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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. And it's time for the puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CORNISH: We'll start with last week's challenge from the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master Will Shortz.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Take the word at. Put a man's first name on each side of it and say the result out loud. Phonetically, you'll get a word that describes a growing part of our country. What is it?

CORNISH: Well, more than 440 of you figured out the answer. And our randomly-selected winner this week is Ginny Walters from Shelburne, Vermont. Congratulations, Ginny.

GINNY WALTERS: Thank you.

CORNISH: So, tell us what was the answer to last week's puzzle.

WALTERS: It was geriatric. You add Gerry in front of the at and put Rick after it.

CORNISH: Nice job. How many other men's names did you go through before you figured out that answer?

WALTERS: Oh, I don't know. But the at gave me the clue that I had to find something that could follow the T, and I came up with atric - and since I'm in that group, geriatric came right away.

CORNISH: Ginny, I heard that you've been playing the puzzle for a long time.

WALTERS: I played since the beginning.

CORNISH: Wow.

WALTERS: I think it's 20 some-odd years.

CORNISH: And, Ginny, what do you do in Shelburne, Vermont?

WALTERS: I'm retired. I live at Wake Robin, which is a continuing care retirement community.

CORNISH: Well, before we continue, I want to welcome to the program the New York Times puzzle editor and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master Will Shortz. He's joining us from member station WBAA in West Lafayette, Indiana. Good morning, Will, and Merry Christmas.

SHORTZ: Good morning, Audie. Merry Christmas. And congratulations, Ginny.

WALTERS: Thank you, and Merry Christmas to you.

SHORTZ: Thank you. January will be the 25th anniversary of this program and of the puzzle.

WALTERS: And I think I have been playing all that time.

CORNISH: Ginny, is there a question you've always wanted to ask Will?

WALTERS: Well, we play ping-pong here and it's not as serious as Will's table tennis. I wondered when he started playing table tennis.

SHORTZ: Yes, when I was growing up here in Indiana, we had a ping-pong table in our recreation room.

WALTERS: Oh great.

SHORTZ: So, I played a lot.

CORNISH: Well, it sounds like we're all ready to play. Will, are you ready to play?

SHORTZ: I am set.

CORNISH: Let's do it.

SHORTZ: All right, Ginny, today we are going to unwrap Christmas presents. I'm going to give you some familiar two-word phrases. Each phrase contains the name of the gift for a child in consecutive letters. For example, if I said tomato paste, you would say top, because the letters T-O-P are hidden inside tomato paste. You got it. Number one is tribal leader.

WALTERS: Tribal?

SHORTZ: Leader.

WALTERS: A tribal leader?

SHORTZ: That's it.

WALTERS: Tribal leader.

SHORTZ: What gift for a child is hidden inside that?

WALTERS: Ball. Some kind of ball.

SHORTZ: Ball, that is correct. Number two is lumberjack song.

WALTERS: Lumberjack what?

SHORTZ: Song.

WALTERS: Lumberjack song. Well, jacks, I suppose.

SHORTZ: Jacks, I suppose, good. Sales ledger.

WALTERS: Sales ledger. Sled.

SHORTZ: That would hide a sled is right. Alaska territory.

WALTERS: Alaska territory. Skate.

SHORTZ: Skate is correct. Extra innings.

WALTERS: Extra innings?

SHORTZ: Um-hum.

WALTERS: Train.

SHORTZ: That's right. Coupon yield.

WALTERS: Coupon deals.

SHORTZ: Yield, Y-I-E-L-D.

WALTERS: A pony.

SHORTZ: Pony is right. Commode lid.

WALTERS: Commode lid. A model.

SHORTZ: That hides a model is right. Bamboo knife.

WALTERS: Bamboo knife. Oh, a book.

SHORTZ: Is a book, is right. Rubbing oil.-

WALTERS: Rubbing oil is...I get bingo.

SHORTZ: Bingo is it. Stock item. That's S-T-O-C-K I-T-E-M.

WALTERS: Well, some kind of a kit.

SHORTZ: And it's more than that. Add one more letter.

WALTERS: I'm stuck. Kite.

SHORTZ: And a kite is even better than a kit. How about American dynasty.

WALTERS: Candy.

SHORTZ: Candy is it. And here's your last one: trip odometer. What you have in a car, a trip odometer.

WALTERS: It looks like a tripod.

SHORTZ: Oh, well. I don't think a kid would get excited over a tripod. But take away the...

WALTERS: No, I don't think so either.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: What do you get if you take away the T and R?

WALTERS: IPod.

SHORTZ: They would definitely want an iPod. Good job, Ginny.

WALTERS: Ooh, thank you very much.

CORNISH: Great job, Ginny. You were fast.

WALTERS: Well, I was writing them down.

CORNISH: Well, Ginny, for playing our puzzle today, you're going to get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read about at NPR.org/slash puzzle.

And, Ginny, which member station do you listen to?

WALTERS: I listen to and we contribute to Vermont Public Radio. The local station is WVPS in Burlington, Vermont.

CORNISH: Ginny Walters, thanks so much for playing the puzzle this week.

WALTERS: Thank you. And Merry Christmas to all.

CORNISH: So, Will, what do you have for us for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, this week's challenge comes from listener Mike Reiss. Name an occupation in nine letters. It's an entertainer of sorts - an unusual and uncommon but well-known sort of entertainer. Drop the third letter of the name and read the result backward. You'll get two four-letter words that are exact opposites. What are they?

So again, an occupation in nine letters. It's an entertainer but an unusual one, but a kind that everyone knows. Drop the third letter of the name and read the result backward. You'll get two four-letter words that are exact opposites of each other. What are they?

CORNISH: When you have the answer, go to our website, NPR.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, December at 29th 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. If you're the winner we'll give you a call, and you'll get 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, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Audie. Merry Christmas.

CORNISH: And Merry Christmas to you.

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