Saturday, June 08, 2013

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 2, 2013): I've got 3 words for you...

Merl Reagle, courtesy Norwalk Citizen
NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 2, 2013): I've got 3 words for you...:
Q: Can you name three common three-letter words that are all synonyms and which together consist of nine different letters of the alphabet? Here's a hint: The letters A and O are not used.
Merl Reagle is one of my favorite puzzle constructors, so I can't add much to this puzzle. If I have the right words, you can rearrange the nine letters to form a pair of words that could be considered synonyms.

Edit: I figured the words had to use the remaining vowels of E, I and U so came up with CUT, HEW and NIP which could be anagrammed to INPUT and CHEW. Others had Merl's intended answer
A: BUG, IRK, VEX

134 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 a chain of thought, or an internet search) 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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    1. Hmm... I guess my answer is not the intended answer then.

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    2. When I put my three words in to the Wordsmith anagram solver, it only shows 1 solution that uses all 9 letters, the 3 original words.

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    3. When are we allowed to give solutions, Blaine? After sun crosses international date line for 3 PM thurs?

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    4. fly jet zip is what i sent in, no call

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  3. I just solved the puzzle, went back to re-read enya and al's hint, and it was removed. That's so annoying.

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    1. And I just went to check what I thought were Scrabble word points in your clue later on the blog and your clue was gone, JB. It was by your hand this time. Indeed, annoying, nonetheless.

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    2. W.W.
      On one of the correct word clumps you can add the two lesser scrabble scores to equal the third. It's unfortunately not a combined 42 which after considerable effort pretty well hacks me off. :-(

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    3. WW - I immediately realized that too much info could be inferred from the value of the point scores.

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    4. But it is annoying, NTL. JB, just because we know vowels are 1 point each? I would say it's not TMI.

      Zeke Creek, so you are annoyed in a different way, FT.

      It will be interesting to see how Will scores this as I have three answers now, and others have even more.

      Conclusion: three letter puzzles are hard to vet. And Merl may be a great crossword dude, but the constraining clues of across and down lead to a unique (usually) solution. This puzzle does not have that constraint.

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  4. I came up with an answer. Three words that have multiple meanings; however, they could all be synonyms. Wouldn't surprise me if there are multiple answers.

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  5. I believe I have solved it, but when it comes to three letter words, let's just say there are a lot of them, and I would suggest that nobody knows how many possible answers we may see.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, a plethora of multiple choices. "Synonym" leaves the door wide open. I have found at least two solutions.

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    1. LOL! Fast work, Blaine, and thank you!

      ---Rob

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  7. Did anyone bother to find the same answer as I did?

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    Replies
    1. If my esp is working properly, I would say yes.

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    2. I already came up with the same answer as you, Leo. Don't worry, others will come up with it, too.

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    3. Yes, see my comment below.

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    4. I know it's annoying, but do you think that is the intended answer? One word doubles as a noun and a verb.

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    5. I think you've got the right answer, Leo. It is the only one I could find where all three words are clearly listed as synonyms in the dictionary.

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    6. But, by definition, synonyms need not be listed in a dictionary but more likely in a thesaurus. Last week we were tasked with finding two words that meant the same thing. This week same-ish will do.

      And, Zeke, 42 ;-)

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  8. There is something very interesting about 2 of the 3 words in my solution.

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  9. While eating synonym toast for breakfast, I wondered why so many of the most common expletives are 4 letters. Any ideas?

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    1. One would want a good expletive to be short, which doesn't explain the 4 letters, but does explain the one syllable. One doesn't typically exclaim "Excrement!", when a shorter word will do(o doo). I'm pooped just typing that.

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    2. M€rd€! The one syllable idea works for sure, David, in other languages too.

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    3. I seem to recall reading an article quite some time ago which theorized that certain speech sounds have a tension-relieving effect.
      So why not:
      Aum you, you aum-auming aumaumer!
      ?
      ****
      I just checked out where some of the frayed ends of this thread lead.
      Oh well, I didn't create this world, I just live here.

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    4. One little known fact was the Charles Darwin wrote a book about his job as an animal tracker, called "On the Origin of Faeces".

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    5. Paul, I think a hard, last sound like k or t would fit the tension-relieving quality.

