Friday, August 6, 2010

The Puzzle Master, My Hero!

I like puzzles and games; crosswords, Sudoku, kakuro, oh my! I especially like to play along with Will Shortz on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday mornings.

Shortz is the editor of the New York Times crossword puzzles, and has a bazillion other titles and honors to his credit. The Sunday morning gig, however, enables listeners (like me!) to play along as he plays word games, or does brain teasers. When the game ends he issues a challenge for the coming week, and it’s normally in the form of a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle, you e-mail in your answer, and one random entry is chosen to select a participant to play the next week’s puzzle on the air. Believe me, it’s entertaining.

Here’s an example of a past puzzle Shortz challenged the listeners to solve: Sacramento, the capital of California, can be broken into two words, five letters each, and they are synonyms of each other. What are they? (Yes, I’ll post the answer tomorrow.)

Sometimes the puzzles are more about numbers than words, but hey, I say, bring it on. (Doesn’t mean I always solve them, though!) Here’s one of those: Write down the digits from 2 to 7, in order. Add two mathematical symbols to get an expression equaling 2010. What symbols are these? (Right, tomorrow, remember? That gives you time to work on it—if you want more than a day, just don’t peek. It’s like not looking at the answers in the daily paper—your choice.)

So last week’s challenge—meaning we won’t get the outcome till this coming Sunday, the 8th—was to come up with a riddle that starts off with "What's the difference between" and involves a spoonerism. Okay, here I’m going to quote from the website to make good use of my time, and not make a complete fool of myself trying to explain this…

“A spoonerism is when consonant sounds are interchanged. For example, "What's the difference between an ornithologist and a loser in a spelling bee?" The answer: "One is a bird watcher, and the other is a word botcher." Another example: "What's the difference between an iceberg and a groom at a stable?" The answer: "One crushes boats, while the other brushes coats." Entries will be judged on cleverness, originality and naturalness of syntax. “

So here you have it, a challenge to rouse your brain from the summer doldrums. What? That’s just ME? Oh. Nevermind. But just in case you like word games, come up with one, and post it here as a comment. Want to know what I submitted? Here you go: “What’s the difference between a lunatic and a gastroenterologist? One goes nuts and the other knows guts.”

He’s going to hit me with a skillet, isn’t he?


  1. I don't take to number puzzles well. (Read: I have never finished a single sudoku-even the ones marked easy.) But I do the crossword EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

    Low patience level.

  2. Here's my entry, and no, they did not call me! What's the difference between a guy in tight pants, with a cape and sword, facing-off against an angry bull, standing in the middle of an arena in Spain (but not Catalonia), and a statistician for the Berber/Arab Muslims living in North Africa? One's a matador and the other is a data Moor. Nyuk-nyuk.