Sunday, May 25, 2014

I'm Still Thinking About Neil Diamond and Holly Hunter

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:
The word "sort" has an unusual property: the first letter, S, is found inside the word "first." The second letter, O, is found inside "second." The third letter, R, is found inside "third," and the fourth letter, T, is found inside "fourth." Think of a familiar three-word phrase in 10 letters that has the same property, in which every letter in the phrase is found inside its corresponding ordinal. Here's a hint: It's something most people have, lose and regain. What is it?
With Ross's software, this is trivially easy to solve. I'm still thinking about the Homophone (or is it Homonym?) Puzzle set by the caller.

BEFORE I distract you all, though, let me give you the link for the NPR Contact Us Page so you can send in the answer to the ACTUAL puzzle.

Okay. Here are the names I remember: Will Shortz, Holly Hunter, Neil Diamond, Tiger Woods. We've added Taylor Swift, Tom Cruise, Glenn Beck, Drew Brees. And the list goes on.

Or does it? Because there are two categories here: those whose names are spelled like regular words (Tom Cruise, Tiger Woods, Holly Hunter) and those whose names are homophones for regular words. So, Will Shortz doesn't have quite as much in common with Tiger Woods as he has in common with Neil Diamond.

Which leads me to this week's photos (remember to suggest a word or phrase for Thursday...). Match the photos below with the celebrity names I typed in (not Will Shortz, by the way). A different name for each photo. Answers on Thursday.

Time for
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. Or skip the comments and send an email with your pick to Magdalen (at) Crosswordman (dot) com. 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 choosing or a contribution in the winner's honor to the Red Cross.

Over 680 correct entries last week, a range that no one picked. So much for "the sky's the limit"! Your guess is as good as mine for this week.

Here are the ranges:
Fewer than 50       
51 - 100
101 - 150
151 - 200
201 - 250
251 - 300
301 - 350
351 - 400
401 - 450
451 - 500

501 - 550
551 - 600
601 - 650
651 - 700
701 - 750
751 - 800
801 - 850
851 - 900
901 - 950
951 - 1,000
1,001 - 1,050         
1,051 - 1,100
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 with a qualifier such as "about" or "around" (e.g., "We received around 1,200 entries."), the prize will be awarded to the entrant who picked the range including that precise number, e.g., 551 - 600 wins if the announced range is "around 600." We retain the discretion to award the prize to an entrant who picked the adjacent range (e.g., 601-650) if that entrant had not already won a prize. 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").  As of January, 2014, this rule is officially even more complicated than it's ever been, but at least it's consistent with what we actually do..


David said...

Have to go with 1001 to 1050 again. Red Cross, if I am right.

Maggie Strasser said...

351-400 please. Red Cross.

Spent last Sunday at daughter's college graduation. No idea how she got to be 22 when I'm only 16 myself. ;)

Anonymous said...

I got an answer that I assume is the intended answer, but it does not fit the hint, at least not directly. Even people who lose this have it simultaneously, at least if my conjecture is correct.


Alex B. said...

Magdalen -- I'd love if you share how you were able to solve this with Ross's software. I found that this was not trivial to solve by computer. I'll take 451-500.

Word Woman said...

401-450 please. Thanks.

Magdalen said...

Alex B.

Ross's product TEA will search for all words that have [first][second][third][fourth][fith][sixth][sevnth][eight][nith][tenh] as the letter pattern. Typing it out is the only hassle. Hit enter and the only answer is right there. (TEA recognizes three-word phrases.)

Word Woman said...

But is it fun? ;-)

I also enjoyed the Holly Hunter, Neil Diamond word play, Magdalen.

jan said...

I'm sure that Ross's software is quite spiffy, but I found the answer using the free Moby word list and a single Unix-like "sed" command (part of the free Cygwin package). Free is my favorite price. (Of course, my brother-in-law says, "What, you took their first offer?")

jan said...

Oh, and the other name in the on-air wordplay was Brad Pitt.

Word Woman said...

Can we make Chevy Chase work?

jan said...

Drove my Chevy to Primo Levi...

Word Woman said...

But, left my book on the periodic table. . .

Oh, wait, which blog are we on now? ;-)

Anonymous said...

This one is pretty easy, but the numbers have also been pretty low lately. I'll go with 351 - 400.

Anonymous said...

I only got it because one word in the phrase appeared quickly. I guess 751-800 correct answers.

Alex B. said...

Then I guess my question is which word list has this phrase in it because none of mine did.

Alex B. said...

Jan, thanks for the tip! Yes, a one-liner like
sed 's/[^A-Za-z]//g' wordlist.txt | grep -i '^[first][second][third][fourth][fith][sixth][sevnth][eight][nith][tenh]$'
should bring it up. But I hadn't heard of the Moby list and I'm glad to have it now!

Paul said...

651 - 700 Red Cross

How did Herman Melville get involved in this?

Photo #2 is too easy, but #1 is gold(I think).

Mendo Jim said...

I looked at this puzzle a few times but couldn't get up much interest.
More interesting is why four times as many answers to last week's challenge were submitted the first time it came up.
I guess Will didn't repeat it as a test of his audience size.

Is Red Cross one of the names that
the excellent contestant put in play?
I have a single number robot check again, so this will probably disappear.
It is 403 and WW already has that range.

zeke creek said...

901-950, please

Henry BW said...

My usual 1051-1100, please. 258,886,635 seems a little optimistic.

Joe Kupe said...

501 - 550 please. Not as easy as I thought!