Product Placement

Remember when a young Robert Jordan took a break from battle for a bean burrito in Ernest Hemingway's "For Whom the Taco Bell Tolls"? Jonathan Coulton demonstrates product placement at its best, or what we here at NPR call "underwriting."

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Let's welcome back our puzzle guru, John Chaneski.

JOHN CHANESKI: Hi, I'm back everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

CHANESKI: Thank you.

EISENBERG: And our two new contestants. We have Paula Henning and Mike Glennon, welcome to ASK ME ANOTHER.

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EISENBERG: Oh Paula has fans, Paula you have fans, excellent. Paula, you work for the Maryland Healthcare Commission.

PAULA HENNING: I do.

EISENBERG: Thank you. I want to say thank you.

HENNING: You're welcome.

EISENBERG: Thank you.

HENNING: Yeah we're running the death squads, you know. Yeah.

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EISENBERG: OK great, oh good.

HENNING: Yeah.

EISENBERG: You have a dark sense of humor. I appreciate that. And Mike, you are a lawyer, but more importantly, you brew your own beer.

MIKE GLENNON: From time to time I've been known to do that, yes.

EISENBERG: From time to time, like all times?

GLENNON: Well, you know, every six weeks or so, a new - a fresh batch. It's time to get the water boiling.

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EISENBERG: You're a man of like a billion good ideas, that's what I've decided about you immediately. All right.

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GLENNON: Tell that to my wife.

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EISENBERG: We will. John, what's our next game?

JONATHAN COULTON: So our next game is called Product Placement and if I had one criticism about the great classic works of literature, art and drama, it would be that the people who created them were terrible at maximizing brand synergies through co-marketing.

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EISENBERG: By the way, here at ASK ME ANOTHER, we are brought to you by Armani.

COULTON: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CHANESKI: And we were - we were originally going to call the show, Ask Me A Niece on Pathfinder.

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COULTON: Didn't workout, yeah. So we've helped out some of these works with a little product placement of our own. So here's how this is going to go. I'm going to give you a short synopsis of a famous work, with a subtle reference to a product or a company added in. For example, John, I might say, this 1940 Hemingway novel about an American fighting in the Spanish Civil War features camaraderie; death; and nacho cheese gorditas.

CHANESKI: Oh yes.

COULTON: And you would answer?

CHANESKI: That would be For Whom The Taco Bell Tolls.

(LAUGHTER)

HENNING: I see what you did there.

COULTON: Yes, do you see how that works?

EISENBERG: Paula, you're on top of this, you're on top of this.

COULTON: Paula's got it.

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: OK. So ring in when you know the answer. A young girl falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world, where she grows to a tremendous size, after nibbling after a brand name sliced white loaf. Paula.

HENNING: Alice in Wonder Bread Land.

COULTON: Yes.

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COULTON: Focusing on the Ramsay family's vacation to the Isle of Skye, this novel by Virginia Woolf is a modernist meditation on time, perception and the best selling brand of low calorie beer...

CHANESKI: Mike.

GLENNON: To the Coors Lighthouse.

COULTON: Oh so close, best selling brand.

GLENNON: To the Miller Lighthouse?

CHANESKI: Paula.

HENNING: To the Bud Lighthouse.

COULTON: To the Bud Lighthouse is right. Wow.

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COULTON: What a beer battle we had there.

EISENBERG: Hang in there and stoke. And she did a victory dance. She does a victory dance.

COULTON: Where's your beer knowledge now Mike?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Clearly you don't do the light beer maybe.

HENNING: Pays to know the crap sometimes.

GLENNON: If you make your own, you ain't drinking light.

COULTON: Yeah. Preach it brother.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: CIA analyst Jack Ryan finds that he and a Soviet submarine captain can kiss a little longer with the right chewing gum.

CHANESKI: Paula.

HENNING: The Hunt for Big Red October.

COULTON: Yes.

EISENBERG: Correct.

(LAUGHTER)

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EISENBERG: And that's just a great visual, isn't it? Just thinking about that.

COULTON: In this landmark work of economic theory, Karl Marx analyzed the exploitation of labor inherent in the manufacture of three striped German sneakers.

CHANESKI: Mike.

GLENNON: Adidas Kapital.

COULTON: Yes, Adidas Kapital.

EISENBERG: Yes.

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COULTON: Wow.

EISENBERG: That's low, that's low. That's low. Now I know what kind of stuff you read Mike, I'm starting to put it together.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Set in motion by a hit and run car accident, this Tom Wolfe best-seller examines how ambition; greed; and racial tension permeate New York City, like the wafting scent of gooey pastries at a mall food court.

CHANESKI: Mike.

GLENNON: Cinnabon of the - No. Bon - Damn it.

COULTON: Paula.

HENNING: Cinnabon Fire of the Vanities.

COULTON: Yes, Cinnabon Fire of the Vanities.

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COULTON: You were almost there, you were almost there.

CHANESKI: Well that was one of a more hotly contested games.

EISENBERG: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

HENNING: I'm going to keep ringing.

CHANESKI: But the game is over and Paula, you have won four to two.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Paula is going onto our final showdown at the end of the show. Mike, cannot thank you enough for being an excellent competitor. Well done. Thank you so much. Give him a big hand.

(APPLAUSE)

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