RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And here's a warm-up: take the word zep-luz, rearrange it and you'll get a six-letter word for a weekly addiction. Yep, it's the Puzzle.
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MARTIN: Joining me 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. Last week's challenge was from listener Ed Pegg Jr., who runs the website Mathpuzzle.com. But it was a word puzzle. I asked for a familiar saying in seven words has seven consonants in a row? And I said the answer was a common saying in ordinary English. What saying is it? Well, the answer is: people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And you could also say people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. And right toward the end, there are the consecutive letters: L-D-N-T-T-H-R. Seven consonants in a row.
MARTIN: OK. And I understand we had some almost but not quite answers this week, right?
SHORTZ: Well, a number of people had answers like if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, which has D-T-R-Y-T-R-Y. But in that case and all similar cases that people sent, Y is a vowel there, so, I'm afraid I did not count that as correct.
MARTIN: My personal favorite was: people who live in glass houses shouldn't strangle wombats, which is good advice in life, but not exactly a common phrase. So, anyway, moving on, we got more than 180 correct answers. And our randomly selected winner is Richard Kerr of Tallahassee, Florida. He joins us on the line now. Congratulations, Richard.
RICHARD KERR: Thank you.
SHORTZ: And, Richard, how did you figure this one out?
KERR: Well, I was talking it over with a co-worker, Mike Spayberry(ph), and we're trying to think of words that begin or end with four consonants. And after some dry runs with things like schnapps and schnauzer, came up with shouldn't, wouldn't, couldn't, then the expression came.
MARTIN: Well done.
SHORTZ: There you go. Nice going.
MARTIN: And what do you do for a living in Tallahassee, Richard?
KERR: I'm a bridge engineer working for the Florida Department of Transportation.
MARTIN: OK. Bridge engineer. So, that's puzzling in a way. You have to kind of think of engineering as a puzzle, I imagine, to some degree?
KERR: Sometimes, yes.
MARTIN: Sometimes. OK. Richard, with that, are you ready to play the puzzle?
KERR: Yes, I am.
MARTIN: OK, Will, let's do it.
SHORTZ: All right. Richard, today's puzzle is an insider's test. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the consecutive letters T-E-S-T. And specifically, the first word will end with T-E and the second word will start S-T. For example, if I gave you the clue: sheer force, you would say brute strength, 'cause brute ends in T-E and strength starts S-T.
MARTIN: OK. Richard, do you think you have it?
MARTIN: All right. Let's give it a go.
SHORTZ: Number one is the CS of CSA.
KERR: Oh, Confederate States.
SHORTZ: That's right. Number two: someone working for a master's degree, for example.
KERR: Graduate student.
SHORTZ: That's it. Cut of meat that supposedly takes only 60 seconds to cook.
KERR: Minute steak.
SHORTZ: Good. A dark brown mark that's hard to wash out of clothes.
KERR: Chocolate stain?
SHORTZ: There you go. Yeah, didn't even need a hint. Someone you've never seen before in your life.
KERR: Complete stranger.
SHORTZ: That's it. Bottles of wine that a vintner keeps for his own use.
KERR: Private stock.
SHORTZ: There you go, good. Mark on an envelope or package that says what day it is.
KERR: Date stamp.
SHORTZ: That's it. If you meant to leave at 6 o'clock, say, and you didn't actually leave until 6:30 or 7:00, you got a...
KERR: Late start.
SHORTZ: That's it. They're plucked on classical musical instruments.
KERR: Lute strings?
SHORTZ: That's it. I'm impressed.
MARTIN: You're so good.
SHORTZ: What you hold in your hand for a toy that flies in the wind.
KERR: Kite string.
SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one: nickname for New Hampshire.
KERR: Granite State.
SHORTZ: That is it. I am impressed.
MARTIN: I mean, I feel like we should have had a stopwatch going to add an element of time because you just did that so quickly, Richard. Congratulations.
KERR: I don't do that well on all the puzzles that you have, so I guess I got lucky.
MARTIN: Well, most people don't like the pressure of having to actually do the puzzle, but I think you thrived, Richard. Well done.
KERR: Thank you very much.
MARTIN: For playing the Puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at our website, npr.org/Puzzle. Before we let you go, Richard, what is your public radio station?
KERR: I'm a member of WFSU here in Tallahassee.
MARTIN: Richard Kerr of Tallahassee, Florida. Thanks so much for playing the Puzzle, Richard.
KERR: Thank you very much. I enjoyed it.
MARTIN: OK, Will, I feel like at this very moment we need a little bit of fanfare, maybe a drum roll because we have a two-week uber-challenge this week, right?
SHORTZ: That's right. I'm going to China for the World Puzzle Championship. So, to tide everyone over, I brought a two-week challenge. It's an objective test. Take a seven-by-seven square grid. Arrange the names of U.S. cities and towns in regular crossword fashion inside the grid so that the cities used have the highest possible total population, according to the 2010 Census. For example, if you put Chicago in the top row and Houston in the sixth row, both reading across, and then fit Atlanta, Oakland and Reno coming down, you'll form a mini-crossword. And the five cities used have a total population, according to the 2010 census, of 5,830,997. You can do better.
As in a regular crossword, the names must read across and down only. Every name must interlock with at least one other name. And no two letters can touch unless they are part of a name. What is the highest population total you can achieve? And when you send in your answer, please include the names of the cities, in order, across and down.
MARTIN: Wow, it's going to take me two weeks just to get my head around that one. When you've got 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 October 24th at 3 P.M. Eastern.
Remember, it's a two-week puzzle so the deadline for entries is Thursday October 24th 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 will give you a call, and you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times. And he is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.
Thank so much, Will, safe travels.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
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