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.

54 comments:

  1. Liane said, "We had only about three hundred answers."

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  2. Answer submitted. Whoopee! My favorite genre!

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  3. 7/12/Challenge, posted for the vacationing Blaine:

    It comes from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. A few weeks ago, we had a puzzle that asked you to write the name KEVIN KLEIN, pointing out that when the name is written in capital letters, it consists of 13 straight lines, with no curves. We asked you to name another celebrity whose first and last names also have five letters in which each name consists of 14 straight lines. The answer was VANNA WHITE.

    Here's this week's challenge: Name a genre of music in two five-letter words, each word consisting of exactly 15 straight lines and no curves.

    Blaine's Standard Reminer...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.

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  4. Not really my favorite genre... I listen to a lot of different stuff. Highly recommend Brazzaville, especially the album Rouge on Pockmarked Cheeks. I also listen to a lot of electronica, preferably stuff that is a bit more "organic," and features regional influences and instrumentation/vocals. For purer electronica, can't beat The Orb.

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  5. Occoquan Workhouse Prison. Burns, Paul, Chapman, Milholland, many others.

    Homeland Terrorism. Thralldom. Speculum. Gullet. Force. Death.

    ... the exact opposite of ... your ... Independence Day.

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  6. I just submitted my answer too.

    I have a 2-part question. Does anyone know if a person weeds through the answers, or is it automated? I'm wondering because it's usually a joint thing between my husband and I (our church is about 40 minutes away so that gives us something to do on the way!) - so whichever one of us submits the answer submits one for each of us. I'm wondering, if someone looks at them, if we'd get disqualified since our last names are the same and we submit one right after the other. Does anyone else submit a 2nd entry for your spouse (with different contact info), or do you guys think it's not really fair to do that?

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  7. Will seems to alternate easy and hard puzzles - indicative of his mercurial nature I guess.

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  8. As an independent individual human being, then this particular contest's rules state one entry - answer per one person.

    Nothing more and, for certain, nothing less.

    If, of course, one believes one's self an independent individual.

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  9. Congrats to Ben (who comments here frequently- don't remember if he's Ben or "the other Ben?) and gets the gold star for getting his puzzle on-air!
    Here's his website:
    http://benbassandbeyond.blogspot.com/

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  10. Thanks for the props, Phredp.

    Yep, it's me, Original Ben. I was known around here simply as Ben for a while, then after another Ben became a regular commenter, I became "Original Ben" and he became "Other Ben." We have a friendly rivalry for "actual Ben" status. He's a good puzzler.

    Getting an original puzzle on the air is a kind of closure, as I've been submitting answers for about twelve years, and submitting my own puzzles for the last several years. Several of them seemed just right for the radio show and I was optimistic that Will Shortz would use them, but for whatever reason he never did.

    A few weeks ago I was working on the Vanna White puzzle when I noticed that the musical genre was a two-word phrase, five letters each, no curves, just like KEVIN KLINE and VANNA WHITE. I counted the line segments, found it was 15 and 15, and immediately knew it would work as an on-air puzzle. Happily, this time around, Mr. Shortz agreed.

    The timing worked out well too. Last week I was overseas, and every other Sunday morning this summer during puzzle time I'm on court playing doubles with my tennis team, so I usually miss the broadcast. This week, though, I'm back from my trip and my team has a bye, so I got to hear my name on the radio.

    I agree with the above commenter that the puzzle swings widely (wildly?) from easy to hard and back again. I recently thanked Mr. Shortz for using some very hard puzzles after several weeks of easy gimme putts. He responded that he likes to mix up the difficulty level so there's something for everyone.

    Reminds me of a story about former New York Times puzzle editor Eugene T. Maleska. He'd simultaneously receive mail from people saying the NYT puzzle was too hard, and others saying it was too easy. His elegant response was to send them copies of each other's letters.

    I also agree that my puzzle isn't particularly difficult. I'm just happy to finally get one on the air!

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  11. Ben, Congratulations!!! Did Will send you an NPR pin?

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  12. Congratulations, Ben!!! I read the puzzler on the NPR website and saw that you had chosen your submission for this week's puzzler. Good job! I've submitted a few to Will and I'm hoping that he chooses one of mine, too.

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  13. Thanks, guys.

    Good luck to you, Dave. If Will doesn't use your puzzles, set disappointment aside and keep submitting. That's what I did. Like New Yorker cartoon editor Bob Mankoff says to people whose cartoons he doesn't buy: "Submit a hundred more." Sooner or later you'll get in there.