      David, the fossilized poop police in Darwin, Australia, might object, according to Cop Rolite.

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    6. So dave, are the words interesting because one can be a verb to act on one of the other words and that word can be an action word for the third?

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    7. Ro Ro, I don't want to say too much before Thursday, because it might be too much of a hint. It involves the 2nd and 3rd word alphabetically.

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    8. Arrange the words alphabetically? There might be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

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    9. Conversely, I'm getting a bad vibe here.

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    10. I liked these colorful clues, Bob & Jan. May I offer you a biverage? ;-)

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  10. I found an answer that appears to meet the stated requirements. However, the nine letters do not anagram into two words that could be considered synonyms.

    Chuck

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I may not have the same 3 words.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. I now have 5 solutions, one requiring a liberal sense of "synonym."

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  12. Feeling not too klutzy. I probably came up with HRH Blaine's answer.

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  13. I still can't hit on a clever clue that is not a give-away.

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    Replies
    1. How about Neville Chamberlain quoting his father at Munich?

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  14. I now have a second answer that fits.

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  15. Since I came up with my first answer, a clue to which I posted, along with the quote of the puzzle near the end of last week's thread, but which was later nuked by Blaine; I've since then come up with 3 more answers, two of which, if all answers have their words listed in alphabetical order, start with the SAME TWO WORDS!! Their last words use the same vowel, albeit in different positions, but different consonants.

    Anyway, to those who can figure out that clue, select and copy the two crypto-paragraphs below, then click on this link to Sharky's Vigenere Cipher, paste them into the "Input:" field, then enter ALL FOUR WORDS involved with my two answers above, listed alphabetically, into the "Key:" field, then click "decode", and if you've guessed my answers correctly the "Output:" field will make sense.

    Ucohv wwg'ko krtlfhkjg sjoavgx nd rlaitba, L euo sfu zqkoio vbby dw mmgvqht xfqvrmp eyaw yut:

    Xf, lwfwsv' pqlf yf ylp qeb wjy vxlyt btz bdne. Tt vtmdnlwga, zphlq gajb KKK, ninei wr hmwukhh f gczrtmb WGH, bsu U'CB pca!!!


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    1. I missed your previous clue, but now I didn't(!) -- Vigenere is appropriately strong when the key length is unknown (ideally, not even a dictionary word)... but it's weak especially when the key length is known.

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  16. Two of the words are movie titles and one is the last name of a movie actor.

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    1. My three must be different because only one is a movie title and none is an actor's last name.

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    2. Charles this clue is driving me mad. I must figure out this answer. Will you please tell me? katehalms@yahoo.com. I don't plan to submit, I just have been trying to figure this out for hours!

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    3. I agree with Kate, having come up with two movie titles which aren't synonyms and no 3-letter last name. Ruth is frustrated.

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    4. Charles, were you thinking a movie named Bug?

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    5. According to IMDB, there are movies entitled 'Bug' and 'Vex' and actors named Irk.

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  17. This puzzle ate at me all day, until I finally got the answer. Spent longer than I care to admit staring at a list of 350 or so candidate words.

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    1. 350?! Yikes! Using Occam's Razor, I shaved my list down to just 232 words. But then, I was only searching for the most probable answer, not all possible asnwers.

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  18. Take the set of words most of us have been describing, in alphabetical order {x, y, z}. Another possible answer uses three different words, in alphabetical order {m, n, o}, in which m is a type of x.

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    1. Sounds like a heckuvalotta fun, if only I knew which set of words most of us have been describing.
      Hell, I'd settle for who 'most of us' are.
      Or an ultra-precise definition of 'describing'.

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    2. I should be more specific. The first set is the answer Leo and John Brown have in mind.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. Et al. , as responses are "enriched" for certain clue words, which is particularly strong at hinting for synonym puzzles. That is, no one clue gives it away, but a population of clues does. I've been wondering how hard it would be to write a workable script to analyze this!

      I liked your clue, Cam, as it helped me figure out your second set of words, which was only possible when knowing the first.

      (EDIT: Moved my "Deleted" response up here to respond directly to Cam)

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. I think I've quickly cracked the code and now see a connection with last week's puzzle.

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  21. I've got two solutions. The first anagrams to a two word term for Glinda from The Wizard of Oz and the second reminds me of Toto .

