A Cut Above Average You are given three clues. The answer is a word that can follow each of the clues to complete a familiar two-word phrase. For example, given "batting, grade-point and below," the answer would be "average." In addition, each answer has seven letters.
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A Cut Above Average

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A Cut Above Average

A Cut Above Average

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz. And, Will, you're at WFYI.

WILL SHORTZ: Yes, in Indianapolis. My mother's turning 100, and so I'm back here with the family to celebrate. You remember, she was on the show years ago?

HANSEN: I do, and we want to give a shout-out to Wilma Shortz, Will Shortz's mom, who is turning 100 years old this weekend. Bravo, brava. And is there a big party for her?


HANSEN: Excellent. All right, I imagine you were thinking on the drive to Indianapolis about what puzzle you were going to give to our listeners and what puzzle you're going to give to our player, but first we have to get through the puzzle you gave everyone last week. What was it?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Ward Hartenstein of Rochester, New York. It involved the name Wayne Manor, which is the home of Batman. And the puzzle was: rearrange the letters of Wayne Manor to name two well-known American corporations past or present. What corporations are they?

HANSEN: And what corporations are they?

SHORTZ: They are Amway and Enron.

HANSEN: You know, we had the most entries in some time - nearly 2,000 - to this week's particular challenge, and out of those entries our winner is Bob Brittingham of Memphis, Tennessee. Hi, Bob.

Mr. BOB BRITTINGHAM: Hi. Good morning, Liane.

HANSEN: It is Brittingham, yes?


HANSEN: What do you do in Memphis?

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: I teach economics and statistics at Christian Brothers University.

HANSEN: All right. How long have you been playing our puzzle?

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Oh, I go back to the 20th century and postcards. I don't think they were penny postcards but it was...

HANSEN: No, no, they were a little more expensive and you've been sending in entries since then?

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Pretty much.

HANSEN: Good for you. Well, all right. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Bob and Liane. I'm going to give you three words. You give me a word that can follow each of mine to complete a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if I said: batting, grade point and below, you would say average, as in batting average, grade point average and below average. And here's a hint: each answer has exactly seven letters.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Seven letters, OK.

SHORTZ: Here's number one: shooting, peanut and rogues.


SHORTZ: Gallery is right. Number two is drivers, liquor, poetic.


SHORTZ: Good. Adding, time, pinball.


SHORTZ: That's right. Electric, horse, wet.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Oh, blanket.

SHORTZ: Blanket is correct. Try this one: motion, mental, class. That's C-L-A-S-S.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Question, mental and class.

HANSEN: Motion is the first word, M.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Oh, motion.

HANSEN: Yeah. Motion, mental, class.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Not sickness. Motion...

HANSEN: Motion...

SHORTZ: Something you might go to see.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Oh, picture.

HANSEN: Of course.

SHORTZ: Motion picture, mental picture and class picture is right.


SHORTZ: How about train, filling, radio.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Train, dueling?

SHORTZ: Second word is filling F-I-L-L-I-N-G.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Oh, station.

SHORTZ: Filling station, right. Vacuum, dry, pipe.


SHORTZ: That's right. Spring, fried, rubber.


SHORTZ: That's it. Trial, lead, hot air.


SHORTZ: That's right. English, television, water.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: English, television and water. English channel.

SHORTZ: That's it. Television channel, water channel. How about animal, graham, Ritz.


SHORTZ: That's it. Political, computer, rocket.


SHORTZ: That's it. And here's your last one: straight, six, trouble.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: OK. What were the first two, please?

SHORTZ: First two were straight S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T, six -S-I-X and...


SHORTZ: ...and trouble. Trouble shooter, good job.

HANSEN: Bob, nice work. You've left me speechless it was so good.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: After 20 years, I was afraid I was going to go blooey.

HANSEN: No, you did not go blooey and you did not go blank. And between us, we managed to work out what on earth will was looking for here.


HANSEN: Nice job. And to tell you what you'll get for playing today's puzzle, we have the founder and artistic director of the choral music organization, Vocal Essence. He's on the show later talking about the origins of some of our traditional well-known Christmas music. Here's Philip Brunelle.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. PHILIP BRUNELLE: 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 Ken-Ken 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.

HANSEN: Before you go, Bob, tell us what member station you listen to.


HANSEN: Ah, I love it that you know the frequency. Bob Brittingham of Memphis, Tennessee, thanks so much for playing the puzzle with us. Enjoy your holidays with your family.

Mr. BRITTINGHAM: Thanks, Liane. Well, Merry Christmas.

HANSEN: Merry Christmas.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Bob.

HANSEN: All right, Will. You got something in your pocket for next week?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. Name a city in the United States whose name ends in the letter S, as in Sam. This city is one of the largest cities in its state. Change the S to a different letter and rearrange the result. You'll name the state the city is in. What city and state are these?

So again, a U.S. city whose name ends in the letter S. It's one of the largest cities in its state. Change the S to a different letter, rearrange the result, you'll name the state the city is in. What city and state are these?

HANSEN: When 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 Thursday, 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call you if youre 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 puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.

Have a Merry Christmas and a great birthday party for your mom. Will Shortz, thank you.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Liane.

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