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LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is Weekend Edition. I'm Liane Hansen. And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will. Happy new year.

WILL SHORTZ: Happy new year, Liane.

HANSEN: Did you make any resolutions for 2009?

SHORTZ: No. As I said one previous time when we talked about this, if I think I can improve myself anytime during the year, I resolve then, and I don't wait until the start of the year.

HANSEN: Every day is New Year's for you.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: That's good. All right, we're going to repeat the challenge that we gave last week. But unbeknownst to me, I actually gave the answer to the puzzle before you gave the puzzle itself.

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

HANSEN: And apparently Ed Pegg Jr. wrote to you and was amazed that you were able to keep your cool when I did that.

SHORTZ: And, actually, I flinched when you gave the answer. But yep, I went right ahead with the puzzle.

HANSEN: He said he could hear you flinch.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: But yes, I know, the very last words I said were the answer to the puzzle. So let's take it back to the old year when you gave us the challenge for the first puzzle of 2009.

SHORTZ: Right, as you know, it's from Ed Pegg Jr. who runs Mathpuzzle.com. And I said, take the phrase "counting down the days," remove four letters from this, and rearrange the remaining letters to spell an appropriate number. What is it?

HANSEN: What is it?

SHORTZ: Well, the answer is 2009 which is - and you said it right before I gave the puzzle. What is the first puzzle of 2009?

HANSEN: 2009. I think a lot of people were either listening to me give the answer or are bright as always to figure it out by themselves. You started the year off with a bang with our first puzzle. 2,500 people wrote in with the correct answer. And from those answers, we randomly selected Beth Snyder of Sacramento, California. She's going to play with us today. Hi, Beth.

Ms. BETH SNYDER (Competition Winner): Hello.

HANSEN: Happy new year.

Ms. SNYDER: Happy new year to you.

HANSEN: Now, how long did it take you to solve the puzzle?

Ms. SNYDER: Well, I was stuck on the notion of 20 somewhere and that took me a while to figure out that it wasn't going to work. I rearranged all the letters and started from scratch, and then I came up with 2009.

HANSEN: So you didn't hear the answer before you started working on it then?

Ms. SNYDER: I can't say that I remember that.

HANSEN: Are you a puzzle person?

Ms. SNYDER: I am. I have done crosswords and word searches all of my life. I love jumbles. It's just fun to me.

HANSEN: And how long have you been doing our radio puzzle?

Ms. SNYDER: Well, I can remember when you were still accepting postcards.

HANSEN: Ah, long enough.

Ms. SNYDER: I didn't start submitting answers until we were allowed to do them online.

HANSEN: Oh, my. Well, you know, 2009 will be my 20th anniversary on this program, when we started. So that's quite a long time. You've been there half the time, and here you are playing on the air. Are you ready?

Ms. SNYDER: I think I am.

HANSEN: All right, Will, what do you have for Beth? Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Beth. Today's puzzle is called "What's In the Pan?" Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with P-A and the second word ends in N. For example, if I said namesake of a popular pizzeria chain, you would say, Papa John. It starts with P-A, ends in an N. All right, number one is body of water along the West Coast.

Ms. SNYDER: Pacific Ocean.

SHORTZ: That's right. Try this one. Socialite and hotel heiress once seen on "The Simple Life."

Ms. SNYDER: "Simple Life," Paris Hilton.

SHORTZ: That's right.

HANSEN: And who appeared on David Letterman with Will Shortz.

SHORTZ: (Laughing) That's right. Once the most common bird in America, it became extinct in 1914.

Ms. SNYDER: Ah, something pigeon.

SHORTZ: Yes, what kind?

Ms. SNYDER: Oh goodness. I should know this. It's on the tip of my tongue.

HANSEN: You know why I remember this? You gave this as a clue in another puzzle a couple of weeks ago.

SHORTZ: I did.

Ms. SNYDER: I knew I heard it recently.

HANSEN: You did. Passenger pigeon, right?

