The Synonyms in 'Sacramento' Puzzle master Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's participant is Michael Seden-Hansen from Paso Robles, Calif.
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The Synonyms in 'Sacramento'

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The Synonyms in 'Sacramento'

The Synonyms in 'Sacramento'

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FROM NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Andrea Seabrook. And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

Mr. WILL SHORTZ (Crossword Editor, New York Times): Hi, Andrea.

SEABROOK: How was your Thanksgiving?

Mr. SHORTZ: It was excellent. And how was yours?

SEABROOK: It was good. Did you do anything more adventurous than turkey, or are you a traditionalist?

Mr. SHORTZ: Well, I had dinner with friends, with turkey, so that was great. I was going to mention, though, I competed in my first table tennis tournament last week, first one in years, and I made it to the finals of my division.

SEABROOK: It must be weird and fun being Will Shortz. What's it like? I mean do you just like - you're in like a different odd tournament every time I talk to you.


Mr. SHORTZ: Well, I don't think anyone there knew, you know, who I was, in terms of puzzles and crosswords, but it was very cool, very nice to do.

SEABROOK: Okay, Will, remind us of the challenge you left us with last week. It was, indeed, Thanksgiving-related.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. I said name a well-known American city with 12 letters in its name containing the letters of thanks, T-H-A-N-K-S, in left-to-right order, not necessarily consecutively. And I said as a hint, this is a city of more than 100,000 people.

SEABROOK: What city is it?

Mr. SHORTZ: Answer in Thousand Oaks, California.

SEABROOK: Thousand Oaks, California. We had about 1,300 correct entries to this puzzle, and our randomly selected winner is Michael Seden-Hansen from Paso Robles, California. Hi, Michael.

Mr. MICHAEL SEDEN-HANSEN (NPR Listener and Puzzle Winner): Hello.

SEABROOK: How are you?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, doing great.

SEABROOK: Is Paso Robles anywhere near Thousand Oaks?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: It's about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and so it's about 150 miles from Thousand Oaks.

SEABROOK: Is that how you got it though, is that how you got the answer? You knew about Thousand Oaks already?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Actually, my stepfather used to live there, but I only thought of that after I solved it. First I checked my Almanac, then I tried the U.S. Census Web site, where they list all the big cities, and that one just jumped out at me.

SEABROOK: What do you do in Paso Robles?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Well, I work down the road a little ways in the city of Santa Maria as a public transportation coordinator.

SEABROOK: Fabulous. We love public transport. How long have you been playing the puzzle?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, on and off for about five years. The first time I sent in an answer was on a postcard. E-mail's easier, and this year I made a resolution to send in more solutions.

SEABROOK: Well, your resolution has paid off. Are you ready to play?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Ready as I'm going to be.

SEABROOK: Will, meet Michael. Michael meet Will.

Mr. SHORTZ: All right, Michael and Andrea. I'm going to read you some sentences. Each sentence conceals the name of a world capital in consecutive letters, in left-to-right order. You name the capitals. For example, if I said you can grab Russ elsewhere, you would say Brussels, because that's hidden in consecutive letters inside grab Russ elsewhere.

SEABROOK: This one's hard.



SEABROOK: I'm already like, oh no.

Mr. SHORTZ: See if you can do these in your head. The first one is the hobo got an earful. The hobo got an earful.

SEABROOK: I got it.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: You got it? You're ahead of me on that one. Let's see. Bogotá?

Mr. SHORTZ: Bogotá, Columbia. Good job.

SEABROOK: Good job, see?

Mr. SHORTZ: All right, try this one. Seven Eskimos cower behind the igloo. Seven Eskimos cower behind the igloo. You can kind of hear it inside Eskimos cower. Okay, well, it ends in C-O-W.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, Moscow. Okay. Directly adjacent.

Mr. SHORTZ: Try this one. Responsibility fell on donors to help. Responsibility fell on donors to help.


SEABROOK: Nice one.

Mr. SHORTZ: That is correct. The number is swelling to nine thousand. The number is swelling to nine thousand.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Wellington.

Mr. SHORTZ: Wellington, New Zealand is right. Try this one. Sadie Hawkins has an odd laugh. Sadie Hawkins has an odd laugh. I'll give you a hint. This is a capital in Africa.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: I'm trying to think of African capitals. Kinsala. Or no, wait, that's not a capital.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yeah, you have it.

SEABROOK: No, it's Kinshasa, Congo.

Mr. SHORTZ: Kinshasa, Congo.


Mr. SHORTZ: You got it. Good.

SEABROOK: Yeah, that was hard.

Mr. SHORTZ: Nice. Try this one. There are slim pickings tonight. There are slim pickings tonight. This one's a capital in the Caribbean.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Kingsport - or no, Kingston, Kingston.

Mr. SHORTZ: Kingston, Jamaica is right. And here's your last one. Would you call a watchman a guard? And it's a capital in Central America.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Okay, let's see.

SEABROOK: Lovely place, but sort of war-torn, yes?

Mr. SHORTZ: That's right, yes. Good.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, Managua.


Mr. SHORTZ: Managua, Nicaragua is correct.


Mr. SHORTZ: That's it. Congratulations.

SEABROOK: Good job, Michael.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, thank you. I couldn't have done it without you.

SEABROOK: For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, thank you.

SEABROOK: Well, we'll also throw in the box the 11th Edition of a 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 Senor Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press; and one of Will Shortz's Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. But it's really the lapel pin, isn't it, Michael?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Mmm-hmm. I will wear it with pride.


SEABROOK: What member station do you listen to?

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, we actually have two that we're members of: KUSP in Santa Cruz and KCBX in San Luis Obispo.

SEABROOK: Wonderful. Michael Seden-Hansen from Paso Robles, California. Thanks for playing the puzzle.

Mr. SEDEN-HANSEN: Oh, thanks so much for having me.

SEABROOK: Thanks, Michael. Okay, Will, what's the challenge for next week?

Mr. SHORTZ: Well, it comes from listener Dan Kitt(ph) of Palo Alto, California, and it's another California-themed puzzle. Take the name Sacramento, as in the capital of California. Rearrange these 10 letters to spell two words that are synonyms. So again, Sacramento. Rearrange these 10 letters to spell two words that are synonyms. What are they?

SEABROOK: 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 is Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call if you are 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. Thank you, Will.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks, Andrea.

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