Sunday, May 07, 2006

Uh, oh. It's Puzzle Day!

Did you ever hear the comedian Brian Regan describe the morning a kid wakes up remembering that his Science project is due that day...and how his head POPS off his pillow? It's hilarious...and it happened to me today.

At 6:00 a.m. (an hour later than I usually sleep), my head came up OFF my pillow as I recalled that the Ohio judge who usually types up and distributes the NPR puzzle had asked me to sub for him today...but that he hadn't sent me a template like he *ALWAYS* does. I've filled in for him quite a few times over the last few years, and he's ALWAYS sent me a template! (I once told him that it was appreciated, but not necessary so I guess he took me at my word this week.) A search of every email Inbox I own proved fruitless so after feeding the dog and me some breakfast, I got right down to work finding a blank tape, setting up the tape recorder, finding the template Richard sent me back in March (the last time I subbed), searching my hard drive for my login and password to Topica Lists, creating my own template with new pertinent information, etc., and pretty soon I was transcribing Liane Hansen & Will Shortz as fast as my fingers could type.

So, anyway, here's what went out to NPR puzzle fans around the world this morning.

Synopsis of
NPR Weekend Edition puzzle
with Liane Hansen and Will Shortz

The Current Challenge (given 20060430): from
From Merl Reagle: Take the word formaldehyde. Rearrange its 12 letters to spell two shorter words that are uncapitalized and very common. Each one has just one syllable. Not counting a slight variation, we think the answer is unique. What words are they?

The answer Will and Merl expected were the words RHYMED and then either LOAFED or FOALED. Liane, who was back this week (hooray!) after a three-week hiatus, reported over 1,400 entries.

The on-air player was Derek Tier (phonetic), a retired research engineer from Grantham, New Hampshire who has been sending in entries since 1998. From where he lives, Derek can listen to NPR stations in five different states; he is a member of several stations, including WGBH in memory of Julia Child and Robert J. Lurtsema ( ).

For the on-air puzzle, Will brought familiar phrases and titles, all of which take the form: "BLANK on the BLANK." Will gives the end of the phrase, and the player must come up with the start. For example, if Will said CAKE, the answer would be ICING to make the phrase ICING on the CAKE. (As a hint, Will says the answer will always be a noun.)

CLUES (answers are near the end of this message):
1. cob
2. wall
3. range
4. floss
5. wrist
6. Nile
7. bounty
8. spot
9. Mount
10. roof
11. hearth
12. Rhine
13. wild side
14. River Kwai
15. Orient Express
16. half-shell
(two-word answers for the next two clues)
17. block
18. prairie

The Current Challenge (given 20060507):
From listener Mike Rice of Los Angeles: Take two words that go together to make a familiar phrase in the form "BLANK AND BLANK." Both words are plurals (like "bells and whistles"). Move the first letter of the second word to the start of the first word, and you'll get two new words that name forms of transportation. What are they?

Answers must be received by 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.
One one entry per person. NPR will no longer receive entries by
email. Entries must now be made at the web page:

No word yet on whether regular mail POSTCARD entries will be accepted.
NPR's address is:
Weekend Edition Sunday Puzzle
National Public Radio
635 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

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Guest editor’s notes from Kristy Fowler Coker:

Thanks to Richard for letting me type up this week’s synopsis as he enjoys a family gathering in beautiful San Francisco! I'll try to keep my jealousy to a minimum and just focus on sending out a quality synopsis.

Liane also was in San Francisco recently and, while there, visited station KQED. She was also at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, which she likened to a "prom" for journalists and politicians. She admitted that she was "dressed to the nines," and joked that "for someone in radio, that's really hard."

Serendipitous links, suggested by today’s on-air puzzle:

If Neal Conan and Liane Hansen were at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, they must have heard the now-infamous speech by comedian Stephen Colbert...who insists that he didn't bomb, but that the audience simply maintained a "very respectful silence." You can see sixteen minutes of the performance here: .

You can read many of George Eliot's novels online, including her 1860 _The Mill on the Floss_, at:

TWO of today's on-air puzzle answers were books by Agatha Christie. Many speculate that Christie once faked her own kidnapping in hopes that her husband would be charged. (He had just asked her for a divorce, admitting that he was in love with a younger woman.) Her second husband, an archaeologist, was apparently a much better match; Christie once claimed, "An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her." :-)

Have a great week, NPR puzzle fans!

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Editor's notes:

Puzzles, and contents of Weekend Edition/Sunday puzzle segment
are copyrighted 2006, by Will Shortz and NPR. Reprinted here with

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If you'd like to subscribe to these synopses (and receive them
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If you want to remove your address from the list, send a blank
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NPR posts the weekly challenge (and the previous answer) on its
World Wide Web page. Go to , and "select" Weekend
Edition Sunday from the drop-down combo box to the right of the
big npr in the top left corner. You can also pick up a recording
of Weekend Edition Sunday program in the Real Audio format, after
1:00 p.m. Eastern time each Sunday. In the alternative, for the
text of the weekly listener challenge and a photo of Will and
Liane, you can go directly to:
Podcasts are available at:
How do I subscribe to this podcast?
Copy the URL [above this paragraph] into your preferred
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National Puzzlers League:
From: elaine , The 2005 meeting will be in
the Los Angeles area.

The NPR puzzle Web page also has links to books edited by Will
Shortz, a Will Shortz bio, and these links:
World Scrabble Championship
American Crossword Puzzle Tournament
It references a Merl Reagle article on constructing crossword
puzzles. It is available at:
World Puzzle Championship:
Register for the USA team at:
More of Yoshiyuki Kotani's puzzles are available from
More of Ed Pegg Jr.'s puzzles are available at:
Kristy Fowler Coker recommends:
You can join Kathie Schneider's email list for accessible word
and logic puzzles. To subscribe, send a blank email to:
Frank Morgan's Math Chat is at:

Richard R. Renner (r3)
New Philadelphia, Ohio

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1. corn
2. fly (or writing)
3. home
4. Mill
5. slap
6. Death
7. Mutiny
8. Johnny
9. Sermon
10. Fiddler
11. Cricket
12. Watch
13. walk
14. Bridge
15. Murder
16. oysters (or clams)
(two-word answers for the next two clues)
17. new kid (or New Kids)
18. Little House

Liane thanked Derek for not making her whistle the theme to _Bridge on the River Kwai_.

End of NPR Puzzle Synopsis.


Whew. Done. After all that stress, the Wonder Lab and I hit the park for a three-mile walk/run. Tonight, the kids and I have church and then dinner...and then I can come home and crash with a good book. (Doesn't that sound like a wonderful Sunday?) :-)

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