NPR logo

Forwards And Backwards

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Forwards And Backwards

Forwards And Backwards

Forwards And Backwards

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

You guessed it—this game involves palindromes! That's a word or phrase that's spelled the same forwards as it is backwards. Puzzle guru John Chaneski helps keep our contestants from being 'drab as a fool; aloof as a bard.



You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm your host Ophira Eisenberg and with me is puzzler extraordinaire, John Chaneski.

JOHN CHANESKI: Hi, all right.


EISENBERG: And we have our next contestants, let's welcome Susan Poliniak.



EISENBERG: Hi. And Ken Stern.

CHANESKI: Ken Stern.


KEN STERN: Ken Stern.


EISENBERG: So Susan, you actually were, or maybe still are, a puppeteer?

POLINIAK: I was a muppeteer trainee about 10 years ago.

EISENBERG: A muppeteer?

POLINIAK: Yeah. A mother trainee.

EISENBERG: OK, what's the difference?

POLINIAK: I didn't get to be a muppeteer, I just got to train. Sorry.


EISENBERG: All right, Susan, welcome.

POLINIAK: Thank you.

EISENBERG: Ken, you - you're a puzzle guy.

STERN: I have been known to, yes.

EISENBERG: And you create puzzles?

STERN: I think I've created two that have seen the light of day.

EISENBERG: OK. Who have you created them for?

STERN: I created one for The New York Times, and I sometimes create them for my 7-year-old son.

EISENBERG: Oh! All right, well you're going to need those puzzle skills, 'cause this is a game called Forwards And Backwards, which scares me because John, I'm getting a whiff that we're talking about palindromes.

CHANESKI: As you know, palindromes are words or phrases that are spelled the same forwards and backwards. In this game, you'll be given a clue to a two word palindrome. Contestants, all you have to do is give us the phrase. For example, Ophira, if I gave you the clue: beginning and ending with H, Pester former Governor Palin of Alaska, you'd answer?

EISENBERG: Harass Sarah.

CHANESKI: Very good, harass Sarah.


CHANESKI: Contestants, ring in when you know the answer. Whoever gets more right, moves on to our Ask Me One More final round. Ready? OK, here we go. We're going to start with people's names. Each of these two word palindromes is going to include a common first name. And to make it a little less stressful, we'll give you the first letter of each answer, which will also be the last letter. Beginning and ending with the letter N, what you'd say to vote against the host of American Idol. Ken.

STERN: Nay, Ryan?

CHANESKI: Nay, Ryan, is right.



CHANESKI: Off to a good start.

Beginning and ending with the letter E, escape capture by a late night talk show host. Ken.

STERN: Evade Dave?

CHANESKI: Evade Dave is right.


CHANESKI: Beginning and ending with the letter I, an Indian wrap dress belonging to the host of "This American Life".



POLINIAK: Ira's sari?

CHANESKI: Ira's Sari.


CHANESKI: He should be, yes.

OK, now that was challenging, but we're going to step it up a little bit still.

EISENBERG: Why not? Let's make it harder.

CHANESKI: This next set of palindromes will be two words long, but there won't be any names in them. Beginning and ending with the letter M, the area of your house where you can make cow noises. Ken.

STERN: The moo room?

CHANESKI: The moo room is right.


EISENBERG: Moo room.


EISENBERG: Also acceptable would be bedroom.


CHANESKI: Beginning and ending with the letter S, cats that are suffering from dementia. Susan.

POLINIAK: Senile felines.

CHANESKI: Senile felines is right.



CHANESKI: What do you think of those senile felines?

EISENBERG: (Singing) Memories, I don't have any memories.


CHANESKI: They don't have any memories, yes.

OK. Beginning and ending with the letter B, the grouchy guy at your local watering hole or saloon. Susan.

POLINIAK: Bar crab.

CHANESKI: Bar crab is right.



Audience responded like that was a stunt. Well done, yeah.

CHANESKI: Beginning and ending with the letter T, someone who is crazy about Starkist or Chicken of the Sea. Ken.

STERN: Tuna nut?

CHANESKI: Tuna nut is right.

EISENBERG: Tuna nut.


EISENBERG: Wow, what a close game, but it turns out that we do have a winner for this round. Ken, you are the winner.

CHANESKI: You got it.


EISENBERG: And you'll be moving on to our Ask Me One More final round. Susan, tight race, great, great competitor. Well done. Another round for Susan, everybody.


Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.