NPR logo

What's That (Vowel) Sound?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
What's That (Vowel) Sound?

What's That (Vowel) Sound?

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And I got to tell you, I've got chills. They are multiplying and I am literally losing control because it is time to puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining us now is Will Shortz. He is, of course, the puzzle editor for the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: Remind us, what was last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener David Rosen of Bethesda, Maryland. I asked for the name of a character familiar to everyone that contains each of the five vowels - A, E, I, O, and U - exactly once. And I said the answer consists of two words - eight letters in the first, four letters in the second. Name the character. Well, I said the puzzle was tricky - and it was. The answer was question mark. It was that kind of character. There were, however, a couple of people who sent in literary characters. One of them is Monsieur Chat, M-O-N-S-I-E-U-R C-H-A-T. That means Mr. Cat in French. There's a cartoon cat that's appeared in graffiti around France with that name. And we also got Montague Tigg, who's a character in the Dickens novel, "The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit."

MARTIN: Wow. Neither of whom I've ever heard of but that...

SHORTZ: Me either.

MARTIN: Those are very clever answers. So, this was a tough one. We only have 150 correct answers. And our randomly selected winner is Carla Fink of New Bedford, Massachusetts. She joins us on the line now. Carla, well done.

CARLA FINK: Oh, thank you, thank you. It was a joint effort with my husband.

SHORTZ: Nicely done. And how did you figure it out?

FINK: Well, after spending a couple of days obsessing about characters with eight and four, we finally said maybe we had to think outside the box. And then when we started thinking of other kinds of characters, we came up with a couple of them.

MARTIN: Wow. Well, way to get out of the box, Carla.

FINK: Yeah.

MARTIN: OK. Well, Carla, without further ado, are you ready to play the puzzle?

FINK: I hope so.

MARTIN: Yeah, I think you are. Let's do it together. OK, Will.

SHORTZ: All right. Carla and Rachel, this is a good two-person puzzle. Every answer today is a made-up two-word phrase in which the first word has two or more syllables. The first vowel sound in the first word is a short E. Change that short E to a short A and phonetically you'll get the second word of the phrase. For example, if I said energetic backwoods father, you would say peppy pappy. So, short E to a short A.

MARTIN: So, a short E is eh, right; and a short A, ah.

FINK: Is ah.

SHORTZ: That's it. Number one: superior cake mix.

FINK: Better batter.

SHORTZ: Better batter is it. Number two: money paid to the government in the Lone Star State.

FINK: Texas taxes.

SHORTZ: That's it. Late night host Jimmy after committing a serious crime.

FINK: Kimmel.

SHORTZ: And it's the other late night.


MARTIN: The other one.

FINK: Wait a minute. Fallon felon.

MARTIN: Perfect.

SHORTZ: Felon Fallon is it.

FINK: Felon Fallon, right.

SHORTZ: Hot tasting salad ingredient with a slightly crimson hue. So, what do you put in a...

FINK: Reddish radish.

SHORTZ: A reddish radish, good. Framework composed of leafy heads from the garden.

FINK: Framework. Oh, lettuce...lettuce lattice.

SHORTZ: Lettuce lattice is it. Disorderly mob made of revolutionaries.


FINK: Rebel rabble.

SHORTZ: That's it. Rebel rabble - I'm impressed. And your last one...

MARTIN: She's so good.

SHORTZ: ...your last one: affliction involving the musical part of the song.

FINK: Affliction?

SHORTZ: Um-hum.

FINK: Involving...

SHORTZ: The musical part of the song.

FINK: Wait a minute.

SHORTZ: So, the words, like, the lyrics and then what's three syllables, what's the...

FINK: Oh, melody malady.

SHORTZ: That's it. Melody malady.

MARTIN: My gosh, Carla.

SHORTZ: Man, Carla, you are great.

FINK: Well, thanks. I had a little help from my husband.

MARTIN: Just now you did?

FINK: Just a little.


MARTIN: Well, the two of you should be in the puzzler's hall of fame because that was really, really well done.

FINK: Well, thank you so much.

MARTIN: Carla, is your husband there?

FINK: Yes. Are you on the line still?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Can I actually open my mouth now?


SHORTZ: I thought Carla was just scribbling to you but you were actually listening.

MARTIN: And does this puzzle maestro have a name?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, he does. But I'm not sure I want to divulge it because I also send them in with my name and I don't want you to say, oh, he was on one before with Carla.

MARTIN: Well, Carla's husband. Congratulations.


MARTIN: Very well done. For playing the puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at And before we let you go, Carla, and your secret weapon - your husband...

FINK: Uh-huh.


MARTIN: ...tell us your public radio station.

FINK: Well, we belong to WGBH, WBUR and my husband belongs to WUMB which is the college radio station.

MARTIN: Great. Carla Fink of New Bedford, Massachusetts, thanks for playing the puzzle, Carla.

FINK: Thank you so much.

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

SHORTZ: Yes, name something in seven letters that most people keep in their homes. Take the first, third, fourth and seventh letters and rearrange them. The result will be a four-letter word naming something that the seven-letter thing is commonly used for. What is it?

So again, something in seven letters you keep around your house probably. Take the first, third, fourth and seventh letters, rearrange them, the result will be a word naming something that the seven-letter thing is commonly used for. What is it?

MARTIN: When you've got the answer, go to our website,, click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, October 3rd at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. And please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time because if you're the winner we'll give you a call. And you will 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.


Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.