Thursday, September 11, 2008

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 7): You'll Figure it out in the End

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 7): You'll Figure it out in the End:
Q: Kris Kristofferson's last name starts with his four-letter first name. Can you name a famous American whose last name ends with his four-letter first name? Hint: The last name has seven letters.
Note: It is easy to overlook that the last name ends with the letters in his first name, so rather than MARK MARKHAM, you should be looking for names like MARK WIDMARK (not the answer).

Edit: Check the comments for clues like "jump" and "wicked" (homonym for "evil" = "evel")
A: Motorcycle Daredevil EVEL KNIEVEL


  1. So we're looking for something like Jean Valjean? Wait, that's the answer! I gave away the answer and it's still Sunday morning!

    No wait, Jean Valjean wasn't a famous American; he was French. And he wasn't even a real person... Never mind.

    Good luck everyone.

  2. I have a problem with "famous";
    McCain is famous (or infamous).
    I think "well known" is more
    accurate for this person. That
    is if there's a difference be-
    tween "famous" and "well known."

  3. Anyone want to provide a clue? Kind of a stumper this week.

  4. Ben, I'm not even sure the answer I came up with is the answer...

    It certainly fits the description so maybe it's what Will wants. Hard to find a way to give you a hint without making it too easy.

    If I knew you were religious (and especially if you were Catholic) I would encourage you to go to your church and seek divine inspiration. Maybe later you could reward yourself with something as decadent as a burger and some fries...

    And what the heck is the answer to your Olympic athlete puzzle?

  5. Would it be too much of a hint to suggest whether the person is alive or dead? I struggled with this one for a while. Based on Carl's clue, I think there may be more than one answer; I don't see my answer suggested by the clue.


  6. I am so frustrated by the puzzle I'm going to jump!

  7. The person I came up with died
    June 7, 2008, but did not make
    it into any of the obituaries on
    the internet. He IS on Wikipedia.

    Perhaps his "fame" is regional.

    Al, Don't jump yet. Try making
    a list of four-letter first names.

  8. Thanks for the hints, everyone.

    Carl, it was not I but apparently the other Ben who presented the Olympic puzzle. I have come up with several puzzles recently, but none related to the Olympics.

    I haven't posted any of mine here, but maybe if I submit them to Will Shortz for his consideration and he passes, I will do so.

  9. p.s. I still have no clue what the answer is. For someone who solves it before Will's done explaining the puzzle maybe 1/3 of the time, weeks like this are pretty humbling! :)

  10. Geri, you came up with the same person I did.

    Ben, I think it's only a matter of TIME until you figure out my clues. I honestly think it might make a difference what posture you adopt in order to ask your deity for help on this one... And then you really will have earned the privilege of a big, tasty burger.

    Michael, I'd love to know your alternate answer...

    Al, I don't think it's anyone from Van Halen.

  11. I think you guys came up with a different answer than I did. I came up with someone who actually changed his name so that it rhymed with his last name. No parent would give a kid this for a first name - it's too wicked.

  12. The more I think about "famous" for
    the person Carl and I came up with
    the more I think it's someone else
    that Will expects.

    Peachnettie, Is your person "FAMOUS"
    or even well known?

    Carl, your clues are super.

  13. Al and Peachnettie are thinking of the same person I am. If you snake through their clues you'll figure out the answer to this week's diabolical puzzle. He was living, until recently (Nov. 2007). If it helps, his mother was nicknamed "Zippy" :-)

  14. I just figured out the second one. There are at least two correct answers.

  15. The person I came up with is certainly well-known. Even my dad had heard of him!

  16. Peachnettie, WOW! Your "wicked"
    clue did it. Your answer CERTAINLY
    covers the FAMOUS problem I was
    having. There is NO DOUBT that he is famous. CONGRATULATIONS.

    Carl, We tried.

  17. Geri, Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines "famous" as widely known and honored for achievement. He fits those criteria and then some, depending on the circle queried. I've long had the understanding there are lots of people who are considered famous of whom I'm not aware.

