Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 28): Last NPR Puzzle of 2008

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 28): Last NPR Puzzle of 2008:
Q: Take the phrase 'counting down the days.' Remove four letters from this phrase and rearrange the remaining letters to spell an appropriate number. What is it?
No need for hints... just take the letters and mix 'em up. You'll easily figure out which letters aren't part of the number.

Edit: My hidden clue was "mix 'em" which when swapped comes out as 'em mix, or simply the roman numeral MMIX.
A: Obviously the intended answer was TWO THOUSAND NINE in honor of the upcoming year. (9002 works too, but doesn't match with the "appropriate number" clue.)


  1. I got Will's number in fewer than
    ten minutes and so I'm encouraged
    to keep working on Ben's American
    city and country and foreign city.

    Dave, Maybe one of your great puzzles
    will be on NPR next week.

    Blaine, Thank you for your wonderful
    blog. I'm sure 2008 will be as much
    fun and 2008 has been.

  2. I spent all day doing a plumbing job and repairing the drywall when finished. Was so tired last night as I checked email and looked on here one last time. Late. Didn't think much about the puzzle until I was falling asleep. Then I thought about it and it came to me immediately. Too easy, if I can solve it when I'm exhausted and nearly asleep...

  3. Finally got the puzzle about the country and foreign city. Good puzzle. Thanks for the list of cities.

  4. Almost as easy as last week's. Happy New Year's to everybody!

  5. Ben, I finally got your puzzle. I was confused about the answer that you were after. I thought that you wanted the name of a foreign country that is also the name of a city; I didn't realize that you were looking for a country AND a city. I'll make sure that I dot my i's when I submit puzzles. Anyone else as confused as I was?

    Anyway, now that I'm no longer obsessing about that one, has anyone other than Natasha figured out puzzle #2 from last week?

    Here's puzzle #3: Take a feminine first name. Remove the last letter and you have a different feminine first name. Remove the last letter again and you have the alternative spelling of another feminine first name. Remove the last letter again and you'll sea what I'm talking about.

  6. The name of what cowboy contains this week's answer?

  7. Dave thanks for the puzzles. I figured out both 1 and 2 after trying, stopping for a period of time, and then having the answers come to me for no apparent reason.

    To clear up my previous obscurity; google "musical chairs" along with the city 1's name.

    Shazam (no, the other exclamation)! for the city 2.

    I'll work on your most recent one to take the place of today's puzzle.

  8. Dave, I reposted your two puzzles in last week's comments. In there I hinted at both your answers... so yes, I too know the answer to #2.

  9. Blaine, nice work in figuring out both puzzles. Your hint from last week was actually a hint that you solved both of them, but I had to reread it to figure that out.

    Hugh, now I understand. Nice! Yup, you figured out both of the puzzles.

  10. dave. I obviously wasn't clear in
    my Fri Dec 26 1:31 AM posting that
    I had solved your #2 puzzle, the one
    about the cat. I loved it. I'm a
    cat person but I've never had a pet
    of that type.

    Ben, I need a hint if I'm going to
    solve your American city and country
    and foreign city puzzle.

  11. geri, don't think too hard about Ben's city or else you'll be going around and around in circles.

  12. Geri, it would be pretty cool to own one of those cats. I've never spotted one in the wild.

    You're probably making the same mistake as I did on Ben's puzzle. The answer isn't a country that happens to have the same name as a city. The first part of the resulting word (after you remove the last letter) is a country, and the second part is a city (as it's called by people from the country where it is located).

    Did you ever watch Peyton Place? I used to watch it while manning heavy operating equipment.

  13. Did anyone else even look at the holiday crossword puzzle? I found it easier, mentally, to print it so I could study it lazily...

  14. Dave, I may have solved your female name chain puzzle. I have doubts because of the last sentence. Am I missing something? Is the second longest name associated with (not again!) a musical instrument?

