Accidental Acrostics The on-air puzzle this week offers a game of "accidental acrostics." Every answer is a multiword title, in which the initial letters spell a word. For example, if the word given is "air" and you're asked to name a 1920s hit on Broadway, you would say Abby's Irish Rose.
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Accidental Acrostics

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Accidental Acrostics

Accidental Acrostics

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will.


HANSEN: What you've been up to?

SHORTZ: Well, something very cool. This past week, I was in Little Rock, Arkansas to speak at the Clinton Center and Library; and I conducted a crossword and Sudoku contest there. And Governor Mike Beebe of Arkansas declared Wednesday, Arkansas Puzzle Day, which I thought was very cool.

HANSEN: Oh, wow. Well, only, what, 49 more states and we can have a National Puzzle Day, right?


(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Yeah. Before we hear about the challenge you gave us last week, we need to make a slight correction about the on-air puzzle and it had to do with trolleys and cable cars. Do you want to set everybody straight?

SHORTZ: Yeah. Last week, for the answer: Brooklyn trolley. I defined that trolley is a cable car, and to me they're interchangeable. But technically speaking, they're different. Cable car is pulled by cable and trolley is - has electric wires at the top. So they're really different kinds of vehicles.

HANSEN: Okay, correction out of the way. Now, the challenge you left us with last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Gary Lederman of New Haven, Connecticut. I said name a European nationality; drop the first letter; insert a B, as in boy; somewhere later in this string of letters, the result will name a group of people found mainly in Asia. What groups of people are these?

HANSEN: What are they?

SHORTZ: Well, the first is Italian. Make that change and you get Taliban.

HANSEN: We had over 1,800 entries from people who solved the puzzle. And our randomly selected winner is Liz Glass, and she joins us from Boyne City, Michigan. Hi, Liz.

Ms. LIZ GLASS (Puzzle winner): Hi.

HANSEN: Where's Boyne City?

Ms. GLASS: Boyne City if you do the map with your hand of Michigan, it's near the top of your ring finger.

HANSEN: Okay. What do you do there?

Ms. GLASS: Well, I own a specialty food and wine store called Lake Street Market. We also have a deli and, Will, if you go easy on me, I'm going to name a sandwich after you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Okay. Let's me switch now to my easy puzzle now.

HANSEN: Oh, a little bribery, right from the start. Very good, Liz. Are you ready to play?

Ms. GLASS: I hope so.

HANSEN: All right. Well, Will, what do you have for Liz and me? And meet Liz.

SHORTZ: All right. Hi, Liz. This is a...

Ms. GLASS: Hi.

SHORTZ: ...this is a good puzzle for two heads today. So, Liane, jump right in. It's called accidental acrostics. Every answer is a multiword title, in which the initial letters spell a word. For example, if I gave you the word air, A-I-R, and ask you to name a 1920s hit on Broadway, you'd say "Abby's Irish Rose." All right, number one...

Ms. GLASS: I don't think I would say that.

HANSEN: I don't think I would either but, you know, we'll take that as (Unintelligible).

SHORTZ: You just play along. Yeah.


SHORTZ: Number one is cap, C-A-P, and the answer is a Dostoyevsky novel.

Ms. GLASS: Dostoyevsky novel. Liane, you're going to have to get me started.

SHORTZ: You know, Liane?

HANSEN: Sure. "Crime and Punishment."

SHORTZ: "Crime and Punishment" is right. Number two is sly, S-L-Y, a Beatles' hit. One of their first big ones, very simple.

Ms. GLASS: I always said "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" was their first big one.

SHORTZ: Yeah. It was right around that time.

Ms. GLASS: "Somebody Loves You"? Is that...

SHORTZ: Yes. Who?


SHORTZ: "She Loves You."

Ms. GLASS: "She Loves You."

SHORTZ: Good job. Try this one, imp, I-M-P, a number one Leslie Gore hit.

Ms. GLASS: "It's My Party."


SHORTZ: Oh, good job. Doh, D-O-H, 1980s TV show with the.

Ms. GLASS: What was the last part?

SHORTZ: With the - that was part of the title. The D-O-H. Sort of a comedy adventure show - there was a movie a couple, with - a couple of years ago.

Ms. GLASS: "Dukes of Hazzard."

HANSEN: What was that, Liz?

Ms. GLASS: "Dukes of Hazzard."

SHORTZ: "Dukes of Hazzard" is it. Nos, N-O-S, an NFL team.

Ms. GLASS: New Orleans Saints.

SHORTZ: That was fast. Saw, S-A-W, an event of the 1890s.

Ms. GLASS: 1890s.

SHORTZ: Specifically, 1898.

HANSEN: Is there a war involved?

SHORTZ: Yes. Which one?

Ms. GLASS: Spanish-American War.

SHORTZ: Spanish-American War is right. Goo, G-O-O, a classic weekly radio and TV musical program, and specifically, country music.

Ms. GLASS: "Grand Ole Opry."

SHORTZ: That was good. Pith, P-I-T-H, Sally Field movie.

Ms. GLASS: "Places in the Heart."

SHORTZ: Oh, good job. Otis, O-T-I-S, 1930s musical comedy, whose title is a line from the song "America."

Ms. GLASS: "America."

HANSEN: Oh great, we're going to start going through all of the lyrics.

Ms. GLASS: Yeah. I'm singing it and I'm still not getting it.

HANSEN: This one I know.

Ms. GLASS: Oh you go.

HANSEN: "Of Thee I Sing."

SHORTZ: "Of Thee I Sing". Good job. Try this, cots, C-O-T-S. It's a brand of tuna.

Ms. GLASS: Brand of tuna?

SHORTZ: Uh-huh.

Ms. GLASS: Chicken of the Sea.

SHORTZ: Chicken of the Sea is right. Your last one is tsar, T-S-A-R, an Ernest Hemmingway novel.

Ms. GLASS: "The Sun Also Rises."

SHORTZ: Oh that's fast. Nice work.

HANSEN: Liz, nice going.

Ms. GLASS: Thank you.

HANSEN: What kind of sandwich would Will be?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. GLASS: Oh I couldn't say this now. I have to think about it.

HANSEN: All right, well, maybe we'll get back with you. But in the meantime, for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin; "The 11th Edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary And Thesaurus"; the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers; "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House volume two; Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku" and "Black and White Book Of Crosswords" from St. Martin's Press; and one of Will Shortz's "Puzzle Masker Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books -a lot of things to play with there. Liz, tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. GLASS: We are members of WCMU in Mount Pleasant.

HANSEN: Oh wonderful word, member. Liz Glass from Boyne City, Michigan, thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us today. You were fabulous.

Ms. GLASS: Thank you.

HANSEN: Okay. Will, our challenge for next week.

SHORTZ: Yes, it's sort of a two-part challenge - and either half will work -and it continues the accidental acrostics. Take the name Isaac, I-S-A-A-C, those letters are the initials of a classic song. So name the song. I'll give you a hint, the I does not stand for the pronoun I and neither of the A's is the article A. So think of a famous song, which is an accident of acrostic on Isaac or think of any other legitimate accidental acrostic of five or more letters.

HANSEN: All right, when you have the answer, go to our Web site,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday puzzle page. Only one entry per person please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call you if you're the winner, and you'll get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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