Cool As A Cucumber Every answer is a simile, in the form "___ as a ___." You are given a rhyme for the first and last words. For example, given "dead as a street," the answer would be "red as a beet."
NPR logo

Cool As A Cucumber

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135475101/135486336" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Cool As A Cucumber

Cool As A Cucumber

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/135475101/135486336" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hey, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hey, Liane.

HANSEN: How you doing?

SHORTZ: I'm doing fine.

HANSEN: Me too. I was just in New York you know.

SHORTZ: Yeah? What were you doing?

HANSEN: I was doing a gala at WNYC for their producer's circle. So, I met a lot of people in New York who contribute to the station there as well as some of the staff there. So, it was a great fun. Kind of just a one night stand. But I did always like to give props when I visit a station.

Of course, everybody wants to know about the puzzle and everybody wants to know the puzzle answer, which frankly I didn't know. So, repeat the challenge you gave last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Dan Pitt of Palo Alto, California. I said name a unit of length in the plural form - and I've been informed that I should have said unit of mass - but name a unit of mass in the plural form, rearrange the letters to spell two units of weight, also in the plural. What units are these?

HANSEN: I don't have a clue. What's the answer?

SHORTZ: Well, you know the mass is angstroms and you can rearrange that to spell grams and tons.

HANSEN: Well, I wasn't the only one stumped by this puzzle. It seemed to stump our listeners as well. We received fewer than 800 entries this week, and our randomly chosen winner is Paul Wagner of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Hey, Paul.

Mr. PAUL WAGNER: Hello.

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

Mr. WAGNER: Well, this is one where I looked at it for five minutes and then walked away for a while, didn't find anything, and then came back a second time and it just jumped right in and came up.

HANSEN: Wow. How long have you been playing our puzzle?

Mr. WAGNER: Since the postcard days. My wife Cindy and I usually work on the puzzle and we've got different ways of approaching them. And I probably send something in now about every second or third week.

HANSEN: Oh, terrific. And what do you do in Eau Claire?

Mr. WAGNER: I'm a professor of computer science at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire.

HANSEN: That sounds great, and you sound like a puzzle player. So, you're ready to play, right?

Mr. WAGNER: Well, usually more math than words but we'll give it a shot.

HANSEN: No, no math.

(Soundbite of shushing)

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: I actually have no idea what Will has on his mind today. So, Paul meet Will; Will, meet Paul. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Paul. It is a word puzzle. Every answer today is a simile in the form blank as a blank. I'll give you rhymes for the first and last words, you give me the similes. For example, if I said dead as a street, you would say red as a beet.

OK. Number one is snappy as a tram.

Mr. WAGNER: Happy as a clam.

SHORTZ: That's it. Number two is green as a thistle.

Mr. WAGNER: Clean as a whistle.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Queer as a smell. My technique for solving these is just to ignore those initial consonants and go eer as a ell and often the answer jumps out.

HANSEN: Um-hum. Well, guess what's not jumping out?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Clear as a bell.

SHORTZ: Clear as a bell.

HANSEN: Clear as a bell.

SHORTZ: It did jump out.

HANSEN: It did.

SHORTZ: All right. Try this: white as a tether.

Mr. WAGNER: Light as a feather.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Frail as a host.

Mr. WAGNER: Pale as a ghost.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Pale as a ghost, good. Mute as a glutton.

Mr. WAGNER: Cute as a button.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Dry as a box.

HANSEN: What do you think, Paul?

Mr. WAGNER: I'm blanking.

HANSEN: I think sly as a fox.

SHORTZ: Sly as a fox, good. Lit as a griddle.

Mr. WAGNER: Fit as a fiddle.

HANSEN: And ready for love. Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Mental as a ram.

HANSEN: What was the first word?

SHORTZ: Mental as a ram.

HANSEN: Gentle as a lamb.

SHORTZ: Gentle as a lamb, good. Bright as a thumb.

HANSEN: Tight.

SHORTZ: Tight.

Mr. WAGNER: Tight as a drum.

SHORTZ: Tight as a drum is it. Kind as a brat.

HANSEN: Oh, blind as a bat.

SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one is sweet as a fin.

HANSEN: Would the first word be neat?

SHORTZ: Yeah.

Mr. WAGNER: Neat as a pin. Sure.

HANSEN: You got it.

SHORTZ: Neat as a pin. Nice job.

HANSEN: That's teamwork. Teamwork.

Mr. WAGNER: Yeah, thank you so much. I was just going downhill at the end.

HANSEN: We were in the same boat, I swear. Great team puzzle. And you know what, Paul? We have a special guest that's going to tell you what you'll get for playing the puzzle today. I'm speaking with her elsewhere in today's show. She's an accomplished singer and songwriter, and I tell you she insisted on reading the puzzle prizes. So, we just couldn't say no. Here's k.d. lang.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. K.D. LANG (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) Sorrow, you're more favor to my self...

For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers - that's my total favorite - the book series, "Will Shortz Presents: 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 Puzzle.

HANSEN: Well, there you go, Paul. What do you think?

Mr. WAGNER: Oh, thats great.

HANSEN: It was great. She was really, what - you mean I dont get to read the puzzle?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: So we handed it to her. And she has a new CD out; we're going to be talking about it later. But before we let you go, Paul, tell us what member station you listen to.

Mr. WAGNER: We're members of and volunteers at WUEC in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

HANSEN: Paul Wagner of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and thank you for playing the puzzle with us this week. You're terrific.

Mr. WAGNER: Well, thanks to both of you for all the work you do in keeping our brains stimulated.

HANSEN: Ha, okay. I dont know how much I do but I know Will does.

And, Will, you're going to keep on doing it because I know you have a challenge for next week?

Mr. SHORTZ: Thats right. It comes from listener Steve Baggish of Littleton, Massachusetts. Think of a nine-letter word naming a venue for certain sports. Three letters in this word are repeated. Remove all the repetitions, and the remaining six letters can be rearranged to name a piece of sports equipment. What are these two words?

So again, a nine-letter word naming a venue for certain sports. Three of the letters are repeated. Remove all the repetitions, the remaining six letters can be rearranged to name a piece of sports equipment. What are these two words?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our website, NPR.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Only one entry per person, please, our deadline is Thursday 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call if youre 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.

As always, thanks a lot, Will.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.