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Blaine's Puzzle Blog



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



Updated: 2018-04-25T10:09:55.322-07:00

 



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 (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 (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 27, 2017): All Signs Point To Sequoias

2017-09-10T07:12:13.645-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 27, 2017): All Signs Point To Sequoias:
Q: This week's challenge is a common two-word expression. The expression consists of 8 letters and uses all five vowels — A, E, I, O and U. It has only three consonants, one of which is repeated. The first word in the expression has two letters and the second has six letters. What familiar expression is it?
I saw a sign that said "Sequoias", but that's one word, not two.
A: AU REVOIR



NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 23, 2017): Pat Sajak and Vanna White

2017-07-30T07:31:27.327-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 23, 2017): Pat Sajak and Vanna White:
Q: What common three-word expression — 14 letters in all — has only N and G as consonants, and otherwise is all vowels?
I'm not sure Will Shortz has hit a homerun with this puzzle.

Edit: Some announcers might say this as the ball is heading over the wall.
A: GOING, GOING, GONE!



NPR Sunday Puzzle (June 18, 2017): Putting Your Best Foot Forward

2017-06-22T15:49:45.051-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (June 18, 2017): Putting Your Best Foot Forward:
Q: Think of a familiar two-word phrase starting with T and ending with S, in which the interior letters name part of the human body. Remove the first and last letters of that word, and what remains will name another part of the human body. What's the phrase, and what are the body parts?
I can tell you it isn't a knee.

Knee was a hint to NEA which is the National Endowment For The Arts
A: THE ARTS --> HEART --> EAR



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 (Mar 19, 2017): I (blank) you!

2017-03-26T09:15:57.642-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 19, 2017): I (blank) you!:
Q: Think of a familiar phrase in the form "I ___ you," in which a four-letter word goes in the blank. Rearrange those letters and you'll get another familiar phrase in the form "I ___ you." Both phrases get more than half a million hits in a Google search. What phrases are these?
Lickin' chicken

Edit: "I read you lickin' chicken" -- military radio slang for "loud and clear."
A: I DARE YOU (~542,000 results), I READ YOU (~577,000 results)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 8, 2017): The Cat's Away...

2017-01-15T07:00:09.601-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 8, 2017): The Cat's Away...

I'm unable to post the puzzle this week, but I didn't want to leave you without a place to post comments on the puzzle. Somebody help me out by posting a copy here. Then feel free to add your *hints*.

Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any outright spoilers before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here. Thank you.

Update:
Q: Think of a two-word phrase you might see on a clothing label. Add two letters to the end of the first word, and one letter to the end of the second word. The result is the name of a famous writer. Who is it?
A: VIRGIN WOOL --> VIRGINIA WOOLF



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 (Dec 4, 2016): Stuck in the Middle with You

2016-12-10T09:10:37.486-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Dec 4, 2016): Stuck in the Middle with You:
Q: This challenge may sound impossible, but there's a good answer. Think of a common two-word phrase, in seven letters, that has two R's in the middle. And "in the middle" means exactly in the middle. What phrase is it?
I'm sure you'll figure this out before breakfast.

Edit: I figured you were probably eating sausages (wurst) for breakfast, so at worst it would take you until then.
A: The two-word phrase AT WORST contains "TWO RS" in the middle.



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 18, 2016): Drawing a Blank

2016-09-25T07:56:26.343-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sept 18, 2016): Drawing a Blank:
Q: Think of a familiar three-word phrase in the form "[blank] and [blank]". Drop the "and" then move the last word to the front to form a single word that means the opposite of the original phrase.

Here's a hint: The resulting single word has seven letters. What is it?
I'm literally drawing a blank... and another blank.

Edit: I guess you could say I was getting nowhere with the puzzle.
A: HERE and NOW --> NOWHERE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 10, 2016): The Boys of Summer

2016-07-17T07:31:38.389-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 10, 2016): The Boys of Summer:
Q: Think of a phrase that denotes a particular major-league sports team in 12 letters. The first 6 letters are the same as the second 6 letters rearranged. What team is it?
A: THE MIAMI HEAT



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 26, 2015): Back on the Road

2015-08-02T06:18:46.480-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 26, 2015): Back on the Road:
Q: Name something in three syllables that an auto mechanic might have. Move the second and third syllables to the front. The result, with some respacing, will name a group of auto mechanics. What is it?
Sorry about the delay in posting; I'm still recovering from the puzzle a couple weeks back.

The answer from a couple weeks ago was bartender who might serve you a screwdriver.
A: SCREWDRIVER --> DRIVER'S CREW



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 8, 2015): Blank and Blank

2015-03-15T06:50:55.457-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 8, 2015): Blank and Blank:
Q: (image) Take a familiar phrase in the form "[blank] and [blank]." Put the second word in front of the first, and you'll name a common part of a large company. What is it?
No hint this week; you'll just have to earn it yourself.

Edit: For helping out, you'll earn room and board.
A: ROOM and BOARD --> BOARDROOM



NPR Sunday Puzzle (April 27, 2014): Actors and Actresses Ending in Double Letters

2014-05-04T07:35:50.821-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (April 27, 2014): Actors and Actresses Ending in Double Letters:
Q: Name a famous actor or actress whose last name ends in a doubled letter. Drop that doubled letter. Then insert an R somewhere inside the first name. The result will be a common two-word phrase. What is it?
I've got nothing...

