Thursday, December 30, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 26, 2010): It's Boxing Day, is that a clue?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 26, 2010): It's Boxing Day, is that a clue?:
Q: Name a famous American from the past who has seven letters in his or her last name. Take the last two letters, plus the first four letters, in that order, and you'll name that person's profession. Who is it?
Given that this person's Wikipedia page lists 10 professions, can you be sure you'll find this person's intended profession in a sample list of occupations? Remember, your search needs to be exhaustive if you want to be sure not to miss it.

Edit: My hint was "be exhaustive" (i.e. "thorough")
A: Henry David THOREAU --> AU + THOR = AUTHOR

Monday, December 27, 2010

Explanation of Civil War Message, Decoded 147 Years Later

In the news today, I read about a Civil War message that was found in a bottle and decoded just recently. However the news article wasn't very clear on the how the message was encoded.
With a little trial and error, I too was able to decode the message. The message uses a Vigenère cipher and a key of length 15. After struggling with some transcription and encoding errors in the message, I was able to determine what was the intended coded message:
If you repeatedly write the key phrase "Manchester Bluff" above the letters it tells you the offset from the actual letter. A is an offset of zero (the same letter in the plain text). B is an offset of 1, C is 2, etc. The decoded message is:
Gen'l Pemberton, You can expect no help from this side of the river. Let Gen'l Johnston know, if possible, when you can attack the same point on the enemy's line. Inform me also and I will endeavour to make a diversion. I have sent you some caps. I subjoin despatch from Gen Johnston.
After I figured out the key phrase I noticed in the Wikipedia article that the Confederate leadership primarily relied upon three key phrases, "Manchester Bluff", "Complete Victory" and, as the war came to a close, "Come Retribution".

Thursday, December 23, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 19, 2010): City, State, Zip

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 19, 2010): City, State, Zip:
Q: Name a city in the United States that ends in the letter S. The city is one of the largest cities in its state. Change the S to a different letter and rearrange the result to get the state the city is in. What are the city and state?
This will be simple enough to figure out if you check Wikipedia or Google, but let's see you do this with no list.

Edit: My hint was "no list" which is an anagram of "Lost in...".
A: Yonkers, New York

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hack the Video Password, by Solving our Christmas Puzzle

This year we've hidden a secret video message as the solution to our puzzle. Only those that can spot the 8 differences in our annual Christmas Puzzle will be able to figure out the password. Are you up to the challenge?

Note: If you need some help here are some hints:
1. What order are the colors in the rainbow? 2. Shed some light on the subject. 3. Two for the price of one. 4. Is this a dagger I see before me? 5. Check out that wall 6. Gold is more impressive 7. Whoops, who hung that picture? 8. Every brick counts.
You can also get the complete solution here, but try solving it without help first... it's more fun that way.

When you solve it, please don't give away the answer but feel free to add a comment to let us know that you successfully figured it out. And we are always looking for new ideas for next year's Christmas puzzle, so submit those too.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 12, 2010): Mixed-up Companies

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 12, 2010): Mixed-up Companies:
Q: Rearrange the letters of 'Wayne Manor' to name two well-known American corporations, past or present. What corporations are they?
Anyone remember that the two companies had a deal in the works in the late 90s? Everyone does remember what happened after that though.

Edit: Hint, the first sentence in my comments started with "A", the second with "E".
A: Wayne Manor --> Amway + Enron

Thursday, December 09, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 5, 2010): Triangles Abound

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 5, 2010): Triangles Abound:
Q: From Sam Loyd, a puzzle-maker from a century ago: Draw a 4x4 square. Divide it into 16 individual boxes. Next, draw a diagonal line from the middle of each side of the square to the middle of the adjoining side, forming a diamond. And, finally draw a long diagonal line from each corner of the square to the opposite corner, forming an X.
How many triangles can you find in this figure?
Getting the answer is really easy; the key is to think of geometry. Let's see, if you start with a square and cut it along the diagonal, you get a triangle. Similarly, if you take a circle and cut a chord through the center, you get a semicircle. Take the measure in radians extended by the measure in degrees and you should have the answer, assuming you haven't made an error. Well, at least that is how I got my answer.

P.S. The NPR website currently has a couple typos in their posted puzzle (e.g. It should be Sam Loyd not Sam Lloyd. And a 4x4 square forms 16 smaller squares instead of 6. I'm pretty sure I have the intended question but be prepared for changes if the on-air puzzle is stated differently.

P.P.S. I've added a diagram now that I've confirmed the wording of the on-air puzzle.

