On-Air Challenge: Every answer consists of two adjoining U.S. states. Each clue is a four-letter word formed by one or more letters starting one of the state names plus one or more letters starting the other state name. For example, given "mist," the answer would be "Mississippi" and "Tennessee," or "Missouri" and "Tennessee."
Last Week's Challenge from listener Kevin Roberts of Norcross, Ga.: Name two fictional characters — the first one good, the second one bad. Each is a one-word name. Drop the last letter of the name of the first character. Read the remaining letters in order from left to right. The result will be a world capital. What is it?
Answer: The world capital is Santiago, Chile, which can be formed by dropping the last "a" from "Santa" and combining it with "Iago."
Winner: Ken Welles from Scotia, N.Y.
Next Week's Challenge: Next week's challenge is a spinoff of the on-air challenge. The word "marten," as in the animal, consists of the beginning letters of "Mississippi," "Arkansas," "Texas," and "New Mexico"; you can actually drive from Mississippi to Arkansas to Texas to New Mexico in that order. What is the longest common English word you can spell by taking the beginning letters of consecutive states in order as you travel through them? Puzzlemaster Will Shortz's answer has eight letters, but maybe you can top that.
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. Time now for the puzzle.
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MARTIN: Let's start with last week's challenge from the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master Will Shortz.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Name two fictional characters - the first one good, the second one bad. Each is a one-word name. Drop the last letter of the name of the first character. Read the result from left to right and it will name a world capital. What capital is it?
MARTIN: Well, almost a thousand of you figured out the answer. And our randomly selected winner this week is Ken Welles from Scotia, New York, who joins us on the line now. Congratulations, Ken.
KEN WELLES: Thank you.
MARTIN: So, what is the world capital that you came up with using two fictional character names?
WELLES: I used Santa and Iago to come up with Santiago.
MARTIN: Santiago, Chile.
MARTIN: OK, great. Very nice. But to fair, I think we should point out that it is debatable whether Old Saint Nick is really a fictional character. That may be, you know, a question for some of our listeners.
WELLES: Especially the younger ones.
MARTIN: Yes. OK. Before we continue, let's welcome the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.
SHORTZ: Good morning, Rachel. Congratulations, Ken.
WELLES: Thank you very much.
SHORTZ: And I'd like to mention we have a funny alternative answer submitted using Wendy and Hook - both from "Peter Pan." Put those together and you get the capital of Namibia, Windhoek.
MARTIN: Wow, that is a creative answer. But our winner this week, of course, is Ken Welles. And can I ask what you do in Scotia, New York?
WELLES: I'm a retired physicist.
MARTIN: So, how do you spend your days now?
WELLES: Well, I've got 30 acres and I spent a lot of time putting in tabs and enlarging some ponds and doing a little lumber milling.
MARTIN: Lumber milling - that's quite a career change.
WELLES: There aren't a lot of physicists who are backhoe operators, no.
MARTIN: No, I don't imagine. That's quite a diverse skill set you've acquired. So, are you ready to play the puzzle?
MARTIN: All right, Will. Let's do it.
SHORTZ: All right, Ken and Rachel. Today, I've brought a geographical puzzle. Every answer consists of two adjoining U.S. states. I've taken one or more letters starting one of the state names plus one or more letters starting the other state name and put them together to spell a four-letter word. You name the states. For example, if I said mist M-I-S-T, you might say Mississippi and Tennessee, 'cause mist starts with the first three letters of Mississippi and the first letter of Tennessee. You could also have said Missouri and Tennessee. That would have worked as well.
SHORTZ: Here is number one: cook C-O-O-K.
WELLES: Colorado, Oklahoma.
SHORTZ: Excellent. Number two is flog F-L-O-G.
WELLES: Florida, Georgia.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Cane C-A-N-E.
WELLES: California, Nevada.
SHORTZ: Excellent. Made M-A-D-E. They are...
WELLES: Massachusetts but Delaware, no.
SHORTZ: No, but Delaware is right. What abuts Delaware starting with M-A?
WELLES: Oh, Maryland, Delaware.
SHORTZ: Maryland, Delaware is right. Newt N-E-W-T.
WELLES: New Hampshire...
SHORTZ: Yeah, there's a lot of states start with N-E-W, but don't do that one. Think more toward the Southwest.
WELLES: I'm still in the blank here, Rachel. Help me out.
MARTIN: Not Old Mexico but...
WELLES: Oh, New Mexico and Texas, of course.
SHORTZ: Texas is it. All right. The next one is my favorite word on the list, will W-I-L-L.
MARTIN: Oh, Will.
WELLES: I wonder why. Illinois and Wisconsin.
SHORTZ: That's it. And now solve the following five-letter words in the same way. And your first one is Macon M-A-C-O-N.
WELLES: Oh, Massachusetts, Connecticut.
SHORTZ: That's it. Minor M-I-N-O-R.
WELLES: Michigan, North Dakota.
SHORTZ: North Dakota's right but Michigan doesn't touch that. What starting M-I touches North Dakota?
SHORTZ: Minnesota is it. And here's your last one: penne P-E-N-N-E, as in the pasta.
SHORTZ: That's it.
SHORTZ: There's two states touching Pennsylvania that start N-E.
WELLES: New York.
SHORTZ: New York and New Jersey. Nice job.
WELLES: OK, yes.
MARTIN: Ken, that was great.
WELLES: That was fun.
MARTIN: Well done. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at NPR.org/Puzzle. And, Ken, which public radio station do you listen to?
MARTIN: In Albany, New York, of course.
WELLES: That's correct.
MARTIN: Ken Welles from Scotia, New York, thanks for playing the puzzle this week.
WELLES: Thank you.
MARTIN: OK, Will, hit us with your best shot for next week. What is the next challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes, it's a spinoff of the on-air puzzle. The word marten, as in the animal, consists of the beginning letters of Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico. And you can actually drive from Mississippi to Arkansas to Texas to New Mexico, in that order.
What is the longest common English word you can spell by taking the beginning letters of consecutive states in order, as you travel through them? My answer has eight letters. Maybe you can better mine. The longest answer will win.
MARTIN: OK, some more geography. 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, February 23rd 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, as always, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.