Edit: Literally, a "blank card"
A: CATE BLANCHETT --> CARTE BLANCHE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 6, 2013): Saying in Seven Words, Seven Consecutive Consonants

2013-10-10T12:01:12.644-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 6, 2013): Saying in Seven Words, Seven Consecutive Consonants:
Q: What familiar saying in seven words has seven consonants in a row? The answer is a common saying, in ordinary English. Sometimes it's expressed in nine words rather than seven, but it's the same saying. And either way, in one spot it has seven consecutive consonants. What saying is it?
I have one word, and it starts with C.

Edit: For those that live in glass houses, my one word is CURTAINS!
A: People (who live) in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 28, 2013): What Does NPR Stand For?

2013-08-02T07:17:01.521-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 28, 2013): What Does NPR Stand For?:
Q: In three words, name a product sold mainly to women that has the initials N-P-R. The answer is a common phrase.
My wife's first answer: Nipple Piercing Ring. Okay, just forget I said that.

Edit: In other words, remove that thought.
A: Nail Polish Remover



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 16, 2012): I'd Like to Buy a Vowel

2012-09-20T13:06:19.849-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Sep 16, 2012): I'd Like to Buy a Vowel:
Q: Think of something that the majority of adults buy. It's a two-word phrase with 10 letters in the first word and nine in the second. This phrase uses each of the five vowels (A, E, I, O, and U) exactly twice. What familiar product is this?
Lmnvskr ukbaxmu quytf ggzm aca jqhhkiv rsxgmph uv uqfk sv eox mvuixeves.

Edit: If you decode that using Sharky's Vigenere Cipher and the key of "Geico" you get "Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance."
A: AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 15, 2012): Is There a Doctor in the House?

2016-11-18T09:12:18.833-08:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jul 15, 2012): Is There a Doctor in the House?:
Q: The name of something that you might see your doctor about is a two-word phrase. Three letters in each word. When these six letters are written without a space, a three-letter word can be removed from inside, and the remaining three letters in order also form a word. What's interesting is that the four three-letter words — the two in the original phrase, the one that was removed, and the one that remains — all rhyme. What is the original phrase?
The picture this time is from Halloween 2005 when we all went as various doctors. Speaking of doctors, is there ever one in the house?

Edit: Perhaps too obviously, a moving, emotional theatrical performance can result in there not being a dry eye in the house.
A: DRY EYE --> D(RYE)YE = DYE & RYE



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 6, 2012): Bronte Sisters Turn a Phrase

2012-05-10T13:11:13.708-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 6, 2012): Bronte Sisters Turn a Phrase:
Q: Using only the six letters of the name "Bronte," repeating them as often as necessary, spell a familiar six-word phrase. What is it?
The Bronte Sisters grew up in a small village called Haworth. The question is whether this is relevant to the puzzle.

Edit: A small village is a hamlet and the famous soliloquy continues with "...that is the question".
A: To be, or not to be



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 29, 2012): Capital Punishment

2012-05-03T12:10:32.235-07:00

(image) NPR Sunday Puzzle (Apr 29, 2012): Capital Punishment:
Q: Name the capital of a country that, when said out loud, sounds like a three-word phrase. This phrase might describe the reason why the police did not catch a barefoot thief. What is the capital, and what is the reason?
We seem to have a pretty characteristic Will Shortz puzzle involving countries, phrases and sounds.

My clue was "characteristic" which contains the letters of the country name in order (cHarActerIsTIc). I'm not going to get into a debate on the French vs. anglicized pronunciation of the capital city. Will must have heard it pronounced "port-oh-prints" just like I have. Get it? The police weren't able to identify the barefoot thief because all they had were "poor toe prints."
A: Port-au-prince & "Poor toe prints"



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 18, 2012): This Puzzle is No Sweat

2012-03-22T17:29:51.168-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 18, 2012): This Puzzle is No Sweat:
Q: Take the phrase "no sweat." Using only these seven letters, and repeating them as often as necessary, can you make a familiar four-word phrase? It's 15 letters long. What is it?
Don't forget, you should use every letter at least once.

Edit: In other words, don't waste any letters because you know what they say...
A: Waste not, want not



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 15 and 22, 2012): Two Week TV Title Challenge

2016-11-13T06:26:49.552-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 15, 2012): Two Week TV Title Challenge:
NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 22, 2012): Two Week TV Title Challenge (cont.):
Q: This is a special two-week creative challenge. Combine the titles of some TV shows, past or present, into an amusing sentence or statement. Here are 3 examples:
"TODAY / SISTERS / NAME THAT TUNE / FATHER KNOWS BEST,"
"DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES / BEWITCHED / MY THREE SONS / ONE DAY AT A TIME,"
"I'VE GOT A SECRET / MURDER, SHE WROTE / THE F.B.I."
Entries will be judged on their sense, naturalness of syntax, humor, originality, familiarity of the TV shows named, and overall effect. No more than three sentences per entry, please.
Not much to say, but here's list of television shows that might be useful.

Edit: Feel free to discuss your submissions in the comments.
A: "The Nanny / Lost / All My Children." (Will's pick submitted by Patrick B. of Jasper, AL)