Edit: Okay, I deliberately added a few "faux" clues to my original post in case some people undercounted. A couple common undercounts were 84 and 88. For 84, the misleading hint was "error. Well" hinting at 1984. For 88, there were a couple hints to "key" and "chord" that should make one think of a piano. But the real answer is 96 which was hinted to by this clue: "...get a semicircle. Take the measure in radians (which is pi) extended by the measure in degrees (which is 180°) and you should have the answer..." Now if you take pi and write out the digits 3.141592653589793238... you'll find '96' starting at position 180. You can confirm this by typing '96' into the Pi Search page
A: 96 triangles as enumurated in the following Count the Triangles Solution (PDF)

Thursday, December 02, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 28, 2010): Name the Places

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 28, 2010): Name the Places:
Q: Name the setting for an old television show that was also a series of popular movies. The answer consists of two words, with five letters in each word. The last three letters of the last word plus the first three letters of the first word, in that order, name a country. What country is it?
As long as I'm up and not sleeping, I might as well post the puzzle. The puzzle is so easy that I'm providing no hints; you are on your own.

Edit: Okay, so I really did hide some hints. First, "up and not sleeping" was a reference to the movie Insomnia. The original Insomnia (1997) was a Norwegian movie. The remake Insomnia (2002) was directed by Christopher Nolan who also directed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The second hint was the phrase "you are on your own". This both alludes to Batman's parents being killed, and to the word solo, which anagrams to Oslo (Norway). The final clue was the word name in the title. Those are the letters in the setting that remain after forming the country.
A: Wayne Manor --> Norway

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 21, 2010): Mixed-up Serial Number

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 21, 2010): Mixed-up Serial Number:
Q: What two world capitals can be found by rearranging the letters in the phrase 'serial number.'
Since the NPR puzzle is rather easy, here's related puzzle for you. Take the oxymoronic phrase "A kinetic zen". Rearrange the letters to form the title of a well-known movie. Now figure out how it is related to this week's puzzle.

Edit: The answer to my puzzle was the movie "Citizen Kane" where it is revealed that "Rosebud" was the name of a sled. Sled written backwards is DELS which contains the Internet country codes for Germany(DE) and Lesotho(LS) respectively.
A: BERLIN (Germany) and MASERU (Lesotho)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 14, 2010) : Tune into TNT

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 14, 2010) : Tune into TNT :
Q : What is the longest familiar phrase, title, or name in which the only consonants are N and T, repeated as often as necessary? The other letters are vowels.
On the air, Will mentioned he had an answer with 18 letters. I've matched 18 letters but have a feeling we can do better than that.

Edit : Did you notice that I placed an extra space in front of each colon in this post? The hint was the sci-fi series "Space: 1999".
A : The song "Nineteen ninety nine" by Prince.
Will also accepted the 1947 French film Antoine et Antoinette.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 7, 2010): Alphabet Soup?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 7, 2010): Alphabet Soup?:
Q: Write out the 26 letters of the alphabet. Take a sequence of seven letters, change one letter in that sequence to a U, and rearrange the result to name something you might find in your refrigerator. Hint: The answer is a two-word phrase.
Don't forget to set your clocks back an hour. But don't set your clocks back too far or you won't be able to get the answer at all... say 1963?

Edit: According to a couple sources, plastic milk jugs were introduced in 1964.
A: Take GHIJKLM, swap H for a U, rearrange to get MILK JUG

Thursday, November 04, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 31, 2010): Creature Double Feature

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 31, 2010): Creature Double Feature:
Q: Name a creature in six letters. Move the first three letters to the end and read the result backward to name another creature. Clue: If you break either six-letter word in half, each pair of three letters will themselves spell a word.
No, I'm not late in posting the puzzle. I'm just stunned anyone would think so. Incidentally one of the 3-letter words is more common in crosswords, but it is found in the dictionary. Speaking of a double-feature, I'm thinking of watching a comedy and then a sci-fi thriller. Horror on Halloween is so overrated.

Edit: My hints were "not late" and "just stunned" which allude to various lines in the Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch. The double-feature references were to this comedic sketch and the velociraptors in Jurassic Park. The last comment was a hint to the fact that the creatures aren't directly related to Halloween (e.g. not goblins, zombies, spirits, etc.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 24, 2010): That's a Capital Idea

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 24, 2010): That's a Capital Idea:
Q: Name the capital of a country. Rearrange the letters to spell a word that sounds the same as the name of another country. To approach the puzzle backward, name a country that has a homophone that is an anagram of a different country's capital. What country and what capital city are they?
The following list of country capitals could be handy. I'm still working on the intended answer since so far I found a perfect anagram, not one that is a homophone.

Update: I feel like such a heel for not having figured this out sooner.

