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Editor's note: This report contains accounts of rape, violence and other disturbing events.

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Keep Calm As A Clam

Jun 23, 2013
Originally published on June 23, 2013 12:27 pm

On-air challenge: Every answer is a two-word phrase in which both words start with C and are anagrams of each other. For example, "tranquil sea creature" would be "calm clam."

Last week's challenge from listener Eric Timar of Falls Church, Va.: Write down these five words: "mate," "peck," "miss," "pot" and "blunder." There is something very unusual they have in common. What is it? And, can you name one other word with the same property?

Answer: Bag (bad, beg, big, bog, bug) or last (last, lest, list, lost, lust)

Winner: Martha Herrick of Greenville, Maine

Next week's challenge: Write down these five words: "aide," "heart," "tough," "gelatin" and "emanate." There is something very unusual they have in common. What is it? And what's another word with this property?

Submit Your Answer

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.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. In a world before sudoku or Bejeweled, there was an ancient tradition meant to flex the brain and stimulate the soul. I am talking, of course, about the puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: OK. So, remind us what was last week's challenge, Will.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Eric Timar of Falls Church, Virginia. And I said write down these five words: mate, peck, miss, pot and blunder. There's something very unusual they had in common. What is it? And can you name one other word with the same property? Well, the answer is that in each of those words you could use any of the five vowels. My answer was last, as in last, lest, list, lost and lust. And I think the most popular answer from listeners was bag, as in bag, beg, big, bog and bug.

MARTIN: OK. So, this week we got more than 700 correct answers. And our randomly selected winner is Martha Herrick from Greenville, Maine. She joins us on the line. Congratulations, Martha.


MARTIN: So, how'd you figure this one out?

SHORTZ: Well, I just wrote the words down, and I'm an old retired elementary school reading teacher, so we did a lot of word games with vowels and it just came right to me.

MARTIN: Great. How long did you teach reading?

HERRICK: Oh, over 25 years.

MARTIN: Oh, my. And I imagine you had a lot of students over those years. You keep in touch with them?

HERRICK: Oh, yes. And I hope that some of them could have solved that problem too.


MARTIN: Well, are you ready to play the puzzle, Martha?


MARTIN: OK. Let's do it, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Martha. I like your gung ho attitude. Every answer today is a two-word phrase in which both words start with the letter C and are anagrams of each other. For example, if I gave you the clue tranquil sea creature, you would say calm clam. And we'll start with four-letter words. Your first clue is a frigid clump of dirt.

HERRICK: Cold clod.

SHORTZ: That's it. Group of Broadway performers singing "Old Deuteronomy" and the "Rum Tum Tugger."

HERRICK: Rachel, I think you're going to have to help me on this one.


SHORTZ: There you go. It's the Cats...


SHORTZ: The Cats cast is it.

MARTIN: Team effort.

SHORTZ: An oligopoly involving French red wine.

HERRICK: Claret.

SHORTZ: Yes, and oligopoly involving claret?

HERRICK: Oh, Rachel. Are you there?

MARTIN: I'm here, believe it or not, I'm here. Claret.

SHORTZ: Yeah. I'm just going to tell you. It's a Claret cartel.

HERRICK: Of course.

SHORTZ: All right. Try this one: lead actor in a film that also features Cuba's Fidel.

HERRICK: OK. Castro.

SHORTZ: Yeah. So, your two lead actors are Fidel Castro and that other person would be a Castro.

MARTIN: I have no idea.

SHORTZ: A Castro costar.

HERRICK: Oh, of course.

SHORTZ: OK. How about a person telephoning from a basement.

HERRICK: Person telephoning from a basement. Caller.


HERRICK: Cellar caller.

SHORTZ: A cellar caller is it. Nearest places to hang your clothes.

HERRICK: Closet...

SHORTZ: Yes. And this is...

HERRICK: Closest closets.

SHORTZ: The closest closets is it. Mean things done with knives, forks and spoons.

HERRICK: Cutlery.

SHORTZ: Cutlery, good. And mean things done with those.

HERRICK: Rachel?

MARTIN: You're so hopeful that I have something to say.


MARTIN: Cutlery, what word is hidden in you?

SHORTZ: Also ends in Y. All right. I'm going to tell you this one. It's cutlery...

HERRICK: Cruelty.

SHORTZ: Oh yeah, you didn't need it. It came under the wire. Here's your last one - also seven letters: where you register at the Rooster and Hen Hotel. First of all, what are roosters and hens?

HERRICK: A chicken.

SHORTZ: A chicken, yeah. And where would you register at the hotel. It's the chicken - and it's a hyphenated word.

HERRICK: Check-in.

SHORTZ: There you go.

HERRICK: Chicken check-in.

SHORTZ: The chicken check-in.


HERRICK: That was great.

MARTIN: Martha, good job.

HERRICK: Hey, don't we get a prize for being people who answered the fewest?

SHORTZ: Oh, you did fine.

MARTIN: We should. For playing the puzzle today, of course, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at And before we let you go, Martha, what is your public radio station?

HERRICK: WMEH in Bangor, Maine, part of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

MARTIN: Fabulous. Martha, thank you so much for playing the puzzle.

HERRICK: Oh, thank you both so much.

MARTIN: OK, Will. What's the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes. It's in the same form as last week's. Write down these five words: aide, A-I-D-E; heart, H-E-A-R-T; tough, T-O-U-G-H; gelatin and emanate. There is something very unusual they have in common. What is it? And the signal that you have the answer, provide another word that has the same property.

So again: aide, A-I-D-E; heart; tough; gelatin and emanate. Something very unusual these have in common. What is it? And name another word with this property.

MARTIN: When you've got the answer, go to our website, Click on the Submit Your Answer link and just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, June 27th 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 so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.