SUSAN STAMBERG, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Susan Stamberg. And joining us puzzle master Will Shortz. Hiya, Will.
WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Susan.
STAMBERG: It's a big holiday weekend. Do you have any special plans for the Fourth of July?
SHORTZ: I'm actually going to work. How boring is that? But the National Puzzler's League convention is coming up next weekend in Providence, Rhode Island.
STAMBERG: Oh, that'll be fun. Meantime, we better get down to work here. Remind us of the challenge from last week.
SHORTZ: Yes. I said take the word ballerina, drop one letter and rearrange the remaining eight letters to name a well-known fictional character. Who is it?
STAMBERG: All I could come up with was Barry Lotter, but I bet that's not it.
SHORTZ: No. If you drop one of the As and scramble, you get Lil Abner.
STAMBERG: Lil Abner, OK. Well, we had just a bit over 500 listener entries this week, and the winner is Shirley Carle in Claremore, Oklahoma. Hi, Shirley.
SHIRLEY CARLE: Hi.
STAMBERG: I Googled Claremore and I see that you have a very nice statue of Oklahoma's own Will Rogers there.
CARLE: Oh, yes. That's our claim to fame. We have a beautiful Will Rogers memorial here in Claremore.
STAMBERG: Tell us how long it took you to solve this puzzle.
CARLE: It took me about five minutes once I just took the time to sit down and think about it.
STAMBERG: That's pretty quick. And have you been playing this puzzle for a long time?
CARLE: Yes, probably about 20 years.
STAMBERG: Oh. Whew. Are you ready to play?
CARLE: I hope I am.
STAMBERG: OK. Well, Will, meet Shirley. Let us play.
SHORTZ: All right, Shirley. I'm going to read your some sentences. Each sentence has three blanks. The word that goes in the first blank has five letters. Drop the last letter and you'll get a four-letter word that goes in the second blank. And drop its last letter and you'll get a three-letter word that goes in the third blank to complete the sentence. For example, if I said: While I was filming at the Egyptian pyramids, a blank with a rider on it, blank into the view of my blank. You'd say camel, as in a camel with a rider on it came into view of my cam.
STAMBERG: All right.
SHORTZ: So simple. OK. Here's number one: At my birthday blank, playing miniature golf, my favorite blank of the course was the blank five hole.
CARLE: At my birthday party...
CARLE: ...my favorite part...
SHORTZ: You got it, favorite part of the course was the par five hole. Nice job.
SHORTZ: Here's your next one: Go blank, the general cried, as his troops left the blank, blank battle.
SHORTZ: Yes, yes, yes, for battle is right.
SHORTZ: So, the troops left the...
SHORTZ: They left the fort and now go blank, the general cried.
SHORTZ: That's it - go forth. Try this one: George was driving his old Ford blank to the store for a blank of milk when a blank in the steering column broke. So, George was driving his old Ford blank to the store for a blank of milk - but smaller than a quart.
CARLE: Well, it'd be Pinto but Ford...
CARLE: Oh, Pinto.
STAMBERG: Oh, Pinto.
SHORTZ: A Pinto, yeah, pint of milk and the pin in the steering column broke, good.
STAMBERG: Oh, excellent.
SHORTZ: Try this one: During the recent recession, our family decided to blank on unnecessary things, like blank milk and our planned blank vacation.
CARLE: Oh, skimp on skim milk.
SHORTZ: That's it, skimp on skim milk and the ski vacation, good. During the blank 17th century, the blank of Sandwich lost his right blank in a sword fight.
STAMBERG: Well, it would have been Earl of Sandwich, right?
SHORTZ: That's correct.
STAMBERG: So, early 17th century.
SHORTZ: Early is it.
STAMBERG: And then Earl and then ear. Oh, poor thing.
SHORTZ: He lost his right ear.
STAMBERG: Oh my.
SHORTZ: I just made that up, by the way.
STAMBERG: Oh, you mean it's not an historic fact?
SHORTZ: I don't want to have to run a correction on this next week.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SHORTZ: All right. Try this: In the announcer's blank, the commentators couldn't believe the team manager had been given the blank, causing the fans to blank.
CARLE: Oh, I don't have a clue.
STAMBERG: Shirley, should we get Liane's phone number?
CARLE: I think so.
SHORTZ: A lifeline? Do you have any idea, Susan?
STAMBERG: Yes. I think it's booth...
STAMBERG: And boot and boo.
SHORTZ: Boo, that's right. And here's your last one. It's a little different from the others - we start with a six-letter word, drop the last letter, you go to five and then four and then three. So, there's four blanks. And here's your sentence: Hennessey blank is an internationally known blank but not as well-known as Kellogg's Raisin blank or the Maidenform blank.
CARLE: Oh, brand and bra.
SHORTZ: There you go.
CARLE: A nationally-known brand.
SHORTZ: Yes. And Hennessey blank - you need you need the first one.
STAMBERG: I'm embarrassed to say I know. It's brandy.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SHORTZ: Yeah, Hennessey brandy is it.
CARLE: Oh, brandy. Okay.
SHORTZ: Nice job.
STAMBERG: Well, Shirley, there are prizes. For playing our puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and some puzzle books and games. You can read all about it on our web site, NPR.org/puzzle. And tell us, what is your member station.
CARLE: It is KWGS in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which we are members.
STAMBERG: In Tulsa. Good for you. Shirley Carle from Claremore, Oklahoma, thank you so much for playing the puzzle this week.
CARLE: Thank you, both. I've enjoyed it.
And, Will, tell us the challenge for next week.
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Dale Shuger of New York City. Think of a common four-letter adjective. Then take its opposite in French - and I'll tell you this is a French word everyone knows. If you say the two words out loud, one after the other, you'll name a famous film director. Who is it?
So again, a common four-letter adjective, take its opposite in French. Say the two words out loud, one after the other and you'll name of famous film director. What director is it?
STAMBERG: Ooh, that's a beaut. When you have the answer, go to the website, NPR.org/puzzle. Click on the Submit Your Answer link - only one entry per person, please. And the deadline is Thursday, 3 P.M. Eastern Time. And be sure to give us a phone number where we can get in touch with you at around that time. And we'll call you if you're the winner. And then you get the chance to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.
Thanks so much.
SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Susan.