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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: 2018-04-21T11:21:55.498-07:00

 



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 19, 2017): A Change of Outfits

2017-02-25T21:32:55.592-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 19, 2017): A Change of Outfits:
Q: Think of an article of apparel in five letters. Change one letter in it to name another article of apparel. Change one letter in that to name a third article of apparel. Then change one letter in that to name a fourth article of apparel. The position of the letters you change are different each time. What articles are these?
Mr. Shortz has delivered a fun puzzle this week.

Edit: My clue was delivered as in the *stork* delivering babies. If you anagram stork you get skort.
A: SKORT <--> SKIRT <--> SHIRT <--> SHIFT



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 11, 2016): The Season of Shopping

2016-12-15T12:13:08.376-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 11, 2016): The Season of Shopping:
Q: Think of a two-word phrase commonly seen on signs in new businesses. Nine letters in all. Change the sixth letter to an N, and read the resulting letters in order: You'll get a new two-word phrase sometimes seen on humorous signs in classrooms and offices. What signs are these?"
You'll also see the first sign on established stores at this time of year.
A: NOW HIRING --> NO WHINING



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 30, 2016): Name in the News

2016-11-06T08:50:11.843-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 30, 2016): Name in the News:
Q: Think of a name in the news that has a doubled letter. It's a person's last name. Change that doubled letter to a different doubled letter, and you'll get the commercial name for a popular food. What is it?
A: (Evan) MCMULLIN --> MCMUFFIN



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 21, 2014): Christmas Decorations

2014-12-25T02:58:11.184-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 21, 2014): Christmas Decorations:
Q: (image) Take the first and last names of a well-known actress. Her first name has two vowels. Change them both to new vowels, and the result names part of a common Christmas decoration. What is it?
Will threw a proverbial soft (snow)ball this week.

Edit: The key was "threw a" which anagrams to a "wreath".
A: HALLE BERRY --> HOLLY BERRY



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 28, 2014): Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

2014-10-04T23:31:21.739-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 28, 2014): Best Thing Since Sliced Bread:
Q: Think of a 10-letter word that names an invention of the early 20th century and includes an A and an O. Remove the A. Then move the O to where the A was, leaving a space where the O was, and you'll name a much more recent invention. What is it?
Did one of these inventors come from Chicago?

Edit: The hint was a reference to the song "Mr. Cellophane" from the musical Chicago.
A: CELLOPHANE --> CELL PHONE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 15, 2014): Dad, Are We There Yet?

2014-07-20T10:58:45.549-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 15, 2014): Dad, Are We There Yet?:
(image) Q: Name a certain trip that contains the letter S. Change the S to a C and rearrange the resulting letters. You'll name the location where this trip often takes place. What is the trip and where is it?
I'd be lying if I said this puzzle was difficult. But if you are out of ideas, consult a list of travel destinations.

Edit: Clues --> "Lying" = Lion. "Out of ..." = Africa.
A: SAFARI --> AFRICA



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 18, 2012): Common Five Letter Words

2012-11-21T22:28:23.097-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 18, 2012): Common Five Letter Words:
(image) Q: Think of a familiar five-letter word in two syllables. Change the middle letter to the preceding letter of the alphabet, and you'll get a familiar five-letter word in three syllables. What words are these?
I bet some people will be coming up with the answer almost immediately while for some it is going to take a few hours.

Edit: The hints were "bet" (as in alphabet) and "coming"/"going" (since aloha can mean hello or goodbye).
A: ALPHA --> ALOHA



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 11, 2012): Lead Pencil Puzzle

2012-11-16T11:22:02.858-08:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 11, 2012): Lead Pencil Puzzle:
Q: With one stroke of a pencil you can change a capital F into E; you can change an O into a Q, and so on. Write the phrase "LEAD PENCIL" in capital letters. Add a stroke to one letter and rearrange the result to name a classic movie. What is it?
Wake me when it's over.

The Four Tops had a hit with "Shake Me, Wake Me (When it's over)". The missing part of my hint was "Shake Me". And if you search for "Shake Me" it's a song by the group "Cinderella".
A: Change the P to an R, rearrange to get CINDERELLA



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 23, 2012): Anatomy Book

2012-09-27T20:40:14.529-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 23, 2012): Anatomy Book:
Q: Name two parts of the human body. Put them together one after the other. Change the 7th letter in the result to the next letter of the alphabet to name something that's often found in books. What is it?
If I add anything, I think I'll give it away (as it seems to happens in the comments too often) so I'm going to say nothing.

Edit: If I were to add anything, it might be in a footnote. the other hint was TOO OFTEN which anagrams to FOOTNOTE.
A: FOOT + NOSE --> FOOTNOTE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 2, 2012): Autumn Leaves

2012-09-06T12:09:59.030-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 2, 2012): Autumn Leaves:
Q: It's an anagram word ladder. For example, take the word "spring." If the last letter is changed to an "o" and the result is rearranged, you get "prison." Or, instead, if the last letter is changed to an "e" and the result rearranged, you get "sniper." Or change the last letter to an "a" and get "sprain," and so on. For this challenge, start with the word "autumn." Changing one letter at a time, and anagramming it each step of the way, turn "autumn" into "leaves." Each step has to be a common word. In how few steps can you do it?
I know Will frowns on capitalized or plural words, so I initially looked for an ideal answer without any plurals (except for leaves). As luck would have it, that forced me to use "vestal" or "teasel" which seemed worse than using plurals so I relaxed that restriction. There are multiple answers, but I believe only one acceptable length.