SHORTZ: Passenger pigeon is it, good. Good. Fictional lumberjack famous in tall tales.

Ms. SNYDER: Paul Bunyan.

SHORTZ: Right. First lady after Lady Bird Johnson.

Ms. SNYDER: Patricia Nixon.

SHORTZ: That's right. When police arrest a lot of people, what they take them away in.

Ms. SNYDER: Oh, paddy wagon.

SHORTZ: Right or patrol wagon, either way. Container at a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams store.

Ms. SNYDER: Paint can.

SHORTZ: Aha. Actress and sex symbol who co-stared on TV's "Baywatch."

Ms. SNYDER: Pamela Anderson.

SHORTZ: Good. 1973 film starring Ryan and Tatum O'Neal.

Ms. SNYDER: Ryan and Tatum O'Neal. I'm drawing a blank.

HANSEN: "Paper Moon."

Ms. SNYDER: "Paper Moon."

SHORTZ: "Paper Moon." Good.

HANSEN: I'm refraining from singing the song.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Try this one, writing implement that competes with Cross and Sheaffer.

Ms. SNYDER: Writing implement? Pen.

SHORTZ: Yes, and what kind, or what brand name?

Ms. SNYDER: Pen, Bic.

SHORTZ: It's a higher-end pen than that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Well, actually, I have two. Couldn't...

SHORTZ: One of them is high end and one of them is medium.

HANSEN: Paper Mate or Parker, right?

SHORTZ: Parker is what I was going for. Paper Mate pen also works. Classic arcade game involving chomping dots in a maze.

Ms. SNYDER: Pac-Man.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: That's right. What a meter maid gives a ticket for.

Ms. SNYDER: Parking violation.

SHORTZ: Right. And your last one. Listen up.

Ms. SNYDER: Pay attention.

SHORTZ: That's it. Nice job.

HANSEN: Beth, nice job.

Ms. SNYDER: Thank you. Thank you for your help, Liane.

HANSEN: Nice job. Oh, it's a team effort. It's always a team effort, believe me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Oh my. You do have a way with words. And our - the gentleman who is going to read your puzzle prizes today certainly has a way with words. He's a poet and the director of the African-American Resources Center at Howard University. He appears on our show frequently to reflect on great poets of the past. And here's E. Ethelbert Miller with your puzzle prizes.

Mr. E. ETHELBERT MILLER (Director, African American Resource Center, Howard University): For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a Weekend Edition lapel pin, the Eleventh Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House, volume two, Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku," and "Black and White Book of Crosswords" from St. Martin's Press, and one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks" of riddles and challenges from Chronicle Books.

HANSEN: Wow, doesn't it - it's like an angel in your ear, right?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SNYDER: He has a very smooth voice.

HANSEN: Yes. He's a wonderful poet and a wonderful writer, but when he reads the poem - I mean, he can make puzzle prizes sound like high art, you know.

Ms. SNYDER: I agree.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Oh well, that's what you get, Beth. And before we say goodbye to you, tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. SNYDER: I am a member of and I volunteer for 889 KXTR and 90.9 KXJZ.

HANSEN: Oh my goodness. You have the listener hat-trick. You listen, you're a member, and you volunteer. Good job. Beth Snyder in Sacramento, California, thanks for playing with us. It was a pleasure to have you on our first puzzle of 2009.

Ms. SNYDER: It was absolutely my pleasure.

HANSEN: All right, Will, I hope I don't give away the answer this week. What's the challenge?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Louis Sargent of Portland, Oregon. Take the last name of a famous actress in two syllables, nine letters. Transpose the syllables and you'll have, phonetically, the word for a common ailment. Who is the person and what's the ailment? So, again, last name of a famous actress, two syllables, nine letters. Transpose the syllables, and you'll have, phonetically, the word for a common ailment. Who is it and what's the ailment?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the "Submit Your Answer" link. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3 p.m. Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call you if you are 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 puzzle master, Will Shortz. Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Happy new year, Liane.

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