West Coast, Best Coast

Oct 25, 2019

Contestants put their wordplay skills to the test-coast in this game where every answer is in the form of the phrase "West Coast, Best Coast."

Heard on Michael McDonald: Once A Doobie, Always A Doobie.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif...


COULTON: 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.



Yay. Hello, everybody. How nice. Thanks, Jonathan.

COULTON: Thank you, Ophira.

EISENBERG: Yeah, it's great to be back here. I know. It's nice. Look at you guys all relaxed and happy - weird. I've been here - what? - two and a half days. I feel very relaxed, feel very relaxed. We live in New York. This is - it's a different experience out here.

Do you feel relaxed?

COULTON: I do. It takes a good 24 hours to uncoil, but, yeah, it's happening.

EISENBERG: Yeah, right. For the first 24 hours, you're like, can I get my coffee faster?

COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah.

EISENBERG: And then they're like, no. And you're like, OK.


EISENBERG: As different as it is to be here from New York, Santa Barbara and New York actually have a few things in common. For one, Santa Barbara is 92 miles north of Los Angeles. New Yorkers also feel above LA.


EISENBERG: You guys feel better than Los Angeles, right? You're always - yeah, yeah.


EISENBERG: Right. So we have an amazing show for you. We have four brilliant contestants that are going to be right up here playing some nerdy games with us. They're actually backstage right now daring each other to eat an entire pack of Necco Wafers.


EISENBERG: But one of them will become our big winner. And what an amazing guest we have. It's hard to believe. Our special guest is Michael McDonald. Yeah.


EISENBERG: I'm excited. But when we announced this, all of our writers' boyfriends freaked out.


EISENBERG: They were like, oh, my God, are you serious? That's amazing. You were beside yourself.

COULTON: I was very excited, yeah. Listen, I - (laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah, listen. I want to know.

COULTON: I mean, he's got an iconic voice.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

COULTON: He's been everywhere. He's sung with everybody.


COULTON: He's got a fantastic solo career.


COULTON: He sang with Steely Dan.


COULTON: He's like the epicenter of Yacht rock.

EISENBERG: So yeah. You're a fan of Yacht rock.

COULTON: I'm a huge fan of Yacht rock.

EISENBERG: Yeah. What do you like about it?

COULTON: I don't know if you know this, Ophira, but I'm a songwriter.

EISENBERG: Yes, I do. I've heard this.

COULTON: So for me, it's a very different experience to listen to music.

EISENBERG: You're right. I wouldn't understand.

COULTON: No, you wouldn't really understand what I'm hearing because I'm hearing things on a different level.

EISENBERG: Sure you are here, yeah.

COULTON: But for me, Yacht rock is a very pleasing, intellectual experience.


COULTON: It's complicated, but it's also super smooth.

EISENBERG: Super smooth - yeah, I like it because it sort of communicates, like, the desire to go on a very easy adventure coupled with the warm embrace of responsibility, right? Like, it kind of says, you know what? I do want a break from the trappings of everyday life, but also I want you to know I'm a dad.


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


EISENBERG: Our first game is inspired by the expression West Coast, best coast. That rhyme is a great way to remember which coast is best.


EISENBERG: Let's meet our contestants. First up, Alex Johnson, you are a Ph.D. geology student at the University of California.

ALEX JOHNSON: I think so.

EISENBERG: Santa Barbara. Yeah, you're pretty sure.

JOHNSON: Yeah, I was there today.



EISENBERG: But you originally wanted to be an optometrist.

JOHNSON: Oh, yes, ma'am. I did.

EISENBERG: What happened?

JOHNSON: I thought it'd be the easiest way to be a doctor.

EISENBERG: To be an optometrist.

JOHNSON: Yeah. I was like, optometrists; they don't do anything.


JOHNSON: So I talked to the premed adviser. And she told me that I wasn't a thoroughbred - her exact words.

EISENBERG: What does that mean?

JOHNSON: She compared me to a quarter horse, and I still don't know what it means. But it was her polite, actually very impolite way of saying, you're not good enough to even be an optometrist. So she told me to do forestry. But as part of that, I had a geology class. And the professor looked like Samwise Gamgee.


JOHNSON: He had failed out of his undergrad his first time and was, like, a 28-year-old professor. I'm like, I can do that.


JOHNSON: I can fail that many times easily.


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


EISENBERG: Your opponent is Jonathan Cook. You're an engineer for a defense contractor. And you spent an entire year tracking how many hours you did leisure activities and then compared those numbers to a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OK, so was your goal to match it?

JONATHAN COOK: It wasn't my goal to match it. My goal was to read more during the year. And so I thought by recording it, I would be incentivized to do it more, which was right. And then afterwards, you know, noticed a small change in the slope of my reading time and was curious and looked up some of the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

EISENBERG: OK, so let's walk through what's actually happening in your life.


EISENBERG: How many books did you want to read?

COOK: I wanted to read two books a month.

EISENBERG: Two books a month - that's great, very ambitious. And then what happened that it declined?

COOK: I started dating my now wife.

EISENBERG: Sure, there you go.


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


EISENBERG: Alex and Jonathan, whoever has more points after two games will go to our final round. So in this word game, we rewrote the catch phrase West coast, best coast to reflect more specific aspects of life in Southern California. Every answer is in the form West coast, blank coast. So you're going to fill in the blank with a different thing that rhymes with best.

COULTON: For example, if I said there's nothing like taking a nap on the beach, you would answer West coast, rest coast.

EISENBERG: Easy enough - ring in to answer, and here we go. Jumping in the Pacific Ocean makes me cold, especially my nipples.



JOHNSON: West Coast, chest coast.

EISENBERG: That is correct, yes.


COULTON: Chill out on Sunday morning with a beach cocktail. We recommend a Hendry's (ph) - Hendrick's martini with a citrus peel garnish.


COULTON: Jonathan.

COOK: What is best coast, zest coast?

COULTON: I'll give it to you. That's correct.


EISENBERG: This body star of The Golden Age of Hollywood knows that you're always happy to see her.



JOHNSON: West Coast, Mae West Coast.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's correct.


COULTON: Many celebrities have homes in Santa Barbara, including Oprah Winfrey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula, who's from this Romanian capital.



JOHNSON: West Coast, Bucharest coast.

COULTON: You got it.



EISENBERG: This is your last clue. No, these aren't veneers. I've been brushing with brilliance blast toothpaste from this company whose tagline was once, open up and smile.


EISENBERG: Jonathan.

COOK: West Coast, Crest coast.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's correct.


EISENBERG: Crest coast - great game. And Alex is in the lead.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.