The Key to the Answer? It's 'It' In the on-air puzzle this week, clues are given to two words. If you insert the letters "I-T" somewhere in the first word, you get the second word. For example, if the clues are "an elevator company" and "an inflammation of the ear," the answer would be "Otis" and "otitis."
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The Key to the Answer? It's 'It'

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The Key to the Answer? It's 'It'

The Key to the Answer? It's 'It'

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

Will SHORTZ: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Did you read that Merv Griffin is going to do a television program based on crossword puzzles?

SHORTZ: Yeah, It's called, what is it? "Let's Do Crosswords," "Let's Play Crosswords?"

HANSEN: Something like that, yeah, crossword. And it's - I mean, this is amazing to do it on television. It's sort of like your crossword puzzle tournament, supersized, huh?

SHORTZ: Yeah. And they're using real crosswords, I understand.

HANSEN: Wow. Well, I can't wait. It's going to - apparently, premiere on September 10th. So we'll keep our eyes on that. Meanwhile, our ears are on that challenge you left us with last week. Could you repeat it please?

SHORTZ: Yes, I said, take a familiar three-word title, four letters in the first word, two letters in the next, six letters in the last. The last word contains the consecutive letters R-A-N. Change the R-A-N to O-R, and you'll get another familiar three-word phrase. What is it?

HANSEN: What is it?

SHORTZ: Well, the first phrase is Tour de France. Change those letters and you get tour de force.

HANSEN: We had over 600 entries from people who solved the puzzle. Our randomly selected winner is Andrea Alterman and she lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. Hi, Andrea.

Ms. ANDREA ALTERMAN (Puzzle Winner; Resident, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: So what do you do in New York?

Ms. ALTERMAN: I write poetry. I work at Hitachi Metals America in the IT department.

HANSEN: How long have you been playing the puzzle?

Ms. ALTERMAN: About 10 years.

HANSEN: Well, you know what happens, you've been listening for 10 years. You know what happens.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ALTERMAN: Yeah. Car talk stumped the chumps.


(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Close. It's - although I don't know if Will has any clues about cars, but we'll find out. Will meet Andrea and Andrea meet Will. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Andrea. This is an appropriate puzzle for you as an IT person. I'm going to give you clues for two words. Insert the letters I-T somewhere inside the first word to get the second word. For example, if I said an elevator company and inflammation of the ear, you would say Otis and otitis. All right?


SHORTZ: All right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Number one is a person from Warsaw and your second clue is courteous.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Pole and polite.

SHORTZ: Good job. Number two, at what time and your second clue is to blanch.

Ms. ALTERMAN: When and whiten.

SHORTZ: Yes. And whiten. Good job. A penalty for speeding and your second clue is limited.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Penalty for speeding.

HANSEN: Not a ticket, right? Because it's too long a word.

SHORTZ: Yeah. And when the ticket would make - force you to pay this.

HANSEN: That would be fine.


HANSEN: Fine? Okay so, you're going to put…

Ms. ALTERMAN: Oh wait a minute. Fine and finite.

HANSEN: You got it.

SHORTZ: Finite, that's it. All right. The center of the intellect and your second clue is where London is.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Brain, Britain.

SHORTZ: Good job. Topping for mashed potatoes, and your second clue is subject studied by Sir Isaac Newton.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Gravy, gravity.

SHORTZ: Good. Try this one, a playing marble and to stir up.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Aggie and agitate.

SHORTZ: Good. Agate and agitate. Good. A small donkey used as a pack animal and a hand-held Mexican dish. And that donkey, I think…

Ms. ALTERMAN: Burro, burrito.

SHORTZ: Yes. And burrito. Good. A container for oranges and lemons, and your second clue is a salt found in oranges and lemons.

Ms. ALTERMAN: A salt found in oranges and lemons?

SHORTZ: Yeah. Think about that first one, though. What would be a container or a box for oranges or lemons?

Ms. ALTERMAN: That be a crate.

SHORTZ: That would be a crate, and insert I-T.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Citrate? Citrate?

SHORTZ: Citrate, that's it. Citrate, good.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Citrate.

HANSEN: Citrate, okay.

SHORTZ: That is a word that doesn't come up often.

Ms. ALTERMAN: No, no.

SHORTZ: How about this? Understated and a heading under the main heading.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Subtle and subtitle.


SHORTZ: Oh, that was good. A salad stalk and your second clue is speed.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Stalk, a celery.

SHORTZ: Yeah, that's it celery. Yeah, and insert I-T to get speed.

HANSEN: This is another word that doesn't come up very often.

SHORTZ: Yeah, you can say so. Insert it near the end.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Celerity?

SHORTZ: Celerity is it. Yeah.

HANSEN: It's my word of the day. You learn a new one every day.


SHORTZ: And here's your last one, North Africa's blank coast and inhuman conduct. And that blank coast is about 200 years ago, pirates were in the North Africa's coast. So it's the blank coast.

HANSEN: Barbary.

SHORTZ: Barbary Coast is it. Insert I-T, you get inhuman conduct.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Barbarity?

SHORTZ: Barbarity.

HANSEN: Barbarity.

SHORTZ: Nice job.

HANSEN: Oh, Andrea, I really needed you on the team this week. Will, nice puzzle, though and you, Andrea, for playing it today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, "The 11th Edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus," the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House volume two, Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku," and "Black and White Book of Crosswords" from St. Martin's Press - wait, there's more - and one of Will Shortz's "Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books. Quite a bit of loot there, Andrea. What member station do you listen to?


HANSEN: Oh nice work. Well, Andrea Alterman from Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, thanks for being such a great team member and playing the puzzle with us today.

Ms. ALTERMAN: Thank you.

HANSEN: All right, Will, I imagine you have a challenge to take us through the next week?

SHORTZ: Yeah, this is an unusual challenge because it's creative and it's a real-life problem I have. For a long time, I have squirrels jumping from trees near my house, under my roof, and this is a problem because my house has an attic fan, and the squirrels can get in my attic through a hole cut in the roof for the fan. Well, I had the tree branches cut back from the house so the squirrels couldn't do this anymore.

Now, they run up my front steps, jumped on to the railing at the top, jumped six feet onto the telephone wires leading into the house and from there they jumped onto the roof. Well, I can't get rid of the railing, can't get rid of the telephone wires and I can't get rid of the steps. How can I prevent squirrels from getting onto my roof? Send me your solution. The winner will be the person who sends me the best, most creative, or most amusing solution, bearing in mind that it has to work.

HANSEN: Yeah. You don't have a solution for this in mind with you?

SHORTZ: I need help.

HANSEN: You need help. Will needs help. Well, when you have an answer to his squirrel problem, go to our Web site, - this is unusual - and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday puzzle page. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call you if you're the winner, and you'll get to play puzzle on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. I can't believe you're asking for household hints in the puzzle. I mean, what's next?

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Well, we'll see what kind of answers come in. Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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