Edit: My hint was "feel like such a heel". A shoe has a heel and a sole (sounds like Seoul). You could also say I felt like a louse. :)
A: SOUTH KOREA's capital is SEOUL which anagrams to LOUSE which sounds like the country of LAOS.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 17, 2010): Typing the Opening Credits

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 17, 2010): Typing the Opening Credits:
Q: Rearrange the 14 letters of 'OPENING CREDITS' to name two symbols you can type on a typewriter or computer. What symbols are these?
Am I the only one that is bothered when these symbols appear together?

Edit Type it as $0.25 or 25¢, but please don't print your amount as 0.25¢, unless I'm allowed to buy 4 for a penny!

Note: To type the cent sign on a PC keyboard, enable NumLock, hold down the Alt key and type 155 (or 0162) on the numeric keypad.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 10, 2010): Rhyme Time

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 10, 2010): Rhyme Time:
Q: What are the two longest rhyming words that have no letters in common? For example, 'pie' and 'guy' rhyme and do not share any letters. The answer words cannot start with an unaccented syllable, such as 'today.' The source for acceptable words is Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary.
Hooray! This time the puzzle isn't one that can easily be solved via computer. In fact, depending on your definition of "rhyming" there may be several answers coming Will's way. Let's discuss, but don't give away an answer before the deadline.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 3, 2010): Third Time's a Charm

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 3, 2010): Third Time's a Charm:
Q: Name a famous person whose first name has six letters and last name has eight. In this person's first name, the first two letters are the same as the last two letters. And, these two letters also start the last name. The first two letters of the last name are pronounced differently from how they're pronounced in the first name. Who is this person?
Just so we are on the same page, united in thought so to speak, the pair of letters keeps the same order each time it is used.

Edit: I tried to include some misdirection (page=Author, thought=Philosopher, speak=Orator/Actor/Politician). The only real clue was united (as in United Airlines), which has used Rhapsody in Blue for years in its commercials.
A: GEorGE GErshwin

Thursday, September 30, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 26, 2010): The Best Things in Life...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 26, 2010): The Best Things in Life...:
Q: Take the phrase 'patron saint,' remove a letter, then rearrange the letters to create a new, familiar two-word phrase that names something important in life. Hint: The first word has three letters, the second word has seven.
The list of anagrams I came up with spanned 4 pages. How come one of the words in the phrase wasn't in the list?

Edit: I'm sure Liane and Will would say, "The Best Things in Life are Listener Supported". Though there is one intended answer, there are really 4 pages of them. I also hinted at the fact that part of the answer is an acronym rather than a "word".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 19, 2010): International Trade

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 19, 2010): International Trade:
Q: Name five countries whose names are five letters long. Using the middle letter of each country's name, spell the five-letter name of a sixth country.

I didn't find this difficult and I can form the names of 6 different countries. How about you?

Update: On the air, Will mentioned wanting an answer that didn't use the lesser-known country of Palau. I'm still able to come up with 3 good answers that only involve well-known countries (and one that uses a country similar to Palau).

Edit: My clue above was "I" + "and I" which can be anagrammed to make India. I think this is probably Will's intended answer, but there are some other possible answers.
3 answers with well-known countries:

One with lesser-known countries:

A couple more that include Palau:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 12, 2010): Compound Word Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 12, 2010): Compound Word Puzzle:
Q: Think of a common compound word in which each half starts with the letter C. Change both Cs to Bs, and you'll get the names of two related objects. What objects are they?
Well ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, I don't have a good clue at all, so you are on your own to figure this out.

Edit: The clues were ladies and gentlemen (man and woman), girls and boys. You can put each of these words together with the parts of the answer to make other words (Catwoman, Batman, callgirl, ballboy). The other hidden clue was "at all" which is the answer without the leading letters.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 5, 2010): B C D E G P T V Z

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept. 5, 2010): B C D E G P T V Z:
Q: What is the longest common word in which all the letters rhyme with E?
Has anyone discovered a word longer than 8 letters?

Edit: The hint was discovered

Thursday, September 02, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 29, 2010): Famous Writer Anagram

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 29, 2010): Famous Writer Anagram:
Q: Take the word 'bookman.' Change a letter and rearrange the result to name a famous person who wrote books. What person is this?
Since the puzzle is up early, I'll put in a quick clue: Alizée

Edit: My first clue was "put in" as in Vladimir Putin who shares the same name as the author. My second clue was "Alizée", a young French singer whose most successful single was "Moi Lolita"
A: (Vladimir) NABOKOV, most famous for the novel Lolita

Thursday, August 26, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 22, 2010): Countries Trading Chemicals

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 22, 2010): Countries Trading Chemicals:
Q: Take a country whose name contains a symbol for a chemical element, and change it to a different chemical element to get another country. For example, if Aruba were an independent country, you could take the 'AR,' which is the chemical symbol for argon, and change it to 'C,' which is the chemical symbol for carbon, to come up with Cuba. There are two answers to this puzzle, and both must be found.
I've tried thinking of clues but whatever hints I create, they seem too obvious. The nature of the puzzle limits me, in what I can say. I've got the two pairs of countries that Will is thinking of. Let's see if you can figure them out too.