    Name puzzles are a can of worms. I use a list drawn from the census, and many names I am not familiar with are in use. Where does one draw the line? I came up with other chains, and one is longer.

  15. Ben

    Finally got around to your puzzle, a nice one. There's a mixed-up Russian lady near the beginning.

  16. Dave,
    I think I have the feminine name. When are you giving the answer?

  17. I'd love to know when Dave will post the feminine name answer--I am a bit confused but I did get all the other answers to the other puzzles and they were very good.

  18. Hugh and Natasha, drop me a hint so I know you're on the right track. Hugh, the second longest name is not associated with a musical instrument, but it's associated with sharks.

  19. Here's puzzle #4: Take the answer to this week's Will Shortz puzzler. Rearrange the letters to finish this seasonally appropriate sentence: The Smiths loved to be outside _______________. You shouldn't have any extra letters.

  20. Cookieface, here's a hint. The first feminine name can be spelled two different ways, one of which can be a masculine or feminine name. The spelling that I'm looking for is always a feminine name (I think).

  21. Make that "The Smiths loved to be active _______________."

  22. Dave, the name I came up with fits all your parameters. Not sure about your last hint though. What do you mean by the first feminine name? The longer initial name?

  23. Natasha, yes, the initial name is a feminine name, but the penultimate letter can be changed to make it a feminine or a masculine name (i.e., a unisex name such as Casey, Morgan or Taylor). If you start out with the unisex name you can remove the last letter and get a masculine name. If you start with the feminine name you can remove the last letter and get a feminine name. Let me know if you (or anyone else) needs another hint.

  24. Hey there, this is "Other Ben."

    It sounds like several people got my puzzle and a few others asked for more hints. I'll thus be posting the answer here tomorrow at about noon.

    Just to repeat:

    Think of an American city. Remove the last letter. You should now have, reading left to right, the name of a country and then the name of a foreign city. The foreign city is spelled as the locals spell it. And the country and foreign city have no relationship to each other.

    - Other Ben

  25. Dave-hope you will post the answer to the feminine names soon--I do not think that I am on the right track or perhaps I need another clue.

  26. Cookieface, here's another clue. As I mentioned in my last post, you can start with the unisex spelling of this name, remove one letter and get a masculine name. The clue for the unisex name is rushing barber. Let me know if that helps.

  27. Thanks Micro--I guess my head just isn't on it yet--amazing, cuz I got all the other puzzles....or maybe I am close and do not realize it. Will continue to work at it ....

  28. Here's another clue to the initial unisex name. Film cowboy's name at birth.

  29. Dave

    Going only with your original clue and the shark association (which came to me Wednesday at 3am out of the blue), I can come up with a string crosschecked with

    which is still arguable (a can of worms). I'll argue depending on your answer. Are you trying to be not too obvious with with the cowboy clue?

    I'm not being picky. This was good exercise which I appreciate.

  30. Dave,

    That masculine name you get when you drop off the last letter is super!

  31. OK I am halfway there--must tell you that I am a Canadian so it took a while to get rushing barber---LOL and it's not in my realm of things to know--but ty--will let you know when the final names come to me....

  32. Dave,

    Accepting your cowboy without reservations (like plummew), I get a second (better) string where the short name is associated with sharks. The longest name of my other string is associated with sharks.

    Obviously, I'm snowed (not by Seattle standards), in more ways than one.

  33. I have a bit of a problem with the very last name and any association it may have but perhaps that is because I am from a French area of Canada.
    Happy New Year to all!!
    PS am pretty sure that I have the names
    PPS now I need to get the fill-in for the Smith's who love to be active......

  34. Plummew, you got it! Do you get my clue about the second feminine name being associated with sharks?

    Cookieface, that's right, you wouldn't get it if you're into things that are only Canadian. Do you know who I mean by rushing barber? The third name is a bit of a stretch, but I do know someone who spells her name that way. It's also an ancient city in Syria as well as a goddess.

