Sunday, July 31, 2011

NPR Puzzle 7/31/11 Women Write All Kinds of Things, Dr. Shortz

Here's this week's NPR puzzle:
Name a famous person from America's past who has four letters in his or her first name and five letters in the last. Take a homophone of the last name, move it to the front. The result phonetically would be something a woman might write. What is it?
Is it ironic that I got this way quicker than Ross, or is that just because I'm the distaff side of our partnership?  I'll discuss that more on Thursday.

Of course, women write all kinds of things, as I'm sure Will Shortz knows.  I'll spare him (and you) the lecture!

If you have an answer, send it to NPR using this handy form right here.

Photos relating to our "famous person" are pretty cool, if only because it's clear he/she lived in the northern half of the US.  The bottom two photos are of houses occupied by said famous person for some amount of time.







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.

Just over 1500 entries last week, so Ross is the winner.  No prize for him -- or, rather, he gets his own prize in the form of the countless crossword puzzle books he buys for himself.

But we have special prizes for you, if you win.  Enter this week's Pick A Range and see what they are.

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, July 28, 2011

NPR Puzzle 7/24/11 - 1,000 Origami Ukraines

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:
Name the female of a certain animal, add the name of a bird, say these two words out loud one after the other, and phonetically you'll name a country. What country is it?
We got three answers, in order of ascending size (I was working through a list of countries):  SOW + MOA = SAMOA, which I agree doesn't work -- not because it's actually pronounced SAMoa, but because it's pronounced (where I come from) SUHmoa.  Ross rejected this one.  Oh, and moa is a pretty obscure bird, even among the extinct ones.

Next, EWE + GANDER = UGANDA.  Here's where the British treatment of an ultimate R sounds come in, but before we even got to that we had to share a laugh about Ross's brother, Michael, who's been donating his engineering expertise weeks at a time to help Ugandan villages have potable water.  Michael's accent is only a bit broader than Ross's, but when he goes to say "Uganda," it comes out "you-GAWN-dah" and is very funny.  Ross and I also discussed why "gander" - a male geese - would be acceptable given the way the puzzle is worded.  I rejected Uganda even though Ross was convinced it was right.

Luckily, the 7-letter countries came next, and EWE + CRANE = UKRAINE is so obviously the right answer there could be no more questions.  Even Ross conceded it was good I kept reading countries out loud.  Here are a sample of the oft-replenished 1,000 cranes at a memorial in Hiroshima, Japan:



Here are our three countries, in pictorial form:

Mount Elgon, Jinja, Uganda

Rainbow over Ukraine

Upolu Island, Samoa -- sadly, this is a spot where the tsunami hit in 2009

The Nile, Jinja, Uganda

Sunset in American Samoa

Krym, Ukraine
Time for --

P I C K   A   R A N G E
Here are this week's picks:
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 -- Mendo Jim
1,000 - 1,050 -- David
1,050 - 1,100 -- HenryBW
1,100 - 1,150 -- Natasha
1,150 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,250 -- woozy
1,250 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,350
1,350 - 1,400 -- Magdalen
1,400 - 1,450 -- Dave
1,450 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,550 -- Ross
1,550 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,650
1,650 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,750
1,750 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,850 -- skydiveboy
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 -- Marie
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")

Sunday, July 24, 2011

NPR Puzzle - Accept No Substitutes

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:
Name the female of a certain animal, add the name of a bird, say these two words out loud one after the other, and phonetically you'll name a country. What country is it?
We got an answer, then we got another one, then we got the right one.  If that sounds like magic, it's not.  It's merely evidence of our marital disagreements about how things sound when they're said aloud.  Trust me, being married to a Brit puts the "fun" into "phonetics."

I learned that -- and forgive me if you've heard this story already -- when I was married to Henry.  Back then, we got the Saturday edition of the Times of London in actual paper copy in order to do the Listener crossword (ironically this was back when Ross was the editor).  There were a lot more puzzles on the puzzle page, so we'd happily do them all.

One day, there was a short riddle:  what three-letter word rhymes with the same three letters read backwards?  In other words, "ATE" would rhyme with "ETA," which clearly it doesn't.  But the Times claimed there was a three-letter word that did rhyme with itself backwards.

You can go away and puzzle over this, but unless you're British the answer is nonsense:  WAR rhymes with RAW.  Yup, you read that correctly.  Only in the UK would that be an officially correct answer.

