For the Birds NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. (This week's winner is Robert Reiser from Tallahassee, Fla.He listens to Weekend Edition on member station WFSU in Tallahassee.)
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For the Birds

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For the Birds

For the Birds

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ (Puzzlemaster): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: You hottie, you. Remember that contest we talked about last week on

SHORTZ: Yes, I do. And the voting was interesting. You know, when it started out, there was a--I had a huge lead in the Love Him For His Brains category, and over the course of the weekend, the margin narrowed. And then after you mentioned this on the program last Sunday, the margin started spreading again, so...


SHORTZ: ...thank you and thank you to the listeners.

HANSEN: ...New York Times hottie of the year, men we love for your brain. That is terrific. Well done. Congratulations.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

HANSEN: All right. Let's get our brains in gear. First of all, remind of us the challenge you left us with last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Henry Hook who is one of the country's top crossword constructors. I said, `Think of a word that completes the two-word phrase blank jump. Remove the fourth letter. The remaining letters phonetically make a new word that completes the two-word phrase blank hop. What is it?'

HANSEN: And what is it?

SHORTZ: Well, the answer is bungee jump to bunny hop.

HANSEN: We had over 1,200 entries from people who solved this challenge and our winner, randomly selected from the correct answers, is Professor Robert Reiser(ph) from Tallahassee, Florida.

Hi. How are you?

Professor ROBERT REISER: Fine. Good to talk to you.

HANSEN: Tell us what you do there in Tallahassee.

Prof. REISER: I'm a professor in the instructional systems program. That's a program where our students go out and design training programs and use other methods to improve worker performance.

HANSEN: Oh, how interesting. Are you a puzzle fan, a puzzle player?

Prof. REISER: I listen every Sunday. I copy down all of Will's questions, and then when my kids and my wife get up, I read them to them to see if they can solve them.

HANSEN: And how do they do?

Prof. REISER: They usually do pretty well. After they stop moaning and groaning, they get them right.

HANSEN: Excellent. Well, it sounds like you are ready to play today.

Prof. REISER: I hope so.

HANSEN: Will, meet Robert.

Prof. REISER: Hi, Will.

HANSEN: Let's play.

SHORTZ: Hi. Can I call you Bob?

Prof. REISER: Sure. Definitely.

SHORTZ: All right. Well, today's puzzle is for the birds. I'm going to give you clues for some words. Remove the first letter of each word and you'll get the name of a bird. For example, if I said, `Back of a boat,' you would say, `stern.' And if you remove the S, you're left with tern.

Prof. REISER: Yes.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one is a container for breakfast cereal.

Prof. REISER: Bowl, owl.

SHORTZ: That's correct. Number two, retired general who ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.

Prof. REISER: Clark, lark.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Author of "Around the World in Eighty Days."

Prof. REISER: Verne, erne.

SHORTZ: Erne is right, a bird frequently seen in crosswords. A dam in Egypt.

Prof. REISER: Let's see. The Suez; that's a canal.


Prof. REISER: Aswan, swan.

SHORTZ: That's correct. Snoopy, for example.

Prof. REISER: Snoopy. Dog?

SHORTZ: And what variety? What breed?

Prof. REISER: Oh, OK. Beagle, eagle.

SHORTZ: That's it. Have second thoughts about.

Prof. REISER: Second thoughts. Doubt.


HANSEN: I would have thought that, too.

SHORTZ: You do something and then you change your mind and...

Prof. REISER: Regret, egret.

SHORTZ: That's right. Cowardly.

Prof. REISER: Cowardly. Let's see. Scared.

SHORTZ: No. It starts with a C. There's also a film director named Wes by this name.

Prof. REISER: Wes Craven and raven.

SHORTZ: That's right. Now in the next answers, it's the last letter that's deleted to leave the bird's name, and your first one of these is royal headwear.

Prof. REISER: Royal headwear. Crown and crow.

SHORTZ: Good. Capital of Delaware.

Prof. REISER: Delaware. Dover and dove.

SHORTZ: That's right. A dry streambed where rainwater runs off.

Prof. REISER: A dry train bed...

SHORTZ: It's a five-letter word starting with--I'll tell you it ends with Y. It sounds like I'll have to tell you. It's a gully.

HANSEN: A gully.

Prof. REISER: I should have known that.

HANSEN: Of course. Me, too.

Prof. REISER: Gosh.

SHORTZ: All right. Try this. Putting on judges' apparel.

Prof. REISER: Putting on judges' apparel. Robes.

SHORTZ: Yeah, putting on. You've got the word. What would that be?

Prof. REISER: Dress?

HANSEN: No, you have...

SHORTZ: No, you have the right word.

Prof. REISER: Robes.

HANSEN: Robing.

SHORTZ: Robing...

Prof. REISER: Robin.

SHORTZ: ...and robin, good. Exhaling cigarette smoke, for example.

Prof. REISER: Breathe. Not breathe.

SHORTZ: No, what do you take on a cigarette?

Prof. REISER: A puff.

SHORTZ: There you go. And the ...(unintelligible).

Prof. REISER: Puffing and puffin.

SHORTZ: That's it. That's it, puffin. Drink with an olive.

Prof. REISER: Drink with an olive. Martini and a martin.

SHORTZ: That's right. And your last one has the middle letter deleted to leave the bird's name, and your clue is very surprising or shocking.

Prof. REISER: Shocking.

SHORTZ: It's a nine-letter word. It starts with an S.


Prof. REISER: Liane?

HANSEN: Is it startling and starling?

Prof. REISER: Start...

SHORTZ: There you go. Good job.

Prof. REISER: Thank you.

HANSEN: That one was tough. Bob, you know your birds.

Prof. REISER: Ah, a little bit.

HANSEN: A little bit. A little bit. No, you did great. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House, volume two, and "The New York Times Will Shortz's Favorite Sunday Crossword Puzzles" from St. Martin's Press.

Bob, what's your member station?

Prof. REISER: I'm a member of WFSU here in Tallahassee.

HANSEN: All right. Professor Robert Reiser from Tallahassee, Florida, you were terrific. Thanks for playing the puzzle with us.

Prof. REISER: I enjoyed it very much. Thank you.

HANSEN: All right.

Will, something for everyone to work on for the next week.

Prof. REISER: Well, think of a word in three syllables starting with the letter A. Remove the A and you'll be left with a new word and only one syllable. What is it? And here's a hint: The first word has three vowels counting the A. So again, a three-syllable word starting with A. Remove the A and you're left with a new word and only one syllable. What is it?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, e-mail us at Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline is Thursday, 3 PM Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time and we'll call you if you're the winner and you'll get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. There's also information on our Web site at

Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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