As A Matter Of Course You are given a sentence with two blanks. The word that goes in the first blank has an O as its second letter. To complete the sentence, drop the O to get another word that goes in the second blank. For example, given "If I were to hit my thumb with a hammer, of ___ I would ___," the answer would be "course" and "curse."
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As A Matter Of Course

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As A Matter Of Course

As A Matter Of Course

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


HANSEN: I have some news - some good news.

SHORTZ: Some good news, yes.

HANSEN: Yes. NPR has announced that Audie Cornish is going to leave her post covering Capitol Hill and she will succeed me as the host of WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY. Audie and I are going to chat later in the program but I thought you'd want to know that you'll have a new puzzle partner starting in the fall.

SHORTZ: Well, that'll be great. Of course, no one's ever going to replace you, Liane, but I'm looking forward to it.

HANSEN: Well, one of the things she's going to have to get used to is doing the puzzle. And one of the important elements of that puzzle is the challenge that you give every week. What was it for last week?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Aida Doss Havel via the Internet. I said think of two common girls' names, seven letters each, that start with the same four letters in the same order. I said drop these four letters in each name, mix together the last three letters in each name to come up with another common girl's name in six letters. What names are these?

HANSEN: And what names are they?

SHORTZ: Well, the intended answer - and I think the best one - is Natalie and Natasha. Drop the N-A-T-A, mix those other letters together you get Sheila. Now, there's lots of girls names and people can debate what's common or not, so we accepted any set of names that seemed to work.

HANSEN: It seemed to flummox our listeners. We only had 700 submitted answers to this go-round. And our randomly chosen winner is Jim Brawner of Savannah, Georgia. Hi there, Jim.


HANSEN: Hi. What do you do in Savannah?

BRAWNER: I'm a math professor at Armstrong Atlantic State University here in Savannah.

HANSEN: Oh. Well, you seem to have a way with words. How long did it take you to solve the puzzle?

BRAWNER: To this one, I kind of put aside after Sunday - I didn't come up with anything. And then Thursday rolled around and thought, oh, I better get moving if I want to do the submission.

HANSEN: Well, you're ready to play today. I can tell. You've got some enthusiasm in your voice.

BRAWNER: Absolutely.

HANSEN: All right. Well, we won't hold you back. Will, meet Jim; Jim, meet Will. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Jim. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence has two blanks. The word that goes in the first blank has an O as its second letter. Drop the O and you'll get a new word that goes in the second blank to complete the sentence. For example, if I were to hit my thumb with a hammer, of blank I would blank. You would say: of course I would curse.

HANSEN: I recognize the blank of Don Johnson from Miami blank.

BRAWNER: Voice and vice.

SHORTZ: That's correct. Number two: The agricultural season starts with the blank of seeds and ends with the blank of a scythe. Well, what do you do to seeds in the spring?

HANSEN: You plant?

BRAWNER: Sow them?

HANSEN: Sowing.

BRAWNER: Sowing and swing.

HANSEN: Swing.

SHORTZ: And the swing of a scythe, good.

HANSEN: Very good.


SHORTZ: Try this: I bet when he was a kid growing up in Kazakhstan, blank was a blank.

BRAWNER: Who do I know from Kazakhstan?

SHORTZ: Oh, he starred in a movie a couple of years ago. A...

BRAWNER: Borat and brat.

SHORTZ: Yeah, Borat was a brat. Right.


SHORTZ: To protect your wood furniture and floor, you should use blank on the table and blank under the chair. To protect your...

BRAWNER: Polish but...

HANSEN: It's not polish 'cause it can't be plish.

SHORTZ: Well, if you want to set a drink on the table or drinks on the table, what would you use?

BRAWNER: Oh, coaster and caster.

HANSEN: Very good.

SHORTZ: Coasters and casters, good. As the deadline from the professional organizer approached, the blank found it even blank to throw things away.

BRAWNER: Hoarder, harder.


SHORTZ: Hoarder and harder, good. When Maude blank the stale bread, it blank better.

BRAWNER: Toasted, tasted.


SHORTZ: Very good. And here's your last one: While rowing us across the lake, the 1960s TV-loving blank whistled the theme music from blank.

BRAWNER: Boater?


SHORTZ: Oh, you got the right word, boat, yeah. I just need a different suffix.

BRAWNER: Oh, Boatman, Batman.

SHORTZ: Boatman and Batman, nice job.

BRAWNER: Da-da-da-da, da-da-da-da.

HANSEN: Before we let you go, Jim, tell us what member station you listen to.

BRAWNER: WSVH in Savannah, 91.1. And I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of those thanking you, Liane, for being such a memorable part of our Sunday morning. We'll miss you and wish you a very happy retirement.

HANSEN: Well, thank you so much. Jim. Jim Brawner of Savannah, Georgia. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle with us this week. And thank you so much for your kind words.

BRAWNER: Thank you. Thank you, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Jim.

HANSEN: Okay, Will. What do you have for next week?

SHORTZ: So again, a 4-by-4 square crossword, nags, one across and the word newt, one down; all eight words must be common, uncapitalized words. And do not repeat any letter in the square. Can you do it?

HANSEN: No, but I'll try.


HANSEN: Thanks a lot, Will. And I know you're going to China. So I want to wish you a safe trip.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot.

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