LIANE HANSEN, host:
This WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.
And joining us is puzzlemaster Will Shortz. Hey, Will, happy new year.
WILL SHORTZ: Happy new year, Liane.
HANSEN: You know, you asked me last week what my favorite Christmas gift was, and I told you it was a bag of coal, only because there were a few I hadn't opened. And I have to say my cousins in Mystic, Connecticut, Curt and Beth, sent me some earrings made out of sea glass, which are going to help me hold on until May when I move to the beach. Isn't that nice?
SHORTZ: That's very nice.
HANSEN: Why don't you remind us of the challenge you gave us last week?
SHORTZ: Yes. I said, name a famous American from the past, seven-letter last name. If you take the last two letters of this name, plus the first four letters, in that order, you'll name that person's profession. Who is it?
HANSEN: Who is it?
SHORTZ: Well, it's Henry David Thoreau, and among many things, he was an author.
HANSEN: Well, this week we received more than 1,500 entries, and that's a lot given it was a holiday weekend. And out of those, our chosen player is Eric Ross of Salt Lake City, Utah. Eric, how are you? Happy New Year.
Mr. ERIC ROSS: Thank you. I'm very good.
HANSEN: Have you been playing our puzzle a long time?
Mr. ROSS: About three years, and I'm very excited. It's been one of my goals to get on this program.
HANSEN: Oh, my goodness. Well, we better get to that item in your bucket list right now. Will, meet Eric, Eric meet Will. Let's play.
SHORTZ: All right. Eric and Liane, this is my annual year-end news quiz. Here's how it works. I'm going to give you some names that you probably never heard of before 2010, but that became famous during the past 12 months. You say who these are. And this was prepared with the help of two past year-end news quiz contestants, Kathy Baker and Tim Goodman.
All right. Number one is Scott Brown. Who is Scott Brown?
Mr. ROSS: Senator from New York?
SHORTZ: I'll give you half credit. Liane?
HANSEN: Senator is right, but it's actually Massachusetts.
SHORTZ: That's right. Republican. He won the seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Number two is Tony Hayward. Tony Hayward.
Mr. ROSS: I'm at a complete loss on that one.
SHORTZ: I'll give you - oh, Liane, do you know?
HANSEN: No. I was just going to ask for a hint. It sounds like a sports figure.
SHORTZ: He's an executive, or was an executive - business executive.
Mr. ROSS: Of Citibank.
SHORTZ: Nope. He was - I'll just tell you. He was the chairman of BP during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
HANSEN: Of course.
Mr. ROSS: Oh.
HANSEN: The one that it ruined his vacation or something. Yes.
SHORTZ: That's it. All right. Try this. Shirley Sherrod.
HANSEN: What do you think, Eric?
Mr. ROSS: Gosh, I don't know.
HANSEN: Is she the...
Mr. ROSS: I thought I knew the news well.
HANSEN: Yeah, so did I. I believe she is the woman who was let go of her job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture...
SHORTZ: That's right.
HANSEN: ...because she had something on tape that was taken out of context.
SHORTZ: Exactly. Very good. Elena Kagan.
Mr. ROSS: Supreme Court nominee.
HANSEN: And justice.
SHORTZ: Not just nominee, and new justice, yes. Steven Slater.
Mr. ROSS: That's the Jet Blue flight attendant who quit in spectacular fashion.
HANSEN: You betcha.
SHORTZ: Excellent. I am impressed. Okay. Here's a name that's big this year, but also was known before. Julian Assange.
Mr. ROSS: That's the founder of Wikileaks.
SHORTZ: That's it. And here's another one that was also known a little before 2010, Kathryn Bigelow.
Mr. ROSS: She won the Oscar for directing "Hurt Locker."
SHORTZ: Excellent. First woman to win the Oscar for best director. Liu Xiaobo, that's L-I-U X-I-A-B-O.
Mr. Ross: He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but was not allowed to attend, I believe.
SHORTZ: Excellent. You're doing great. John Tyner T-Y-N-E-R. And I'll give you a hint. He's famous for saying something this year, and it's four words. He said four words that became famous.
Mr. ROSS: Well, I was hoping it was the rent is too damn high guy.
HANSEN: So did I. But no, I know that guy's name, which may be coming up, so hold onto it. All right. Four words. First word, sounds like.
SHORTZ: The first word is don't.
HANSEN: Oh, don't touch my junk.
SHORTZ: He said don't touch my junk during the TSA patdown. Good. How about Marc Mezvinsky? Marc Mezvinsky.
HANSEN: He was famous for getting married this year.
SHORTZ: Yes. He married - who did he marry, Eric?
Mr. ROSS: Oh, Chelsea Clinton.
SHORTZ: He married Chelsea Clinton, good. Here's a non-human. Paul the octopus.
Mr. ROSS: He predicted the World Cup.
SHORTZ: Was perfect in making predictions in the World Cup matches, yes. And your last one is neither a person, nor an animal, it's a thing. And the word is -let me say this again - Eyjafjallajokull.
HANSEN: Yep. Yep.
Mr. SHORTZ: And that's spelled E-Y-J-A-F-J-A-L-L-A-J-O-K-U-L-L.
Mr. ROSS: Oh, is it the volcano?
Mr. SHORTZ: It's the volcano in Iceland that erupted in April, snarling international air traffic. Nice job, guys.
HANSEN: Hey. Will, Eric, you did well. And did you know that if you changed the last letter in your name to an N, you'll get the first name of the author who's going to tell you what you get for playing our puzzle today?
She recently published a book full of handy tips, called "How to Build a Fire, and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew." She appears in another portion of our program. Here is Erin Bried.
Ms. ERIN BRIED (Author, "How to Build a Fire, and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew"): For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the "Scrabble Deluxe Edition" from Parker Brothers, the book series "Will Shortz Presents KenKen" Volumes 1, 2 and 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.
HANSEN: Tell us your public radio station before we let you go.
Mr. ROSS: It's KCPW and I have the mug right in front of me.
HANSEN: Oh, good for you.
(Soundbite of laughter)
HANSEN: Eric Ross of Salt Lake City, Utah, thanks so much for being our first player of the New Year.
Mr. ROSS: Thank you.
HANSEN: All right. Will, I'm sure you've got a challenge in your pocket to start the year off. What is it?
Mr. SHORTZ: Yes, it's a challenge - actually a challenging one, from listener Mark Leeper of Matawan, New Jersey.
Take a plural noun. It ends in the letter S. Insert a space somewhere in this word. The result will be a two-word phrase with the same meaning as the original word, except in the singular.
So again, start with a plural noun, ends in the letter S. Insert a space somewhere in the word, retaining the order of the letters. The result will be a two-word phrase with that has the same meaning as the original word, except in the singular. What word is this?
HANSEN: When you get the answer, go to our website, NPR.org/puzzle 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, because we'll be calling if you're the winner and you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.
Thanks a lot, Will.
Mr. SHORTZ: Happy New Year, Liane.
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