    I'm certainly open to the notion that Will had someone else in mind but, if so, he's an acceptable stand-in.

    While typing this I became aware of the identity of Peachnettie's famous person; he could well be the answer. Interestingly enough he died just a few months before the guy we came up with.

    I wonder if the name just leaped into her consciousness, or if it kinda lumbered into the forefront of her thoughts like a semi-truck...

    And now I see that Al's comment was indeed a hint. Sometimes I feel like there's a huge chasm between my thought processes and the desired solution, and there's no way I can get to the other side quickly...

  18. I did figure out the second person from the clues. I must admit I hadn't heard of him but he could definitely qualify as famous.

  19. I'm on the same page as Peachnettie and Al. Curious to know who the second person is.

  20. Michael, For the second person Carl
    has great clues he posted Tuesday,
    9-9-08 at 07:44:00 AM PDT. Think
    especially about the burger and the
    church routine. Also think about
    four-letter first names and three
    letters to precede the repeated
    first name in the last name. It's
    always so easy when the answer is
    known. The burger clue refers to
    the three letters.

  21. Whoever got the answer from the 'wicked' clue might want to check the spelling...We thought this was the answer too, but now we're not too sure.

  22. Regarding the "wicked" person, the spelling works according to the NY Times, wikipedia and the person's official web site.

    Still stumped on the "burger" person.

  23. I still think it's Jean Valjean. No, but seriously, if Will had asked for a fictitious person, of indeterminate origin, it could have made for some fun clues...

  24. Michael- You were right! I went to a site that had the wrong spelling. Thanks.

  25. Okay, one more (at least) anagram puzzle. Think of two words of five letters each. The first word is an adjective describing the second word, a physical location. Rearrange the letters of these two words to come up with another two five-letter words, which are also an adjective describing a physical location, and which have essentially the same meaning.

    HINT: It's not somewhere you'd want to have a picnic.

  26. This is "the other Ben." And I did indeed have an Olympic puzzle on which Will passed.

    So I'm posting it one more time. And then I'll post the answer right here, on Friday at noon.

    (And, by the way, I also got the wicked one this week. I don't dwell much around burgers or the Catholic church.)

    Here's my Olympic puzzler:

    With his breakout performance in the 2008 Olympics, Usain Bolt has become one of the top sprinters of all time. He also joins a club more beloved to word geeks – famous athletes whose last name relates directly to their athletic talent. Tiger Woods is another such famous athlete.

    Think of a third such famous athlete. In this case, the athlete’s last name has a homophone, specifically an alternate spelling with the same pronunciation, that relates to the athlete’s talent.

    Also in this instance, the homophone of the athlete’s last name is an anagram of the athlete’s first name.

    Who is this famous athlete and what is the homophone?


  27. Michael, What do some congregations
    do while they pray? It's a homophone of the first name.

  28. p.s. Although he's been labeled
    "famous" you probably have never
    heard of him.

  29. I realize my puzzle is kinda tough so I'm gonna offer some more hints, concerning the two words I started with.

    The adjective might sound kind of cheesy, especially if you're Mediterranean.

    And the physical location is a word that's not used much. There's a much more common word (not a synonym), for a place seen by many as objectionable or nasty, that starts with the same three letters. For that word, think of cypress trees... commuting by boat...

  30. I give up on the "burger" person. Looks like the entry deadline has passed - what's the name?

  31. Pray in church --> kneel
    Large burger --> (big) mac

  32. Never heard of Neil MacNeil. Got Evel, though. I would think Will is going for the latter. Oh well, didn't get a call from NPR.

  33. I concur... and no call here either.

  34. i did! i'm going to give a shout out to your blog, Blaine!! :)

    - cwd

  35. err i meant i'm playing tomorrow!!!! i can't believe it!

