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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. Hey, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: You know, I'm suffering a little post-inauguration letdown. I don't have anything to talk about. Do you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Well, do you know this is our 22nd anniversary of the program?

HANSEN: Yes, it is. January 1987.

SHORTZ: That's it.

HANSEN: When we first went on the air with Susan Stamberg as host. I came onboard in 1989. So, later this year I'll be celebrating my 20th. Oh, I've known you for so long.

SHORTZ: And that is a lot of puzzles.

HANSEN: It is a lot of puzzles. But the weird thing is I've seen you maybe four times in those 20 years.

SHORTZ: I know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: That's really interesting. Well, I think we should cut right to the chase. In order to do that, you have to remind us of the challenge you left last week.

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Dave Shukan of San Marino, California. I said, name an implement that might be in a kitchen drawer. It's a compound word. Add the letter S after each part of the compound, and you'll get two synonyms. What implement is it?

HANSEN: You know, I couldn't get past can opener. What was the answer?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: The answer is nutcracker, making nuts and crackers.

HANSEN: Oh no.

SHORTZ: Which are both synonyms for daft.

HANSEN: Absolutely. I think that one drove our listeners nuts because we had fewer than 500 correct entries. And from those who managed to crack the puzzle correctly, we randomly selected Gloria Earls of Middletown, Connecticut, to play today. Hi, Gloria.

Ms. GLORIA EARLS (Competition Winner): Hi.

HANSEN: How long did it take you to solve this one?

Ms. EARLS: We got it right away.

HANSEN: Oh, you're kidding me.

Ms. EARLS: No, because usually we don't have the patience to let it drag on for days, but we opened the drawer also.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Who's we?

Ms. EARLS: I'm sorry, my husband and I.

HANSEN: How long have you been playing our puzzle?

Ms. EARLS: Oh, since postcards time.

HANSEN: This isn't the first time you've sent in an entry, is it?

Ms. EARLS: No, no.

HANSEN: Oh, good, because you know some people...

Ms. EARLS: We've been entering since postcard times.

HANSEN: Oh, good for you. All right. That will give hope to all of those others who have been and have to hear people - oh, this is my first time, you know. What do you do in Middletown?

Ms. EARLS: Well, right now I'm retired from elementary school teaching, and I've been playing tennis, doing yoga, and taking watercolor lessons.

HANSEN: Oh, good for you, man. You seem busier in retirement than you were when you were working. But you're ready to have some fun?

Ms. EARLS: I think so.

HANSEN: All right. Well, Will, meet Gloria. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Gloria. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence conceals the name of a make of automobile somewhere in consecutive letters inside it. You name the automobile. For example, if I said, give them a Z, Dave. You would say Mazda, because that's hidden in consecutive letters in "them a Z, Dave."

HANSEN: OK.

SHORTZ: All right. See if you can do these in your head. No writing down.

HANSEN: Oh.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Number one is Alex uses hair dye.

Ms. EARLS: Alex uses - a Lexus.

SHORTZ: Lexus. That was fast.

Ms. EARLS: Yeah.

SHORTZ: We were attacked by ninja guards.

Ms. EARLS: We were attacked by ninja guards?

SHORTZ: Right. I'll give you a little secret on puzzles like this. Focus in on the words that sound the most awkward.

Ms. EARLS: A Jaguar.

SHORTZ: There you go, Jaguar. Good. The vapor's chemicals overwhelmed me. Look inside vapor's chemicals.

Ms. EARLS: Porsche.

SHORTZ: Porsche is right. At DuPont, I accomplished a lot.

Ms. EARLS: At DuPont, I accomplished a lot. Pontiac.

SHORTZ: Pontiac. Good. Try this one. Ellen simply mouthed the words.

Ms. EARLS: Ellen simply mouthed - Plymouth.

SHORTZ: Plymouth. Good. It was Harold's mob I let loose.

Ms. EARLS: It was Harold...

SHORTZ: Right, H-A-R-O-L-D, as it was Harold's mob I let loose.

Ms. EARLS: Oldsmobile.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Oldsmobile, good. Is the golfer rarin' to go?

Ms. EARLS: Is the golfer, what?

SHORTZ: Rarin, R-A-R-I-N. Is the golfer rarin' to go?

Ms. EARLS: Ferrari.

SHORTZ: Ferrari, good. Try this one. The subway has a turnstile.

Ms. EARLS: The subway has a turnstile. I have a Subaru, but that doesn't work.

SHORTZ: No.

Ms. EARLS: Saturn.

SHORTZ: Saturn, good. And here's your last one. Alan drove really fast.

HANSEN: Is that A-L-L-E-N or A-N, A-L-A-N?

SHORTZ: It's A-N. A-L-A-N. Alan drove really fast.

Ms. EARLS: Really fast. Alan drove - Land Rover.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Land Rover, nice work.

HANSEN: Woo.

Ms. EARLS: Whew.

HANSEN: Yeah, I know. I feel exactly the same way. I was writing them down, Gloria. How about you?

Ms. EARLS: Oh, yeah.

HANSEN: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, he wants us to do it in our heads.

SHORTZ: In your heads, yeah.

HANSEN: You can do it in your head, Will. Well, anyway, Gloria, you did really well. This wasn't very easy, but you did really well. Good accomplishment. And we wanted to - well, actually, it's kind of fitting to have another accomplished individual to tell you your puzzle prizes. This young man has done what few others have been able to do. He earned all 121 Boy Scout merit badges. So here's 18-year-old Sean Goldsmith with his next feat, a rundown of your puzzle prizes.

Mr. SEAN GOLDSMITH (Boy Scout): For playing our puzzle today, you will 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 latest book series "Will Shortz Presents KenKen" volumes one, two, and three from St. Martin's Press, and one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks" of riddles and challenges from Chronicle Books.

I may have 121 merit badges from water sports and rock climbing and skating, but the one thing I don't have is a Weekend Edition lapel pin. Liane, and Will, if you'd be kind enough, can you please send me one? Thank you.

HANSEN: I think it would be great if he showed up with his sash and amidst all of those badges was the Weekend Edition lapel pin. Hey, Gloria, what do you think?

Ms. EARLS: I think he has a lot of accomplishments, and I'm glad this is over.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Before we say goodbye, Gloria, tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. EARLS: We're members of WNPR.

HANSEN: Oh, well, that's the magic word, member. Gloria Earls of Middletown, Connecticut, thank you so much for playing with us today. You were fabulous. Was it worth the wait for 20 years?

Ms. EARLS: Oh, absolutely.

HANSEN: OK. Take care. Thanks a lot. Bye-bye.

Ms. EARLS: Thank you very much.

HANSEN: All right.

Ms. EARLS: Bye-bye.

HANSEN: Will, we need a new one, even though our brains are fried. We need another challenge for next week.

SHORTZ: Well, try this. Think of a word that starts and ends with the letter M, as in Mary. Drop the first M, insert an O somewhere, and you get a new word that means the same thing as the first word. What is it? So again, a word that starts and ends with the letter M. Drop the first M, insert an O, and you get a new word that means the same thing. What words are these?

HANSEN: And you're not telling us how many letters are in this word, right?

SHORTZ: That's for you to figure out.

HANSEN: Ah, naturally. Well, 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'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 puzzle master, Will Shortz. Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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