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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane. Welcome back.

HANSEN: Thank you very much. I had a great time in Los Angeles. I played tourist, you know, with my son. We did the Universal Studios tour. I was soaked by the Jurassic Park ride. And I road the new Simpsons ride, which is both terrifying and funny...

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: ...at the same time, and managed to be in the scrum for a taping of Jay Leno. So that was...

SHORTZ: Wow.

HANSEN: Yeah, that was a lot of - it was fun all the way around. I mean, it was nice to go out and have fun and be a tourist and not work. You know what I'm saying?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: He should've announced that you were in the audience.

HANSEN: Oh, right. Like he would know me by sight, right…

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: ...on the radio. Maybe he'll hear this and he'll realize that I was on the show the night Chris Rock was there, which was very funny. But that was - I had a really good time.

And I heard the challenge you gave for last week. And to me it sounds really tough. Will you repeat it, please?

SHORTZ: Yes. It involved chains of C-words. And I gave the example: common cold, cold cash, cash cow and cow college. And asked you to find a chain of C-words connecting carbon to circuit. And I said my chain has seven words between these. Your chain doesn't have to match mine, but in each case, the words before and after have to make a compound word, or a familiar two-word phrase. So, what chain is it?

HANSEN: And you tell me. What's the answer?

SHORTZ: Well, my answer involves seven interior words: carbon, copy, cat, call, center, court, case, closed and circuit. But there's a shorter chain. You can go directly from copy to center. So carbon, copy, center, court, case, closed, circuit works just as well.

HANSEN: You know, a lot of people had fun with this. We received about 2,000 entries this past week. And from the correct entries we randomly selected Ken Harris of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania to play the puzzle today.

Hi, Ken.

Mr. KEN HARRIS (Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: How long did it take you to put that chain together?

Mr. HARRIS: Oh, just a couple of minutes. I worked from the front to the back and back to front.

HANSEN: Wow.

Mr. HARRIS: And it connected.

HANSEN: Sounds like you've been playing our puzzle for a while.

Mr. HARRIS: For a while. Since the postcard days.

HANSEN: What do you do in Slippery Rock?

Mr. HARRIS: Well, I'm a retired professor of theater and I also serve as mayor of the borough.

HANSEN: Oh, well then, you're having to give performances in both professions.

Mr. HARRIS: In both - right.

HANSEN: I imagine that you're ready to give your performance now on our puzzle segment.

Mr. HARRIS: I'm raring to go.

HANSEN: Listen to him. He's all set. Will, meet...

SHORTZ: I love this.

HANSEN: I do, too. Will, meet Ken. Ken, meet Will. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Ken, this week's puzzle involves the letters P-S-U, as in Portland State University, where I spoke yesterday. Each answer is a familiar two-word phrase in which the first word starts with P and the second word starts S-U. For example, if I gave you the clue: What a lawyer conducts to see if an invention has been made before, you would say patent survey.

Mr. HARRIS: Got it.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one: luxury accommodations at the top of a building.

Mr. HARRIS: Penthouse...

SHORTZ: Yes.

Mr. HARRIS: ...suite.

SHORTZ: Penthouse suite is it. Number two: NBA team in Arizona.

Mr. HARRIS: Oh, gosh, NBA is not my thing.

HANSEN: Oh, Phoenix Suns.

Mr. HARRIS: Oh.

SHORTZ: Phoenix Suns is it. Good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: I get it by osmosis. Believe me.

SHORTZ: Try this one: medical procedure to improve ones appearance.

Mr. HARRIS: Plastic surgery.

SHORTZ: Right. Buddy Holly hit whose title follows the lyrics: I love you gal. Yes, I love you.

Mr. HARRIS: Peggy Sue.

HANSEN: Go for it.

SHORTZ: Peggy Sue.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Women's business attire that's not a dress.

Mr. HARRIS: Pantsuit.

SHORTZ: That's it. A wood court for basketball or a grass field for football.

Mr. HARRIS: Hmm. A wood court for basketball.

