Thursday, July 14, 2011

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 10, 2011): Classic TV Show and a Well-Known Writer

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 10, 2011): Classic TV Show and a Well-Known Writer:
Q: Name a classic television show in two words with eight letters. Remove one letter from each word. The remaining six letters, in order, will spell the last name of a well-known writer. Who is it?
Musical hint: btmiihlsihhwbwr

Edit: Back in November we had a discussion about how there were actual lyrics written by Gene Roddenberry for the Star Trek theme. The clue above would be the first letter of each line.
A: STAR TREK
Remove T from the first word, K from the second word
Jean-Paul SARTRE

68 comments:

  1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via Google or Bing) 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.

    You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you.

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  2. Yes, it is now out and it might be a long journey for me since I do not watch TV.

    Reminds me of Clint Eastwood.

    Also Ward Bond.

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  3. What's the difference between the cast of the TV show and a group undergoing experimental discectomy?

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  4. Am I to understand that the Vigenère cipher is catching on?

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  5. A common theme linking last week's puzzle with this one? The rarest of events!

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  6. Musical Clue: The Sound of Music

    www.curtisjohnsonimages.com

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  7. Adding o to the discards explains why the contest might have been stopped.

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  8. Congratulations to ("the original") Ben!

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  9. I started working on the puzzle early this morning before breakfast but I started feeling a little sick so I had to quit. I’ll come back to it later.

    Chuck

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  10. This writer has an interesting family tree.

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  11. Musical Hint: "I got plenty of nothing . . ."
    And there is some deja vu, again.
    I hope I didn't take up too much space.

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  12. Perhaps because I do not watch TV, I am finding most of these clues and the puzzle to be way over my head this week.

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  13. skydiveboy,
    I think your WB reference is excellent(as is a certain MP reference). It's something else I'll try to learn a little bit more about this week.
    "S'awright?"

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  14. Did anybody else submit Peter Ustinov (used + neuf, French for new) last week?

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  15. I too have written to NPR wanting to play but have never been called. I'm trying to be philosophical about that.

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  16. I just did the math. Let's assume there are an average of 1000 people entering each week so you have a 999/1000 chance of not being called. If you were to enter every week for 'n' weeks, the chance of not being called would be (999/1000)^n.

    In other words, if you wanted to figure out the number of weeks you would have to enter to reach a 50/50 chance of being called it would be:
    n = log(0.5) / log(0.999) = 693 weeks or more than 13 years.

    So don't feel discouraged if you've never been called.

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  17. OK, Blaine: What is the probability that the star of the classic TV show shares over 71% of the letters of his last name with the show and the well-known writer?

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  18. Name a celebrity televison chef. Remove the last letter of the chef's first name, and the first letter of the chef's last name. The result is a character from a classic television show. Who is the chef?

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  19. I got Blaine's clue! I'm so excited.

    My clue: Morgan

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  20. I'm tempted to take a different gospel to a new generation.

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  21. Phew! Finally got the answer, if only for a moment. I thought I was going to have to be alone like Marlena Dietrich and be my own bad company as opposed to hangin out with the Baad boys on this blog. Yoo-hoo! Are-a you listening?

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  22. I have an answer different, I believe, than the one that is referred to by Blaine's and others clues.....

    The TV show that fits my answer is a spin-off of a show that makes you feel worthwhile.....

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  23. Maybe I should say "seem worthwhile".....

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  24. Could be worse. You could have gotten the call, and had the phone turned off.

    Yeah, me :(

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  25. It's dangerously close to Happy Hour and the new puzzle is up. Let's see who can solve it before dinner.

    This way to your table

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  26. I'm still celebrating with the bad boys. Love that Jim Beam. Good scotch always takes me higher.

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  27. No clues here, although I know the answer.

    But speaking of getting the call, I played the Puzzle On Air with Will Shortz, like ten or fifteen years ago. After that, I continued to send in answers, and I was called a second time, but when I mentioned my previous win, I was dropped from consideration. I looked then and subsequently (though not recently) and there was no posted rule against playing twice, but I have stopped sending in answers.