Correction: I've now found 3 pairs of answers. All meet the criteria that Will provided. One of the pairs I hinted at before is probably not in Will's intended answers but does fit. All countries and chemical symbols are valid.

Edit: My clues were the words just before the commas above. "I create" is an anagram of I, TA, CE, RE (the chemical symbols from two pairs of answers). "Limits me" is an anagram of ML, MT, IS, IE (the ISO country codes for two pairs of answers). The elements from the third pair would be AL, NI and the country codes would be DZ, NG.
First country pair:
ALGERIA and NIGERIA, exchanging Aluminum (Al) and Nickel (Ni)

Second country pair:
MALI and MALTA, exchanging Iodine (I) and Tantalum (Ta)

Bonus country pair:
ICELAND and IRELAND, exchanging Cerium (Ce) and Rhenium (Re)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 15, 2010): There's Been a Mix-up at the Nursery

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 15, 2010): There's Been a Mix-up at the Nursery:
Q: Name two girls' names that are anagrams of each other, and both start with the letter 'C.' The answer should be a well-mixed anagram, with more than two letters switched in one name to get the other.
I'm guessing there might be some debate on the meaning of "well-mixed". I'll just say that if your names end with the same letter, you probably haven't found Will's intended answer. I'd provide a better clue, but after several days of camping I'm smelling pretty funky, so a shower is the first order of business.

Edit: My hint was "funky" as in Cornelia Funke, the award-winning German author of children's fiction. While there are other possible answers (CARLA/CLARA, CLAIRE/CARLIE), those aren't as long and as mixed up as what I assume is Will's intended answer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 8, 2010): To Yo, or not to Yo

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 8, 2010): To Yo, or not to Yo:
Q: Take the letters in the name of cellist Yo Yo Ma, and rearrange them to form the initial letters of a familiar six-word question. What is the question?
I could give a musical clue, but it would give it away.
P.S. She might spell the word "Colour".

Edit: My first hint was to Victoria Beckham. The "P.S." was a hint to her nickname (Posh Spice) and the "Colour" clue was the fact that she is British. Her first solo single was "Out of Your Mind". In addition, if you anagram the letters in "Colour" you get "R U Loco?"
A: Are You Out of Your Mind

Sunday, August 08, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 25, 2010): Make Your Own Spoonerism Riddle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 25, 2010): Make Your Own Spoonerism Riddle:
NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 1, 2010): Make Your Own Spoonerism Riddle:
Q: This is a two-week creative challenge. Come up with a riddle that starts off with 'What's the difference between' and involves a spoonerism. A spoonerism is when consonant sounds are interchanged. For example, 'What's the difference between an ornithologist and a loser in a spelling bee?' The answer: 'One is a bird watcher, and the other is a word botcher.'
Hmm... not much to comment on this week. Obviously this is different than most of Will's puzzles in that it is open-ended and is a two week challenge. Start collecting your ideas and we'll discuss them all in two weeks after the deadline.
What's the difference between a wedding chapel and a restaurant's daily specials? One is a marrying venue, the other is a varying menu.

What’s the difference between a guinea hen and a young witch? One is a wild chicken and the other is child wicken.

What’s the difference between a dasher and a haberdasher? One makes short spurts and the other makes sports shirts.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 18, 2010): Let Me Make This Analogy...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 18, 2010): Let Me Make This Analogy...:
Q: Complete this analogy:
'Banjo' is to 'ferns' as 'pecan' is to _______.
This puzzle makes me think of Prince Edward's visit in 1924.

Edit: My hint was a reference to plus fours which are trousers that extend 4 inches below the knee and are often associated with golf. According to Wikipedia they were introduced to America during a diplomatic trip by Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1924. In this way, my clue is a double hint to both the way you get the answer (add 4 to each letter position) and a well-known golf player.
A: 'Banjo' is to 'ferns' as 'pecan' is to 'TIGER'.
To get to the second word in each pair, move each letter four later in the alphabet.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 11, 2010): Landmark Anagram

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 11, 2010): Landmark Anagram:
Q: Take the phrase 'Deep Cleanse' — a way of ridding the body of toxins or clearing the pores. Rearrange the 11 letters of 'Deep Cleanse' to name a well-known American landmark. The number of words in the answer is for you to determine.
This puzzle came from one of the frequent visitors to this blog. And it uses one of Will's favorite puzzle formats, the anagram. There are so many easy clues to give this away (if you haven't figured it out already) that I'll just say "EURO NOTES".

