LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
We have gotten a lot of passionate feedback from our listeners over the past few weeks about the special guests we brought on this segment. And so without further ado, here it is, simple and classic, The Puzzle.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Will, good morning.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, Will, remind us of our two-week challenge.
SHORTZ: Yeah, it was a creative challenge, and the object was to mash up the titles up to seven past No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart to tell a story. And I said the results would be judged on cleverness, naturalness of reading, memorableness of the songs and overall elegance.
Well, before I tell you the winner, I'll tell you two runners-up - and we had a lot of great entries - but two of my favorites - one came from Kathy Otis (ph) of Wilmington, N.C. She said, "Hello," "Cherie." "What Do You Mean" "Knock Three Times"? "Yesterday," "Mama Told Me" "Walk Right In." Thought that was brilliant, told a little story. And another favorite from Bud Scott (ph) of Versailles, Mo., said "Crack A Bottle" - "Tequila," "Brandy," "Sherry," "A Fifth Of Beethoven" - "Doesn't Really Matter," "Whatever Gets You Thru The Night."
So without further ado, my favorite entry came from Mike Pleasants of St. Paul, Minn. And he wrote, "Thrift Shop" - "What Goes Around Comes Around." - "Rag Doll," "Good Luck Charm," "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" - "It's All In The Game." "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Congratulations, Mike.
MIKE PLEASANTS: Thank you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how did you come up with this sentence?
PLEASANTS: Well, I was trying to put together grammatical sentences, and I finally gave up on that. And I like the song "Thrift Shop," and so I just threw some things together.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, your sentence has some very eclectic music choices - Macklemore, The Four Seasons, Justin Timberlake. I understand you have a question for Will.
PLEASANTS: I do. I've always wondered if this wordplay that we do is kind of universal. Does it happen in all languages and cultures?
SHORTZ: Yeah. Basically, wordplay is popular everywhere. But I tell you, I believe this is the only puzzle on the radio anywhere in the world, as far as I know.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. Are you ready to play The Puzzle?
PLEASANTS: I'm ready.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, let's do it.
SHORTZ: OK, Mike, every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials T.A., so answer the clues. For example, if I said professor's aide, you'd say teacher's assistant.
SHORTZ: Number one - Israel's second largest city, after Jerusalem.
PLEASANTS: Tel Aviv.
SHORTZ: That's it. Number two - part of a phonograph that holds the needle. Maybe before your time. Did you ever - have you ever played a - an old record player?
SHORTZ: OK, all right. So what's the needle on, that thing that moves across the record?
PLEASANTS: Oh, something arm. Let's see.
SHORTZ: That's right. Arm is right. What kind of arm?
PLEASANTS: Table arm?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Close, close.
SHORTZ: Do you know this one, Lulu?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think it's a tone arm?
SHORTZ: A tone arm, good one. Feat in which an ice skater turns three and a half times while jumping.
PLEASANTS: Oh, Lulu, any ideas?
PLEASANTS: Oh, triple axel.
SHORTZ: Triple axel, good. Carrier to Istanbul.
PLEASANTS: Oh, let's see.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I know this because I've been there on them a lot (laughter) going to the Middle East.
PLEASANTS: Go ahead, go ahead.
SHORTZ: It's a good airline.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I even know their song. (Singing) We are Turkish Airlines...
SHORTZ: (Laughter) There you go.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...(Singing) and we are globally yours (laughter).
SHORTZ: Whoa, impressive. Fighting group that Hector helped lead in Greek myth.
PLEASANTS: Trojan army?
SHORTZ: Yes, the Trojan army is right. Group depicted in "The Last Supper."
PLEASANTS: Twelve Apostles.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Area in the Plains states known for twisters.
PLEASANTS: Tornado Alley.
SHORTZ: That's it. Actor formerly married to Roseanne.
PLEASANTS: Tom Arnold.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. And here's your last one - a little over 24 hours from Monday morning.
PLEASANTS: Tuesday afternoon.
SHORTZ: Yes, Tuesday afternoon is it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Great job. 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. What member station do you listen to, Mike?
PLEASANTS: KNOW 91.1, and I am a sustaining member.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We always like to hear that. Mike, thanks so much for playing The Puzzle.
PLEASANTS: Thank you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will, what's the next challenge?
SHORTZ: Yeah, it comes from listener Warren Bergmann of Brownsville, Wis. Name a familiar medical procedure in nine letters. You can rearrange these letters to name two people who might get this procedure, and the answer consists of informal names for these people. Who are they? So again, a familiar medical procedure, nine letters, you can rearrange the letters to name two people who might get this procedure. Who are they?
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. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, May 11, at 3 p.m. Eastern, so 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'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.
SHORTZ: Thank you, Lulu.
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