LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Today is National Maple Syrup Day so grab your pancakes and get ready to pour some Northern sweetness. It's time to play The Puzzle.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Will, good morning.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu. Are you a pancake eater?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm a pancake eater. My daughter is not a pancake eater, which has, like, broken my heart. I don't know. I don't know. She's not my child. I reject her. All right, Will, remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yes. It was a playful challenge from listener Carole Highland of Ephrata, Wash. I asked, the name of what vehicle spelled backward becomes phonetically a forward phrase identifying another vehicle? And the answer is Subaru. Backward, that makes U R a bus.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received almost 400 correct responses. And our randomly selected winner is Kathy McDonough of Clarksville, Tenn. Kathy, congratulations.
KATHY MCDONOUGH: Thank you very much.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did you come up with the answer?
MCDONOUGH: Actually, I think I knew the answer before Will even finished The Puzzle because my mother, years ago, had seen a Subaru and she looked at it, and she goes, that's U R a bus backwards. And so now whenever I see a Subaru, that's what I see.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Have you ever submitted to The Puzzle before?
MCDONOUGH: I have not.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wow. So you got lucky.
MCDONOUGH: If you call this lucky - being put on the spot.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) We call it lucky, yes, indeed. All right, are you ready to play The Puzzle?
MCDONOUGH: Might as well.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, then. Enthusiasm, we like it. Take it away, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Kathy, I'm going to give you some words and phrases. Each one conceals the name of a world capital in left or right order, although not in consecutive letters. And I'll tell you every answer has exactly five letters. For example, if I said stock symbol, you would say Tokyo because the letters of Tokyo, T-O-K-Y-O, are in left-to-right order inside stock symbol.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That sounds hard.
MCDONOUGH: This is very hard.
SHORTZ: OK. You have pencil and paper handy?
MCDONOUGH: I do.
SHORTZ: Number one is seriously, S-E-R-I-O-U-S-L-Y, seriously. What world capital is hidden in there? And I'll give you a hint. It starts with S.
MCDONOUGH: Oh, I was going to say Syria, but that's not right. Let's see.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's in the news a lot because of its companion country that has been doing some missile testing.
SHORTZ: I'll give you a more helpful hint, Kathy. It's in eastern Asia.
SHORTZ: There you go, Seoul, S-E-O-U-L. Good. Number two is cock-and-bull, C-O-C-K-A-N-D-B-U-L-L, cock-and-bull.
MCDONOUGH: Cock-and-bull, let's see.
SHORTZ: And here's my hint - start with the K.
SHORTZ: Kabul, Afghanistan. Good. The next one is humanoid, H-U-M-N-O-I-D, humanoid.
SHORTZ: There you go. No hint needed. How about miniskirt, M-I-N-I-S-K-I-R-T?
MCDONOUGH: OK, so.
SHORTZ: It starts with M. It's actually a big city, but I'm not sure it's well-known in the U.S. It's the capital of Belarus.
SHORTZ: Minsk, good job. And here's your last one - South Africa, S-O-U-T-H-A-F-R-I-C-A, South Africa. It's a capital starting with S.
MCDONOUGH: Where is this capital at?
SHORTZ: It is the capital of Bulgaria.
MCDONOUGH: Oh, my goodness, so...
SHORTZ: Yeah, that's correct, so. It does start S-O.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And it's a woman's name.
SHORTZ: There you go.
SHORTZ: Sofia is correct. Sofia, Bulgaria. Good job.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good job. How do you feel?
MCDONOUGH: Oh, well, I'm glad it's over. I wouldn't say it necessarily was a good job without all the hints.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You did a good job. And 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 this week's was a tough puzzle, so you did very well. Kathy, what member station do you listen to?
MCDONOUGH: 90.3, WPLN.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Kathy McDonough of Clarksville, Tenn., thank you for playing The Puzzle.
MCDONOUGH: Thank you so much.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Will, what is next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Neville Fogarty of Newport News, Va. Think of a convenience introduced in the 19th century that's still around today. Its name has two words. Take the first three letters of the first word and the first letter of the second word in order, and you'll get a convenience introduced in this century that serves a similar purpose, and their names are otherwise unrelated. What two conveniences are these?
So again, a convenience from the 19th century - it's still around and used today - has two words. Take the first three letters of the first word and the first letter of the second word in order, and you'll name a convenience of this century that serves a similar purpose. What conveniences 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. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, December 21 at 3 p.m. Eastern. 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. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thank you, Lulu.
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