On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of an Academy Award winner or nominee for best picture. Using the given anagram, decipher the title of the film. The films will go from oldest to newest. Example: OUTWORN (1940) (2 words). Answer: OUR TOWN
Last week's challenge: Name a major U.S. city in two syllables. Reverse the syllables phonetically to get the cost of attending a certain NBA game. What is it?
Answer: Phoenix, Knicks fee
Winner: Jay Sethuraman of New York, N.Y.
Next week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Smatt Read of Somerville, Mass. Actor Tom Arnold goes by two first names — Tom and Arnold, both male, of course. And actress Grace Kelly went by two first names — Grace and Kelly, both female. Name a famous living actress who goes by three first names, all of them traditionally considered male. The names are 5, 3 and 6 letters long, respectively.
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:
You have waited patiently, holding your breath, for the glamour, the glitter and the winner of Sunday's big event. Yes, it is time for the puzzle. Coming down the red carpet is WEEKEND EDITION's Puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Hey, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: So the Oscars happening tonight - you into the Oscars? You do the whole thing - get dressed up, tuxedo, eat popcorn?
SHORTZ: No tuxedo, but I'm a big movie-goer. I'm a big fan of "Boyhood" this year? What about you?
MARTIN: Oh, "Boyhood." Yeah, no, I liked "Boyhood," but I really liked "Birdman." So remind us, Will, what was last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. I said name a major U.S. city in two syllables, reverse the syllables phonetically, and you'll get the cost of attending a certain NBA game. What is it? Well, the city is Phoenix. And if you switch the syllables, you get a Knick's fee.
MARTIN: Mhmm, very clever. So over 930 of you got the answer correct this week. And our winner is Jay Sethuraman from New York City. He's on the line now. Hi, Jay. Congratulations.
JAY SETHURAMAN: Hi, Rachel. Hi, Will.
MARTIN: So you live in New York, Jay. What do you do in New York?
SETHURAMAN: I'm a professor at Columbia University.
MARTIN: Was do you teach?
SETHURAMAN: I teach Operations Research which is an engineering discipline that uses mathematical models to help make better decisions.
MARTIN: Aha, I feel like someone who is good at mathematical modeling would be good at puzzling.
SETHURAMAN: I'm not very good at puzzles, but I enjoy them all the same.
MARTIN: I bet you are. I bet you are, Jay. You have to believe. So do you have a puzzle question for Will Shortz?
SETHURAMAN: I do, actually. I wanted to know, Will, could you describe a typical workday for you, and is there a routine or a ritual that you follow that maximizes your chances or getting a good puzzle?
SHORTZ: Well, every day is different which is one of the nice things. I do have a wonderful thing of working at home. And some days it's correspondence, some days it's editing, talk with my test solvers for The New York Times crossword. Sometimes I lie in bed thinking of puzzles for NPR. So every day is different.
MARTIN: OK, Jay. So with that, are you ready to play the puzzle?
MARTIN: All right. Let's do it, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Jay and Rachel, every answer today is the name of an Academy Award winner or nominee for Best Picture. I'll give you anagrams of the names. You tell me the pictures. And the films will go from oldest to newest. For example, if I said out worn, O-U-T W-O-R-N, from 1940, two words, you would say "Our Town."
MARTIN: OK, Jay, you ready to do this?
SHORTZ: Number one is thelma, T-H-E-L-M-A, Best Picture of 1948. And I'll give you a hint. It's a...
SHORTZ: "Hamlet" - no hint needed.
SHORTZ: Number two is ashen, A-S-H-E-N, from 1953.
SETHURAMAN: Was it a movie called "Shane?"
SHORTZ: It was - a western. Number three is apectoral. That's A-P-E-C-T-O-R-A-L from 1963. And these are all single words unless I say otherwise. And your hint is Elizabeth Taylor.
MARTIN: Oh, good.
SHORTZ: That's it - a life, A-L-I-F-E, from 1966. The title is the lead character's first name. And I think Rachel has it. It starred Michael Caine.
MARTIN: Oh, should I say it, Jay?
SETHURAMAN: Yes, please.
MARTIN: Is it "Alfie?"
SHORTZ: It is "Alfie."
SETHURAMAN: "Alfie," OK.
SHORTZ: All right. How about sham, S-H-A-M, from 1971.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Bearcat, B-E-A-R-C-A-T, from 1972. It was a musical.
SHORTZ: There you go - Corky, C-O-R-K-Y, 1976.
SHORTZ: "Rocky." Roman era, R-O-M-A-N-E-R-A, 1979, and it's two words. I'll give you a hint. It's the female lead character's name - five letter first word, three letter second word.
SETHURAMAN: "Norma Ray."
SHORTZ: "Norma Ray," yeah, pulled it out. Here's an easy one - abbe, A-B-B-E, 1995.
SHORTZ: "Babe" is it - toecap, T-O-E-C-A-P, 2005.
SHORTZ: Oh, that was fast. And here's your last one - males, M-A-L-E-S, 2014. It's up for a Best Picture award tonight.
SHORTZ: "Selma" is it.
MARTIN: "Selma." Oh, man. That was harder than I thought it would be but very well done. I thought that was great. And for playing the puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, Jay, where do hear us? What's your public radio station?
MARTIN: WNYC in New York City, Jay Sethuraman of New York. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Jay.
SETHURAMAN: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, Will.
MARTIN: OK, Will. What's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Smatt Read of Somerville, Mass. Actor Tom Arnold goes by two first names, Tom and Arnold which are both male, of course. And actress Grace Kelly went by two first names, Grace and Kelly, both female. Can you name a famous living actress who goes by three first names, all of them traditionally considered male? And the lengths of the names are 5, 3, 6, respectively. So again, a famous living actress goes by three first names, all traditionally considered male - 5, 3, 6. Who is it?
MARTIN: OK. You know what to do. When you've got the answer, go to the website npr.org/puzzle. Click on that submit your answer link. Just one entry per person, please. And send in your answers, if you would, by Thursday, February 26 at 3 p.m. Eastern time. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, then we give you a call. And then you 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.