RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Seven-layer dip? Check. Beer of choice? Check. La-Z-Boy recliners? Check. It is time for the big game. Let's play the puzzle.
MARTIN: OK, the truth is I'm drinking coffee right now, not beer. But the day's young, so let's get it started. Joining me now is Will Shortz. He is puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. I don't know if he's a football fan. Will, are you a football fan?
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: What do you think? Nope. I...
SHORTZ: ...I'm sorry to say I will not be watching the game tonight. What about you?
MARTIN: I'm totally watching. I'm a fair-weather football fan. I basically watch - I start halfway through the season and then I come on board when it starts getting interesting. So real football fans get totally annoyed with me, but sorry. It's fun. I like the food. I like the drama. And I'm a little split this year because I've been a Broncos fan for a long time, but I'm a big fan of Cam Newton. So - who knows? Who knows...
SHORTZ: There you go.
MARTIN: ...My friend? OK. Remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Michael Shteyman of Odenton, Md. I said take the name of a country and a well-known city in the Middle East, 12 letters in all. Rearrange these letters to name another country and another well-known city in the Mideast. What places are these? Well, I thought this was just a brilliant wordplay discovery. If you take Bahrain plus Dubai, you can rearrange the letters to get Iran and Abu Dhabi.
MARTIN: OK, so we got not that many - around 200 correct answers. Our winner is Randolph Meiklejohn of Brookline, Mass. He joins us on the line. Hey, Randolph. Congratulations.
RANDOLPH MEIKLEJOHN: Hi. Hi, Rachel. Thanks.
MARTIN: How'd you figure it out?
MEIKLEJOHN: I started with the cities, and I had a little help from a family member. And after a couple of days, I finally hit on it. Sent it in just in time.
MARTIN: Very cool. And I have heard word that you have been playing the puzzle for a long time.
MEIKLEJOHN: For the whole time, since 1987. I went back and checked, so I've been looking forward to this.
MARTIN: That's so cool. This is the first time you've won? This is the first time you've gotten to be on?
MEIKLEJOHN: This the first time.
MARTIN: Very cool. And do you happen to have a question for Will?
MEIKLEJOHN: I wondered - well, Scrabble is very big in my immediate family. And I wondered, Will, whether you were a Scrabble player or maybe even a competitive Scrabble player?
SHORTZ: Well, I like the game. But you know, I've never memorized those two-letter words and the three-letter words.
MEIKLEJOHN: Yes. That's a big part of it.
SHORTZ: Yeah. Plus I - I do word puzzles all day. That's not how I generally choose to spend my free time.
MARTIN: That's why you need the table tennis. It's the yin and the yang.
SHORTZ: There you go.
MARTIN: All right. So Randolph, let's put all your puzzle practice over the years to the test. Are you ready to do this?
MARTIN: OK, Will. Let's give it a go.
SHORTZ: All right, Randolph and Rachel, every answer today is a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase in which each part contains the consecutive letters A-N. For example, if the clue were a Steinway product, you would say grand piano.
MEIKLEJOHN: Got it.
SHORTZ: Here's number one - a pencil and paper word game that involves guessing letters.
MEIKLEJOHN: Pencil and paper - it's not Mad Libs.
SHORTZ: You draw a little figure - stick figure if you're wrong.
MARTIN: It's kind of grim, frankly.
MEIKLEJOHN: Oh, Hangman. No.
MEIKLEJOHN: Hangman is it.
MARTIN: Yeah, Hangman.
MEIKLEJOHN: Oh, OK. Got it.
SHORTZ: There you go. Now, next one - it a fill-in-the-blank. American blank - old TV show hosted by Dick Clark.
MEIKLEJOHN: "American Bandstand."
SHORTZ: That's it. Something to walk on in order to enter or leave a ship.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. During the 19th century, a federal government giveaway in the West.
MEIKLEJOHN: Land Grant.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Western part of Oklahoma.
SHORTZ: Yeah. Or northern part of Idaho is right, panhandle. Musical group that a crowd might shimmy to.
MEIKLEJOHN: Something band.
SHORTZ: Yes, what kind because they're shimmying?
MEIKLEJOHN: Shimmying. A...
MARTIN: What is a shimmy?
MEIKLEJOHN: Shimmying - it sounds like 1920s.
SHORTZ: Yeah. They might jitterbug. They might waltz. They might do a jazz something, just the general word for that. They're out on the floor moving around.
SHORTZ: What are they doing?
MARTIN: He's trying to make it as general as possible. Dance.
MEIKLEJOHN: Dance band.
SHORTZ: There you go. There you go, a dance band. That's it. A bit of gymnastics in which your palms are flat on the floor and your legs point upward.
SHORTZ: That's it. A gambling card game, also known as parliament or sevens.
MEIKLEJOHN: Is that fan-tan?
SHORTZ: Fan-tan, good. An employee who mends fences and brands cattle.
MEIKLEJOHN: Something man - a ranch hand.
SHORTZ: Ranch hand is it. Set of covered bleachers at a racetrack.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. And your last one - a phrase that means a thousand expressions of gratitude.
MEIKLEJOHN: Many thanks.
SHORTZ: That is correct.
MARTIN: Many thanks. Great job, Randolph.
MEIKLEJOHN: A lot of questions there.
MARTIN: Yeah, you did well. And you know that you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can check out your prizes at npr.org/puzzle.
MEIKLEJOHN: Thank you so much.
MARTIN: Of course. And before we let you go, where do you hear us, Randolph?
MEIKLEJOHN: I hear you on WBUR, and I'm a member there and at WGBH, too.
MARTIN: Great. Randolph Meiklejohn of Brookline, Mass., thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Randolph.
MEIKLEJOHN: All right. Thanks, Rachel. Thanks, Will.
MARTIN: OK. What's up for next week, Will?
SHORTZ: Yes, the challenge is based on an idea by listener Herman (ph). If pajama, P-A-J-A-M-A represents first and rebuke, R-E-B-U-K-E, represents second, what nine-letter word can represent third? There are two possible answers - one common and one not-so common. Either one will be counted correct. So if pajama represents first and rebuke represents second, what nine-letter word can represent third?
MARTIN: All right. When you've got the answer, go to npr.org/puzzle. Click on the submit your answer link, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for those entries is Thursday, February 11 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, then we call you up and then you get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times. And he WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
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