LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
WEEKEND Sunday's puzzlemaster Will Shortz isn't just popular among puzzlers; he's becoming quite popular in Hollywood. He's heading to LA to be a consultant on a movie. Will Shortz joins us now. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I am a little bit envious here. What is the movie about?
SHORTZ: It's a crossword mystery in which there is a crossword editor - solves mysteries and...
SHORTZ: ...I'm advising on it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: On what a crossword editor actually does?
SHORTZ: Yes. And I'm not sure the movie will adhere strictly to how a crossword editor actually works but doesn't matter. It's a good movie.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. Do you solve crimes in your spare time?
SHORTZ: (Laughter) No, I don't. I love mysteries, though, you know, so - especially those little 2 and 3-minute ones where you read, and you try to figure it out.
SHORTZ: I love those.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. It's time to play The Puzzle. Will, remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Neville Fogarty of Newport News, Va. I said take the first and last names of a journalist well-known to NPR listeners. Remove the first letter of the last name, and the remaining letters can be rearranged to spell two modes of transport. What are they?
Well, I'll tell you an incorrect answer we got from a listener. It's pretty funny. Jack Speer - remove the S, and you get Jeep and K-car. But the actual answer is Cokie Roberts. Remove that R, and you get scooter and bike.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: This one was pretty challenging. We received fewer than 300 correct responses. And our randomly selected winner is Robert Switzer of West Hollywood, Calif. This is a Hollywood-themed show. Congratulations.
ROBERT SWITZER: Thank you very much.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how did you come up with this week's answer?
SWITZER: It's rather strange. I met Cokie Roberts a year ago at a reunion of congressional pages.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How long have you been playing The Puzzle?
SWITZER: Since the very, very first postcard puzzle back in the Susan Stamberg days.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wow. So this is your big moment. All right, do you have a question for Will?
SWITZER: Yes, I do have a question. How did the whole puzzle begin?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Take us back to our origin story.
SHORTZ: (Laughter) Right. It was Susan's idea. She thought that this program should be the radio equivalent of a Sunday newspaper. And we all know what one of the most popular parts of the Sunday paper is.
SHORTZ: It's the crossword. We couldn't do a crossword on the air, but I came up with this format.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Nice. Robert, are you ready to play The Puzzle?
SWITZER: I'm as ready as I'll ever be.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Here we go. Take it away.
SHORTZ: Robert, I'm going to give you clues for two five-letter words. Reverse the last two letters of the first word to get the second one. For example, if I said aristocratic and a prestigious annual prize, you would say noble and nobel.
SWITZER: Oh (laughter). OK.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: This is hard.
SHORTZ: Oh, it's not too bad. Number one is a squiggle over a Spanish N and like a bathroom floor. What's that little diacritic...
SWITZER: Oh, tilde and tiled.
SHORTZ: Tilde and tiled is right. Here's your next one - move along slowly and a thin pancake, move along slowly and a thin pancake.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The first one could also be a horrible man.
SWITZER: Crepe and creep.
SHORTZ: Oh, you got it. Yeah, creep and crepe. A variety of grape for winemaking and a spotted horse. And that variety of grape - it's a French word.
SWITZER: Oh, I've got it. I've got it - pinot and pinto.
SHORTZ: Pinot and pinto is right. Something that's 90 degrees on a square and a heavenly figure.
SWITZER: Angle and angel.
SHORTZ: Right. Bread-making need and an Irish poet who wrote "The Lake Isle of Innisfree."
SWITZER: Yeast and Yeats.
SHORTZ: Yeast and Yeats, good. An English county and more timid.
SWITZER: Shire and shier.
SHORTZ: That's it.
SWITZER: (Unintelligible) shire.
SHORTZ: No, you got it. Feature on a necklace and applauds.
SWITZER: Clasp and claps.
SHORTZ: That's it. And here's your last one. First sign of the zodiac and to get out of bed.
SWITZER: First sign of the zodiac? Oh, dear, I'm not good on zodiac.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's the ram.
SHORTZ: It's the ram is right. And to get out of bed in the morning, you would?
SWITZER: Wait, wait - gosh. I - arise.
SHORTZ: Arise is it. And?
SWITZER: Aries, arise.
SHORTZ: Aries and arise. Good job.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good job. I thought that was really hard, and you did really, really well.
SWITZER: It wasn't too bad (laughter).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) A ringing endorsement. 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. Robert, what member station do you listen to?
SWITZER: I'm a member of two stations. Locally, we have KPCC in Pasadena, and KCRW in Santa Monica.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Robert Switzer of West Hollywood, Calif., thank you for playing The Puzzle.
SWITZER: Thank you, Lulu. Thank you, Will.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Will, what's next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. Name a world capital. And it's an older way of spelling the name. Drop three letters. And the remaining letters in order will name another world capitol. And both cities have more than a million residents. What cities are these?
So again, world capital - it's an older spelling. Drop three letters. The remaining letters in order will name another world capitol. What cities are these?
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, January 18 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you 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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