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    1. Tommy, I look forward to hearing the thought process behind your clue on Thursday, because either I'm way off or I have no real understanding of Glinda's true self.

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    2. Ruth, Glinda's true self was played by 53-year-old Billie Burke, which is interesting.;-)

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    3. Ruth, the most common phrase describes Glinda as the opposite of her sister. I used a less common adjective, though still appropriate.

      I am looking forward to hearing the solutions at 3:00. Mine work but I'm sure there is something out there more eloquent.

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  22. One of the solutions anagrams to a two word saying for sorrow as it applies to firearms.
    Zeke :-(

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  23. Some of these clues are way more puzzling than the puzzle itself, but after applying Blaine's hint to what I came up with - assuming he's right - I'm ready to submit and put this agitation behind me. Until next week anyway.

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  24. I enjoyed Mr. Reagle’s three three-letter word challenge this week. It was different, I guess.
    The most puzzling thing about the puzzle, however, is how many solutions Will will accept as correct. If I were a bookie I’d set the “over/under” at five acceptable solutions. I’ve come up with four that are plausible, and I am certain I missed at least one or two others. As other bloggers have noted above, there are myriads of three-letter words, many with multiple and often obscure or slang meanings. If the puzzle allowed an “a” and “o” to be used, the number of solutions would double, perhaps triple.
    Incidentally I am pretty sure that two of my plausible solutions are not what Mr. Reagle had in mind because neither includes a “u,” and he did not restrict the use of a “u” in his “hint” (which was really not a hint but a restriction).
    Still, it was fun but frustrating to come up with three qualifying words that, while not synonymous, did fall into the same category, much like on the final round of the $10,000 Pyramid (yeah, I know, that dates me), such as “things that contain liquids” or “terms for baby creatures.” Other times I would stall out after finding two of the three synonyms needed. Four such stall-outs involved words pertaining to organized sports, fishing, hot rod engines, and the vertically challenged.

    Lego…

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  25. My Aunt thinks this one is a pain, but like some of you I too have two distinct and seprate answers to the puzzle!

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  26. My Aunt loves Will, but dislikes Zeke. She's a hard one to figure out

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  27. bug, try, vex

    My hint: Neville Chamberlain quoting his father at Munich re-his forte in maintaining peace: "If at first you don't succeed, TRY TRY TRY again"!

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  28. cut, hew, rip

    Excerpts from Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary –

    Cut – 3 b (2): fell, hew

    Hew – 1: to cut with blows of a heavy cutting instrument

    Rip – 2: to slash or slit with a sharp blade.

    Chuck

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  29. BUG
    IRK
    VEX

    ALSO:

    BUY
    GET
    WIN

    &

    CUT
    HEW
    RIP


    My Hints:

    “I still can't hit on a clever clue that is not a give-away.”
    Hit can be a synonym of WIN.

    “I now have a second answer that fits.”
    Cut to fit.

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  30. An auction may be the only context in which BUY/GET/WIN really works. If I were one of the answer-submitting lot, I would have submitted Roy G's answer a few minutes ago.
    Interested in seeing Blaine's answer.

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  31. To go hastily: RUN / FLY / HIE
    ---Rob

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  32. Rip, cut, hew

    Vex, irk, bug

    Buy, get, win (very loosely synonym-y)

    Witch is interesting. . .

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  33. Cut, hew and rip anagram to pure witch , a reference to Glinda, the good witch.

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  34. I came up with bug/irk/vex but was horribly lazy in coming up with a good clue. Maybe next week...

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  35. Some possible answers. All words are verbs.

    BUG irk vex
    BUG try vex
    DUN irk vex
    DUN try vex
    FLY hie run
    FLY jet zip
    FLY run jet
    FLY run zip
    LEG run zip

    I suspect VEX is one of the intended words.

    Blaine's? and my original. Nouns this time.

    BUM end tip

    The most fun for me because of the coincidence and 2 word anagram DUMB, INEPT which I clued with KLUTZY and HRH for the Brit word.

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  36. IRK and VEX are ROT13s (ROTs13) of each other. (My 3rd was BUG.)

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  37. When I tried to see how common my synonyms were, I found http://pinterest.com/pin/3940718393868461/

    About the book Bad Science one year ago Zac Bloom posted
    ▪ He is irked, vexed, bugged, ticked off at the sometimes inadvertent (because of stupidity) but more often deliberate deceptions perpetrated in the name of science.