  36. Whoa! I've never met an actual winner! You'll have to give us a "behind the scenes" report on what it is like.

  37. haha! yeah! i couldn't believe it. i was working really hard on something when i heard the phone ring and saw "Natl Pub Rad" on the caller ID!

    i went through a short interview where i was asked when and where i listen, how long i've played, if i had any interesting things about myself re: moving or anything new in my life (i mentioned a possible move to india but withdrew that because work people might hear the broadcast), what i did for a job, etc. also, i was given tips about playing with Will and Leanne (sp?). have pen and paper ready if i need it. if i'm called at work, not to involve coworkers to get the answers, etc. they'll call tomorrow and i'll have a short convo with Will and LeAnne, and then i'll be introduced on-air. sometimes i do well when i play, sometimes i'm h_o_r_r_i_b_l_e.

    oh well, i guess i'm still entitled to my remaining 13 or 14 minutes of fame after this is all over :)

  38. Coolness, a winner right here on the blog. Your name reminds me of some good friends from several years ago who lived on a very nice large school bus named "cognito." So when they went down the road they were traveling...

  39. Someday I'd just like to *see* a Weekend Edition lapel pin...

  40. Congrats to Minn from here as well.

    Here is a final clue for my Olympic puzzler, the answer to which I'll post tomorrow.

    The athlete I'm looking for was actually interviewed on a National Public Radio show earlier today (Thursday)!


    The Other Ben

  41. Kudos minncognito!!!

    I hope Neil MacNeil gets some
    publicity on Sunday.

  42. if they won't let me do a shout-out to this blog, i'll try to work in some puzzle humor, regardless.

    when they ask me how i'm doing, i'll say something like "i'm excited and pumped to be on the show today. who wouldn't be? that's the real puzzle."

    hahah...i need to think of more of those...i only have 3 hours!

  43. i'll post them on my website and send a link or something, sure! :)

  44. Hey minnie, maybe you could work in a reference to my favorite wrong answer: Jean Valjean...

    Anyway, have some fun and kick some (metaphorically speaking) ass.

  45. And in case someone actually has been trying to solve my recent puzzle (don't keep reading if you still want to figure it out for yourself!), the solution is: FETID SWALE becomes WASTE FIELD.

    Not as fun maybe as my previous ones but hey, I was bored...

  46. Minncognito:
    1) Any idea on the number of correct submissions this week?
    2) Could you ask them to announce/publish that number each week? It was always interesting to know that in the past as a gauge of the difficulty, and how lucky one could feel if called.
    3) What is your website link?

  47. 1- i think it was something like 400 correct answers this week

    2 - sure, i'll try (i have to keep my quips, jokes, jean valjean, and so many other things top-of-mind to squeeze them into my short convo :)

    3 - i'll be able to provide a link after i get the schwag and take photos of it and stuff. i'll post the link on this same thread.

  48. It's funny, Blaine, but after you said you'd just like to see a Weekend Edition Lapel Pin I started searching the web for an image of one. I thought it might be relatively easy to find a photo or graphic representation of it on the internet. I looked and looked.

    So, minncognito, you'd be filling a serious void if you actually posted some pictures.

  49. And the real question, in light of the ongoing Presidential campaign, is this --

    - Is Barack Obama willing to wear the Weekend Edition lapel pin? And, if not, why does he hate our country?


  50. WOW!!!!!
    Here's how it went down:]

    the assistant i spoke to yesterday called me again today, and an engineer had me describe the weather here today, so they could test the quality of the phone line. then, i spoke to LeAnne, and she was really, really nice. we spoke about her time here in MN years ago, and she mentioned how much she loved visiting the midwest, especially a friend in neighboring Wisconsin.

