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Fresh From The Bad Pun Department
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Fresh From The Bad Pun Department
Fresh From The Bad Pun Department
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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

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


HANSEN: You have a pinball machine at your house, do you not?

SHORTZ: Not only pinball, but it's a crossword pinball game from the 1950s.

HANSEN: Really? It's a Gottlieb machine, do you know?

SHORTZ: No, it's even better. It's a Williams. Considering what my name is, that's perfect - Williams' crossword pinball machine.

HANSEN: That is so fine. Well, I want to give you a heads up that we're going to be paying a visit to the home of a man who wants to start a pinball museum. And he restores them and he knows the history of them. So, just keep a heads up for that. And Williams and Gottlieb were great competitors - I learned that this past week. All right, well, what was the challenge you gave us last week?

SHORTZ: Yes. It involved a cool discovery by Ed Pegg, Jr., who runs the Web site I said, write down the digits two to seven in order, add two mathematical symbols to get an expression equaling 2010. Can you do it?

HANSEN: And what was the answer?

SHORTZ: Answer is 2,345 times six divided by seven. It's amazing.

HANSEN: Amazing. And 2010 - I think we're going with that. I had a tweet from a man, David Bales(ph), who says he's still writing Year of the Ox on his checks.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Well, we received about 2,000 entries this past week, and I've taken the advice of putting 2010 on all my checks already. From the correct entries, our randomly selected winner is Tor Kingdon of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Hi, Tor.


HANSEN: How long did it take you to solve this puzzle?

Mr. KINGDON: It took me a little while of pondering on it, and then when I was feeding my son breakfast on Monday morning it kind of came to me.

HANSEN: Excellent. How long have you been playing?

Mr. KINGDON: I've been playing by myself, as it were, since the postcard days, but I never sent in a postcard. I've actually only entered three times.

HANSEN: Really? Well, third time's the charm, right? Or is it four?

Mr. KINGDON: I realize I'm going to get some hate mail for that.

HANSEN: What do you do in New Mexico?

Mr. KINGDON: I'm a sound engineer. My wife and I own a small business that does post-production audio for television and film.

HANSEN: Cool, way cool. Well, are you ready to play this puzzle?

Mr. KINGDON: I am.

HANSEN: Oh, Tor, be on my team. Will, meet Tor. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Tor and Liane, today's puzzle is from the bad pun department. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence has a blank. Fill the blank with the name of a vegetable that can complete the sentence in a punny way. For example, apologizing profusely, the boy said, you don't know how sorry I blank. You would say yam. You don't know how sorry I yam.

HANSEN: Are you groaning yet? Yeah. All right.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one: Marion performed her work so well, the boss increased her blank.

Mr. KINGDON: Her work increased her...

SHORTZ: Marion performed her work so well, the boss increased her...



SHORTZ: Yeah, and what's a synonym of that?

HANSEN: You might put peanut butter on it for your young son.

Mr. KINGDON: Peanut butter on...

HANSEN: Or maybe you won't.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Go ahead, Liane.

HANSEN: I'll help you out. It's celery, which...

SHORTZ: Increased her celery is correct. Good job.

Mr. KINGDON: Celery - salary.

HANSEN: Now you know how these puns work - groan.

Mr. KINGDON: I got the yam one, does that give me...

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: We'll give you a mulligan there.

SHORTZ: There you go. Number two: during the church service, the minister said please bow your heads and blank pray.

Mr. KINGDON: Blank pray.

HANSEN: Bow your heads and begin to pray.

Mr. KINGDON: Quietly pray? I don't...

HANSEN: Start to.

SHORTZ: And what's the main thing in a salad?

Mr. KINGDON: Lettuce. Oh, and lettuce pray.

HANSEN: Lettuce pray.

SHORTZ: Lettuce pray, good.

HANSEN: Oh no.

SHORTZ: Bob has been looking for a job for over a year, but he's confident something will eventually blank.

Mr. KINGDON: Turnip.

