Making a Name for Themselves Puzzle master Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. (This week's winner is Kathy Emerson from Brunswick, Maine. She listens to Weekend Edition on member station WMEA in Portland.)
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Making a Name for Themselves

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Making a Name for Themselves

Making a Name for Themselves

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

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

And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz.

Hi, Will. Happy new year.

WILL SHORTZ (Puzzle Master): Hi, Liane. Happy new year to you.

HANSEN: Oh, thank you very much. I'm afraid I'm working my way through a little bit of a cold, but hey, if I start the new year with a cold, then the rest of the year's gotta get better, right? That's what I think.

SHORTZ: Yes. The only way to go.

HANSEN: Only way to go. Well, I know our on-air challenge is, you know, your annual puzzle that you give every year, but before we can get that into our--the winner of last week's challenge, let's repeat that challenge that you gave everyone to work on. It was a holiday-themed challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. I said name something in nine letters commonly seen around Christmas; I said change the first letter to the previous letter of the alphabet, change the third letter to the following letter of the alphabet, and the result will name part of the human body. What words are these?

HANSEN: What words are they?

SHORTZ: Well, the first is mistletoe. Change those letters, you get `little toe.'

HANSEN: Oh, classy. We had over 1,400 entries from people who tried to solve the puzzle, and our winner, randomly selected from the correct answers, is Kathy Emerson. And she joins us from Brunswick, Maine.

Hi, Kathy.

Ms. KATHY EMERSON (Listener): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: What do you do there in Brunswick, Maine?

Ms. EMERSON: Well, right now I'm working for L.L. Bean...

HANSEN: Oh.

Ms. EMERSON: ...the catalog company and retailer.

HANSEN: And `for now'--do you do something else outside the holiday season?

Ms. EMERSON: Yeah. During the summers we have a bed-and-breakfast at Stonington, Maine.

HANSEN: Oh, nice, very nice. Are you a puzzle player? Have you been playing a long time?

Ms. EMERSON: Yeah. I've always liked words, word puzzles.

HANSEN: Oh, well, you did well with this one. How long did it take you?

Ms. EMERSON: This one, actually, I got really fast. It's like the fastest I've ever gotten one.

HANSEN: Ooh.

Ms. EMERSON: Usually takes me a few days, but this time...

HANSEN: Well, a personal best, so your reward, you know, is to now play on the air.

Ms. EMERSON: Right.

HANSEN: All right. Well, Kathy, meet Will.

SHORTZ: Well, Kathy and Liane, I'm going to name some people who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You probably never heard of them before 2005, but they were all big in the news during the past year. Who are they? And before I begin, I'd like to thank Tim Goodman and Kathy Baker, who played this quiz on the air in previous years, for helping me with this year's list. And here's number one: Harriet Miers. And your clue is nominee.

Ms. EMERSON: That was--nominee to the Supreme Court.

SHORTZ: That's right--who withdrew her name from consideration.

Ms. EMERSON: Right.

SHORTZ: Number two is Joseph Ratzinger.

Ms. EMERSON: Nope.

SHORTZ: He's the new...

HANSEN: He's the former cardinal and the new pope.

SHORTZ: The new Pope Benedict XVI is right. Angela Merkel. A-N-G-E-L-A M-E-R-K-E-L. Angela Merkel.

Ms. EMERSON: No, not here.

HANSEN: She's the new German chancellor.

SHORTZ: New chancellor of Germany. Excellent. How about Patrick Fitzgerald?

Ms. EMERSON: Don't know him, either.

HANSEN: Oh, a federal prosecutor...

SHORTZ: That's right, special counsel who outlined the criminal charges against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, Scooter Libby. Try this one: Cindy Sheehan.

Ms. EMERSON: Cindy Sheehan. I should know Cindy Sheehan. The name is really familiar, but it's not...

SHORTZ: I'll tell you she protested at a...

Ms. EMERSON: Oh, yes, protested President--protested the war and sat outside President Bush's compound and...

SHORTZ: That's exactly it. Good. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Ms. EMERSON: No, don't know her.

HANSEN: No.

