up" and a homonym for "deluge".
    A: RESIGN --> REIGN

    Thursday, May 14, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 10): Another Numeric Brainteaser - Not!

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 10): Another Numeric Brainteaser:
    Q: If 5 = 4, 7 = 17, 9 = 25 and 35 = 2, what does 14 equal?
    Will Shortz admitted this is a tough puzzle. Frankly, I'd be surprised if many people are able to figure this one out. It took me all day, but I'm positive I have the right answer now.

    Edit: It's after the deadline, so I can reveal my clues here. First the title indicates that you shouldn't be focusing on this as a numeric puzzle. The second sentence has another hint to the solution with the word "Frankly". The sentence also ends with word "out" and the opposite is "in". Putting that together you get "Frankly-in" or just "Franklin". There are better clues in the comments, so look through those for more details.
    A: The key is first names of the U.S. presidents.

    The 5th president was James Monroe. The earliest president that shared the same first name was #4 James Madison.

    The 7th president was Andrew Jackson who shared his first name with #17 Andrew Johnson.

    The 9th president was William Henry Harrison who shared his first name with #25 William McKinley.

    The 35th president was John F. Kennedy who shared his first name with #2 John Adams.

    The 14th president was Franklin Pierce who shared his first name with the 32nd president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    Answer:
    14 = 32

    Thursday, May 07, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 3): Make A Name For Yourself

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 3): Make A Name For Yourself:
    Q: Take a common five-letter first name that contains one V. Change the V to an L, rearrange the letters and you'll get a familiar last name. The first and last names go together to name a famous star living in Hollywood. Who is it?
    I would definitely agree that the first name is common. As for the last name, I'd have to say maybe.

    Edit: The clue above was to the 2008 movie "Definitely, Maybe"
    A: KEVIN KLINE

    Friday, May 01, 2009

    Friday Fun: Rapidly Rotating Electronic Lock

    Circular Electronic LockIt's Friday and you are looking forward to the weekend, but an evil genius has locked you in a room. The door to the room is protected by a special electronic lock with four identical buttons equally spaced along the rim of a circular dial.

    Each button toggles an internal switch within the mechanism. You can attempt to open the lock by simultaneously pressing any set of the 4 buttons which will toggle the corresponding switches. If you are lucky enough to thereby align the switches so they are all on or all off, the lock will open. Otherwise the dial begins a spinning cycle that lasts for 1 full minute. When it comes to rest you have no way of knowing which button(s) you pressed previously.

    Your captor is returning in 15 minutes. Is there any possible method you can think of that will GUARANTEE that you can open the lock in less than 15 tries? If it is not possible, then let me know why that is the case... so I don't waste my time.

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 26): I Thought NPR Always Did Word Problems

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 26): I Thought NPR Always Did Word Problems:
    Q: If 5=4, 7=5, 8=1 and 26=9, what does 12 equal?
    It appears that Will has given us a rare puzzle involving numbers. Have fun figuring it out. I'll give you one clue: 23,041=500

    Edit: My first thought was that the answer was the number of letters in the number when spelled out in English. FIVE has 4 letters, SEVEN has 5 letters, TWENTY-SIX has 9 letters. But the puzzle creator deliberately threw us a curve ball with EIGHT which is 1, not 5.

    Okay, back to the drawing board. As I hinted in the title, this is still related to words and isn't purely mathematical. If you look closely at the English spelling of each number, you'll see there are ROMAN NUMERALS hidden inside.
    fIVe = 4
    seVen = 5
    eIght = 1
    twenty-sIX = 9
    A: tweLVe = 55
    And spelling out 23,041 in English --> twenty-three thousanD forty-one = 500.

    Thursday, April 23, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 19): Periodically Mixed Up

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 19): Periodically Mixed Up:
    Q: Take the phrase 'more corruptness.' Rearrange these 15 letters to name a popular magazine. Tip: It's a magazine this phrase definitely does not apply to, so it's more of an 'anti-gram' than an anagram!
    I suppose if you are involved in "more corruptness" you'd want to keep a lid on things.

    Edit: My hint was "Keep a Lid on Things" which is a song by the Candian folk rock band the "Crash Test Dummies". The magazine in question is well-known for its annual April edition where they test and review new cars.
    A: CONSUMER REPORTS

    Thursday, April 16, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 12): Easter Puzzle

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 12): Easter Puzzle:
    Q: Think of the name of a country. Change its first letter to a 'D,' and then read the word backward. The result will be a creature that lives in that country. What's the country and what's the creature?
    Hopping off to church, no time to provide a hint. Discuss this among yourselves.

    Edit: This clue was a bit of a misdirection. In my comments I talked about a flurry of activity and mentioned a winter storm which should make you think of a BLIZZARD. That has the B from the country and sounds like the creature.
    A: BRAZIL --> LIZARD

    Thursday, April 09, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 5): Keep It Short

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 5): Keep It Short:
    Q: Think of a four-letter word with a short 'A' sound, and specifically the 'A' is the second letter. Switch the third and fourth letters and you'll get a new word, also with a short 'A' sound. The two words go together to make a phrase that names something that existed from 1982 to 2000. What is it?
    Hint: The answer is something that still exists in some places today but the most famous version existed from 1982 to 2000.

