A Turn Of Phrase Every answer starts with the letter A and completes a familiar three-word phrase that takes the form "blank of blank."
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A Turn Of Phrase

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A Turn Of Phrase

A Turn Of Phrase

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From NPR News this is Weekend Edition. I'm Robert Smith. And joining us now is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hey, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hey, Robert.

SMITH: I was thinking about you as I read an article in The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago about the neurobiology of how the brain solves puzzles. And it said...

SHORTZ: And wasn't that a great article?

SMITH: It was amazing. And it said something really interesting which was that people who concentrate intently on puzzles often don't do as well as those who let their mind wander a little bit.

SHORTZ: Actually, both things are good I think. It's important to focus on the problem, but it's also helpful to let your mind wander a bit. What you don't want to be is tense. And you know, a lot of contestants on this program say they do much better at home when they're shouting out answers to the radio than they are when they come on the air. And I think it's because they're tense.

SMITH: Well, this article, they talk about how a lot of scientists get their ideas in the shower. It would be a perfect time to do the puzzle at home in the shower, shouting it out in the bathroom, I guess.

SHORTZ: Yeah. I get some of my best ideas lying in bed at night just before I go to sleep.

SMITH: Well, remind us of the challenge you left us with last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. It wasn't too hard a challenge. I said, think of a familiar brand name ending in the letters G-S. Change the G-S to an O, and you'll get another well-known brand name of a completely different product. What is it? And as a hint, I said the first word has five letters and the second has four.

SMITH: And the answer?

SHORTZ: The answer is Leggs and Lego.

SMITH: Ah, well there must be big fans of pantyhose and building blocks in our audience because more than 1,900 people answered the puzzle correctly. And out of all those entries, our randomly chosen winner is Peter Appel from Athens, Georgia. Hey, Peter.

Professor PETER APPEL (Competition Winner): Hey.

SMITH: What do you do for work there in Athens?

Mr. APPEL: I'm a law professor at the University of Georgia Law School.

SMITH: Nice. And how long have you been playing the puzzle?

Professor APPEL: Regularly for the last three years or so.

SMITH: And where do you play it? Do you do it in the shower, as we talked about, to loosen up?

Professor APPEL: No. Actually, I usually play it after one of our dogs has gotten us up.

SMITH: So there you go. That's another way of defusing the tension, is to have pets.

Professor APPEL: Exactly.

SMITH: So are you ready to give it another go?

Professor APPEL: I'll give it a try.

SMITH: All right. Will, meet Peter, and let's play.

SHORTZ: All right. Peter and Robert, every answer today involves a familiar three-word phrase in the form "blank of blank" where the last word starts with the letter A. I'll give you the first word of the phrase. You give me the last one. For example, if I said, law - how appropriate is that? - the answer would be averages, as in law of averages.

Professor APPEL: Got it.

SHORTZ: Right. Number one is coat.

Professor APPEL: Of arms.

SHORTZ: Coat of arms is right. Number two is Bard.

Professor APPEL: Of Avon.

SHORTZ: That's right. Department.

Professor APPEL: Of Agriculture.

SHORTZ: Aha. Horn, H-O-R-N.

Professor APPEL: Of Africa.

SHORTZ: Good. Joan.

Professor APPEL: Of Arc.

SHORTZ: That's right. Plan.

Professor APPEL: Of attack.

SHORTZ: Good. Also, plan of action. Either one. Voice, V-O-I-C-E.

Professor APPEL: Voice of America.

SHORTZ: Aha. Rock.

Professor APPEL: I'm sorry. Rock?

SHORTZ: Rock, R-O-C-K.

Professor APPEL: Rock of Ages.

SHORTZ: That's right. Seal, S-E-A-L.

Professor APPEL: Seal of approval.

SHORTZ: Aha. Court, C-O-U-R-T.

Professor APPEL: Court of Appeals.

SHORTZ: I thought you'd get that. Power, P-O-W-E-R.

Professor APPEL: Power of attorney.

SHORTZ: Another one right up your line. Lawrence.

Professor APPEL: Lawrence of Arabia.

SHORTZ: Aha. Article.

Professor APPEL: Article of apparel? SHORTZ: Good. Age, A-G-E.

SMITH: Think maybe "Hair"?


SMITH: The musical?

Professor APPEL: Age of Aquarius.

SHORTZ: That's right. Also, "Age of Anxiety" is a poem by Auden.

SMITH: Depending on your generation.

SHORTZ: That's right. Timon, T-I-M-O-N.

Professor APPEL: Timon of Athens.

SHORTZ: That's right. Center.

Professor APPEL: Center.

SHORTZ: Aha. That's what an egomaniac wants to be.

Professor APPEL: Center of attention.

SHORTZ: That's right. And your last one is round, R-O-U-N-D.

Professor APPEL: Round of ammunition.

SHORTZ: Not bad. I was going for another answer. Let me give you a hint. It's what you deserve for your performance here.

Professor APPEL: Oh, round of applause!

SHORTZ: That's it. Good job.

SMITH: A very big round of applause. That was wonderful, Peter. And since you live in the rocking town of Athens, Ga., we actually brought in a secret musical act to tell you what you've won. Let's see if you can recognize the music.

(Soundbite of music by The Black Keys)

SMITH: And if you can't guess that musical act, they will introduce themselves.

Mr. PATRICK CARNEY (Drummer, The Black Keys): Hi, we're The Black Keys, and I'm Patrick.

Mr. DAN AUERBACH (Vocals and Guitar, The Black Keys): And I'm Dan.

Mr. CARNEY: Today you'll get a Weekend Edition lapel pin, which is a necessary fashion accessory, the Eleventh Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, a bologna sandwich, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House, Volume Two.

Mr. AUERBACH: Also, you may receive Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku."

Mr. CARNEY: No, no, it's not pronounced like that.

Mr. AUERBACH: Oh, yeah. Sudoku. And "Black and White Book of Crosswords" from St. Martin's Press. You will also receive one of Will Shortz's Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. We listen to Weekend Edition Sunday on member station WCPN and WKSU, Kent State University.

SMITH: Don't worry, Peter. I think they were joking about the bologna sandwich.

Professor APPEL: Oh, that's good.

SMITH: We promise not to slip that in the box. Peter, tell us what member station you listen to.

Professor APPEL: I listen to WUGA 91.7 in Athens.

SMITH: Peter Appel of Athens, Georgia, thanks for playing the puzzle with us. You were great.

Professor APPEL: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

SMITH: Now, Will, what's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Tom Denk of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Take the two-letter postal abbreviations for three U.S. states, add the letter A, then the two-letter postal abbreviations for three more U.S. states, 13 letters in all. Reading from left to right, you'll get a familiar three-word phrase that's seen on many products. And as a hint, I'll tell you the three words in this answer phrase have four, two and seven letters, respectively. What's the phrase?

So, again, postal abbreviations for three states, plus A, plus abbreviations for three more states, reading from left to right you'll get a familiar three-word phrase seen on many products, in numeration four-two-seven. What phrase is this?

SMITH: When you have that answer, go to our Web site, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the "Submit Your Answer" link. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time, and 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. Thanks, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Robert.

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