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Posts Tagged ‘riddles’

Sixty Hink Pinks: The Answers

January 28, 2016 | by

“Fat Cat” is the standard example of a hink pink. Art: Louis Wain, 1880.

Hink pink is a word game in which synonyms, circumlocution, and micronarratives provide clues for rhyming phrases. Check out Dylan Hicks’s sixty hink pink riddles here.

Ed. note: The contest has ended. Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to our three clever winners: Connie McClung, from Atlanta, Georgia; and Maxine Anderson and Seth Christenfeld, both from New York, New York.  
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Sixty Hink Pinks

January 25, 2016 | by

“Fat Cat” is the standard example of a hink pink. Louis Wain, Cats with Cat Dolls.

***UPDATE—The contest has ended! Thanks to all who entered. Click here for the answers—and the winners.***

Hink pink is a word game in which synonyms, circumlocution, and micronarratives provide clues for rhyming phrases. In the standard explanatory example, an “overweight feline” is a “fat cat.” Hink pinks on that babyish level aspire to lend vocabulary building an air of fun, but more sophisticated puzzles are sometimes mulled over on road trips, in trenches, and in other settings where boredom and tension might be mellowed, to paraphrase Dryden, by the dull sweets of rhyme.

Players aren’t restricted to monosyllables. A puzzle of disyllabic components is a hinky pinky, followed with decreasing dignity by hinkily pinkilies, hinklediddle pinklediddles, and hinklediddledoo pinklediddledoos. Even with longer puzzles, however, the goal, almost a mandate, is for each syllable to rhyme perfectly, though this perfection might depend on idiosyncratic stress. Many of the puzzles below are possessive constructions along the lines of “Bob’s jobs,” but where pluralization seemed cumbersome, nearly perfect rhymes were tolerated (“Bob’s job”). If you’re spurred to dream up hink pinks of your own, keep in mind that answers shouldn’t merely rhyme but also hold meaning as a unit, however whimsically. “Tree soda” might lead to “oak Coke,” but joylessly. “Naturalist’s soft drink” for “Zola’s cola” is more in the spirit.

Ed. note: The contest has ended. These are really hard. In the spirit of our contest last month, we’re prepared to make things interesting. Solve half of these riddles—any thirty of them—and we’ll reward you with a one-year subscription to The Paris Review along with a copy of our new anthology, The Unprofessionals. (If you can solve all of them, we’ll throw something extra special into the bargain.) Send an e-mail with your answers to; the first three correct lists will win. The deadline is Friday at noon EST, when we’ll post the answers. Good luck.
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The Answers to Walter Benjamin’s Riddles

December 11, 2014 | by


Last week, we published a transcript of one of Walter Benjamin’s radio broadcasts for children from 1932. It had thirty brainteasers in it. Here are the answers: Read More »


A Crazy Mixed-Up Day: Thirty Brainteasers

December 4, 2014 | by

Walter Benjamin credit Doyle Saylor

Image: Doyle Saylor

From 1927 to early 1933, Walter Benjamin wrote and delivered some eighty to ninety broadcasts over the new medium of German radio, working between Radio Berlin and Radio Frankfurt. These broadcasts, many of them produced under the auspices of programming for children, cover a fascinating array of topics: typologies and archaeologies of a rapidly changing Berlin; scenes from the shifting terrain of childhood and its construction; exemplary cases of trickery, swindle, and fraud that play on the uncertain lines between truth and falsehood; catastrophic events such as the eruption of Vesuvius and the flooding of the Mississippi River, and much more. Now the transcripts of many of these broadcasts are available for the first time in English—Lecia Rosenthal has gathered them in a new book, Radio Benjamin. Below is one of his broadcasts for children, including thirty brainteasers. (Want the answers? They’re here.)

Perhaps you know a long poem that begins like this:

Dark it is, the moon shines bright,
a car creeps by at the speed of light
and slowly rounds the round corner.
People standing sit inside,
immersed they are in silent chatter,
while a shot-dead hare

skates by on a sandbank there.

Everyone can see that this poem doesn’t add up. In the story you’ll hear today, quite a few things don’t add up either, but I doubt that everyone will notice. Or rather, each of you will find a few mistakes—and when you find one, you can make a dash on a piece of paper with your pencil. And here’s a hint: if you mark all the mistakes in the story, you’ll have a total of fifteen dashes. But if you find only five or six, that’s perfectly alright as well.

But that’s only one facet of the story you’ll hear today. Besides these fifteen mistakes, it also contains fifteen questions. And while the mistakes creep up on you, quiet as a mouse, so no one notices them, the questions, on the other hand, will be announced with a loud gong. Each correct answer to a question gives you two points, because many of the questions are more difficult to answer than the mistakes are to find. So, with a total of fifteen questions, if you know the answers to all of them, you’ll have thirty dashes. Added to the fifteen dashes for mistakes, that makes a total of forty-five possible dashes. None of you will get all forty-five, but that’s not necessary. Even ten points would be a respectable score.

You can mark your points yourselves. During the next Youth Hour, the radio will announce the mistakes along with the answers to the questions, so you can see whether your thoughts were on target, for above all, this story requires thinking. There are no questions and no mistakes that can’t be managed with a little reflection.

One last bit of advice: don’t focus on just the questions. To the contrary, keep a lookout for the mistakes above all; the questions will all be repeated at the end of the story. It goes without saying that the questions don’t contain any mistakes; there, everything is as it should be. Now pay attention. Here’s Heinz with his story. Read More »


It’s My Party

February 27, 2014 | by

How many hotheaded academics does it take to solve a riddle?


Andrew Stevovich, Hat Party, 2012, 7" x 8".

I don’t know what the best thing was about Jim Propp’s parties. They were a crystalline picture of the specialized, rarefied company I kept when I lived in Cambridge in the midnineties, parked on Mass. Ave. halfway between Harvard and MIT. Profs, postdocs, and assorted academic keepsakes from the cream of Boston academia all piled into Jim’s Victorian four-square house in Somerville for an evening of … well, we never quite knew what the evening would bring.

Technically, these were “word game” parties. Each was planned around a series of intellectual challenges arranged around the house more or less like evil wizards, ax-wielding dwarves, or more mundane impediments in a typical game of Dungeons & Dragons. You’d team up with a couple friends (or the pretty redhead who was probably dating one of your professors, if you could), and make your way from room to room, solving bits and pieces of puzzles that—if you were lucky—you could string together for the grand solution. The prize was bragging rights until the next party, six months down the line.

In any case, it all began with the invitation. Twice a year, a mysterious envelope would appear. I remember the first one I received: a single sheet with nothing but a swirling Spirograph flower on one side, and the letters RSVP below it. Where, when, and how were left to the recipient, presumably after he or she had coaxed the secret out of the cryptic drawing. Read More »