Friday, May 8, 2009

Solution to NPR Puzzle 5/3/09 -- Shortz's Choice

Here's the challenge from last Sunday:
Take a common five-letter first name that contains one V. Change the V to an L, rearrange the letters and you'll get a familiar last name. The first and last names go together to name a famous star living in Hollywood. Who is it?
Before I get to the answer (which will trigger a series of associations resulting in the suggestion that Will Shortz owes me a lunch), let me tell you what my value-added puzzles were from Sunday. First up: What three-name nursery rhyme character has all three names starting with the same letter, and ending with another letter? Wee Willie Winkie.

Next up: Ross's software, TEA, gave me 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 the same 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.
The answers were Work Week, Double Date, and Coffee Cake.

Okay, so back to Will's puzzle. The answer is Kevin Kline: There aren't that many five-letter first names with V in them (Steven is too long, Evan is too short), so once you think of Kevin, the only remaining challenge is to see the anagram. My hint to help you think of a hint was to keep in mind the process Will Shortz must have gone through to come up with his on-air puzzle, which required famous names where the first and last names started with the same letter, and ended with the same letter (albeit different from the letter starting both names). Susan Sarandon, Marianne Moore, etc.

You imagine Will starting with lists of famous actors, poets, fictional characters -- he's limited it to those where the first and last names start the same, and look! Kevin Kline. But they end with different letters . . . wait -- Kline is an anagram of Kevin, almost. I figure he then looked for another example of this effect, and that's how he got Edgar Degas, whose two names don't start the same. I think Edgar Degas would have been a tougher challenge, but he'd have had to say it was an artist, and then the lists we'd all be consulting would be short enough to make it easy. By telling us only that it was a Hollywood star, in theory we had to consider females. Here's the short list of women's first names with V in them:
See what I mean? You can think of famous women with those first names, but in almost all cases, there's only one per name. That didn't take long to rule out. Here's the list of men's names with V in them:
Same sort of deal -- there are famous Clives and Vijays, but not so many that you can't rule them out pretty quickly. Okay, so David and Steve are at least theoretical. David Addil? Adlid? Daldi? Steve Leets? Teels? Steel?

Admittedly, I didn't do any of this. I just thought of Kevin, and then thought of Kevin Kline.

Here's where it gets interesting. When I think of Kevin Kline, I think of A Fish Called Wanda, which is pretty ironic because I never saw it. (Why didn't I think of The Big Chill? I love that movie!) But I rather assumed that my British husband, and my British ex-husband (who also does the NPR puzzle faithfully) would get the reference. Nope. Henry (the ex) laconically admitted as how he'd seen A Fish Called Wanda, but still hadn't been able to come up with Kevin Kline's name. And Ross? Well, he thinks of Sophie's Choice:

Brooklyn BridgeAnd that gets us back to Brooklyn, the site of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which is in the Marriott Hotel, which is mere blocks from the Promenade overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, which is iconic in the movie.

And that gets me back to the fact that last night we watched the episode of Dinner: Impossible that shows how chef Robert Irvine (a fellow Brit) prepared our lunch. And here's where I am still just a teensy bit peeved. Ross and I were rookies at this year's ACPT, so when Will Shortz announced that there was loads of food and no need for everyone to rush up to the buffet while the puzzle was going on, we believed him. Hah! Never again. In fact, watching the episode showed just how much food was gone by the time we got up there. I kept watching Chef Irvine's team prepare food that I know I never saw, let alone got to sample.

Will, if you're reading this -- you owe us a lunch. Don't worry -- we've got your address; we'll come to you.

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