Thursday, February 11, 2010

NPR Puzzle 2/7/10 -- A Merry Old Soul Was Me (I Mean I)

Here's this week's puzzle:
The nickname of well known queen is an anagram of the name of a well known king. What are their names?
My thanks to Crossword Man for filling in for me while I was in beautiful Marin County.  In fact, I was staying in Tiburon, which happens to be the crossword pseudonym for one of our Listener Puzzle friends, Shane Shabankareh.  I gather Shane's wife has family in Tiburon.  Having experienced the view and windy roads, I can quite see why anyone would want to live there.

Here is our queen:

Cleopatra VII, the one on the left.  The crocodile-headed fellow is Sobek, a rather ambiguous Egyptian god.  Nothing in Wiki explains why these two are hanging out together.  Prom King & Queen at their high school?  Halloween costumes?  Team mascots for the Coachella Crocs?  No clue.

Are female pharoahs like Cleopatra "queens"? I know in the colloquial sense she is; we understand the phrase "Queen Cleopatra" without question. But that was one of the tiny things that kept me from seeing her as the right answer. That, and the fact that I couldn't see a royal anagram in the letters CLEO.

Which is silly, because here's our king:

Old King Cole, in a mural by Maxfield Parrish at the St. Regis bar in Manhattan

If I say I found this to be an unsatisfactory puzzle, it's going to sound like sour grapes because I wasn't able to solve it for a few days.  I thought of "Cleo" but didn't see "Cole" out of that.  Ross wasn't really helping, and I wasn't stressing about it.  (I hadn't, for example, pulled out any of our reference books with lists of kings & queens.  I suspect that would have sped up the process a good bit.)  But then Marie left a comment on Sunday's post suggesting that maybe the king had not been "real" and I had it.  I don't think that was too generous a hint, but then I was probably the only person left who hadn't solved it by then.  (Thanks, Marie!)

But this is one of those puzzles you either see or you don't.  I liked last week's puzzle much better because it allowed us all to work on what was -- and wasn't -- a member of the class of words that fit Will Shortz's construct.  This one -- meh.

Birds last week, royals this week -- what's next, Will?  I'm guessing we're going to have a brand name puzzle; it's been a while and I think we're due.

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