Sunday, January 30, 2011

NPR Puzzle 1/30/11 - Not Quite

Here's this week's puzzle:
Think of a common word that's six letters long and includes a Q. Change the Q to an N, and rearrange the result to form a new word that's a synonym of the first one. What are the words?
Do we have an answer?  Yes.  Are we quite certain it's the only answer?  Not at first, but then Ross went at it with some software of his called "Word Botcher" and now he's prepared to say our answer is the only one.  There are at least 84 6-letter words that have a Q in them (yes, we cheated) and it's not hard to spot an answer, but it's not the tightest synonym I've ever met, so I wondered.

There.  That's all the hinting I intend to do.  If you know the answer, send it in to NPR directly; you can find the form here.  On Thursday we can discuss whether it's a tight synonym, a loose synonym, or what we think Dr. Shortz is smoking...

I love the letter Q.  Let me see what art work I can find:







And would you look at that -- nary a tree in sight!  You'd have thought I could have produced a quince or a quercus alba to keep my tree streak alive!

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.

Last week, we had more than 1,200 entries.  Grace is our winner.  Yay!  It's been a while since we had a woman win, and as I have a puzzle book with flowers on the cover, I'm especially happy about this.  Grace, email me at Magdalen (at) CrosswordMan.com with your address and this will go out immediately.

I'm beginning to think that it's a race to see who picks the coveted 1200 - 1250 slot, as that's won a lot recently.  In which case, gentle people: Start your engines!

As always, troublemakers risk winning the American Girl puzzle book, so play nice.  :-)

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")

Thursday, January 27, 2011

NPR Puzzle 1/23/11 -- Faiths Gain An Afghanistani

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a nationality. The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th letters in order name a country. Also the fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth and 12th letters in order also name a country. Neither country is related to the nationality. What nationality is this?
You already know what our problem was with the answer, AFGHANISTANI.  It's not the nationality we're all used to.  Afghan.  Afghani.  So when we looked at 12-letter nationalities, it wasn't there.  When we looked at 9-, 10-, and 11-letter country names, we skipped over Afghanistan.  Ross finally solved it by applying the age-old principle:  When the puzzle requires a country in five letters, try Ghana.

What neither of us realized is that "Afghanistani" is politically correct, as it respects all residents of that country and not just those of the Pashtun persuasion.  Here's Wiki on the subject. 

I had some photos on Sunday; here they are, now linked back to their Flickr origins (just click on a photo to read more):








But let's meet some Afghanistanis, shall we?




Time for ...
P I C K   A   R A N G E

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 -- Phil
1,000 - 1,050 -- Marie         
1,050 - 1,100 -- Henry
1,100 - 1,150 -- Ben
1,150 - 1,200  -- Mendo Jim
1,200 - 1,250 -- Grace
1,250 - 1,300 -- Tom
1,300 - 1,350 -- David
1,350 - 1,400 -- Ross
1,400 - 1,450
1,450 - 1,500 -- Dave

1,500 - 1,550 -- Magdalen
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")

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

From Aaron to Zion

I'm proud to say I got an A in my Religious Knowledge O-Level; but since that fine achievement, my knowledge of all things Biblical has got a little rusty. When attempting American crosswords for the first time, I found constructors have an obsession for the likes of Enos that I wasn't prepared for.

Enter reader Debbie, who has provided the material for two new Cheat Sheets. This one focuses on the Bible and a following one will cover Jewish references, including words with Hebrew or Yiddish origins.

The Subsiding of the Waters of the Deluge
AnswerCommon Cluing Options
AaronMoses' brother; Golden calf crafter
AbbaFather, in the Bible
AbelEarly shepherd; Genesis victim
AbnerSaul's general, in the Bible
AdamGenesis man; First of all
AhabKing in I Kings; Jezebel's husband
amenLast word in the New Testament
AmosBiblical shepherd-turned-prophet; Book after Joel
AnaniasBiblical liar
AramBiblical name for Syria
AraratPairs’ debarking point; Genesis landing site; Mount where Noah landed
ArkGenesis craft; Ham's place
AsherTribe of Israel; Son of Jacob
BabelGenesis city; Tower site
BoazHusband of Ruth; Great-grandfather of David
CainGenesis brother; First child
CalebSpy sent by Moses into Canaan
CanaBiblical wedding site; Water-to-wine town
CanaanAncient Palestine; Where Caleb was sent as a spy
cubitMeasure from the elbow to the end of the middle finger
DanForebear of one of the 12 tribes of Israel
Daniel (Dan.)Book after Ezekiel; Lions' den survivor
Dead SeaRefuge of David, in the Bible
DeborahBook of Judges judge
DelilahBook of Judges villainess