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  28. Thanks, Jan. Now if I can only figure out Blaine's hieroglyphics!

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  29. RoRo: without being too direct, let's just say that if you asked Blaine for a musical hint for Sherwood Schwartz, who died yesterday at the age of 94, he might say, "jatattffttittwtt".

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  30. On the other hand, if you asked *ME* for a musical hint for Sherwood Schwartz, I'd say "Emily Dickinson" ;-)

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  31. To add to Jan's interesting observation, the last name of the co-starring actor has absolutely zero letters in common with the show or writer. The chances must be astronomical...!

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  32. My clues:
    Yes, it is now out and it might be a long journey for me since I do not watch TV.

    Reminds me of Clint Eastwood.

    Also Ward Bond.

    The above is my first post and "long journey" is an obvious hint at Star Trek.
    Less obvious are the actors, Clint Eastweed and Ward Bond. Eastwood began as Rowdy Yates on Rawhide, which was a star trek for him. Ward Bond was the leader of Wagon Train, which was also a trek for that star.

    My second post: Perhaps because I do not watch TV, I am finding most of these clues and the puzzle to be way over my head this week.

    "way over my head" is a hint at Star Trek and perhaps a slight hint at Sartre too.

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  33. My remarks last Sunday:

    I started working on the puzzle early this morning before breakfast but I started feeling a little sick so I had to quit. I’ll come back to it later.

    - - - - - - - - - -

    The phrase ”started feeling a little sick” was intended to bring to mind La Nausée, one of Sartre’s most famous works.

    Chuck

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  34. @Chuck, I thought your clue was going to combine "start" with "wretching" to get something that sounds like "Star Trek-king"

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  35. Sartre and Truffaut were contemporaries and philosophically aligned; "rarest" is an anagram of Sartre.

    Sherwood Schwartz created "Gilligan's Island", whose theme song lyrics I represented using Blaine's initial-letter-of-each-line scheme. Most of Emily Dickinson's poems can be sung to the tune of the Gilligan's Island theme song. (Or to "The Yellow Rose of Texas", or "Amazing Grace". Check out YouTube.)

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  36. Hussein Bolt is a Jamaican 'track star'. I've also seen his name spelled Usain.

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  37. BK –

    A similar thing happened to me.

    I played on-air in ’05. Then I was picked again about a year or year-and-a-half later. The producer seemed unaware of my previous appearance when he called on Thursday afternoon and offered the spot to me for a second time. However, I brought up my earlier appearance because I didn’t want to p--- off bunches of NPR listeners who had tried and tried and were never lucky enough to be picked.

    I told him I’d be happy to play again but if he wanted to pick someone else that’d be OK, too. He thanked me for that and said that’s what he’d rather do. And that’s the way we left it.

    I don’t know if this is true or not but I’ve heard that it’s permissible to play on-air more than once. Actually, I get a big kick out of figuring out the solve-at-home puzzle each week. Playing on-air was fun but it’s not exactly a life-altering experience. If I get picked yet again, I think I’d give them the same choice unless there’s a bunch of new stuff in the booty bag :)

    Chuck

    Blaine –

    Good one!

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  38. What's the difference between the cast of the TV show and a group undergoing experimental discectomy?

    One group goes to SPACE (THE FINAL FRONTIER) while the other group goes to FACE THE SPINAL FRONTIER.

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  39. Believe it or not, when I made my "James I of Scotland" comment before breakfast on Sunday, it completely escaped me that I was naming two Star Trek characters. When I eventually realized what I had done, I, too, wanted to "start wretching".

    The story goes that James was assassinated on February 20, 1437, despite the extraordinary defensive maneuver of Catherine Douglas; which may be the origin of the expression "Katy, bar the door!"

    K.T...the discard letters; "bar the door", a reference to "No Exit", the only Sartre work I ever read.

    However, as Unknown was quick to point out, Spock would be quick to point out that "which side of the door" is an important consideration when it comes to barring.