Anyway, back to the NPR puzzle.  Due to our different accents, the first not-quite-convincing answer satisfied me but not Ross.  Our second not-entirely-satisfactory answer convinced Ross but not me.  The third answer was the charm, and we're happy.

If you're happy with your answer, send it in to NPR using this convenient link right here.

I'm particularly happy because I have THREE countries to plug into Flickr!  In no particular order, and selected quite intentionally to confuse the heck out of you, here are our answers:







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.

Just over 1700 entries last week, so no winner even though there was quite a variation in ranges selected.  (Marie came closest.)

This week is fraught with intrigue, range-finding-wise:  Will Will accept either of the close-but-no-cigar solutions we thought of?  Will only Brits enter?  Is everyone on summer hols?  Enter this week's Pick A Range and see if you can 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")

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Me Old China

Seeing the clue {Sixth-century Chinese dynasty} (answer: Liang) the other day alerted me to the need for this post: I don't think I managed to remember any new dynasty names since starting to see more of them in American crosswords, still relying on crossings to confirm the answers. Time to change that.

After doing the research, I'm still somewhat confused, particularly about the different transliterations of certain dynasty names. The Xia Dynasty invariably appears in crosswords as Hsia, for example; you'd have thought that a three-letter sequence like XIA (not cluable any other way) would show up more often.

I gather that Hsia appears in older reference books that use a Western-inspired romanization system known as Wade-Giles. Wade-Giles has mostly been replaced by the Hanyu Pinyin system developed by the Chinese government and approved in 1958. But not in crosswords apparently?
 
Here are the most common Chinese dynasty names in crosswords, from the commonest at the top to the least likely at the bottom. Corrections and insights into this unfamiliar (to me) area are very welcome.

Han (206 BCE – 220 CE). Confucianism became dominant during this dynasty. The Han Chinese (the largest single ethnic group in the world) are named for the dynasty. The Han River is a tributary of the Yangtze.

Chou (1046 – 256 BCE). Spelled Zhōu in the pinyin system. The Chinese philosophers Confucius, founder of Confucianism, and Lǎozǐ (Lao Tzu in Wade-Giles) founder of Taoism, lived in this dynasty.

Hsia (ca. 2070 – ca. 1600 BCE). Spelled Xia in the pinyin system. The earliest recorded Chinese dynasty.

Wei. There are two dynasties with this name: the Northern Wei (386 – 534) and the Cao Wei (220 – 265).

Liao (907 – 1125).

Ming (1368 – 1644). Trade with Portugal began in the Ming Dynasty.

Sung (960 – 1279). Spelled Song in the pinyin system. The Sung Dynasty was overthrown by the Mongols under Genghis Khan.

Chen (557 – 589)

Liang (502 – 587). The Chinese ounce or tael is pronounced liǎng in Mandarin Chinese and so liang is sometimes clued as {Chinese weight unit}.

Qing (1644 – 1912).  Empress Dowager Longyu abdicated on behalf of Puyi (portrayed in the movie The Last Emperor) in 1912, ending China's final dynasty.

Tong (618 – 907). Spelled Tang in the pinyin system. A tong (literally "hall" or "gathering place") is also a Chinese secret society in the U.S. and Canada, and is more often clued as such.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

NPR Puzzle 7/17/11 - Impatient for This Week's Puzzle

Here is this week's NPR puzzle:
Think of an adjective that might describe a child before a summer vacation. Change the second letter to the next letter of the alphabet, and you'll name someone you might see in a hospital. Who is it?
The answer is INPATIENT, which you get from IMPATIENT.  Not hard, as the Pick a Range choices suggest.

 We've got the builders in today and it's hot as Hades outside, so this is going to be a quick post.  First, for Mendo Jim we have Laguna Beach (Flickr had no pictures of Camp Ta Ta Pochon, but if you leave off the "camp" you get this photo for no good reason at all.  It's not Creative Commons, so I can't show it.)



And for David who's taking his recent prize to the Channel Islands, here's a photo to help you anticipate:


(That's a sunset over Catalina -- if you'd meant the Jersey Channel Islands, I gotta post a different picture.)

