Sunday Puzzle: It's Rhyme Time Listener Gene Herman plays the puzzle with Will Shortz and NPR's Ayesha Rascoe.

Sunday Puzzle: It's Rhyme Time

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And it's time to play the Puzzle.


RASCOE: Joining us, as always, is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION. And he also happens to be the subject of a really, really delightful interview by The New Yorker. And so I'm going to just take a moment here at the top to deal with some highlights from that, if that's OK with you, Will.


RASCOE: OK, so, I mean, I found out a whole lot reading this story. The only issue I do have with the story is they did not mention NPR until about three-quarters of the way down, and I do - you are the puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION, so I feel like they should have put that at the top, but that's not on you.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

RASCOE: So - but you started - you actually started making puzzles at 8 years old, and you made puzzle-making your own major in college. Like, you made it up yourself. I didn't even know you could do that.

SHORTZ: Wow. Well, I've been crazy about puzzles since I was a kid. When I was a kid, I joked about majoring in puzzles at college, never imagining that you could do it. But Indiana University has this program where you can literally make up your major in anything if you're accepted into the program. And I convinced them that puzzle-making, or puzzles in general - enigmatology, as I called it - was a subject of - a serious subject of academic inquiry.

RASCOE: You also mentioned that you found love at 70 and - for the first time, a serious relationship. That's really exciting.

SHORTZ: Wow. What am I going to say here?

RASCOE: (Laughter) Now you're puzzled, see? Now you're puzzled.

SHORTZ: Yeah. You never know what life is going to throw at you - you know? - and this just dropped in my lap, and life has been real nice for me. And it's even better now.

RASCOE: I think that is just lovely. So, Will, I'll take you off the hot spot.

SHORTZ: We'll put somebody else in the hot spot.

RASCOE: Yeah, we'll put somebody else in the hot seat. So first, start off by reminding us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass. I said name a popular rock band, one that everyone knows. Add a B sound at the end, and phonetically, you'll name a place where you might hear this band play. What band is it? Well, the band is U2. Add a B sound, and you get YouTube.

RASCOE: Oh, OK. That's good. Now, out of over 2,000 correct submissions, Gene Herman of Huntington Beach, Calif., is our puzzle winner. Congratulations and welcome to the show.

GENE HERMAN: Thank you, Ayesha.

RASCOE: So how long have you been playing the Puzzle, Gene?

HERMAN: I'd say probably about 30 years or so, from way back in the postcard days.

RASCOE: Well, that is awesome. So then I know that you're ready to play this puzzle, right?

HERMAN: Absolutely.

RASCOE: OK, well, take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Gene and Ayesha. There is a syndicated newspaper puzzle called Wordy Gurdy. I don't know if you know it. It's been around for almost 50 years. It involves rhyming phrases like history mystery and charity rarity, and it's made now by Mark Danna, who celebrated his 30th anniversary with the puzzle last week. So today, I thought I'd do some wordy gurdies (ph). Every answer is a rhyming two-word phrase, like history mystery, in which each word has three syllables. Here's No. 1 - a how-to guide that comes out once a year.

HERMAN: Annual manual.

SHORTZ: You got it. No. 2 - one who totes around an object that blocks passage. Three syllables, and if you tote something, what do you do to it?

HERMAN: Carrier barrier.

SHORTZ: You got it. A barrier carrier is it. An eyeglass that's shaped like a dunce cap.

HERMAN: Conical monocle.

SHORTZ: Oh, you got it. A better-looking guy who pays a kidnapper.

HERMAN: Handsomer ransomer (ph).

SHORTZ: Oh, you're on a roll. Sweepstakes for some earthenware.

HERMAN: Crockery lottery.

SHORTZ: Well, lottery is right.

HERMAN: Pottery. Pottery lottery.

SHORTZ: Pottery lottery is it. And here's your last one - some garden flowers from the capital of Austria.

HERMAN: Vienna sienna?

SHORTZ: Vienna in the adjectival form.

HERMAN: Viennese peonies.

SHORTZ: Viennese peonies, you got it.

RASCOE: Oh, my goodness. Gene, I am so glad you got that 'cause I could not help you with anything. How do you feel, Gene?

HERMAN: Oh, I feel relieved. You know, I never know what type of puzzle you're going to have, but this one wasn't bad once we got started.

SHORTZ: You did great today.

RASCOE: Oh, yeah. No, you did awesome. So 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, Gene, what member station do you listen to?


RASCOE: That's Gene Herman of Huntington Beach, Calif. Thank you so much for playing the Puzzle.

HERMAN: Well, thank you for having me.

SHORTZ: All right, Will, what is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Elaine Elinson of San Francisco. Name a tree. In the very middle of the word, insert a homophone of another tree, and the result will be a new word describing what everyone wants to be. What is it? So again, name a tree. In the very middle of the word, insert a homophone of another tree, and the result will be a new word describing what everyone wants to be. What is it?

RASCOE: When you have the answer, go to our website,, and click on the submit your answer link. Remember, just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries this upcoming holiday week is Thursday, February 23 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you. If you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And if you pick up the phone, you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION, Will Shortz. Thank you, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Ayesha.


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