SHORTZ: She's the first woman to be elected president...

HANSEN: Of?

SHORTZ: ...of an African country, and in this case...

HANSEN: Oh!

SHORTZ and HANSEN: (In unison) Liberia.

HANSEN: OK.

SHORTZ: Good. How about Gregory Olsen?

HANSEN: Oh...

Ms. EMERSON: No.

SHORTZ: And your clue is millionaire.

Ms. EMERSON: Oh, is he something to do with the--sending him up in--or going up into space?

SHORTZ: That's exactly it!

Ms. EMERSON: OK.

SHORTZ: He spent about $20 million of his own money to fly with Russian cosmonauts.

Ms. EMERSON: All right.

SHORTZ: Nice job. Anna Ayala, A-Y-A-L-A. Anna Ayala, and your clue is Wendy's.

Ms. EMERSON: Oh, is she's the one having to do with the finger that was...

SHORTZ: Yes, very good. She supposedly found the severed human finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili. How about Corey Clark? Corey Clark. Your clue is former contestant.

Ms. EMERSON: Former contestant on this program?

HANSEN: No.

SHORTZ: No, much bigger than that.

HANSEN: No, no, no, no.

SHORTZ: Liane.

HANSEN: We're not going to go there. He was a former contestant on "American Idol." And didn't he claim or allege that there was some folderol with the judge Paula Abdul?

SHORTZ: That's exactly it. Good.

HANSEN: All right.

SHORTZ: Judge John E. Jones. John E. Jones.

Ms. EMERSON: I need a clue.

SHORTZ: And it was within the last month. He made a significant ruling.

Ms. EMERSON: Oh, is that having to do with the teaching of creationism in the schools?

HANSEN: That's it.

SHORTZ: That's right. He was the judge who ruled in the Dover, Pennsylvania, case that intelligent design theory cannot be taught in science classes. And your last one is Tai Shan. First name is T-A-I and the last name is S-H-A-N.

HANSEN: This doesn't qualify as a person, Will.

SHORTZ: Tai Shan. Well, it is a non-human, that's true.

HANSEN: It's a name in the news, that's right.

SHORTZ: And it is in Washington, so, Liane, you have a...

Ms. EMERSON: Oh, I remember that--one of the panda, the baby...

HANSEN: Kathy, all right!

Ms. EMERSON: Aww, thank you.

SHORTZ: The Washington Zoo's newest panda cub. Nice job.

HANSEN: Known as `little stick of butter.'

Hey, you know, Kathy, it's interesting. Sometimes when you hear the names out of context in the story...

Ms. EMERSON: Right. Yeah.

HANSEN: ...you know, you can't quite put your...

Ms. EMERSON: Well, I can scramble letters and things.

HANSEN: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: You like to unscramble letters and stuff like that. Forget this history trivia. Well, you rallied at the end. Nice work, Kathy. 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 Bros.; "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House, volume two; and a set of Sudoku puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press.

Ms. EMERSON: Thank you.

HANSEN: Kathy, tell us what member station now you listen to.

Ms. EMERSON: I listen to WMEA in Portland.

HANSEN: All right. Kathy Emerson in Brunswick, Maine, thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us today.

Ms. EMERSON: All righty. Thank you. Happy new year.

HANSEN: Oh, happy new year to you, too. OK.

All right, Will, the first challenge of 2006--what is it?

SHORTZ: Well, I brought an easy challenge for the start of the new year. It's from Ed Pegg Jr., who runs the Web site MathPuzzle.com. The numbers 2, 4, 6 and 30 are the first four numbers whose names lack the letter E. What is the 23rd number whose name lacks an E? So again, the numbers 2, 4, 6 and 30 are the first four numbers whose names lack the letter E. What's the 23rd number whose name lacks an E?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, remember there's a new way to send in your entry. We no longer accept e-mail entries, but you can go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday puzzle page. Only one entry per person please, and our deadline this week 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 puzzle master, Will Shortz, who joined us from New York.

Thanks a lot, Will, and again, a happy new year to you.

SHORTZ: Happy new year, Liane.

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