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 Mo Rocca, Paula Poundstone and Negin Farsad. And here again is your host at the Des Moines Civic Center in Des Moines, Iowa, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: Thank you so much. It is now 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 are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
BEN IVEY: Hi, guys. This is Ben Ivey from Flowood, Miss.
SAGAL: Flowood, Miss.
SAGAL: Where is Flowood?
SAGAL: I don't know Flowood.
IVEY: We are (laughter) - we're not far down the road from Jackson, Miss.
SAGAL: OK, great. And what do you do there?
IVEY: To be honest, right now, my wife and I are eagerly awaiting our second daughter any day now.
SAGAL: Wow. Where'd she go?
SAGAL: Ben, it's nice to have you with us.
SAGAL: You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Ben's topic?
KURTIS: The dynamic duo.
SAGAL: We all know the classic dynamic duo is Batman and Robin, Shaq and Kobe, Bill Kurtis and guest host Tom Hanks.
SAGAL: This week, we heard about a new terrific twosome out there doing good. Our panelists are going to tell you each about it. Pick the real story, you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAIT-er of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?
IVEY: I'm ready. Yeah.
SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Mo Rocca.
MO ROCCA: Peanut butter is killing the planet. You see, for plastics to be recycled, they need to be rinsed clean of foodstuffs. Peanut butter is notoriously difficult to remove completely from plastic, which is why 2.6 billion plastic peanut butter jars make their way from recycling bins into landfills each year. Luckily, Tonya Squall (ph) of Arvada, Colo., loves the planet and peanut butter. I was raised on it, says Squall. As a child, kids would tease her for her diet and her extremely long tongue.
ROCCA: They called me tongue-ya (ph). It hurt my feelings. I thought every kid could lick her own forehead.
ROCCA: As a teen, she planned a trip to Finland to the famed Simmons Institute (ph) to have a tongue reduction. Then she read a Greenpeace report on the plastic peanut butter plague, and she had an idea. The hardest part of the jar to clean is the bottom inside edge, but my tongue can reach it easy. And so together with her dog Scott (ph), the two began going door to door in Arvada licking peanut butter from residents' plastic jars.
ROCCA: Says resident Anne Boris (ph), before Tonya and Scott began licking my plastic, I was skeptical of recycling. I think it's great what they're doing, this whole Clean New Deal.
ROCCA: But watching it makes me want to vomit.
SAGAL: So, from Mo Rocca, Tonya and Scott saving the world from nonrecycled peanut butter jars. Your next story of a prodigious pair comes from Negin Farsad.
NEGIN FARSAD: Ladies beware - there's a band of pickup artists on the loose in New York City's Washington Square Park, and they want to get up on your lady business. Now, I am one of those feminists who pretend like I've never enjoyed a cat call, but, secretly, I do. But let me tell you, these guys are creepy. They've all taken a seminar by a dude named Todd Valentine - which I know, his name is so on-the-nose.
SAGAL: His main teaching philosophy is to tell women that you're French. So these men are running around Washington Square Park telling women they're French, despite sounding like they're from Sheboygan. But this is where the heroes of our story step in. An unlikely duo are trying to stop them - a street poet and a - wait for it - fart machine artist.
FARSAD: These lanky, hipster-looking vigilantes who between them weigh 180 pounds, own two skinny jeans and a bottle of hair balm are regulars in Washington Square Park. They would see women feeling uncomfortable and said it was their duty to do something about it.
The poet, Peter Chinman, likes to intervene not by shouting haikus - that would really get me to go away - but by going up to guys and saying, hi, I'm doing a documentary about pick-up artists. And the dudes immediately disperse because there's nothing more menacing than a documentary filmmaker.
FARSAD: Phil Boucher, who calls himself the Fart Fairy, walks around the park pranking people with fart noises for two to five hours a day anyway. He figured, why not make his fart art more useful by using it to get the men to stop? Most of the time, the fart noise makes the man laugh and helps the woman out. But by his own metrics, twice a year, he gets decked in the face.
FARSAD: The women of Washington Square Park are grateful. Ever since this dynamic duo have taken action, the unwanted advances have dwindled, turning them into mere farts in the wind.
SAGAL: From Negin Farsad, the poet and the Fart Fairy defending the honor of women in Washington Square Park in New York. Your last story of two people joined by an alliterative adjective comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: A series of behavioral incidents during recess periods has plagued Ashland, N.C.'s, Forrest Whiterman (ph) Elementary School until principal Wendy Wax (ph) launched a unique idea. When the fifth-grade students charged onto the schoolyard after lunch last Tuesday, they found Abraham Lincoln and a comma pulling yard duty. The ideas, says principal Wax, is to bring the lessons from the textbooks out of the classroom and into the students' lives. It was surprisingly effective. The comma is just a lady with a Styrofoam comma on her head, claims Emma (ph), a fifth grader.
POUNDSTONE: When I was writing, Michael (ph), you suck, and you are not my boyfriend anymore, thank God with a marker...
POUNDSTONE: ...On the back of the handball wall, she ran over and put a comma after Michael, suck...
POUNDSTONE: ...Anymore and anyway. Then she wrote a capital G over the small g. And God, she's weird.
POUNDSTONE: And when the boys got in a big fight like they do, and Brooks (ph) was punching Xander (ph) on the ground yelling, I'm going to punch y'all and your stupid, ugly, stupid faces, Abraham Lincoln walked over and said, I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.
POUNDSTONE: The boys don't fight anymore. Now, every day, they go up to Abraham Lincoln and ask him to say another weird thing.
POUNDSTONE: Abraham Lincoln was the funniest president.
POUNDSTONE: I would vote for him.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: Somewhere, this pair of heroes is doing good work. Is it, from Mo Rocca, Tonya and her dog Scott clean out peanut butter jars with their tongues? From Negin Farsad, the poet and the Fart Fairy help fending off pickup artists...
SAGAL: ...From women in Washington Square Park? Or, from Paula Poundstone, Abe Lincoln and the comma bringing order...
SAGAL: ...And lessons to an elementary school in North Carolina?
IVEY: Oh, wow. I'm going to have to go with the poet and the fart machine.
SAGAL: You're going to have to go with the poet and the fart machine.
SAGAL: All right. Well, you've selected, of course, Negin's story of the poet and the Fart Fairy. Well, we actually were able to speak to a member of this de facto deluxe doublet.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PHIL BOUCHER: My poet friend and I decided to....
BOUCHER: ...Disrupt pick-up artists in a partnership.
SAGAL: That was Phil Boucher, the serial Fart Fairy, talking about the campaign to stop the pick-up artists in Washington Square Park. Congratulations, Ben. You got it right.
FARSAD: Thank you, Ben.
SAGAL: You earned a point for Negin just for telling the truth. You've won our prize - the voice of anyone you might choose on your voicemail. Congratulations, Ben.
IVEY: Well, thank you so much.
SAGAL: Thank you for playing. Bye-bye.
IVEY: All right. Bye-bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF FLOYD COOLEY'S "SUITE CONCERTANTE FOR TUBA AND WIND QUINTET - SCHERZO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.