Edit: I mentioned that the puzzle is an anagram, but so was my hint. EURO NOTES can be anagrammed to OUTER NOSE. You can pair each of those words with part of the answer (Outer SPACE, NEEDLE Nose).

Thursday, July 08, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 4, 2010): Good Child / Bad Child

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 4, 2010): Good Child / Bad Child:
Q: Take an eight-letter term that's often used to mean 'a good child.' Remove the first two and last two letters, and reverse what remains to get a four-letter word meaning 'a bad child.'
This may be the worst clue I've given recently: Brumby

Edit: The two clues were "worst" (as in BRATwurst) and "Brumby" (the Australian version of the Subaru BRAT). Working backwards you should have gotten the original 8 letter term.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 27, 2010): English Composer and American Writer

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 27, 2010): English Composer and American Writer:
Q: Name a famous English composer with two vowels in his last name. Interchange the vowels and you'll get the last name of a famous American writer. Who are these two people?
I made a large mistake in assuming the first names had to be the same. I made the puzzle harder than it had to be which I guess is the story of my life.

Edit: One hint was "large" which is an angram of the answers. The other hint was an indirect reference to life stories (e.g. rags to riches story).
A: Edward ELGAR --> Horatio ALGER, Jr.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 20, 2010): Fathers' Day trip to the Hardware Store

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 20, 2010): Fathers' Day trip to the Hardware Store:
Q: Think of a product for sale at a hardware store. It's a generic two-word name. Replace the first letter of the first word with an S, and replace the first two letters of the second word with an S, and the result will be two new words that are opposites. What are they?
Hints: Black Turtleneck or Black Lady

Edit: Both my clues were musical hints. One of the members of Black Turtleneck is Jason Amm who goes by the alias "Solvent". Charles Mingus had an album entitled "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady".

Thursday, June 17, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 13, 2010): One of these things is not like the others

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 13, 2010): One of these things is not like the others:
Q: Write down the following five names: Christian Dior, Anne Boleyn, Edna Ferber, Indiana Jones and Richard Simmons. The first four names have something unusual in common that the fifth name does not. What is it? Give another name that shares this property. Hint: It's a property that only a few names have. To show that you have the right answer, think of another name that shares the same property. Any name that shares the property will be considered correct.
183 kg cat?

Edit: Okay, so 183kg is 403lb. If you Google for "403 pound cat" you'll end up finding the Jacksonville Jaguars Mascot who has been portrayed by Curtis Dvorak
A: You should have noticed that the letters of the first and last names are consecutive. But what about Richard Simmons? Some have suggested that the first letter should be in an *odd* position of the alphabet (e.g. A, C, E, G, etc.). But that's like saying it should be people with consecutive letters that aren't exercise gurus. The actual answer is that both the first and second letters in each name are consecutive.
Christian Dior, Anne Boleyn, Edna Ferber, Indiana Jones. But Richard Simmons' second letters are "i" and "i" which aren't consecutive.

So what names did you come up with? Here's just a few of the one's I thought of:
Adrián Beltré - Boston Red Sox 3rd baseman
Andy Borowitz - Comedian and Satirist
Andrea Bocelli - Italian pop tenor
Charles Dickens - English novelist
Chris Dimarco - American golfer
Curtis Dvorak - portrays the Jacksville Jaguars mascot, Jaxson de Ville
David Ebersman - CFO of Facebook
Don Eppes - FBI agent on the show Numb3rs
"Duke" Evers - Trainer of Apollo Creed and later Rocky Balboa
Harry Ibrahim - Asian Fashion Designer
Odalis Perez - MLB pitcher, formerly of the Washington Nationals
Ogden Phipps - Financier, Tennis Champ and Racing Horse Breeder
Rhea Silvia - Mythical mother of the twins Romulus and Remus
Robert Sproul - Former University of California President
Ross Spencer - Mystery Writer
Shirley Tilghman - President of Princeton University
Tom Upton - Former MLB shortstop

Thursday, June 10, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 6, 2010): One Swell Foop

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 6, 2010): One Swell Foop:
Q: A 'spoonerism' is when you interchange the initial consonant sounds of two words to get two new words. For example, with 'right lane,' you'd get 'light rain.' Think of a familiar two-word phrase that's an instruction seen on many containers. 'Spoonerize' it to name two things seen at the beach. What's the phrase and what are the things?
I'm not happy with my current answer. Phonetically I have a problem with the sound on one of my words, so I'm hoping that perhaps there is a better answer.

Edit: The title of this post was a hint to the intended answer. As for my alternate answer, the key was the "Ph" in Phonetically.