    No pin, Natasha, but getting a puzzle on the air is the only gift I was looking for. Actually, I did get a prize from Mr. Shortz last February. I was lucky enough to win a trivia contest at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which he founded. He presented me with a signed book of 500 Sunday NYT crosswords.
    Plus I was sitting with a bunch of NYT puzzle constructors at the time, some of whose puzzles were in the book, so they autographed it too!

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  14. Got it! This one was too easy, Ben, but we'll still give you a gold medal, unless you'd prefer one made out of lead.

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  15. I dreamed it was dark on my day of rest and when I awoke the answer just popped into my head.

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  16. No time for the puzzle this week. I'm bugfixing Tetris, a fine game by an eastern bloc narcissist. Neither malloc nor calloc can fix the memory leak. Bugs seem to flock narcotically towards my code.

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  17. I guess I'm really confused. The obvious answer that I hit on first, and to which many of the clues point, doesn't precisely fit the on-air hint. I count 14 lines in the first word and 15 in the second. What am I missing?

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  18. Perhaps WHY WHY WHY ... and not WHY WHY ? ? ?

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  19. Blue, that helps immensely. Thanks!

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  20. Richard Rausch, nice clue! Have you been pumping iron, man?

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  21. Dave's Puzzle #9 (I think):

    The name of a certain animal is made up of two words. Combine the last two letters of the first word with the first letter of the second word and get the name of a different animal.

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  22. Carl, PINK FLOYd. "Dark Side of the Moon" Is the anything better than this one?

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  23. Wasn't there a movie circa 1981 based on the answer?

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  24. Phred, I think you're right. There's also a song of the same title by an artist in said genre.

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  25. Dave, re #9:
    I came up with a cat and a bird.

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  26. Dave, also a (different) cat and a bug.

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  27. Lorenzo, to sum things up, you got my puzzle and I got yours.

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  28. Hey guys, in case you're having trouble sleeping tonight, I wrote on my blog about getting my puzzle on the air:

    benbassandbeyond.com

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  29. Curtis,
    Regarding your vertical line count, - you may be forming a certain letter with two lines vs three (remember they are capital letters).

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  30. Ben, congrats on getting your puzzle used. I've often wondered if the odds are more in your favor of getting a challenge used by WS or having your name chosen from random from among hundreds if not thousands of entries. I've submitted a couple of challenges over the year, but I've never even heard back that they were were considered.

    I've also wondered if they really check to see if all the entries that they choose from are correct, or if they chose randomly from all the entries and see if they answer they chose is correct or not. Not sure it really makes a difference in your odds of having a correct answer chosen, just a difference in the number of correct entries they mention on the air. It might not be that big of a difference, though, since I'm not sure how many people bother to submit answers that are not correct.

    This week's puzzle will probably bring thousands of entries, correct or otherwise. If it doesn't, chalk it up to too many listeners being on vacation like Blaine.

    Before I even started to think of what answers met the criteria for straight line letters, I was trying to think of two-word music genres of any number of letters. The correct answer is the first one that popped into my head.

    But after last week's answer, which I didn't even know AFTER they gave the answer on air, it was good to have one that I could solve again.

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  31. There are some good clues here this week. I found that writing out the letters without curves helped, as suddenly a word which fit several clues appeared. The other word followed immediately.

    I'm lousy at remembering what song contains specific lyrics, but I'm pretty decent at hearing a few notes and recalling a song (and even some context where I first heard the song).

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  32. Hey Les, Blue already set Curtis straight :-)

    I guess I am catching on to the the nature of Blue's clues; at first they were about as cryptic to me as MRIs are to the untrained eye.

    Carl, I am with you--not my favorite genre. Seems when I have too much of it I have to do something else afterwards for recreation. (Anyone play horseshoes these days anymore?)

    Geri's "answer submitted" post is more compatible with my kind of music. (And I do mean the music; no innuendo here...)

    Ben: Congratulations! This wasn't hard, but still a dead-on observation on your part. Do Liane and Will let you weigh in on who gets selected for the on-air puzzle?

    Oh, BTW... the above "Blue's clues" is NOT a hint ;-)

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  33. Weigh in? Heck, no. I didn't even know my puzzle was being used until it aired on Sunday. The on-air puzzle was taped the previous Thursday.

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  34. Man, this puzzle has been weighing on my brain all day.

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  35. I went around the globe considering world music genres only to find my answer close to home. Wish I had a nickel for every attempt - maybe I wouldn't have hit my head agaisnt the wall.

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  36. Where did Blaine go on vacation? Madagascar? Pisa? I don't know.

    We've now had three related puzzles: KEVIN KLINE, VANNA WHITE, and now this one. Three answers, two names/words each, 5 letters in each word, 30 letters total. The three answers only have two letters in common. Of the 15 available letters (consisting of straight lines), there are 3 that haven't been used. I wonder if anyone can think of fourth puzzle that uses the 2 common letters plus the 3 unused ones.