Edit: My clue was intended to hint (but not give away) that there is an ideal 5-step* answer. The word "luck" hinted at amulet being required in most of the common 5-step chains. *In my terminology a step is when you go from one word to the next.
A: The following chain is 5 steps and uses common words. Your answer may be different.
AUTUMN (remove N, add L)
MUTUAL (remove U, add E)
AMULET (remove M, add S)
SALUTE (remove T, add V)
VALUES (remove U, add E)
LEAVES



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 3, 2012): Stay Tuned

2012-06-07T11:19:47.163-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 3, 2012): Stay Tuned:
Q: Take the names of two state capitals. Change one letter in each one, resulting in a phrase naming someone you will see soon on TV. Who is it? (Hint: You don't really have to know anything about TV to solve this puzzle.)
Whenever I wade through the channels to see what is on TV, I see nothing but re-runs.

Edit: My hint was "wade" which is a hint to the states of WA and DE as well as an indirect hint to water and diving.
A: Olympic Diver
Olympia, WA --> Olympic
Dover, DE --> Diver



NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 13, 2012): Capital Profession

2012-05-19T23:42:46.667-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 13, 2012): Capital Profession:
Q: Name a state capital. Change one of the vowels to another vowel and say the result phonetically. You will name a revered profession. What is it?
While I initially was down with a different answer, I realized that Will included the word phonetically for a reason.

Edit: My hint was "While I initially" which means take the initial letters of "While I" (WI) to get the state. The different answer that some came up with is Dover/Diver, but it isn't necessary to pronounce diver phonetically, so that isn't the intended answer.
A: Madison (Wisconsin) --> "Medison" = Medicine



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 1, 2012): Take Me Out to the Ball Game

2012-04-05T12:06:52.993-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 1, 2012): Take Me Out to the Ball Game:
Q: Name some things seen at a baseball game. This is a two-word phrase, four letters in each word. Change one letter in each word to a new letter to get a new two-word phrase that names a popular music group of the past. Name the group.
For some reason, I'm thinking of tulips.

Edit: "of tulips" anagrams to foul tips
A: FOUL TIPS -> FOUR TOPS
(alternatively, some have suggested "foul pops" as the baseball phrase.)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 17, 2011): Vacation Hospitalization

2011-07-21T12:00:17.710-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 17, 2011): Vacation Hospitalization:
Q: 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?
I'm sorry to dash your hopes, there are no clues in this post today.

Edit: In printing, there's an em dash (—) and an en dash (–), related in size to the printed letter 'm' and 'n', respectively. That was a hint to the letters that are changed. Also, the sentence included "I'm" and "in", the prefixes to the answers.
A: IMPATIENT and INPATIENT



NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 1, 2011): Transferring Universities

2011-05-05T12:39:59.607-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 1, 2011): Transferring Universities:
Q: Take the name of a well-known U.S. university. One of the letters in it is a chemical symbol. Change this to a two-letter chemical symbol to name another well-known U.S. university. What universities are these?
If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you'll know I sometimes complain about the puzzles Will picks. This time, since it was submitted by a regular visitor (Dave Taub), I'll try to be not so critical. I will say I like how the chemical elements are related, but I feel one of these universities may not be as "well-known" to some.

Edit: All of my hints referred to the chemical elements. Both are radioactive hence the comments about "critical" and being related. Also the post started with "...you are a..." = U, Ra.
A: DUKE (University) - U + Ra = DRAKE (University)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 20): After Dinner and Before a Job

2010-01-10T07:26:42.084-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec. 20): After Dinner and Before a Job:
Q: Think of a familiar two-word phrase, five letters in each word. The second word starts with P. The phrase names something that is nice to have after dinner. Change the P to an S, and you'll get another familiar phrase that names something that's nice to have before you start a job. What phrases are these?
Whoever came up with this has created a neat little puzzle. I only wish I could come up with a neat little clue to go with it.

Edit: Neat is a synonym for clean...
A: CLEAN PLATE --> CLEAN SLATE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 2): Show Me the Money!

2010-01-10T07:43:00.889-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 2): Show Me the Money!:
Q: Take a slang term for money. Change one of its letters to the next letter of the alphabet. Rearrange the result, and you'll get another slang term for money. What are the words?
To be honest, I haven't figured this one out yet. I thought I was close with BEAN and BANK, but it fails the "next letter" rule.

Edit: I must admit I'd never come across the term Do-re-mi as slang for money. There were less than 300 entries so I don't think I was alone.
A: DO-RE-MI --> DINERO