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  38. I posted on Sun Jun 02, at 02:52:00 PM PDT:

    Since I came up with my first answer, a clue to which I posted, along with the quote of the puzzle near the end of last week's thread, but which was later nuked by Blaine; I've since then come up with 3 more answers, two of which, if all answers have their words listed in alphabetical order, start with the SAME TWO WORDS!! Their last words use the same vowel, albeit in different positions, but different consonants.

    Anyway, to those who can figure out that clue, select and copy the two crypto-paragraphs below, then click on this link to Sharky's Vigenere Cipher, paste them into the "Input:" field, then enter ALL FOUR WORDS involved with my two answers above, listed alphabetically, into the "Key:" field, then click "decode", and if you've guessed my answers correctly the "Output:" field will make sense.

    Ucohv wwg'ko krtlfhkjg sjoavgx nd rlaitba, L euo sfu zqkoio vbby dw mmgvqht xfqvrmp eyaw yut:

    Xf, lwfwsv' pqlf yf ylp qeb wjy vxlyt btz bdne. Tt vtmdnlwga, zphlq gajb KKK, ninei wr hmwukhh f gczrtmb WGH, bsu U'CB pca!!!

    If you enter those two crypto-paragraphs above, then enter "CUB, FRY, IMP, KID" into the "Key:" field, then click the "Decode:" button, the "Output:" field becomes:

    Since you've correctly guessed my answers, I can now reveal that my earlier deleted post was:

    So, nothin' more to add but the usual pep talk. So everybody, focus your CHI, think of scoring a perfect TEN, and W'UP ass!!!


    In a 3x3 grid, make rows of those 3 words in my clue:

    ╔═╤═╦═╤═╦═╤═╗
    ╟─C─╫─H─╫─I─╢
    ╠═╪═╬═╪═╬═╪═╣
    ╟─T─╫─E─╫─N─╢
    ╠═╪═╬═╪═╬═╪═╣
    ╟─W─╫─U─╫─P─╢
    ╚═╧═╩═╧═╩═╧═╝

    Swap 2 letters in the bottom row,

    ╔═╤═╦═╤═╦═╤═╗
    ╟─C─╫─H─╫─I─╢
    ╠═╪═╬═╪═╬═╪═╣
    ╟─T─╫─E─╫─N─╢
    ╠═╪═╬═╪═╬═╪═╣
    ╟─U─╫─W─╫─P─╢
    ╚═╧═╩═╧═╩═╧═╝

    Then do a vertical adjacent swap in the left- and right-most columns.

    ╔═╤═╦═╤═╦═╤═╗
    ╟─C─╫─H─╫─N─╢
    ╠═╪═╬═╪═╬═╪═╣
    ╟─U─╫─E─╫─I─╢
    ╠═╪═╬═╪═╬═╪═╣
    ╟─T─╫─W─╫─P─╢
    ╚═╧═╩═╧═╩═╧═╝

    And then my answer words read down in the 3 columns.

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  39. I still think BUG, IRK, VEX is the most correct answer, but it's hard to argue with this entry in my 1971 Roget's Pocket Thesaurus: "44. Disjunction - divide, sunder, subdivide,...cut, chop, saw, snip, nip,... rip, split,... hew, slash,..."

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  40. I had fly, jet and zip. "Quickly Crack the code" referred to zip code. Connection to last week's answer was jet/giant (football).

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  41. I had sir, men and guy as well as bug, irk and vex. Try, vex and bug also works.
    At the end of last week's blog; "Looking forward to the rehash of the give away sermon/ sir men.
    Firearm sorrow. the anagram of sir men guy is gun misery.
    Bug + irk = vex. In scrabble math it's 6 + 7 = 13.

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  42. This puzzle irked, vexed and bugged me with all the possible answers.

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  43. I too had a "try" at many other combinations, but vex, irk, and bug is by far the best answer! So be still with your hew (hue) and cry!

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  44. what about: set, fix and dry

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  45. So many good answers. Mine was Fly / Hip / New.

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  46. Replies
    1. Yes, I hope AbqGuerrilla was not irked, bugged or vexed enough to rip, cut, or hew ties. Miss ya, AbqG.

