On-air challenge: I'm going to name a category. You name something in the category whose first two letters are the last two letters of the category's name.
For example: Vegetable --> Leek or lettuce.
Last week's challenge, from listener Sandy Weisz of Chicago: Weisz runs something called The Mystery League, which conducts puzzle hunts. This challenge wasn't too hard. Name a unit of measurement. Remove two consecutive letters. The letters that remain can be rearranged to name what this measurement measures. What is it?
Answer: minute --> time
Winner: Marc Wright of Tacoma, Wash.
Next week's challenge: This one is an extension of my on-air puzzle. Think of a category in three letters in which the last two letters are the first two letters of something in that category. And the thing in the category has seven letters. Both names are common, uncapitalized words. What are they?
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, Jan. 21, at 3 p.m. ET.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Chances are you played at last week's Powerball game, and odds are you did not win the more than $1 billion jackpot. Well, I didn't either. But here's a sure thing; we're playing the puzzle.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: Joining me now is Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: Did you buy a lottery ticket?
SHORTZ: I thought about it, which is saying something because I've never bought one before.
SHORTZ: But honestly, I don't know what I would do with a billion dollars. I don't know that that would make me a happier person. What about you?
MARTIN: I don't know if you heard this, but NPR's CEO Jarl Mohn actually bought every full-time, permanent employee of NPR a lottery ticket. He sprung for this out of his own pocket. But - so I had that lottery ticket, and I have to admit, it was pretty fun. It was pretty fun to just, you know, dream for a minute on my commute on the way home.
SHORTZ: Yeah, yeah (laughter).
MARTIN: That was about it, though. OK, so let's play the puzzle. Remind us. What was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Sandy Weisz of Chicago. I said name a unit of measurement. Remove two consecutive letters. And the letters that remain can be rearranged to name what this measurement measures. What is it? Well, my answer was minute. Drop the N-U, and you can get the letters to make time. We also accepted hectare, H-E-C-T-A-R-E. It's a measurement of land. If you drop the E-C, you can make earth. And there was an almost answer with parsecs. Drop the R-S and you get space. But those are really units rather than unit. So...
MARTIN: Got it.
SHORTZ: Didn't allow that one.
MARTIN: OK, but more than 800 of you got the correct answer to the puzzle this week. Our randomly selected winner is Marc Wright of Tacoma, Wash. He's on the line now. Hey, Marc, congratulations.
MARC WRIGHT: Thank you very much.
MARTIN: I'm so excited to talk with you because you and I went to the same university - right? - UPS.
WRIGHT: We did, UPS here in Tacoma.
MARTIN: University of Puget Sound, for those who don't know. It is not the postal delivery service. It is a really beautiful university in the Pacific Northwest. I had a great time there, and you - you stayed. You just said, Tacoma's a great place to live; I'm going to stay here?
WRIGHT: Yeah, with a short trip to Europe - a few years in Europe and then back to Tacoma.
MARTIN: And how often do you play the puzzle?
WRIGHT: Well, I've been listening to it off and on for 20 years. But I actually didn't submit an answer until two weeks ago. So this is only the second time I've actually officially played.
MARTIN: Congrats, beginners luck. Will Shortz is on the line. Do you happen to have a question for him?
WRIGHT: Sure, I would - I'd like to know how that ping-pong tournament went.
MARTIN: Oh, yeah, you had a ping-pong tournament the other week.
SHORTZ: Well, I was afraid you were going to ask. We made it to the semifinals. That's the good part. But then we lost ignominiously.
SHORTZ: It was a good time. It was for a good cause - Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City.
MARTIN: But still, semifinals, Will. I mean...
MARTIN: Eh (laughter). OK, Marc, with that, are you ready to play the puzzle?
WRIGHT: I am.
MARTIN: All right, Will, let's do it.
SHORTZ: All right, Marc and Rachel. I'm going to name a category. You name something in the category whose first two letters are the last two letters of the category's name. For example, if I said vegetable, you might say leek or lettuce because vegetable ends in L-E and leek and lettuce start L-E.
MARTIN: Oh, OK.
SHORTZ: Here's number one. Color.
SHORTZ: Correct, orange. Number two is metal.
SHORTZ: That's it. State.
SHORTZ: Texas and Tennessee, either one. State capital.
WRIGHT: That's a hard one. I'm not... Albany?
SHORTZ: Excellent. Shellfish.
WRIGHT: Why am I not - I'm not coming up with anything, Rachel. Can you help me?
MARTIN: Shoot. I don't - (laughter) - I don't know. I don't know. What is it?
SHORTZ: I'm going to tell you guys. It's shrimp.
WRIGHT: Of course.
SHORTZ: Shrimp is a shellfish.
MARTIN: Painfully obvious. Yeah, OK.
SHORTZ: Norse god.
WRIGHT: OK, my Norse mythology isn't fantastic.
SHORTZ: It is the chief Norse god, just as Zeuss is the chief God in Greek.
WRIGHT: Oh, Odin is it?
SHORTZ: Odin is right, O-D-I-N. Good.
SHORTZ: Woolly animal.
SHORTZ: That's it. Language.
SHORTZ: TV talent program.
WRIGHT: "American Idol."
SHORTZ: That's it. Book of the Bible.
SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one is breakfast cereal.
MARTIN: Like a brand name?
SHORTZ: A brand name. I have two in mind, one of which I ate this morning.
MARTIN: I love how that's supposed to be a clue. That's really going to, like.
SHORTZ: I know (laughter) that's no...
WRIGHT: Yeah. Well, it's A-L. Why am I not thinking of anything?
SHORTZ: All-Bran, Kellogg's All-Bran. And I had Alpha-Bits this morning. There you go.
MARTIN: Alpha-Bits, that's the more fun answer - and more delicious.
SHORTZ: My favorite cereal.
MARTIN: I guess that makes sense.
WRIGHT: Oh, yeah.
MARTIN: But don't you stress out? Are you always trying to, like, make words on your spoon?
SHORTZ: (Laughter) No, I just shovel it in.
MARTIN: (Laughter). Well, Marc, well done. That was very, very good. And for playing the puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and all kinds of cool puzzle books and games. You can read about your prizes at npr.org/puzzle. And where do you hear us, Marc?
WRIGHT: At KPLU here in Tacoma.
MARTIN: KPLU, a fabulous station in Tacoma, Wash., serving that community. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Marc.
WRIGHT: Thank you very much for inviting me. I enjoyed it.
MARTIN: Great. OK, Will, what's up for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, the challenge is an extension of my on-air puzzle. Think of a category in three letters in which the last two letters are the first letters of something in that category. And the thing in the category has seven letters. Both names are common, un-capitalized words. What are they? So a three-letter category, seven letter thing in that category, both common, un-capitalized words. What are they?
MARTIN: When you've got the answer, go to npr.org/puzzle and click on that submit your answer link. Just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 21 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 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. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.