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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 Luke Burbank, Adam Burke and Roxanne Roberts. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Thanks so much. Right now...


SAGAL: Thanks, everybody. Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. You can call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play any of our games on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

LUKE BARBER: Hi, this is Luke (ph). How are you today?

SAGAL: Hey, Luke. How are you?



BURBANK: I've been waiting a lifetime for that to happen.


SAGAL: Luke, where are you calling from?

BURBANK: I'm calling from Portland, Maine.

SAGAL: Oh, how are things in Portland?

BURBANK: Oh, it's freezing right now.

SAGAL: Oh, yeah. What do you do there?

BARBER: I am a consultant for a software company.

SAGAL: OK. I didn't know they had that in Portland. I thought it was all lobstering.

BARBER: It's software or lobstering.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: I'm just imagining a lobster with a smartphone...


SAGAL: ...Doing Googling. It's, like, they do what to us?


SAGAL: Well, Luke, welcome to the show. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is...

BARBER: All right.

SAGAL: ...Luke's topic?

KURTIS: The dog ate my homework.

SAGAL: As long as there has been homework, there have been excuses for not handing it in. The paleontological record shows a T-Rex once claimed his arms were too short to fill out the sheets.


SAGAL: This week, we heard an excuse we had never, though, heard before. It was a pretty good one. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the truthful one, you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAIT-er of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

BARBER: Ready to play.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Adam Burke.

ADAM BURKE: Graduate student Gideon Walsh (ph) was at the end of his tether. He was on his third MacBook in as many weeks, and his term paper was already seriously overdue. I'm not normally a forgetful person, so the fact that I managed to lose two laptops in so short a span of time is driving me crazy, Walsh explained.

Walsh, who was studying for an M.S. in primate behavior at Central Washington University, had been hard at work at the institute's ape enclosure, writing a paper on Mimi (ph) a 3-year-old orangutan - specifically, on her problem-solving abilities. I backed up a lot of my notes, but I still had to rewrite it from scratch. I was kind of getting desperate, said Walsh.

It was then that a classmate of his who had been reviewing CCTV footage for a paper on the animal's sleep cycles solved the mystery. Mimi had figured out how to use a backscratcher we'd given her to reach the key for the door to her pen, explains Walsh. She'd get out at night and take various objects from the lab and hide them under her sleeping pad, including my laptop.

While Walsh was able to retrieve his missing laptops, he realized he'd have to completely rewrite his paper to focus on Mimi's clandestine escapology and kleptomania.


BURKE: The long and the short of it is the ape is better at figuring out problems than I am, bemoaned Walsh, who took some small solace in the fact that he got an A-minus on the paper.


SAGAL: A paper on the intelligence of orangutans is stolen by an intelligent orangutan. Your next likely story comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: When two 16-year-olds didn't come home Sunday from a snowboarding outing, everyone feared the worst. But the two boys survived a night in British Columbia - during a snowstorm, no less - by burning their homework to stay warm.


ROBERTS: Jim Kyle, head of the Canadian search and rescue team that found them, told the CBC the boys, quote, "did all the right things, including building a shelter and starting a fire." Quote, "one young person had homework in his backpack, and that definitely helped keep the fire going," he said. The boys were rescued Monday morning in good health. No word if their teachers reassigned the homework or just gave them a B for burnt.


SAGAL: Two kids caught in the mountains burn their homework to survive. Your last story of missing homework comes from Luke Burbank.

BURBANK: Last week, during an NPR Tiny Desk concert, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, occasional rapper and full-time marijuana enthusiast...


BURBANK: ...Was chatting with host Bob Boilen when he recounted one of those parenting moments that we can all not identify with.


BURBANK: It involved having to call his son Cordell's high school back in 2017 to explain why the last page of his biology final was missing. Why? Because Snoop had mistakenly used it to roll an enormous and nearly relationship-destroying doobie.


BURBANK: Yes, you heard this right, America. The Dogg smoked his kid's homework.


BURBANK: I was in the studio with Warren G, Michael McDonald. The regulators were all there. They were ready to mount up, Snoop casually told a shocked Boilen, so this joint needed to be huge to make it all the way around the room. And there was the stack of papers on a little table in the hallway. I just grabbed one of them, not realizing the other side of the paper was a bunch of writing about nucleotides that are found in RNA but not DNA. Thankfully for everyone, the school was understanding as this was not the first time this had happened to Snoop Dogg.


BURBANK: Cordell was permitted to frantically rewrite the final page. He passed the class. He's now a freshman at UCLA. To thank the high school for being so chill about things, Snoop donated $200,000 to the science program. Specifically, he asked for the students to research that sticky icky icky.


BURBANK: The school politely explained they weren't allowed to do that for legal reasons. But they did name the science lab the Snoop D-O-double G Center for Biology...


BURBANK: ...In his honor, which pleased Snoop greatly, and so he let them keep the donation.


SAGAL: Here are your choices. One of these things happened to a student's homework. Was it, from Adam Burke, a college student trying to work on the intelligence of orangutans got sabotaged by the orangutan; from Roxanne, two kids caught in the mountains on a ski trip survived by burning their homework; or, from Luke Burbank, Snoop Dogg's kid finds out what happens when his father needs some rolling paper? Which of these is the real story about a good excuse for not handing in your work?

BARBER: What is the snowboarders burning their homework?

SAGAL: You have mistaken our show for another.


SAGAL: Good day to you, sir.


SAGAL: So you chose Roxanne's story. Am I right?

BARBER: That's correct.

SAGAL: All right. To bring you the correct answer, we did, in fact, speak to someone familiar with the real story.


SANDRA RICHES: The subjects put themselves into the back country, where they weren't prepared to be. But they had homework to create a fire and keep themselves warm and dry.


SAGAL: That was Sandra Riches, executive director for the AdventureSmart program in British Columbia. Congratulations, Luke. You got it right.

BURBANK: Thank you.

SAGAL: You earned a point for Roxanne...


SAGAL: Not you, Luke - the other one.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Roxanne, and we'll always appreciate that. And you have won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Congratulations.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE DOORS SONG, "LIGHT MY FIRE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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