Sunday, July 12, 2009

NPR Puzzle 7/12/09 -- Hail, Hail, the Gang's All There

We had a star-studded puzzle segment on Weekend Edition Sunday this morning. In addition to Will Shortz & Liane Hansen, we also had Daniel Schorr, Susan Stamberg and Scott Simon in the audience. They even got to play a mini-version of the sort of puzzle that Will might ask a winner-of-the-week to play on air.

But they also dealt with the usual routine. "Will, why don't you tell us the challenge we'll be working on for next week?" "Okay."
Using the same system as the Kevin Kline/Vanna White puzzles from a couple weeks ago -- i.e., using only the straight letters, no curves -- name a genre of music in two five-letter words, each word consisting of exactly 15 straight lines and no curves.
This is -- forgive the pun -- pretty straightforward, and solvable in a number of different ways. We solved it by opening a reference book and looking up musical styles in 10 letters. Hey, this is Chez CrosswordMan; we have a reference book for everything crosswords. But I can easily imagine all of you getting it faster and without using a book.

But here's where I have a bit of a dilemma. I enjoy concocting the value-added puzzles because they are usually easy once Will Shortz has provided me with the format. (Thanks, Will.) In theory, today should be twice as easy because he gave us two formats to use. In the first set of puzzles tried out on the NPR celebrities in the audience, Will had two sports that shared a common term. (For example, NASCAR and golf both have drivers.) Eh, coming up with more of that sort would be too much like hard work. Next?

Well, the on-air contestant (who was a hoot -- great to hear someone who not only has been playing the entire time [was he really selected at random??] but actually remembers the first-ever contest, something involving the colors of the rainbow) was asked to contribute words starting with the letters of B E A C H. I could do a puzzle along those lines, but it's untidy. When it is time to post the answers, there could be so many for each initial and I'd need to list them all. Boring for you and me both.

So, we've come up with a puzzle related to the straight-line-letters puzzles (which I now think of as "Connect Kevin Kline and Vanna White in a Straight Line"). There are only a few letters that when capitalized have closed loops or spaces in them: A B D O P Q R. Rather remarkably, we can make some words from these letters. I'll give you the clue and number of letters, you give me the word, words, or name constructed only from those letters. So, if the clue was Swedish band (4), the answer would be ABBA.

Yogi Bear's sidekick (6)

Type of cookies (4)

On a train (6)

Exotic vacation destination (8; two words)

Conductor Claudio (6)

Minstrel (4)

Thingamajig (6)

Overseas (6)

Rude person (4)

Character on M*A*S*H (5)

Former first lady's first name (7)

Dismiss, var. (6)

Passion (5)

Clutch (5)

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