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Being Initially Famous

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Being Initially Famous

Being Initially Famous

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. OK, folks. Fill up those coffee cups because it is time for the puzzle.


MARTIN: And joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.


MARTIN: OK. So, you had us thinking about classic movies last week. Remind us what was the challenge last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. I said write the words lead pencil in capital letters. Then add a stroke to one letter and rearrange the result to name a classic movie. And let me ask you, Rachel, do you ever, do you try these puzzles?

MARTIN: Oh, you're totally putting me on the spot? OK. Sometimes I do; sometimes I don't. I didn't...

SHORTZ: I'm just checking.

MARTIN: ...I didn't try this one, I didn't try this one.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. OK. Well, if you add a stroke a P to make it an R, you can rearrange the letters to get "Cinderella."

MARTIN: Of course you can. OK. So, almost 1,400 of you sent in the correct answer. And our randomly selected winner this week is Nick Bacon of New York City. He joins us now on the phone. Congratulations, Nick.

NICK BACON: Thank you, Rachel. Good morning to you.

MARTIN: Good morning. OK. So, are you a big Disney movie fan? How did you figure this one out?

BACON: Actually, I figured the only letter you could change was the P by adding a stroke. And I think - because I do the Daily Telegraph puzzle, where there's lot of anagrams. I just put the letters randomly in a circle and the name Cinderella just sort of leapt at me.

MARTIN: Just popped out at you. So, the Daily Telegraph being a paper from the U.K.

BACON: Yes, yeah, yeah.

MARTIN: So, you get lots of practice puzzling.

BACON: Well, they use a lot of anagrams in their cryptic puzzle, so.

MARTIN: And what do you do in New York?

BACON: My main job is I'm a night-shift concierge in a high-end apartment building. But outside of that, I also do some work as a background actor, character model and I'm an auxiliary law enforcement officer with both NYPD and the Parks Department Mounted Patrol.

MARTIN: So, you ride horses.

BACON: Yeah, yeah.

MARTIN: You're one of those people we see riding around Central Park maybe?

BACON: That's correct, yeah. If you see the old guy with a mustache on a big horse, that's me.

MARTIN: Very cool. Well, sounds like you've got a very diverse skill set. We'll see if you can put them all to use for today's puzzle. Are you ready to do this, Nick?

BACON: I am ready, yes.

MARTIN: OK, Will. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Nick and Rachel. It's a puzzle called characteristic initials. Each clue is a two- or three-word description of a famous person, past, present or fictional in which the initial letters of the description are also the initials of the person. For example, given the clue: Motown great, you would say Marvin Gaye.

MARTIN: OK. I've got it. Nick, do you have it?

BACON: Yep, yep.

SHORTZ: Number one is noted wordsmith.

BACON: Noted wordsmith.

SHORTZ: And for this, you want to think of a classic dictionary maker.

BACON: Oh, Webster.

SHORTZ: Um-hum..

BACON: Can't remember his first name. Norman Webster?

SHORTZ: Not Norman but...

MARTIN: The Ark...

SHORTZ: There you go. There's your clue.

MARTIN: The guy with the ark?

BACON: Oh, Noah Webster.


SHORTZ: Noah Webster is it. Chicken seller.

BACON: Colonel Sanders.


SHORTZ: Colonel Sanders is it. Medaled swimmer. That's M-E-D-A-L-E-D. Medaled swimmer.

BACON: Mark Spitz.

SHORTZ: That's it. Mark Spitz. Good.

MARTIN: Ooh, good.

SHORTZ: Political songwriter, most famous for writing protest songs in the '60s.

BACON: Oh, Pete Seeger.

SHORTZ: Pete Seeger is right. I also would have accepted Paul Simon.

MARTIN: Paul Simon is what I was thinking, yeah.

SHORTZ: How about suffragist's best advocate.

BACON: Suffragist's best advocate. It's obviously someone who did votes for women.

SHORTZ: That's it.

MARTIN: She's famous 'cause we always put her middle initial in there, right?

SHORTZ: That's right. And her picture, I think, is on a dollar coin or was on a dollar coin.

BACON: The only suffragette that I can think of, I'm afraid, is Mrs. Pankhurst.


MARTIN: How about Susan B. Anthony?

SHORTZ: Susan B. Anthony is it. How about Yankee baseballer?

BACON: Yogi Berra.

SHORTZ: Yogi Berra, good.

MARTIN: Ooh, good.

SHORTZ: Political reverend.

BACON: Political reverend. That's - the only one I got is Jesse Jackson, which doesn't work.

MARTIN: Political reverend.

SHORTZ: And as you probably guessed, this is a noted televangelist.

BACON: I need some help on this one.


SHORTZ: Go ahead, Rachel.

MARTIN: Pat Robertson.

SHORTZ: Pat Robertson is it. How about falsetto vocalist, famous vocalist with a falsetto?

BACON: Frankie Valli?

MARTIN: Frankie Valli is it. Hiawatha, writer, lecturer.

Hiawatha, writer, lecturer?

SHORTZ: Right, you're looking for H-W-L.


BACON: Hiawatha, I know is a Native American myth.

SHORTZ: That's right. That's right.

BACON: And it was a poem or a book?

SHORTZ: It was a long poem. It is a long poem.


BACON: I honestly don't know. I can't think of a name of it now.

MARTIN: Henry...

SHORTZ: You know this one, Rachel?

MARTIN: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

SHORTZ: That's it, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Mayoral billionaire.

BACON: That will be Michael Bloomberg.

SHORTZ: That's it.

MARTIN: Indeed.

SHORTZ: Comics boy.

MARTIN: Comics...

BACON: No, I thought - I never really got into comics.


MARTIN: Oh, it's a...

SHORTZ: Uh-huh, and it...

MARTIN: ...old American...

BACON: Charlie Brown.


SHORTZ: Charlie Brown, I knew you knew that.


SHORTZ: Here's your last one, egg bringer.

MARTIN: Egg bringer?

SHORTZ: Uh-huh, who brings eggs...


SHORTZ: ...once a year.



BACON: Easter Bunny.


SHORTZ: Easter Bunny is it.

MARTIN: That was hard.


MARTIN: Nick, well done.

BACON: Thank you. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I was going to. I've been sitting and biting me fingernails down to the elbow.


MARTIN: That was great. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it at And before we let you go, what's your public radio, Nick?

BACON: I'm a monthly sustaining member of WNYC.

MARTIN: Nick Bacon, of New York City, thanks so much for playing the puzzle this week.

BACON: OK, thanks a lot.

MARTIN: OK, Will. What's up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, this week's challenge comes from listener Jim Cohen of Hartsdale, New York. Think of a common five-letter word in two syllables. Change the middle letter to the preceding letter of the alphabet, and you'll get a familiar five-letter word in three syllables. What words are these?

So again, a familiar five-letter word in two syllables, change the middle letter to the preceding letter of the alphabet, and you'll get a familiar five-letter word in three syllables. What words are these?

MARTIN: OK, When you have the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And because of the Thanksgiving holiday, our deadline for entries this week is Wednesday, November 21st at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Again, we're moving our deadline this week to Wednesday, November 21st at 3 P.M. Eastern.

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, Happy Thanksgiving.

MARTIN: Happy Thanksgiving to you.


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