Thursday, March 25, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 21, 2010): Know your Animals

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 21, 2010): Know your Animals:
Q: Take the plural name of one animal and the singular name of another animal. Say the two words out loud one after the other and you'll name a country. What are the animals, and what is the country?
See, I knew Will Shortz would put his years as a crossword puzzle editor to good use and come up with something interesting...

Edit: My hint was "knew" which is another homonym for the first animal and the first part of the country. Also, both words are the type of words that crossword puzzle solvers have seen often, so I mentioned that as an additional hint.
A: GNUS + ELAND = NEW ZEALAND

71 comments:

  1. 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.

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  2. If you're musically inclined and know who's who, a Flemish aquatic bird will come to mind.

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  3. I'm not going to risk repeating myself as the natives can get pretty upset if you disparage their homeland. I once saw a fellow get quite irate on the subway about jokes being made....

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  4. Save yourself a lot of time: don't start reading down a list of all of the countries. Afghanistan, no. Albania, no. Algeria, no. Zzzzz...

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  5. The answer came to me at the drop of a hat.

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  6. Are the animals said in the order given, i.e. the plural one first?

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  7. I found the answer to this little puzzle to be big.

    Chuck

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  8. If people don't know these animals, coming up with the words could be quite discouraging.

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  9. I did not know about one of those animals before.

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  10. JenJen-Yes, the animals are pronounced in the order given, plural first

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  11. And for Chezedog, who always loves to give us musical clues, the answer this week is also the title to a song, composed by R.P.

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  12. Thanks for the help suzyq, perhaps that'll be the bit of info I need...

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  13. Think I have it - possible that the first animal's plural is also it's singular?

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  14. @jfc1989:
    Definitely different plural for the answer I came up with (and I learned a new animals name).
    I had to get help on this one, but once I got the key, we had it solved.

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  15. Did Will say where he got this one?

    I have found that exactly this puzzle appeared in print in 1871!

    To find it, just Google the names of the animals and the name of the country together, using quotes.

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  16. I take that back. The ANSWER was published in 1871.

    The PUZZLE was published in 1870.

    Sorry if that misled anyone!

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  17. William - that's amazing !
    I had to put the quotes around the animals but not the country for google to find it though.

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  18. This one really knocked me out.

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  19. Fellow bloggers, please confirm that the second animal has a land-based counterpart.

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  20. I dunno, Mario... confirming or denying that could get my butt in a sling...

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  21. After reading through these comments, I am sure that there are at least two correct answers, considering that the one I came up with does fudge the plural name rule...

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  22. I agree with Theodore Valley... some of the clues here don't fit my answer, some fit very well...

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  23. How does one submit a new puzzle to Will? Do you go through the same link as you would when submitting an answer? I've got a few I'd like to offer.

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  24. @Phredp:
    Email your puzzle to:
    NPR_Response@npr.org

    Good luck - I have submitted a few - no success yet though - would be an honor to get a puzzle on the air.

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  25. Hugh, as I recall, we exchanged posts about the song back in 2008.

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  26. Theodore Valley and Chezedog, I would agree that there are two correct answers. And, according to my dictionary, this does not involve "fudging the plural name rule."

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  27. Lorenzo, You were so enthusiastic, I had a feeling there would be a reprise. The previous occasion goaded me to copy vinyl to digital at that time.

    I haven't really looked for the second answer yet.

    Blaine, before I wrote the above, I did some testing, and I came to the conclusion that you are pretty good at controlling blog searches. At least I don't think my comments are a give-away.

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  28. Take the names of two NBA teams, e.g. Lakers, Trailblazers, etc. Say the two names out loud one after the other and you'll name a US President. What are the teams, and who is the president?

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  29. Ken,

    When I try that I seem to have an extra letter at the end.

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  30. The two animals I found share scientific Class, Order, and Family. And there are significant spelling changes between the animal names and the country names.

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  31. Ken, in line with William's comment, I would say that one of this particular president was more than enough!

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  32. I'm still having a problem with this one. When these animals are said, they're the same phonetically as the country, right. For example: tents wouldn't be used as a replacement of the word temps. It would be more like would is a replacement for wood. Am I correct?

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  33. SamLee - right. If the solution I am think of is correct, the animals and country are spelled way differently, but if said together, they do sound the same.

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  34. Okay, another question. The plural of the animal, are we talking about the actual plural name, like goose = geese, or rat = rats, and not the name of a group of animals like whale = pod?

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  35. William and Lorenzo,
    Regarding the NBA/President puzzle, I was trying to do the plural/singular thing, but misworded the puzzle. Sorry about that.

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  36. Ken,
    Good try. That puzzle certainly was a TRICKY one!

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  37. Sam Lee,
    The plural of the animal is analogous to your first example. That is, it is the actual plural of the animal, and does not refer to a separate term for a group. Who knew that a group of whales was referred to as a pod?

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  38. Tom,
    Some animal collective nouns are unusually funny. Consider "an unction of", or "a sting of", or "an implausibility of".

    They make "a pod of" seem pretty tame!

    Anybody interested in this strange sort of language might enjoy reading James Lipton's little book, "An Exaltation of Larks".

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  39. Ken, if you take your answer (in uppercase), and read it upside down, phonetically it sounds like a slang term for "makes a goal".

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  40. Kind of true, Blaine, but only really in hockey. You couldn't say it in basketball, football, or really even soccer.

    -- Other Ben

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  41. I can't believe how stuck I am on this one.... These are usually the easy ones for me. I know I'm probably over thinking it. Anyone give me any more clues? Which animal is the more common animal... the plural or not?