The Garden of Eden
AnswerCommon Cluing Options
ecceBiblical trial word; Word from Pontius Pilate
Ecclesiastes (Eccl.)O.T. book of teachings; Book after Proverbs
EdenShangri-La; Genesis garden; Tree of Life locale; Location for The Fall
EdomLand in Genesis; Esau's descendants' land
EgyptMoses' birthplace; The Bible's Mizraim, today
ElamKingdom east of Babylonia; Shem's eldest son
Eli“My G-d!” as cried by King David
EliPriest of I Samuel; Father of Hophni and Phinehas
ElijahMount Sinai prophet; Biblical miracle worker
EndorWhere King Saul consulted a witch
EnochGrandson of Adam
EnosSon of Seth; Grandson of Adam; Genesis son
Ephesians (Eph.)Book after Galatians; Letter from St. Paul
EphraimPatriarch of a tribe of Israel
EsauGrandson of Abraham; Genesis twin
Exodus (Exod.)Book in which the first Passover occurred
Esther (Esth.)Only O.T. book that never mentions G-d; Book recited during Purim
Ezekiel (Ezek.)Book before Daniel
Ezra (Ezr.)Book after Chronicles; Book before Nehemiah

Jonah and the Whale
AnswerCommon Cluing Options
GazaBiblical site of the temple of Dagon; Where Samson died
Genesis (Gen.)Start of the Bible; Book that spans 2,369 years
GideonJudge of Israel, in Judges
GoshenIsraelites' home, in Genesis
HamBiblical ark passenger; Canaanite's ancestor
Hebrews (Heb.)Book after Philemon; Book before James
HerodEarly Judean king; Christmas story villain
HorMount where Aaron died
Hosea (Hos.)Follower of Daniel; O.T. Prophet who married a harlot
IchabodMale name from the Hebrew for "without honor"
IsaacBiblical name meaning "laughter"; Father of well-known twins
Isaiah (Isa.)Book after Song of Solomon; Second-longest Bible book
is it I?Query found in Matthew; Last Supper question
JehuKing in II Kings; Biblical king who destroyed the worshipers of Baal
JeroboamEarly Hebrew king
JobPsalms preceder
JoelFollower of Hosea; Book before Amos
JonahOld Testament book; One with a fish story?
JudeaBethlehem's region
LabanBrother of Rebecca; Jacob's father-in-law
LeahJacob's first wife; sister of Rachel
LehiWhere Samson defeated the Philistines
LeviSon of Jacob and Leah
Leviticus (Lev.)Third book of the Bible; Numbers preceder

Belshazzar's Feast
AnswerCommon Cluing Options
MagiBiblical stargazers; Crèche figures; Wise guys
MagogLand with a cavalry in Ezekiel; Son of Japheth, in Genesis
meneWord on a biblical wall
MicahProphet who prophesied that the savior would come from Bethlehem
MoabBiblical kingdom; Land where Moses died
MosesAncient law man; Adoptee in Genesis; Exodus figure
Mt. SinaiTablets site
myrrhBiblical gift; Gift of the Magi
NaomiShe renamed herself Mara, in Scripture; Ruth's mother-in-law
NeboMount from which Moses saw Canaan; Peak in ancient Palestine
Nehemiah (Neh.)Hebrew leader who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem
NoahGenesis skipper; Captain for 40 days and nights
Noah's ArkTwo-by-two vessel
Numbers (Num.)Book covering a Sinai-to-Moab journey

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
AnswerCommon Cluing Options
Obadiah (Obad.)Book between Amos and Jonah
omerBiblical dry measure
OnanSecond son of Judah; Grandson of Leah
OphirWealthy biblical land
psalmSong of David
RahabProstitute who protected Israelite spies, in Joshua
Red SeaExodus crossing; Parting locale
Romans (Rom.)New Testament book
RuthBook after Judges; Bride of Boaz
SamsonBiblical strongman; Victim of hair loss?
SamuelBiblical book I or II; Prophet who anointed Saul
SaulBook of Samuel character; First king of Israel
SelahFrequent word in Psalms; Biblical interjection
ShebaLand with a queen in Kings; Yemen, in biblical times
ShemBrother of Ham and Japheth; Father of Elam and Aram
SimeonOne of the 12 tribes of Israel; Dinah’s avenger in the Bible
SinaiExodus mountain; Ten Commandments locale
SodomBiblical sin city; Gomorrah’s sister city; City G-d destroyed with fire and brimstone
tekelBit of biblical "writing on the wall"
TorahGenesis to Deuteronomy; Numbers holder
UriahHusband of Bathsheba
ZionJerusalem's Mount ___

Bible Trivia

Sometimes puzzles make reference to unusual features of the Bible in cluing certain regular words.

