OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Let's go to our next game. Standing in front of me, are our next two contestants, Leslie Billig. And Leslie is a crossword puzzle editor.
EISENBERG: I know. The audience is like, oh my goodness. And we also have Nisse Greenberg.
EISENBERG: Nisse's a math whizz. He teaches on a volunteer basis to kids, so you really have to like math to do that.
EISENBERG: And he's originally from Bangor, Maine, but a vegetarian. You've never tried the lobster? Not even once?
NISSE GREENBERG: I'm actually from Bar Harbor, Maine.
EISENBERG: Oh, Bar Harbor, Maine, well there you go.
GREENBERG: But I tried lobster once at age 22. Yeah, somewhere round there.
EISENBERG: So a couple of months ago.
EISENBERG: Well that's too bad because our game is the Tastes of Crustacean, so that's going to be -
JOHN CHANESKI: Sorry. So sorry.
EISENBERG: No, we're happy to have you. John, tell us about the game we're about to play.
CHANESKI: Sure, this puzzle is called Bankable Stars. We're going to letter bank the last names of bankable, or profit-winning, celebrities.
EISENBERG: OK, Jon. We don't speak puzzle, so what is a letter bank?
CHANESKI: In puzzle lingo, a letter bank is a short word that contains all the letters you need to make a much longer word. For example, with just the letters in the word pearl, P-E-A-R-L, you can spell parallel. And the word sprout, S-P-R-O-U-T, is a letter bank for the phrase support our troops.
CHANESKI: Now remember...
CHANESKI: Everybody pick up on that? Got it?
EISENBERG: There's two sides of the audience happening. Half are like, this is impossible, and the other half are like, yeah, I got it.
CHANESKI: Remember the word or phrase we're looking for will use all the letters in the bank, often more than once. For example, Ophira...
CHANESKI: ...if I gave you the last name Monet, M-O-N-E-T, as in?
EISENBERG: Claude Monet, yes.
CHANESKI: Claude Monet, right? And the clue, speaking in an unvarying pitch or volume. You'd said what?
EISENBERG: I would say monotone.
CHANESKI: Monotone, right. All the letters...
CHANESKI: ...in the word monotone can be found in Monet. Very good.
EISENBERG: OK. Contestants, you ready? You got this?
GREENBERG: Absolutely not. Oh sure.
EISENBERG: Oh excellent. OK.
EISENBERG: Remember to ring in when you have the answer.
CHANESKI: Great, here we go. The first celebrity is Ronald Reagan, R-E-A-G-A-N. Your clue, to move everything all-around, like the furniture. (bell ringing)
LESLIE BILLIG: Rearrange.
CHANESKI: Rearrange is right.
CHANESKI: Here's the next one. Rafael Nadal, N-A-D-A-L. Your clue, where you drift off to when you daydream, or a slang term for Los Angeles. (bell ringing)
BILLIG: La La Land.
CHANESKI: La La Land is correct, Leslie. Way to go. That's two for you. OK.
EISENBERG: Nice. Advantage Leslie.
CHANESKI: Jennifer Aniston, A-N-I-S-T-O-N. Your clue, the second most popular city in Texas, it's home to the Alamo. (bell ringing)
GREENBERG: No, no.
BILLIG: San Antonio?
CHANESKI: Yes, Leslie, way to go.
EISENBERG: Nisse, it's OK, it's all right.
GREENBERG: No, it's not OK.
EISENBERG: Give him a math question.
CHANESKI: This is a math guy in a word game with a crossword puzzle lady.
BILLIG: I mean really.
GREENBERG: It's a very fair match though.
CHANESKI: He's actually doing pretty well, so...
EISENBERG: Yeah, he's doing great.
GREENBERG: Three minus zero is three.
GREENBERG: I am three behind.
CHANESKI: Let's go to Tim Burton, B-U-R-T-O-N. The clue, the title track of a classic Bruce Springsteen album. (bell ringing)
BILLIG: "Born To Run."
CHANESKI: "Born To Run" is right.
EISENBERG: You're the boss, Leslie. Boss Leslie.
BILLIG: I'm so sorry.
GREENBERG: No. I'm liking hearing all these answers.
EISENBERG: Do you guys want to hug? Do you guys want to hug for a second?
GREENBERG: They're very good answers.
CHANESKI: OK, think on this one. Adam Sandler. Sandler, S-A-N-D-L-E-R. Your clue, the first and last name of a longtime advice columnist.
GREENBERG: No, you can do it.
CHANESKI: Ah, yeah.
Go ahead, Leslie. Take it. Yeah.
BILLIG: Ann Landers.
CHANESKI: Ann Landers is right.
EISENBERG: That's correct. That's correct.
EISENBERG: I've never seen this kind of interaction between contestants.
GREENBERG: I was trying to sweet talk her beforehand, I think it's helping.
CHANESKI: What I loved was that Leslie gave him a chance, but she put her hand over her bell and looked over at him...
CHANESKI: ...just to let him know like...
GREENBERG: You going?
CHANESKI: ...I'm giving you a few seconds here, chief.
Let's try Kim Basinger. Basinger, B-A-S-I-N-G-E-R. The clue is part of the Pacific Ocean between Russia and Alaska. It's known... (bell ringing) Yes?
GREENBERG: Bering Strait.
CHANESKI: It's known for its strait.
GREENBERG: Bering Sea?
CHANESKI: Bering Sea is right. Way to go, Nisse.
GREENBERG: I got one.
EISENBERG: OK, so our final scores are Leslie, six, Nisse, one, which makes Leslie our winner.
EISENBERG: Thank you, you will be moving on to our final round of double ASK ME ANOTHER ultimate challenge at the end of the show. Well done.
EISENBERG: We're looking for a few people in our radio audience who would like to play games and puzzles in a future show, so if you think you have what it takes, direct message us at @npraskmeanother, or you can send us an old fashioned email at email@example.com and we'll send you a quiz to see if you have what it takes. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.