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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: 2018-04-20T09:28:25.080-07:00

 



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 4, 2018): Getting Short with You

2018-02-11T06:40:19.228-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 4, 2018): Getting Short with You:
Q: In English, a short "u" sound is usually spelled with a "u," as in "fun" and "luck." Occasionally it's spelled with an "o," as in "come" and "love." Can you name two everyday one-syllable words in which a short "u" sound is spelled with an "a"?
I used to wear corduroy pants.

Edit: What was I thinking?
A: WHAT, WAS



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 (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 (June 4, 2017): Another Two-Word Cities Puzzle

2017-06-11T06:14:47.146-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (June 4, 2017): Another Two-Word Cities Puzzle:
Q: Name a well-known U.S. city with two words in its name. The second word sounds like the last name of a famous 20th-century writer. The first word is something found in virtually every work of this author. What is the city, and who is the author?
I'd say the first word describes the complete works of this author, not just most.

Edit: corpus (n.)
1 : the body of a human or animal especially when dead.
2 : all the writings or works especially the complete works of an author.
A: CORPUS CHRISTI --> Agatha CHRISTIE and CORPUS



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 16, 2017): A Runny Variety of Cheese Puzzle

2017-04-20T18:23:07.030-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 16, 2017): A Runny Variety of Cheese Puzzle:
Q: A spoonerism is when you change the initial consonant sounds of two words in a phrase to get a new phrase. For example, "Tames Jailer" is a spoonerism of the singer James Taylor. "Spark Mitts" is a spoonerism of the swimmer Mark Spitz. The name of what famous entertainer — first and last names — has a two-word spoonerism meaning "A runny variety of cheese"?
I got caught up on "entertainer". That's not the first word I'd used to describe this person. Anyway, back to getting dressed for Easter.

Edit: My pants are a little loose, so I made sure to wear a black belt.
A: BRUCE LEE --> LOOSE BRIE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 25, 2016): Just a Matter of Course

2017-01-01T06:08:28.042-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 25, 2016): Just a Matter of Course:
Q: Think of three words used in golf. Say them out loud one after the other. They'll sound like a group that was in the news in 2016. What group is it?
Am I the only one that read about the "Rough Eagle Club" in the news?

Edit: Rough is a part of the course. Eagle is a scoring term. Club is a piece of equipment.
A: Green Party (green + par + tee)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 24, 2016): Men's Kitchen Attire

2016-07-28T15:02:29.164-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 24, 2016): Men's Kitchen Attire:
Q: A spoonerism is an interchange of initial consonant sounds in a phrase to get another phrase, as in "light rain" and "right lane." Name something seen in a kitchen in two words. Its spoonerism is an article that's worn mostly by men. What is it?
The problem I had was that the name I would have used for the kitchen item has the same initial sounds. And what I would have called the men's item would have the same initial sounds. Thus they would both be spoonerisms of themselves, not each other.

Edit: I'd probably call the kitchen item a pie pan and the clothing item a tie tack.
A: PIE TIN --> TIE PIN



NPR Sunday Puzzle (June 12, 2016): C D B? D B S A B Z B!

2016-06-18T22:50:29.176-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (June 12, 2016): C D B? D B S A B Z B!:
Q: This week's challenge comes from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco. Take the word baci (Italian for "kisses"). You can rearrange the letters to "I C A B" — which sounds like a sentence, "I see a bee."

Now, think of a unit of measurement. Rearrange its letters and read them out loud to form a sentence complimenting someone on their appearance. What's the word, and what's the sentence?
Just read C D B! by William Steig and you'll probably get the answer. Or if not, he has a second book in the series called C D C!.

I'm not sure you can call these "volumes" but that's what I was trying to hint at.
A: QUART --> URAQT (You are a cutie)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 21, 2016): The Letter G, Served Three Ways

2016-02-27T08:41:20.419-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 21, 2016): The Letter G, Served Three Ways:
(image) Q: Think of three eight-letter words that are identical in spelling except for the fourth letter. Each word contains a G ... that is pronounced differently in all three words. What words are they?
I didn't know the answer at first, but I received some reinforcement; I feel much better now.

