RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It is awards season. And if you're in the hunt for that highest of honors, the golden lapel pin, you have tuned into the right place because it is time to play the puzzle. Joining me is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Hey, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel. Of course, that's a faux gold pin.
MARTIN: Of course.
SHORTZ: But valuable nonetheless.
MARTIN: (Laughter) Exactly. OK, what was last week's challenge, Will?
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Massachusetts. I said, think of a U.S. city whose name has nine letters. I said, remove the three letters from the start and the three letters from the end, and only two will remain. How is this possible? And what city is it?
Well, my intended answer - or our intended answer - was Fort Worth, Texas. Get rid of the F-O-R and the R-O-T-H, and you're left with two - T-W-O - kind of tricky. We got a lot of other answers. There's a little town in Kentucky named Flatwoods - works the same way - and a village in North Carolina, Wentworth. And then my favorite answer was Pontoosuc, Illinois.
SHORTZ: It's a village of under 200 on the Mississippi River - P-O-N-T-O-O-S-U-C. Get rid of those outside letters and you're left with T-O-O, which is too. And since we're on the radio, and this is an oral puzzle, you know, that works just as well.
MARTIN: Yeah sure. More than 1,600 of you got one of the right answers, and our winner this week is Amy Cox of Los Angeles, California. Congratulations, Amy.
AMY COX: Thanks.
MARTIN: Are you an avid puzzler, Amy? Do you play with us a lot?
COX: Actually, my parents play each week. And, you know, they've never won. They keep playing. They're so excited to win some day. And, of course, this is the first time I've entered. And, you know, the puzzles are actually really hard usually.
MARTIN: Yeah, tell me about it.
COX: This is, like, one of the first I actually got.
MARTIN: So have you told them that you won?
COX: I am keeping it a secret.
MARTIN: Oh, I love it.
COX: I want to see their reaction. And we're going to be together on Sunday because Sunday is my birthday.
MARTIN: I love it. OK. So as many listeners might know, we do pre-tape the puzzle. So you're saying that on Sunday when this airs, you are going to be gathered around the radio or computer or however you listen to us with your parents, and then they'll find out.
COX: Hopefully I'll be able to videotape their reaction, too.
MARTIN: Oh, very cool. You should share that with us. OK, so let's do it, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Amy and Rachel. Well, last Tuesday I was in Sun Valley, Idaho, for a speaking engagement, and there were a lot of NPR listeners in the audience. So here's an expanded version of one of the puzzles I gave. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials SV. For example, if I said noted Idaho ski resort, you would say Sun Valley.
SHORTZ: Number one - who is honored on February 14?
COX: Saint Valentine.
SHORTZ: Saint Valentine is it. Number two - its capital was Saigon.
COX: Eastern Asia... not...
MARTIN: Yeah, you know this.
COX: South Vietnam.
SHORTZ: South Vietnam, yes. All right. Here's your next one - an Italian phrase meaning under the breath or said privately.
COX: Oh, Italian.
SHORTZ: It means literally under the breath.
COX: Under the breath. I think I've got nothing on this.
SHORTZ: Yeah? Do you know, Rachel?
MARTIN: (Speaking Italian) Sotto Voce.
SHORTZ: Yep, you got it. Here's your next one - a ship or boat.
COX: Ship or boat. The schooner? Let me think. What else is an S? A something - a sea vessel.
SHORTZ: OK, sailing vessel, too. That works. How about bass guitarist and vocalist for The Sex Pistols.
COX: Oh, I am terrible with names of really anyone famous.
MARTIN: I don't know this one either.
SHORTZ: I'm just going to tell you this one. It's Sid Vicious.
MARTIN: Oh, I knew that.
COX: Oh, I do recognize that name.
SHORTZ: Sid Vicious. All right. Lettuce, carrot or cucumber as part of a dinner starter.
COX: A salad vegetable? Or...
SHORTZ: Yes, salad vegetable. Good, you got it.
COX: Oh, OK.
SHORTZ: Here's your last one - as a group, they are listed as chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.
COX: They are some sort of values. They are...
SHORTZ: Not quite values, no. First of all, how many are there? Chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience...
SHORTZ: Yes, there's your S. These are all good things to have.
COX: Virtues, virtues.
SHORTZ: Seven virtues is it.
COX: There it is.
MARTIN: Are you OK, Amy?
COX: I survived.
MARTIN: You did a fine job. For playing our puzzle today, Amy, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read all about your prizes at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, where do you hear us? What's your public radio station, Amy?
COX: KCRW in Santa Monica.
MARTIN: Amy Cox of Los Angeles, California, thanks much for playing the puzzle, Amy.
COX: Thank you.
MARTIN: And Will, what's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes. Name two animals - both mammals, one of them domestic, the other wild. Put their letters together and rearrange the result to name another mammal - this one wild and not seen naturally around North America. So again, two animals - one domestic, one wild. Put their letters together, rearrange them and you'll name another mammal. This one's wild, and you don't see it in North America. What mammal is it?
MARTIN: All right. When you've got the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the submit your answer link. Just one entry per person, please, and your answers need to be in by Thursday, January 22 at 3 p.m. Eastern time.
Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we will give you a call, and you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
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