LAUREN FRAYER, HOST:
And for the last time in 2017, let's play the puzzle. Joining me is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master.
Will, good morning.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Morning, Laura.
FRAYER: And remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yeah, it was an easyish (ph) one. I asked the name of what well-known U.S. city in 10 letters contains only three different letters of the alphabet, and the answer is Walla Walla, as in Washington.
FRAYER: Walla Walla. We received almost 2,000 correct responses, and our randomly selected winner is Nick England of Chapel Hill, N.C. Congratulations.
NICK ENGLAND: Thank you very much.
FRAYER: And how did you come to this answer, Nick?
ENGLAND: Well, I had recently looked up the lyrics to an old "Pogo" comic strip Christmas carol, which starts, deck us all with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla, Wash., and Kalamazoo.
ENGLAND: Yeah, that's weird. But when I started thinking of cities around, Walla Walla came to mind, and it probably wouldn't have otherwise.
FRAYER: Amazing. I understand that playing the puzzle is not your only hobby. You also restore radios.
ENGLAND: Oh, I have a thing for 1950s and '60s U.S. Navy radios. I have restored several tons of them.
FRAYER: So these are your two loves coming together - puzzling and being on the radio.
ENGLAND: I guess. We'll see how this goes.
FRAYER: OK, Will, take it away.
SHORTZ: Yes. Well, this is my annual year-end New Names in the News Quiz, and it works like this. I'll name some people and things you probably never heard of until 2017 but who sprang to prominence during the past 12 months. You tell me who and what they are. And here's No. 1 - Doug Jones.
ENGLAND: Doug Jones.
SHORTZ: Who is Doug Jones?
ENGLAND: I'm not a very good at current events. I've heard the name, but I can't tell you where.
SHORTZ: Does the hint Alabama help?
ENGLAND: Oh, yeah. He was the guy who won against the - Judge Moore.
SHORTZ: That was the Democratic-upset winner in Alabama versus Roy Moore in the special election to replace Jeff Sessions in the Senate. No. 2 - Gal Gadot. That's G-A-D-O-T.
ENGLAND: I haven't seen it, but I understand she's a Wonder Woman.
SHORTZ: Excellent, yeah - the Israeli actress who starred in "Wonder Woman." Anthony Scaramucci.
ENGLAND: Somebody in the Trump administration.
FRAYER: Otherwise known as the Mooch.
ENGLAND: Who maybe got fired.
SHORTZ: I'll give you that. He's the - Trump's communications director for just 10 days.
FRAYER: Yup, shortest tenure ever, right?
SHORTZ: Jack Phillips.
FRAYER: This is a tough one.
ENGLAND: No, that one doesn't ring a bell at all.
SHORTZ: All right, I'll give you a hint - Colorado.
FRAYER: Think wedding bells.
ENGLAND: Oh, is he the baking-the-wedding-cake guy?
SHORTZ: That's the one. He refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, and the case is now before the Supreme Court. Emmerson Mnangagwa. And that last name is spelled M-N-A-N-G-A-G-W-A - Emmerson Mnangagwa.
ENGLAND: I have no idea, but I'm going to take a wild guess that it might have something to do with Zimbabwe and...
FRAYER: All right, Nick.
SHORTZ: The wild guess is right. He's the new president of Zimbabwe, successor to Robert Mugabe.
SHORTZ: Tom Steyer - and that's spelled S-T-E-Y-E-R. Tom Steyer.
ENGLAND: He's the guy who made a whole bunch of money and is currently running commercials about impeaching Trump.
SHORTZ: You named it. Boy...
SHORTZ: I thought you said you weren't up on current events, but you're killing it. How about "Salvator Mundi"? "Salvador Mundi."
SHORTZ: And here's your first hint. It's not a person.
ENGLAND: "Salvator Mundi."
SHORTZ: And if you need another hint, what about $450 million?
FRAYER: What about it? I'll take it.
ENGLAND: I must've completely missed this one. I...
SHORTZ: I don't think so.
FRAYER: This is tough. This is tough.
SHORTZ: That was the painting by Leonardo da Vinci that sold at Christie's for a record $450.3 million.
ENGLAND: Oh, you know, I bid on that too, and I...
SHORTZ: There - you were the underbidder, right? Well, Nick, I think you did all right for someone - especially for someone who says he doesn't follow the current events.
FRAYER: Yeah, Nick, that was great. It was trivia rather than a word puzzle, but you did really well. For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games, and you can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. Nick, what member station do you listen to?
ENGLAND: Oh, we listen to WUNC FM and religiously listen to the puzzle on the air.
FRAYER: Oh, great. Well, I'm glad to hear it. Nick England of Chapel Hill, N.C., thank you for playing the puzzle.
ENGLAND: Thank you. What a great way to end the year.
FRAYER: Happy New Year to you.
ENGLAND: Happy New Year, Will.
FRAYER: And Will, what is next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yeah, it comes from listener Patrick Berry of Jasper, Ala. Name a famous singer - three letters in the first name, five letters in the last. Drop the middle letter of the last name and rearrange the result to name a variety of singing group. What is it? So again - famous singer, three, five, drop the middle letter of the last name and rearrange the result to name a variety of singing group. What group is it?
FRAYER: When you have the answer, you can go to our website - npr.org/puzzle - and click on the submit your answer link - just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is this Thursday, January 4, 2018, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you at around 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, and Happy New Year.
SHORTZ: Thank you, Lauren. Happy New Year to you too.
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