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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 are playing this week with Mo Rocca, Alonzo Bodden and Roxanne Roberts. And here again is your host from his man cave in Chicago, Ill., Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Bill.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Right now, it is 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.

BRIDGET MCADAM: Hi. This is Bridget (ph) calling from Collierville, Tenn.

SAGAL: Hi. How are you, Bridget?

MCADAM: I'm doing well, and yourself?

SAGAL: Not too bad. Not too bad, even though I'm speaking to you from inside a closet. How are things in Collierville? Are you all sheltering in place, I assume?

MCADAM: Yeah, actually. And I've just recently returned. I was living abroad in Europe when, you know, suddenly you had to get on a flight back really quickly. So it's been a really wild adjustment.

SAGAL: Oh, my gosh. Yeah. Where are you living now that you had to come home so quickly?

MCADAM: Well, like every 30-something-year-old's dream, living back in my childhood bedroom with my parents.

(LAUGHTER)

MO ROCCA: I smell sitcom.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Well, Bridget, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Bridget's topic?

KURTIS: I was just trying to help.

SAGAL: We could all use a helping hand right now, but do not touch that hand. This week, we heard a story of things going wrong when somebody really tried to help. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

MCADAM: I am ready.

SAGAL: All right, Bridget. First, let's hear from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Aviation tech Alan Lane (ph) worked at a wind tunnel facility. Being locked down at home and all this talk of social distancing and an airborne virus gave him an idea - just blow the air away from the house. He got a high-powered fan from work and mounted it in the driveway to blow air away from his house. His neighbor Bill (ph) thought it was a good idea, so Alan brought him a fan. The Wilsons (ph) across the street didn't want the air blowing into their home, so they needed a fan, too. Next thing, there were five fans for eight houses in the cul-de-sac.

Now, no one's sure when the problem started. Was it blowing a wasp's nest out of a tree into the Wilsons' garage with a wind so strong the wasps couldn't escape, so they found the kitchen more comfortable? Maybe it was the kids on bicycles whose new favorite stunt is attempting to set speed records with sails attached to their bikes. Perhaps it's the simple fact that no one in a three-block radius can keep a face mask on because of the windstorm.

After four days, Alan's experiment was shut down by local police, who advised him to turn off the fans, put on a face mask and take the loss of lawn furniture as the cost of a lesson learned. Alan is now at home trying to design a new, more secure face mask.

SAGAL: A man brings home his industrial-strength fans to help blowing the virus away, and trouble ensued. Your next story of help gone wrong comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Daniel Reardon had a great idea. The Australian astrophysicist, a research fellow at Melbourne University, wanted to invent an electronic necklace that prevents people from touching their faces, his contribution to the COVID-19 crisis. Reardon attached four powerful magnets to his wrist, and the necklace was supposed to sound an alarm if his hands got too close to his face.

The necklace didn't work, so Reardon did what scientists are trained to do. He started experimenting. What if, instead on his wrist, he put the magnets on his face? Quote, "I clipped" - some magnets - "to my earlobes and then clipped them to my nostril, and things went downhill pretty quickly," he told Guardian Australia.

When Reardon put two magnets in his nose, they locked together, and he couldn't get them out. So he Googled, quote, "magnets up nose" and found the story of an 11-year-old who had the same problem. So Reardon tried to remove the magnets by using the other two magnets.

Now all four magnets were stuck up his nose, and he tried to pull them out with pliers. Quote, "Every time I brought the pliers close to my nose, my entire nose would shift toward the pliers (laughter), and then the pliers would stick to the magnet," he said. It was a little bit painful at this point. Reardon ended up in the emergency room, where doctors laughed at him, removed the magnets and recorded the cause of the injury as, quote, "due to self-isolation and boredom."

SAGAL: An astrophysicist trying to invent a useful device ends up with magnets up his nose in the ER. Our final story of someone putting the a** in assistance comes from Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: With so many waiting out the pandemic in lonely isolation, the hunger for reconnection with family has never been stronger. Enter Family E-Unions (ph), a startup from entrepreneur Kristine Lewin (ph). We thought at this time we can make a difference in people's lives by reuniting them with family members who over time drifted away. Using ancestry records, Family E-Unions locates long-lost relatives and arranges a surprise reunion via video chat.

For 92-year-old Clara Spurduto (ph), an invitation to see her favorite grandson was positively heart-melting. And then she logged onto her computer. When I saw it was Leo (ph), I was just so disappointed. That kid's many things - a moocher and a bum and not very bright at all. My favorite grandson - he's not. The whole time he was babbling to me about his business plan for a vaping cafe was time I could've spent with Danielle Steel.

Other E-Unions have been similarly surprising. I had heard about great-uncle Sid (ph) from my parents, says Danny Rothman (ph). He took all their savings for a so-called investment that just couldn't lose right before he got sent to the slammer for 30 years. Now this guy has my email address. What a nightmare. Honestly, I just want to be alone right now.

SAGAL: All right. Here are your three stories, each about somebody who tried to help us out in the crisis we're in but did not end up doing so.

From Alonzo Bodden, a guy who brought home some powerful wind tunnel machines from work to blow the virus away and instead blew his neighborhood to hell; from Roxanne Roberts, an astrophysicist trying to end up a useful device ends up with magnets up his nose and a plier glued to it; or, from Mo, E-Unions to bring you more family to connect with. It doesn't work because - turns out - people really don't like their family. Which of these is a real story of an attempt to help gone wrong?

MCADAM: Well, I actually know this one, surprisingly. It was, like, the one good bit of news I read this week. But I think it's Roxanne's story about the magnets up the nose.

SAGAL: Roxanne's story of the magnets up a - because, as you said, some guy getting magnets up his nose was the only good news you could find this week.

MCADAM: Sadly, yes.

SAGAL: All right. Well, you're choosing Roxanne's story with some confidence. Well, to bring you the truth, we spoke to someone very familiar with this true story.

NAAMAN ZHOU: The two magnets that stayed inside clipped together, and because the magnets were so powerful, it took two doctors to pull them out his nose.

SAGAL: That was Naaman Zhou. He's a reporter for Guardian Australia talking about, of course, the astrophysicist with the magnets up his nose. And before you laugh at this guy, you have to understand - within a couple of weeks, this is going to seem like a fun thing to do to all of us.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Congratulations, Bridget. You got it right. You've earned our prize. You have won a point for Roxanne. She's always grateful. Thank you so much for playing, and I hope you can get back to normal as soon as possible.

MCADAM: Great. Thank you so much for having me.

SAGAL: Thank you, Bridget. Take care.

MCADAM: Take care. Bye-bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STUCK ON YOU")

LIONEL RICHIE: (Singing) Stuck on you - I've got this feeling down deep in my soul that I just can't lose. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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