    I thought SDB's "Wagon Train" reference was to the SAfe Road TRains for the Environment project, which doesn't seem all that feasible to me, but what do I know?

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  40. @Chuck - Well, at least I still have my Weekend Edition Sunday Lapel Pin, which must be the . . . . most unattractive? . . . . piece of jewelry I've ever seen. I've noticed they have stopped listing the full prize collection for those who play on air; someone must have decided it was getting to be too much of an advertisement for Books By Will Shortz?

    Re: jan's observation - The name of Patrick Stewart, star of STNG, contains as many or more of the letters of Star Trek and Sartre as Shatner!

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  41. As to my clue, if you took the first name of Sartre (Jean-Paul) and changed one gospel for another (Paul -> Luke/Luc) you got the first name of the "Next Generation" captain. (Jean-Luc Picard). But it appears I got my gospels/apostles/whatever all mixed up.

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  42. Guess who just got off the phone will Will & Linda :D

    Got "The Call" yesterday (and just after I whined about missing it last time). The recording was today, I guess it'll be on Sunday.

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  43. DT:
    Congrats, I am sincerely happy for you, but I think something is very odd about you getting the call again, and so soon. I remember a few years back when they announced that the winner had missed the call the previous week. This makes me think they do not pick the winners randomly as they insist they do.
    Sorry if this seems cynical, but if we have never had a president who could tell us the truth, and congress is even worse, not to mention corporations, Wall Street and the media, then someone will have to give me a damn good reason why I should trust NPR.

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  44. DT - I always assumed that 3:00 Thursday was 'showtime'. Apparently not. Can you share the details of the call or is it a trade secret that may cost you your life?

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  45. @skydiveboy: Consider this - this week's Star Trek puzzle was so easy that it took me less than 15 minutes to solve (including the time it took to write the program that spit out the answer) after I read it from NPR's web site Saturday night. So my answer was in early, and I got a reciept from their robo-mailer timestamped 7:59pm EST. Perhaps the "random selection" is "first correct answer in the queue"? I can't say. The first call I got (with my phone off) was back in March. I checked my old emails, and I hadn't submitted the answer to *that* one until Sunday. So who knows. The one thing I do know about true randomness is that sometimes it doesn't seem random at all... you *can* get ten heads in a row.

    @Tommy Boy: Thursday about three I was looking at the clock, and thinking "if they're going to call, now would be the time", when the phone rang :) There was a nice young lady on the other end (whose name, alas, I have forgotten) who told me I'd won, and asked me if I'd ever played before (I'm guessing if I'd said yes, that would have been that), my address for my prizes, what I did for a living, how long I'd been playing the puzzle, and maybe one or two other things. She said that I'd be playing today at 12:45 (they'd call me), and one reason they called beforehand was so people didn't get cold-called to play the puzzle. Makes sense to me.

    Today she called back, and I was recorded. Before the recording Will said he had two puzzles, the first having to do with Geography - at which point I screamed "Anything but geography!!" :D That's my Kryptonite. So he said I get what's behind door #2... and IMHO I think I got a pretty easy puzzle. I'll let you guys be the judge :)

    I did get to hear what next week's puzzle is! No, I'm not sharing. I don't want to put those "Grammar Girl" books at risk :) :) :)

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  46. DT:
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    I solved the puzzle right after it was posted, but I solve them the hard way. Since the answer was near the end of the alphabet it took me about 25 or 30 minutes, and I got it as soon as I saw the name of the show. I waited a very short time and then submitted the answer and my reply is time dated 5:18:26.
    More to the point is that the recent puzzle with Helmet Kohl being the answer, since I saw the puzzle posted the very minute it came out and i solved it as I was reading it and then submitted my answer immediately, this tells me that I must have been the first person to send in an answer. I do not believe they pay any attention to order received. I have thought many times about how they might go about choosing, and I think they are probably reasonably fair, but just how in the world do they place the entries? That is the big question for me. I could go on and tell you stories of contests having to do with jobs I worked at and how they were all corrupt, but I don't really have the time right now. :)
    Consider this: If they kept your number and called you at a later date/week, after you missed the call, then they could justify that in a way, but that means all the rest of us who sent in answers were just wasting our time. Since they are no longer awarding the hard copy dictionary, (the ONLY reason I keep entering) I don't really care that much. I do not want to play the puzzle on the air and have no desire for the other prizes, including the pin. I do care about ethics however, and would like more information on just how they actually function.

