Telescoped POPs with a twist

Today’s on-air puzzle on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday (WESUN) is described as follows on the NPR website:

Well Hello, Dolly!

Every answer is the first name of one famous person and the last name of another, in which the names are anagrams. For example, “Dolly Lloyd” for “Dolly Parton and Christopher Lloyd.”

You’d be hard-pressed to figure out how the game works from this characterization, though on the actual show, things seemed to be clear. Here’s how it works:

CLUE: FN1 + LN2 (e.g., Christopher Parton)

SOLUTION: LN1 & FN2 ( Lloyd & Dolly), where FN1 + LN1 is the name of one famous person (Christopher Lloyd), FN2 + LN2 is the name of another famous person (Dolly Parton), and LN1 (Lloyd) and FN2 (Dolly) are anagrams of one another

Other examples from the show:

CLUE: Sofia Michaels
SOLUTION: Loren (Sofia Loren) & Lorne (Lorne Michaels)

CLUE: Benedict Reagan
SOLUTION: Arnold (Benedict Arnold) & Ronald (Ronald Reagan)

(Obviously this last one is my favorite.) Despite the complexity of the description when it’s laid out precisely, the host and the on-air contestant seemed to have had little trouble with the task. The key is that LN1 and FN2 can be seen as missing links to LN2 and FN1:

Christopher Lloyd/Dolly Parton

Sofia Loren/Lorne Michaels

Benedict Arnold/Ronald Reagan

Now the connection to ordinary phrasal overlap portmanteaus (POPs) — Christopher Lloyd George, Sophia Loren Eiseley (though this one works only in spelling), Benedict Arnold Stang, Eddie Albert Einstein, etc. — should be clear. I suggested in my posting on telescoped POPs that POPs could be made into a game by telescoping them, eliminating the overlapping middle term, which a player would then have to supply: Christopher George (solution: Lloyd), Sophia Eiseley (solution: Loren), Benedict Stang (solution: Arnold), Eddie Einstein (solution: Albert).

The WESUN telescopings give this kind of puzzle a twist by asking for a middle term that isn’t just one name. Instead, the player has to supply two alternative names, anagrams of one another, for the middle term. Intricate, but (as it turns out) doable.

For players at home:

Ralph Agassiz, Itzhak Williams, Suze Polanski, Johnny Powers, Walt Poirier, Laurence Hemingway

(As with many such puzzles, you need a hell of a lot of cultural knowledge, from a variety of domains, to play the game.)

6 Responses to “Telescoped POPs with a twist”

  1. irrationalpoint Says:

    I was thinking about your POP posts the other day because of a word game that I was introduced to by friends who call it “Fish Mixes”. You play it by providing two-word clues of the form WORD1 + WORD2 (eg “fish mix”), and the solution is a single word. The solution must form the second word in a phrase or compound that has WORD1 as its first word (in this case “fish cake” (WORD1 + SOLN)); and must form the first word in another (independent) phrase or compound that has WORD2 as its second word (in this case, “cake mix” (SOLN + WORD2)).

    It’s a good word game for long journeys since both players’ turns are of roughly equal difficulty.


  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To irrationalpoint: This is essentially the game I was asking about in my “Telescoped POPs?” posting, except that the point of your “Fish Mixes” game is just to supply the middle term, rather than to provide the middle term implicitly (King, given Larry Kong) and explicitly give a definition that makes some kind of loopy sense out of the whole three-part POP (“A gigantic gorilla with a television talk show”, alluding to Larry King Kong).

    In the Jeopardy!-style game, the clue is a baffling definition for the three-part POP (without any parts provided), e.g., “A gigantic gorilla with a television talk show”, and the solution is the whole three-part POP, Larry King Kong. More on this in a posting to come.

  3. irrationalpoint Says:

    “This is essentially the game I was asking about in my “Telescoped POPs?” posting, except that the point of your “Fish Mixes” game is just to supply the middle term,”


    “More on this in a posting to come.”

    Look forward to it.


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