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Opening Panel Round

Our panelists answer questions about the week's news: An unlikely Hip Hop battle.

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PETER SAGAL, HOST:

We want to remind everybody they can join us here most weeks at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago. For tickets and more information, you can always go to wbez.org and you can also find a link at our very own website waitwait.npr.org.

Panel, of course, right now it is time for you to answer some questions about this week's news. Paula, there was a big fight this week about hip hop slang. Rival gangs were going at each other over the meaning of words. This fight happened where?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: I don't know.

SAGAL: I'll give you a hint. The fight got bitter. It was like 15 down, you're an idiot.

POUNDSTONE: In crossword puzzles?

SAGAL: Yes, in the New York Times crossword puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: That's where the fight happened. Last Saturday's puzzle offered this clue - listen carefully - "wack, in hip hop." And the answer was "illin." Now, this is ridiculous, as all the street smart readers of the Times know, because wack means bad, as in, "Whoa, the Style section was wack this week." And illin means good, as in "Oh, I thought Maureen Dowd's column on Michelle Obama was quite illin, n'est pas."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BRIAN BABYLON: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

SAGAL: No, no, Brian, you're disagreeing?

BABYLON: As the expert on the panel...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BABYLON: "You Be Illin" was a song. You be illin, so that means that you're doing something bad.

SAGAL: Anyway, we can settle this. Because to talk about the controversy that followed, we are pleased to welcome our friend Will Shortz. He's the NPR Puzzlemaster and the editor of the New York Times Crossword. Thanks for joining us, MC Shortz.

WILL SHORTZ: Hey there, good to be here.

SAGAL: Nice to talk to you again. To prove your authority on this topic, Will Shortz, please use illin in a sentence for us.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: You caught me by surprise.

BABYLON: That's hilarious.

SHORTZ: The illin comes from the Run DMC song and the example is that a guy goes into KFC and orders a Big Mac and that's illin. Clearly, that's bad.

SAGAL: It's bad.

BABYLON: Told you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, so illin is bad and wack is also bad.

SHORTZ: That's right. So that's why I thought that that was a good clue. It turns out this Run DMC song is from 1986 and the words...

SAGAL: Well, I knew that.

SHORTZ: The word has changed meaning since then and nowadays, illin is kind of cool.

SAGAL: So you're getting these complaints from the reader, and did you ever say to yourself, "What do you know about hip hop, you do the crossword puzzle in the New York Times?"

SHORTZ: Exactly.

SAGAL: Since we've established you as an authority on street vernacular, Will Shortz, have you ever gotten jiggy with it?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: All the time.

SAGAL: All the time.

POUNDSTONE: That is wack.

SAGAL: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Will Shortz is the Puzzlemaster, of course, for WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY. He's also the editor of the New York Times Crossword, and a man so dope he spells Shortz with a Z. Thank you so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

POUNDSTONE: Bye, Will.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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