Reverse The Irreversible

Jul 10, 2014
Originally published on June 4, 2015 11:06 am

Get ready to roll and rock: in this game, switch the order of paired words that always appear in a certain sequence. We give you the second part; you give us the first: the bees and the...?

Heard in Episode 321: Live. Puzzle. Repeat

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


Our next contestant is on the line. Hi, you're on ASK ME ANOTHER.

KARI DENITZIO: Hi, this is Kari Denitzio in Walpole, Massachusetts.

EISENBERG: Hello, Kari. Welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm told that you are working with your husband through traveling to all seven continents. How many have you taken off the list?

DENITZIO: That's our goal. We're at four right now. We still need Australia, Antarctica and South America.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: How are you going to do the Antarctica one? What's your plan for that?

DENITZIO: Well, I was actually just reading that there is an Antarctica Marathon. So I'm hoping to convince my husband to train for that, and - so he can run it and I just get to go to Antarctica and watch.


EISENBERG: Now, if you were to rate your command of the English language out of 10, what would you give yourself?

DENITZIO: Well, I used to teach English, so I hope I'm at a 10, or close to it.

EISENBERG: All right, that's some confidence. I like that, Kari. This game is called Reverse The Irreversible. Sounds like a geeky word game, doesn't it? It is indeed. Please explain, puzzle guru Art Chung.

ART CHUNG, BYLINE: So Kari, some English idioms are called irreversible binomials because they are a pair of words that always appear in a particular order. No one says, the suspect is dangerous and armed, because that would be ridiculous.


EISENBERG: So we are going to reverse the irreversible. We're going to give you the second item in a pair, and you complete the pair by giving us the first item. You ready to roll and rock?

DENITZIO: I'm ready.

EISENBERG: All right. The bees and...

DENITZIO: The birds.

EISENBERG: Right, feels good.

DENITZIO: Absolutely.

EISENBERG: Caboodle and...


EISENBERG: Yes. Brimstone and...


EISENBERG: Yes. How often do you use that?

DENITZIO: I don't use the phrase a lot, but I like to think I brought a little of that to my classroom when needed.


EISENBERG: Nice, yeah.

COULTON: Fire and brimstone, that's a very serious class.


DENITZIO: My teaching teammates and I like to joke that the first half of the year was Old Testament-style, and then we'd gradually progress to New Testament - got a little more loving as the year got on - went on.

EISENBERG: This one's harder. Parcel and...




EISENBERG: This is your last question. Kicking and...

DENITZIO: Oh, my gosh. I'm not sure.

EISENBERG: I know. It's a hard one. It's positive, though. That's my hint to you. It's positive.

DENITZIO: Alive and kicking?

EISENBERG: Yes, exactly.


EISENBERG: Kari, for the geeky word game you give yourself, you know, 10 out of 10 on the English language, and that was perfect because you got them all correct. So congratulations.


EISENBERG: And we are going to send you your very own limited edition ASK ME ANOTHER anagram T-shirt. Are you tired and sick of not being able to appear on ASK ME ANOTHER because you don't live in New York? We hear you clear and loud. So lo and behold, we have a solution; why not be a phone contestant? Just send us an email at and we'll get back to you later than sooner. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.