On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name in which the first word starts with "F" and the second word starts with "LA."
Last week's challenge: Name a major U.S. city in two words. Take the first letter of the first word and the first two letters of the second word, and they will spell the standard three-letter abbreviation for the state the city is in. What city is it?
Answer: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Winner: Mark Sobolik of Newburg, Ore.
Next week's challenge from listener Henri Picciotto of Berkeley, Calif.: Name a two-word geographical location. Remove the first letter. Move one of the other letters to the front of what's left. This will result in a single word that names what you are most likely looking through when you see that geographical location. 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. Eastern.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Tell the kids to work on their Santa list by themselves for a little while because it's time for the puzzle.
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MARTIN: And joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: I understand you've been doing a little traveling out to the West Coast?
SHORTZ: Yeah. Are you familiar with Spin, the ping-pong social club? It's been in New York for a couple of years.
MARTIN: I am not.
SHORTZ: And it's co-owned by Susan Sarandon, the actress. And they had a grand opening of an L.A. Spin this past week. So, I was out there. And there were a lot of celebrities: Melissa Etheridge, the singer, Chelsea Handler, talk show host, Vincent Gallo, film director. And they had a celebrity tournament. And I played with Andre Balazs, who owns the Standard Hotel in L.A., which hosts this club. And we won.
MARTIN: Oh, congratulations.
SHORTZ: There was, like, a four- or five-foot trophy. It was ridiculous.
MARTIN: Well, remind us what was last week's challenge, Will.
SHORTZ: The challenge was to name a major U.S. city in two words. Take the first letter of the first word and the first two letters of the second word and they'll spend the standard three-letter abbreviation for the state the city is in. What city is it? And the answer was Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
MARTIN: OK. Well, more than 2,800 of you sent in the correct answer. And the winner this week is Mark Sobolik. And he joins us now on the line. Congratulations, Mark.
MARK SOBOLIK: Thank you.
MARTIN: And you're joining us from just outside Portland, Oregon; is that right?
SOBOLIK: That's correct.
MARTIN: And I understand you've kind of met Will Shortz before? Tell us that story.
SOBOLIK: Well, I have a carrot rejection letter from a crossword puzzle I constructed years ago.
MARTIN: You submitted it to the New York Times?
SOBOLIK: I did. I sent it to him just soon after Will took over as the editor. And I was relieved to get a response but it was negative.
MARTIN: Kind of disappointing I imagine.
MARTIN: Do you at least sign those rejection letters yourself, Will?
SHORTZ: I do. Nowadays, most of it's done by email. But in the early days, it all went out by postal mail.
MARTIN: Well, Mark, now you get to meet Will under different circumstances.
SOBOLIK: That's right. And let's see how I do this time.
MARTIN: OK. Well, let's make it happen, Will. What's our puzzle?
SHORTZ: All right, Mark and Rachel. Continuing on the Florida theme from last week's challenge, every answer today is a familiar two-word phrase or a name in which the first word starts with F and the second word starts with L-A, as in Fort Lauderdale. All right. Number one is Michelle Obama for one.
SOBOLIK: First lady.
SHORTZ: That's it. Number two: French, Spanish or Chinese.
SOBOLIK: Foreign language.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Arriving at 9 o'clock for an 8 o'clock party, for example. So, there's a party at 8 o'clock and you show up at 9 o'clock, you are...
SOBOLIK: Oh, fashionably late.
SHORTZ: Fashionably late.
MARTIN: I was going to say frequently. But, yeah, fashionably is better.
SHORTZ: Former New York City mayor after whom an airport is named.
SOBOLIK: Fiorello LaGuardia.
SHORTZ: That's it. Long, narrow bodies of water in upstate New York.
SOBOLIK: Finger lake.
SHORTZ: That's it. Finger lakes - plural. Reading light that does not rest on a table.
SOBOLIK: Flying lamp.
SHORTZ: The lamp is right but it's not on the table, what's it on?
SOBOLIK: Oh, floor lamp.
SHORTZ: Floor lamp is it.
SOBOLIK: But if it were flying...
MARTIN: I love a flying lamp. I don't know what that is but that's cool.
SHORTZ: Bringing down of a plane in an emergency.
SOBOLIK: That's landing.
SHORTZ: Yeah, what kind?
SOBOLIK: I can't think of the F word though.
MARTIN: Freak? How about freak landing?
SHORTZ: Freak landing. I was going for a forced landing.
MARTIN: Oh, OK.
SOBOLIK: Forced landing, OK.
SHORTZ: All right. Try this: it lists ingredients and calorie information.
SOBOLIK: Food label.
SHORTZ: That's it. Subject that includes child adoption, divorce and alimony.
SOBOLIK: Family law.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Agricultural workers.
SOBOLIK: Farm laborers?
SHORTZ: Good. Old Argentine-born actor known for Latin lover roles.
SOBOLIK: I think you might have got me on that one.
SHORTZ: Yeah, it's a generational thing. He's the father of Lorenzo. Does that help?
SOBOLIK: Oh, Fernando Lamas.
SHORTZ: There you go. The next one's a hyphenated answer: maker of Cheetos and Ruffles potato chips.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. How about this: California cemetery where many celebrities are buried.
SOBOLIK: Forest Lawn.
SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one: what auto racers must complete before getting the checkered flag.
SOBOLIK: Final lap?
SHORTZ: The final lap. Nice job.
SOBOLIK: Is that what I just completed?
MARTIN: Yes. You totally completed the final lap with flying colors, Mark.
MARTIN: Very well done. And for playing our 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, of course, before we let you go, we need to know what is your Public Radio station?
SOBOLIK: It's KOPB.
MARTIN: KOPB in Portland, Oregon. Mark Sobolik of Newburg, Oregon, Mark, thanks so much for playing the puzzle.
SOBOLIK: Thank you.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's our challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from Henri Picciotto of Berkeley, California, who co-creates the Cryptic Crosswords for The Nation magazine. Name a two-word geographical location. Remove the first letter. Move one of the other letters to the front of what's left. And this will result in a single word. And this word names what you are most likely looking through when you see that geographical location. What is it?
So again, a two-word geographical location, drop the first letter. Move one of the remaining letters to the front. This will be a single word and it names what you're most likely looking through when you see this geographical location. What is it?
MARTIN: OK, you know what to do. 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 our deadline for entries is Thursday, December 20th at 3 P.M. Eastern.
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.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.