Bluff The Listener
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Peter Grosz, Roxanne Roberts and Petey DeAbreu. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.
Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
CHAD LANDRUM: Hi. This is Chad Landrum. I'm from Bloomington, Ind.
SAGAL: All right. And what do you do in Bloomington?
LANDRUM: I'm a special ed teacher for middle school.
SAGAL: That's a challenging job. Do you enjoy it?
LANDRUM: I do enjoy it a lot. But challenging is definitely the way I would also describe it.
SAGAL: So what do you do to relax after a hard day at school?
LANDRUM: I find cross-stitching and baking to be both, like, relaxing and rewarding hobbies.
SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Chad. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Chad's topic?
KURTIS: Stand up straight, Tower of Pisa.
SAGAL: We must do everything we can to preserve the world landmarks we have, which is why, for example, Egyptians brush and floss the pyramids twice a day.
SAGAL: This week, we heard, though, about a landmark in danger. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?
SAGAL: All right, then. Let's hear first from Peter Grosz.
PETER GROSZ: The Sydney Opera House is a cultural landmark and source of national pride for Australians. But this week, the staff there discovered a shocking fact. Opera might be destroying the opera house. The current production at the theater's a new work by the Australian composer Oliver Bailey (ph) called "Outback." It's billed as "Oklahoma" meets "Lion King," set in the Australian outback.
GROSZ: The first act closing number is meant to duplicate the sound of a kangaroo stampede and is sung by a 100-member chorus of all bass parts, the lowest notes that men can sing. As the song begins, its mezzo forte and allegro - not vivace, mind you, but pretty allegro.
GROSZ: Then the accelerando and crescendo kick in, and it is definitely vivace, and also pretty freaking forte.
GROSZ: Then there's another shift, and we are all the way to presto and fortissimo, thank you very much.
GROSZ: But by the end, it is full on prestississimo (ph) and fortississimo. So you know, it's fast and loud.
GROSZ: During the performance Tuesday night, the stage began to sink, and several performers lost their balance and toppled over, adding an unintended touch of physical comedy to a dramatic kangaroo slaughter.
GROSZ: At intermission, engineers examined the stage and discovered cracks in the foundation. Just as soprano notes can shatter glass, it turns out all that bass was literally shaking the foundation. Opera house officials are raising money for repairs, and Bailey is being asked to rewrite the opera to be less destructive. The hundred-kangaroo stampede will now be a 10-koala stroll.
GROSZ: And the bass parts will shift to the slightly higher baritone register. (Imitating Italian accent) The notes are so high, I feel like a castrati, said renowned Italian basso Giacomo Aprile (ph). (Imitating Italian accent) Also, what the heck is this show about anyway?
SAGAL: The Sydney Opera House put at risk by an opera, "Outback." Your next story of a landmark in trouble comes from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: You thought travel made you urbane and sophisticated? Yeah, right. Turns out most of the tourists on Easter Island have the maturity of your average 12-year-old. The famous and mysterious stone statues erected between 1100 and 1400 A.D. are threatened because so many people are ignoring rules by climbing on top of the statues to get photos of themselves picking the giant noses...
ROBERTS: ...Of the sacred stone heads. These juvenile pranks are compounding the natural erosion of the fragile volcanic rock, all for a cheap Instagram laugh. Quote, "I'm troubled by the lack of genuine interest in the island and its people," University of California archaeologist Jo Anne Van Tilburg told Newsweek.
Scientists estimate that the 150,000 tourists per year could ruin the World Heritage site, destroying both the ancient art and the local economy, so island officials are creating new restrictions to limit access to the heads. So yes, you can choose your own adventure, but you can't pick its nose.
SAGAL: Tourists ruining the mysterious ancient heads of Easter Island by picking their noses. Your last story of a historic site in danger comes from Peter (ph) DeAbreu.
PETEY DEABREU: The great clock on Big Ben is a fixture of London, along with Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and fog.
DEABREU: But a new survey says 72% of Brits under 30 have no idea how to read the clock.
DEABREU: Why doesn't it just tell me the time like my phone does...
DEABREU: ...Says 24-year-old Londoner Lindsay Davies (ph). Those hands are confusing, especially because they don't have fingers.
DEABREU: They should call them arms.
DEABREU: And why the Roman numerals? I don't speak Roman.
DEABREU: But change could be coming. Member of Parliament Royston Brimble (ph) says the outdated clock is, quote, "pure codswallop"...
DEABREU: ...Which is the most British sentence I've ever said.
DEABREU: He wants Britain to modernize, so he's proposing that an LED digital clock crawl be attached to Big Ben, right under the old clock so, quote, "our famous clock tower can be enjoyed by many illiterate generations to come."
SAGAL: All right. Here are the three landmarks of world history that might be in danger. Is it, from Peter Grosz, the Sydney Opera House being shaken to pieces by an opera inside it; from Roxanne Roberts, the mysterious heads of Easter Island being eroded by tourists picking their noses; or from Petey DeAbreu, Big Ben, which is endangered by the fact that nobody knows how to read a clock anymore?
LANDRUM: You know, as someone who works with young people and has to tell them what time it is all day long, I'm going to have to go with C.
SAGAL: You going to have to go with C - that you think they're going to put a digital readout on...
SAGAL: ...Big Ben so that kids these days - that's your choice?
LANDRUM: Yes. I think I have to go with Petey...
SAGAL: All right. You've chosen, then, Petey's story. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone who's doing their best to try to preserve this landmark.
JO ANNE VAN TILBURG: On Easter Island, one of the things they like to do is tickle the statues, pick their nose or approach the statues and touch them.
SAGAL: That was Dr. Jo Anne Van Tilburg, director of the Easter Island Statue Project, talking about tourists' habit of picking the noses of the giant heads. So you were fooled by Petey, giving him a wonderful debut on our show in that he fooled you.
SAGAL: You didn't win our prize, but you did win a point for Petey - his first in this game - so thank you so much for playing.
LANDRUM: Thank you.
SAGAL: All right. Take care.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T PICK YOUR NOSE SONG")
LITTLE BABY BUM NURSERY RHYME FRIENDS: (Singing) Don't pick your nose, that's how it goes. Picking boogers is never nice. Blow your nose instead. That's what I said. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.