Noah's Lark In this game, contestants add a letter to a common name, title, or phrase to turn one of the original words into an animal.

Noah's Lark

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JONATHAN COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from The Bell House in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.



Thank you, Jonathan. We've got a great show for you. Our special guest is "Project Runway's" fashion guru Tim Gunn and he's here just in time for the launch of our ASK ME ANOTHER fashion label called Make It Word Play. We've got reversible jackets in our palindrome collection. We've got skorts in our portmanteau line. And you'll love our onomatopoeia collection with flip-flops that, well, flip-flop. Next season we're going to introduce our social justice scarves - we shawl overcome. And our shoe collection for millennials - social media platforms.


EISENBERG: And, as always, we have four brilliant contestants currently pinning magazine photos on their vision boards waiting to play our nerdy games, but only one will become our big winner. Let's meet our first two contestants who will face off in a wild word game about animals. First up is Katie Brookoff. And you're on buzzer number one.



EISENBERG: Hi, welcome.


EISENBERG: You're a children's birthday party entertainer at the Manhattan Children's Museum. And your opponent is Kira Abrams. And you're on buzzer number two.


EISENBERG: You're a junior at Ramapo College in New Jersey, interested in cognitive neuroscience.




EISENBERG: Kira and Katie, the first of you who wins two of our games will move on to the final round at the end of the show. So let's go to your first game. Kira, if you could combine two animals, which two would you combine?

ABRAMS: I'm thinking like an elephant and a whale.


EISENBERG: You've highly amused Jonathan Coulton.

COULTON: What are you shooting for there, Kira?


ABRAMS: Well, they're my two favorite animals. I'm actually kind of confused of if it would be on land or sea, but I think they found out what the biggest animal on land could be and it's smaller than a whale. So it might just be like a giant underwater mammal with a trunk and I have no idea what it'd use it for, so.

EISENBERG: I like that. Katie, if you could combine two animals, which two which two would you combine?

BROOKOFF: I would combine a hippo and an octopus.

EISENBERG: OK. You guys are like kind of in the same world here.



EISENBERG: And why is that?

BROOKOFF: Octopi - octopuses - have the power of camouflage, so you don't see them at first. So I like the idea of walking by, like, a wall and all of a sudden it turns into a hippo.


EISENBERG: So we are going to start with a word game called Noah's Lark. In this game you're going to take a common name, title or phrase, add one letter to it, turning one of the original words into an animal. For example, Jonathan Coulton will help us out.

COULTON: So if I said this device creates an atmospheric haze during concerts and laser shows and it has a setting that covers the stage with amphibians, you would answer frog machine, adding one letter to fog machine.

EISENBERG: So here we go. If you're having problems with your Mac or iPhone, you can take it to this section of the Apple Store which is staffed entirely by grizzlies in hipster glasses.



ABRAMS: Genius bears.

EISENBERG: Genius bear is correct, yes. Absolutely.


COULTON: On this TV show, people enter a taxi and are surprised to learn that they are contestants on a game show where they will win money if they can avoid being pinched by a crustacean.



BROOKOFF: Cash crab.

COULTON: That's right.



EISENBERG: Pretty sure you can catch crabs from a New York taxi.


EISENBERG: I'm just saying, this is not a game show.

COULTON: It happens. It happens.

EISENBERG: All right, let's try this one. Remember this videogame fad from the 2000s? I still have a plastic musical instrument and a plastic long-legged wading bird in my closet.



BROOKOFF: "Guitar Heron."

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's right.


EISENBERG: Just learn how to play a real heron, right? Yeah.


COULTON: That one does a pretty good job of approximating what it's like to play an actual heron. That's the thing about the game.


COULTON: Watch out because this "Trap Queen" rapper is a stinging insect that lives in a nest.



ABRAMS: Fetty Wasp.

COULTON: That is correct.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Neil Patrick Harris, Taye Diggs and John Cameron Mitchell have each starred as the title character in this musical about a rock star who gets an operation to turn into the songbird Darwin studied.



BROOKOFF: "Hedwig And The Horrible Finch."

EISENBERG: No. All right. All right. All right.

ART CHUNG: Well, we'll give her a chance to correct that.

EISENBERG: Can you correct yourself?

BROOKOFF: "Hedwig And A Type Of Finch."



COULTON: You need to be more specific, I'm afraid.

EISENBERG: It had a one-inch beak. Kira, can you steal?

CHUNG: (Laughter).

ABRAMS: But it was finches.

EISENBERG: That was not the problem in her answer.


ABRAMS: I've never seen this musical.

EISENBERG: But you're not sure because you don't know it. We were looking for Hedwig and the angry finch - so close.


COULTON: Next time you're in Vegas, avoid pulling the handle on this game, it moves very, very slowly.



ABRAMS: Sloth machine.

COULTON: You got it.


COULTON: Puzzle Guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do with this very difficult game?

CHUNG: It was a difficult game, indeed. Congratulations, Kira. You're one step closer to the final round.


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