Blaine's close miss: PULL HERE --> HULL, PIER

Thursday, June 03, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 30, 2010): Mind the Gap

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 30, 2010): Mind the Gap:
Q: Take the name of a nationality and write it in lower case letters. Remove the first letter and rotate one of the remaining letters 180 degrees. The result will be another nationality. What nationalities are these?
Some would say these countries are rather close, but I wouldn't try to build something like a bridge between them.

Edit: My hints were "rather close" (dan-ish) and "something like a bridge" (span-ish).
A: spanish --> danish

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 23, 2010): What Country Doesn't Have Problems?

What Country Doesn't Have Problems?:
Q: Name a country that is spelled as a solid word. Change two consecutive letters in it to a single R. The result will name a problem that this country has traditionally faced. What's the country and what's the problem?
My hints this week? 43 and 66...

Edit: Malaysia is the 43rd most populated country and the 66th largest country by total land area in the world.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 16, 2010): "Be vewwy, vewwy quiet..."

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 16, 2010): "Be vewwy, vewwy quiet...":
Q: Rearrange the letters in the phrase 'rabbit season' into two related words. What are the words?
Well, if that is the question, I have two possible answers that would work. However, I can't think of any serious clues since I keep imagining Elmer Fudd reciting "Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit..."

Edit: My clue was "that is the question" hinting toward a revised Hamlet soliloquy, "Two Bs or not two Bs...". (The intended answer has two words starting with B.) The clue to that was to think of a male voice singing opera. The clue to the alternate answer was the word "serious".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 9, 2010): Happy Mothers' Day Puzzle

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 9, 2010): Happy Mother's Day Puzzle:
Q: Think of a big name in the oil business, then drop the first and last letters to get another big name in the oil business. What names are these?
If you think like Will, this puzzle is so easy!!! If you don't, it might take you awhile. P.S. I'm sure there are long lists of petrochemical companies (and maybe even company executives) if you look on Wikipedia and elsewhere. P.P.S. Happy Mothers' Day.

Edit: The hint was the italicized word "so". If you pronounce the individual letters you get "Esso". (Esso is the international trade name for ExxonMobil and its related companies derived from the pronunciation of the initials of Standard Oil.) Will deliberately tried to misdirect with his wording to make you only think of companies refining petroleum. But think instead of other uses of oil (perhaps used by your mother in cooking) and you'll easily get the answer.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 2, 2010): A Number of Cities...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 2, 2010): A Number of Cities...:
Q: Write down the number '100.' Underneath it write '100/500.' How the numbers align doesn't matter. What U.S. city does this represent?
Another numeric hint --> 12:21

Edit: As Ben surmised, my hint was to the Bible, specifically the book of Romans, chapter 12, verse 21: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." An alternate translation found in some versions of the Bible is "Do not be CONQUERED by evil, but conquer evil with good." Romans is a hint to Roman numerals. Conquered is a homonym of the answer.
A: C on C or D --> Concord

Thursday, April 29, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 25, 2010): Name Two Birds...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 25, 2010): Name Two Birds...:
Q: Name a famous person whose first name is seven letters long and ends with the name of a bird, and whose last name is also seven letters but starts with the name of a bird. Hint: One of these birds is the general name for the bird, and the other is a specific type of bird. Who is it?
Finally a nicely constructed puzzle with enough clues to confirm your answer, but not too many that they give it away. Are the bird names long or short? Is this person part of history? Or part of the present time? Not wanting to ruin the puzzle, I'm steping out of giving a clue this week and leave it to you to ponder.

Edit: If you read the last word of each question you get short/history/time --> A Brief History of Time. Also, I deliberately misspelled step(p)ing because that's what is left after removing the birds from his name.
A: stepHEN HAWKing

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 18, 2010): A Tale of Two Countries

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 18, 2010): A Tale of Two Countries:
Q: Name a country in six letters. Change two consecutive letters in it to one letter to get the name of another country. What countries are these?
Here's a related puzzle sent to me by Gillog Lautomy, "Name a country in seven letters. Change three consecutive letters in it to one letter to get the name of another country. What countries are these?"

Edit: The hint was the "name" Gillog Lautomy. You can insert the country names to form 4 words (gilGUY/ANAlog lauGH/ANAtomy).
P.S. The answer to the bonus puzzle is LIBERIA --> LIBYA.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 11, 2010): Is it Thanksgiving Yet?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 11, 2010): Is it Thanksgiving Yet?:
Q: Name something you might order in a restaurant — two words, eight letters all together, with four letters in the first word and four letters in the last. Drop the last letter. The remaining seven letters will read backward and forward the same.
Man, I've got turkey on the brain, and it's only April. If you think turkey too, I'm sure it will pan out.

