Untangle An 'Act Of God'

Dec 2, 2012
Originally published on December 2, 2012 8:42 am

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar three-word phrase in the form "____ of ____." The letters in the first and last words of each phrase are rearranged. You give the phrases. For example, "Cat of Dog" becomes "Act of God."

Last week's challenge from listener Henry Hook of Brooklyn, N.Y.: In a few weeks something will happen that hasn't happened since 1987. What is it?

Answer: A year with no repeat digits (1987, 2013)

Winner: Darren Dunham of Santa Clara, Calif.

Next week's challenge from listener Adam Cohen of Brooklyn: Name two articles of apparel — things you wear — which, when the words are used as verbs, are synonyms of each other. 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. And you know what's coming next. Grab your pencil and paper, folks, 'cause it's time for the puzzle.


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

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: OK. So, I understand you were in Baltimore last week, Will, at a table tennis tournament - one of your favorite things to do. How'd it go?

SHORTZ: It was great. It was the North American Teams Table Tennis Championship. And I played with three kids - they were all between 12 and 15. Two of them have just in a year, have gotten as good as me, and we made it to the finals of our division.


SHORTZ: So, we had a blast and did real well.

MARTIN: Awesome. Congratulations.

SHORTZ: Thank you.

MARTIN: OK. So, let's get to your other favorite pastime, puzzling. Remind us of last week's challenge, Will.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Henry Hook of Brooklyn, New York. And the question was: in a few weeks, something will happen that hasn't happened since 1987. What is it? Well, the intended answer was that we will enter a year that contains four different digits - no digits repeated. This is 2013 will be the first time this has happened since 1987. Amazingly, there was an alternative answer, and that is it's a year of harmonic convergence. Are you familiar with this?

MARTIN: Harmonic convergence, no. I have no idea what that is.

SHORTZ: Well, I'd been reading up. It's a globally synchronized meditation. The last time this happened was in August 1987. And it will happen again December 21 this year - in a few weeks.

MARTIN: OK. So, about 380 of you sent in the intended answer. As always, we randomly selected our winner and the winner is Darren Dunham of Santa Clara, California. He joins us now on the phone. Congratulations, Darren.


MARTIN: OK. So, I'm going to reveal something that may annoy some of our longtime listeners, but this is actually the first time you've ever submitted an answer to the puzzle, right?

DUNHAM: That's correct.

MARTIN: So, what changed this past week? Why'd you say, this time I'm going to submit?

DUNHAM: Oh, this time I managed to have the answer within a few minutes. So, I was able to submit it right away.

MARTIN: Great. And what do you do for a living out there on the West Coast?

DUNHAM: I do computer and storage administration.

MARTIN: So, presumably, you're probably good at math.

DUNHAM: I can do some math sometimes.

MARTIN: Do some math sometimes. We get math puzzles. You never know what Will's going to throw at us. Darren, you ready to do this?

DUNHAM: Let's do it.

MARTIN: OK, Will. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Darren and Rachel. Every answer today is a familiar three-word phrase in the form blank of blank. I've rearranged the letters in the first and last words of each phrase. You give me the phrases. For example, if I said cat of dog, you would say act of God.

MARTIN: Ah. I think I have it. Darren, you got it?

DUNHAM: I've got it.

MARTIN: All right. Let's try. Go for it.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one: taco of mars.

DUNHAM: Taco of mars.

SHORTZ: That's T-A-C-O M-A-R-S. So, rearrange the letters of taco to make a word and rearrange the letters of mars to make a word.


SHORTZ: No, it's not rams.

DUNHAM: Boy, I'm a little stumped on this one.

MARTIN: OK. So, taco - if we change that to coat.

SHORTZ: Yeah. Coat of...

DUNHAM: Coat of arms.


SHORTZ: Coat of arms is it. Good. Number two: cork of sage. That's C-O-R-K S-A-G-E. Cork of sage.

DUNHAM: Rock of ages.

SHORTZ: Rock of ages. Good. Dies of charm. D-I-E-S C-H-A-R-M.

DUNHAM: Dies of charm. Side...

SHORTZ: Yeah, you would think of side but it's not. There's a different anagram there.

DUNHAM: Ides of March.


SHORTZ: Ides of March is it. Danger of need. That's D-A-N-G-E-R N-E-E-D. Danger of need.

DUNHAM: Danger of need. Garden of Eden.

SHORTZ: That's it.


SHORTZ: All right. Taste of hocks. T-A-S-T-E H-O-C-K-S. Taste of hocks.

DUNHAM: State of shock.


SHORTZ: State of shock is it. Thea of tablet. That's T-H-E-A and then tablet.

DUNHAM: Heat...

SHORTZ: Heat is it, yeah.

DUNHAM: ...of battle.


SHORTZ: Heat of battle is good. How about this: mage of hornets. M-A-G-E and then hornets?

DUNHAM: "Game of Thrones."

MARTIN: There.

SHORTZ: "Game of Thrones" is it. And your last one is Stapler of Pairs, S-T-A-P-L-E-R and then P-A-I-R-S.


DUNHAM: Paris?

SHORTZ: Yeah, Paris is it - blank of Paris.

DUNHAM: I'm not seeing this one.

MARTIN: Oh, me either. Stapler.

SHORTZ: Yeah, something of Paris it's something you do construction with.

DUNHAM: Oh, Plaster of Paris.


SHORTZ: Plaster of Paris, good job.

MARTIN: Darren, excellent work, and for playing the puzzle...

DUNHAM: Thanks.

MARTIN: ...today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle.

And before we let you go, what is your Public Radio station?


MARTIN: All right, KQED in San Francisco. Darren Dunham of Santa Clara, California, thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Darren.

DUNHAM: Thank you very much.

MARTIN: OK, Will, what's up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, this week's challenge comes from listener Adam Cohen of Brooklyn. Name two articles of apparel - things you wear - which, when the words are used as verbs, are synonyms of each other. What are they?

So again, two articles of apparel and when their names are used as verbs are synonyms of each other. What items of apparel are these?

MARTIN: 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, December 6th 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 can 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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