RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Tell the kids to work on their Santa list by themselves for a little while because it's time for the puzzle.
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MARTIN: And joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: I understand you've been doing a little traveling out to the West Coast?
SHORTZ: Yeah. Are you familiar with Spin, the ping-pong social club? It's been in New York for a couple of years.
MARTIN: I am not.
SHORTZ: And it's co-owned by Susan Sarandon, the actress. And they had a grand opening of an L.A. Spin this past week. So, I was out there. And there were a lot of celebrities: Melissa Etheridge, the singer, Chelsea Handler, talk show host, Vincent Gallo, film director. And they had a celebrity tournament. And I played with Andre Balazs, who owns the Standard Hotel in L.A., which hosts this club. And we won.
MARTIN: Oh, congratulations.
SHORTZ: There was, like, a four- or five-foot trophy. It was ridiculous.
MARTIN: Well, remind us what was last week's challenge, Will.
SHORTZ: The challenge was to name a major U.S. city in two words. Take the first letter of the first word and the first two letters of the second word and they'll spend the standard three-letter abbreviation for the state the city is in. What city is it? And the answer was Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
MARTIN: OK. Well, more than 2,800 of you sent in the correct answer. And the winner this week is Mark Sobolik. And he joins us now on the line. Congratulations, Mark.
MARK SOBOLIK: Thank you.
MARTIN: And you're joining us from just outside Portland, Oregon; is that right?
SOBOLIK: That's correct.
MARTIN: And I understand you've kind of met Will Shortz before? Tell us that story.
SOBOLIK: Well, I have a carrot rejection letter from a crossword puzzle I constructed years ago.
MARTIN: You submitted it to the New York Times?
SOBOLIK: I did. I sent it to him just soon after Will took over as the editor. And I was relieved to get a response but it was negative.
MARTIN: Kind of disappointing I imagine.
MARTIN: Do you at least sign those rejection letters yourself, Will?
SHORTZ: I do. Nowadays, most of it's done by email. But in the early days, it all went out by postal mail.
MARTIN: Well, Mark, now you get to meet Will under different circumstances.
SOBOLIK: That's right. And let's see how I do this time.
MARTIN: OK. Well, let's make it happen, Will. What's our puzzle?
SHORTZ: All right, Mark and Rachel. Continuing on the Florida theme from last week's challenge, every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or a name in which the first word starts with F and the second word starts with L-A, as in Fort Lauderdale. All right. Number one is Michelle Obama for one.
SOBOLIK: First lady.
SHORTZ: That's it. Number two: French, Spanish or Chinese.
SOBOLIK: Foreign language.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Arriving at 9 o'clock for an 8 o'clock party, for example. So, there's a party at 8 o'clock and you show up at 9 o'clock, you are...
SOBOLIK: Oh, fashionably late.
SHORTZ: Fashionably late.
MARTIN: I was going to say frequently. But, yeah, fashionably is better.
SHORTZ: Former New York City mayor after whom an airport is named.
SOBOLIK: Fiorello LaGuardia.
SHORTZ: That's it. Long, narrow bodies of water in upstate New York.
SOBOLIK: Finger lake.
SHORTZ: That's it. Finger lakes - plural. Reading light that does not rest on a table.
SOBOLIK: Flying lamp.
SHORTZ: The lamp is right but it's not on the table, what's it on?
SOBOLIK: Oh, floor lamp.
SHORTZ: Floor lamp is it.
SOBOLIK: But if it were flying...
MARTIN: I love a flying lamp. I don't know what that is but that's cool.
SHORTZ: Bringing down of a plane in an emergency.
SOBOLIK: That's landing.
SHORTZ: Yeah, what kind?
SOBOLIK: I can't think of the F word though.
MARTIN: Freak? How about freak landing?
SHORTZ: Freak landing. I was going for a forced landing.
MARTIN: Oh, OK.
SOBOLIK: Forced landing, OK.
SHORTZ: All right. Try this: it lists ingredients and calorie information.
SOBOLIK: Food label.
SHORTZ: That's it. Subject that includes child adoption, divorce and alimony.
SOBOLIK: Family law.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Agricultural workers.
SOBOLIK: Farm laborers?
SHORTZ: Good. Old Argentine-born actor known for Latin lover roles.
SOBOLIK: I think you might have got me on that one.
SHORTZ: Yeah, it's a generational thing. He's the father of Lorenzo. Does that help?
SOBOLIK: Oh, Fernando Lamas.
SHORTZ: There you go. The next one's a hyphenated answer: maker of Cheetos and Ruffles potato chips.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. How about this: California cemetery where many celebrities are buried.
SOBOLIK: Forest Lawn.
SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one: what auto racers must complete before getting the checkered flag.
SOBOLIK: Final lap?
SHORTZ: The final lap. Nice job.
SOBOLIK: Is that what I just completed?
MARTIN: Yes. You totally completed the final lap with flying colors, Mark.
MARTIN: Very well done. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle.
And, of course, before we let you go, we need to know what is your Public Radio station?
SOBOLIK: It's KOPB.
MARTIN: KOPB in Portland, Oregon. Mark Sobolik of Newburg, Oregon, Mark, thanks so much for playing the puzzle.
SOBOLIK: Thank you.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's our challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from Henri Picciotto of Berkeley, California, who co-creates the Cryptic Crosswords for The Nation magazine. Name a two-word geographical location. Remove the first letter. Move one of the other letters to the front of what's left. And this will result in a single word. And this word names what you are most likely looking through when you see that geographical location. What is it?
So again, a two-word geographical location, drop the first letter. Move one of the remaining letters to the front. This will be a single word and it names what you're most likely looking through when you see this geographical location. What is it?
MARTIN: OK, you know what to do. When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, December 20th at 3 P.M. Eastern.
Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And 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.
Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
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