LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
And it's time to play The Puzzle.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us is Will Shortz. He is puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's very own puzzlemaster.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Hey there, Lulu. Merry Christmas.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Merry Christmas. Remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass. I said using only the letters in the phrase ride on, repeating them as often as necessary, you can spell the one-word proper name of a famous fictional animal and a word for what kind of animal that is. What's the name of the animal, and what's the word? And the animal is Donner or Donder. Either one is correct. And that's a reindeer.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received more than 3,000 correct responses. And the winner is Phoebe Simmons from Boise, Idaho.
PHOEBE SIMMONS: Thank you, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How did you figure out this week's challenge?
SIMMONS: Oh, well, first I went to the animal. I'm not a hunter, but people talk about deer a lot in Idaho. And I actually do see a lot in Idaho. So I got to deer pretty quickly but realized I had more letters and couldn't think of a fictional deer that came in and realized I had reindeer. And here we are in Christmas. And so I went to that song in my head that counted down every name of the reindeer.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. We're ready to go. Take it away, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Phoebe. I'm going to read you some sentences about Christmas. For each one, change one letter in one of the words to reveal a state capital. For example, if I said I'm a lover of the whole Christmas season, you would say Dover, capital of Delaware. And that changes one letter in the word lover.
SHORTZ: OK. Here's number one. The kids made a lot of noise unwrapping their presents.
SHORTZ: There you go. And I made this puzzle before I knew you were from Idaho. So...
SHORTZ: Number two, did you hear Santa Claus landing on the roof? Try the word landing.
SIMMONS: Change one letter.
SHORTZ: One letter in landing.
SHORTZ: Lansing, Mich., is it. Good. Christmas is a season of traditional sacraments.
SHORTZ: California - good. The little sock hanging by the fireplace is my baby brother's.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Little sock.
SHORTZ: Those are your key words. OK. Here's your big hint - Arkansas.
SIMMONS: Oh, Little Rock.
SHORTZ: Little Rock is it. You'll have to pierce the packaging to get out the Christmas ornament.
SHORTZ: Pierre, S.D., is right. Julys and Augusts are when stores place their Christmas orders.
SHORTZ: That's it - Maine. Is this the same Santa we ran into at the other mall?
SIMMONS: Same Santa...
SHORTZ: Is this the same...
SIMMONS: Santa Fe.
SHORTZ: Santa Fe - that's a tough one, and you nailed it. And here's your last one. I can't wait for the after-Christmas sales.
SIMMONS: I can't wait for the after-Christmas sales.
SHORTZ: Yeah. It's that last word.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Think witch hunt.
SIMMONS: Oh, Salem.
SHORTZ: Salem, Ore. - you got it.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you feel? You did great.
SIMMONS: (Laughter) I feel - it was fun.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good. I'm so glad.
SIMMONS: Thank you for the hints.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh. That's my favorite part. 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 Phoebe, which member station do you listen to?
SIMMONS: I listen to Boise State Public Radio, KBSX.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Phoebe Simmons of Boise, Idaho, thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.
SIMMONS: You're welcome. It was my pleasure. Thank you.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What is next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yeah. It comes from listener Dan Pitt of Palo Alto, Calif. Take the name Buenos Aires. Remove one letter. The remaining letters can be rearranged to name two things that many people wish for around this time of year. What are they? So again, Buenos Aires - remove a letter. The remaining letters can be rearranged to name two things that many people wish for around this time of year. What things are they?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the submit your answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is this Wednesday, December 23, at 3 p.m. Eastern because Christmas. 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 if you pick up the phone, 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: Thanks, Lulu. Merry Christmas.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Merry Christmas.
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