Edit: Hints were "don't know"=stranger, "reinforcement"=stringer, "feel much better"=stronger.
A: STRANGER (soft g sound), STRINGER (nasal ng sound), STRONGER (hard g sound)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 27, 2015): The Duck Says "Quack"

2016-01-01T09:51:38.987-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 27, 2015): The Duck Says "Quack":
Q: Name a famous actress who has four letters in her first name and four letters in her last name. Add one letter, and rearrange the result to name an animal and the sound this animal makes. Who is the actress, what is the animal and what is the sound that the animal makes?
Personally I'd say the sound is more like the last name with a letter removed.

Edit: GRR!
A: TERI GARR + O --> TIGER + ROAR



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 4, 2015): Help Wanted, Inquire Within

2015-10-07T12:21:39.253-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 4, 2015): Help Wanted, Inquire Within:
Q: Think of a two-word term for someone who might be working at a nightclub. The second letter of the first word is a consonant. Move that letter so it's the second letter of the second word, and phonetically you'll get a made-up, two-word term for someone else who might work at a nightclub. What persons are these?
I'm not happy that this took so long to figure out. By the way, the deadline is Wednesday this week.

The hint was "not happy", or feeling "blue".
A: BLUES SINGER --> BOOZE SLINGER



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 20, 2015): Foretold Fourfold Puzzle

2015-09-27T07:20:47.115-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 20, 2015): Foretold Fourfold Puzzle:
Q: Take the words FORETOLD and FOURFOLD. They start with homophones, FORE and FOUR, and they end with rhymes, TOLD and FOLD. The challenge is to find two common nine-letter compound words that have the same property. Specifically, the two homophones are each five letters long, and the rhymes have four letters each. What words are these?
Edit: In one of my comments, before I knew the answer, I said it wasn't BIRTHDATE-BIRTHMATE or WAISTCOAT-WASTEBOAT. I had to delete that for obvious reasons.
A: WAISTEBAND and WASTELAND



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 2, 2015): Watching a Butterfly Flutter By

2015-08-09T07:35:04.893-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 2, 2015): Watching a Butterfly Flutter By:
Q: This challenge involves a spoonerism. (To recap, that's where you exchange the initial consonant sounds of two words to get two new words. For example, a spoonerism of "light rain" is "right lane.")

Name two animals. Exchange their initial consonant sounds, and the result in two words will be the name of a third animal. What is it?
A: BUNNY + HARE --> HONEY BEAR



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 7, 2015): Let Me Entertain You

2015-06-14T07:29:35.034-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 7, 2015): Let Me Entertain You:
Q: Name a famous person in Washington, D.C. — 7 letters in the first name, 5 letters in the last. Drop the last sound in the last name. The result — phonetically — will be the first and last name of a famous living entertainer. Who is it?
A: Loretta Lynch (attorney general), Loretta Lynn (singer)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 10, 2015): 5 Letters, 1-2-3 Syllables

2015-05-17T08:27:20.162-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 10, 2015): 5 Letters, 1-2-3 Syllables:
Q: The letters of the one-syllable word "groan" can be rearranged to spell "organ," which has two syllables. Here's the challenge: Think of a common one-syllable, five-letter word whose letters can be rearranged to spell a common two-syllable word — and then rearranged again to spell a common three-syllable word. I have two different answers in mind, and it's possible there are others, but you only have to think of one.
Are plurals allowed?

Before I edited it down, my full hint was going to be "Who can help me? Are plurals allowed? Thoughts?" But that seemed a little too obvious.
A: AIDES, ASIDE, IDEAS or AIMED, AMIDE, MEDIA



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 1, 2015): Phonetic Phun

2015-03-05T12:05:16.327-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 1, 2015): Phonetic Phun:
Q: Name a city whose name ends in a long-A sound in which that sound is not spelled with an "A." Change the sound to a long-O and phonetically you'll name a famous person whose name does not contain the letter "O." What city and famous person are these?
I won't say what I really think of this puzzle.

Two hints: "Say" is phonetically the last syllable in the city. And it also is a clue to being a mime.
A: MARSEILLE (France) --> (Marcel) MARCEAU



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 15, 2015): Sounds of the City

2015-02-19T12:00:01.101-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Feb 15, 2015): Sounds of the City:
Q: Name a major U.S. city in two syllables. Reverse the syllables phonetically to get the cost of attending a certain NBA game. What is it?
Unless they get rid of that cost.

Edit: Maybe they'll nix the fee...
A: PHOENIX --> KNICKS' FEE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 7, 2014): T is for...