Time for --
P I C K   A   R A N G E
Here are this week's picks:
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 -- Natasha
1,050 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,150 -- Ross
1,150 - 1,200 -- Magdalen
1,200 - 1,250 -- Dave
1,250 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,350
1,350 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,450
1,450 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,550 -- David
1,550 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,650
1,650 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,750
1,750 - 1,800 -- Marie
1,800 - 1,850 -- skydiveboy
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 -- Phil
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 -- Mendo Jim
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")

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NPR Puzzle 7/17/11 - Summer Vacation Puzzle

Here is this week's NPR puzzle:
Think of an adjective that might describe a child before a summer vacation. Change the second letter to the next letter of the alphabet, and you'll name someone you might see in a hospital. Who is it?
Not hard, as befits a puzzle you'll want to solve quickly before you head out to the pool or the beach.

To make it even faster to send the answer in, here's a link to the correct NPR page.

Here's what we're doing for the photo array.  Below are some Flickr photos of summer vacation spots from Ross's and my childhoods.  Leave a comment with a place YOU went to as a child, and I'll do photos of those places on Thursday.  Nostalgia for everyone!

The Laxey Wheel in the Isle of Man
Sidmouth
Scarborough Beach, Maine
Cape Cod, near Brewster
St. Just-in-Roseland
Merry-Go-Round, Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Seriously -- share your summer holiday spot and we'll post a Flickr Photo of it on Thursday.

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.

Just over 1000 entries last week, so David is once again the winner.  Now, he was the last person to win, so a puzzle book did go out to him.  Maybe if it hasn't arrived yet, we can quietly convince him that it's this week's prize.  Anyone know how the Vulcan mind-meld works?

No, of course we wouldn't do that.  We'll just send David another prize.  You, too, could win two prizes.  Enter this week's Pick A Range and see if you can 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")

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NPR Puzzle -- Beam Me Up, Jean-Paul!

Here's this week's NPR puzzle:
Name a classic television show in two words with eight letters. Remove one letter from each word. The remaining six letters, in order, will spell the last name of a well-known writer. Who is it?
Ross got this almost before I could wrap my brain around the rather obvious fact that "The Honeymooners" wouldn't fit the letter pattern.  The answer is STAR TREK = S_AR TRE_.

As only woozy bothered to guess what other classic TV shows I used for the photo array, I assume this was a boring exercise.  He did get the first one right, which is cool because I honestly don't understand Flickr's heuristics -- the phrase, "all in the family" doesn't show up on that Flickr page.  Anyway, I was counting on Henry to get "Dragnet" (#5) because I suspect him of being the sort of person who would know what an actual dragnet looks like.

But for anyone who cares, here's the explanation of the shows and their photos.  "All in the Family" just because it looks like the snowman equivalent of those weird "here's who's in our family" decals you see on the rear windows of cars:  Dad, Mom, Boy, Girl, Dog, Cat #1, Cat #2.  Incidentally, the Flickr page says the smallest snowman was about the size of a credit card.

"All in The Family"

This is one of four "whale sharks" at an aquarium in Atlanta -- and they're named after the two couples on "The Honeymooners."

"The Honeymooners"

You have to click on this next photo and read all about it, but that's actual gunsmoke!
"Gunsmoke"

Obviously, this has the most connection to its show:
"I Love Lucy" - this is an actual wardrobe sketch from the show!

I can't tell you much more about this photo -- whoever posted it to Flickr claims it's of a dragnet and I don't know any different.
"Dragnet"

The explanation given for this photo and its association with "Gilligan's Island" is that it was clear when they started out, then got very foggy very suddenly and it didn't seem as though they'd make it back to the harbor.  The photographer was convinced they'd be the true life castaways.
"Gilligan's Island"


Finally, do me a favor and click over to this photo, which I so desperately wanted to use for "NYPD Blue" but wasn't allowed to because -- although I only search for Creative Commons-licensed photos -- it's all rights reserved.  Still I love it so much I'm willing to let you leave here and look at it.

But don't forget to come back for --
P I C K   A   R A N G E
Here are this week's picks:
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 -- Dave
700 - 750 -- Marie
750 - 800
800 - 850 -- Natasha
850 - 900
900 - 950
950 - 1,000
1,000 - 1,050 -- David
1,050 - 1,100 -- Magdalen
1,100 - 1,150
1,150 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,250 -- skydiveboy
1,250 - 1,300 -- Phil
1,300 - 1,350 -- woozy
1,350 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,450 -- Mendo Jim
1,450 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,550 -- Ross
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")