## Sunday, March 17, 2024

### NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 17, 2024): A Couple of Trees

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 17, 2024): A Couple of Trees
Q: Take two three-letter tree names and combine them phonetically to get a clue for a type of fabric, then change one letter in that word to get something related to trees. What are the two trees?
Anagram the letters of the clue to get an appropriate surname.

Edit: Well, I had ASH + YEW --> A SHOE --> LEATHER --> HEATHER, so I was hinting at O'SHEA for St. Patrick's Day. So can I say I was half right?
A: YEW + FIR --> EWE FUR --> WOOL --> WOOD

1. I got this right away but didn't like the final answer, so I worked on it some more, but now I see it must be right. Since the puzzle requests only the two trees, that last answer is extraneous and not integral.

Nevertheless, rearrange the word for something associated with trees, and get an animal you might see there.

1. Blaine's clue above: "Anagram the letters of the clue..." YEW FIR = WIFREY (Oprah's real surname)

2. Nice puzzle! The phonetic wordplay with the trees is particularly cool. I'm not sure how to get Dr. K's animal, though.

3. I have an answer, but I don't like it. I feel like it's too much of a stretch. Also, it doesn't work with Dr. K's clue.

1. I can rearrange the word related to trees to get a different word that describes something that can happen in a forest.

2. The above clue is for an alternate answer. See my comment below from early Monday morning.

4. Now, given Lancek and JAWS' comments, I'm beginning to wonder again whether or not I have the intended answer, especially since that last answer I have also seemed from the beginning like a stretch.

5. I can't rearrange my final word related to trees to get any other word.

1. Think back to last week.

6. Yeah I might have the same answer as Dr. K. Mine doesn't work with either Jaws' or Lancek's clues. (Well, unless I'm being thick -- but I tried an online anagrammer.)
I'll try to think of a clue for mine so others can see if theirs matches any of ours!

7. OTOH, there are several related-to-tree words you can get by changing one letter in the clued-type-of-fabric word, and some of them work with above clues.

8. Blaine, I think you need to find a different picture!

1. I can assure you the answer isn't two sycamores.

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3. So much for a subtle clue

4. Hah! Do you work for the royal family?

5. I was just starting to type that I was certain that I have a different answer, when I realized that the above interaction between Jan and Blaine could be used to point to a clue. So, maybe I have the right answer? I think I need to work on other words related to trees, to get to Dr. K's clue.

6. Thanks to Jan's attempt at being subtle, I was able to solve the puzzle working somewhat backwards.

9. This is really hard to clue. The problem is that there are so few 3-letter trees that if I do the "not hard to get from the answer to my clue but very hard to get from the clue to my answer" trick, it's just too easy to plug in trees one at a time.
Hmmmmm.
Like Jan, I have a final word that has no anagrams.

10. I thought it would be easy for you simply to consult a list of trees and find a fabric; it wasn’t.

11. A question: Is the "something related to trees" phonetic or actual?

12. My final word can be anagrammed to apparently to only one other word, relating to silk. I do not get Dr. K's clue.

13. Is it significant that the wording of the puzzle stipulates "get a clue for a type of fabric" (Blaine even italicized "clue") and not "get a type of fabric"?

1. Greg also emphasized it on the air. Hmm... I wonder why.

2. In that case, with regard to my hint above, as Roseanne Roseannadanna put it, "Never mind." (Although it might make an interesting alternate puzzle.)

14. Take two three-letter tree names and combine them phonetically to get a clue for a type of fabric, then change one letter in that word to get something related to trees. What are the two trees?
Question: Is that word the clue or the type of fabric?

LegoInSearchOfClarification

15. Yul Brynner

1. I read you, Scarlett! That's like a chess gambit that's three moves from mate, but thus all the more lovely.

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3. Lancek, kudos for connecting the dots! I worked backwards to come up with the clue. Btw, when I read your comment to my hubby, I said "I think there was a gameshow called Gambit!" Sure enough....guess my memory's not so bad after all. And Wink Martindale is still alive.

