Sunday, August 2, 2009

NPR Puzzle -- 08/02/09 Making the World Go Round

Here's this week's puzzle:
This comes from crossword puzzle creator Merl Reagle: Take a slang term for money. Change one of its letters to the next letter of the alphabet. Rearrange the result, and you'll get another slang term for money. What are the words?
Ross and I have an answer, but we're not sure it's the right answer. It really seems to come down to what's a slang term versus what's just a regular word for money. We will continue to research this and see if we can't do better.

This is the sort of puzzle I'm tempted to enter, but all efforts recently to get an honorable mention (where Will Shortz acknowledges the alternate answer on air) have failed, so I probably won't send in our offering.

And in other news, today is Henry's (aka Hub 1.0) birthday! Happy birthday, Henry! I've been trying to convince him to visit this page regularly so he can play my value-added puzzles. Let's hope some birthday cake will lure him back:

I did not make this cake; the clues were written by Owen Massey, who used to write cryptic puzzles for Cherwell, a student newspaper at Oxford. I wish I could tell you who made the cake, but her website seems to lack any biographical details. However, she has a link to some Russian cakes that defy description. Check them out here.

And for those value-added puzzles, I won't do more "wise sayings," as Ben Franklin called them. In Henry's honor, I will do a version of the Categories puzzle that Will Shortz is fond of. You know the ones-- he gives the contestant a five letter word and a category (games, fruit, etc.) and asks for an example of that category beginning with each of the five letters. I would do this with H E N R Y, but it turns out that Y is problematic.

So I'm going to use A U G U S T, which amounts to a five-letter word when you discard the extra U. Here are your categories:

Countries

States

American Cities

Fruit

Animals (warning: the U is hard and you may need to cheat)

and finally, a special one for Henry, Beers. (Generic terms, such as lager, are permitted, as are breweries' odd punning names, such as Hop Devil.)

And just to make it more fun for everyone, anyone who solves this can post their answers for each category in the Comments section. So don't look at the Comments if you don't want to see what other people thought of! But there are some easy answers and some more obscure answers (except for the U animal, which is off-the-charts obscure), so style points for really weird but accurate answers!

15 comments:

Roxie said...

Hey Magdalen, I found this puzzle very tricky as well (sure as heck not as easy as Reno - Fresno), but once I had the answer I knew it was it. And now (after I toiled away at an old Sunday NYT Crossword for a couple of hours), I'll try your value added puzzle :-)

Roxie said...

OK, I know the second U was optional, but this was still pretty hard... and I cheated a bit (one beer and one animal were produced by google).

A U G U S T:

Countries
Austria, Uganda, Georgia, Uruguay, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago

States
Arkansas, Utah, Georgia :-), Upper Austria (I am pretty sure that Utah is the only State in the US starting with 'U'), South Carolina, Texas

American Cities
Augusta, Utica, Germantown, Union City, Seattle, Tuscaloosa

Fruit
Apple, Unprocessed Pineapple (it's rare), Grape, Unpolluted Apples (rare too), Strawberry, Tangerine

Animals (warning: the U is hard and you may need to cheat)
Anteater, Unicorn (no one said they couldn't be fictional), Giant Anteater :-), Unicorn Beetle (I cheated, but at least it exists), Sabre-toothed Tiger, Tiger

and finally, a special one for Henry, Beers. (Generic terms, such as lager, are permitted, as are breweries' odd punning names, such as Hop Devil.)
Amstel, Unibroue, Guinness, Upstream Nebraska (OK, I cheated on this one too), Sam Adams, Trappist beer

Magdalen said...

Great job, Roxie -- if Ross & I haven't figured out the on-air puzzle by Thursday afternoon, wanna be our guest blogger??

Roxie said...

Haha, If you really can't figure it out be Thursday afternoon, I'll be happy to help. If you want a little hint: Will Shortz once again used the word 'term' in the puzzle (remember Singleton?). Think of a slang 'term' for money :-)

Roxie said...

Also, one of the terms I've used quite often in the past, mostly jokingly. The other I'd never used before in my life, and I actually had to double check its etymology.

Tom said...

Countries: Austria, Uruguay, Germany, Spain, Thailand

States: Alaska, Utah, Georgia, South Dakota, Texas

American Cities: Alpharetta, Union City, Gainesville, Savannah, Tucker( all in georgia, my home state.)

Fruit: Apple, ?, Guava, Strawberry, Tangerine

Animals: Anteater, Umbrellabird, Goat, Sheep, Tiger

Beers( this will be tricky considering im 13): ?, ?, Guinness, Sam Adams,
?

Magdalen said...

Okay, Tom -- for you, you can stick to soft drinks & the like. LOL!

Magdalen said...

Roxie -- you can relax now. Ross and I are SO stupid that we somehow got it in our head the two slang terms for money were five letters! Silly us, hunh? Particularly, as the puzzle -- which I cut and paste from the NPR website so as to get it word-perfect (!) -- doesn't mention any lengths. Once we figured that out, it was easy-peasy.

Silly CrosswordMan&Wife!

Natasha said...

Any hints for the puzzle?

Roxie said...

Magdalen: You guys used TEA, admit it! :-b

Magdalen said...

Roxie -- We did . . . and we didn't. Understand, we thought the words had to be five letters (and there's the hint for Natasha -- skip all the five letter slang words for money!), so we'd tried everything. By the time we figured out where we went wrong, we were both so schooled in money slang terms that we knew the more obvious one (of the two that are the answers) because we'd seen it on every $£&*%@# list we'd looked at. LOL! So it was the fourth or fifth non-five-letter-word we tried. And I think Ross just saw the answer, because -- you know -- he can do those anagrams in his head.

Now, I have to say that Ross *had* devised an elegant way to churn through a lot of slang words using TEA. He would ask TEA to generate all the anagrams of a word, LUCRE say, plus one letter, provided the anagrams were five letters. This generates a large-ish list, but conveniently there's a notation next to each item on the list of what letter was removed and what was added (e.g., -C+B) so you could look for all the anagrams that had a letter removed that was sequential to the letter added.

As it happens, LUCRE and RUBLE were the only 5-letter words we got -- but although foreign words can be helpful as slang terms for money in the US (think shekel, for instance), RUBLE is not in that category.

And Natasha -- ? That's another hint for you. :-)

Natasha said...

I got two five letter words that fit. I used jumble solver and just substituted the next letter or the letter before the deleted letter. I think there may be more than one answer for this puzzle.

Dan said...

@Natasha - 2 SLANG five-letter words?
@Roxie - You were probably one of the first puzzlers of all that got this, in an one hour, 35 minutes. But it was a very lucky break. And God Forbid you do not pick up your phone AGAIN b/c you do not recognize the (202) area code/phone number.
@Everyone, my guess is that there will be less than 350 correct solutions to this one.

Natasha said...

Dan- That is what I got. Probably not right.

Magdalen said...

Okay, people -- please post what you got (for better or worse) on Thursday, after 3 p.m. east coast time. I'll post our answer and a discussion later on (we're off to Philly tomorrow, so won't be online until the evening).