On-air Challenge: Today's puzzle is all about "me." Specifically, every answer is a word or name in which the accented syllable "me," in any spelling, appears somewhere inside it.
Example: Serving to fix or correct things --> REMEDIAL
1. Person who tells jokes
2. Single-celled creature
3. Friend in Mexico
4. Minor criminal infraction
5. Part of Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2014
6. Country located between Turkey and Azerbaijan
7. Ancient Greek mathematician and inventor
8. In Greek myth, the Titan who's said to have created humanity from clay
9. Basic kind of acid
10. Composer Shostakovich
Last week's challenge: This challenge came from listener Derrick Niederman, of Charleston, S.C. Starting in Montana, you can drive into South Dakota and then into Iowa. Those three states have the postal abbreviations MT, SD, and IA — whose letters can be rearranged to spell AMIDST. The challenge is to do this with four connected states to make an eight-letter word. That is, start in a certain state, drive to another, then another, and then another. Take the postal abbreviations of the four states you visit, mix the letters up and use them to spell a common eight-letter word. Derrick and I know of only one answer. Can you do this?
Challenge answer: FLAGRANT (FL-GA-TN-AR)
• ANIMATOR (IA-MO-AR-TN)
• CONDEMNS (SD-NE-CO-NM)
• DIAMONDS (ND-SD-IA-MO)
• DIOCESAN (SD-IA-NE-CO)
• DIORAMAS (SD-IA-MO-AR)
• NOMINATE (NE-IA-MO-TN)
• ORNAMENT (AR-TN-MO-NE)
• RANSOMED (SD-NE-MO-AR)
Winner: Marc Colello of Carlsbad, Calif.
This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Ed Pegg Jr., who runs mathpuzzle.com. Think of someone who has been in the news this year in a positive way. Say this person's first initial and last name out loud. It will sound like an important person in U.S. history. Who is it?
If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here by Thursday, Feb. 11, at 3 p.m. ET. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
And it's time to play The Puzzle.
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GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Hi, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. What was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Derrick Neiderman of Charleston, S.C. I said start in a state, drive to another one, then another one, then another one. And the postal abbreviations for those four states you can rearrange to spell a common eight-letter word. What is it? Well, I said last week that I knew of only one answer. Actually, there are a number of them. My answer was flagrant. But you can also make ornament, diamonds, animator and several other eight-letter words. And amazingly, Tyler Elliot (ph), a listener, sent in a string that uses seven states, making the word documentations. And you have a meandering path from Tennessee to Utah. So we're going to list all the good answers that we accepted on the NPR website.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received over 400 correct responses. And the winner is Marc Colello of Carlsbad, Calif. Congratulations, and welcome to the program.
MARC COLELLO: Thank you so much.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So which one did you submit?
COLELLO: I submitted several of them. I submitted condemns, diamonds, flagrant, gallivant, nominate, ornament, ransom and saintdom.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, I have to say then you are the - exactly the right person to have won this week (laughter). What was it like when you got the call?
COLELLO: Oh, so exciting. I'm teeming with excitement.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, all right. I like to see that. Mark, are you ready to play The Puzzle?
COLELLO: I am. I'm ready to play. Yeah.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Exciting - all right. Well, take it away, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Mark, today's puzzle is all about me. And specifically, every answer is a word or name in which the accented syllable ME in any spelling appears somewhere inside it. For example, if I said serving to fix or correct things, you would say remedial. Always accent the me. And here's number one, a person who tells jokes.
SHORTZ: Comedian is right. Number two, a single-celled creature.
SHORTZ: That works. Also, paramecium - either one. A friend in Mexico.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. A minor criminal infraction.
COLELLO: Let's see. I am racking my brain.
SHORTZ: It starts with M, if that helps. It starts with M-I-S. How about that?
SHORTZ: Misdemeanor is correct - part of Ukraine annexed by Russia in 2014.
COLELLO: Oh, Crimea.
SHORTZ: Crimea is it - country located between Turkey and Azerbaijan.
SHORTZ: Armenia is it. Here's your next one - ancient Greek mathematician and inventor.
SHORTZ: That's it. In Greek myth, the titan who's said to have created humanity from clay.
SHORTZ: Oh, good job - a basic kind of acid.
SHORTZ: And here's your last one - composer Shostakovich.
COLELLO: (Laughter) No. I'm no good with composers.
SHORTZ: And it's sort of a traditional Russian man's name, starting with D.
SHORTZ: Dmitri is it - good job.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good job. Will, did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed today? That was hard.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: How do you feel?
COLELLO: Relieved. That was so much fun. It's my dad's birthday today. So I want to dedicate this win to him.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's his name?
COLELLO: Steven (ph).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Happy birthday to your dad, Steven. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And, Mark, which member station do you listen to?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Marc Colello of Carlsbad, Calif. Thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.
COLELLO: Thank you so much. This was really so much fun.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) You did really well.
All right, Will. what is next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Ed Pegg Jr., who runs mathpuzzle.com. Think of an official who has been in the news this year. Say this person's first initial and last name out loud, and it will sound like an important person in U.S. history. Who is it? So, again, you're looking for an official who's been in the news this year. Say the first initial and last name out loud. And it will sound like an important person in U.S. history. Who are these people?
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 Thursday, February 11 at 3 p.m. Eastern. 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 very own puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.