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LIANE HANSEN, Host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Oh, you sound like you have a cold.

SHORTZ: Well, it's been hanging on but not too bad.

HANSEN: 'Tis the season. You didn't catch it from me on the radio last week, did you?

SHORTZ: No, no.

HANSEN: Good. I'm glad. I'm glad we're not passing it around. You gave us a challenge last week. Of course, last week we had our year-end newsmakers' names in the news puzzle, so I have no idea what you have in store for us this week, but what was the challenge that you left us with last week?

SHORTZ: Well, it was a New Year's challenge, and it came from listener Ed Pegg Jr., who runs the Web site MathPuzzle.com. I said the numbers 2, 4, 6 and 30 are the first four numbers whose names lack the letter E. And I asked, what is the 23rd number whose name lacks an E?

HANSEN: What's the number?

SHORTZ: The number is 2006.

HANSEN: Oh. Oh, I can't tell if it was--it's clever, it's tricky, it's--you know, I wonder if there are some folks that didn't just say, `Oh, it must be that number.' Well, we had about 2,000 entries--actually, it'd be interesting if we had 2,006 entries--from people who tried to solve the puzzle, and our winner, randomly selected from the correct answers, is Mitch Berman in Wichita, Kansas.

Hi, Mitch.

MITCH BERMAN: Good morning, Liane.

HANSEN: What do you do there in Wichita?

BERMAN: I serve as the executive director for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.

HANSEN: Wow. And are you having a good season?

BERMAN: We are.

HANSEN: Good. Good. What kind of works are you doing?

BERMAN: Well, everything from Mozart to Beethoven to Strauss' "Alpine" Symphony, Verdi's "Requiem"--something for everyone.

HANSEN: You getting in on the Mozart birthday bandwagon?

BERMAN: Well, not as much as others, but yes.

HANSEN: Yeah. Now how long did it take you to solve this puzzle?

BERMAN: Well, I had a sneaky suspicion it was 2006 initially, but by the time I sat down and verified it, so I kind of figured this was a no-brainer.

HANSEN: Oh, well, I don't know about that, but you sound like someone who plays puzzles.

BERMAN: I have been playing for as long as I can remember.

HANSEN: Oh, all right. Well, are you ready to play today?

BERMAN: I am.

HANSEN: All right. Well, Will, meet Mitch and let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Mitch. I'm going to give you clues for two words. Both words have two syllables. The first vowel sound in the first word is a short U. Change this to a long U and phonetically you'll get a new word that answers the second clue. For example, if I said, `Popular card game and spacious,' you would say, `Rummy and roomy.'

HANSEN: Hmm. OK.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one is evening meal and an employee at an apartment building.

BERMAN: Super, supper.

SHORTZ: Supper, super, excellent. Number two is like a cloudless day and a certain Muslim.

BERMAN: Sunny, Sunni.

SHORTZ: Sunny and Sunni, good. Red or blue, and your second clue is refrigerator.

BERMAN: Red or blue, refrigerator. Color, cooler.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Not as smooth and a person laying shingles.

BERMAN: Rougher, roofer.

SHORTZ: Good. A small pool of water and a yappy dog.

BERMAN: Hound...

SHORTZ: No, two syllables.

BERMAN: Oh, yeah.

SHORTZ: Small pool of water as after a rain.

BERMAN: Puddle, poodle.

SHORTZ: Yes. Romeo and a window slat.

BERMAN: Romeo and a window slat. Liane, give me some help.

HANSEN: You know, I was going to go suitor and then shutter, but that doesn't work. And now I can't go beyond those two. And a hint--well, Romeo, hm. Oh, lover and louver.

SHORTZ: Lover and louver, good job, Liane.

HANSEN: Oh, my. All right.

SHORTZ: Try this one. A window cover and a person with a gun. I think Liane knows this one, since she's...

HANSEN: No, no, no. I'm just making noises.

BERMAN: Drape. No.

SHORTZ: Since you--Go ahead. Since, Liane, you said the answer a few seconds ago.

HANSEN: Oh, shooter--shutter and shooter.

SHORTZ: Shutter and shooter is it.

HANSEN: Oh. You're asking me to remember what I just said. Mmm.

SHORTZ: All right. Rabbits and a remote area. What's an informal term for rabbits, as on Easter?

BERMAN: Bunny.

SHORTZ: Say it in the plural form.

HANSEN: Bunnies.

BERMAN: Bunnies.

SHORTZ: Right. And the remote area would be...

BERMAN: Boonies.

SHORTZ: Boonies is right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HANSEN: I know.

SHORTZ: Try this one. Having a red complexion and former New York City Mayor Giuliani.

BERMAN: Ruby Rudy. Ruby.

HANSEN: Ruddy, Rudy. Ruddy and Rudy.

BERMAN: Ruddy...

SHORTZ: Ruddy and Rudy, good. Ruins of a building and Russian currency.

BERMAN: Rubble, ruble.

SHORTZ: Yes. Depressing situation and someone born after World War II.

BERMAN: That would be a boomer.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh.

BERMAN: And depressing--boomer.

SHORTZ: Just make that a short...

BERMAN: Bummer, boomer.

SHORTZ: Bummer, boomer is right. Hang like a helicopter and Coolidge's successor.

BERMAN: Hoover--hover, Hoover.

SHORTZ: Yes. And your last one. Equipment on "Jeopardy" and a habitual drunk.

BERMAN: (Laughs) Equipment on "Jeopardy."

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Yeah, what does the contestant hold on "Jeopardy"?

BERMAN: A button.

SHORTZ: Well...

HANSEN: Close.

SHORTZ: ...and--close. You've got the right first letter. And it makes a sound when the contestant...

BERMAN: Buzzard.

HANSEN: That's it. Buzzer.

BERMAN: Buzzer. Boozer.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Buzzer and boozer is it.

HANSEN: Having fun yet, Mitch?

BERMAN: I am.

HANSEN: Oh. You did well.

BERMAN: Thank you.

HANSEN: You did really well. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin; the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus; the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Bros.; "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House, volume two; and a set of Sudoku puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press. Mitch, what's your public radio station?

BERMAN: Well, we're blessed to have two public radio stations, KMUW on Wichita State University, and KHCC, Radio Kansas at Hutchinson Community College.

HANSEN: Well, excellent. That's a great plug for both of them. Mitch Berman from Wichita, Kansas, thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us, and good luck with your season at the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.

BERMAN: Thank you both.

HANSEN: All right. Will, a challenge for the next week, please.

SHORTZ: Well, name an American Indian tribe. Somewhere inside this name phonetically is a kind of tree. Remove this tree, close up the remaining letters and the remainder phonetically will name another kind of tree. What Indian tribe is this and what are the trees? So again, an Indian tribe. Somewhere inside the name phonetically is a kind of tree. Remove the tree, close up the remaining letters and what remains phonetically will name another kind of tree. What Indian tribe is it and what are the trees?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, remember there's a new way to send in your entry, because we no longer accept e-mail entries. But the way to submit your entry is to go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the `submit your answer' link on the Sunday Puzzle page. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday 3 PM Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time, and we'll call you if you're the winner and you'll get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.

Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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