So Simple It's a Shame If You're Stumped Puzzle master Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's winner is Joni Cordell of Tensed, Idaho.
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So Simple It's a Shame If You're Stumped

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So Simple It's a Shame If You're Stumped

So Simple It's a Shame If You're Stumped

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Sheilah Kast sitting in for Liane Hansen and joining me is Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

Mr. WILL SHORTZ (Puzzlemaster): Hi, Sheilah.

KAST: What's up with you?

Mr. SHORTZ: Well, the National Puzzlers League Convention is in two weeks in San Antonio, Texas. It's a whole weekend of puzzles and games. It's a great time. After the convention is over, a friend and I are driving from Texas to Indiana for the opening of a puzzle room at the Lily Library at Indiana University.

KAST: A puzzle room?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yeah, it's the Lily Rare Book Library. It's one of the most famous university rare book libraries in the country, and they've added a wing onto the library and they're devoting an entire room to puzzles. And they've invited me to speak there since I'm an Indiana University alumnus.

KAST: I didn't realize that, an IU alum.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yeah.

KAST: We should sing the fight song some time, but not now. Last week you left us with a fairly difficult challenge. Remind us what it was.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes, I said, think of a word meaning criminals. Think of another word for a certain crime. Read these words one after the other, and you'll get a new word for something that may be a crime. What is it? And I'll tell you that the longer word is unrelated etymologically to the shorter words.

KAST: What's the answer?

Mr. SHORTZ: Well, the criminals are cons. A certain crime is piracy. Put them together and you get conspiracy.

KAST: We had more than - about 400 entries from people who tried to solve the puzzle, and our winner, randomly selected from the correct answers, is Joni Cordell from Tensed, Idaho. Hello, Joni.

Ms. JONI CORDELL (Caller): Good morning.

KAST: What do you do there in Idaho?

Ms. CORDELL: Actually, I retired two weeks ago. I was an educator for 36 years, most recently a superintendent of a small district.

KAST: And how are you enjoying retirement?

Ms. CORDELL: Well, I'm not quite used to it yet. I'm still under the impression that I have to get up every morning and go to work.

(Soundbite of laughter)

KAST: How long have you been playing the puzzle?

Ms. CORDELL: Actually, on and off for about five years. I've actually only entered answers twice.

KAST: Good for you. Are you ready to play now?

Ms. CORDELL: I hope I'm ready.

KAST: Will, meet Joni.

Mr. SHORTZ: All right, Joni, and Sheilah, I'm going to read some sentences, each sentence has two blanks. The word that goes in the first blank starts with S, change the S to an SH sound and phonetically you'll get a new word that goes in the second blank to complete the sentence. For example, if I said, if the Arab leader dies, tribal elders will blank a new blank. You'd say tribal elders will seek a new sheik. All right?

KAST: Sure I would.

Mr. SHORTZ: Dumbstruck, okay. Number one, at the boot black's stand, the blank read $3 a blank.

Ms. CORDELL: The sign read $3 a shine.

Mr. SHORTZ: Excellent. Number two, the male model is putting on a new blank for the next photo blank.

Ms. CORDELL: He's putting on a new suit for the next photo shoot.

Mr. SHORTZ: Excellent. During the night, while the kids blank, dad blank all the camping gear out to the car.

Ms. CORDELL: Well, I thought it would be sleep, but...

Mr. SHORTZ: Past tense. While the kids...

Ms. CORDELL: Slept.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yeah, dad...

Ms. CORDELL: Schlepped.

Mr. SHORTZ: Schlepped all that gear out, good job. To improve the topography on the law official's business card, use a different blank for the name of the blank. And who would be - what would be a law official starting with SH?

Ms. CORDELL: A sheriff.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes.

Ms. CORDELL: Okay. Use a different serif for the sheriff.

Mr. SHORTZ: Use a different serif, excellent.

KAST: Wow, that was a little complicated.

Mr. SHORTZ: The wood on the outdoor deck has been blank to blank it from moisture.

Ms. CORDELL: Has been sealed to shield it from moisture.

Mr. SHORTZ: Nice job. With the tidal wave rushing toward the ridge of sand in front of the island, not a blank was left on the blank. What would be some underwater ridge of sand around an island?

Ms. CORDELL: Not a soul was left on the shoal?

Mr. SHORTZ: Not a soul was left on the shoal, good.

KAST: Very good.

Mr. SHORTZ: Try this one, fierce storm winds blew through the neighborhood and didn't leave a blank, blank on the roof.

Ms. CORDELL: And didn't leave a single shingle.

Mr. SHORTZ: Mm-hm. Nice. When the drugstore owner stocked up on men's razors, he ordered five Gillettes and blank blank.

KAST: Comes right after five right?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes.

Ms. CORDELL: Six Schicks.

Mr. SHORTZ: Six Schicks is right. And here's your last one. At the seafood restaurant, it was so blank of you to grab all the desirable blank and leave the less desirable pieces for me.

KAST: We're into multi-syllables now.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes, good job. It's a two syllable answer.

Ms. CORDELL: Okay, I'm trying to think of what those are called.

Mr. SHORTZ: What kind of person would hog all the good things? What adjective would you describe that person, starting with an S?

KAST: Someone's who's thinking about herself.

Mr. SHORTZ: Only thinking about himself or herself.

Ms. CORDELL: Selfish.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yeah.

Ms. CORDELL: Shellfish.

Mr. SHORTZ: Grabbed all the desirable shellfish. Good job.

KAST: Wow, Joni, you really are good at this.

Ms. CORDELL: Well, I got more than I thought I would.

KAST: For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin; the 11th Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus; the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers; The Puzzlemaster Presents from Random House, Volume Two; Word Play, the official companion book to the movie featuring Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press; and one of Will Shortz's Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. Joni, what member station do you listen to?

Ms. CORDELL: KPBX in Spokane, Washington.

KAST: Joni Cordell from Tensed, Idaho. Thanks for playing the puzzle with us.

Ms. CORDELL: Thank you.

KAST: And now, Will, what's the challenge for next week?

Mr. SHORTZ: Well, name a well-known figure in Greek mythology, whose name consists of two consecutive pronouns. That's all there is to it. It's a name everyone knows. A well-known figure in Greek mythology whose name consists of two consecutive pronouns. Who is it?

KAST: When you have the answer, go to our Web site,, and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday Puzzle Page. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is 3:00 p.m. Thursday, Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time and we'll call you if you're the winner and you'll get to play Puzzle on the Air with the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION'S Puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks a lot, Will.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks, Sheilah.

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