LIANE HANSEN, Host:
And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hey, Will. Welcome back.
WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane. Great to be back.
HANSEN: Had a nice time on your vacation?
SHORTZ: I did. I went camping, played table tennis in Alameda, California, saw my brother and his family in Santa Barbara. So, had a great two weeks.
HANSEN: I wanted to asked you if you're familiar with a new program that's airing on AMC called "Rubicon." Are you?
SHORTZ: No, I don't know that.
HANSEN: It just began. And I was reading something about it. And apparently it's a procedural, you know, solving crimes and so forth, but they use crossword puzzles as part of their conceit and, you know - you know how you have police boards on the set and stuff? Well, they have crosswords. It debuted when you were away so.
SHORTZ: I'll check it out. Thanks.
HANSEN: Check it out. All right. Before you left, you gave us a creative challenge involving spoonerisms. Can you briefly just explain the spoonerism conceit? What is that?
SHORTZ: Yeah. I asked you to write a riddle starting with what's the different between in which the answer involves a spoonerism, where you interchange the initial consonant sounds of two words.
SHORTZ: And I said entries would be judged on originality, cleverness and naturalness of syntax.
HANSEN: I have to tell you, all of our puzzle-playing listeners liked this challenge a lot. We received more than 1,600 entries - and you had to go through all of them. You have clever picks, I believe, two runners-up. Why don't you share them?
SHORTZ: But my very favorite from Michael True of Falls Church, Virginia: what's the difference between a wedding chapel and a restaurant's daily specials? One is a marrying venue and the other is a varying menu. That's brilliant.
HANSEN: Yeah. So, Will, you called him himself and he joins us on the line with us. Michael True, how are you?
MICHAEL TRUE: I am wonderful, thank you.
HANSEN: Yeah. It must've been something to have Will Shortz's voice on your answering machine.
TRUE: It was. It was a treat.
HANSEN: Tell us what you do in Falls Church.
TRUE: I'm a project manager for a government contractor.
HANSEN: And how long have you been playing our puzzle?
TRUE: I've been playing about five years - submitting for about two, so...
HANSEN: Oh, okay. So, how long did it take you to come up with your very clever entry?
TRUE: Oh, about a day and a half. I'd originally started the night that I heard the show, just trying to come up with familiar two-word phrases to no avail. And the next day I just started throwing out random words and those just popped into my head so.
HANSEN: Good for you. Well, you sound like you're ready to play.
TRUE: I am absolutely ready, guys.
HANSEN: All right. Will, meet Michael. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, Michael. Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials V.C. For example, if the clue were serving of calf's meat, you would say veal chop.
TRUE: Got it.
SHORTZ: All right. Number one is piece of equipment for a housekeeper.
TRUE: Vacuum cleaner.
SHORTZ: That's it. Number two is what to give someone on February 14.
TRUE: Valentine's card?
SHORTZ: That's right, or Valentine candy, either way. A small handbag for women's cosmetics and toiletries. Sometimes it has a little mirror inside it.
TRUE: I don't carry many cosmetics. Can you help me out?
HANSEN: Yeah, I'm trying to.
SHORTZ: Second word would be case. Does that help?
HANSEN: Vanity case.
TRUE: No, it...
SHORTZ: Vanity case is it.
TRUE: Thank you.
SHORTZ: All right. Women use it to clean the skin and remove age spots.
HANSEN: Something cream.
TRUE: Wow. I need my wife out here for this.
HANSEN: All right. Something cream.
SHORTZ: What kind of cream?
TRUE: Vein cream?
HANSEN: Vein cream, vanity cream, viscous cream.
TRUE: Vanishing cream.
SHORTZ: Vanishing cream, good job.
HANSEN: Oh, very good, Michael.
SHORTZ: Okay. How about this: world's smallest country in size. And it's located inside Rome.
TRUE: Oh, Vatican City.
SHORTZ: That's it. Processed dairy product made by Kraft.
TRUE: Something cheese.
TRUE: Velveeta cheese.
SHORTZ: Velveeta cheese is it. Part of California between Santa Barbara and L.A.
TRUE: Oh my God, I've been out there so much lately, too.
HANSEN: Me too. V.C.?
SHORTZ: Yeah. Well, you can guess what the C is maybe.
HANSEN: Maybe. Valley something?
SHORTZ: No. All right. I'm just going to tell you this one. It's Ventura County.
HANSEN: Oh, okay.
SHORTZ: Ventura County.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
SHORTZ: Okay, how about this: Investment money for a new business?
TRUE: Venture capital.
SHORTZ: That's it. Where to take sick dog or cat.
TRUE: Veterinarian clinic?
SHORTZ: That's it. Parts of the throat that allow you to speak.
TRUE: Vocal cords.
SHORTZ: That's it. It can film things for YouTube.
TRUE: Video camera.
SHORTZ: That's it. Solo work by Bach, Brahms or Vivaldi.
TRUE: Solo work...
SHORTZ: For the V, think of a stringed instrument.
TRUE: Viola concerto.
SHORTZ: I was going for...
TRUE: Violin concerto.
SHORTZ: ...violin concerto, good. And here's your last one: Sport venue divided by a net that is 7 feet, 11 and 5/8 inches high.
TRUE: Volleyball court?
SHORTZ: That's it, good job.
HANSEN: Michael, nice work.
TRUE: Thank you.
HANSEN: Boy, that one really ran the gamut - I mean from Vassar to Velveeta. You know, Will?
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
HANSEN: We have someone I think you're going to love reading your puzzle prizes today. He's a Grammy-winning musical guest. He's also a vineyard owner, an organic farm owner and all around mister nice guy. Here's Dave Matthews.
DAVE MATTHEWS: For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, the book series, "Will Shortz Present KenKen" Volumes 1, 2 and 3 from St. Martin's Press, one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books, and a CD compilation of NPR's Sunday Puzzles.
HANSEN: What do you think, Dave Matthews there for you?
TRUE: I think that is awesome.
HANSEN: Yeah. Yeah, he was pretty awesome, too, when he was in NPR doing a performance chat and he was kind enough to read the puzzles for us. So, well, Michael, before we let you go, what member station do you listen to?
HANSEN: WAMU. Michael True of Falls Church, Virginia, thanks a lot for playing our puzzle. You're a great guest.
TRUE: Thank you very much. It was a lot of fun. Nice meeting you.
HANSEN: Okay, Will, we're back to the regular one-week puzzle challenge. What have you got?
SHORTZ: So again, take the letters of Yo Yo Ma, these can be rearranged to form the initial letters of a familiar six-word question. What question is it?
HANSEN: Will, nice to talk to you again. Thanks a lot.
SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Liane.
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