Sunday, September 13, 2009

NPR Puzzle -- 09/13/09 -- Easy as Tarte Tatin?

But first, this week's puzzle:
Take a familiar French word with three letters. It's a word everyone knows. Then take its meaning in English, also with three letters. Say these two words one after the other, and phonetically they'll sound like another French word everyone knows. What word is it?
We solved it accidentally while we were trying to solve it. Ross was using a trick he taught me years ago. When you're looking for a website on Google that will give you a definitive list of things, list the items you already know as the search terms. So he was dutifully typing in OUI YES DIX TEN and suddenly typed in the two 3-letter words you need to solve the puzzle. Never even bothered to hit the enter key...

Before we get to the value-added puzzle, I would like to compliment Ross on getting the grid for this morning's NYTimes crossword looking so good. He grumbled about it, but in the end, he's brilliant and gets it done. Good work, sweetheart.

And after he'd blogged about it, he came downstairs to the TV room where I was watching -- finally! -- the two-hour finale for E.R. He was mumbling something about crossword ephemera, and how it could be something he collects but then he reckons Will Shortz owns it all already, including thematic pinball machines in his basement. So when "pinball machine" was one of the answers to this morning's on-air puzzle, we were primed.

The thing about collecting is that you can't decide arbitrarily to collect something and then hunt around for something to collect. I think you have to find something you love to own, and then realize -- after you've bought far too many of them! -- that you might as well call it a collection. Ross has accepted this approach, and hopefully the question will be moot for several years, as he's not a shopper!

This week's on-air puzzle was explained this way:
Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase in which the first word starts "pi" and the second word ends in an "e." So, the "pi-e" is divided. For example, if the clue is "power source for most automobiles," the answer would be "piston engine."
Let's see if I can come up with the hard ones Will decided not to use on air.

What your prescription comes in?

Used to keep the choir in tune?

Place in Tennessee Dolly Parton is from?

Non-alcoholic summer refreshment?

Colorful addition to a sandwich?

Something else in Will Shortz's basement?

Where the green nuts come from?

Something in Tiger Wood's arsenal?

A fierce fight?

Component of an Italian meal?

Decorative detail for a sweater?

Furniture with a raised detail?

Strikers' orbit?

Musical composition, e.g., Ravel's Miroirs?

Possible component of leaf mold?

Sissy Spacek's mom in Carrie?

Instrument featured in Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever?

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