    Hugh, are you saying that you have two names that are associated with sharks and that you get the second name by dropping the last letter from the first? Yes, I'm trying not to be too obvious with my cowboy clue. That's great that you figured out my shark clue. I like Elton John's music, especially Benny and the Jets.

    I'll give you another clue for the masculine name, no strings attached: You can add ette to the end of the name.

  35. Good clues---yes, I did figure out about rushing barber--that's why I mentioned that I am a Canadian and not into his metier/profession/trade or whatever he does.
    Now for the "Smith" end of sentence.
    Thanks for the challenges-they are great fun and wonderful for the mind!

  36. The answer to my puzzle:

    Think of an American city. Remove the last letter. You should now have, reading left to right, the name of a country and then the name of a foreign city. The foreign city is spelled as the locals spell it. And the country and foreign city have no relationship to each other.


    My hints:

    Lots of talk about pizza, since Napoli is regarded by many as the birthplace of pizza.

    And I mentioned my favorite SF pizza places because they really are all fantastic. But also because I was able to discuss the Sicilian-style at Lococo's and contrast it with "the thin crust pie" at Pauline's, which pizza lovers call a Neopolitan style.

    I mentioned "Zante's pizza" as "another universe entirely" because it is Indian pizza, and India is the country. You can learn about Zante's at

    It really is amazing pizza and impossible to describe.

    I later wrote "So I've dished four clues to my puzzle...."

    I clued Indianapolis via the Indy 500 by saying "Merl Reagle may soon be racing through this blog." I threw in an odd "malt liquor" line as an homage to Colt 45, since the Colts hail from Indy too.

    Anyway, I feel unclean now. I've spoiled it.

    Happy New Year.

    - Other Ben

  37. Cookieface, if you're not into the rushing barber's profession, how did you figure out who I was talking about? I'm curious to know.

  38. Other Ben, Tues Dec 30 3:07 PM PST
    you posted: "I'll thus be posting the
    answer here tomorrow at about noon."
    American city, country, foreign city--
    PLEASE! Don't abandon us.

  39. Other Ben, I forgot to refresh and
    did not have your answer posting.
    Thanks for the explanation.

  40. Dave:
    I googled in a few things, and finally came up with the answer. Just had to try to think it thru as carefully as I could trying to use the clues given. I realize that most questions refer to something USA/American and most answers to most questions should be well known by the majority of people.

  41. Dave,

    I can't say much more until you reveal your answer. I still believe that puzzle 3, as originally stated, has more than one answer, unless I missed a clue in the final sentence. You wouldn't believe what common name was missing from the name list I was working with. A third answer may exist if Roumanian names are acceptable.

  42. Hugh, the last sentence was, "Remove the last letter and you'll sea what I'm talking about." If you've removed the last letter from the third name, you should understand the clue. There's no harm in asking for more hints if anyone needs them.

  43. hugh, Sun Dec 28 11:01 AM PST you
    asked, "The name of what cowboy
    contains this week's answer?"
    Is it a REAL cowboy or an actor
    who plays one?

  44. Geri,
    Radio and silent screen actor, born in PA, died in 1940, add 2 letters to Blaine's approach. First and last name. Was evidently a lawman for a short period.

    Still waiting for Dave to spill the beans.

  45. Puzzle #1: Change the first letter of Jerusalem to get Peru and Salem.

    Puzzle #2: Change the d to a c in Toledo. Read backwards it spells ocelot.

    Puzzle #3: Remove the last letter from Marian to get Maria (that's my shark clue, as in West Side Story). Remove the last letter to get Mari (alternate spelling of Mary, ancient Syrian city, or goddess). Remove the last letter to get mar (you'll SEA what I'm talking about). The unisex spelling of Marian is Marion (rushing barber is Marion Barber III on the Dallas Cowboys; film cowboy's name at birth is Marion Morrison, John Wayne's birth name). Removing the last letter results in Mario (super name, thanks Plummew).

