Second To Last Think of a word that can follow a given word to complete a familiar two-word phrase or name. The first two letters of the word must be the second and last letters, respectively, of the given word. For example, given "fallen," the answer would be "angel."
NPR logo

Second To Last

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Second To Last

Second To Last

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And it's time for the puzzle.


MARTIN: Let's start with last week's challenge from the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master Will Shortz.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Name four parts of a car that are also terms used in a particular game. One of the parts is spelled in three letters; two of them in five letters each; and one has six letters. Also, two places a car might go are also terms used in this same game. What game is it, and what are the terms?

MARTIN: OK. So, almost 140 out of 230 of you figured out this answer. And our randomly-selected winner this week is Tom Fleenor from Quincy, Massachusetts. Congratulations, Tom.

THOMAS FLEENOR: Thank you very much.

MARTIN: OK. So, give it to us. What was the answer to last week's challenge?

FLEENOR: Well, the game was bowling and the words for the terms were pin, frame, spare and bumper, and the destinations were alley and lanes.

MARTIN: Now, I understand, even from Will Shortz himself, that this was a pretty hard puzzle. So, you must be a regular bowler or something to figure this out. How'd you know?

FLEENOR: Yeah, that's exactly it actually. It's sort of a serendipitous puzzle for me because it's the first one I'd ever actually figured out.

MARTIN: Using your bowling skills...

FLEENOR: Right, right. I...

MARTIN: apply to the puzzle.

FLEENOR: ...sort of came to bowler in a roundabout way from poker to golf to bowling was where the thought process went. But once I got there, I sort of started with pin and then got frame and spare and spent a long time trying to figure out bumper but we got there eventually.

MARTIN: Well, that's great. And, Thomas, what do you in Quincy, Massachusetts?

FLEENOR: Well, actually I work in the city. I work in Brookline at Harvard Medical School. I'm a project manager for some survey research we do over here.

MARTIN: Great. Well, before we continue, let's welcome puzzle master Will Shortz to the program. Good morning, Will.

SHORTZ: Hey, Rachel.

MARTIN: So, before we play the puzzle, Will, we have some unfinished business. You made some headlines this past week with one of your New York Times crossword puzzle clues. Remind us what was the clue that was so controversial in that particular puzzle.

SHORTZ: Yeah, a week ago in a Saturday puzzle, I had the clue wack in hip-hop, and the answer is illin', I-L-L-I-N. And according to the slang dictionaries, that's what illin' means. It means kind of stupid or bad. But interestingly, the connotation of the word has changed over the last 20 years. And nowadays, people who listen to hip-hop know illin' has a more positive connotation, sort of cool, maybe a little menacing. So...

MARTIN: So, it didn't surprise you when you got kind of feedback from people saying, Will Shortz, you're wrong.

SHORTZ: Oh, I get feedback like that all the time. I was surprised on this one 'cause the clue's been used twice before and no one ever complained. But, you know, the meaning of the word has changed. And I don't know if you saw but "The Colbert Report" picked it up on Thursday night. It was hilarious.

MARTIN: So, you've heard it here, folks. Will Shortz has delivered the final word in this debate. One more time, Will. Wack is a legitimate clue for illin'?

SHORTZ: Yes, but that's older slang. You know, when illin' comes up again, I'm going to use the more modern meaning.

MARTIN: All right. So, we're all learning through this process. Back to the task at hand, folks. Thomas, are you ready to play the puzzle?

FLEENOR: I am ready.

MARTIN: OK, Will. Let's do it.

SHORTZ: All right, Tom and Rachel. I'm going to give you a word. You think of a word that can follow mine to complete a familiar two-word phrase or name. And the first two letters of your word must be the second and last letters, respectively, of mine. For example, if I said fallen, you would say angel, because angel starts with A-N, and A and N are the second and last letters of fallen.



SHORTZ: OK. Number one is European.

MARTIN: European.

FLEENOR: Union. European Union.

SHORTZ: European Union is it. Soap.

FLEENOR: Opera. Soap opera.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. That's right. Second.

FLEENOR: Edition.

SHORTZ: Second edition is it. Casting.

FLEENOR: Agency.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Free F-R-E-E.


SHORTZ: It's a four rein is it. Beady B-E-A-D-Y.


SHORTZ: Beady eyes. Gramophone.

FLEENOR: Record?

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Auburn. Think of an institution.

FLEENOR: University.

SHORTZ: That's it. Chicago. It's a TV show.



FLEENOR: Go ahead, Rachel. I'm lost.

MARTIN: Chicago Hope?

SHORTZ: Chicago Hope is it. And your last one is another TV show: Star.

FLEENOR: TV show - Star Wars. Geez, it would be terrible if I got that wrong...

SHORTZ: Not. Star Wars.

FLEENOR: That's not what it is either. Star Trek, Star Trek.

SHORTZ: Star Trek is it.

FLEENOR: I'm a Star Wars fan, that's why I did that.

SHORTZ: Good job.

MARTIN: Good job, Thomas.

FLEENOR: Thank you.

MARTIN: Congratulations. For playing our puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at And, Tom, for the record, which public record station do you listen to?


MARTIN: WBUR in Boston. OK. Tom Fleenor, thank you so much for playing the puzzle this week.

FLEENOR: Thanks a lot, folks. Appreciate it.

MARTIN: OK, Will. Next week, we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Sunday Puzzle and WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY with a special puzzle segment. And I understand you have a two-week challenge for us to work on in the meantime.

SHORTZ: Yes, it's a creative challenge called TV Lineup. Combine the titles of some TV shows, past or present, into an amusing sentence or statement. For example: "Today," "Sisters" "Name That Tune," "Father Knows Best." Or: "Desperate Housewives" "Bewitched" "My Three Sons," "One Day at a Time." And here's one more: "I've Got a Secret" "Murder She Wrote," "The F.B.I."

So, the shows can be network or cable, primetime or not - doesn't matter. Well-known shows are best. Entries will be judged on their sense, naturalness of syntax, humor, originality and overall effect. No more than three sentences per person, please. The best entry in my judgment will be announced in two weeks.

MARTIN: OK, so a two-week challenge. When you have the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. But, as Will said, each entry can have up to three sentences. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 26th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time.

Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. If you're the winner we'll give you a call, and you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

And now, before we close the puzzle segment, it's not often we get the chance to play some classic Run DMC on WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY, so now a musical tribute to Will Shortz's puzzle genius.

Hit it.


RUN DMC: (Rapping) You be illin'. Illin'. Illin'. Illin'. You be illin'. Illin'. Illin'. Illin'

MARTIN: That was for you, Will.


SHORTZ: Thank you, Rachel. That was wack.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at 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.