This Puzzle Is The Pits Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase, in which the first word starts with P-I and the second word starts with T. For example, given "path taken by early settlers in the West," the answer would be "pioneer trail."
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This Puzzle Is The Pits

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This Puzzle Is The Pits

This Puzzle Is The Pits

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is Puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hey, Liane.

HANSEN: Happy Autumn.

SHORTZ: Same to you.

HANSEN: Leaves changing in your part of the woods yet?

SHORTZ: Just starting to. How about you? It's probably early for you.

HANSEN: Well, yes and no. When the sun hits certain trees, you can tell they're starting to show their colors, so it's kind of neat. It happens to be my favorite time of year anyway.

So, anyway, a lot of people were working on your challenge. And I will just have to say that our intern Justin managed to come up with the answer, like, nanoseconds after you gave the puzzle clues out. But, first of all, remind us of this challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from Judge Victor Fleming of Little Rock, Arkansas. And Vick is a regular crossword contributor to the New York Times. I said take five nations whose names are five letters long. Using the middle letter of each country's name, spell the five-letter name of a sixth country. And I asked you to do it without using the name Palau, P-A-L-A-U, from the South Pacific.

HANSEN: All right. Your answer or answers.

SHORTZ: Right. Well, when I did the puzzle without Palau, I had one answer - it was the only one I found - it involved Libya. And it can use Malta, China, Gabon, Egypt and Italy. And other listeners sent in Italy, which can use Chile, Qatar, Ghana, Malta and Egypt, and also India, which can use China, Congo, Sudan, Chile and Ghana. We didn't allow Burma, because nowadays that's known as Myanmar. And we didn't allow Aruba because that's part of the Netherlands.

HANSEN: You should've seen the diagram our intern drew. Well, we received more than 3,000 entries this week, and our randomly chosen winner is Rob Stiene from Brooktondale, New York. Rob, how are you?

Mr. ROB STIENE: I'm doing well. How are you?

HANSEN: Very well, thank you. How long did it take you to solve last week's challenge?

Mr. STIENE: Well, I did it in my head on the way to the grocery store. Got everything but the L, and mentioned it to my girlfriend and she suggested Malta, which, you know, I'm a Humphrey Bogart fan but it would've taken me days to come up with that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: What do you do in Brooktondale? And where is Brooktondale anyway?

Mr. STIENE: Brooktondale is just east of gorgeous Ithaca. I'm a creative director at an ad agency in Binghamton.

HANSEN: Oh, all right. Binghamton, that's my home radio town. But we're going to save that for the end. You seem like a puzzle person to solve this so quickly.

Mr. STIENE: Yes. Matter of fact, I think I was one of the first subscribers to the original Games magazine way back when, Will.

HANSEN: Wow, wow.

SHORTZ: Fantastic. I started there in '78.

HANSEN: Well, it sounds like you two are ready to play. I'll just tag along, OK? All right. Will, meet Rob. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Rob. Today's puzzle is the pits. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase in which the first word starts with P-I and the second word starts with T. For example, if I said path taken by early settlers in the West, you would say Pioneer Trail.


SHORTZ: All right?

Mr. STIENE: Um-hum.

SHORTZ: Number one is a vehicle, say, from Chevrolet or Ford, that might carry a load of dirt.

Mr. STIENE: Pickup truck.

SHORTZ: That's right. Number two: a place to have lunch outdoors, as at a highway rest area.

Mr. STIENE: Picnic table.

SHORTZ: Picnic table, good. Chit-chat by a couple in bed.

Mr. STIENE: Pillow talk.

SHORTZ: That's it. Producer of needles and cones.

Mr. STIENE: Pine tree.

SHORTZ: Good. Sausage, pepperoni or anchovies.

Mr. STIENE: Pizza topping.

SHORTZ: Good. Baking accessory that can be used as a Frisbee.

Mr. STIENE: A pie tray?

SHORTZ: A little smaller than that.

Mr. STIENE: Pie tin, maybe.

SHORTZ: Pie tin, good. Price Albert product for smokers.

Mr. STIENE: Pipe tobacco.

SHORTZ: Good. Person repairing a large musical instrument.

Mr. STIENE: Piano tuner.

SHORTZ: Good. Major part of an old-fashioned TV.

Mr. STIENE: Major part of an old-fashioned TV. Something - picture tube.

SHORTZ: Picture tube is it. Girl's hairdo with braids and bows at the side of the head.

Mr. STIENE: Pig tails.

SHORTZ: Good. Condition in which the bottoms of the legs point inward.

Mr. STIENE: Pigeon toed?


SHORTZ: Pigeon toes, good. Baked dessert using a fruit filing from Dole.

Mr. STIENE: Pineapple tart.

SHORTZ: Pineapple tart, pineapple turnover, either way. And here's your last one: it may be in a chest at the bottom of the sea.

Mr. STIENE: Pirate treasure.

SHORTZ: Man, good going, Rob.

HANSEN: Wow. All for all, all for one, every man for himself. You were great.

Mr. STIENE: Well, thank you.

HANSEN: Nice work. Well, it sounded like you had a lot of fun, but you know you're going to be getting something else too, right?

Mr. STIENE: Um-hum.

HANSEN: All right. To tell you more about those is a musician who spoke with my colleague Mary Louise Kelly on WEEKEND EDITION Saturday.

Mr. JESSE CARMICHAEL (Musician, Maroon 5): This is Jesse Carmichael from the band Maroon 5, telling you that for playing the Puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, the book series "Will Shortz Presents KenKen" Volumes 1, 2, 3 from St. Martin's Press, one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books, and a CD compilation of NPR's Sunday Puzzles. Thank you so much and have a beautiful, peaceful day.

HANSEN: Oh, I hope we will, Rob. I hope you will, too.

Mr. STIENE: Oh, sounds great.

HANSEN: Yeah. Well, before you go, tell us what member station you listen to.



Mr. STIENE: Out of Binghamton.

HANSEN: In Binghamton, my first public radio station. And I understand you used to get up early and listen to my first program, For Your Information, right?

Mr. STIENE: Yes, you bet. Down the street from each other.

HANSEN: Oh, honey, we go way back. What can I tell you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STIENE: There you go.

HANSEN: Rob Stiene of Brooktondale, New York, thanks so much for being our guest today on the puzzle segment.

Mr. STIENE: Oh, thank you.

HANSEN: Okay. All right, Will, we need a puzzle for our listeners this week. What have you got?

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from another New York Times crossword contributor, Elizabeth Gorski. She's one of the best.

Take the phrase patron saint, remove a letter, then rearrange the remaining letters to create a new, familiar two-word phrase that names something important in life. What is it? And I'll give you a hint: There is three letters in the first word of the answer, seven letters in the second word.

So again, patron saint, remove a letter, then rearrange the remaining letters to create a new, familiar two-word phrase - the numeration three, seven - that names something important in life. What thing is this?

HANSEN: When you know the answer, go to our website, And click on the Submit Your Answer link, only one entry per person, please. Our deadline is Thursday, 3 P.M. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. We'll call you if youre 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 puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.

And, Will, I'm about to take two weeks of my fall R&R, so I'll be listening and most likely playing, yelling my answers at the radio.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: So until then, thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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