Welcome To The Jumble

Jan 17, 2020
Originally published on January 24, 2020 9:50 am

In this anagram game, contestants unscramble different animal species. It's like the new Dr. Doolittle but with slightly less CGI.

Heard on Justin Long And Marina Franklin: Franklin My Dear, I Don't Give A Long.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

JONATHAN COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from The Bell House in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(CHEERING)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Hello, people of 2020. I feel like the first couple weeks of January is very hard to just get yourself out and among people, so well done. You guys are all functioning a lot better than me. If you're like me, too, right now you are throwing out your holiday cards but feeling guilty about it, feeling a little guilty about it. And let's be honest, holiday cards - strong word, strong word. They are really now just generic family flyers...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...Of someone's best Instagram photo that they uploaded to Shutterfly. Like, really, the only personalization is like, oh, you used template four. Good for you.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And yeah, it is still sad, though, when I see baby Zadie's (ph) face just there smiling in her sleep sack as I cinch up the trash bag...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...And throw it out on the sidewalk.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It's like, see you next Christmas, kid.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Do you like them?

COULTON: I mean, some of those Christmas cards, the family flyers...

EISENBERG: Yeah, the family flyers.

COULTON: ...I'm happy to get because it's the only time I ever see what those people look like.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: So I'm like, oh, wow, I guess those kids are growing up.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: I should really call them one of these days.

EISENBERG: And then you look on the back. You're like, what are the names again?

COULTON: Yeah. Now...

EISENBERG: And you try to match them.

COULTON: ...Who was this now?

EISENBERG: Yeah, exactly.

COULTON: Just remember them from previous Christmas cards, yeah.

EISENBERG: Right. Is Jeff the father, the son or the pet?

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We have a great show. Oh, my God, four brilliant contestants are here. They're backstage wondering if the shirt they bought off Instagram will ever arrive.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And soon they will be on the stage with us, and one of them will be our big winner. And we have two amazing guests on the show.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: We have actor Justin Long.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: This guy's been in a bazillion comedic movies - also television. And you may also know him from those commercials that were very popular, the I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC commercials. Justin also has a podcast called "Life Is Short." It is not a true crime podcast.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: (Laughter) It's a fun interview podcast that he actually does with his brother. If I did a podcast with my brother, it would be called "My Life Is Shorter Because I'm Doing A Podcast With My Brother..."

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...Which is all you need to know about my holidays.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We also have comedian Marina Franklin on our show.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Marina Franklin worked at the Midtown themed restaurant, Jekyll and Hyde.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Whoa.

EISENBERG: Yeah. And if you think that's fun, think about how fun it would be to lose a promotion to an animatronic corpse.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Whoa.

EISENBERG: Happens all the time - Jonathan Coulton, five years ago, he was here.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: All right. Let's play some games, everybody.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: Our first two contestants will play a game about anagrams. Remember; to tell the difference between an acronym and an anagram, just look at its snout.

First up, Nancy Libow, you teach English as a language to kids in grades five through eight. And, you know, a lot of contestants on our show are collectors. Do you collect anything?

NANCY LIBOW: No, I don't. I despise collecting.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Really?

LIBOW: Really.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Do you like throwing things out?

LIBOW: I love discarding...

EISENBERG: Oh...

LIBOW: ...Things.

EISENBERG: ...Me too. I...

LIBOW: Ticket stubs...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

LIBOW: ...Play bills. I love ripping them and putting them through the shredder.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Whoa. You have a shredder?

LIBOW: I have a shredder.

EISENBERG: No sentimental - do you keep anything of...

LIBOW: No.

EISENBERG: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Nancy, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Christian Thomsen. You're a quality assurance engineer from Austin, Texas. And you are not in one, but two book clubs.

CHRISTIAN THOMSEN: I am.

EISENBERG: That's a lot of reading. So what are they?

THOMSEN: So one is me and my family, so it's my parents and my three sisters. And then the other one is me and my two nephews. And that one, the idea was we were going to read books that I liked when I was their age. They're 12 and 13.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

THOMSEN: But the universe really wanted me to feel old and so the first book I suggested isn't in print anymore. And it's not even available on Amazon.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: What is it?

THOMSEN: It's called "The Eyes Of Kid Midas" by Neal Shusterman. I only have one copy. And it's autographed, so there's no way I'm sharing that.

EISENBERG: So did you - you didn't photocopy it for them or anything?

THOMSEN: No, absolutely not. That's like two cents a page.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: OK. Got it. Christian, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Nancy and Christian, whoever has more points after two games will go to the final round. So we've anagrammed animals in a game we called, Welcome to the Jumble. The end of every clue is an anagrammed animal. You just tell me the creature. OK, let's go.

How convenient. This marsupial has a front pocket to store its cleaning supplies. I wish I also had a rag nook.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Christian.

THOMSEN: Kangaroo.

EISENBERG: This is correct.

THOMSEN: Thanks.

EISENBERG: Well done. Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Before spreading positivity with Hakuna Matata, this wild pig was an angsty teen, donning black eyeliner as a raw Goth.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Christian.

THOMSEN: Warthog.

COULTON: That's correct.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Warthogs kind of are inherently Goth.

COULTON: You think so?

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah. They kind of have that Robert Smith from the Cure haircut going at all times. They kind of look like they're wearing ripped fishnets. Like, you know, they've got that...

COULTON: Snaggletooth situation in the front.

EISENBERG: Yeah, the horns that look like sort of a Salvador Dali mustache (laughter).

COULTON: Yeah, like a mustache.

EISENBERG: Yeah. I can see it. This bird went off the rails when instead of using its beak to drill into trees, it started using it to snort coke powder.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Nancy.

LIBOW: Woodpecker.

EISENBERG: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Let's see how many shades of yellow this color-changing lizard can turn by having it walk across each lemon.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Nancy.

LIBOW: Chameleon.

COULTON: You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Whenever I visit San Francisco, I make sure to avoid the barking creatures out at Pier 39. Sure, they're cute, but they're so alien.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Nancy.

LIBOW: Seagull.

EISENBERG: I'm sorry, that is incorrect, but good guess. Christian, can you steal?

THOMSEN: No.

EISENBERG: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So alien is an anagram of sea lion. Yeah, yeah, the other thing that barks.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: With eight adorable arms to wrap around you, any excuses you make to avoid hugging this brainy sea creature are just cop-outs.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Nancy.

LIBOW: Octopus.

COULTON: That's right.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Now, we all have read those stories where the octopus of the aquarium escapes, like, constantly because they are extremely smart. One species, the giant Pacific octopus, has three hearts and nine brains - one in the central part and then one on each arm. I could see an octopus mom saying to octopus daughter, like, you have nine brains, but all they're going to see is eight legs, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: This is your last clue. Shall I compare these to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely, having lived in my stomach since I ate that questionable beef. Truly, you've made me a warm poet. Last time you ate...

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: ...Questionable beef, did anything happen? Christian, you want to take a guess?

THOMSEN: Rootworm.

EISENBERG: Good guess - not correct, but good guess. Nancy, you want to give it a shot?

LIBOW: Tapeworm.

EISENBERG: Yeah, tapeworm.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right. Great game. Nancy is in the lead.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.