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  42. Sam Lee, A shaggy strong guy wants to marry a big curly-headed gal. He wants to go to Gretna Green. She doesn't. Her preference is definitely (word)-(word).

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  43. I just got it. That is, I just got what I think Will is looking for, as I still stand by my first answer. But I have to say, between the two, this one is the most beautiful answer in the whole wide...room.

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  44. I can't wait to her the "other" solution - for the life of me I could only find one answer to fit the clue. I suspect on Sunday quite a few people will be saying "I never heard of that animal.."

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  45. C'mon, is it time for me to feel stupid yet. What's the answer?

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  46. I had Sanma (a collective name for the fish, Pacific Saury) plus Rino (rhino) and San Marino :)

    Chuck

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  47. I had the common wrong answer:

    Ewe + Crane = Ukraine

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  48. Tom, I was close, but I did not think of the Eland.

    I came up with Gnus + Sea lion = New Zealand.

    Not sure if Will would accept it.

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  49. Hm.... I've never heard of a gnus or an eland... i don't know if rhino is phonetically the same and rino. If New Zealand is the answer, I won't feel as stupid as if it were something like dogs + cat or crows + ox (I know those don't make countries, but you get the point)

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  50. Can someone explain all the clues other people gave here? I don't see how any of them apply to New Zealand, such as:

    "The answer came to me at the drop of a hat."
    "A shaggy strong guy wants to marry a big curly-headed gal. He wants to go to Gretna Green. She doesn't. Her preference is definitely (word)-(word)."
    "If you're musically inclined and know who's who, a Flemish aquatic bird will come to mind."
    "This one really knocked me out."
    etc

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  51. "Flemish aquatic bird" suggests Flanders and Swann, who had a ditty called "The Gnu Song". Right?

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  52. "At the Drop of a Hat" was a musical revue by the same Flanders and Swann. Opened in 1956 and ran for more than 1000 performances. Surely THAT one was obscure enough not to be a giveaway!

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  53. elenaran -- I know that once Theodore got the answer, he referenced the Flight of the Conchords "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room," a Prince parody you can see here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84EoBQfdrb0

    It's a very precious song, brings me to tears every time.

    And the Conchords are of course New Zealand's leading comedy parody folk duo with an HBO TV show.

    -- Other Ben

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  54. My lame attempt at a New Zealand clue:

    once I got the **key, we** had it solved.

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  55. Hugh - I was originally going to give the same "at the drop of a hat" clue that you posted. However, I found that a simple Google search of the phrase led almost immediately to "gnu". This violated one of my (personal) definitions of a "spoiler" and so I chose to post the more cryptic (and less helpful) clue. But, I'm glad you didn't get busted by Blaine!

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  56. The Beatles' "Back in the USSR" features the line "Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out."
    Also, a sling is often used when rigging with a crane.

    These hints were based on my belief that the correct answer was ewe, crane, Ukraine.

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  57. How about Newts and eland for New Zealand?

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  58. Chezedog, I also came up with Ukraine, at first. I still stand by it, as one definition I found for "ewe" was "female sheep", with no distinction between singular and plural. I wonder if Will will let this answer slip through the cracks...

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  59. I heard of both animals --had them in mind and never pronounced the country right--so much for that.
    These animals come up all the time in the NY Times crossword puzzles and other puzzles also.
    Ken, what is the answer to your NBA/President puzzle?? Please give us the answer.

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  60. As I said, I did not word the puzzle correctly. A better wording is:

    Take a player on one NBA team, e.g. Laker, Trailblazer, etc. Then take a player on another NBA team. Say the two players out loud one after the other and you'll name a US President. Who are the players, and who is the president?

    The answer is Knick + Sun = Nixon

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  61. My clues were "discouraging" and "word" from the song "Home on the range" which references antelopes, as both gnus and elands are antelopes.

    My understanding of the clues is that those of us who have figured out the puzzle will get the clues, but those who have not will not be able to make the connection.

    I felt Blaine's opening salva (the word "knew") was too much of a giveaway, myself! Felt for sure anyone without an answer would start looking for countries starting with New and eventually end up at Zealand. Ah, well, can remove the Blog administrator's post can we!

    Eland came to me only because I was checking antelopes to see if gnus was the proper plural of Gnu and lo and behold the name Eland popped out at me. Just lucky.

    I did not think of Ukraine. But did come up with Martinique (Martin (the bird or the animal) and a neque. But I think both those animals are singular, no plurals.

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  62. Speaking of the NBA...one suggested team name was (see halfway down this article) the Good Gnus!!!

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  63. Elenaran, Gretna Green, a well known destination for elopers. The couple were the shaggy gnu and the spiral horned eland who was of an "ant(i)-elope(ment)" turn of mind.

    Lorenzo, I suspect that popular knowledge of Flanders and Swann is being lost in the mists of time. William seems to agree. Ain't that a shame.

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  64. Did anyone think the answer was Algae + Rhea = Algeria ? Algae is not quite a plant, might be considered an animal.

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  65. And Chezedog, the song "Gnus eland" was written in 1984 by Robert Peters, aka Robert Petrokofsky.

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  66. NEW PUZZLE IS ALREADY ON THE NPR POST FOR TOMORROW

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  67. Next week's puzzle:

    What 6 letter word beginning with the letter "S" would be the same if it started with "TH?"

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  68. Well, thanks to suzyq, the hunt for the song "Gnus Eland" has begun. And it's not so easy so far...
    But I'll find it.

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  69. Once you understand its wording, the new puzzle is trivial.

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