    Edit: Will was obviously thinking of the Broadway version of this.
    A: CATS CAST

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 29): Just add Z

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 29): Just add Z:
    Q: Name a country somewhere in the world. Insert a 'Z.' The result can be broken up into 3 consecutive words. The first word is a popular brand name. The second word is something this product uses, and the third word is the kind of product it is. What's the country?
    I just like saying the name of the capital...

    Edit: Antananarivo.
    A: MADAGASCAR --> MAZDA, GAS, CAR

    Friday, March 27, 2009

    Friday Fun: What's the next number in the sequence?

    Can you figure out the next few terms in the following sequence?
    Q: 1, 3, 7, 12, 18, 26, 35, 45, 56, 69...
    I'll post the answer some time next week.

    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 22): Add 3 Letters Twice

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 22): Add 3 Letters Twice:
    Q: Here's an example: Take the letters I, L, R and T. Insert a trigram (three-letter group) twice into these letters to complete a familiar 10-letter word. If you add S, P and O, you would get the answer, 'spoilsport.'
    Now, take R F E and R. Insert a trigram twice somewhere in these letters to complete a familiar two-word phrase. What phrase is it?
    On a scale of 0 to 9, I give this week's puzzle a 3.

    Edit: 0 to 9 would be the set of *digits* where 3 is the *fourth* digit.
    A: Insert ING twice --> R(ING) F(ING)ER

    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 15): Female TV Host Puzzle

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 15): Female TV Host Puzzle
    Q: Name a female host of a popular TV program. Rearrange the letters of her first name to name a god in mythology. Rearrange the letters in her last name to name a type of god that this god is not. Who is the TV host and what are the anagrams?
    So you've looked at this week's NPR puzzle and you've decided you need some help. Okay, before you light a signal fire, the puzzle really isn't that difficult. So that you don't waste time, I'll tell you that it is *not* the Babylonian god Marduk, but you can try anagrams of that if you like...

    Edit: There were several hints in my post. I used the word "SO" a couple times. Also, if you read the first letter of each sentence you get S.O.S. I also mentioned help and a signal fire a few times which again points to S.O.S. That all leads to the name of the person and her show. Next the Roman equivalent of Zeus was Jupiter. And the Babylonian equivalent of Jupiter was Marduk.
    A: SUZE ORMAN (CNBC host of the Suze Orman Show)
    --> ZEUS, ROMAN

    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 8): Cat Got Your Tongue?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 8): Cat Got Your Tongue?:
    Q: Think of a familiar phrase in five words that means 'tongue tied.' One word in it has one letter, one word has two letters, one has three, one has four and one has five — though not necessarily in that order. What is the phrase?
    This week, I have no way of providing a clue that won't give away the puzzle.

    Edit: I was speechless, completely tongue-tied, I guess you could say I was...
    A: AT A LOSS FOR WORDS

    Thursday, March 05, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 1): A Tale of Two Cities

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 1): A Tale of Two Cities:
    Q: Take the phrase 'atlas of the world,' change the 'E' to an 'R,' and rearrange all the letters to name two cities that are closely related.
    The puzzle implies an atlas of the world is required... but maybe not.

    Edit: A U.S. atlas would suffice.
    A: DALLAS, FORT WORTH

    Thursday, February 26, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 22): What's on your desk?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 22): What's on your desk?:
    Q: Name an item often found on a desk. It's a hyphenated word. Add an 'S' to the beginning of each part, and you'll get two synonyms. What's the item?
    I'm looking at my desk trying to figure out what this item must be. My desk is pretty clean except for the items I'll eventually need to do my taxes (...that nasty IRS!). My wife was thinking it's something related to "ink" --> sink. I was thinking of something related to "light" --> slight. But neither of those ideas seemed to pan out.

    I get the feeling people won't be happy when they hear the answer. Anyone else bothered by the puzzle this week?

    Edit: There were quite a few clues in my post: Paperwork that is yet to be handled probably appears in this place, "Nasty IRS" is an anagram of the two synonyms, and "pan" is a synonym for tray, while "out" is an antonym for in.
    A: IN-TRAY --> SIN, STRAY

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 15): Pensacola Anagram

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 15): Pensacola Anagram:
    Q: Take the name 'Pensacola,' remove one letter and rearrange the letters that remain to get the first and last name of a famous person in American history. Who is it?
    Here's a couple hints: The person died in Florida. Also, I don't think the timing of this puzzle is coincidental.

    Edit: The puzzle was aired a day after Valentine's Day... 80 years after the Valentine's Day Massacre.
    A: PENSACOLA -S --> AL CAPONE

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 8): What is the Country? What are the Synonyms?

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 8): What is the Country? What are the Synonyms??:
    Q: Take the name of a country, interchange two consecutive letters. Add an 'e' after the fifth letter. The result will be two synonyms, one after the other. What is the country, and what are the synonyms?
    Anyone notice that the language of this country sounds like another synonym?