2014-09-13T07:54:10.659-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 7, 2014): T is for...:
Q: Think of a word starting with T. Drop the T, and phonetically you'll get a new word that's a synonym of the first one. What words are these?
My apologies to all for not posting the puzzle on Sunday. I never finished solving the puzzle and therefore forgot to put up a post.
A: TWIRL and WHIRL



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 29, 2014): If You Don't Want It, Can I Have It?

2014-07-06T08:57:44.792-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 29, 2014): If You Don't Want It, Can I Have It?:
(image) Q: Name a boy's name and a girl's name, each in four letters. The names start with the same letter of the alphabet. The boy's name contains the letter R. Drop that R from the boy's name and insert it into the girl's name. Phonetically, the result will be a familiar two-word phrase for something no one wants to have. What is it?
I'm sorry I don't have much of a clue, but you are a resilient bunch and I'm sure you'll manage to figure it out.

Edit: Resilient is an anagram of Listerine.
A: BRAD + BETH --> BAD BREATH



NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 18, 2014): The Cure for What Ails You

2014-05-23T00:34:07.668-07:00

Finding The Answers Within : NPR:
(image) Q: Name a famous actress of the past whose last name has two syllables. Reverse the syllables phonetically. The result will name an ailment. What is it?
I think Will suffers from memory loss, because we have had this puzzle in the last few years.

Edit: The puzzle was previously aired in 2009.
A: Sarah Bernhardt --> Heartburn



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 12, 2014): New Year's Resolution - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

2014-01-19T09:39:54.445-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 12, 2014): New Year's Resolution - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:
Q: Name a familiar form of exercise in two words. Switch the order of the two words. Then say them out loud. The result phonetically will name something to wear. What is it?
I feel like I recently heard this on NPR.

Edit: This exact pair was given as the example on the recent Ask Me Another program.
A: TAE BO --> BOW TIE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 25, 2013): Open for Business

2013-08-29T12:10:30.162-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 25, 2013): Open for Business:
Q: Think of a business that's found in most towns. Its name consists of two words, each starting with a consonant. Interchange the consonants and you'll get two new words — neither of which rhymes with the original words. What business is it?
Checking with my dictionary, I can confirm the words don't rhyme. That goes double for last week's answer.

Edit: My hints: The words "Checking with" start with the same letters as the answer. Doubling 38 from last week you get 76 which is the name of a gas station (which may also have a car wash) and is the year the movie Car Wash was released.
A: CAR WASH --> WAR and CASH



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 21, 2013): Fun with Syllables

2013-07-25T12:04:40.492-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 21, 2013): Fun with Syllables:
(image) A: Think of a three-syllable word in four letters, add two letters and rearrange everything to become a two-syllable word in six letters. Then add two more letters and scramble them to get a one syllable word in eight letters.
I have several answers that will work, but they all start with the same four-letter word. Each of the four answers meet the puzzle criteria. If I'm correct, the three-syllable word has an anagram that is not three syllables.

Edit: The first and last letters of the first two sentences are I-D-E-A and the anagram is AIDE.
A: A few possible answers:
IDEA --> REPAID --> SPRAINED
IDEA --> DETAIN --> STRAINED
IDEA --> TIRADE --> STRAINED
IDEA --> REPAID --> TRAIPSED



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 30, 2013): Truck Part / FEMA Spoonerism Puzzle

2013-07-07T01:45:48.171-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jun 30, 2013): Truck Part / FEMA Spoonerism Puzzle:
Q: Next week's challenge involves a spoonerism, in which you reverse the initial consonant sounds in one phrase to make another phrase. For example, if you spoonerize "light rain," you get "right lane." Name part of a truck in two words; spoonerize it, and you'll name something FEMA uses. What is it?
Remove the third letter from "something FEMA uses", swap the letters before and after it to describe an action that can result in disaster for some.

The answer to my mini-puzzle was "fold map"
A: MUD FLAP --> FLOOD MAP



NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 12, 2013): On a Scale of One to Ten...

2013-05-19T06:17:15.208-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 12, 2013): On a Scale of One to Ten...:
(image) Q: Name a famous American man, first and last names. Change the first letter of his first name from T to H. The result will sound like a term for an attractive person. Who is it?
He is a very colorful character, isn't he...

Edit: He received flak for broadcasting colorized versions of classic movies on his network.
A: Ted Turner --> "Head Turner"