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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. We will now attempt to answer the biggest questions in the universe - or maybe we just play the puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

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

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: OK. Let's start off with a little refresher. What was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Jeffrey Harris of Chappaqua, New York. And it sounded a little complicated. I asked you to name a category of books in two words. I said add a letter to the first word and rearrange the letters. And insert that same letter into the second word. And the result will be a two-word title of a famous movie, which is based on a book which is definitely not found in the category of books you originally named. Name the category of books and the book. Well, the answer was children's lit. And you do those operations, you get "Schindler's List."

MARTIN: OK. Well, about 350 listeners got the answer correct. And our randomly selected winner is Philip Goodman. Congratulations, Philip.

PHILIP GOODMAN: Thank you, Rachel.

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

GOODMAN: Well, my first thought was sci-fi, and that didn't work. And then I thought women's lit, and that didn't work. But when I thought of lit, I thought of list, and then I thought "Schindler's List," and then I worked backward to children's lit.

MARTIN: Philip, you are very clever. Well done.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

MARTIN: You are from Binghamton, New York, and I understand there's a little sci-fi connection there.

GOODMAN: Yes. It's the hometown of Rod Serling.

MARTIN: The famous creator of "The Twilight Zone."

GOODMAN: He's our most famous son.

MARTIN: And are you a fan of the genre?

GOODMAN: Yes. But particularly "The Twilight Zone."

MARTIN: And how long have you been playing the puzzle, Philip?

GOODMAN: Probably about 18 years - from postcard days.

MARTIN: Long time.

GOODMAN: Yeah.

MARTIN: You're the randomly selected winner, Philip. It's exciting.

GOODMAN: I'm so happy.

MARTIN: All that work has paid off. So, your big chance. Do you have a question for Will Shortz?

GOODMAN: Well, I'm a big crossword puzzle fan, and I know that the puzzles in the New York Times get harder from Monday through Saturday. And I was wondering how do you decide if a puzzle is a Thursday puzzle or a Saturday puzzle?

SHORTZ: Yeah, good question. I can tell just by looking at it. And I don't solve the puzzles that come in 'cause I get 75 to 100 submitted to me a week. So, that would be a full-time job right there just solving everything. But I can tell just by looking at the theme and the vocabulary and I think every puzzle has a natural level of difficulty.

MARTIN: Interesting.

GOODMAN: Wow, thank you.

MARTIN: OK, Philip. Are you ready to try your hand at our puzzle?

GOODMAN: Let's go.

MARTIN: Let's go, Will.

SHORTZ: All right. I like that. Philip, today's theme is CSI, as in the name of the long-running TV show. I'm going to give you three words starting with the letters C, S and I. For each set, you give me a fourth word that can follow each of mine to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if I said cut, second and interest, you would say rate, as in cut rate, second rate and interest rate.

MARTIN: Ah. OK. You got it, Philip?

GOODMAN: OK.

MARTIN: All right. Let's try it.

SHORTZ: Number one: cereal - that's C-E-R-E-A-L - cereal, sand, idiot.

GOODMAN: Box.

SHORTZ: Box, yeah. And idiot box being an old-fashioned term for a TV. Charley, saddle, iron.

GOODMAN: Charley, saddle, iron.

SHORTZ: And Charley ends in an E-Y.

GOODMAN: Oh, horse.

SHORTZ: Yeah, Charley horse, saddle horse and iron horse, good. Carson, sin S-I-N and inner.

GOODMAN: City.

SHORTZ: City, good. Control, signal, ivory.

GOODMAN: Tower.

SHORTZ: Tower. You're fast. Circulatory, solar, immune.

GOODMAN: System.

SHORTZ: System, good. Chess, school, ironing.

GOODMAN: Board.

SHORTZ: Board is right. Corn, sourdough, Italian.

GOODMAN: Bread.

SHORTZ: That's it. Church, skeleton, ignition.

GOODMAN: Key.

SHORTZ: That's it, key. Chemical, secret, insurance.

GOODMAN: I need help, Rachel.

MARTIN: Oh man. I stopped playing because you were getting them all. OK, OK.

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: Who do you get your insurance policy from?

GOODMAN: Agent.

SHORTZ: There you go. Chemical agent, secret agent, insurance agent. And here's your last one: child, skin, intensive.

GOODMAN: Care.

MARTIN: Yes. Philip...

SHORTZ: Philip, that was brilliant.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

MARTIN: Will, did you give him the answers beforehand?

(LAUGHTER)

SHORTZ: It sounded like it. But I swear I have never talked to Philip before.

MARTIN: OK, Philip.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: That was amazing.

GOODMAN: Well, thank you.

MARTIN: And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin. You'll also get puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle.

And before we let you go, what is your public radio station?

GOODMAN: WSKG in Binghamton, New York.

MARTIN: Philip Goodman of Binghamton, New York, thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Philip.

GOODMAN: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, Will.

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

SHORTZ: Yes, think of a word starting with G. Change the G to a T, as in Thomas, and rearrange the letters after the T. The result will be a new word with the same meaning as the original word. What words are these?

So again: Word starting with G. Change it to a T, rearrange the letters that come after the T. And the result will be a new word that is a synonym of the original word. What words are these?

MARTIN: You know what to do. When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, May 30th at 3 P.M. Eastern. 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.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC)

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