RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Hanukkah begins tonight. And while you shine the menorah, dust off your dreidel and get those potatoes grated, you might find your mind wandering. So we've got just the thing for you. Time to play the puzzle.
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MARTIN: Joining me as always is Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Hey there, Will. Good morning.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: What was last week's puzzle?
SHORTZ: Yes, well, first of all, I want to apologize for repeating a puzzle from a year ago. And just sort of to explain, you know, apparently I had two copies of the puzzle in my files. And while I remember the puzzles that I make, I don't always remember the ones that other people make.
MARTIN: Oh, yeah, no, understandably so.
SHORTZ: So I am sorry about that.
MARTIN: But I love that our listeners are so attentive that they realized this right off the bat. (Laughter).
SHORTZ: (Laughter) That's right. So I said, take the name of a well-known actress, four letters in the first name, nine letters in the last. I said, insert a letter between the second and third letters of the first name. And remove the last two letters of the last name. And the result is a two-word phrase that means freedom. Who's the actress, and what is the phrase? Well, the actress is Cate Blanchett. And you do those operations; you get carte blanche.
MARTIN: Very cool. So about 1,500 of you got the right answer. And our randomly selected winner this week is Paul David Wadler of Chicago, Ill. He's on the line now. Hey, Paul David, congratulations.
PAUL DAVID WADLER: Hi, thank you. Yeah, most people call me P.D.
MARTIN: P.D. OK, then we will too. So was this an easy get for you? Or did it take you a while?
WADLER: No, it took me forever. First of all, like, the way you do these is you do them - like, I do them backwards. So I spent, like, hours and hours trying to think of a two-word phrase for freedom. And then I thought, maybe there aren't that many people with nine letters in their last name. And that's how I got it.
MARTIN: Well done. And have you been doing this a while, playing the puzzle?
WADLER: I have been doing this forever - like, since postcard days. I even made the pilgrimage to Stanford a couple of times.
SHORTZ: For the crossword tournament.
MARTIN: Just in hopes of seeing him? Oh, (laughter) the crossword tournament. Wow. Well, he's on the line now. Now is your big chance, P.D. Do you happen to have question for him?
WADLER: Well, the first time I went to the ACPT, I came in third place among the rookies. But I never got a trophy.
SHORTZ: All right, P.D. Let me look into that. I'll get you a trophy.
WADLER: OK. No problem, I had so much fun with or without a trophy.
MARTIN: But you know what? You're going to get a lapel pin. So that's exciting.
WADLER: I am so excited.
MARTIN: But first we have to play the puzzle in order to make that happen. Are you ready, P.D.?
WADLER: I think so.
MARTIN: OK, let's give it a go.
SHORTZ: All right, P.D. and Rachel, I'm going to give you some five-letter words. For each one, change the middle letter to two new letters to get a familiar six-letter word. For example, if I said, frond, F-R-O-N-D, you would say, friend 'cause you'd change the O in the middle to I-E.
MARTIN: OK, you got it, P.D.?
WADLER: I think so.
MARTIN: OK, let's try.
SHORTZ: Number one is early, E-A-R-L-Y. So change that R to two other letters.
SHORTZ: Easily, you got that easily. Number two is tulip, T-U-L-I-P.
SHORTZ: That's it.
SHORTZ: Mourn, M-O-U-R-N.
WADLER: M-O-U-R-N. I think it's tough. Modern.
SHORTZ: Modern is it. Juror, J-U-R-O-R.
SHORTZ: That's it. Futon, F-U-T-O-N.
SHORTZ: Oh, nice. Deity, D-E-I-T-Y, as in the god.
WADLER: Deftly, but that's not right.
SHORTZ: I'll give you a tiny, tiny hint. The two letters are consonant, vowel.
MARTIN: Consonant, vowel.
WADLER: Consonant, vowel... Deputy.
SHORTZ: Deputy is it. Good.
WADLER: Oh, that's hard.
SHORTZ: That was hard. Panda, P-A-N-D-A, as in the animal.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Sloth, S-L-O-T-H, as in the animal.
SHORTZ: Nice. And here's your last one, visor, V-I-S-O-R, as in a sun visor.
WADLER: It's not visitor.
SHORTZ: And a tiny hint, it's what you are for finishing this puzzle.
MARTIN: Victor is right. P.D., you did awesome. That was great. Some of those were really hard, and you solved them fast. And for playing the puzzle today, you get the famous WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and all kinds of puzzle books and games. You can check it out at npr.org/puzzle. Before we let you go, P.D., where do you hear us?
WADLER: WBEZ, here in Chicago.
MARTIN: Paul David Wadler, or P.D., of Chicago. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle. It was great.
WADLER: Oh, it's great talking to both of you. Thanks.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's up for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, name a state capital. Drop one of its letters. And the remaining letters can be rearranged to name another major city in the United States. What is it? And I have two different answers in mind. I'd like you to think of both of them. So again, a state capital - drop one of the letters. Rearrange the remaining letters to name another major city in the United States. What two answers are there to this puzzle?
MARTIN: You know what to do. When you've got the answer, go to npr.org/puzzle. Click on that submit your answer link - just one entry per person, please. And the deadline for those entries is Thursday, December 10 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, then we'll give you a call. And then you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times. And he is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Mr. Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thank you, Rachel.
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