Letters: Puzzle Glitch; Funny Philosophy; Charlaps

Listeners take note of an error in the puzzle, coverage of the book Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar and Liane Hansen's interview with pianist Bill Charlap and his mother, vocalist Sandy Stewart.


Time now for your letters, and we've received a number about a problem with last week's puzzle. An editing error left many of you justifiably confused. The challenge was to take a word provided by Will Shortz. Drop one letter and replace it with the letters MA to get a new word. Due to our overzealous editing, one clue - auteur - had the answer given as schmaltz, which, of course, is nonsensical. Here's the way it was supposed to go.


Ms. ALISHA McWILLIAMS (Puzzle Winner): Amateur.

SHORTZ: Amateur, yes. Schultz, S-C-H-U-L-T-Z.

LIANE HANSEN: Do you know Yiddish?

Ms. McWILLIAMS: No. I think that's the problem.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Oh, I'll give you this one: schmaltz.

SHORTZ: Schmaltz is it.

Ms. McWILLIAMS: Oh, I've heard that.

ROBERTS: We apologize for our mistake. We hope it didn't throw off your Sunday morning. Many of you enjoyed the segment last week with Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes." A few of you sent in your own philosopher jokes.

Philip Williams(ph) of Coral Gables, Florida wrote us with his favorite. Rene Descartes walks into a bar and orders a beer. He drinks it and the bartender says, want another one? Descartes replies, I think not. And poof, he disappears.

John Gallagher(ph) of Burlington, Vermont, added this gem. How many Marxists does it take to screw a light bulb? None. The light bulb contains the seeds of its own revolution. Then he adds, nothing is funnier than our struggle to put meaning in this thing we call life. The punch line is that the joke is on us.

Finally, our Mother's Day interview with pianist Bill Charlap and his mother, vocalist Sandy Stewart prompted Peter Albertson(ph) of Pittsfield, Massachusetts to write to us. I've listened to Bill Charlap for years and I've always enjoyed his work, he writes. You have helped me discover a singer I do not believe I've ever heard before. She's marvelous in her sound, phrasing, intonation and the emotional content of her singing within a jazz context.

Thank you to Liane Hansen, to Bill Charlap, and most of all to Sandy Stewart.

You can write to us, too. Just go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the Contact Us link.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERTS: This is NPR News.

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