SHORTZ: Turnip, good.

HANSEN: You're getting it, Tor. You're on a roll.

SHORTZ: The executive at the Gold Medal Company asked: What do you blank that's made from wheat germ.

Mr. KINGDON: The Gold Medal Company, what do you...

SHORTZ: What do you blank that's made from wheat germ? And think about what Gold Medal makes.

Mr. KINGDON: Oh, what do you...

HANSEN: Flour.

Mr. KINGDON: Yeah, they make flour.


Mr. KINGDON: And what do you grind, what do you, no.

SHORTZ: What do you blank that's made from wheat germ? And what vegetable ends in flour?

Mr. KINGDON: Cauliflower.

SHORTZ: There you go.

HANSEN: What do you call...

SHORTZ: What do you cauliflower that's made with wheat germ? Good. Okay. I saved the best the last.

HANSEN: Oh, I bet.

SHORTZ: It's a two-word answer: when someone finally found the missing wire for Pete's guitar, Pete asked, where has that blank? Here it is again: when someone finally found the missing wire for Pete's guitar, Pete asked, where has that blank?

HANSEN: Been. Something...


Mr. KINGDON: Been...

SHORTZ: And that's the second word. What's the first word? Where has that...

HANSEN: You're not...

SHORTZ: What's the synonym for wire for a guitar?

HANSEN: String. Bean.

Mr. KINGDON: Where's that chord been?

HANSEN: String bean?

SHORTZ: Where has that string bean?

Mr. KINGDON: Oh, that is the best for last.

HANSEN: Yeah, that is the best...

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Tor, it sounds like you were just waiting for it to happen. These are hard and they're so bad, but the thing about them is you groan and you laugh. You have to laugh. That's the best pun. Oh, well, we have someone here that will tell you what you're going to get for being such a great player.

I mentioned pinball before to Will and this is pinball fanatic David Silverman. He is trying to start the National Pinball Museum. I visited his collection. He has more than 800 pinball machines and you can hear about them later. But, here he is telling you what you're going to get for playing our puzzle today.

(Soundbite of pinball machine)

Mr. DAVID SILVERMAN (Pinball Enthusiast): For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, the book series "Will Shortz Presents KenKen," Volumes 1, 2 and 3 from St. Martin's Press, one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books and a CD compilation of NPR's Sunday puzzles.

(Soundbite of pinball machine)

HANSEN: Oh, free game, Tor.

Mr. KINGDON: Excellent.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: What do you think?

Mr. KINGDON: I think that's great. I'm a big fan of pinball. I miss the machines.

HANSEN: Oh, well, keep listening. Keep listening. He has an amazing collection. Before we let you go, Tor, what member station do you listen to?

Mr. KINGDON: I listen to KUNM in Albuquerque.

HANSEN: Tor Kingdon of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle with us.

Mr. KINGDON: Oh, thank you.

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

SHORTZ: Yes. Think of a familiar 10-letter hyphenated word that uses all seven letters of the alphabet from F to L, plus three other letters of your choosing. What word is it? And I'll tell you, it's a word everyone knows and it's in some dictionaries. So, again, a familiar 10-letter hyphenated word that uses all seven letters of the alphabet from F to L, plus three other letters of your choosing. What word is it?

HANSEN: Oh, I love your qualification: In some dictionaries, right - some rare book that only you have on your shelf?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Probably not. You'll get the answer, and when you do, go to our Web site,, click on the Submit Your Answer link, only one entry per person, please. Our deadline 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. 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.

Will, does your pinball machine actually still work?

SHORTZ: Oh, yeah.

HANSEN: Oh, yeah. How often do you play it?

SHORTZ: I used to play it constantly every day. But...

HANSEN: Oh, but you've given pinball for ping pong, right and for table tennis?

SHORTZ: Yeah, that's right. That's right.

HANSEN: Well, cool. I mean I got a chance to play some of those games and it was great fun. So anyway, before we get to it, I want to thank you very much. Will, talk to you next week.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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