    they patched Will in from his home, where he was waiting for some lawn services to be completed (you could hear them distlantly in the background). while we waited, LeAnne and Will discussed a crossword or puzzle that had been featured recently, and also mentioned that one of the winners was a really young player. i asked them if i could give a shout-out to the folks on this blog, and they said i sure could, but they weren't sure if it would stay in the finished broadcast. i emphasized how much everyone here loves playing the Sunday Puzzle, and when LeAnne asked if i did anything other than the puzzle, i said no, but i know lots of people from this blog love everything from Sodoku, the NY Times crossword, etc. they both thought that was really cool. i also asked if they would mention the number of correct responses each week, though they sometimes do. LeAnne mentioned they alwasy try to, but putting the finishing touches on the show and rest of NPR programming is always very hectic when it gets down to the wire and sometimes they're not included. she thought it was cool that people (esp people on this blog) wanted to know. soon after that, we were underway with the show.

    when i came on, they asked how long it took me to solve the puzzle...i said 4 days or something. then, i was asked how i did it. to be honest, the clues from this site helped me out with this one. i said something about doing combinations of names, goign through each letter of the alphabet, keeping in mind people from popular culture who were recently in the news, etc.

    i'm happy with my performance during the actual puzzles, but there's just two or so i missed. LeAnne was a good partner in picking up the ones i was unsure of. both LeAnne and Will are really great.

    Craig Vin (sp?) of The HoldSteady was the celebrity guest. the way they alluded to who the guest was (rock n' roll band member, 80s band member, etc) i was soooo hoping it was Bono of the Irish supergroup U2. but hey, no complaints.

    After the prizes were announced and LeAnne asked how i felt about winning, i launched my prepared remarks: "wow, i'm really excited. but who wouldn't be???? that's the real puzzle." i know that caught Will and LeAnne off-guard haha...hopefully it's left in.

    it was either before or after that comment that LeAnne asked who i play the puzzle with, and i said that, although i love doing them at work with coworkers, "i really enjoy Blaine's Puzzle Blog, an online blog devoted to riddle, puzzle, sodoku and crossword enthusiasts" or something like that. i could tell LeAnne and Will were laughing, especially because i had mentioned the blog before we went on-the-air. i hope they keep it in!

    the whole show happened in real-time, so i imagine there's very little editing going on.

    Will thanked us both and then said he better go see how the lawn was shaping up, and just then, you could hear someone ringing his doorbell. we all joked how the segment had ended just in time. I talked to LeAnne for a bit after that, and mentioned how great the experience was, and that, in addition to listening on Sunday, i'll definitely download the podcast and keep it. she thought that was really neat and before we said goodbye, she wanted me to extend a warm hello to everyone on this blog :)

    I'll also definitely take those pics with the schwag as soon as i receive it.

    oh, btw, i think you'll like next week's puzzle, even if you solve it really quickly.

  51. oh, also, not sure if this will make it in the show, but Will said (on-air) that he'll "have to check out that blog." :)

  52. This comment has been removed by the author.

  53. Minnicognito
    Thank you so much for the details. This is such a great blog site. Hope Will checks it out. Enjoy your prizes!!!!

  54. minnicognito, Thank you for sharing. This has been a week
    to remember.

  55. So is it a fashion faux pas to wear a Weekend Edition lapel pin if you're not wearing something with, well, lapels? I mean, if it was just a pin wouldn't they just call it a pin?

    No doubt there are renegade puzzle winners who have worn the Weekend Edition lapel pin on their fishing hats or such...

    I want to see a photo of minncognito wearing the pin somewhere creative and original. But keep it clean, minnie; this is a family blog, after all...

  56. After my last comment I had this hysterical vision of minncognito, who could just be real into the goth scene, wearing a Weekend Edition lapel pin through his or her nose...

  57. Of all people, minncognito should have known the guy's name is Craig Finn. After all, the Hold Steady are originally from Minneapolis (before moving to Brooklyn a few years ago). And most of the times I see them in concert, Craig is wearing a Twins hat or jersey and has something to say about the team. Just thought I'd throw that in there.


For NPR puzzle posts, don't post the answer or any hints that could lead to the answer before the deadline (usually Thursday at 3pm ET). If you know the answer, 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 assist with solving. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the deadline. Thank you.