A Tale Of Turkey, Full Of 'Blobs' This is a game called Blobs that Will Shortz found in an old book of party games. Will talks about his recent trip to Turkey, and the account has a number of intentional errors. Every time there's an error of fact, logic or word usage, the player says "blob."
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A Tale Of Turkey, Full Of 'Blobs'

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A Tale Of Turkey, Full Of 'Blobs'

A Tale Of Turkey, Full Of 'Blobs'

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hey, Will.


HANSEN: You said last week we were going to get a puzzle from your trip to Turkey, and you're coming through on that promise today, right?

SHORTZ: That's right.

HANSEN: All right. Well, before we get to it, let's remind everyone of the challenge you gave last week.

SHORTZ: It was a cute one. It came from Henry Hook of Brooklyn. I said: Name an auto manufacturer and a telecommunications company whose names are exact opposites of each other. What are they?

HANSEN: Now, what was your intended answer?

SHORTZ: Well, the intended answer is Kia and Nokia, which is pretty nice. And we got some hilarious, very creative, but wrong answers, like Infiniti and NetZero - liked that one a lot. Another is Yugo and Icom, I-C-O-M, if you pronounce: I come. Someone sent Oldsmobile and T-Mobile - and that's pretending old S and T are opposites of each other. Anyway, we had a lot of clever listeners.

HANSEN: Very, very fun. Well, from the Kia/Nokia batch, our randomly selected winner is Susan Kunimatsu of Seattle, Washington. Hi, Susan.


HANSEN: How long have you been playing?

Ms. KUNIMATSU: I've been listening since the postcard days, but this was actually only the second time I had sent something in.

HANSEN: Oh, all right. One of those, huh?

(Soundbite of laughter)


HANSEN: Well, Susan, later this week - speaking of listening - the day after Thanksgiving is actually the National Day of Listening, and our friends at StoryCorps are urging us to turn on a recorder and talk to our loved ones. And in honor of that, Will, I understand you have a puzzle for Susan not only to do with turkey but with listening?

SHORTZ: Yes. And it's a game called Blobs, which is something I found in an old book of party games. I'm going to tell you about my trip to Turkey earlier this month. The account has a number of intentional errors. Every time you hear an error of fact, logic or word usage, you say: blob. But watch out for the things that sound like blobs that aren't.


SHORTZ: All right, here we go. Well, I arrived in Istanbul, the capital of Turkey on Sunday, November 1.

HANSEN: Uh, can I - is Istanbul the capital of Turkey?

SHORTZ: Nope, Ankara is. So, there's your first blob.

HANSEN: All right.

SHORTZ: I flew with my friends Helene, Nancy and Stan, who are all American puzzlemakers and editors. We've traveled together many times to World Puzzle Championships. At the airport, we picked up a Fiat Doblo for about 65 dinars a day.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: I think that's a blob.

SHORTZ: Very good. Why?

Ms. KUNIMATSU: That's not - a Doblo is not a Fiat.

SHORTZ: Ah, well, in Europe it is. So, that is fine. The problem with that sentence is in Turkey they use lira, not dinars.

HANSEN: Oh, okay.

SHORTZ: Sixty-five lira a day is what we paid. The Doblo is a boxy vehicle that can comfortably hold four passengers and their luggage. I was the designated driver. We were off. We drove to our hotel, slept a few hours and then headed to dinner at a restaurant owned by one of the World Puzzle Championship organizers.

About 25 other puzzlers were there from Turkey and around the world. The main course of our meal was an exquisite pork dumpling, which is a Turkish specialty.

HANSEN: No. It wouldn't be - blob - pork would not be a Turkish specialty.

SHORTZ: That's correct, 'cause it's a Muslim country.

HANSEN: Correct.

SHORTZ: They don't do much with pork there.

HANSEN: Good on you, Susan. I heard you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Monday morning, we headed south to Izmir, the modern site of ancient Smyrna, about eight hours away. To save time, we ferried across the Sea of Marmara, rather than driving around it, watching the sun come up on our right and cutting about an hour off the drive.

HANSEN: Okay. Well, the sun wouldn't be coming up�

Ms. KUNIMATSU: Is that the wrong side of the car that it would be coming up on?


HANSEN: It would be coming up on your left.

SHORTZ: On the morning, okay, if we're heading south, it would be on the left. Good.

HANSEN: All right.

SHORTZ: The drive to Izmir was uneventful. Our only trouble was reading the Arabic signs, as none of us knows the language.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: I don't think they would be in Arabic in Turkey.


SHORTZ: That's correct. It's Turkish there.


SHORTZ: The next morning, we visited the spectacular ruins at Ephesus, an ancient Greek city on the Anatolian coast. During the Roman-era, Ephesus was the largest city in the Roman Empire outside of Rome itself. Seeing the 44,000-seat amphitheater, Harbor Street Arcade and the Library of Celsus was enervating.

HANSEN: Enervating?


SHORTZ: Yeah, enervating.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: The opposite of enervating.


SHORTZ: That's correct.

HANSEN: It would be energizing, right?

SHORTZ: Energizing. Enervating means to tire you out. That's right.

In the evening, we reached Antalya on Turkey's southern coast along the Adriatic Sea. Antalya is Turkey's - and there's a blob.

