Thursday, November 18, 2010

NPR Puzzle 11/14/10 - Na Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na

This is Crossword Man here. I'm standing in temporarily for Magdalen, who was badly delayed in traffic this morning, wrecking her intended schedule. She'll be augmenting this post on Friday with the usual stuff about the pictures and the Pick a Range competition. I'll just say what we think the answer is in case anyone's still mystified. Feel free to comment as usual.

Here's this week's NPR Sunday Puzzle:
What is the longest familiar phrase, title, or name in which the only consonants are N and T, repeated as often as necessary? The other letters are vowels. Try to think of an answer with at least 18 letters.
Millennium BugWe couldn't think of anything right away, so turned to TEA for inspiration. To our dismay it didn't have the minimal 18-letter answer that Will claimed, but with numbers like nineteen and ninety showing up in several results, it didn't take long to think of nineteen ninety nine.

I believe all Magdalen's pictures relate to incidents in 1999, but she will go into all the details anon. I remember being kept very busy that year making my client's software Y2K compliant on top of all my normal work - anyone still remember the Millennium Bug?

Incidentally, the longest answer candidate showing up in Wikipedia is the 19-letter Antoine et Antoinette (1947), a French-language comedy movie. Is it "familiar" though? With competitions like this, should you go for the shortest safe answer, or push the boundaries of the familiar in the hopes of getting picked? How about the familiar 40-letter schoolyard chant in the title? Discuss ...

4 comments:

Lorenzo said...

The best strategy in these cases is to submit all your possible answers in a single e-mail. The rules state "one entry per person", not "one answer per person."

Tom said...

So Ross, I tried to resort to TEA but couldn't figure out how to format the query. How did you do it?

Crossword Man said...

The search you would use for this is:

! *[^ntaeiouy]*

which shows all results that don't have any of the letters we want to exclude. TEA should probably have some years from the recent past and near future spelled out, but it doesn't in the current release.

Tobias Duncan said...

Ugg! I had 1999 but did not think it was valid because it was not a complete phrase or name.GRRRRRRRrrrrrrr