Sunday, August 21, 2011

NPR Puzzle 8/21/11 - Will Shortz Shows His Animal Nature

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:
Take the name of an aquatic animal, in two words, six letters in the first word and four letters in the second. Remove the first letter of each word, the remaining eight letters in order, will spell a word that might describe an animal that is not aquatic.
We have Henry here, and with three brains crunching down on a puzzle, it doesn't stand a chance.

Alas for Will Shortz, Henry's also the type of person to notice that on the NPR website, the answer to last week's puzzle, DACHSHUND, is spelled incorrectly.  (Not that this is Will's fault.  I imagine someone just takes the answer from the on-air puzzle segment, which as we know is taped on Friday or Saturday.)

If you have the answer AND you've spelled it correctly, send it to NPR (using this form here) and show them how it's done.

Henry's here for a week in what's turning out to be an annual mutual holiday.  Last year, the three of us went on a car trip along Route 6, a scenic byway that spans Pennsylvania from Erie to the  Delaware Water Gap (we only did the bit west of here).  This year, because of Henry's arm injury (healing nicely, but that's the point: it's still healing), we're staying close to home.  We might take a day trip to the Hudson River in a couple days.

N.B. to Will:  With all due respect, do I misidentify Merl Reagle or Brendan Emmett Quigley as su doku constructors?  No, I do not.  So let's be clear:  DANIELLE STEELE is not a romance novelist.  Okay?  Nora Roberts, sure.  Even (to our slight embarrassment) Barbara Cartland.  But not Danielle Steele.  Check with me next time; I can set you straight on who is, and who isn't, a romance writer.

Water, water everywhere - and not a clue to help you think.  (Sorry, I'm a bit sleep deprived.)  Okay, what I did for the photo section this week was to look for photos of different bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.) linked by a single element: time of day.  I do not warrant that the aquatic animal in question can live, or does live, in any of the bodies of water pictured below.  Okay?  There are no hints here, so stop looking!  More explanation on Thursday, but for now, enjoy the view.

Time for ...

P I C K   A   R A N G E

This is where we ask you how many entries you think NPR will get for the challenge above.  If you want to win, leave a comment with your guess for the range of entries NPR will receive.  First come first served, so read existing comments before you guess.  Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post.  After the Thursday post is up, the entries are closed.  The winner gets a puzzle book of our unspecified choosing.
2000 entries last week, so no winner.  No one close, which is good because the Overworked, Underappreciated NPR Intern doesn't get the point -- we need the number as the top or bottom of a range: e.g., more than or fewer than 2000  This week could be better.  Enter this week's Pick A Range and see what you might win.

Here are the ranges:
Fewer than 50       
50 - 100
100 - 150
150 - 200
200 - 250
250 - 300
300 - 350
350 - 400
400 - 450
450 - 500

500 - 550
550 - 600
600 - 650
650 - 700
700 - 750
750 - 800
800 - 850
850 - 900
900 - 950
950 - 1,000
1,000 - 1,050         
1,050 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,150
1,150 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,250
1,250 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,350
1,350 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,450
1,450 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,550
1,550 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,650
1,650 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,750
1,750 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,850
1,850 - 1,900
1,900 - 1,950
1,950 - 2,000
2,000 - 2,050
2,050 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,150
2,150 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,250
2,250 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,350
2,350 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,450
2,450 - 2,500

2,500 - 2,750
2,750 - 3,000
3,000 - 3,250
3,250 - 3,500
3,500 - 4,000
4,000 - 4,500
4,500 - 5,000

More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.
Our tie-break rule:   In the event that a single round number is announced, AND two separate people picked the ranges leading up to and leading up from that round number, the prize will be awarded to whichever entrant had not already won a prize, or in the event that both entrants had won a prize already or neither had, then to the earlier of the two entries on the famous judicial principle of "First Come First Serve," (or in technical legal jargon, "You Snooze, You Lose")


DAPF said...

At least this week I can find no reasons to dismiss the statement of the puzzle as ambiguous or its answer as phonetically challenged. However, the second part of my answer is an adjective that applies to a HUGE variety of things. Maybe that's why Will said that it *might*" describe a non-aquatic animal. In fact, the second part of my answer does describe the first part also, which makes my answer circular. Having said all of this, is anyone able to confirm that they have the same answer?

David said...

DAPF, the second part of my answer is also an adjective that can describe more than just animals, but it doesn't describe my animal, so perhaps there are multiple answers.

My adjective has one more syllable than my animal. The adjective of my answer's first definition at starts with "(chiefly of animals)". I am surprised that the Brits didn't misspell the first word with an extra letter.

I got the answer pretty quickly, just a couple minutes into the next segment. One wrong answer was "Peking Duck", which led me to wondering why it isn't called "Beijing Duck" now. Which led me to wondering why that place in some military airplanes isn't now called the "Mum Bai" (or should it be "Mumb Bai"?), instead of the "Bomb Bay".

I'll go with my standard 1000 to 1050 range.

Maybe last week really had exactly 2000 (remember the prior week had 101), which is just as likely as 1992 or 2006. Did they count the mother/son on-air puzzlers as one or two? If one, we could revise the count to 2001, if two, we could revise the count to 1999, thereby breaking the nonexistent tie.

