Fool Me Once, Shame On You; Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

Mar 30, 2014

On-air challenge: This week's challenge comes from a book called Puzzles & Pleasantries, published by the Old Farmer's Almanac. Since April Fool's Day is coming up on Tuesday, the challenge questions are all April Fool-ish. Each one has appeared in a past year of the Old Farmer's Almanac, and each has a legitimate answer.

Last week's challenge: Name a capital of a country. Change the first letter to name a familiar musical instrument. What is it?

Answer: Caracas, maracas.

Winner: Malcolm Pratt of Memphis, Tenn.

Next week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Mike Reiss, a former writer and producer for The Simpsons. The film Wild Wild West had three W's as its initials. What prominent film of last year had two W's as its initials?

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.

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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. And you know as well as I do, it is time for the puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining me now is Will Shortz. He is the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Hey there, Will. Good morning.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: OK. So, I heard you had a minute of primetime fame last week. Do tell.

SHORTZ: Well, maybe 15 seconds of fame. My friend, Bob Mankoff, who's the cartoon editor of The New Yorker, was profiled on "60 Minutes" last Sunday. And he's a regular at my table tennis club, so they showed a little bit of Bob and me playing.

MARTIN: Now, cool. Who won?


SHORTZ: You know, he - Bob and I used to be pretty close but now I'm the champion.

MARTIN: Oh, OK. I have to say that is not surprising. So, with that, can you refresh our memories? What was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It was short and sweet. I said name a capital of a country, change the first letter to name a familiar musical instrument. What is it? Well, my intended answer was Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. And change the first letter to an M, you get maracas, the percussive instrument. There were a few solvers who sent in Juba J-U-B-A. Do you know that? It's the capital South Sudan.


SHORTZ: Well, you're ahead of me. And change the first letter to a T and you get tuba.

MARTIN: OK. So, we got more than 900 correct answers. And our randomly selected winner is Malcolm Pratt of Memphis, Tennessee. He joins us on the line now. Hey, Malcolm, congratulations.

MALCOLM PRATT: Thank you so much.

MARTIN: How'd you figure this one out?

PRATT: Well, it was almost kind of easy. I had a list of world capitals and went down alphabetically and Caracas jumped at me pretty quickly.

MARTIN: Well, that sounds all too logical, frankly, Malcolm. You weren't struck by lightning or awakened in the middle of the night?

PRATT: Not this time.

MARTIN: What do you do in Memphis?

PRATT: Well, I'm a retired and part-time teacher.

MARTIN: Oh yeah? What do you teach?

PRATT: Well, I teach adult women from all backgrounds and cultures here in Memphis GED and English as a Second Language and some computer application courses.

MARTIN: Great. So, Malcolm, are you ready to play the puzzle?

PRATT: I believe - I hope that I am.


MARTIN: I believe - I hope that I am. I believe that you are, Malcolm. Will, let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Malcolm and Rachel. The people at the Old Farmer's Almanac sent me their new book, "Puzzles and Pleasantries," which includes April foolish puzzles. And with April Fool's Day coming up on Tuesday, I thought it would be fun to share some of these. They're all from past years of the Old Farmer's Almanac and they all have legitimate answers. Here's number one: what goes up the hill, down the hill and yet stands still?

PRATT: Oh, gosh.


PRATT: And I don't know, a river, possibly. I'm not sure.

SHORTZ: Yeah, river probably wouldn't go up a hill though. Do you know, Rachel?

MARTIN: I have no idea.

SHORTZ: Well, their answer is a road. It's not bad. It goes up a hill, down the hill, doesn't move. OK. Number two: what flowers can be found between the nose and the chin?

PRATT: Nose and the chin? Buds? Lip buds or something?

SHORTZ: Well, lips are good. And how many are there?

PRATT: Two lips, tulips.

SHORTZ: There you go - tulips. Now you got it. Here's your next one: what is lengthened by being cut at both ends?

PRATT: The word smiles, sort of.

SHORTZ: There is an old riddle about that: what's the longest word in the English language? And the answer is smiles 'cause if you remove the outside letters, it's still a mile long.

MARTIN: I think that's a creative answer. No? We don't get that...

PRATT: But that's not what you're looking for, is it?

MARTIN: Can you say it again?

SHORTZ: All right. I'm going to tell you this one. It's a ditch.

MARTIN: Will, these are hard.

PRATT: Thank you, Rachel.


MARTIN: I just want it to go on the record.

SHORTZ: Just go on the record, OK. What never asks questions but requires frequent answers?

PRATT: Requires frequent answers? Never asks questions but has frequent answers? Telephone?

SHORTZ: Telephone, yeah. That was my answer. Their answer was actually the doorbell but either one works.

MARTIN: Oh, same thing. Good job.

SHORTZ: What is it is full of holes and yet holds water?

PRATT: I'll let you have this one, Rachel.

MARTIN: Oh, you're so nice, Malcolm. Full of holes, a well, has a hole and there's water in it.

SHORTZ: Many holes though. It has many holes. I'll tell you.

MARTIN: Many holes.

SHORTZ: It's a sponge. Not bad, all right. Try this one.

MARTIN: No, no. It is bad, Will. But thanks for making me feel better. OK, yeah, um-hum.

SHORTZ: OK, you get one more. Here's your last one. What is it that goes when a wagon goes, stops when a wagon stops, is of no use to the wagon. And yet the wagon cannot go without it. Think of a creaky old wagon going down a road.

PRATT: A squeak or something?

SHORTZ: There you go. Yeah, the noise from a wagon wheel, the wagon cannot go without that. But there you go.

MARTIN: Wow. I don't know what to say. I just...


MARTIN: ...I feel like shell-shocked right now.


SHORTZ: Well, if you've got friends on Tuesday, try some of these on them.

MARTIN: Oh, man. Malcolm, you got a couple.

PRATT: I did.

MARTIN: And so, I think that that is victory.

PRATT: I'll count it.


MARTIN: Yeah. And for playing the puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. Go to our website, to read all about your prizes. Before we let you go, Malcolm, what's your public radio station?

PRATT: It's WKNO in Memphis.

MARTIN: Great. Malcolm Pratt of Memphis, Tennessee, thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Malcolm.

PRATT: Thank you so much, Rachel. And you, too, Will, thank you.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Malcolm.

MARTIN: Alright, Will. What's up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, the challenge comes from listener Mike Reiss, who's a former writer and producer for "The Simpsons." The film "Wild Wild West" had three Ws as its initials. What prominent film of last year had two Ws as its initials?

So again, the film "Wild Wild West" had three Ws as its initials. What prominent film of last year had two Ws as its initials?

MARTIN: OK, when you've got the answer, go to our website Click on the Submit Your Answer link and limit yourself to just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, March 3rd at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. Because it goes like this: If you're the winner we'll give you a call. And then you get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times. And he is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.