Sunday Puzzle: Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls, Please Stick To The Best Songs To 'Solve' This week Stephen Dubner of "Freakonomics" joins Lynn Neary and Will Shortz to play the Sunday Puzzle.
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Sunday Puzzle: Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls, Please Stick To The Best Songs To 'Solve'

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Sunday Puzzle: Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls, Please Stick To The Best Songs To 'Solve'

Sunday Puzzle: Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls, Please Stick To The Best Songs To 'Solve'

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And as many of our listeners know, I usually have my nose in a book. It can be fiction, sometimes nonfiction. But today, I may have to read between the lines to solve this week's puzzle.


NEARY: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Will, so good to be chatting with you again.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lynn. Welcome back.

NEARY: Yeah it's been a while. So remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yeah. It involved spoonerism, and that's where you change the initial consonant sounds of two words in a phrase to get a new phrase. For example, tames jailer to James Taylor or Spark Mitts to Mark Spitz. I asked the name of what famous entertainer - first and last names - has a two-word spoonerism meaning a runny variety of cheese? And that entertainer was Bruce Lee. You spoonerize (ph) that, and you get loose Brie.

NEARY: (Laughter) That's a good one. And we got over 400 responses, and the winner is Jan Wolitzky from Madison, N.J. Congratulations, Jan.

JAN WOLITZKY: Thanks, Lynn. Hi, Will.

NEARY: And I understand this isn't your first time with winning The Puzzle, is that right?

WOLITZKY: That's right. I played in 2014 with Rachel and Will.

NEARY: You are a lucky guy, I think.

SHORTZ: You're very lucky.

WOLITZKY: I guess so.

NEARY: How did you figure it out?

WOLITZKY: This was one of the easy ones. I thought - Brie comes to mind immediately when you think of a loose cheese, and it didn't take too long.

NEARY: And as you know, I think, because you do listen so much, we are doing things a little bit differently this month. You're going to be getting some extra help from this week's special guest. It's Stephen Dubner, host of Freakonomics Radio, the podcast about - well, a little bit of everything, I think. Good morning, Stephen.

STEPHEN DUBNER: Good morning. Thanks so much for having me.

NEARY: So, Stephen, are you a fan of The Puzzle?

DUBNER: I love The Puzzle. I happen to love spoonerisms, too. I know that's just a coincidence, but I sometimes listen to WEEKEND EDITION while dalking (ph) my wog (ph). And I've...


DUBNER: I've actually been called a shining wit in my own circle if you can translate that one, maybe not for on air. But yes - but I love The Puzzle, and I'm thrilled to be here.

NEARY: Well, that's great. And, you know, of course, that you are Jan's lifeline. And I am very relieved to have you there being his lifeline since I'm usually terrible at The Puzzle. But you're going to drop some hints or words of encouragement just in case Jan needs it. I assume you're ready for that.

DUBNER: I am geady (ph) to ro.


NEARY: So, Jan, what about you? Are you ready to play?

WOLITZKY: All set.

NEARY: All right, let's go.

SHORTZ: All right, Jan and Stephen, 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 being, B-E-I-N-G, you would say belong, changing the I to an L-O.


SHORTZ: Here's number one, minor, M-I-N-O-R.


SHORTZ: Mirror, good. Number two is croon, C-R-O-O-N.


SHORTZ: Favor, F-A-V-O-R.

DUBNER: Jan, I'm being totally helpless. I'm working on it in my brain, and it's giving me nothing back, Jan.

WOLITZKY: Lynn, you got anything?

NEARY: (Laughter) I know nothing.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) We go to our third choice. I'm just going to tell you that one. It's factor.

NEARY: Oh, that's a good one.

SHORTZ: Two consonants that time. How about count, C-O-U-N-T? And for this, you'll need a well-thought out answer.


SHORTZ: Cogent it is. Here's a tough one, dinar, D-I-N-A-R.

NEARY: Oh, the other ones weren't tough?


NEARY: Dinar. I'm terrible.

SHORTZ: It's a lawyer's worst word. And you want to change the end to two consonants. Oh, man, I stumped everybody.


SHORTZ: Disbar is it, good one.

DUBNER: Nicely done, Jan.

SHORTZ: And here's your last one, amore, A-M-O-R-E.

WOLITZKY: How about ampere?

SHORTZ: Ampere is it. Good job.

NEARY: Wow, Jan. Good for you. That was hard, Will.


NEARY: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Well, I figured with these - all these extra brains working, I think I can do some harder puzzles.

NEARY: Well, Jan, for playing our puzzle today you will get the WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it at Jan, what member station do you listen to?


NEARY: Oh, my hometown. That's great to hear. Thanks so much for playing The Puzzle.

WOLITZKY: It was a lot of fun. Thanks very much.

NEARY: And, Stephen, thank you for playing The Puzzle.

DUBNER: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

NEARY: Will, what's the next challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah, it's a two-week creative challenge because we have a special, special guest next week. The object is to mash up the titles of past No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart to tell a story. For example, "I Shot The Sheriff" "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia." "The Morning After," "I'll Be There" "Leaving On A Jet Plane."

Now, Wikipedia has a list of the Billboard No. 1 singles from the Hot 100 era 1958 to present, which you can use. Your story can include up to seven song titles. Entries will be judged on cleverness, naturalness of reading, memorablness (ph) of the songs and overall elegance. You can send up to three entries, and the person who submits the best one, in my opinion, will play Puzzle on the air in two weeks.

NEARY: So when you have the answer, go to our website,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. And our deadline for entries is in two weeks. That's Thursday, May 4, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Remember to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And you get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks for being with us, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Lynn.

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