HANSEN: There's a blob. It's not that sea, right?

SHORTZ: That's right. Adriatic's off the Italian coast. The southern coast of Turkey is the Mediterranean.


SHORTZ: Antalya is Turkey's third largest city and was the site of this year's World Puzzle Championship. Thomas Snyder, four-time winner of the U.S. Puzzle Championship, was the top American finishing in sixth place before the playoff. Wei-Hwa Huang was eighth. The weather was mostly gorgeous. We walked the beach, swam the sea and wandered around historic Antalya. The Antalya museum was particularly nice, containing statues and artifacts dating back thousands of years. That's all correct, by the way.

As an enthusiast of table tennis or ping pong, as it's also called, I played two evenings at a local table tennis club, winning several fierce matches, 15-13, 15-13.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: Blog. Isn't table tennis 21?

SHORTZ: Yeah. It used to be 21. It's now 11. But you're correct. Fifteen is not the correct score in the game.

HANSEN: Good on you, Susan.

SHORTZ: Good one. On Sunday, November 7th, Helene, Nancy, Stan and I were ready to return to Ankara, where we began our trip.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: Oh, but I thought you landed in Istanbul.

SHORTZ: That is correct. That's one blob in that sentence. And the second one is remember I said at the start we landed on Sunday, November 1?

HANSEN: Right.



HANSEN: So it would be November 8th.

SHORTZ: November 8th. That's right. Two blobs in that sentence. Driving along a divided highway at what seemed like a safe 65 miles an hour, I got the first speeding ticket I've ever gotten in my life. The fine was 265 lira or about $177 U.S.

HANSEN: But it's dinars not lira.

SHORTZ: No, it's actually lira. That was the blob earlier about dinar.

HANSEN: All right. Oh, okay. All right.

SHORTZ: Yeah. So it was 265 lira for that fine. Fortunately, it shouldn't show up on my record at home in New Jersey.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: Well, at home is New York, right?

SHORTZ: Excellent.


(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: And don't you drive kilometers per hour, not miles?

SHORTZ: That's true. I converted to miles. You're right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Next year's World Puzzle Championship will be held in Warsaw, Poland, around which we hope to plan another trip, perhaps from next door, France. I can't wait.


(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Yeah, right. You'll be the designated driver again, huh, Will?

SHORTZ: There you go.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: That was challenging.

HANSEN: Wasn't it though? That is unlike any puzzle you've done before. It really required lots of listening.

SHORTZ: Concentration.

HANSEN: That's right. Nice job, Susan. And, Will, thank you for this special puzzle in honor of the upcoming National Day of Listening. In a few minutes, actually, we're going to hear a conversation between NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr and his son Jonathan.

But before that, Susan, you know you get to take home some wonderful prizes for playing the puzzle with us. And we have a very special guest here in the studio who's been listening to this puzzle and kind of semaphore sending me signals with the answers.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Her name is also Susan. Here's, Susan, meet NPR's Susan Stamberg.

SUSAN STAMBERG: Hi. Will, I'm so enervated from your trip.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STAMBERG: I don't know if I can get through this list of prizes. Here we go. Susan, for playing our puzzle today you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin -that'll help keep yourself together, the 11th Edition of "Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus," the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House, Volume 2, Will Shortz's latest book series "Will Shortz Presents KenKen" Volumes 1, 2 and 3 from St. Martin's Press, one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddle and Challenges" from Chronicle Books and the new CD compilation - this one will be fun - of NPR's Sunday puzzles. So, when does Will sleep is what I want to know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STAMBERG: And extra special for this week, the really big prize, Susan, it is the recipe for Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: Oh, I am looking forward to it.

STAMBERG: A traditional Thanksgiving dish, which you will find at NPR.org. And Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: Well, thank you so much.

SHORTZ: Thank you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Oh, I so want to have a scavenger hunt next year where I'm going to ask listeners to all NPR programs to find Mama Stamberg's cranberry relish recipe. It pops up someplace different all the time. This past week, it was on MORNING EDITION, and she had no less a personality than Ruth Reichl talking about her cranberry relish recipe, a tradition.

Susan, thank you very much.

STAMBERG: My pleasure.

HANSEN: Susan, what do you think?

Ms. KUNIMATSU: I am thrilled. And I am most looking forward to the dictionary because my dictionary is from 1964.

HANSEN: Oh, you need a new one. You need a new one. And the CD, by the way, actually has one of the original puzzles that Will did with Susan. So she's on the CD as well.

Susan, tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: My husband and I are members of both KUOW in Seattle and KPLU in Tacoma.

HANSEN: Wonderful word member. Susan Kunimatsu from Seattle, Washington. Thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us. Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Ms. KUNIMATSU: Thank you.

HANSEN: All right, Will, what's the challenge for all of us to work on?

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. Think of a word containing the consecutive letters O-K. Remove the O-K, and you'll get a new word that's a synonym of the first word. What words are these? So, again: A word containing the consecutive letters O-K. Remove the O-K, and you'll get a new word that's a synonym of the first word. What words are these?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site NPR.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Only one entry per person, please. And our deadline this week, because of the Thanksgiving holiday, is Wednesday 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time, because we'll call you if you're the winner. And you will get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane. Happy Thanksgiving.

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