    Edit: The language is Finnish, a homonym for "finish".
    A: FINLAND --> FINAL, END

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Word Game: If I give you BVI, the answer is obvious...

    Here's a fun game you can play with friends. I'll give you a sequence of letters. Your goal is to find a common English word that has those letters exactly in that order with no additional letters in between. As the title implies, if I gave you "BVI" you could reply with "oBVIous". Got it?

    To get you started, here are a few combinations to try:
    HTG, WKW, UMF, PTC, GGP, AUE and HMM...

    Good luck, and feel free to post any letter combinations of your own that might be fun to try.

    Thursday, February 05, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 1): Famous Living Woman...

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 1): Famous Living Woman...:
    Q: Think of a famous living woman whose first and last names are each accented on the second syllable. Say the second syllable of her last name, followed by the second syllable of her first name, and phonetically you'll get a word meaning very attractive woman. Who is it?
    This one isn't that hard. The first woman I thought of was the right answer. Note: Put the syllable in the *last* name first.

    Edit: The first woman I thought of was the first lady...
    A: MICHELLE OBAMA --> BAM-CHELLE = BOMBSHELL

    Thursday, January 29, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 25): Starts with M, Ends with M

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 25): Starts with M, Ends with M:
    Q: Think of a word that starts and ends with the letter M, drop the first M, insert an O somewhere and you'll get a new word that means the same thing as the first word. What words are these?
    Truth be told, I'm not positive I have the right answer so I won't say anything (As they say, "A closed mouth gathers no foot.")

    Edit: "Truth" was an obvious hint to the synonyms.
    A: MAXIM --> AXIOM

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 18): Everything but the Kitchen Sink

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 18): Everything but the Kitchen Sink:
    Q: Name an implement that might be in a kitchen drawer. It's a compound word. Add the letter S after each half of the compound, and you'll get two synonyms. What implement is it?
    This one is hard. I've been going crazy trying to think of the answer. For awhile I was stuck on dessert implements (pie slice, icecream scoop, etc.). I just couldn't stop thinking of sweets! Oh well, maybe someone else will know the real answer...

    Edit: I was going to say "this one is hard to crack", but I thought that would have been too obvious. The "crazy" clue referred to the synonyms that are eventually formed. "Sweet" really was a reference to Tchaikovsky's "Suite".
    A: NUTCRACKER --> NUTS, CRACKERS (as in crazy)

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 11): The Sound of Letters

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 11): The Sound of Letters:
    Q: Take a very common three-letter word. Say the letters phonetically and together they'll sound like a six-letter word meaning knockout. What word is it?
    I think I have the answer, but I'm not sure. I don't usually pronounce the six-letter word that way.

    Edit: I've checked 3 dictionaries and none of them have the 3-syllable prounounciation, though I'm sure we've heard it pronounced colloquially with 3 syllables. You shouldn't have needed much help this week, but if you did, I've included it a couple times in this post.
    A: BUT --> BEAUTY (bee-YOO-tee)

    Thursday, January 08, 2009

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 4): She was Bitten by the Acting Bug

    NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 4): She was Bitten by the Acting Bug:
    Q: Take the last name of a famous actress in 2 syllables and 9 letters. Transpose the syllables and you'll have, phonetically, the word for a common ailment. Who is the person and what is the ailment?
    For some reason I came up with the names Meryl Streep, Maureen Stapleton, Stockard Channing and Catherine O'Hara. They don't seem to match the puzzle at all, do they?

    Edit: If you look up those actresses in IMDb, you'll find they were all in the same 1986 Movie
    A: Sarah Bernhardt (1844–1923) --> Heartburn

    Friday, January 02, 2009

    New Year's Resolution: Exercise Your Brain

    Cross-Number PuzzleAs long as everyone is making New Year's resolutions, I hope you've made one to get more mental exercise. To start you off, here's a challenging "Cross Number Puzzle." The grid above is filled in like a traditional crossword puzzle, except every answer is a three-digit number (100-999) rather than a word. Warning: some of the clues may have you going in circles but there is a unique solution..

    Click here for a printable version of the puzzle. And don't worry, you can get around to your other resolutions, like not procrastinating, and going to the gym later. Go sit on the sofa and work on a puzzle instead!

    Across:
    1. 3 Down plus 5 Across
    3. One-seventh of 8 Across
    5. Half of 14 Across
    6. A prime number
    8. Seven times 3 Across
    10. Twice 7 Down
    12. A perfect square
    14. 9 Down reversed
    15. The sum of its own digits, times thirty-seven
    16. A perfect square

    Down:
    1. 13 Down plus 10 Down
    2. Average of 9 Down and 14 Across
    3. 1 Across minus 5 Across
    4. A multiple of three
    7. 16 Across minus 1 Across
    9. 1 Across plus 5 Across
    10. 13 Down plus three hundred
    11. 12 Down minus 1 Down
    12. Anagram of 4 Down
    13. 1 Down minus 10 Down