Edit: There were a few clues in my short post. "Man I've got turkey" sounds like "Manavgat, Turkey" which is near "Side". A little more obvious is that Thanksgiving dinner usually consists of turkey and numerous side dishes. Finally, dishpan and outside contain the words "dish" and "side". What is left is "pan out". I hope those hints weren't too obvious and didn't give it away.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 4, 2010): Death and Taxes

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 4, 2010): Death and Taxes:
Q: Think of a 15-letter word that is spelled without using any of the letters T, A, X, E or S. And it means how Stephen King writes.
Every Sunday I feel the pressure to come up with a solution to the puzzle and then post a good clue as quickly as possible. Other times I can't figure it out and just have to rely on others to post their hints. I guess that's just the way it is.

Edit: My hints were "pressure" (as in blood pressure) and "way" (as in curds and "whey")
Some have proposed blood-chillingly as an alternate answer, but most sources have it hyphenated

Thursday, April 01, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 28, 2010): The Name's the Same

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 28, 2010): The Name's the Same:
Q: What 6 letter word beginning with the letter 'S' would be the same if it started with 'TH?'
So I was thinking I should have words like SOUGHT and THOUGHT, or SINNER and THINNER. But those aren't the same in the end. I'm open to any hints...

Edit: Indeed I did have "open" as my hidden hint. The puzzle intentionally tried to mislead us into thinking we were looking for synonyms. You'll notice I didn't put this puzzle in the synonym category however.

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.

Friday, March 19, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 14, 2010): Tasty Opposites

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 14, 2010): Tasty Opposites:
Q: Think of two words that are opposites, beginning with the letters 'H' and 'M.' Change the 'H' to an 'M.' Say the result out loud, and you'll have the name of something nice to eat. What is it?
At least this week's challenge doesn't involve anagrams. (However, if you miss them and want to hear some more, listen to the on-air puzzle; it's all about anagrams.) Just like a couple weeks ago, I think the wording of the puzzle is a little misleading. If you want something nice to eat, don't take a small bite. You want the whole thing.

Edit: My hint was "some more" as in "s'more"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 7, 2010): Messing up the Receiving Line

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 7, 2010): Messing up the Receiving Line:
Q: Take the phrase 'Receiving Line'. Rearrange these 13 letters to name a common profession
Okay, before I say something rude, isn't this about the 6th anagram puzzle this year? Really Will, can't you construct an interesting NPR puzzle that doesn't involve anagrams? And what's up with the NPR site? Where's the link to the puzzle on the NPR puzzle page? You know, I don't think I'm even going to bother supplying a hint this week.

Edit: not rude = civil, construct = engineer

Thursday, March 04, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 28, 2010): Name Those TV Shows

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 28, 2010): Name Those TV Shows:
Q: Name an animal in two syllables. Add an S at the end of the first syllable, and you'll get the name of an old TV show. The second syllable, phonetically, is the name of a current TV show. What animal is this?
This puzzle is really easy if you interpret it correctly and really hard if you don't. The primary actors on the old TV show were born about the same time as the main actor on the current TV show.

Edit: I initially read the puzzle and thought the S was inserted between the first and second syllables to form the name of the old TV show. When I focused more on the second syllable, all of a sudden I figured out my mistake and came up with the answer.
A: Chipmunk --> CHiPs and Monk

Thursday, February 25, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 21, 2010): Anagramming Brooklynite

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 21, 2010): Anagramming Brooklynite:
Q: Take this word: Brooklynite. Rearrange these 11 letters to get the names of two world capitals. What are they?
Talk about déjà vu. Didn't we just have a puzzle involving anagrams?

Edit: Last week's answer involved troops fighting in a war. Déjà vu should have led you to think of experiencing a second war as in World War II, where the U.S. fought Germany and Japan. I had intended for deja to be another clue for the internet domains of Germany (.de) and Japan (.ja) except the correct domain is .jp. Oops!
A: Brooklynite --> Berlin + Tokyo

Thursday, February 18, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 14, 2010): Anagramming Proust

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 14, 2010): Anagramming Proust:
Q: Take the name 'Proust,' as in Marcel Proust. Using these six letters, repeating them as often as necessary, spell a familiar bumper sticker with three words, 16 letters altogether. What bumper sticker is it?
This puzzle is so obvious it doesn't need a hint. Instead, I'm going back to watching the downhill heats. My two favorite skiers are currently tied for 4th place.

Edit: The hints were "tied" and "4th place". Typically one receives a yellow ribbon for a 4th place finish, but it is also a symbol in support of military troops away from home.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 7, 2010): In Honor of the Super Bowl

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb. 7, 2010): In Honor of the Super Bowl:
Q: The nickname of well known queen is an anagram of the name of a well known king. What are their names?
The bigger question for most people will be, who's going to win? The Saints or the Colts? Or are you just watching to see who has the best commercial?

