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Posts Tagged ‘word games’

Puzzle Deadline Extended on Grounds of Extreme Difficulty!

February 19, 2016 | by

Bernhard_Sprute_Bienenbild_2010

Bernhard Sprute, Painting Bienenbild, 2010.

Ed. Note: Perhaps you’ve noticed that we did not, in fact, announce winners yesterday. Noon came and went, and no announcement! It has been brought to our attention that the conditions, as they stand, are too harsh: the puzzles are really, really hard! So we’re modifying the rules—namely, just do as many as you can. Twenty? Great! Ten? Send ’em along. You have until Monday. Good luck!  

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Solve These Thirty Word Puzzles!

February 16, 2016 | by

Bernhard_Sprute_Bienenbild_2010

Bernhard Sprute, Painting Bienenbild, 2010.

Ed. Note: The response to our last round of word puzzles was so overwhelming that puzzle correspondent Dylan Hicks has brought you thirty more! This time, we’re demanding total accuracy: the first three correct lists will win a year’s subscription to The Paris Review. You must solve all thirty riddles correctly. Send an e-mail with your answers to contests@theparisreview.org. The deadline is Thursday, February 18, at noon EST, when we’ll post the answers. Good luck!

As a boy, I wasn’t alone in believing there to be a wonderful blue-eyed soul duo out of Philadelphia called Haulin’ Oats. Their music, we hoped, would provide solace during our imminent and futile battles against killer bees. Some of us grew up to be small-batch granolatiers and had to fend of lawsuits from Daryl and John themselves.

The answers to the following thirty puzzles are in a similar spirit—of word-bending, that is, not litigation. They employ antanaclasis, homophony, homonymy, rhyme, assonance, and other devices toward paronomasia—okay, they’re puns. The form, I realize, has a mixed reputation. 

Maybe a few further words of explanation are required. The answers tweak, reframe, or link a variety of sources: titles of books, movies, and other artworks; proper names; famous lines of poetry or political rhetoric; clichés and other well-traveled terms. Many are paragrams—plays built on the alteration of a letter or letters, not always in service to rhyme. To foster challenge and competition, a few of the clues are oblique, but never deliberately obfuscatory, though anachronism and other breaches of logic have been tolerated or encouraged. Mostly the clues try to cover the bases without too much bold-face. For instance, “Ursine Frisco bandleader trucks off to buy bings and maraschinos” might cue “Cherry Garcia.” That one was judged to be off-limits, but the standard for innovation wasn’t set fussily high. Though none of the answers were wittingly plagiarized, a half hour on the leading search engine revealed, to little surprise, that I wasn’t the first or, in some cases, the fourth to arrive at several of these (ingenious) puns. My apologies, then, for that, and for everything.

  1. Federal Reserve stocks up massively on Stouffer’s.
  2. Boundless w/r/t Yeezy.
  3. And as in uffish thought he stood,
       At peroration of his rap
    With mimsy smile he cocked his head
       And cued the crowd, “Please clap.”
  4. Sellout Marxist pitches for OxiClean.
  5. MacDougal Street corner spot where Peter Pastmaster, Paul Pennyfeather, and Lady Mary Lygon might have blown in the wind.
  6. Khakis coax truth.
  7. The Sun now rose upon the right,
    And parched the sloping mast
    The Mariner raised his skinny hand,
    And spake the long forecast
  8. Melvillian scrivener conditionally favors Russian pop duo.
  9. Thatcher refuses butter-making shift.
  10. Shazam, Sergeant Carter, here you are managin’ a Bally Fitness while I’m right next door teachin’ Zumba at Snap. I reckon we’re:
  11. After Cunningham, Wright, Carter, Leaf, Stoerner, Hutchinson, Testaverde, Henson, and Bledsoe, Cowboys fan complains with a Yeatsian sigh:
  12. Babylonian beau, to minimize risk
    Might have shunned holey walls for red flying disks
  13. Photo-album caption cleverly annotates sunken-eyed, death-defying actor’s trip to Yakushi-ji.
  14. Tennyson follows up pathbreaking collection with odes to mostly round, fleshy fruits.
  15. Steven Ellison remixes stage name while piloting Air Force One.
  16. The Belle of Amherst runs over Rogen.
  17. Spanglish bed sized for married grammarians—or serial monogamists.
  18. Coates and Steinman coauthor book by dashboard light.
  19. Starring opposite Cary Grant, Mae West misquotes “The Canonization” in this little-known Metaphysical romp.
  20. Bloodily horrific day at voluminous East Village bookstore.
  21. Kafka executor visits Wexler and Abrams.
  22. Habitat 67 mastermind takes the wheel of ice-cream truck.
  23. Wallace Stevens guides multifocal examination of Clinton e-mails.
  24. Edmund Wilson holes up in fortified residence with Symbolist library and truckload of GlaxoSmithKline SSRI.
  25. I met him at the concert hall
    He plumbed the depths of Schubert songs—you get the picture?
    (Ja, sehen wir)
    That’s when I fell for:
  26. Sled provides key to ambitious biopic of Family Circus
  27. Early in ’61, a very young Declan MacManus sets his sights on Dominican dictator.
  28. Under Professor Boyd’s tutelage, Bonzo begins to act according to unconditional moral laws.
  29. Patricidal space meanie joins forces with Australian-born pop goddess.
  30. Weary of the spotlight, supporting-actor nominee quietly launches spicy-chicken stand.

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It’s My Party

February 27, 2014 | by

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

Andrew_Stevovich_oil_painting,_Hat_Party,_2012,_7"_x_8"

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 »

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