16. My answer does match some of the ones clued here now.

17. I have a couple of answers...but for the one I'm happiest with, I'll just say that the fabric points back phonetically to one of the original trees.

1. Ha, possibly disregard this...I think I took a circuitous route to the right answer! New clue: if you knock the final letter off my "related-to-trees" final word, you get a verb.

2. This definitely does not match what I have so far.

3. Dr. Awkward, your hint is the only hint I see here that matches my answer.

4. My word matches Dr. A's clue

5. Glad to help! I went on quite a journey for this one...shall explain anon.

6. So yes, my second hint is pointing at WOOD becoming WOO. But I initially thought that the two trees might be "ASH-YEW," aka ACHOO, with WOOL being a fabric sometimes used for handkerchiefs.

18. I have it...

19. Congratulations to Emma Meersman for a fine puzzle. I suspect, however, that her original wording may have been tweaked by the "editors" at NPR – employees who, I presume had good intentions, but who, alas, generated a bad result.
Ms. Meersman's puzzle, as it appears on the NPR website reads:
Take two three-letter tree names and combine them phonetically to get a clue for a type of fabric, then change one letter in that word to get something related to trees. Your answer should be the two tree names you started with.
Blaine wisely tweaked that wording, so that the puzzle on this site reads;
Take two three-letter tree names and combine them phonetically to get a clue for a type of fabric, then change one letter in that word to get something related to trees. What are the two trees?
Notice that Blaine changed the last sentence to make the puzzle's wording less confusing.
The NPR wording makes it sound like "your answer" (which one might logically but falsely assume is the immmediately preceding "something related to trees") is somehow the same as "the two tree names you started with."
But it is not.
Great editing by Blaine.

LegoBlaineophile

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21. Switch the order of the 2 trees, and it will sound like another phrase that can describe the fabric.

1. "Fir yew" sounds like "for you". Wool can be for you, as in "This wool shirt is for you."

22. I think I have the answer, but it doesn't match any of the hints I see here.

1. Except Dr. Awkward's!

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24. I'm trying to be sew cute. Do I have you guys in stitches?

1. Methinks that first hint seams to come a little too clothes.

25. Such a tree tease will be written about this puzzle.

26. My aged brain is getting in the way. May have to give up on puzzles...SAD

27. Join 2 other 3 letter trees together and change one letter and pluralize the second tree to phonetically get something that could help them stay together. What are the 2 trees, and the thing?

28. Think of an actor of the past with one-syllable first and last names containing the same vowel sound. Change that vowel sound to a different vowel sound, and anagram the resulting words to get the two trees we're looking for.

1. Jan, this hint is a thing of beauty.

2. Not bad, jan.

3. I especially like how the second name and the second word match up more perfectly than strictly necessary. Another jan classic.

29. Another clever puzzle, though I would word it differently for enhanced clarity and to level the playing field. And sending good wishes for Will to get well soon…..

1. This is one clue that I can fit to my answer.

30. Strange — I have an answer that I think is fairly solid, but I can't easily fit it to any of the clues here.

31. The intended answer popped into my head early this morning.

Previously, Lego had asked, "Question: Is that word the clue or the type of fabric?"

What I believe is the intended answer goes one way with this question, and my other answer goes the other way.

32. Rearrange the letters of the two trees and the fabric, and get a shrewd speaker.

33. Odd they would ask for the interim solution in the puzzle chain and not the final.

34. Got it.

Musical Clue: Benny Goodman

1. How about Lenny Welch?

2. You've got me there. I was thinking Yale.

3. This is another clue that I can fit to my answer. However, this one and Iris's seem to be the only ones.

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37. I thought these puzzles were getting too easy. Nice for the one this week to keep me grounded.

38. Could there be a clue In our illogical ritual of daylight savings time? If there is, i''ll bet G. M. Hopkins could see the poetry in it

39. I think I got it, but the sheer awkwardness makes me wonder...

1. Are you doing a better job fitting the clues here than I am?

40. I just noticed that, as of last Thursday, Joel Fagliano is listed as the editor of New York Times crosswords, while Will Shortz is taking time to recover from his stroke.

