REBECCA ROBERTS, host:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rebecca Roberts.
And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hey, Will.
WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Rebecca.
ROBERTS: It's good to hear your voice. It's been a while. So, remind us of the challenge you left us with last week.
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Elizabeth Gorski, who's a New York Times crossword contributor. I said, take the phrase patron saint, remove a letter then rearrange the remaining letters to create a new, familiar two-word phrase - three letters in the first word, seven letters in the second word - that name something important in life. What thing is this?
ROBERTS: And I love the answer to this puzzle. What was it?
SHORTZ: Thank you. Well, let me tell you first of all, it's getting very hard nowadays to write challenge puzzles that can't be solved by computer, and this is one that couldn't be. If you put patron saint into computer programs, it won't come up with the answer, which was NPR station.
And I'll tell you, we also accepted the answer rap station. I thought about that and thought, rap station, yeah, that's a common phrase and that could be important in life too.
ROBERTS: Well, I don't know whether it's due to the lack of computer solving ability or the relative importance of NPR, but we actually only received 597 entries this week, which is low for us. We do have a winner though. His name is James Steffen of Germantown, Tennessee. Hi, James.
Mr. JAMES STEFFEN: Hello.
ROBERTS: So, what do you do in Germantown?
Mr. STEFFEN: I work at a digital printing company and I manage new product design and automation there.
ROBERTS: And I understand that in your free time you do insanely competitive extreme sports.
Mr. STEFFEN: Yes, you could say that. I do a lot of running and triathlons. And I actually just completed an Ironman at the end of August.
ROBERTS: Are you a regular puzzle player?
Mr. STEFFEN: I have been. Actually my fiancee turned me on to a Sunday Puzzle about a year and a half ago, and, yeah, we listen to it pretty much every week.
ROBERTS: Great. So, are you ready to play.
Mr. STEFFEN: I am ready.
Mr. STEFFEN: Terribly nervous but ready.
ROBERTS: Oh, you'll do fine. Will, meet James; James, meet Will. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, James and Rebecca. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence has two blanks. The word that goes in the first blank ends in the letter D, as in dog. Drop the D and phonetically you'll get a new word that goes in the second blank to complete the sentence. For example, answers might be field to feel or beard to beer. Here's number one: In Napa Valley, this road will blank 15 miles through blank country.
Mr. STEFFEN: Wind and wine.
SHORTZ: That's it. Number two: even though I have a phobia about yellow foods, I added blank to my hot dog with all the strength I could blank.
Mr. STEFFEN: Mustard and muster.
SHORTZ: That's it. That lazy bum is such a blank, he'll never practice batting skills enough to become a blank.
Mr. STEFFEN: Well, these are much easier when you're listening on the radio on Sunday morning.
ROBERTS: I'm going to with sluggard and slugger on that one.
SHORTZ: That's it. Such a sluggard, never become a slugger. Good one, Rebecca. Try this one: in colonial New Hampshire, before the European emigrants could settle in blank, they first had to blank the Indians.
Mr. STEFFEN: Oh, Concord and conquer.
SHORTZ: Yeah, conquer the Indians, good. During seniors week on the TV game show, one old blank just couldn't push his blank fast enough to get any answers.
Mr. STEFFEN: Buzzard and buzzer.
SHORTZ: That's it.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SHORTZ: To improve city hygiene, blank, Alaska has installed a new blank system. Here it is again: to improve city hygiene, blank, Alaska has installed a new blank system. Think of the U.S. secretary of state who helped purchase Alaska.
Mr. STEFFEN: Oh, Seward and sewer.
SHORTZ: That's it, new sewer system, good. In return for her longtime service to the Food Network chef, Sarah personally received an blank brooch from blank himself. So, here it is again: In return for her longtime service to the Food Network chef, Sarah personally received an blank brooch from blank himself.
ROBERTS: Kick it up a notch there, James.
Mr. STEFFEN: Yeah, I'm sorry. I don't...
ROBERTS: That was a hint.
SHORTZ: That was a hint.
Mr. STEFFEN: Oh, OK. So, that's emerald and Emeril.
SHORTZ: That's it, very good.
Mr. STEFFEN: Thank you for the hint. Great hint.
SHORTZ: And here's your last one: with the increase of money into the English Royal Treasury, King blank was considerably blank.
Mr. STEFFEN: Can you repeat that one?
SHORTZ: Yeah. With the increase of money into the English Royal Treasury, King blank was considerably blank.
Mr. STEFFEN: Richard and richer?
Mr. SHORTZ: That is it. Nice job.
ROBERTS: Good job, James.
Mr. STEFFEN: Thank you.
ROBERTS: So to tell you what you'll get for actually playing today's puzzle is someone who, believe it or not, has actually written an entire book about the phone book. He's a longtime word nerd and a New Times puzzler. Here's Ammon Shea.
Mr. AMMON SHEA (Author, "The Phone Book"): For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, the book series, "Will Shortz Presents KenKen" Volumes 1, 2 and 3 from St. Martin's Press, one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books, and a CD compilation of NPR's Sunday Puzzles.
ROBERTS: And you can hear my conversation with Ammon Shea about his phone book-book in just a minute. But before we let you go, James, tell us what member station you listen to.
Mr. STEFFEN: WKNO in Memphis. And yes, I am a member.
ROBERTS: Good to hear. James Steffen in Germantown, Tennessee, thanks so much for playing the puzzle.
Mr. STEFFEN: Thank you.
ROBERTS: So, Will, what are we going to puzzle our listeners with this week?
Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. Name a famous person, six letters in the first name, eight letters in the last. In this person's first name, the first two letters are the same as the last two letters. And these two letters also start the last name. And even more oddly, the first two letters of the last name are pronounced differently from how they're pronounced in the first name. Who is this person?
So again: A famous person, six-eight. In this person's first name, the first two letters are the same as the last two letters. And these two letters also start the last name. And the first two letters of the last name are pronounced differently from how they're pronounced in the first name. Who is this famous person?
ROBERTS: If you think you have the answer, go to our website, NPR.org/puzzle. And click on the Submit Your Answer link, only one entry per person, please. Our deadline is next Thursday at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And we'll call you if you're the winner, 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, Will.
Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks, Rebecca.
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