Sunday, October 18, 2009

NPR Puzzle 10/18/09 Hear the Answer

This week's puzzle:
Take the name of the singer Bonnie Raitt, rearrange these 11 letters to be two words that are loosely synonyms. What are they?
It should surprise no one that Ross has a software program for that: Wordplay Wizard. You plug in your word and it tells you all the ways you can clue it, including what sets of words can be anagrammed together. Add a definition and an anagram indicator (necessary in the British style cryptic puzzles) and you've got a clue. So a valid (if uninteresting) cryptic clue would be "Rob dresses for crazy blogger (4, 9)." With his software, that took about two minutes.

Anyway, you plug in Bonnie Raitt, and scroll down the list. Yes, it's far too easy with the computer. (Just a reminder: Neither Ross nor I submit our entries.) But, I'm paying the price with the value-added puzzle below, which has no easy short-cuts. (Thanks, Will! We love you too.)

As I mentioned on Thursday, it snowed just as we got back to Pennsylvania. From summer to winter in four short days! (Which were mostly spent driving...) I used a photo from last year's October snowfall but thought you guys deserved something more current. Here's our perennial border in the snow on Friday morning.

What's really striking about this photo to me is that it almost looks civilized. That's because it was so hideous and overgrown with weeds that we had to have some people in to clear out all the clutter. (Definition of a weed: a wildflower in the wrong place. Definition of a lot of weeds: my garden.) We're hoping to have the entire garden overhauled next year. I promise you'll get before & after pictures, whether you want them or not.

When you live someplace without the necessary conditions for the lacy snow-on-branches effect, it's a wondrous thing to see. When you live where we do, it's pretty much an annual event, if not more frequent. Still, it's neat to see the first time.

The tree pictured is an ancient apple tree that desperately needs pruning. The apples are edible only by the deer, which isn't such a bad thing. It probably saves us the job of figuring out when the apples are ready to eat. (We came home with lots of citrus fruit from our hostess's grove of trees, and it's hard to tell when they're ripe.) If I had to guess the variety of this particular apple tree, I'd say "wizened."

Part of the plan for the garden is to plant fruit trees inside the chain link fence, where at least the deer can't roam. When that happens, we'll be a bit more particular about the varieties to be planted. (I like Cortlands and Northern Spies. Ross likes Macintosh and Galas.)

My favorite of this series: that's a clematis (and you don't want to be around us when Ross and I debate the correct pronunciation of that flower!) in the background. When I went outside yesterday, and the snow had all melted, I noticed two flowers blooming down near the deck surface. It's a great climber, and regularly blooms from July to October. I've yet to figure out a way to save it when the nice people come to demo the deck and build us a new one...

The two clematis flowers weren't the oddest thing I noticed yesterday: two of our species lilacs are blooming, and have been for the last month. They only bloom in late May, except of course when they bloom in autumn, I guess. I had no idea that they could bloom a second time, and I have no idea what conditions are necessary for that trick. But, yes, when I walked by yesterday, there were lilac flowers on a bush that still had snow clinging to it.

*******ALERT*******

If you want the effect of the on-air puzzle, get someone to read the clues for the value-added puzzle out loud for you. It's so much harder to visualize the hidden word if it's an oral clue. So don't look yet (!!) and go find some kind soul to make this puzzle hard enough. And if you can't be bothered, don't blame us when you breeze through them in record time.

As I mentioned above, this sort of puzzle is hard to construct. Hats off to Mr. Shortz for the great ones on the radio! My clues are intentionally a bit vaguer as to the word clued, but the concept is the same: The answer to each clue is a hidden word in that clue.

Last chance to get someone to read them for you . . .

*******END ALERT*******

Here's Will's on-air explanation of this puzzle style, altered to accommodate my puzzle:
The answer to each clue is a word which can be found in consecutive letters inside the clue. For example, if I said "a sail boat's part", you would say "spar", because a sail boat's part is a spar, and it's concealed in consecutive letters inside "sail boat's parts."

Creating beauty in gift-wrapping

As much herb as I like

Polishes and smooths

Needs to vent

Item within group

The sound from that piano is everywhere

We'll need one to equip an elevator

Polish in Europe

What's counted watching the ads

2 comments:

Roxie said...

Wordplay Wizard, eh? Oh well, on this one I might have cheated as well - but I got out the scrabble tiles, old fashion style. I think I probably found the right answer - but then again, what on earth does 'loosely synonymous' mean? I could just as easily synonymize my way from baritone to tin. :-)

Magdalen said...

Henry had "bo" and "itinerant" which he claims works because "bo" is short for "hobo." I wouldn't recommend anyone send that in, btw -- I'm pretty sure that's not what's required!

But I do discuss the "loosely synonymous" caveat in the Thursday post, so be sure to check back for that!