    Puzzle #4. Rearranging "Two thousand nine" to fit "The Smiths loved to be active . . . AND OUT IN THE SNOW.

    I hope you enjoyed these. If so, I'll try to think of some more. Happy New Year's to everyone.

    Blaine, I enjoyed your holiday crossword puzzle which I just got to a couple of days ago. I wasn't able to get your answer to the king who is dressed in orange, black and white. Is it an athlete named King who wears those colors?

  46. Micro,
    I came up with Christina for puzzle #3. I believe it fits your criteria too.

  47. Dave/MicroP:
    I think a better clue would have been "King or queen... dressed in orange and black".

  48. Dave,

    Nice going. The ORIGINAL PUZZLE was complete, but still open to interpretation. Extra clues to the original seemed to be necessary. Given-name puzzles, unless really nailed down, are difficult because of nicknames and names of unfamiliar origin. I'll have to look into the Christina possibility. My solution was:

    Marianne 380
    Mariann 692
    Marian 245
    Maria 7 also Latin for seas

    Your solution:

    Marian 245
    Maria 7
    Mari 869
    Mar Not a name, Spanish for sea

    Low numbers indicate the more common names.

    You and Ben seem to be the answer to Carl's request for puzzle authors on this page.

  49. Natasha:
    Where would "sea" come into the answer Christina?? It does from mar/mer--meaning sea.

  50. Dave--when you said sea, I thought of MER as it is spelled in French and so my Canadian roots.
    Great puzzle!!!

  51. I went with mar, meaning sea in Spanish. One of my other clues was, "There's no HARM in asking for more hints." Mar and harm are synonymous.

    Hugh, great string starting with Marianne, almost the same as mine and one name longer.

    Natasha, I like the Christina string and it would have been a very appropriate puzzle for the season.

    Anyone else have any puzzles to offer?

  52. Micro, thanks for agreeing with my Christina answer. I solved it before you gave any clues and thought it was appropriate for the holidays.

  53. Blaine, your Cross-Number Puzzle looks extremely difficult, but I'm willing to give it a try. I'll let you know how I make out. Thanks for posting it. Did you come up with the puzzle on your own?

  54. So, Natasha's Christina string did meet ALL of the original criteria, tsk.

    I'm curious how Geri made out with the old-time cowboy. It turns out he worked as foreman of "The 101 Ranch Show." Not sure how many people remember him today.

  55. Geri, Hugh's puzzle is a bit tricky. If you're trying to figure out the name of the old-time cowboy, you're not going to find it by rearranging the letters in "two thousand nine." Is that correct, Hugh?

    Blaine, thanks to the new and improved clue, I was able to get the last word in your holiday puzzle. I think that your cross-number puzzle is almost impossible to solve since each clue has multiple answers. The puzzle has to be done by trial and error, which could take hours and hours to do. Is there one clue that has only one answer? If so, it would be possible to do the puzzle in a reasonable amount of time.

  56. OK someone please help me understand why Christina works as the intended answer...I agree that it fits the parameter of making 3 feminine names but where does CRIS become SEA as the clue asked........I would appreciate an answer from anyone who might have a really really good reason.

  57. Christina is correct because no clues were given when the original puzzle was posted.

  58. Cookieface, Christina was not my intended answer. It's correct as far as the name string goes, but doesn't work with my final clue.

    Natasha, you may have missed the clue, but I gave it when I originally posted the puzzle.

  59. Dave,
    I thought you misspelled "see" in your in your original posting of the puzzle (not on purpose).

  60. Natasha, I intentionally misspelled see to read sea.

  61. Dave, I "see" that now. I assumed it was a typo.

  62. Natasha--if you look carefully, Dave's clue was spelled correctly the first time--"sea" not see.

  63. Assumed sea was the typo and Dave meant see, Cookie.

  64. Hey Blaine.. please post the solution of the cross number puzzle.. i have tired solving it.. please give..


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