LIANE HANSEN, host:
From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.
And joining us is Puzzle Master Will Shortz. Hey, Will.
WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane.
HANSEN: How are you?
SHORTZ: I'm doing great. How are you?
HANSEN: Very well, thank you. It's beginning to look a lot like spring in the nation's capital. The cherry blossoms are coming out on cue, so it's real nice. Real, real, real, real nice.
I'm surprised you didn't give us, like, an Easter challenge last Sunday. Sometimes you do things like that but you didn't. We had a great time and you left us with a challenge from one of our listeners. What was it?
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Dan Asimov from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I said name a well-known historical figure in six letters with a one-word name. The first and fourth letters are the same; the second and fifth letters are the same, and the third letter is one letter before the sixth letter alphabetically. Who is this person?
HANSEN: Who is it?
SHORTZ: It's Xerxes.
HANSEN: Who is Xerxes?
SHORTZ: He's the leader of the Persian Empire.
HANSEN: That's a great crossword puzzle name, Xerxes. Well…
SHORTZ: That's right.
HANSEN: …we had over 1,000 entries from people who solved the puzzle. Our randomly selected winner is Laura Spaan. And she joins us from Anchorage, Alaska. Hi, Laura.
Ms. LAURA SPAAN (Caller): Hi. How are you?
HANSEN: We're well. How are you? What do you do in Anchorage?
Ms. SPAAN: I am a documentary filmmaker.
HANSEN: Wow. You got something anyone can see?
Ms. SPAAN: Actually I do. I have a documentary called "More Than Words" that's out and about. It usually hits university circuits. But it's about the last native speaker of the Eyak language.
HANSEN: How exciting. "More Than Words" is the name of it. How long have you been playing our puzzle games?
Ms. SPAAN: Well, you know, snug in my own bed Sunday mornings probably ten years. But just the last two weeks I've actually submitted answers.
HANSEN: You know, it would've been interesting to have had you on last week.
Ms. SPAAN: I knew I was going to win last week.
HANSEN: Yeah. Well, but the week before when the answer was the Alaska state flag. And you actually can sing the Alaska flag song.
Ms. SPAAN: I can. And almost every Alaskan can. I won't torture everybody too much. But the beginning line is (singing) Eight stars of gold on a field of blue. So, Alaska's flag.
Ms. SPAAN: Yeah.
HANSEN: Now, enough procrastinating with flag songs. You ready to play this puzzle?
Ms. SPAAN: I'm as ready as I'm going to ever be.
HANSEN: Well, that's as ready as you can be. All righty, Will, meet Laura. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, Laura. Every answer today is a familiar three-word phase in the form blank of blank, in which the first word starts with M as in Mary. I'll give you the third word in the phrase, you tell me the first word.
For example: if I said production, you would say means, as in means of production.
Ms. SPAAN: Okay.
SHORTZ: All right. Number one is magnesia.
Ms. SPAAN: Milk of magnesia.
SHORTZ: Is correct. Number of two is dimes.
Ms. SPAAN: Oh, March of Dimes.
SHORTZ: March of Dimes is right. Zorro.
Ms. SPAAN: Zorro?
Ms. SPAAN: Mark of Zorro.
SHORTZ: The Mark of Zorro is right.
Ms. SPAAN: Oh…
(Soundbite of sword swishing)
SHORTZ: Excellent. Steel, S-T-E-E-L.
Ms. SPAAN: Made of steel.
SHORTZ: Huh. I wasn't thinking…
Ms. SPAAN: Man of steel.
SHORTZ: …maybe - man of steel was what I was going for.
Ms. SPAAN: Well, there you go.
SHORTZ: Okay. Try this one: truth.
Ms. SPAAN: How about a clue here.
SHORTZ: Yeah. If you're in a difficult situation that is testing you, you would have a blank of truth.
Ms. SPAAN: Oh, moment of truth.
SHORTZ: Moment of truth is right. Parliament.
Ms. SPAAN: Parliament.
SHORTZ: And Britain is commonly abbreviated M.P. What does that M stand for?
HANSEN: The same could apply to Congress if you used Congress as the last word too, Will, right?
SHORTZ: Right, yes. Go ahead, Liane.
HANSEN: Member. A member of…
SHORTZ: Member of…
Ms. SPAAN: That's too easy.
SHORTZ: Sometimes it is. Try this one: pearl, P-E-A-R-L.
Ms. SPAAN: Mother of pearl.
SHORTZ: Mother of pearl is right. Ceremonies.
Ms. SPAAN: Master of ceremonies.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Fact, F-A-C-T.
Ms. SPAAN: Matter of fact.
SHORTZ: Right. And here's your last one: life, L-I-F-E.
Ms. SPAAN: Okay. I'm going to need a clue on this one.
SHORTZ: It's something everyone searches for.
Ms. SPAAN: Oh, the meaning of life.
SHORTZ: Is correct.
HANSEN: Well done.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HANSEN: The meaning of life.
Ms. SPAAN: Well, and now I may know the answer.
HANSEN: And what is that, by the way?
Ms. SPAAN: Making it through the puzzler in one piece.
HANSEN: Well, here's the surprise that we have for you. Food Network personality Alton Brown, tell Laura what she's taking home.
Mr. ALTON BROWN (Food Network Personality): Well, for playing our Puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin. Yay. The 11th edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus. And what's another word for thesaurus? That's right; there isn't one. The Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers, the Puzzle Master Presents from Random House, Volume 2, Will Shortz's Little Black Book of Sudoku, and Black and White Book of Crosswords from St. Martin's Press and one of Will Shortz's Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books.
HANSEN: How's that for a surprise?
HANSEN: That's Alton Brown. He's coming up in a few minutes. We're going to talk to him about road food and his series that he did on the Food Network "Feasting on Asphalt" is now in a book so we…
Ms. SPAAN: That's not road kill.
HANSEN: No, no, road kill on this, man. There's real food in this one. Real food on this one. But before we hear from him we have to hear from you, Laura. Tell us what member station you listen to.
Ms. SPAAN: We actually have several member stations here. We have KMBA and KSKA, both awesome stations.
HANSEN: Awesome Public Radio. Laura Spaan in Anchorage, Alaska. You were swell. What fun we had today. Thanks a lot for playing.
Ms. SPAAN: Thank you.
HANSEN: All right. Bye-bye.
Ms. SPAAN: Bye-bye.
HANSEN: Okay, Will. Now, let's have a challenge for next week.
SHORTZ: Yes. Think of an adjective starting with over, O-V-E-R. What follows over is a word that has a homophone, or a word that sounds the same but is spelled differently. For example, if the over word were overcast, what follows over would be cast, C-A-S-T, which is a homophone of caste, C-A-S-T-E. And here's the puzzle: think of an adjective starting with over that is frequently used with the homophone of the word that follows over. What is it?
So, again, an adjective starting with over that is frequently used with the homophone of the part that follows over. What word is this?
HANSEN: When you have the answer go to our Web site, NPR.org/puzzle. Click on the Submit Your Answer link. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach at about that time. We'll call you if you are 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.
Hey, Will, thanks a lot.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.
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