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Preview: Blaine's Puzzle Blog

Blaine's Puzzle Blog



Weekly discussion on the NPR puzzler, brain teasers, math problems and more.



Updated: 2018-04-23T11:24:30.587-07:00

 



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 22, 2018): Finding Nemo

2018-04-22T05:39:24.338-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 22, 2018): Finding Nemo:
Q: Take the name of a famous film director. Drop the first letter of this person's first name and you'll name a fish. Read the last name backward and you'll name another fish. What film director is it?
Don't forget to turn in your answer by Thursday at 3pm ET.



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 15, 2018): Country Scramble

2018-04-20T20:42:59.916-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 15, 2018): Country Scramble:
Q: The letters of SWITZERLAND can be rearranged to spell LIZARD and NEWTS — LIZARD being the singular name of an animal, and NEWTS a plural. Name another country with this same property. That is, name another country whose letters can be rearranged to spell two animals — one singular and one plural. It's a major country. What country is it?
I can't say this puzzle sounds very new.

Edit: The puzzle from February had the answer of NEW MEXICO where you dropped the W and got MICE, OXEN.
A: MEXICO --> MICE, OX



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 18, 2018): How Now, Brown Cow

2018-03-22T12:31:36.285-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 18, 2018): How Now, Brown Cow:
Q: Think of a popular two-word song title in 7 letters. If you have the right one, you can rearrange the letters to name an animal and the sound it makes. What is it? Here's a hint: The title is in a foreign language.
Edit: I don't usually like having the picture being my clue but I realized when I picked the photo it was already pointing to a sheep.
A: LA BAMBA --> LAMB, BAA



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 11, 2018): I'm Too Sexy (for my Shirt)

2018-03-15T21:35:30.593-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 11, 2018): I'm Too Sexy (for my Shirt):
Q: Name a common article of apparel in 3 letters and another in 4 letters. Rearrange all 7 letters to name a well-known three-word song title. What is it?
Kudos to the PM for a solid puzzle this week. My hint? I don't care for lime-flavored Jello.

Edit: PM may stand for Puzzle Master, or Paul McCartney. Let it Be is an EP released by American comedy metal/punk act Green Jellö in 1984.
A: TIE + BELT --> LET IT BE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 4, 2018): Landmark Puzzle

2018-03-10T16:04:17.436-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 4, 2018): Landmark Puzzle:
Q: Name a famous singer — first and last names. Change the last three letters of each name to an E and you'll name a well-known landmark. What is it?
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Edit: The actual quote from Forrest Gump is "Life was like a box of chocolates...". The phenomenon where a large number of people incorrectly remember a past event is called the Mandela Effect. Whitney Houston sang for Nelson Mandela at a White House dinner in his honor in October 1994.
A: WHITney HOUSton --> WHITE HOUSE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 25, 2018): United States of Mammals

2018-03-01T12:51:55.524-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 25, 2018): United States of Mammals:
Q: Name a place in the United States that contains a W. Drop the W, and you can rearrange the remaining letters to name two types of mammals, each in the plural form. What place is it, and what are the mammals?
I was going to provide a crass clue but decided against it.

Edit: Crass Clue is an anagram of Las Cruces (New Mexico) which is where the puzzle submitter is from.
A: NEW MEXICO - W --> MICE, OXEN



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 18, 2018): Hot Spots Not to be Forgot

2018-02-25T06:37:00.199-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 18, 2018): Hot Spots Not to be Forgot:
PRIOR WEBSITE PUZZLE:
Q: An easy-sounding challenge this week that turns out to be not so easy: Two major U.S. cities, each with two-word names, each have an unusual property: The last two letters of the first word in the name are the same as the last two letters of the second word in the name — like University City, in Missouri, in which both "university" and "city" end in "-ty." But both cities in my answer are much larger. According to the 2010 U.S. census, each city has more than a quarter-million people. What cities are they?
Don't miss any of the bright spots in the photo here (courtesy of NASA). If you think Mr. Shortz made a mistake in the population count, he did not.

Update: The puzzle above is apparently *not* the puzzle that was presented on air. Here's the one that was presented on-air and has now been corrected on the website.
ON-AIR PUZZLE:
Q: Take the start of the name of a country and the end of that country's capital. Put the parts together, one after the other, and you'll get the last name of a character in a very popular movie. It's a character everyone knows. Who is it?
This one's easier and less controversial. I'm guessing it was inspired by another recent puzzle.

Edit: The recent puzzle involved Alec Guinness.
A: KENya + nairOBI --> (obi wan) KENOBI



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 11, 2018): Put Your Back Into It

2018-02-17T17:24:54.672-08:00

Sunday Puzzle (Feb 11, 2018): Put Your Back Into It:
Q: Name part of the human body in six letters. Add an R and rearrange the result to name a part of the body in seven letters. What are they?
I went through three ENTIRE lists until I figured out the answer.

