Easy As One, Two, Three Initials

Jul 7, 2013
Originally published on July 7, 2013 1:21 pm

On-air challenge: You're given the three-word names of famous people. For each one, you get a clue to a familiar three-word phrase or title that has the same initials as the person. Name the phrase or title. For example, singer Billy Ray Cyrus has the initials B-R-C. And B-R-C are also the initials of the phrase "Blue ribbon commission."

Last week's challenge from from listener Al Gori of Cozy Lake, N.J.: It involves a spoonerism, in which you reverse the initial consonant sounds in one phrase to make another phrase. For example, if you spoonerize "light rain," you get "right lane." Name part of a truck in two words. Spoonerize it. You'll name something FEMA uses. What is it?

Answer: Mud flap, flood map

Winner: Gavin Cannizzaro of Norman, Okla.

Next week's challenge: Rearrange the letters of INDIA + BELARUS to name two other countries. What are they?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Yeah, yeah, fireworks, hamburgers, parades - but really the best part of a long Fourth of July weekend is, of course, the puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Morning, Rachel. Welcome back.

MARTIN: Hey, thanks so much. Was on vacation for a week, now back in the saddle. Happy to be here. So, what was last week's challenge? Remind us.

SHORTZ: Yeah. It came from listener Al Gori of Cozy Lake, New Jersey. And it involved a spoonerism. And that's where you reverse the initial consonant sounds in one phrase to make another phrase. And I said to name part of a truck in two words. Spoonerize it. You'll name something FEMA uses. What is it? Well, the answer was mud flap to flood map.

MARTIN: OK. And this week we got more than 700 correct answers. Our randomly selected winner is Gavin Cannizarro from Norman, Oklahoma. He joins us on the line. Congratulations, Gavin.


SHORTZ: And, Gavin, I'm curious - how did you figure this out? Did you get it from the flood map side or the mud flap side?

CANNIZARRO: It was the mud flap side, although I'm definitely not into trucks. It was just the only truck part that I could think of in two words.

MARTIN: And you live in Norman, Oklahoma now, but I understand you are on vacation somewhere else. Where are you?

CANNIZARRO: Yeah, I'm in northern Wisconsin right now. We come up here every summer and it's beautiful.

MARTIN: Are you on a lake, a river?

CANNIZARRO: We are. We're at Hunter Lake up in the north woods, outside of Eagle River.

MARTIN: Sounds beautiful. Well, thanks for taking time out to play the puzzle. You've been doing this a long time?

CANNIZARRO: Yeah, I've been listening since I can remember, since the '90s.

MARTIN: Since the '90s.


SHORTZ: Way back in the ancient history.

MARTIN: Way back in the '90s. Yeah, exactly. OK. Well, Gavin, I'm ready if you are.

CANNIZARRO: I'm ready.

MARTIN: All right, Will. Let's play the puzzle.

SHORTZ: All right, Gavin and Rachel. Singer Billy Ray Cyrus has the initials BRC and BRC are also the initials of the phrase blue ribbon commission. I'm going to name some famous people with three-word names. For each one, I'll give you a clue for a familiar three-word phrase or title that has the same initials as the person. You tell me the phrase or title.



SHORTZ: Here's number one: the writer Edgar Allan Poe has the initials EAP, and the EAP are also the initials of a phrase meaning very simple.

CANNIZARRO: Easy as pie.

SHORTZ: That's it. Number two: theatrical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber - ALW, and name a sports group that includes the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners and Oakland A's.

CANNIZARRO: American League West.

SHORTZ: That's it. American League West, good. Satirist Sacha Baron Cohen - SBC; a large Christian denomination headquartered in Augusta, Georgia.

CANNIZARRO: Southern Baptist Church.

SHORTZ: Not church.

MARTIN: Almost. Is it conference?

SHORTZ: No, it's convention.

MARTIN: Oh, convention.

SHORTZ: Southern Baptist Convention. We're going to count that as correct.

MARTIN: Close enough.


SHORTZ: President William Howard Taft - WHT; what visitors at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue take.

CANNIZARRO: White House tour.

SHORTZ: That's it. Novelist Mary Higgins Clark - MHC; nickname for Denver.

CANNIZARRO: Mile High City.

SHORTZ: That's it. Writer Mary Mapes Dodge - MMD; Clint Eastwood phrase following the words: go ahead...

CANNIZARRO: Make my day.

SHORTZ: That's it. Model and TV personality Anna Nicole Smith - ANS; 1971 Bill Withers' hit, whose title precedes the words when she's gone.

CANNIZARRO: Ain't no sunshine.

SHORTZ: That's it, good. Singer Weird Al Yankovic - WAY; question asked to someone who's lost.

CANNIZARRO: Where are you?

SHORTZ: That's it. Women's rights advocate Elizabeth Cady Stanton - ECS; body of water above Taiwan.

CANNIZARRO: Hmm. I think I have no idea of this one.


SHORTZ: Well, first of all, what's a body of water, just in general, starting with S?


SHORTZ: A sea. OK. There's the...

CANNIZARRO: The East China Sea.


SHORTZ: East China Sea. You knew it after all. I knew it. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright - FLW; bleepable part of a TV broadcast.

CANNIZARRO: Oh, four letter word.

MARTIN: Ah, good.

SHORTZ: There you go. Four letter word, nice. And your last one, former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton - HRC; a restaurant chain that has electric guitars on the walls.

CANNIZARRO: Hard Rock Cafe.

MARTIN: Oh, man.

SHORTZ: That's it. Good job.

MARTIN: Excellent job, Gavin. That was really good. And for playing the puzzle today, you will of course get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at website, npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, what is your public radio station, Gavin?

CANNIZARRO: Oh, well, first, say thanks - you made my day.


CANNIZARRO: I'm a member at KGOU Norman. I love it. I'm a junkie.

MARTIN: Great, Gavin Cannizarro from Norman, Oklahoma. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Gavin.

CANNIZARRO: Thank you, guys.

MARTIN: OK, Will. What's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it's not a very hard one, I think. Rearrange the letters of India-plus-Belarus to name two other countries. What are they? And Belarus is B-E-L-A-R-U-S. So rearrange the letters of India and Belarus to name two other countries. What countries are they?

MARTIN: All right, you know what to do. When you've got 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, July 11th at 3 P.M. Eastern.

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.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.

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