Edit: An annual award for the best commercials is called the Clio which sounds like "Cleo". Additionally, Colts starts with the sound "Cole" and if you remember the nursery rhyme, Old King Cole called for his pipe, and he called for his Bowl...
A: Queen: CLEO (as in Cleopatra)
King: COLE (as in Old King Cole)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 31, 2010): But I Really Don't See a Pattern?!?

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 31, 2010): But I Really Don't See a Pattern?!?:
Q: Take four words: Croquet; Lunette; Renoir; Turnstile. They are all two-syllable words, but aside from that, they all have something unusual in common: a property that virtually no other words have. What property is it?
I thought this was tough for awhile, but if you listen to the puzzle broadcast on the air, Will provides an additional hint. My hint? Use your brain.

Edit: The first clue were the first letters of the title which spells out "BIRDS..." Also, there was the clue "brain" as in (bird)brain.
A: The first syllable of each word, though it doesn't spell out a bird name, sounds like a four-letter bird name:
Croquet --> CROW
Lunette --> LOON
Renoir --> WREN
Turnstile --> TERN
I'm not sure if it is important to the answer, but all the bird names are exactly 4 letters long and the original word does not have the same spelling, only the sound of the bird in the first syllable.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 24, 2010): After the Operation, He Became a She...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 24, 2010): After the Operation, He Became a She...:
Q: Think of a common first name for a boy, starting with the letter E, two syllables. Rearrange all of the letters to form a common first name for a girl, also with two syllables. What names are these?
I wanted to get this posted before bed, since I see the puzzle is on the NPR site already. It shouldn't take you too much to figure this out. Just go down a list of common boys names starting with E and play with the letters. When you get to one that can be scrambled to a girl's name, you are done.

Edit: The hints were "before bed" which leads to Good Night (Irene), and "done" which leads to (Irene) Dunne.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 17, 2010): The Last Shall be First, and the First Last

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 17, 2010): The Last Shall be First, and the First Last:
Q: Find the full names of well-known female TV stars — one actress and one comedian. The first four letters of the actress' first name are the last four letters of the comedian's last name, and the first four letters of the comedian's first name are the last four letters of the actress' last name. Who are these well-known entertainers?
This could be hard if you aren't familiar with the comedienne. Also, be sure to read the puzzle carefully. I will say that both were on screen together in a scene involving a math competition. How's that for a useful clue?

Edit: First, the initials of the actress and comedienne were hidden in my post above, several times (THis COuld, THe COmedienne, maTH COmpetition). TH = Teri Hatcher, CO = Cheri Oteri.

Second, Cheri Oteri was half of the Spartans Cheerleaders duo with Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live. Teri Hatcher hosted SNL back on April 20, 1996 and joined them as Gabrielle in a skit entitled Spartans Math Competition

Thursday, January 14, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 10, 2010): I Love Anagrams!

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 10, 2010): I Love Anagrams!:
Q: Think of a familiar 10-letter hyphenated word that uses all seven letters of the alphabet from 'F' to 'L' plus three other letters of your choosing. What word is it? It's a word everyone knows, and it's in some dictionaries.
Is it just me or does Will seem to be in love with anagram puzzles?! In terms of the puzzle, I've checked a few dictionaries and only one had a specific entry for the answer. I agree we've all heard it, but you might have to seriously think awhile to get the answer. On a lighter note, did anyone read about the New York judge sworn in with his hand on a dictionary. I guess the dictionary should be considered the new Bible. ;-)

Edit: There were several clues, "seriously" and "lighter note" were two of them. Then there was "on a" which appeared a couple times. Those are the missing letters of the anagram.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 3, 2010): It All Adds Up to a New Year

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan. 3, 2010): It All Adds Up to a New Year:
Q: Write down the digits from 2 to 7, in order. Add two mathematical symbols to get an expression equaling 2010. What symbols are these?
Yippee! A math puzzle for 2010. The most obvious question is, do you need to get fancy with symbols beyond the standard operations of multiplication, division, addition and subtraction? For example, do you need to use a decimal point, factorials, exponentiation, square roots, etc.? Would Will be so diabolical or would he start us off easy in 2010?

I will say, using just the standard four operations between the digits, you can get 160 different results (4 x 4 x C(5,2) = 160). Of these results, 69 are positive integers. Once you have solved the puzzle for 2010, have fun seeing if you can create any of these results: 1, 623, 1102, 1103, 2291, 4572 or 4573. Also, what's the largest number you can create with just the standard operations?

Edit: The largest number you can form is 2345x6x7 = 98,490. If you study that number you'll see it is 49 times the desired solution of 2010. So just divide by 7 instead of multiplying.
A: 2345 x 6 / 7 = 2010