Edit: The first *3* letters of ENTIRE are ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat)
A: Tonsil and Nostril



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 28, 2018): Last Name is a Well-Known Brand

2018-02-04T06:30:56.079-08:00

Sunday Puzzle: Can You Keep Up? : NPR:
Q: Name a famous actor — first and last names. The last name is a well-known brand. Drop the last letter of the first name and you'll get the kind of product it's a brand of. Who is it?
Are you looking for a clue? Well you won't find it here.

Edit: "These are not the clues you are looking for..." :)
A: ALEC GUINNESS --> GUINNESS + ALE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 21, 2018): Ways to Get from Here to There

2018-02-11T06:50:58.917-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 21, 2018): Ways to Get from Here to There:
Q: Take the name of a conveyance in seven letters. Drop the middle letter, and the remaining letters can be rearranged to name the place where such a conveyance is often used. What is it?
How close are you to the answer? Are you hot or cold?

Edit: You might see cable gondolas at a ski resort (cold) or gondola baskets below a balloon (hot). But most often you'll see them in the Venice Lagoon.
A: GONDOLA --> LAGOON



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 14, 2018): Geography Quiz - No Peking!

2018-01-21T06:33:51.101-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 14, 2018): Geography Quiz - No Peking!:
Q: Name a world capital. It's an older way of spelling the name. Drop three letters, and the remaining letters, in order, will name another world capital. Both cities have more than a million residents. What cities are these?
I've been staring at a list of world capitals by population and I've not figured it out.

Edit: I wasn't familiar with the original spelling.
A: DJAKARTA (Indonesia) --> DAKAR (Senegal)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 7, 2018): Take the Wheel

2018-01-14T07:32:52.014-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 7, 2018): Take the Wheel:
Q: Take the first and last names of a journalist well-known to NPR listeners. Remove the first letter of the last name. The remaining letters can be rearranged to spell two modes of transport. And here's a hint: The modes of transport have the same number of wheels. Who is the journalist, and what are the modes of transport?
The NPR puzzle most often involves names, lists or anagrams, so why not start the year with a puzzle involving all 3?

Edit: If you had 3 wheels and you took 1 away...
A: COKIE ROBERTS --> BIKE, SCOOTER



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 31, 2017): Wrapping Up the Year

2018-01-06T10:22:17.107-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 31, 2017): Wrapping Up the Year:
Q: Name a famous singer — 3 letters in the first name, 5 letters in the last. Drop the middle letter of the last name and rearrange the result to name a variety of singing group. What is it?
I think it works equally well if you put the letter back in.

Edit: I can't say I care much for a boy band; I'd call them a boy bland.
A: BOB DYLAN --> BOY BAND



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 24, 2017): Fifty Nifty United States

2017-12-30T17:23:42.597-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 24, 2017): Fifty Nifty United States:
Q: The name of what well-known U.S. city, in 10 letters, contains only three different letters of the alphabet?
The same could be said about a city in Australia.

The Australia city is WAGGA WAGGA.
A: WALLA WALLA (Washington)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 17, 2017): Modern Conveniences

2017-12-21T12:17:51.034-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 17, 2017): Modern Conveniences:
Q: Think of a convenience introduced in the 19th century that is still around today. Its name has two words. Take the first three letters of the first word and the first letter of its second word, in order, to get a convenience introduced in the 21st century that serves a similar purpose. Their names are otherwise unrelated. What two conveniences are these?
I can't think what it would be.

Edit: I eventually figured it out. My comment contained hints to "reference lists" and to enlisting the help of others.
A: YEL(LOW) P(AGES) --> YELP



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 10, 2017): Put Your Vehicle In Reverse

2017-12-14T12:02:20.531-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 10, 2017): Put Your Vehicle In Reverse:
Q: The name of what vehicle, spelled backward, becomes phonetically a four-word phrase identifying another vehicle?
Parallel parking requires you go backwards but if you've gone back more than 3 times, you're doing it wrong.

Edit: Three weeks ago we had a puzzle on car makes where one of the answers was SUBARU.
A: SUBARU --> URABUS = "You are a B-U-S"



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 3, 2017): Get Out Your World Map

2017-12-10T06:45:57.474-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 3, 2017): Get Out Your World Map:
Q: Take the singular and plural forms of a particular noun. Remove the first two letters of the singular form and you'll name a country. Remove one letter from inside the plural form to name another country. What words and countries are these?
Not to be petty, but doesn't this mean yet another lapel pin for LegoLambda?