41. I don't have it yet, but all I can think of is tea fir -> teefers -> cat teeth ðŸ˜»

1. As a crazy cat lady, I approve! ðŸ˜¸
There is also apparently a tree or shrub called kat. (cat tree -> kitty condo)

2. Yes!! Kat fir would work so well :) hopefully I'm not giving it away! I still haven't gotten the puzzle...

42. Are teefers a thing? I think I've had that rack of tiles in Scrabble before.

1. I think in a few years Scrabble will catch up and add teefers to the dictionary

2. In the meantime, I think the superlative of free really ought to be freeest.

3. "Tortitude" needs to be added to the dictionary. It's in the Cat Daddy (Jackson Galaxy) dictionary, however, as well as Wiktionary.

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44. I note that there is a 'hop' tree, and that HOP can be muddled with another 3-letter tree name to get part of a tree's anatomy.

45. YEW, FIR; EWE FUR; WOOL

"Tree tease" refers to the awkwardness of this week's puzzle. It's a bit of a stretch to go from EWE FUR to sheepskin to WOOL.

46. YEW, FIR,wool, wood UFER is also slang for a concrete-encased grounding electrode popular in residential construction.

47. YEW + FIR = YEW (ewe, female sheep) + FIR (fur) = EWE FUR → fabric clue: WOOL(en) → related to trees: WOOD(en).

WOOLEN FABRIC & WOODEN ASPECT OF TREES.

48. YEW & FIR >>> ewe fur is wool change L to D and get wood

My Hints:
"Think BIG!" Like thinking of a Woolly Mammoth.
"How about Lenny Welch?" His hit 1963 song: "Since I Fell For You."

49. YEW + FIR —> EWE FUR —> WOOL —> WOOD

A clever and subtle puzzle from Emma Meersman.

Hint: “Rearrange the letters of the 2 trees and the fabric, and get a shrewd speaker.”
YEW + FIR + WOOL —> WILY WOOFER

My first, mistaken guess was ASH + OAK —> ASHOKE (a Yoruban hand-woven cloth) —> ASHORE ( —> A HORSE was “the animal you might see there”), but I was soon disabused of my (several) errors. I hope I didn’t lead too many astray.

My comment (“a thing of beauty”) on Jan’s excellent hint was of course itself a hint at Robert Armstrong’s famous line about Fay Wray in King Kong, “It was beauty killed the beast.”

Ben’s Benny Goodman clue got me thinking of Yale (“The Whiffenpoof Song,” Rudy Vallee, etc.): “We’re poor little lambs who have lost our way / Baa, baa, baa….”

Meanwhile, back at the NCAA…

1. Those lyrics reminds me a bit of "Glad to Be Unhappy": "Like a straying baby lamb, with no mama and no papa"

2. I had HEATHER as my last word which anagrams to THE HARE, so I thought your clue confirmed mine. ðŸ˜‰

3. I was unfamiliar with "Glad to Be Unhappy." Thanks for the connection.

4. I tried to work backwards from an animal to find Dr. K's answer. MERINO (a type of wool) could lead to ERMINE, but I couldn't find an intermediate word related to trees.

50. YEW, FIR -> EWE FUR -> WOOL -> WOOD (or WOLD, WOOF, OWLS, etc.)

> So, this is really two puzzles for the price of one.

It's a YEW-FIR ewe fur twofer.

> Blaine, I think you need to find a different picture!

In Blaine's original picture, you can see sheep sheltering under those trees. He photoshopped them out after deleting my post pointing them out.

> Think of an actor of the past with one-syllable first and last names containing the same vowel sound. Change that vowel sound to a different vowel sound, and anagram the resulting words to get the two trees we're looking for.

FAY WRAY -> FIE WRY -> YEW, FIR

1. Jan gets extra style points for the fact that WRAY and WRY retain the silent "W" after changing the vowel sound. Changing WRAY to RYE doesn't work. I slipped in an early Sunday clue by noting that the phonetic word play was particularly COOL -- another word that can be formed by changing one letter of WOOL.

