Sunday, May 3, 2009

NPR Puzzle 5/3/09 -- What's In A Name?

I'm flying solo today, as Ross is off learning wonderful things about chain saws. We have 24 acres and half of that is wooded, with approximately half the trees white ash. Ash is a great firewood tree, as you can burn it right after you've cut it. Still, we're trying to build up more than an entire winter's worth of wood. I say "we" but the lumberjack in the family is Crosswordman himself. Crosswoodman?

Anyway, he normally takes meticulous notes of the on-air puzzle, but with him gone as of 6:00 a.m., I felt obligated to be less casual about my own approach to the puzzle. So I finished a sudoku off the Puzzle-a-Day calendar Ross gave me for Christmas and sat poised, pencil in hand, ready for anything.

The on-air puzzle was to name people and fictional characters whose first and last names start with the same first and same last letters. (If you're using TEA, type in 1*2 1*2 and see what you get in unedited English. There is a {space} between the two 1*2s.) Will then gave sufficient clues as to the person or character, as well as the first and last letters of the name. I won't list the answers, in case you want to catch the podcast on the Internet.

This week's challenge is related to the on-air puzzle: Take a common first name in five letters with a V (as in Victor) in it, change the V to an L, rearrange the letters to get the last name of a famous living star in Hollywood.

I don't expect to solve these immediately, but I'll admit that literally as I was getting up from the breakfast table the first name came to me, and then the last name. Boom! Just like that. And of course I can't give you a hint. But I will give you a hint to get a hint. Think about how Will Shortz gathered the names he needed for the on-air puzzle. More than that will have to wait for Thursday.

In the meantime, here's a word puzzle to accompany Will's on-air puzzle. When I tested TEA to see if my construction of the letter pattern would, in fact, yield the names (it did), I also got three two-word phrases in Core English. They're all common phrases where the first word starts with the same letter as the second word, and both end with a different letter. And what's kind of neat is that you can construct a sentence that would use all three phrases without too torturous a meaning.

To celebrate the end of the _____________, my colleague and I went with our sweeties on a _____________ to have some ______________ at Starbucks.

Oh, and one more thing. I think Will Shortz missed a trick. There's one three name character he could have used: The letters are W and E, and he's the titular character from a nursery rhyme.

Mull those over and I'll be back on Thursday with all the answers.

P.S. If you didn't catch the puzzle on the radio, do listen online. For a while now, they've been getting different people to read the list of puzzles and games the on-air participant gets, but as far as I'm concerned, they could use today's "reader" every week for quite a while. It's the best part of today's broadcast, and that's saying something.

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