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Don't Draw A Blank

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Don't Draw A Blank

Don't Draw A Blank

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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. Sorry for my voice. Spent too much time in the desert in Las Vegas.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane. Welcome back.

HANSEN: Thank you. It was a great reporting trip. We have some great stories this week and next week, but I also made a visit to KRMG in Las Cruces, New Mexico. And I thought you'd want to know this.

We had a puzzle player named Dr. Laurie Abbott(ph) back in 2005 from Las Cruces, and she came up to me and reminded me that she played the Puzzle, but what she told me is the day after she played the Puzzle she had to go and get a bone marrow transplant. And her prizes arrived, her family took them to the hospital, they cheered her up, and she said it was so great, that kind of coincidence and she's doing really well now. So, she wanted to tell me in person and convey to you how much the Puzzle segment meant to her that day in 2005.

SHORTZ: Oh, that's so sweet.

HANSEN: Isn't that sweet? Yeah, you meet all kinds of wonderful listeners when you're on the road and you make all kinds of listener friends when they play Puzzle with you. So, in order to begin, we'll have to repeat that challenge you gave us last week. It had to do with Mensa, which I always fail in the airline magazines.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Well, yes, it came from the 2011 calendar Mensa 365 Brain Puzzlers by Mark Danna and Fraser Simpson. I said: Write out the 26 letters of the alphabet from A to Z, take a certain sequence of seven letters of these, change one letter in the sequence to a U and rearrange the result to name something you might find in your refrigerator. As a hint, I said it's a two-word phrase. What is this thing?

HANSEN: What is this thing?

SHORTZ: Well, it's a milk jug, which you can get by writing out the letters from G to M and change the H to a U and rearrange.

HANSEN: Listeners liked this puzzle a lot. In fact, another listener at KRMG came up to me and said milk jug - without any intro or, you know, telling me why she was saying this, obviously. But everybody liked it - 2,500 entries. Our randomly chosen winner is Sam Shannon from Madison, Wisconsin. Hi, Sam.

Mr. SAM SHANNON: Hello.

HANSEN: What do you do in Madison?

Mr. SHANNON: I work for a power supply company here.

HANSEN: How long did it take you to solve last week's challenge?

Mr. SHANNON: It took me about 15, 20 minutes.

HANSEN: Ooh, you're quick. You've been playing the Puzzle a while?

Mr. SHANNON: No. This is actually my first time to submit.

HANSEN: Oh, no.

SHORTZ: Oh, man.

HANSEN: Oh, no. Next time I meet people at a station, they're going to say, you know, I've been sending in Puzzle for 20 years. But anyway, you sound ready to play. Are you?

Mr. SHANNON: All right. Let's do it.

HANSEN: All right. Will, well, let's meet Sam and let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Sam. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence has two blanks. The word that goes into the first blank contains an oy sound. Change this to an oo sound and phonetically you'll get a new word that goes in the second blank to complete the sentence. For example: Anyone who thinks ground chuck tastes better than prime blank is clearly a blank. You'd say loin and loon. Anyone who thinks ground chuck's better than loin is a loon.

All right. Number one: Mother is reading James blank this morning over her breakfast bagel and blank.

Mr. SHANNON: Joyce and juice.

SHORTZ: That's correct. Number two: Martin plans to blank the Navy in mid-May or blank.

Mr. SHANNON: Join and June.

SHORTZ: Good. If you answer that Brad Pitt starred as Achilles in the film blank, that would be blank.

Mr. SHANNON: "Troy" and true.

SHORTZ: Good. Regarding the mystery novel, it would blank the plot if I told you the murder hinged on a blank of thread.

Mr. SHANNON: Spoil and spool.

SHORTZ: Good. Now, in the rest of the answers, they're all two-syllable words and the oy appears in the first syllable. Anyone who blank on a street corner will be watched by the police, but blank in the area will be quickly arrested. What might people do on the street corner that has oy in the first syllable?

Mr. SHANNON: Loiters.

HANSEN: Yeah.

Mr. SHANNON: Looters.

HANSEN: Looters.

SHORTZ: Looters being arrested. Good. For an athletic team on the field, it is not blank to their morale for the crowd to be blank.

Mr. SHANNON: I'm thinking boisterous and...

HANSEN: Booster to their morale if the crowd is not - no.

SHORTZ: Not quite.

HANSEN: All right. All right.

Mr. SHANNON: Yeah, (unintelligible).

SHORTZ: I'm just going to tell you this one. It's tough. It is not buoying to their morale if the crowding is booing.

HANSEN: Booing, buoying and booing.

Mr. SHANNON: Booing, gotcha.

HANSEN: OK.

SHORTZ: All right. Try this one: Your perfect placement of a lace blank on the dinner table is blank noted.

Mr. SHANNON: Doily and duly.

SHORTZ: That's right. And here's your last one: A partygoer who blank too late into the evening, may not be ready for blank to wake him in the morning. And the first word is a little hard word. A partygoer who blank too late into the evening, may not be ready for blank to wake him in the morning.

Well, if you were on a farm, what might wake you in the morning?

Mr. SHANNON: Roister and rooster?

Mr. SHORTZ: Right, yeah. If you roister too late that means to party boisterously.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHANNON: Okay.

HANSEN: I think you got it. Before we let you go, you get some prizes for playing on the air with us today. And a special guest will tell you what you can take home. She recently spoke to my colleague, Michel Martin, host of NPR's TELL ME MORE.

Ms. KT TUNSTALL (Singer-Songwriter): Hi, there. This is KT Tunstall and I'm just letting you know that 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.

HANSEN: There you go, Sam, all for you.

Mr. SHANNON: All right, that sounds great.

HANSEN: Yeah and from KT Tunstall, as well. Tell us what member station you listen to, Sam.

Mr. SHANNON: The Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio.

HANSEN: The Ideas Network of Wisconsin Public Radio. Wow, that's more than a four-letter...

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: ...call signal, I'll tell you. Sam Shannon of Madison, Wisconsin, thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us today.

Mr. SHANNON: Thank you.

HANSEN: All right, Will. I know you have one in your pocket. What's the puzzle challenge for the coming week?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. What is the longest familiar phrase, title or name you can think of in which the only consonants are N and T. That's N as in Nancy, T as in Thomas. My answer has 18 letters, so try to think of an answer of at least 18 letters.

So again, I'm looking for a familiar phrase, title or name in which the only consonants are N and T - repeated as often as necessary - all the other letters are vowels. Can you think of an answer of at least 18 letters?

HANSEN: When you have that 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 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.

And, Will, you're doing a little traveling next weekend?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. This coming weekend, I'm going to be speaking Saturday night at the University of California at Santa Barbara and Sunday night at U.C. Berkeley.

HANSEN: All right, let our West Coast folks know. And for today, thanks a lot.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Liane.

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