51. My answer, which doesn’t seem to match most hints: yew, fir (“ewe fur” -> wool -> wood)

52. YEW FIR / EWE FUR / WOOL / WOOD

53. My clue was "Yul Brynner." He played Pharaoh Ramses in The Ten Commandments. The 1965 song Wooly Bully was sung by Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs.

1. Loved it. A hidden musical clue!

54. I wrote, “I thought it would be easy for you simply to consult a list of trees and find a fabric; it wasn’t.” “For you” hints “fir ewe.”

55. Fir Ash=Furrish=Forest

56. posed:
"Join 2 other 3 letter trees together and change one letter and pluralize the second tree to phonetically get something that could help them stay together. What are the 2 trees, and the thing?"
Answer: ELM & FIR change F to E then add an S and phonetically you get Elmers, as in the wood glue.

57. Blaine, I am wondering why you removed my SPAM ALERT post? Did I miss something that appeared to you as being a hint? You have not removed my spam alerts previously.

1. I'm not sure why you were calling hohum's post spam. They've posted here occasionally for several years. I think they were hinting at Yew + Elm = Ulm. I kept their post for awhile until they explicitly posted the word "yew" but otherwise I didn't see a reason to mark it as spam.

2. ...and all I saw with his post was a very long advertisement.

3. I thought it was a clue. It was an ad for felt shoes. So that led me to Ash and yew... A shoe....felt (wool) ..wood. I wonder why he posted that site.

58. yew, fir->ewe fur=wool->wood

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60. It seems that I did not solve this week's NPR puzzle. But I did come up with a possible alternative answer (see below) that I did not submit, I no longer submit answers.

This week's Puzzleria! features Half-A-Dozen excellentPuzzling Doozies Appetizers by our friend Tortitude, titled 'Initials, Isles, Prezzes,'Pop,Toys & Dolls ." They are titled: "Initials, Isles, Prezzes, Pop,Toys & Dolls."
We upload Puzzleria! before midnight tonight PST.
Also on our menu this week:
* a Schpuzzle of the Week titled "Gophers & badgers & deer, oh my!"
* a Political Two-step Hors d’Oeuvre:titled Italian Shadow Dancing
* a Givin’ Me The Willys Slice titled “Stop, Rewolf!”
* a Nontemporal Temples Dessert titled "E pluribus una dea,"
* and a dozen Riffing Off Shortz And Meersman Slices titled "Blue BayYew TapEntry," including seven excellent riffs composed by our friend Nodd.
Visit us! We guarantee "Tortitudinal" and "Noddular" puzzling excellence

LegoWhoIsBlessedToHaveTheBestPuzzleMakersEverContributingToHisPuzzleria!Blog(AndWhoWishesWillShortzAFullRecovery)

61. I'm just excited that I had the same (wrong) answer as Blaine!

1. You were kind of on the right track with "kat fir"

2. Interestingly, ASH YEW sounds like my reaction to KAT FIR.

3. Omg I tried so hard to make achoo work before I came up with a shoe! I was like, what letter can I change in tissue?

4. And yes, kat fir was so close! (Yet so far)

5. Sorry Yew had a tissue issue. Did you think to ask your Elders?

62. Ash, yew can be correct. There are shoes made from wool (felt is made from wool). I got both answers.

63. The answer submitted was only the two trees? Not the other parts?

1. "Your answer should be the two tree names you started with."

2. So how does that show the rest of the answer is correct?

3. I agree that it is unsatisfying that only the two tree names were required. Changing a different letter in WOOL can lead to WOLD (an English word related to a German word for forest), or WOOF (trees have bark, and dogs like peeing on trees), or, with a little rearrangement, OWLS (who who who live in trees).

