Follow Santa Claus' Lead Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which, like Santa Claus, the first word starts with the letters S-A, and the second word starts with C.
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Follow Santa Claus' Lead

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Follow Santa Claus' Lead


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And I don't care what you're doing right now. Stop it this instant, pick up a pencil, and let's play the puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining me now is Will Shortz. He is, of course, the puzzle editor of the New York Times and Weekend Edition's puzzle-master. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: Refresh our memories. What was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah, last week's challenge was to name an island in which some of the letters appear more than once. I said drop exactly two instances of each repeated letter. And the remaining letters can be rearranged to name something to eat. What is it? Well, my intended answer was Manhattan. If you drop those repeated letters, each one twice, you're left with ham. But we got some alternative answers. Santorini - you know that island...



MARTIN: In Greece? Yeah.

SHORTZ: Drop the Is and Ns and you get roast. And also Kahoolawe, which is an island in Hawaii. Drop the repeats and you get whelk W-H-E-L-K, a snail.

MARTIN: So, we got around 500 correct answers this week. Our randomly selected winner is Fred Stadler of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He joins us on the line now. Hey, Fred, congratulations.

FRED STADLER: Well, thanks so much.

MARTIN: How'd you figure out this one out?

STADLER: I usually try to work these ones backwards, in reverse, but that wasn't going to work. So, I looked up a list of islands and looked for repeating letters and decided just that I try Manhattan first. And I'm very bad at anagrams, but I can do a three-letter anagram, so this one was pretty easy.

MARTIN: Great. Well done. And what is Oshkosh, Wisconsin like for those of us how have not been there?

STADLER: Oh, Oshkosh is a delightful city. I'm retired and I moved here because of the Experimental Aircraft Association. It has a world-class aviation museum here and I'm lucky enough to get to fly kids ages 8 to 17 with free rides and adults in a 1929 open cockpit biplane. So, it's lot of fun.

MARTIN: So, do you fly?

STADLER: I do. I have a 1956 Cessna 310 that we've been all over the country in and we really enjoy recreational aviation.

MARTIN: Wow. So, Will Shortz is on the line, Fred. Do you have a question for him?

STADLER: Well, I was sort of curious, Will, how do you avoid having duplicates? You know, you have so many puzzles and so many other things, that...

MARTIN: That's a good question.

STADLER: do you keep track of that?

SHORTZ: That is a great question. And, you know, next month is my 27th anniversary doing this program and that's a lot of puzzles. And the fact is occasionally there are repeats because I don't have any electronic means to detect duplicates. It's just my memory.

MARTIN: Wow. You just remember what you've done?

SHORTZ: And if you think that's brilliant, except occasionally there have been repeats over time in the challenge puzzles, that is. And there are always ones - not the ones that invited originally and then repeated years later. It's when a contributor contributes something and that I don't remember so well.

MARTIN: Yeah, you forget.

SHORTZ: And once in a while.

MARTIN: OK, Fred, are you ready to play the puzzle?

STADLER: I think I'm going to make some of your listeners feel relatively smart.

MARTIN: All right. Well, let's see, let's see. OK, let's give it a go.

SHORTZ: All right, Fred and Rachel. Every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or a name in which, like Santa Claus, the first word starts with the letters S-A and the second word starts with C. So, S-A and C and here's your first clue: kids' elaborate construction on a beach.

STADLER: Sand castle.

SHORTZ: That's it. Number two: a person who works at a store.

STADLER: Sales clerk.

SHORTZ: That's it. Something considered immune from questioning or criticism.

STADLER: Sacred cow.

SHORTZ: Excellent.

STADLER: In Wisconsin, we have lots of those.


SHORTZ: What Nabisco Premium is a brand of.

STADLER: Oh, saltine cracker.

SHORTZ: Oh, you're good. Metal container tightly packed with fish.

STADLER: Sardine can.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. City south of Los Angeles that was the home of Nixon's Western White House.

STADLER: Santa Cruz.


STADLER: Oh, well, it's Santa Clara then.

SHORTZ: It's not a Santa but it's a San.

STADLER: Oh, San Clemente.

SHORTZ: San Clemente is it.


SHORTZ: Fill in the blank: Carson McCullers' book "The Ballad of the" blank.

STADLER: Rachel, I think I need your help.

MARTIN: Oh see? Yeah, now you ask me.


SHORTZ: Now you want Rachel's help.

MARTIN: I knew all the other ones, Fred. I don't know this one.

SHORTZ: I'm just going to tell you. It's "Ballad of the Sad Cafe."


STADLER: OK. Yeah, I could have waited a long time for that one.

SHORTZ: Mark Twain's real name.

STADLER: Samuel Clemens.

SHORTZ: That's right. And your last one: photographer's request just before snapping a picture.

STADLER: Oh, say cheese. Oh, how appropriate for a Wisconsiner.


MARTIN: Fred, that was so excellent.

STADLER: Oh, thanks so much.

MARTIN: For playing the puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at And before we let you go, Fred, what is your public radio station?

STADLER: Oh, I listen to WPNE in Green Bay and also WRST in Oshkosh.

MARTIN: Great. Fred Stadler of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Fred.

STADLER: Thanks so much.

MARTIN: OK, Will, what's up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, the challenge from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco. Think of a well-known filmmaker, first and last names, add sun, S-U-N, before this person's first name and last name. And in each case, you'll form a common English word. Who is the filmmaker?

So again, famous filmmaker, first and last names, put S-U-N, before the first name and the last name. And in each case, you'll form a common English word. Who is the filmmaker?

MARTIN: When you have the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, December 26th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. Because if you're the winner we will 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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