Dave said...

I'm going with the 1,800 to 1,850 slot and I approve of this message.

woozy said...

1) I thought this was a cute puzzle.
2) I thought stating the number of letters made the puzzle far too easy (at least to this pacific coast dweller) whereas is would have been challenging without it.
3) Will Shortz's pronounciation of "aquatic" is goofy, bizzarre and wrong. (Okay, I'm still mad at him for the oxen/achshun thing, and for not acknowledge the unintended akita answer.)
4) DAPF and I must have different answers as my "second part" applies to things other than animals, I wouldn't call it a "huge" number of things, but, by definition, it wouldn't include anything that was purely aquatic, which my first part is.
5)I'm reminded of a silly concept Terry Pratchet created that I'm frustated that I can't share but it would give away the answer.
6)I'm not a fan of romance but I balked when he described Danielle Steele as a Romance writer too.

If the oxen/achsund go 2000 then... Oh, give this one 2,500+ range.

woozy said...

To discuss DAPF possible answer and my answer:

a)My descriptive word describes more than just animals but it seems to me that for logistical reasons it is used mostly for animals.
b)Although by definition, the descriptive word does not describe any purely aquatic animal, by no means is the converse true. That is to say, given just that an animal is land-dwelling, there would be no reason to assume it is also described by this word. (Although many are, many also are not.)

I hope that's clear without giving anything away.

DAPF said...

All right, I now have what I am sure is the intended answer (as much as one can be sure of these things, in any case). It also fits well with all of the comments mentioned by David and woozy. My earlier answer still meets all of the requirements of the puzzle but is not as nice a fit as the one I just submitted because the adjective is too broad. Ah, this one was a fun one!!!

Natasha said...

I select 2,000-2,050 slot. Thanks!!

woozy said...

I'm betting that David and I have the same answer and I'm betting that DAPF had a different answer but that the second word of his animal was the same as the second word of my animal, although I do not think I know what his first word nor what his adjective was.

DAPF, am I right? Do both of you animals have the same second word? (Bearing in mind that I don't have any idea what your first answer was. And keeping in mind, that I intend not to repeat my indiscretions of last week. Though I'm dying to discuss the *hmmmph-mmmrrphing phmmfrrmnmph*)

Erk, oops, Natasha makes me realize I misjudged the slots size!! Oops. Oh well. It'll be to confusing were change now so I'll keep the 2,500- 2,750 but someone should take the twenty-two fity- twenthree hundred slot.

Mendo Jim said...

No big squawks from me this week.

I guess this is a one nation under NPR puzzle so the British spelling issue can be ignored.
It is kind of interesting that the spelling difference is present in the animal and the root of the second word,, but I can't find it in the word itself.

My alternative this week has as many flaws as a Bush administration, but I like:
"Finland fish" morphing to "Inlandish."

For a challenge that truly is attempted by folks from all over the world look for the MISR Mystery Image Quizzes, put out by NASA. They are up to number 25 or so and come out irregularly; they will get your brain working.

I guess it must be this week instead of last that the obvious number of submissions will be 1327 or so.

skydiveboy said...

Mendo Jim:
"Inlandish" is what Mid-Westerners like to eat and might include catfish.

I've been too busy to post because I decided to paint my living room and dining room ceilings this weekend, and am still at it. I am finding this job to be way over my head.

Marie said...

101 to 2000 -- now there's a range!
This week I will take 1600-1650.

skydiveboy said...


skydiveboy said...

This afternoon I was sitting above the beach at a park overlooking Puget Sound and reading a book under a shade tree when I received a message from above! No, it was not God, but a crow sitting high up in the tree. It seems this crow has little respect for books because it left its message all over the two pages I was reading, along with a postscript on my bare head. Fortunately I live only a mile from the park and came home to shower right away.

Imagine my surprise a few minutes later on arriving at my house to find a heavy package on the porch. Yes, I showered prior to opening it where I found a WONDERFUL dictionary.

Magdalen and Ross: You have outdone yourselves!!! Merci beaucoup! I will enjoy using this excellent dictionary daily. This definitely beats what NPR was offering when they were still awarding a dictionary. You guys are great!

BTW: There might just be a hint hidden somewhere in this post, but it is unintentional; I noticed it as I was typing it out.

David said...

Spoiler if you do the Sunday NYT crossword in syndication (or haven't finished this week's).

Remember how several weeks ago (the "EAT AT / ATE AT") puzzle that there was a recent NYT crossword puzzle where one of the answers was "EATAT"? Well, in last Sunday's NYT puzzle, an answer is "ATEAT".

Paul said...

So, I'm looking at the pictures...and I'm thinking "time of day"...and I'm coming up with zilch...
Go figure.

skydiveboy said...

I posted that I was painting my ceiling, but I did that 3 years ago and I was using the word "ceiling" as a clue for looking up, as in trees. The added joke is that ceilings are always over our heads; just ask Michelangelo.
In the next post I used the word "tree."

So that seals the deal.

DAPF said...


my first, "wrong" answer was "ground fish" to "roundish"