64. I didn't like this puzzle. It was cute, I guess, but WOOL is not FUR. Sheep do not have FUR.

1. Wool is a type of fur.

2. Q: Do you get fur from a skunk?
A: Yes, as fur as possible!

65. I submitted Tea and Sal. Teasle. Leaves.

66. It took me a while to come up with what I (and most others here) believe is the intended answer, YEW, FIR. I struggled to get it, partly because I kept thinking YOU and not EWE. Luckily, I had seen the original picture Blaine posted, and Jan's comment, so my early Monday thoughts were around wool (which easily changes to wood), and sheep. Then it hit me.

In the meantime, I had originally thought of ASH,YEW, phonetically sounding like ACHOO, which is a clue for a fabric handkerchief. Due to the wording of the puzzle, I had changed the last letter of ACHOO to get A CHOP. I had originally commented that it was a bit of a stretch. But then Blaine also made a comment about thinking back to last week, which made me think adding the space was necessary. Also, lamb chops are a thing, so removing the sheep from the picture made sense.

Ultimately, I included both in my submission, with explanations about how the puzzle phrasing made it difficult to interpret what was meant by "that word."

1. We were barking up the same tree with ASH-YEW / ACHOO, it seems—see my comment above!

67. Some of us here were Pining for a puzzle like this, and others probably think it was a Birch if they got Stumped. I thought it a Poplar Plum for a change, and a bit of a Whin.

1. Knot having got this one, I feel like a sap for having embarked upon such a fruitless task.

2. No need to explain Firther. Yew can solve the next one and that May Spruce things up, Snowberry.

3. I may need to branch out to other puzzle sites. It was hard to figyew this one out. The instructions were shady and gummed up my week.

4. I will go out on a limb and say everyone here will miss yew.

5. I am not leafing. Thank yew. May the forest be with you.

6. I bough to your decision. I don't want yew to feel yew are being left in the larch. Now, let's see if we can spruce things up a bit here. We hold the future in our palm.

7. Fir yew, SDB: It can be difficult to plant new roots in other puzzle places. - Weeping Willow.

8. Maple it wood be too hard. Yew don't want to mango it up.

68. I had yew and fir = ewe fur = wool = wood, but it didn't match so many of the clues that I assumed I was wrong.

69. My clues: “though I would word it differently….” was using the word “would” for “wood” and the good wishes to Will were using “will” and “well” as words like “wool”.

70. I had to do my taxes rather than spend more than an hour on this puzzle. Now seeing "EWE FUR", I regret the hour spent on the puzzle.

71. Confession: I may have led some Blainesvillians astray with a clue about daylight savings time and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Mea culpa, as Father Hopkins might have said.
First, I studied the small universe of 3 letter trees. I played with oak and fir and elm, but was convinced " bay" and "yew" in that sequence were the phonetic indicators of what could only be a very special fabric, the Bayeux Tapestry. I could discern no one-off lettered word from tapestry cluing a tree-related term. So I thought a synonym might apply, like embroidery, or "weaving."
Some folks posted clues about Benny Goodman and Lenny Welch and others that I thought referred to the song "Falling Leaves." I rationalized that "weaving" was the answer and the letter w should be replaced with an l, for the awkward term "leaving."
The only usage of that term in an arboreal context I could find was in Hopkins' poem "Spring and Fall" (hence daylight savings time) which begins "Margaret, are you grieving/ Over golden Grove un-LEAVING."
Hope nobody wishes me a hickory stick.

72. This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes to us from Mae McAllister, from Bath, in the United Kingdom. As you may know, each chemical element can be represented by a one or two-letter symbol. Hydrogen is H, helium is He, and so on. McAllister points out that there are two commonly known elements whose names each can be spelled using three other element symbols. Name either one.

1. There are two possible answers, but you only have to submit one for credit

2. Got one. Not the other, though. Pretty easy.

73. Got them both, but as a Chemical Engineer I had an advantage. The two elements are often paired.

1. Just got the second one, too. I'm having more trouble with my NCAA brackets.

2. I found a second one, but it doesn't readily form a stable compound with the first one. I wonder if there are more than two?

74. Super easy. It won't take you long.

75. I have one answer and two non-answers. Key words: 'three' & 'other'.

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.