AnswerCommon Cluing Options
acrosticFeature of Psalm 119
two (Balaam's Ass and the Serpent)Number of talking animals in the Bible
verseEsther 8:9 is the longest one in the Bible

Sunday, January 23, 2011

NPR Puzzle 1/23/11 - Strangely Not American

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a nationality. The third, fourth, fifth, sixth and 10th letters in order name a country. Also the fourth, fifth, seventh, ninth and 12th letters in order also name a country. Neither country is related to the nationality. What nationality is this?
We have a few things to say about this puzzle, but (alas) we have to wait for Thursday to say them.  And you may be thinking the same things, but as a courtesy to others, we'd ask that you too wait until Thursday to write them in the comments.

Also, if you know the answer, you'll want to send that in to NPR directly; you can find the form here.

Photos!  As you might imagine, if I found photos of persons identifiable by the target nationality, that might be WAY too much of a hint.  Instead, here are some things that presumably belong to persons of that nationality (note, the gentleman in the fourth photo is, by birth, a Canadian -- the pink thing, however, undoubtedly belongs to a person of the correct nationality):








(That last one is a restaurant -- in London, so not the target nation, I'll admit -- that serves food of the target nationality.  Ross thinks he *may* have eaten here, as it's in his sister's neighborhood.)

There's precious little gossip this week.  Ross got his US passport on Thursday, so we're thinking about a quick trip someplace warm out of the country to test-drive it.  Maybe he'll take his British passport along as back-up in case the US one doesn't work...  Oh, and here's evidence that I married a crossword maven for richer and for poorer: our household budget has a (not insignificant) line item for "Crosswords."  (Mine for Fabric and Yarn is twice as large, so I'm not complaining.)

Lucky that we don't rely on revenue from this blog to fund those line items.  Ross has added a Merch Booth to the sidebar at right -- and I've teased him about his poor entrepreneurial timing presenting crossword-related merchandise AFTER all his NY Times crossword readers have left.  (Oh, and after Christmas too.)  

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.

Last week, we had more than 1,200 entries.  DAPF is our winner.  A prize will go out in the mail soon.  (And Jason?  We were kidding about being greedy -- d'you want a prize too?  We can afford it.)
As always, troublemakers risk winning the American Girl puzzle book, so play nice.  :-)

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")

Thursday, January 20, 2011

NPR Puzzle 1/16/11 -- Putting On the Feedbag

Here's this week's puzzle:
Take the first seven letters of the alphabet, A through G, change one of these letters to another letter that is also either A, B, C, D, E, F or G. Rearrange the result to spell a familiar seven-letter word. What word is it?
The intended answer is FEEDBAG.  Here's one:


While the obvious sense of the word feedbag is equine, there are other contexts in which it has a more amusing meaning:




Oh, and I promised you an attribution for the photo I ran on Sunday of an Oriental rug  . . . or so you thought!  That was actually a bag face:

Many thanks to the Richard Rothstein Classic Interiors website

Feedbag -- the word, not the actual device -- sounds awfully familiar to Ross and me.  Turns out "Strap On A Feedbag" was an answer in a New York Times puzzle.  I was going to say something about Reduce Reuse Recycle being the motto for Dr. Shortz these days, but then he left a comment on Sunday's post almost apologizing for TAPS and SPAT and we love him again.

Oh, and he also announced the correct number of entries last week -- "just under 1,000" -- which means that Jason won.  Jason also won last time, but we do have a prize different from the one he won then, so I'll leave it up to him.  Jason: do you feel greedy or justly entitled?  You have our email!

Time for ...
P I C K   A   R A N G E

Please note the new, improved, expanded, deliberately-less-easy-to-win, set of 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 -- Dave
1,000 - 1,050         
1,050 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,150 -- Jimel
1,150 - 1,200 -- Ross
1,200 - 1,250 -- DAPF
1,250 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,350
1,350 - 1,400 -- Tom
1,400 - 1,450
1,450 - 1,500 -- Magdalen

1,500 - 1,550 -- Mendo Jim
1,550 - 1,600 -- Marie
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 -- David
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")

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Monograph on Monograms

1. Literary

The {Literary monogram} or {Literary inits.} clue doesn't come up every day; but when it does, it can be something of a gift, as there are few possibilities. Here they are, with the most likely at the top:
TSE
RLS
EBW
EAP
GBS
RWE
ERB

2. Miscellaneous Others

When I first conceived of this cheat sheet, I thought the literary gents would be the end of it; but then I remembered the famous presidential initials and my researches revealed a few other monograms, neither lit nor pol.

HST
DDE
AES
YSL
TAE
FDR
REO
JQA
HCH
CAL