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    2. Last I heard he was attending joke school. No joke.

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    3. Give us a good sir men guy. :-)

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    4. Sir
      Men
      Guy

      Wow! Did you get the call, Zeke?

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    5. No, but my wife liked it for a prefather's day appeal.

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    6. Come
      Dian

      Sounds like some 4-letter words in joke school. Any puns?

      Haha
      Abqg

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    7. What degree do you get from joke school?

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    8. With any luck you might get a degree of respect.

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    9. I heard that earned respect is spelled, giveit.

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  47. G. Gee told me it was Bama. ;-)
    I'm anticipating a Brown out.

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    1. So Gordy is leaving Ohio State after some foot-in-mouth comments. He left Brown after only two years yet still seemed to have popularity as a Pres. along the way. Was it the bowties? Was it bagging books at the bookstore? Gee, we may never know.

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    2. Met him several years ago. Rather bodacious, but I believe that's a requirement for a full time fundraiser. Very likeable in spite of his off the cuff comments.

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    3. Bowdacious? ;-)

      Thinking about a way to limit the answer solutions to this puzzle. What if other constraints are 1) no Y can be used AND 2) one of the three words may be used only as a verb, 3)the other two may be verbs OR nouns. Does that get us closer to a unique solution of vex (verb only), irk, and bug?

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    4. It does not appear that they will sever all ties. He can still raise the do re mi.

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    5. So fa anyway.

      Interesting to follow his career at U of Colorado, Brown, Ohio State. The Catholic/ND remark may have tipped his la ti do, though.

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  48. OK so all the answers are in--so what words can be formed from the answer to make two more words that are synonyms?? as per Blaine's clue and where is Blaine with the official answer?

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    1. Well, BUM, END, TIP can be rearranged to spell DUMB and INEPT...

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    2. What's the guess on how many word sets Will will mention? I'll go with three.

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    3. I would guess he will give his intended answer and then say there were several other, including ... (and then give one more).

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    4. Could CHEW and INPUT be considered synonymous? That's what you could get from CUT, HEW, & NIP.

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  49. New puzzle is up.

    Next week's challenge: Name a movie in two words — five letters in each word. Both words start with vowels. Take one letter in the first word, move it two spaces later in the alphabet, and rearrange the result. You'll get the second word in the movie's title. What movie is it?

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    1. ARRRRGGGHHH!!!! - The new puzzle is SO EASY it actually makes me mad!!!

      If I were to explain why A LOT of people will solve this one, of course Blaine would nuke it; - but believe me, A LOT of people will solve this one; AND they'll be saying to themselves "Why couldn't Will have...." -- and OF COURSE, if I completed that question - which EVERYONE will ask themselves, then of course again Blaine would nuke this post!!

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  50. Such tight constraints! Is this challenge one of the great works of art? Or is it more like a bawdy joke? Can Will worm his way out of this one?

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  51. Zae fhfk lbmxqzxul xmmawda wvwe bal szaplj owgasuv? Vhf fpxf tq ikyszoxk la nhye m zxswhiga oazw?

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    Replies
    1. What am I doing wrong? I figured the encryption key would be the movie title.

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    2. Maybe you're not doing anything wrong and I am.

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  52. Merle's answer really was the best.

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  53. I'm going to bury it here, but I was able to "crack" Vigenere clues the last 2 weeks as a fun exercise, which is easy with various tools and the nature of the messages/keys. Parts of short keys (contiguous letters) can be guessed by word frequency and sentence structure almost as easily as a substitution cipher. Surprisingly, the top cracking tools only get part of it (enough to help) but seemingly could be improved.

    For better obfuscation, I would suggest stronger encryption. Or ignore/delete this. Cheers!

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    Replies
    1. IMHO, 'fun exercise' is the whole idea, here.

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  54. Agreed! Didn't mean to suggest otherwise, and I think it is neat and fun to "crack" Vigenere clues. Just wanted to note that some tools can get you close to the answer, and it can be easy with short keys ("Smith"), and especially with known key lengths (e.g., the previous week used 3-letter words). If you like cryptography, it can be a fun but revealing challenge to crack it.

    Longer keys, which are clues themselves, perhaps, are more tedious and potentially secure.

    Game on!

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