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  37. @ken: how about "to confuse a piece of headgear"? in two words, line count (8,11)

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  38. Curtis, I had the same problem of 2 vs 3 strokes for about a minute. However there are fonts (admittedly unusual) that do use 2 strokes for the letter in question, so the puzzle is not all that bulletproof.

    Found at www.fonts.com or in windows:
    Arquitectura
    Shinn
    Churchward
    Eaglefeather Informal
    Generation Gothic
    Comic

    I also wonder how many crossword solvers use the 3 stroke version. I don't. I have observed solvers who use other letter variations:

    A tipped delta for D
    Sigma for E
    Lambda for A

    Jen-Jen, I answered Geri (I think) some time ago about why I thought the puzzles were getting easier. I stopped short of raising your question about automation, but I believe it must be used for at least an initial cull.

    Lorenzo, Janice has a pleasant speaking voice.

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  39. Blaine was hinting at Singleton, Australia last week.

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  40. Regarding formation of letters as Hugh discussed: for the Vanna White puzzle, a friend said that Vanna didn't work because Vanna has only 12 straight lines. I reminded him that 'most people' put a cross line to form an 'A' - he just uses an inverted 'V'. He just said 'Oh - yeah - got it.'

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  41. Hugh, Janice appreciated your comment, especially since her training is in music, as a singer and coral conductor.

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  42. Wolftone, I like your solution, even if it doesn't make a great deal of sense. Neither does "FIZZY VIXEN" ... I don't know if there is a sensible solution for the puzzle I gave.

    Natasha, I guess I don't see the Singleton, Australia hint. I thought Blaine was just giving a hint for last week's puzzle. Besides he gives the "just add Z" hint this week, which suggests the Madagascar puzzle. If Madagascar is an unlikely vacation destination, then maybe Japan (home of Mazda) is the spot. Maybe the Galileo Galelei puzzle suggests Italy ... add Z to Pisa (where GG dropped the ball) to get pizza.

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  43. Re: Where is Blaine? The Madagascar films mention Kenya, New York (Central Park), Antarctica, San Diego and Africa. Since Blaine does not seem to have internet access at the moment, the most likely place is Antarctica.

    If he is in Africa, I'm guessing its either Kenya or perhaps South Africa, which is relatively close to Madagascar.

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  44. So how many heavy metal fans do we predict Liane will mention this Sunday ? I'm guessing "about" 2000.

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  45. re Host Blaine - ?

    ... autopilot = high planes of heavy metal,

    ... er, high plains

    ... of the southeast of Australia, er, ...

    ... of oZ, that is, of ... Oz ?

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  46. My reference to The Orb, a very mellow and playful electronica ensemble, may be the most obscure clue I've yet offered on this blog, but would make sense to anyone familiar with the movie based on the comic book named for this week's answer.

    Not participating much for a couple reasons... Need to get as much done as fast as I can on my remodel project so I can begin to enjoy living there someday in the not-too-distant future, and also I STILL have not resolved the issue of the ear infection from Hades. Getting a CT Scan on Sunday to see if surgery might be the answer!

    Sincerely, truly hope all of you are feeling better than I am and have been. I'm confident that I'll be there with you eventually.

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  47. prison, thralldom = a lotta, lotta, lotta surrounding heavy metal, like a lotta lead

    Occoquan Workhouse Prison’s Night of Terror in the Homeland = occurred on a month’s 15th and, indeed, mightily heavy

    speculum = as well as a tool of torture among other uses, is also a specific metal alloy of mostly copper and tin, perhaps a wee bito’ ... arsenic = all heavy metals

    gullet = at where the speculum + liquid slop was against all wills ... forced ... down = emotionally, nearly the heaviest and requiring the most ... mettle ... summonable

    death = the heaviest that 15 November 1917, New Jersey night

    Independence Day = for anyone ... self – explanatory

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  48. Autopilot = Cruise. Perhaps an Indian Ocean cruise that includes Madagascar.

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  49. I must admit I still missed quite a few of the hints posted by Blue... Anyway, my hints were:

    "MRIs": stands for "magnetic resonance imaging"; "magnetic" arguably has to do with "metallic"...

    "Horseshoes": I don't actually play that, but I know the props are made of... well, heavy metal!

    "Weigh in": I hope Blaine wouldn't find this too heavily revealing.

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  50. "Have you been pumping iron, man?" is an obvious reference to Black Sabbath.

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  51. DaveJ, How long ago was heavy metal heard anywhere? I'm guessing there will be fewer than 1000 amswers this week.

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