On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is a game of categories based on the word peony. For each category, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters P-E-O-N-Y.
Last week's challenge: Name something in five letters that's nice to have a lot of in the summer. Change the last letter to the following letter of the alphabet. Rearrange the result, and you'll name something else that you probably have a lot of in the summer, but that you probably don't want. What is it? (HINT: the second thing is a form of the first thing.)
Answer: Water, Sweat
Winner: Richard Friedman of Silver Spring, Md.
Next week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Matt Jones of Portland, Ore. There are three popular men's names, each six letters long, that differ by only their first letters. In other words, the last five letters of the names are all the same, in the same order. Of the three different first letters, two are consonants and one is a vowel. What names are these?
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. Eastern.
ARUN RATH, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Arun Rath. Come on down. You're the next contestant for the puzzle. And joining me now is Will Shortz. He's of course the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Arun.
RATH: And I understand you're joining us today from WFYI in Indianapolis. Why are you there?
SHORTZ: Yes, well, you know, I'm originally from Indiana. And this weekend, the Indiana Historical Society has named me a living legend. So I'm here to take an award.
RATH: Well, I'm a little bit nervous talking to a living legend. (Laughing) Can you remind us about last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. I said to name something in five letters that it's nice to have a lot of in the summer. I said change the last letter to the following letter of the alphabet, rearrange the result. And you'll name something else that you probably have a lot of in the summer, but that you probably don't want. What is it? And the answer is water. We all want a lot of water in the summer - either drink or to swim in or boat in. And change the r to an s and rearrange you get sweat, which, unfortunately, we have a lot of in the summer.
RATH: Good one, and I was completely lost on that myself. But we got about 1,700 correct answers last week. And our randomly selected winner is Richard Friedman from Silver Spring, Maryland where I'm staying right now when I'm here filling in for Rachel. He joins us no the line now. Hi, neighbor, congratulations, Richard.
RICHARD FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
RATH: So how did you figure this one out?
FRIEDMAN: Actually, I got the second part of it first. I thought of sweat before I thought of water. And then had to work back to see which of those letters if replaced by the previous letter in the alphabet, might yield something that would qualify for the first part of the answer.
SHORTZ: You did it the hard way.
FRIEDMAN: Yeah. Usually the solving it backwards is the rational way to do it, and this time it was not. But that's the way it worked.
RATH: Well, the main thing is you got it done. How long have you been planning the puzzle?
FRIEDMAN: I've been playing quite a while. I was actually on the air previously, I think it was in October of 1997. And I had been playing sometime before that.
RATH: Wow, and what do you do for a living?
FRIEDMAN: I'm a lawyer with the Federal Government.
RATH: Anything exciting?
FRIEDMAN: There isn't a whole lot of legislating going on.
RATH: I've heard about that a little bit. So, Richard, are you ready to play the puzzle?
FRIEDMAN: We'll find out.
RATH: OK. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right, Richard, today I've brought a game of categories based on the word peony - P-E-O-N-Y - which is the state flower of Indiana. I'm going to name some categories. For each one, name something in the category beginning with each of the letters P-E-O-N and Y. For example, if I said chemical elements, you might say Potassium, Europium, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Yttrium. And your first category is colors.
FRIEDMAN: Nectarine? Is that a color?
SHORTZ: Nectarine. I'll give you nectarine. I was going for navy.
FRIEDMAN: Navy, better.
SHORTZ: But nectarine is pretty good, too. Number two is street and highway signs.
FRIEDMAN: Pass on right. Pass on the left, I mean.
SHORTZ: Pass with care - anything like that. Yes. E-O and N.
FRIEDMAN: No parking.
SHORTZ: That's good. E and O.
SHORTZ: Exit, excellent.
FRIEDMAN: On-ramp? Off-ramp?
SHORTZ: On-ramp. Off-ramp. I don't actually see signs that say on-ramp and off-ramp. But think of a sign you see a lot on streets - city street.
RATH: About direction?
FRIEDMAN: Go ahead.
RATH: One way.
SHORTZ: One way is what I was going for. All right, your next category is place names in Canada. Any kind of place name.
FRIEDMAN: Y and P. Prince Edward Island.
FRIEDMAN: And Y.
SHORTZ: There's a pretty big Y.
SHORTZ: Yukon Territory is it. Well, you're just doing great. Here's your last category. It's words of five or fewer letters ending in K.
FRIEDMAN: Pink. Elk. Oak, the tree.
SHORTZ: Oak, yes.
FRIEDMAN: Neck, the part of the body.
SHORTZ: Yes, yes.
FRIEDMAN: Yak, the animal.
SHORTZ: Yak. And yolk. And yuck. And good job.
SHORTZ: There you go, another one.
RATH: Great, well done, Richard. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pen as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And, Richard, tell us your local public radio station.
FRIEDMAN: WAMU in Washington.
RATH: Great. Richard Friedman of Silver Spring, Maryland. Thanks for playing the puzzle.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you both.
RATH: OK, Will, what's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Matt Jones of Portland, Oregon. There are three popular men's names each six letters long that differ by only their first letters. In other words, the second through sixth letters of all names are the same in the same order. Of the three different first letters, two are consonants and one is a vowel. What first names are these? So again, three men's first names, six letters, long they differ only by their first letters, of those different first letters, two are consonants and one is a vowel. What men's names are these?
RATH: All right. When you have the answer - and once again I will be relying on you dear listener - go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the submit your answer link. Just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, July 31 at 3:00 P.M. Eastern. Please include a phone number where we can reach 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, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Arun. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.