Wednesday, November 23, 2011

NPR Puzzle 11/20/11 - Yo Mama is So Smart, She Listens to Yo-Yo Ma

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:
Name a food item. Divide this word in half. Take the second half followed by the first half twice, and you'll get a familiar saying. If you take the second half twice, followed by the first half, you'll name a well-known person. What are the food item, saying, and person's name?
The food is MAYO, the familiar (?) saying (?!) is YO MAMA, and the well-known (?) person is YO-YO MA.

Pretty much the only unassailable element of this puzzle is that you can eat mayo(nnaise). I wouldn't consider "yo mama" to be a saying; it's more a set up, and thus a descriptor, for a series of jokes. And is Yo-Yo Ma a well-known person? NPR has reason to think so; it featured him in a mini-concert on Monday's All Things Considered.

As I mentioned on Sunday, I have the most attenuated connection to Yo-Yo Ma. My great-aunt, Rebecca, lived in Manhattan for decades. Her late husband had been on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music, so after his death she had have music students living in her apartment for free in exchange for some light housekeeping. One of those music students was Yoko Nozaki, wife of Emanuel Ax, who's a good friend of Yo-Yo Ma. All three went to Julliard together. And if that's not enough connection, my brother Dan worked with the guy in New York who restrung bows for all the famous string instrument players. I know Dan met Ma more than once. Of course, Yo-Yo Ma doesn't know me from yo mama.

I used Yo-Yo Ma's Wiki page for all my photos--and I had a lot of places to choose from, starting with the fact that he was born in Paris.

Yes, Virginia, this is Paris, France.

Nanjing, China, where Yo-Yo Ma's father was a professor of music.
Trinity Church, the tower of which was the original Trinity School, Yo-Yo Ma's alma mater.
Yo-Yo Ma currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is the lion at the German Museum in Cambridge.
Stanford Memorial Church, where Yo-Yo Ma performed during the memorial service for Steve Jobs.
Ottawa, Canada at night. The National Arts Centre is the massive building on the left; Yo-Yo Ma played with Prime Minister Stephen Harper there in 2009.
Time for ...

P I C K   A   R A N G E
Here are this week's picks:
Fewer than 50
 51 - 100
101 - 150
151 - 200
201 - 250 -- skydiveboy
251 - 300
301 - 350
351 - 400 -- Dave
401 - 450 -- Natasha
451 - 500
501 - 550 -- Henry
551 - 600
601 - 650
651 - 700
701 - 750
751 - 800 -- Ross
801 - 850 -- Curtis
851 - 900 -- Magdalen
901 - 950
951 - 1,000

1,001 - 1,050 -- David
1,051 - 1,100 -- Joe K.
1,101 - 1,150
1,151 - 1,200
1,201 - 1,250
1,251 - 1,300
1,301 - 1,350
1,351 - 1,400
1,401 - 1,450
1,451 - 1,500

1,501 - 1,550
1,551 - 1,600
1,601 - 1,650
1,651 - 1,700
1,701 - 1,750
1,751 - 1,800
1,801 - 1,850
1,851 - 1,900
1,901 - 1,950
1,951 - 2,000

2,001 - 2,050
2,051 - 2,100
2,101 - 2,150
2,151 - 2,200
2,201 - 2,250
2,251 - 2,300
2,301 - 2,350
2,351 - 2,400
2,401 - 2,450
2,451 - 2,500

2,501 - 2,750
2,751 - 3,000
3,001 - 3,250
3,251 - 3,500
3,501 - 4,000
4,001 - 4,500
4,501 - 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")


Mendo Jim said...

The joke form "Yo mama is so ____, she _____" is just a sophomoric kind of insult. I can't remember if I ever heard one I thought was funny. And, as Magdalen says, it is hardly a saying.
What is a saying is when someone yells at the guy who cut him off in traffic: "Where the hell did you learn to drive?"
The response: "Yo mama!" is not the start of a joke, but a universally understood contraction of a three word expletive.
That is why I said it bordered on impropriety. Anyone else?

And did anyone else notice in the On-air segment that Will referred to his "test solvers?"
If they are something new he is using, then it augers well.
If not, then I have a few questions.

David said...

I think Yo-Yo Ma is famous. I have seen him live in concert at least half a dozen times.

He also was awarded the "Presidential Medal of Freedom (2010) ... [and] has performed for eight American presidents, most recently at the invitation of President Obama on the occasion of the 56th Inaugural Ceremony" according to his website

At the inauguration, he did the cello version of lip-synching because it was so cold. See, for example

David said...

Are you Mendo Jim again?

You are right, I suppose, that "Yo mama" could be considered offensive, but it seems it has made its way into common usage with a less provocative meaning.

It may not really be a saying, but the rules have always seemed a little loose to me. A "common phrase" may have been a better way to say it.

Finally "YOYOMA" was the answer to 87 Across in the Sunday November 6, 2011 New York Times Crossword Puzzle: "Musician who won a 2011 Presidential Medal of Freedom".

skydiveboy said...


You said: "...but the rules have always seemed a little loose to me..." Loose like yo mama! (Sorry, but I just could stop myself. ;))

When I was having trouble getting the right answer, I took your hint and looked online at recent NY Times X-word puzzles from recent Sundays and found MAYO & SOS. I had been thinking of SOS and saw MAYO, but did not see the connection even though I had already thought of his name. I guess it was that I was not looking for an abbreviated name of a food item. Later I even considered P-ZA & Za PP and Zaza P. I could not believe it could be the answer, but people here and elsewhere were posting about how inappropriate the phrase was that I had to consider it. The intended answer came to me right after I went to bed Sunday.

Mendo Jim said...

Sorry David, I just couldn't train Magdalen Mama to use just Jim, so it's back to Mendo Jim with no regrets.

I'm afraid I don't know what the "less provacative meaning" you refer to is. Or should I just ask: "What does Yo Mama" mean?

I am confortable with Yo-yo Ma's being "well-known," though I occasionally find him soporific.

Magdalen said...

Jim - I'm sorry. I keep forgetting. I guess it's just, if you know what I mean.

But, as one with a difficult name that I *will* insist people get right ;-) I'm sympathetic. You tell me what you want me to call you / refer to you as, and that's what I'll use.

(Just plain Jim seems almost naked somehow.)

Mendo Jim said...

I'll use Jim when I post from the tub.

David said...

Mendo Jim, I guess provocative is not the right word, but if they are using "Yo mama" jokes on network TV (according to the always reliable Wikipedia, both on Big Bang Theory and American Dad), it is not an FCC finable offense.

David said...

And if you look at the NPR website for next week's puzzle, you see the that the phrase is "Yo, mama", sort of like "Hi, dad", so it is clearly not offensive.

skydiveboy said...

Today on NPR, Privy Home Companion with Garrison Keillor was on live from New York and I happened to tune in just as Calvin Trillin was in the middle of a monologue and poem he wrote. I did not listen closely, but he was saying something about both presidents Bush and Clinton when I assume he had reached the point of mentioning our current "leader" and I heard him say, "yo mama" and then something about Obama (I think) "lacking genitalia."

skydiveboy said...

And the new puzzle is up and I will go with 251.