SHORTZ: A wood court for basketball or a grass field for football.

Mr. HARRIS: I need help.

HANSEN: I know. Me, too.

SHORTZ: Uh-oh. I stumped you both. It's a playing surface.

HANSEN: Oh, of course.

Mr. HARRIS: Oh, sure.

HANSEN: Just say Astroturf. We would've gotten it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: How about this: shrub that can give you a rash.

Mr. HARRIS: Poison sumac.

SHORTZ: That's it. Former football star and TV sportscaster who was once the spokesman for True Value.

Mr. HARRIS: True Value.

HANSEN: Mm-hmm. This is tough. This is a piece of...

SHORTZ: I can hear those ads. Hi, this is somebody for True Value. Do you know, Liane?

HANSEN: Is it Pat Summerall?

SHORTZ: Pat Summerall. Good.

Mr. HARRIS: Okay.

HANSEN: Don't ask me why I have that piece of information in my head, okay?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: How about this one: chemical compound represented as K2SO4.

Mr. HARRIS: Potassium sulfate.

HANSEN: Oh.

SHORTZ: Oh, good job.

HANSEN: Thank you, Ken. Thank you, Ken. Thank you, Ken.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: How about: community event where everyone brings a dish for everyone to share.

Mr. HARRIS: Potluck, but it's not luck, is it?

HANSEN: Yeah, it is. It is.

SHORTZ: A potluck and then the word starting S-U.

Mr. HARRIS: Potlock supper.

HANSEN: Supper.

SHORTZ: Potluck supper is it. One week before Easter.

Mr. HARRIS: Palm Sunday.

SHORTZ: That's right. And your last one, like a weather forecast with some clouds.

Mr. HARRIS: Partly sunny.

HANSEN: Yea.

SHORTZ: Partly sunny, good job.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Ken, nice work.

Mr. HARRIS: Well, thank you.

HANSEN: Thank you for the periodic table help, the chemical help, and I'll help you with sports. I think it worked out all right.

Mr. HARRIS: Okay, we're partners.

HANSEN: We are.

Well, Ken, as a theater professor, we actually think you're going to enjoy our next guest. He was recently on stage in the National Theater of Great Britain's production of "Fedra" and on the silver screen in the independent film adaptation of "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men." And if that's not enough, he's in the movie, "An Education," which opens later this week in some cities. Here's Dominic Cooper in yet another performance, a reading of your puzzle prizes.

Mr. DOMINIC COOPER (Actor, "An Education"): For playing our puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the 11th Edition of Merriam-Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers. The "Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House Volume 2, Will Shortz's latest book series, "Will Shortz Presents KenKen," Volumes 1 and 2 and 3 from St. Martin's Press. And one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books. What a joy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Yeah.

Mr. HARRIS: Oh, indeed. Wow.

HANSEN: What did you think, Ken?

Mr. HARRIS: Terrific. I'll be doing lots of puzzles.

HANSEN: Yeah, yeah. And I'll tell you, Dominic Cooper, man, he has to do all of those monologues as Hippolytus in Racine's "Fedra." He had more trouble reading the puzzle prizes than he did…

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: …with any classic theater speech. Before we let you go, Ken, tell us, what member station do you listen to?

Mr. HARRIS: I listen to WYSU in Youngstown, Ohio.

HANSEN: Okay. Ken Harris of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, thanks for playing the puzzle with us today.

Mr. HARRIS: Thank you so much.

HANSEN: All right. Will, we need a challenge for next week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Doug Heller of Flourtown, Pennsylvania. Think of a beverage with a two-word name. The first word has three letters and the second word has nine. Arrange the letters of the nine-letter word in a three-by-three box with the first three letters across the top, the middle three across the center and the last three across the bottom. If you've named the right beverage, you can read down the center column to get the three-letter word. What beverage is this?

So, again, a beverage three, nine. Arrange that nine-letter word in a three-by-three box and the middle letters down the column will spell the three-letter word in the beverage's name. What beverage is this?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call you if you're the winner and you'll get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hey, Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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