Friday, March 19, 2010

NPR Puzzle 3/14/10 -- Don't Harsh My Mellow, Dude

This week's puzzle:
Think of two words that are opposites, beginning with the letters "H" and "M." Change the "H" to an "M." Say the result out loud, and you'll have the name of something nice to eat. What is it?
We're back from England.  (And I still didn't remember to post this yesterday!  Sorry.)  Ross solved this at the dinner table at his sister's house in Ruislip ("think of a grain and a part of the body involved in eating that grain, put them together phonetically and you get a suburb of London....").  Here is a pictorial clue, in case you still don't have the answer:

And for Ross, here's a Hello Kitty doll that is made to look like it's marshmallow.  The caption from Flickr reads: masyumaro~ mashumaromitaina fuwafuwanyanko = "my tiny fluffy fluffy marshmallow kitty". And in case that's not enough mallow-y goodness for you, here's a marsh mallow (the plant). It's clearly a relative of the hibiscus, but this is a winter-hardy shrub that I am familiar with from my childhood in Schenectady. And if a shrub can survive a Schenectady, NY winter, it's hardy.

Unfortunately, Will harshed our mellow just a tad.  Harsh & mellow are the obvious words he's thinking of, and marshmallow is the yummy.  Mellow has a short e sound, mallow has a short a sound.  And according to Chambers (my authority simply because it's the only dictionary I have on my computer and I'm essentially too lazy to go get one of the 50 other dictionaries in this house), the only distinction in pronunciation between marsh-mallow (the plant) and marshmallow, the yummy, is the stress:  marsh-mall'ow versus marsh'mallow.  All the mallows are pronounced differently than mellows.

Ross is a bit cheesed off about this, but rather than drag out the "war rhymes with raw" defense (which, as far as I'm concerned, wins every argument about American versus British pronunciations), I've just told him that if you say the non-word "marshmellow" out loud, people will be thinking "mmm,  s'mores," not "wha?"

Mmmm.  S'mores!

Here's a video to make everyone very happy:

The song seems to be by Slippery Star; the people are unknown celebrities, but the locale is in the Pacific Northwest. Love the clapped out boat as flotsam on the beach!

Finally, we've got only one pick for this week's prize, Mendo Jim's guess of 1000-1500. Ross wants 2000-2500 and I'm taking 2500-3000. Henry? Not to late to get a pick in!

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