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LIANE HANSEN, host:

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

And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Let's get this New Year's Eve party started, huh. I know what you have in mind for the end of the year, right? This is a tradition.

SHORTZ: You know me too well after all these years.

HANSEN: Right. I just don't know what form it's going to take. Doubtless, it has to do with events and names and so forth in the news in the past year. So I'm lucky to have a player to play with us today and in order to do that, he -and it's a he - had to solve the challenge you left us with last week. So tell us what it was.

SHORTZ: Yes. I said name a mountain range somewhere in the world, move the third letter to the front, and you'll name a nationality that does not live near that range. Name the mountains and name the people.

HANSEN: Your answer.

SHORTZ: The answer is Andes, move the D to the front and you get Danes.

HANSEN: Deceptively simple. And we had over 2,800 entries from people who solved the puzzle. Our randomly selected winner is Paul Thompson from North Hollywood - love that - California.

Hi, Paul.

Mr. PAUL THOMPSON (Resident, North Hollywood, California; Winner, Sunday Puzzle Challenge): Hello, Liane.

HANSEN: What do you in North Hollywood, California?

Mr. THOMPSON: I'm a carpenter. I do work in television and film.

HANSEN: How long have you've been playing this radio puzzle?

Mr. THOMPSON: Close to 10 years now.

HANSEN: Are you ready to play? You sound ready.

Mr. THOMPSON: Sure.

HANSEN: Will meet Paul. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, Paul and Liane, this is a great quiz for two people. It's my annual new names in the news quiz. I'm going to name some people who became famous during the past 12 months whom you probably never heard of before 2007. You tell me why they are famous. And it's because this year's quiz is a little harder than usual, I'll give you a hint on each name. And I should say this quiz is prepared with the help of Tim Goodman and Kathy Baker who played this game in previous years.

HANSEN: Right, spread the blame, okay?

SHORTZ: That's right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Number one is Liza Nowak and your hint is NASA.

Mr. THOMPSON: The astronaut who drove across country.

SHORTZ: That's right, to confront a rival in romance. Number two is Nicolas Sarkozy.

Mr. THOMPSON: The new prime minister of France or president.

SHORTZ: He's the new president of France, right. No hint needed. Number three is Sanjaya Malakar.

Mr. THOMPSON: He's the "American Idol" guy, right?

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: Excellent.

HANSEN: With that hairdo, the pony hawk.

SHORTZ: With that hairdo. He advanced to seventh place in the voting even though he didn't rate very high with the judges.

Your next one is Joey Chestnut, and your hints are 66, 12 minutes.

Mr. THOMPSON: Oh, wow. I would guess the Tour de France.

SHORTZ: No.

HANSEN: No.

SHORTZ: It is a competition of sorts, Joey Chestnut, 66, 12 minutes.

Mr. THOMPSON: My next guess would be the eating contest.

SHORTZ: That's it. He is the new hotdog eating champion of the world. He ate 66 hotdogs and buns in 12 minutes.

HANSEN: Well done, Paul.

SHORTZ: And setting a world record. Good. Marc Ecko, E-C-K-O, and your hint is $750,000.

HANSEN: $750,000.

SHORTZ: He paid that for something.

Mr. THOMPSON: Mm-hmm.

HANSEN: And I haven't the Magna Carta sold.

SHORTZ: For a lot more than 750,000.

HANSEN: Yeah, a lot more than that.

Mr. THOMPSON: My only other guess would be a ride on a space shuttle.

SHORTZ: Hold that answer. Hold that thought. I'll have to tell you he paid $750,000 per Barry Bonds' number 756 home-run baseball, which he wants to send it to…

Mr. THOMPSON: Uh-huh.

SHORTZ: …the hall of fame with an asterisk.

Try this one, Michael Mukasey. He's the new…

Mr. THOMPSON: The new attorney general.

HANSEN: Mm-hmm.

SHORTZ: That's right.

Gillian Gibbons and your clue is schoolteacher.

HANSEN: I think this is the woman, a British schoolteacher named a teddy bear…

SHORTZ: Yes.

Mr. THOMPSON: Oh, of course.

HANSEN: …after he who must not be named.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SHORTZ: Let her students in Sudan named a teddy bear Mohammed.

Mr. THOMPSON: Right.

SHORTZ: Andrew Meyer, M-E-Y-E-R, and your hint is a student at the University of Florida at Gainesville.

Mr. THOMPSON: I have no idea who Meyer is.

HANSEN: Is he…

SHORTZ: You know this, Liane?

HANSEN: Oh. Is he an athlete?

SHORTZ: No. And I'll just tell you this one. He's - during a Q&A session after a John Kerry speech, he cried to police don't Tase me, bro. Okay.

Mr. THOMPSON: Of course, the most famous quote for the year.

HANSEN: That's correct.

SHORTZ: That's right.

Try this one, Charles Simonyi, S-I-M-O-N-Y-I, and he paid over $20 million to do something.

HANSEN: Oh, I think this is your opportunity, Paul.

Mr. THOMPSON: With the space shuttle.

HANSEN: Yeah.

SHORTZ: That's right, billionaire Microsoft executive. He paid that much for a voyage on Soyuz to the International Space Station.

And here's your last one. The name is Trouble, and your hint is Maltese dog.

Mr. THOMPSON: Trouble is the dog who inherited all those millions of dollars.

HANSEN: Right, from Leona Helmsley.

Mr. THOMPSON: Right.

HANSEN: $12 million, while two human children were left out of the will. Nice job.

HANSEN: Oh, boy. Hey, that wasn't so bad, Paul, was it?

Mr. THOMPSON: Not too bad. I don't feel quite so out of the loop, I guess.

HANSEN: No, neither do I. That's a very good feeling to have as we go into 2008. And in addition to that, we're going to send you some things for playing on the air today.

You'll get that 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 2, Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku" and "Black and White Book of Crosswords" from Saint Martin's Press and one of Will Shortz's "Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges" from Chronicle Books.

No funny hats. No streamers. No goofy 2008 glasses. But enough to keep you busy on a New Year's Eve, playing a few games.

So, Paul, you're in Santa Monica, what public station do you listen to?

Mr. THOMPSON: I listen to KCRW.

HANSEN: KCRW. Our carpenter, Paul Thompson from North Hollywood, California. What fun, happy New Year. Thanks for playing.

Mr. THOMPSON: Indeed. Thank you.

HANSEN: All right.

Now, Will, the first challenge for 2008. Drum roll, please.

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Scott Gardener of Edwardssville, Illinois.

Take the equation 5 + 5 + 5 = 550. Make this equation true by adding a single line. And the hint is: The answer is not to put a slash through the equal sign to make it "not equal."

So again, 5 + 5 + 5 = 550. Make this equation true by adding a single line.

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site, npr.org/puzzle. Click on the Submit Your Answer link. Only do it once, please. One entry per person. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3 p.m., Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And 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 puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Will, happy New Year. As far as I'm concerned, somewhere, there's a DVR blinking 12. I will see you at the New Year.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane. Happy New Year.

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