Pun City, U.S.A. Puzzle master Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's participant is Chris Roberts of Richmond, Va.
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Pun City, U.S.A.

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Pun City, U.S.A.

Pun City, U.S.A.

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen. And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Will, how are you?

Mr. WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane. Excellent. How are you?

HANSEN: Very well, thank you. The challenge last week - this is something that seemed easy, but it turned out to be a little bit harder than at least I thought it was. Would you repeat it?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. I said name a famous American singer, one who's living, six letters in the first name, six letters in the last. I said write it out from left to right. Cross out six consecutive letters from inside the name, leaving the start and end intact, and the result will be the six-letter last name of a U.S. president. Who is it?

HANSEN: You know, I wonder whether folks did it from listing the presidents' names and then try to find singers around it, or trying to start with the singers, because there are so many genres, you never know where you're going to go. What was the answer?

Mr. SHORTZ: The answer is Willie Nelson, and remove those middle letters, you get Wilson, as in Woodrow Wilson.

HANSEN: Well, we had over 1,900 entries from people who tried to solve the puzzle, and our randomly selected winner is Chris Roberts. He joins us from Richmond, Virginia. Hi, Chris.

Mr. CHRIS ROBERTS (Puzzle Winner): Hello.

HANSEN: First of all, how did you solve the puzzle?

Mr. ROBERTS: By getting Wilson and moving backwards.

HANSEN: There you go. What do you do in Richmond?

Mr. ROBERTS: I'm a counter man at a coffee shop, Captain Buzzy's Beanery, which is located in a historic section of Richmond known as Church Hill.

HANSEN: How long have you been playing the puzzle?

Mr. ROBERTS: I met a wonderful woman three years ago this month named Diane, who introduced me to the puzzle. Diane and her daughter Rachel have been playing for years, but I've only been doing it for three years.

HANSEN: But you were courageous enough to actually send in an answer.


HANSEN: All right. Well, you know what happens now.


HANSEN: Are you ready?

Mr. ROBERTS: I am ready.

HANSEN: All right. Will, meet Chris. Let's play.

Mr. SHORTZ: All right, Chris. Today's puzzle comes from the bad pun department. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence has a blank. Put the name of a well-known U.S. city in the blank to complete the sentence in a punny way.

Mr. ROBERTS: Okay.

Mr. SHORTZ: For example, Pizarro blank the Incas. You would say Concord. Pizarro Concord the Incas, as in Concord, New Hampshire.

Mr. ROBERTS: Jesus. Okay.

Mr. SHORTZ: And I'll be giving you the names of the states. Number one, you're going for a city in Wyoming. Prince Charles's sister was so retiring as a child, some people called her blank.

Mr. ROBERTS: Cheyenne.

Mr. SHORTZ: That's right. Number two, from Oregon. The old boats were repaired so the crews could blank again.

Mr. ROBERTS: Salem?

Mr. SHORTZ: Salem, right. Also Massachusetts, I could've said. Number three, from Mississippi, it got so cold last night the temperature fell to blank.

Mr. ROBERTS: Tupelo.

Mr. SHORTZ: Fell to Tupelo. Good job.


Mr. SHORTZ: Now from Washington. The old man blank Italian dialect, I could hardly understand.

HANSEN: And this is Washington State we're talking about.

Mr. SHORTZ: That's right.

Mr. ROBERTS: Yakama?

Mr. SHORTZ: No, it starts with an - do you know, Liane?

HANSEN: Spokane?


Mr. SHORTZ: He Spokane Italian dialect. Good job. Now from Rhode Island. When ma saw her husband's shirt-tail hanging out, she said blank in.

Mr. ROBERTS: Pawtucket.

Mr. SHORTZ: That's right, Pawtucket in. This one's from New York. The Playboy clubs are putting out a movie with a blank cast.

Mr. ROBERTS: Albany?

Mr. SHORTZ: An Albany cast is right.