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  47. Hey everyone,

    Because we were both in Providence for a puzzle convention, I had the pleasure of joining Will Shortz in the radio studio for the taping of this week's show.

    I wrote about it here:
    http://www.benbassandbeyond.com/2011/07/puzzling-weekend.html

    If you're as avid a listener as I am, you might enjoy it.

    Blaine, congratulations on getting on-air props for your blog the other week. I thought that was pretty great.

    Best,
    Original Ben

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  48. DT,
    Janice and I had a similar experience two years ago. Within a few months of having missed "the call", we were called again and Janice got to play on the air (although she was not given a choice of one-air puzzles). It seems clear that the "random" selection process includes some form of special considerations for those who missed their initial call. Perhaps they are placed in a separate pool which is used only if the randomly selected winner cannot be contacted.

    Looking forward to the replay of your performance on Sunday! You may find that your responses may have been edited slightly to "improve" on what I'm sure was already a stellar performance.

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  49. @Ben, Congratulations on getting another one of your puzzles selected as the weekly challenge. I wonder why they neglected to note that on the website? Will said it on the air, though. And thanks for the "behind the scenes" account of what happens during the taping.

    While we are on the topic, I'm curious how much editing Will does when you submit a puzzle. Did he call the show "classic" or did you? Did you mention the word lengths? Did you call Sartre a writer?

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  50. Ben:
    I stopped by the puzzle convention breakfast here last year, where i live, in Seattle, where it never stops raining, on the morning of the last day, a Sunday, (yes, even in Seattle!) to hand deliver a puzzle suggestion to him, but he was not there. (Hangover?) I had to leave and open a magic shop, so I left it in a sealed envelope with a barely awake attendee, who promised to deliver it to Will should he arrive. I do not believe Will ever got it because it is a super puzzle, and not too difficult to solve either, but I have never heard back from him. I sure wish I had a direct email address for the dude.

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  51. My musical clue refered to the fact that Robert Wise directed both The Sound of Music & Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

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  52. I had thought of Star Trek, but I couldn't put together a writer. I have never heard of Sartre. Damn.

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  53. Blaine, I had a puzzle selected (8/21/08) and I can tell you Will does A LOT of editing.

    Here's what I submitted:

    Take the two-letter postal abbreviations for three U.S. states. Add the letter A. Then add the two-letter postal abbreviations from three more states. You'll have 13 letters in all. Reading from left to right, you'll get a phrase that's been used as a title for a book, a TV show and a movie.

    Go back and check out the edit job.

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  54. Regarding my clue above: "I too have written to NPR wanting to play but have never been called. I'm trying to be philosophical about that."

    I think of Sartre more as a "play" wright (written) and philosopher.

    I have actually never sent in my answer to NPR.

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  55. Okay everyone, the new puzzle is out, but not entirely either.

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  56. If you don't get the answer right away, let it incubate awhile before admitting defeat.

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  57. Blaine wrote:

    "While we are on the topic, I'm curious how much editing Will does when you submit a puzzle. Did he call the show "classic" or did you? Did you mention the word lengths? Did you call Sartre a writer?"

    Good questions. This time he didn't really edit the puzzle much. I called it a classic TV show and also chose to call Sartre a writer (I figured philosopher or playwright would give too much away). It was Will who gave the word lengths, although after the taping was over he remarked that he might have preferred to leave the word lengths out, presumably because he thought that made it too easy.

    Last year Will edited a puzzle I submitted. The version he aired was much improved over the original. I wrote about it here:

    http://www.benbassandbeyond.com/2010/07/from-npl-to-npr.html

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