You Can't Handle The Handle

Mar 13, 2014
Originally published on March 4, 2015 11:26 am

Many will recognize the "@" or "at" symbol from its place in Twitter usernames. Here, @jonathancoulton leads a challenging word game involving a play on adding the letters "a-t" to word beginnings. @tempt it if you dare!

Heard in Episode 311: Puzzlin' On The Dock of the Bay

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Let's say hello to our next two contestants, Kristin Grendland(ph) and Tyler Hinman.


EISENBERG: Now, we've got two puzzle pros on our stage. Tyler, I recognize you from the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

TYLER HINMAN: That's right.

EISENBERG: And you also construct puzzles for The Onion's A.V. Club?

HINMAN: Right. Yeah.

EISENBERG: Do you have a favorite clue? I feel like everyone has one in their mind, right, when they construct these puzzles?

HINMAN: Yeah, I wrote one about a year ago. The clue was simply - Brand X and the answer was Katy Perry.

EISENBERG: Nice. Russell Brand's ex - brilliant. It's good, right?

HINMAN: I love that sound.

EISENBERG: Yeah, of people getting it?

HINMAN: No, more the groan.

EISENBERG: The groan? (Laughter) Very good and Kristin you have played in many big puzzle events.


EISENBERG: And recently you were given or you figured out your best anagram of your name?

GRENDLAND: It was given to me.

EISENBERG: What is the anagram of your name?

GRENDLAND: Drunk girl and Saint.

EISENBERG: And who gave that to you?

GRENDLAND: So I was actually invited up to San Francisco on a puzzle date - split a bottle of wine, we both brought some puzzles and had a good time. And when he...


JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Are these euphemisms or did you actually....


ART CHUNG, BYLINE: Did you guys Boggle?


CHUNG: That's a third date right. Third date Boggle.


GRENDLAND: And so when he called me up with the final details, he said, I hope you're not offended but I anagramed your name and it came out to drunk girl and saint. And I'm definitely not offended by that.

EISENBERG: Do you Tweet?


EISENBERG: You don't tweet. Interesting. Do you Tweet Tyler?

HINMAN: Yeah, occasionally.

EISENBERG: All right 'cause this game is called, You Can't Handle The Handle.


EISENBERG: It's a game about Twitter, Jonathan. And Twitter was invented right here in San Francisco. Look at that.

COULTON: Yeah I know, it's a crazy coincidence that were doing a game about it here in San Francisco.



COULTON: Contestants, since you live here, I am surely most of you listening right now, know that user accounts on Twitter -which are known as handles - begin with the @ symbol, which is the A with a circle around it. Now I'm just talking to my mom who probably doesn't know this.


COULTON: Hi mom. In this game, we're going to give you clues to words and names that when you put the letters 'at' in front of them they become other words. So puzzle gooroo, can you give us an example?

CHUNG: If we said, this user tries and tries to seduce you with his tweets, the handle we're looking for is at tempter or attempter.


EISENBERG: Oh, there's that grown again.

CHUNG: There's that groan again.

COULTON: Nobody likes this game, already.

GRENDLAND: I feel again I should get a handicap, since I don't Tweet.

COULTON: You know the alphabet though, right?


COULTON: All right. Each tweet from this belligerent user is a pointed barb like a pushpin.



HINMAN: At tack.

COULTON: At tack, that's right. Tack and attack.


COULTON: He is a nonbeliever, who tweets about burglaries and bank robberies.



HINMAN: At Heist.

COULTON: At Heist or atheist. That's right.


COULTON: She is a twitchy user who tweet from the top floor of her house.



HINMAN: At tick.

COULTON: At tick, that's right. Addic, at tick.


COULTON: While contemplating the smallest particle of an element, she tweets her mantra.



HINMAN: At om.

COULTON: At om, uh-huh, yea that's right.


COULTON: He's a lover of vintage video games like Pong, who likes to pretend he's a Hollywood agent from the series "Entourage."


COULTON: Kristin.


COULTON: Atari, that's right.


COULTON: All right this is your last question. A European capital city, it tweets mostly about female barnyard fowl.



HINMAN: At hens.

COULTON: At hens or Athens, that's right.


COULTON: Art Chung, who won that game.

CHUNG: Tyler is our winner.


EISENBERG: Congratulations, Tyler. We'll see you at the end of the show. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.