A Highly Logical Christopher Columbus Identify errors of fact, logic and grammar in a short essay on Christopher Columbus.

A Highly Logical Christopher Columbus

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. Time now for the puzzle.


CORNISH: Here was last week's challenge from puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz:

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Name something you might order as an entree, then name something you might order for dessert. Insert the first word somewhere inside the second word. The result, reading from left to right, will name a certain meal. What is it?

CORNISH: We received about 470 entries. And our randomly-selected winner this week is Tony DeCusatis of Wayne, Pennsylvania, who joins us now. Tony, congratulations.


CORNISH: So, Tony, tell us what was the answer to last week's challenge?

DECUSATIS: The answer was clambake. And it was lamb and cake as entree and dessert.

CORNISH: Ah, I see. And together, clambake. OK, cool. Well, nice job. And before we continue, I want to welcome puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

SHORTZ: Hi, Audie. And, Tony, I am impressed. How long did it take you to figure out the answer?

DECUSATIS: Well, we worked on it sporadically from Sunday until Tuesday. And my wife was helping me with it. We were, appropriately enough, sitting in a restaurant and we decided to start working on it when my wife said, what about a picnic by the seacoast? What do they call that? And then she said, it's a song from "Carousel." And we thought about it for a minute and remembered it was this is a real nice clambake. And as soon as I visualized the word in my head, I realized it was the answer.

CORNISH: Wow. That's pretty good. Nice to have some teamwork there.

SHORTZ: And, Tony, what do you do in Wayne?

DECUSATIS: Well, I live in Wayne and I work in Philadelphia and I'm a lawyer in Philadelphia.

CORNISH: All right. Very nice. So, we can give him a nice hard puzzle, right, Will?

SHORTZ: It's a different kind of puzzle today. You know, tomorrow we celebrate Columbus Day. I am going to read you a short essay on Christopher Columbus. It's full of errors of fact, logic and grammar. Any time you hear a mistake, tell me what the mistake is. All right? Here we go: Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451, almost exactly in the middle of the 14th century.


SHORTZ: Which is?

DECUSATIS: That would be the middle of the 15th century.

SHORTZ: That is correct. His father was a gondolier in Genoa's famous canals.


SHORTZ: Because?

DECUSATIS: The gondolas and canals are in Venice.

SHORTZ: That is correct. As a young man, Columbus began a seafaring career, sailing throughout the Mediterranean, along the coast of Africa and as far north as England and possibly Iceland.

DECUSATIS: That would be incorrect. I don't think he left the Mediterranean.

SHORTZ: No, that was all correct. He did travel along West Africa and all the way north. Being ambitious, geography, astronomy and history were subjects of special interest to him.

DECUSATIS: That would be a grammatical error because of the misplaced subject.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Ambitious does not modify those following words.

CORNISH: Great, Tony.

SHORTZ: For many years, the Portuguese had been eager to find a sea route to China and the Far East in order to trade in spices and other riches there. Portuguese explorers had sailed around Tierra Del Fuego at the southern tip of Africa.



DECUSATIS: Tierra del Fuego is the southern tip of South America.

SHORTZ: Excellent. It's the Cape of Good Hope at the south of Africa. And then they went east to India and China. Columbus decided he would like to find a shortcut to the east by traveling west. After several rebuffs, Columbus received financial and support from Portugal's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

DECUSATIS: Mistake. They were both Spanish sovereigns.

SHORTZ: Excellent. In August 1492, Columbus and a group of fellow explorers departed in three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Catalina.

DECUSATIS: Aw, that was the Santa Maria.

SHORTZ: That's right. First, they sailed to the Canary Islands, which are named after the famously colorful birds there. And that actually is a mistake. It's not named after the birds. They're named after the Latin word for dogs.

DECUSATIS: You're right. The Canaris(ph).

SHORTZ: That's right. Good. Then they used the favorable currents to sail west, sighting land in Florida on October 12.

DECUSATIS: Well, they sighted - that was a mistake. They sighted land in Santo Domingo.

SHORTZ: Yeah, they sighted land in the Bahamas or other Caribbean islands. They never were anywhere in what is now mainland United States. Columbus thought he'd reached the Far East, or the Indies as the area was then known. This is why today we call the indigenous peoples of the Americas Indians. Altogether, Columbus made four voyages to the new world and never knew that he hadn't reached the Far East.

DECUSATIS: I believe the latter is a mistake. I think he did realize he made the - did not reach the Far East.

SHORTZ: According to all my sources, those two sentences are correct.



SHORTZ: He never realized and the end of the story actually is correct.


SHORTZ: Anyway, nice job.

DECUSATIS: Well, thank you.

CORNISH: Yeah. Great job, Tony.


DECUSATIS: Thank you.


DECUSATIS: Thank you. That was very interesting. I've learned a lot about Columbus.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot.

CORNISH: It seems like the perfect puzzle for a lawyer. Don't you think?


DECUSATIS: Yeah, because it was picking at other people's mistakes.

SHORTZ: And nitpick.

DECUSATIS: That's right.

CORNISH: Yeah, like you were able to get right in there and I'm very surprised at how quickly you caught all those.

DECUSATIS: Wonderful.

CORNISH: Well, Tony, for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games that you can read about at NPR.org/slash puzzle. And, Tony, which member station do you listen to?

DECUSATIS: We listen to WHYY and we are members.

CORNISH: Thank you very much for being members. Tony DeCusatis, thanks for playing the puzzle this week.

DECUSATIS: Thank you very much.

CORNISH: So, Will, what do you have to stump us with for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Sandy Weisz of Chicago. And he has a cool puzzle blog, PZLR.org.

Name something that's part of a group of 12. Change the first letter to the next letter of the alphabet to name something that's part of a group of nine. What are these things?

So again, name something that's part of a group of 12. Change the first letter to the next letter of the alphabet to name something that's part of a group of nine. What are these things?

CORNISH: When you have the answer, go to our website, NPR.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, October 13th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner we'll give you a call, and you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

Will, thanks so much.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Audie.

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