You've Got An Ace In The Hole, If You Can Find The Right Words This week's puzzle presents definitions that give clues to a common phrase.
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You've Got An Ace In The Hole, If You Can Find The Right Words

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You've Got An Ace In The Hole, If You Can Find The Right Words

You've Got An Ace In The Hole, If You Can Find The Right Words

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/509914151/509937090" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Thirty years ago this month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted its first woman, Aretha Franklin; astronomers at the University of California observed the birth of a distant galaxy for the first time; and perhaps, I think, even more amazing, NPR aired the first ever WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY Puzzle with Will Shortz.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Will is, of course, the puzzle editor of The New York Times, as well as WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Will, happy 30th anniversary to you.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Thank you, Lulu. Happy 30th anniversary to you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) It is amazing that you have been on this long. We dug up from our archives that very first show. Susan Stamberg - she was the host back then. And here you are on your debut puzzle broadcast, which was all about oxymorons.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

SHORTZ: A particular military officer.

SUSAN STAMBERG, BYLINE: A particular military - general...

SHORTZ: Yes.

STAMBERG: A specific general.

SHORTZ: That's right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I guess, what, back then the host used to be the only person playing?

SHORTZ: That's right. It was - Susan's idea was that this program, WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY, would be the Sunday equivalent on the radio of a newspaper. And originally I just puzzled Susan.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm so glad we're not just doing it with me, let me just tell you.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Before we get to last week's puzzle, I want to introduce a very special guest who's with us in the studio today. It's someone who also celebrated her own 30th anniversary at NPR, former Morning Edition host Renee Montagne. Hey, Renee.

RENEE MONTAGNE, BYLINE: Lulu, hello.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you a puzzle fan?

MONTAGNE: I am a puzzle fan. As a listener, which - I listened to this program virtually every Sunday for probably the last 30 years unless I was out of the country - you know, it's very exciting when I hit it before the guest hits it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, let's turn now to last week's puzzle. Will, can you remind us what it was?

SHORTZ: Yeah. The challenge came from Mike Reiss, who's a writer and producer for "The Simpsons." I said think of a two-word phrase you might see on a clothing label, add two letters to the end of the first word and one letter to the end of the second word, and the result is the name of a famous writer. Who is it? Well, the answer was virgin wool. And you add those letters, you get Virginia Woolf.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah. We received nearly 500 responses. And this week's winner is Mark Palmere of Sacramento, Calif. Congratulations, Mark.

MARK PALMERE: Thank you, Lulu. It's really great to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So you are one lucky contestant because Renee is here to help you this week.

MONTAGNE: That's right. I won't be just talking to my cat (laughter).

PALMERE: Oh, good. I need all the help I can get.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, are you both ready to play The Puzzle?

PALMERE: I am.

MONTAGNE: I'm ready.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Take it away.

SHORTZ: All right. Here we go, Mark, Renee and Lulu. Every answer today is a familiar phrase in the form blank in the blank, in which the words that go in the blanks have been replaced by their sometimes complicated-sounding dictionary definitions. You identify the phrases. For example, if I said an extremely young child in the dense growth of trees, you would say babe in the woods.

PALMERE: OK.

MONTAGNE: OK.

SHORTZ: Number one - a bipedal primate mammal related to the great apes in the Earth's only known natural satellite.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Huh.

SHORTZ: Here it is again - bipedal primate...

PALMERE: Oh, oh, oh.

SHORTZ: Yeah?

PALMERE: Man on the - man in the moon?

SHORTZ: Man in the moon is right.

MONTAGNE: Yes.

SHORTZ: Number two - food consisting of fruit or meat baked under dough in the expanse of space surrounding the Earth.

PALMERE: Pie in the sky.

SHORTZ: That's it. Sensation caused by a stimulus that injures the tissues in the constricted part of an animal that connects the head with the body.

PALMERE: Pain in the neck.

MONTAGNE: Pain in the neck.

SHORTZ: There you go. Good.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good.

SHORTZ: Phenomenon of combustion as manifested by light, flame or heat in the part of the human body enclosing the abdominal viscera.

PALMERE: Fire in the belly?

SHORTZ: That's it, yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A lot of big words here today, Will.

MONTAGNE: I knew that one.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Viscera - I mean, this is a lot of big words.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: And your last one - flying mammals of the order Chiroptera in the tower surmounting a building that contains a metallic device that gives forth a ringing sound when struck.

MONTAGNE: Bats in the belfry?

SHORTZ: Bats in the belfry. Good job.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah.

MONTAGNE: I had to get one (laughter).

PALMERE: Nice.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, great job, both of you. 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 npr.org/puzzle. And, Mark, what member station do you listen to?

PALMERE: KQEI 89.3.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Mark Palmere of Sacramento, Calif., thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

PALMERE: OK, thank you, Lulu, and thanks, Will. It was a lot of fun.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And thank you, Renee, for playing The Puzzle this week on this very special 30th anniversary.

MONTAGNE: And thank you for having me, Lulu. Welcome to the program.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will, what's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Peter Collins of Ann Arbor, Mich. Take the first and last names of a famous comedian. The first three letters of the first name plus the first letter of the last name, in order, spell the name of a god in mythology, and the fourth letter of the first name plus the second through fourth letters of the last name, in order, spell the name of another god. Who's the comedian and what gods are these?

So again, the first and last names of a famous comedian, first three letters of the first name plus the first letter of the last name spell the name of a god, and the fourth letter of the first name plus the second through fourth letters of the last name spell another god. Who's the comedian and what gods are these?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 19 at 3 p.m. Eastern, so include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. If you're the winner, we'll give you a call 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 so much, Will. Here's to 30 more years.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Lulu.

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