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A Puzzling Grab Bag Of Phrases

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A Puzzling Grab Bag Of Phrases

A Puzzling Grab Bag Of Phrases

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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 Rachel Martin. OK, get out your thinking caps because it is time for the puzzle.


MARTIN: We'll start with last week's challenge from Will Shortz. He is, of course, the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's own puzzle master.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Name a bird. Change its second letter to an E to get the first name of a famous actor. Then name the female of that bird, and double one of its letters. You'll get the last name of this actor. What are the birds and who is the actor?

MARTIN: Well, more than 1,350 of you figured out the answer. And our randomly selected winner this week is Andrew Babas from Hagatna, Guam. And Andrew joins us on the line now. Congratulations, Andrew.

ANDREW BABAS: Thank you.

MARTIN: So, can you walk us through the answer to last week's challenge? How did you figure it out?

BABAS: I was just going through some bird names in my head when I figured that swan was Sean. Had to look the female name of a swan; found out it was pen, and figured it was Sean Penn.

MARTIN: Sean Penn. So, you didn't just know that the female swan is called a pen. You had to...

BABAS: No, I actually to Google that.

MARTIN: And what do you do in Guam?

BABAS: I'm a firefighter.

MARTIN: You're a firefighter and how long have you lived there?

BABAS: I've lived here since '91.

MARTIN: '91. Well, before we continue, let's welcome to the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's own puzzle master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

SHORTZ: Good morning, Rachel. Congratulations, Andrew.

BABAS: Thanks.

MARTIN: So, Will, I understand you have a big event coming up: the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in a couple of weeks. How big is this competition in the world of crossword puzzling?

SHORTZ: Well, it's the world's largest, as well as the oldest crossword event. And it takes place March 16 to 18 in Brooklyn. One of the cool things this year is that there is a computer program entered in the competition, which, from what I've heard, may possibly be good enough to beat all the humans. It's called Dr. Fill, F-I-L-L. And Liane Hansen is going to be there to provide commentary on the playoff round.

MARTIN: Yeah, we know her.

SHORTZ: We know her. People can compete from home either by mail or online. And if you're interested in more information, you can get it at

MARTIN: Cool. Andrew, have you ever participated in a crossword puzzle tournament before? Any of that go down in Guam?

BABAS: I have not.

MARTIN: No. For most people, crosswording is kind of an individual sport I imagine.

BABAS: Yeah.

MARTIN: OK. So, are we all ready to play the puzzle? Andrew, you set to do this?


MARTIN: OK, Will. Let's go for it.

SHORTZ: All right, Andrew and Rachel. Today's puzzle is a grab bag. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with B-A and the second word starts with G. For example, if I gave you the clue illustration alternative to a pie chart, you would say bar graph.

MARTIN: OK. You got it, Andrew?


MARTIN: All right. Let's try.

SHORTZ: Number one is a smallish concert piano.

BABAS: Baby grand.

SHORTZ: Baby grand is it. Number two: instrument for Paul McCartney.

BABAS: Bass guitar.

SHORTZ: That's it. What ain't is to language purists. Here it is again: what ain't is to language purists?

BABAS: Bad grammar.

MARTIN: Yes. There you go.

SHORTZ: Bad grammar is it. It's played by the Knicks or the Lakers.

BABAS: Ball game.

SHORTZ: Yeah, what kind?

BABAS: Basketball game.

SHORTZ: Basketball game. 1964 Republican presidential candidate.

BABAS: 1964...

SHORTZ: What year were you born, Andrew?

BABAS: '84.

MARTIN: A little younger. A little before your time.

BABAS: Yeah.

MARTIN: Before my time too, truth be told.

SHORTZ: Ran against Lyndon Johnson in '64. Lost in a landslide.

MARTIN: Last name the opposite of silver. It's not really opposite.

BABAS: Gold.

SHORTZ: Go ahead, Rachel.

MARTIN: Barry Goldwater.

SHORTZ: Barry Goldwater is it. How about a patio item for cooking hamburgers and hot dogs.

BABAS: Barbeque grill.

SHORTZ: That's it. And armed person protecting a financial institution.

BABAS: Bank guard.

SHORTZ: Bank guard is it. Cakes, pies, bread, etc.

BABAS: Baked goods.

SHORTZ: That's it. It collects in the skillet when you cook strips of breakfast meat.

MARTIN: Oh, I knew this before you finished that clue, because I can smell it.

BABAS: Bacon grease.

MARTIN: Bacon grease.

SHORTZ: Bacon grease - I love that. This one may also be before you time: 1970s, '80s sci-fi series starring Loren Green.

BABAS: "Battlestar Galactica."

SHORTZ: Oh yeah. You knew that one.

MARTIN: Oh, good call.

SHORTZ: And here's your last one: a fancy dress for a dance.

BABAS: Ball gown.

SHORTZ: Ball gown is it. Nice job.

MARTIN: Nicely done. Andrew, that was great.


MARTIN: So, for playing the puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read about at

Andrew, tell us which Public Radio station do you listen to in Guam?

BABAS: That would be KPRG in Mangilao, Guam.

MARTIN: Great. Andrew Babas from Hagatna, Guam, thank you so much for playing the puzzle this week, Andrew.

BABAS: Thank you.

MARTIN: OK, Will. Moving on, let's kill the suspense. What is the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Toby Gottfried of Santa Ana, California. Take the trees: hemlock, myrtle, oak and pine. You can rearrange the letters in their names to get four other trees, with one letter left over. What trees are they?

So again, start with the trees: hemlock, myrtle; that's M-Y-R-T-L-E, oak and pine, rearrange all these letters to get four other trees, with one letter left over. What trees are they?

MARTIN: OK, you know what to do. When you have the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, March 8th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time.

And 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, Rachel.

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