HANSEN: Oh, oh, that's what we do with puns, is we cringe here.

Mr. SHORTZ: This one's from New Jersey. The handyman lost all his regular jobs, so now he's looking for blank.

Mr. ROBERTS: All I can come up with is Hoboken.

HANSEN: You're close.

Mr. SHORTZ: Liane?

HANSEN: Newark?

Mr. SHORTZ: He's looking for Newark is right.

Mr. ROBERTS: Of course, yes. This one's from Missouri. The jeweler pointed to the necklaces and said blank are some beautiful diamonds.


Mr. SHORTZ: The jeweler pointed to the necklaces and said blank are some beautiful diamonds. It's a city whose name starts with I.

HANSEN: Missouri, huh? Where's my atlas? What do you think, Chris?

Mr. ROBERTS: I'm stuck.

HANSEN: Me, too.

Mr. SHORTZ: I've got you both. It's Independence are some beautiful diamonds.


Mr. SHORTZ: Okay, try this one. This is from Alaska. If you're not able to grab a bottle, maybe you'll be able to blank. Starting with K.

Mr. ROBERTS: K, Klondike?


HANSEN: Think punny.

Mr. SHORTZ: If you can't grab a bottle, maybe you'll be able to - Liane?

HANSEN: Ketchikan?

Mr. SHORTZ: Maybe you'll be able to Ketchikan is right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: All right. This one's from Louisiana. The old rowing implement lies on the floor, while the blank against the wall.

Mr. ROBERTS: New Orleans.

Mr. SHORTZ: The New Orleans against the wall is right. And your last one from Indiana. Of all the fruits grown in Asia, residents of Bombay think the blank the best.

Mr. ROBERTS: Indiana.

HANSEN: Indiana.

Mr. SHORTZ: Of all the fruits grown in Asia, residents of Bombay think the blank the best.

HANSEN: I'll warn you, Will is from Indiana, so you know we're under a lot of pressure here.


Mr. SHORTZ: Oh, think of the capital of Indiana.

Mr. ROBERTS: Indianapolis?

Mr. SHORTZ: There you go. Residents of Bombay think the Indianapolis the best.

HANSEN: Oh, oh, Chris.

Mr. SHORTZ: Nice job.

Mr. ROBERTS: I'm sorry, Will, that was bad.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: That's why it was last.

HANSEN: It was funny, right?

Mr. ROBERTS: Yes, it was.

HANSEN: And you did very well.

Mr. ROBERTS: Thank you.

HANSEN: I think between us we made a pretty good team.


HANSEN: Well, we're going to reward you for your efforts. 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 Puzzle Master Presents from Random House, Volume 2; a set of Sudoku puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press; and one of Will Shortz's Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. Chris, what member station do you listen to?

Mr. ROBERTS: I am a member of the Central Virginia Community Idea Station, WCDE.

HANSEN: All right, get a plug in there for being a member. We appreciate it. Chris Roberts from Richmond, Virginia. It was great to be on your team today. Thanks for playing.

Mr. ROBERTS: Thanks for having me.

HANSEN: All right, Will. A challenge for next week.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. This week's challenge comes from David Rosen(ph) of Bethesda, Maryland. Name a well-known writer of the 20th century, now deceased, the author of bestselling non-fiction. Six letters in the first name, six letters in the last. Remove the letter C somewhere from this name, that's C as in carrot. The remaining letters can be rearranged to name a famous fictional detective - four, seven. What names are these?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday Puzzle page. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3:00 p.m. 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 puzzle master, Will Shortz.

And Will, I know - you know and I know that WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary, and I've been the host of the show for most of that time. But I wanted to just you know and our listeners know that I'm going to be taking a three month sabbatical leave, and I'm going away for just a little bit of R&R. So I wanted to ask you to please be kind to the people that will be sitting in this chair. All right? Thanks a lot, Will.

Mr. SHORTZ: Okay, will do. Thanks a lot, Liane.

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