Sunday Puzzle: Play The Long (Vowel) Game NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro plays the puzzle with New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz and KUT listener Cory Sureck of Austin, Texas.
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Sunday Puzzle: Play The Long (Vowel) Game

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Sunday Puzzle: Play The Long (Vowel) Game

Sunday Puzzle: Play The Long (Vowel) Game

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And it's time to play The Puzzle.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So, Will, I have something to bring up with you.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: You apparently caused quite a debate over Cuban sandwiches this past week.

SHORTZ: Right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And as you know, I'm from Miami.

SHORTZ: Right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And I took it pretty personally.

SHORTZ: Oh, interesting.


SHORTZ: So last Sunday, there was the crossword clue city famous for its Cuban sandwiches. The answer was Tampa. And, of course, Tampa is. But the people from Miami took offense because Miami is also famous for its Cuban sandwiches. I'm going to stay...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Indeed, one would say more famous...

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...If one had a radio show where one could say such things to the public. Anyway...

SHORTZ: Speaking hypothetically.


SHORTZ: I'm staying neutral in this debate.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Fair enough. But I did want to bring it up just because I did say that I might've had an in with the puzzle editor of The New York Times (laughter).

SHORTZ: Maybe sometime I'll clue Miami as a city famous for its Cuban sandwiches.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That would be pretty funny. All right. What was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener David Chapus of Rush, N.Y. I said think of a six-letter conveyance on wheels. Drop the first letter. Add a new letter at the end. And the result will be another six-letter conveyance on wheels. What conveyances are they? And the first one is boxcar. Do that change, and you get ox cart.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received 817 responses. And our winner this week is Cory Sureck of Austin, Texas. Congratulations.

CORY SURECK: Thank you so much, Lulu. Lulu, I love your name.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, thank you. Thank you. Corey, I think your name is great, too (laughter).

SURECK: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did you figure out this week's challenge?

SURECK: I was just laying in bed. And it instantaneously - boxcar came to me. And I'm like, ox car. Oh, ox cart. So that was it. It was easy.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah. Are you ready to go?

SURECK: I am ready, I think. I'm nervous, though.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. I think you'll do great. I can tell. I can tell these things. All right.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Cory. Think of a made-up two-word phrase. Each word has two syllables. The first syllable has a long E vowel sound. Change that to a long A sound. And, phonetically, you'll get the second word of the phrase. For example, a Jewish roll for a long-eared dog, you would say beagle bagel.

SURECK: Oh, my God. OK.

SHORTZ: Long E and a long A. No. 1 is a weak story from Aesop.

SURECK: A feeble fable.

SHORTZ: Feeble fable, good one. One who despises furnaces.

SURECK: Hater heater.

SHORTZ: Heater hater is right. The E one comes first.

SURECK: Oh, sorry - heater hater.

SHORTZ: That's it. What an angel wears in the biggest city on Hawaii's big island.

SURECK: Hilo halo.

SHORTZ: A Hilo halo is right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I know you were going to be good at this. Didn't I say? All right, go on.


SHORTZ: A more stylish salt or pepper holder.

SURECK: Oh, a chicer shaker.

SHORTZ: Chicer shaker is it.


SHORTZ: Now, the rest of the answers work the same except in reverse. The first syllable of the first word has the long A sound, and you change that to a long E to phonetically get the second word. And your first one of these is an Oakland football player who enjoys books.

SURECK: A Raider reader.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh. An usher for half man, half goat creatures.

SURECK: Oh, what's that guy's name.

SHORTZ: I - uh-huh.

SURECK: Oh, a seater satyr - a satyr seater.

SHORTZ: That's it. Ones working alongside the pontiff.

SURECK: The pope - oh, wait. (Unintelligible).

SHORTZ: What's the adjectival form?

SURECK: Paper peeper. No.


SHORTZ: Almost, almost.

SHORTZ: Pape peep.


SHORTZ: Also close.


SHORTZ: The first one - it's papal. It's papal.

SURECK: Oh, a papal people (laughter).

SHORTZ: Papal people - those are what they are.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was funny, though.

SURECK: Papal people (laughter).

SHORTZ: There you go.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I was like, pape peep. I'm like, I don't know that that's at the Vatican.


SHORTZ: And your last one - one who is a better welcomer.

SURECK: A greater greeter.

SHORTZ: A greater greeter. Good job.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yay. See. How do...

SURECK: Oh, my God. That was fun.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...You did great.

SURECK: (Laughter) That was so much fun.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah? How do you feel?

SURECK: I feel good. And I'm so excited to talk to both of you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Aw. Well, we're...

SHORTZ: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Super happy to have you on the program today. 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 And, Cory, what member station do you listen to?

SURECK: I listen to KUT. Hook 'em horns.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Cory Sureck of Austin, Texas. Thank you for playing The Puzzle.

SHORTZ: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What's next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. Name a profession in 13 letters that is associated with a particular five-letter country. And the letters of this country appear in left to right order, although not consecutively, in that profession's name. What is it? And here's a hint, the profession is named in a single word. So again, 13-letter profession associated with a particular five-letter country. And the letters of that country appear in left to right order in the profession's name. What's the profession, and what's the country?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website - - and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, May 23 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, although he doesn't like Cuban sandwiches just from Miami...

SHORTZ: (Laughter) Oh, I like them both.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...Will Shortz (laughter).

SHORTZ: (Laughter) Thank you, Lulu.

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