On-air challenge: Sunday is Veterans Day, so we have a game of categories based on flags. Given some categories, for each one name something in the category beginning with each of the letters F, L, A, G and S.
For example, if the category were chemical elements, you might say fluorine, lead, argon, gold and sulfur.
Last week's challenge from longtime listener Merl Reagle: The words "organic" and "natural" are both commonly seen at health food stores. What other seven-letter word, also commonly seen at health food stores, has five letters in common with organic and five letters in common with natural?
Winner: Mike Sublett, Portland, Ore.
Next week's challenge: With one stroke of a pencil you can change a capital F into E; you can change an O into a Q, and so on. Write the phrase "LEAD PENCIL" in capital letters. Add a stroke to one letter and rearrange the result to name a classic movie. What is it?
If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. OK. The elections are over, so now you can devote more brain space to something really important, like the puzzle.
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MARTIN: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: OK. So, it's been a little while, Will, since we've talked about your role as pretty much the global patriarch of puzzling, if I dare say. Do you have anything notable on your calendar this month?
SHORTZ: Well, next weekend actually is something cool. It's called the Wonderful World of Words. And it takes place every year at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, New York, which is about 90 minutes north of New York City. And it's a whole weekend devoted to words. And this year, we have a magician, David Kwong, who's going to talk about how he uses language to deceive you. There is a professor who is an expert on ancient languages, and he's going to talk about lost and endangered alphabets. And a guy who's a Beatleologist, to talk about the language of the Beatles.
MARTIN: Beatleologist, great.
SHORTZ: So, it's a good time.
MARTIN: Very cool. Sounds like quite a lineup. So, now to the business at hand, Can you remind us of last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from our old pal Merl Reagle. I said the words organic and natural are both commonly seen at health food stores. What other word in seven letters, also commonly seen at health food stores, has five letters in common with organic. And the answer is granola.
MARTIN: OK. We heard from more than 1,400 of you last week. And our randomly chosen winner is Mike Sublett of Portland, Oregon. He joins us on the phone now. He's on his cell phone at the airport. Hey, Mike.
MIKE SUBLETT: Good morning, Rachel. Good morning, Will.
SUBLETT: Oh, gosh. Thanks so much.
MARTIN: So, as we mentioned, you're in transit, one your way out of town. Glad that we can catch you for a couple of minutes. But curious, how long did it take you to solve this puzzle?
SUBLETT: Well, I started playing the puzzle about a year when I started swimming again, and it was about 20 minutes in the pool.
MARTIN: In the pool. So, this is where you do your puzzle thinking?
SUBLETT: It's how I get through my swim.
MARTIN: Well, let's see if you can solve this week's challenge without being in the pool. Are you ready to do this?
SUBLETT: Let's go.
MARTIN: OK. Will, let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, Mike and Rachel. Tomorrow, we celebrate Veterans Day. And in fact, today, November 11, is actually Veteran's Day. So, I brought a game of categories based on flags. I'm going to give some categories. For each one, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters F-L-A-G-S. For example, if the category were chemical elements, you might say fluorine, lead, argon, gold and silver. Your first category: things in a fireplace.
SUBLETT: A fire.
SHORTZ: A fire would work. You could also have said a flue or a flame.
SUBLETT: A liner.
SHORTZ: Or a log, yeah.
SUBLETT: Log andiron. For a gas fireplace, a gas.
SHORTZ: OK. Or a grate. And all you need is an S.
SHORTZ: Sparks. Oh, you've got all sorts of answers I didn't. Mine were...
MARTIN: I'm thinking smoke, yeah.
SHORTZ: ...smoke, yeah, soot and starter kit. Your next category is sports.
SUBLETT: G would be gymnastics.
SHORTZ: Good. Or golf.
SUBLETT: S would be soccer.
SHORTZ: Soccer, skiing, swimming - lots of them. So, you need an L and an A.
SUBLETT: Line dancing.
SHORTZ: Line dancing? I'm going to have to call foul on that one.
SUBLETT: Rachel, do you have one?
MARTIN: Man, you're calling me - an L.
SHORTZ: How about a sport on a field? A big field.
SHORTZ: Lacrosse is good.
SHORTZ: And all you need is an A.
MARTIN: Oh, good.
SHORTZ: Archery, yeah, and athletics, which is what the Olympics call track and field. How about college majors?
SHORTZ: Folklore, OK. Some people might have said finance or French, but I'll go with folklore, OK.
SHORTZ: Latin, linguistics, literature, good.
SHORTZ: Art, u-hum. Astronomy would work. G and S.
SHORTZ: German, OK. We'll go for other languages. Geology would also work. And how about an S?
SHORTZ: Yeah, good. And your last category is newspaper comics.
MARTIN: Oh, man.
SUBLETT: Lil' Abner.
MARTIN: Good for L.
SUBLETT: Oh, I'm going to need help, Rachel.
MARTIN: I know. I'm wracking my brain. F, I was thinking of the "Flintstones." That's not a...
SHORTZ: "Flintstones" works, yeah, also "Farside" and "Family Circus."
SHORTZ: As well as others, OK. How about A? There's one that's also a popular comic book years and years.
SUBLETT: There's an old one when I was a kid called "Apartment 3G."
SHORTZ: I'll give you that. "Archie," "Ally Oop" and "Andy Capp" would work. How about G?
SHORTZ: "Garfield," can't miss that. And finally, S.
SUBLETT: Oh, "Superman," of course.
MARTIN: Oh, yes
SHORTZ: "Superman," "Spiderman," "Shoe," "Steve Canyon," several others. Nice job, Mike.
MARTIN: Oh, that was fun. Good job, Mike.
SUBLETT: Thank you so much. Thanks for the help.
MARTIN: No, you did great. And, of course, for playing the puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, and puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, what's your public radio station?
SUBLETT: I'm a listener, sustaining circle member, and occasional volunteer at KOPB Public Broadcasting in Oregon.
MARTIN: Fabulous, we love to hear that, Mike Sublett of Portland, Oregon. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle this week, Mike.
SUBLETT: Thank you.
MARTIN: Don't miss your flight, hurry.
SUBLETT: Yeah, thanks. Bye.
MARTIN: OK, Will. What's our challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, with one stroke of a pencil you can change a capital F to an E; you can change an O to a Q, and so on. Write the phrase LEAD PENCIL in capital letters. Add a stroke to one letter and rearrange the result to name a classic movie. What is it?
So again, write LEAD PENCIL in capital letters. Add a stroke to one letter and rearrange the result to name a classic movie. What movie is it?
MARTIN: Ooh, I kind of love this one - challenging. OK, 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. And the deadline for entries is Thursday, November 15th at 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please 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 puzzle-master, Will Shortz.
Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
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