RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays these players from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Sure, the East Coast is totally snowed in, and we here at WEEKEND EDITION have been eating out of the vending machines for days. But nothing stops the puzzle.
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MARTIN: Joining me now is Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Hey, Will, good morning.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: So what's your favorite blizzard activity? Don't say puzzling. Don't say crossword puzzles or table tennis.
SHORTZ: No, no, no. What I love to do is make a fire in my fireplace. What about you? What do you like to do?
MARTIN: Eating. I like to eat.
SHORTZ: That's good for any time, though.
MARTIN: (Laughter) That's true. But there's something about a blizzard. All rules are off.
SHORTZ: Calories don't count during blizzards.
MARTIN: No, not at all - negative calories, in fact. OK, remind us of last week's puzzle.
SHORTZ: Yeah, I said think of a category in three letters in which the last two letters are the first two letters of something in that category. And the thing in the category has seven letters. Both names, I said, are common, uncapitalized words. What are they? Well, there was only one answer, as far as I know. It's gem to emerald.
MARTIN: Very clever. So let's see. Almost 600 of you got the correct answer to the puzzle this week. Our randomly selected winner is Josh Park of Tustin, Calif. He joins us now on the line. Hey, Josh. How's it going?
JOSH PARK: Hey, what's up y'all?
MARTIN: Where's Tustin, Josh?
PARK: It's in Orange County, in Southern California.
MARTIN: Cool. So you been playing the puzzle a long time?
PARK: Actually, no. So this is crazy, but I've only heard about you guys three weeks ago from my friend. It's crazy. And then he's like, hey, you should play this game. It's really fun. And then it's my third time submitting the answer.
MARTIN: Very cool. So do you happen to have a question for Will Shortz?
PARK: Yeah, I do. It's kind of a little bit of a long question. But I was going to ask, Will, have you heard or played any of those Escape The Room puzzle games?
SHORTZ: Right. You know, I've been hearing about them for a long time, and I haven't played one yet. But my annual crossword championship that's coming up in April, we're going to have a giant escape room on Friday night.
MARTIN: So OK, is this this thing where you get a group of people, and you...
MARTIN: It's like this live thing where you try to escape from a room?
PARK: Yeah, I've actually done this, like, four or five times.
MARTIN: Oh, you're into it.
MARTIN: See, this sounds horrifying. But I guess - I don't know. I guess it's fun - like teamwork, you, like, try to figure out how to get out of a room?
PARK: Yeah, yeah.
MARTIN: Interesting. So I'm not going to do that. But you can tell me how it goes, Will, when you try it for the first time.
SHORTZ: Will do.
MARTIN: OK, Josh, you ready to play this puzzle?
PARK: I'm ready.
MARTIN: OK, Will, let's do it.
SHORTZ: All right, Josh and Rachel, I'm going to give you a clue for a word that has two O's. Change both O's to E's to get the answer to the second clue. For exampl, if I said a sport played on horseback and a Brazilian soccer legend, you would say polo and Pele.
MARTIN: OK, you got it, Josh?
MARTIN: OK, let's give it a go.
SHORTZ: Number one is a portal. And you're second clue is a doe or buck.
PARK: Deer - door to deer.
SHORTZ: That is correct. Number two, part of the body between the neck and the waist. And your second clue is succinct.
PARK: Torso to terse.
SHORTZ: That's it. Select and a dairy product.
PARK: Choose to cheese.
SHORTZ: Good. Here's your next one. Fill in the blank. Chicken blank soup, and your second clue is a sewing item.
PARK: Noodle to needle.
SHORTZ: That's it. Member of the Church of Latter-day Saints and mythical male creatures that look like fish from the waist down.
PARK: Mormon to merman.
SHORTZ: That's it. One of the smallest countries in Europe and to threaten. It's on the Mediterranean. It's where Monte Carlo is.
PARK: Oh, oh, oh, Monaco to menace.
SHORTZ: That's it. Good. Sciences and some sad poems.
SHORTZ: And they're poems written after someone dies.
PARK: Do you know, Rachel?
MARTIN: Elegy? No...
SHORTZ: Yeah, elegies is right. And then change the E's to O's - or the first two E's to O's.
PARK: Oh, -ologies.
SHORTZ: -Ologies to elegies is right.
PARK: That was a good one.
SHORTZ: All right, here're your last one. Advertiser and English poet Edmund who wrote "The Faerie Queene." Uh-oh (laughter).
MARTIN: Double sigh. (Laughter).
SHORTZ: Advertiser - I'll give you a big clue for that first one. And now, a word from our...
PARK: Oh, sponsor to Spenser.
SHORTZ: Yes, to Edmund Spenser is it.
MARTIN: Oh, man.
PARK: Oh, my gosh (laughter).
MARTIN: Josh, you did great though.
PARK: It all right.
MARTIN: You did pretty well. I mean, that was pretty good for beginners' luck. And you are going to be very excited to hear that for playing the puzzle today, you get this really awesome WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin. I expect you to wear it all the time.
PARK: I'm so excited.
MARTIN: It's really, really amazing. And you get all kinds of puzzle books and games. You can check out your prizes at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, Josh, where do you hear us?
PARK: I hear you all on KPCC.
MARTIN: KPCC in Pasadena. Josh Park of Tustin, Calif. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Josh.
PARK: Thank you.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's up for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, this may be one of the most challenging challenges I've presented.
MARTIN: Challenging challenges, wow.
SHORTZ: Here we go. It has a very elegant answer, though. And it's from listener Fred Piscop of Bellmore, Long Island. Take these three phrases - turkey breast, ski slope, cash drawer. What very unusual property do they have in common? So again, the phrases are turkey breast, ski slope, cash drawer. What very unusual property do these three phrases have in common?
MARTIN: When you have the answer, go to npr.org/puzzle. Click on the submit your answer link. Limit yourself to just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for those entries is Thursday, January 28 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Don't forget to include a phone number where we an find you at around that time because if you're the winner, then we give you a call. And then you get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
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