LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Houston, we have a problem. I've always wanted to say that. In fact, we've got several, and we need your help solving them. It's time for The Puzzle.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Will, good morning from Houston.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yeah. It came from listener Joseph Young of St. Cloud, Minn. I said take the singular and plural forms of a particular noun. I said remove the first two letters of the singular form, and you'll name a country. And remove one letter from inside the plural form to name another country. What words and countries are these? Well, the answer is yeoman and yeomen. And you do those operations, you get Oman and Yemen.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received more than 600 correct responses. Our randomly selected winner is Shaun Kuter of Phoenix, Ariz. Congratulations.
SHAUN KUTER: Thank you so much, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I hear you're somewhat of a wordsmith and, at one point, a competitive one.
KUTER: Yes. I competed in the National Poetry Slam as a younger man. I'm still involved in poetry. But, yeah, I was - I represented the city of Mesa at the National Poetry Slam in 2006.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, I am going to have to ask you to do something right now and give me a little example.
KUTER: Well, most of my poetry, unfortunately, was not NPR appropriate.
KUTER: You know, as an angry young man, I had to use some choice language, so (laughter).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. And you are an attorney now.
KUTER: I am, yes.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. Do you have a question for Will?
KUTER: Yeah. Will, I know a lot of people are featured as answers in the crossword puzzle. Has anybody ever been mad about the clue that led them to that answer?
SHORTZ: Interesting, mad about the clue. I can't remember that. No, most people are flattered to be in the puzzle. I do remember once getting a letter from a semi-famous playwright listing all his accomplishments to help me write future clues about him.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Exactly. Your mind is in the mail, Will, whenever I finally get my moment in the sun.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Shaun, are you ready to play The Puzzle?
KUTER: I'm ready.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Take it away.
SHORTZ: All right, Shaun, I'm going to give you some words. Change one letter in each of them to name something to eat. For example, if I said steal, S-T-E-A-L, you would say steak, changing the L to a K. So here's number one - budge, B-U-D-G-E.
SHORTZ: Fudge is right. Roust, R-O-U-S-T.
SHORTZ: Baron, B-A-R-O-N.
SHORTZ: Filed, F-I-L-E-D.
KUTER: Filed. Let's see, filet.
SHORTZ: Filet, nice. Dumbo, D-U-M-B-O.
KUTER: Gumbo, of course (laughter).
SHORTZ: Good. Liven, L-I-V-E-N.
KUTER: Liven, that - L-I-V-E-N - that would mean, oh, liver.
SHORTZ: Liver is good. Prude, P-R-U-D-E.
SHORTZ: Pasty, P-A-S-T-Y.
KUTER: If you just change the pronunciation, that's a pasty, which is a very good thing to eat.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is. Cornish pasty.
KUTER: Is that what you were going for?
SHORTZ: Interesting, yeah. But I'm going to force you to change a letter.
KUTER: OK (laughter). I was so proud of myself that I didn't even think further ahead. How about pasta?
SHORTZ: Pasta is it, good. Child, C-H-I-L-D.
KUTER: Child, chile.
SHORTZ: Chile. Butler, B-U-T-L-E-R.
SHORTZ: Tickle, T-I-C-K-L-E.
SHORTZ: Bookie, B-O-O-K-I-E.
KUTER: Cookie, C is for.
SHORTZ: Good. Poodle, P-O-O-D-L-E.
SHORTZ: Ran out, R-A-N-O-U-T.
SHORTZ: Oh, you're good. And here's your last one - delish, D-E-L-I-S-H.
SHORTZ: Relish. Shaun, you did great.
KUTER: Thank you (laughter).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are really, really good.
KUTER: (Laughter) I think I was just hungry.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. Shaun, what member station do you listen to?
KUTER: I'm a member of KJZZ in Phoenix.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Shaun Kuter of Phoenix, Ariz., thank you for playing The Puzzle.
KUTER: Thank you so much, Lulu and Will.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What's next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yeah, it is a playful challenge from listener Carole Highland of Ephrata, Wash. The name of what vehicle spelled backward becomes phonetically a forward phrase identifying another vehicle. So that's it. The name of what vehicle spelled backward becomes phonetically a forward phrase identifying another vehicle.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, December 14 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll 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 puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thank you, Lulu.
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