Thursday, May 21, 2009

NPR Puzzle May 17, 2009 -- Did You Miss, America?

The puzzle for this week was one of Will Shortz's word-tree puzzles (with only two branches).
Think of a six-letter word with S as the third letter. Remove the S and the remaining five letters spell out a word that is the opposite of the six-letter word. As a further hint, the six-letter word has two syllables, while the five-letter word has one syllable. What are the words?
The answer we came up with was RESIGN & REIGN. Note that these words have opposite meanings only in the case of a beauty queen. Miss America (or Miss USA) reigns for one year, but if there is a scandal, she resigns. By contrast, a disgraced CEO resigns, but you wouldn't describe a CEO's tenure as his or her "reign." Monarchs reign, but they abdicate the throne, not resign it. If there is another position or title that has the RESIGN/REIGN combo, I'm not thinking of it. If you have thought of one, let us know.

[Sidebar: I was going to load a photo or YouTube clip of a Miss USA or Miss America who resigned her reign. The obvious choice would be Vanessa Williams, who resigned as Miss America in 1984 but seriously, she's done so many more amazing and wonderful things since then, why bother, right? But I was stunned to find that a really really blurry clip of her coronation as Miss America is on YouTube. Which prompted me to find an even blurrier clip of the coronation of Miss USA for 1973. That was the year I graduated from high school, and a classmate of mine, Susan Carlson, was Miss New York State and the first runner-up in the Miss USA pageant. The winner, Amanda Jones, was from Illinois, and a seriously cool person.

But that prompted me to Google Susan Carlson (we had been best friends in 7th grade, when I was tremendously impressed that she was able to wear an entirely new outfit every single day for the first 42 days of school). Apart from learning that her Wikipedia page has been removed, and that she was Miss Tennessee in the 1975 Miss World pageant, I didn't get very far. Susan, if you ever Google yourself and read this, get in touch!]


No value-added puzzles this week, mostly because of the aforementioned travel. We're back, though, and will have Henry visiting this weekend, so with three puzzle addicts around on Sunday we should be able to get something good going for you. See you then!

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