Edit: Hint: a naval petty officer...
A: YEOMAN --> OMAN, YEOMEN --> YEMEN



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 26, 2017): C'est la Vie

2017-11-30T12:16:26.181-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 26, 2017): C'est la Vie:
Q: Think of a familiar French expression in three words, containing 3 letters, 2 letters, and 5 letters, respectively. Then take its standard translation in English, which is a two-word phrase. If you have the right phrases, the first words of the two phrases said out loud will sound like a world capital. What is it?
Not the way I say it.

Edit: I'm used to hearing the first P distinctly pronounced, but the other pronunciation where the P is silent is acceptable.
A: NOM DE PLUME = PEN NAME
"NOM PEN" sounds like PHNOM PENH, the capital of Cambodia



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 12, 2017): State Capital and World Capital --> State Name

2017-11-26T06:56:17.538-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 12, 2017): State Capital and World Capital --> State Name:
Q: Take the name of a U.S. state capital. Immediately to the right of it write the name of a world capital. If you have the right ones, the name of a U.S. state will be embedded in consecutive letters within that letter string. What three places are these?
Rather than wasting my time looking through several different lists; I feel I have to watch YouTube instead.

Edit: YouTube --> video --> Montevideo
A: DENVER or DOVER MONTEVIDEO = VERMONT



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 5, 2017): Fall Back to a List of Directors

2017-11-12T06:36:43.286-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 5, 2017): Fall Back to a List of Directors:
Q: Think of the last name of a famous film director. The first two letters and last two letters in order spell a word. And the remaining letters, rearranged, spell a synonym of that word. What film director is it?
I have two answers -- a third if you want to include an Academy Award winning composer.

Edit: Along with the Huston family, the Coppolas are notable for having three generations of Academy Award winners: grandfather Carmine Coppola (best score), father Francis Ford Coppola (best film, director, screenplay and writing) and daughter Sofia Coppola (best screenplay).
A: (Francis Ford / Sophia) COPPOLA --> COLA + POP



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 29, 2017): Metal Nationalities

2017-11-02T11:59:59.918-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 29, 2017): Metal Nationalities:
Q: This week's challenge sounds easy, but it's a little tricky. Name a well-known nationality. Drop a letter, and the remaining letters in order will name a metal — one of the elements on the periodic table. What is it?
A person from Oman is an Omanganese, right?

Edit: Omanganese hints at the greek letter OMEGA.

Update: I included a better clue in the comments about whether Will Shortz ever tests these puzzles. Software companies will often release a BETA version of their software to let customers test features before the final version is released.

A: TIBETAN, remove β (BETA) and you get TIN



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 8, 2017): What did Henry Ford Do?

2017-10-15T06:33:33.046-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 8, 2017): What did Henry Ford Do?:
Q: Take the name of a country. Insert an E somewhere inside it. You'll get a phrase that answers the question: What did Henry Ford do?
Not to repeat myself, but I just like saying the name of the capital.

Edit: This puzzle wasn't that different from the "Just add Z" puzzle from 2014.
A: MADAGASCAR --> MADE A GAS CAR



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 1, 2017): I can't make SUSHI without U

2017-10-05T13:41:48.169-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 1, 2017): I can't make SUSHI without U:
Q: Think of a 4-letter food. Move each letter one space later in the alphabet — so A would become B, B would become C, etc. Insert a U somewhere inside the result. You'll name a 5-letter food. What foods are these?
To make a long story short, I woke up to raindrops in the night. Later, when my alarm went off, I tried working on this in my sleepy state for about 15 minutes and then fell back asleep. Good thing I wasn't trying to get up for a final.

Edit: In Final Fantasy XV, during the "Raindrops in the Night" hunt, you fight a JUMBO FLAN. Perhaps a little too much of a clue and something searchable, but I went for it anyway.
A: FLAN and GUMBO



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 10, 2017): Go Nab a Cab

2017-09-17T05:20:05.836-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 10, 2017): Go Nab a Cab:
Q: Think of a famous quotation with 8 words. The initial letters of the first 4 words themselves spell a word, and the initial letters of the last 4 words spell another word. Both words rhyme with "jab." What quotation is it?"
As Yoda would say, "Do or Do Not, There is No Try."

Edit: It's a famous 8-word quote, albeit not the answer. Yoda usually urges against aggression saying things like, "A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack."
A: "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" - Muhammad Ali



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 13, 2017): Watching Two-word TV Show Adds Character

2017-08-20T06:36:36.874-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 13, 2017): Watching Two-word TV Show Adds Character:

Q: Name a long-running TV show in two words. Add a C and rearrange the result to name another long-running TV show also in two words. What shows are these? And here's a hint: Both shows are currently on the air, although the second one was most popular the past.
The NPR website had last week's puzzle but now it's fixed! :)

Edit: My hints were the symbols ! and :) representing the exclamation point in the first show's title and the word "Smile" in the second shows tagline.
A: American Dad! and Candid Camera