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Knitters' Revenge

Hitting a Snag, Explicit Fossil, Special Delivery.

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CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here's your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

(APPLAUSE)

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl. Thank you guys. Thank you so much. WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, we are sometimes accused of favoritism or bias. Nothing could be further from the truth. On this show, we make fun of everyone regardless of species or genus. This week, we're going to prove it.

KASELL: On today's show, it's WAIT WAIT's wild animal kingdom. Stories from our recent shows about animals, sometimes stories about animals and their humans, sometimes animals doing it for themselves. We're going to begin with a story that started small and went viral.

It all began with Paula Poundstone answering a question on a show from February 2009 along with panelists Tom Bodett and Mo Rocca.

SAGAL: Paula, we read this week about an unsung hero, Jo Eggland(ph) of Norwich, England. She stood up, called upon the people in her community to help her out, and together they were about to provide 1,500 sweaters for what purpose?

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Her to wear.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No, they weren't for her. It was more selfless than that.

POUNDSTONE: To make sweaters.

MO ROCCA: Oh, I hate homemade sweaters.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Little sweaters.

POUNDSTONE: They were little sweaters? Oh, for cold dogs.

SAGAL: No, not dogs. Apparently...

POUNDSTONE: Hamsters?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No, that would be cute, though.

ROCCA: They'd be itchy. Homemade sweaters are always itchy.

POUNDSTONE: You know what? If you've got a cold hamster, just get it on the wheel.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Yeah, that's true, just get it on the wheel. That's true.

POUNDSTONE: Say to them when they wake up I know you're cold now, but once you get up and get on the wheel, you're going to warm right up.

ROCCA: Yeah, don't take a shower first, just get right on the wheel.

POUNDSTONE: That's exactly what I say to my son when I wake him up in the morning. I said, I know you're cold and tired now, but once you get and going, you'll feel better...

ROCCA: Oh, you're not putting him on the wheel.

POUNDSTONE: Put him on the wheel. Oh, sure I do.

SAGAL: Here's a hint, here's a hint, Paula. Apparently...

POUNDSTONE: What do you mean? I don't need a hint.

(LAUGHTER)

TOM BODETT: I guess it's not hamsters.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, don't talk down to me. What?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Apparently, Sy Sperling's Hair Club for Hens hasn't reached England yet.

POUNDSTONE: For bald chickens?

SAGAL: For bald chickens.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

POUNDSTONE: Well, bald chickens, naturally.

SAGAL: Bald chickens, they don't have many options, of course. Chicken-strength Rogaine is still years away from FDA approval. Thus they have to depend on the kindness of people like Ms. Eggland. Egg factory chickens, you see, lose their feathers from stress.

POUNDSTONE: No, I didn't know that.

SAGAL: It's true. Enter Ms. Eggland and her little hen rescue center. Her sweaters are a huge hit with the birds, not nearly as messy or labor intensive as the feather plugs they had been providing.

(LAUGHTER)

BODETT: Oh, geez.

SAGAL: And the worse thing is the chickens with the plugs, they'll walk around, and they pretend no one can tell, and you know it.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: Now if you weren't paying attention, you may have missed Mo's comment about the itchiness of homemade sweaters.

KASELL: As you can imagine, such a slanderous statement about sweaters inspired a backlash and an apology the very next week.

SAGAL: On last week's show, we stepped into a bit of controversy, thanks to our panelist Mo Rocca. We were talking about a woman who made sweaters for bald chickens, you know, in the way that you do, when Mo said, and I quote Mo, "Oh, I hate homemade sweaters. Homemade sweaters are always itchy." Well, the knitting community...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: ...was not amused by this, and they let us know. Mo Rocca joins us now. Mo, you had something you wanted to say?

ROCCA: Yes, Peter, I have a prepared statement, and I'd like to read.

SAGAL: Go ahead.

ROCCA: Last week, I used insensitive and inflammatory language, including the I word, to describe homemade sweaters.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: I sincerely regret offending anyone, even if there is an explanation. You see, 20 years ago as an exchange student in Quito, I stayed with a host family of alpaca farmers.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: The Garcias were never less than gracious, but their home was small, so I was forced to bunk with their teenaged alpaca Chucho(ph). And so for months afterwards, I couldn't stop scratching myself. None of this makes my recent comments any less offensive, so please accept my apology.

SAGAL: Very gracious, Mo. Now some of these knitters, particularly from Ravelry.com, the knitting site, they say they're going to prove you wrong by making and sending you a soft, non-itchy sweater.

ROY BLOUNT, JR.: I'd like to have a soft, non-itchy car.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I'd like to have a bald chicken.

ROCCA: I'd love a sweater. Is it made from alpaca?

SAGAL: I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's made from that very alpaca.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: They tracked it down. Well, Mo, thank you so much for your gracious apology, and I hope that...

ROCCA: No, I thank you for your time, and I'll be happy to model whatever sweater is made with me, with pride.

SAGAL: All right. Mo, we'll see you soon. Thanks for joining us today, bye-bye.

(APPLAUSE)

KASELL: And then finally on a show we did in May of 2009 with Mo, Paula, and Adam, a face-to-face confrontation and a conversion.

SAGAL: Back in February, Mo Rocca did the unforgiveable on our show, he insulted homemade sweaters. He said he hated them. He said they were, quote, "too itchy." Well, this caused quite a stir among an online community of knitters at Ravelry.com.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: And I might be - there they are - I might be surprising and scaring Mo when I say they are here right now.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: I can feel their needles.

SAGAL: There are knitters in the house. And they're here, and we understand they've actually brought you some gifts they made.

ROCCA: Well, that's very flattering. It's great. I'll make sure to insult the makers of BMW next week.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So after the show, after the show is over, we're going to take some photos of Mo modeling his new homemade knitwear, and we're going to post it to our website. So...

ROCCA: For premium members only.

SAGAL: Yes, of course.

ADAM FELBER: You know what I hate? Zegna suits.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I hate real estate. I hate large, valuable tracts of coastal land.

FELBER: You know what really burns me up?

SAGAL: What burns you up?

FELBER: Those bricks of gold, gold.

SAGAL: Yes, exactly. They're so uncomfortable and heavy.

FELBER: Who can spend those?

ROCCA: I really hate the bailout.

SAGAL: Photos of Mo modeling the sweater can be found at our website waitwait.npr.org.

KASELL: Of course, we're not just interested in contemporary animals. We're interested in prehistoric creatures, as well. Here's a questions from February of 2009 posed to Roy Blount, Jr., while Paul Provenza and Roxanne Roberts kibitzed.

SAGAL: Roy, according to research published in the science journal Nature, it was just 380 million years ago that two lonely sea creatures did what for the same time?

JR.: Two lonely schoolteachers?

(LAUGHTER)

JR.: Sea creatures, sea creatures.

SAGAL: Sea creatures.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: I guess your version could have happened as well.

JR.: I had an answer for the schoolteachers. I don't know...

PAUL PROVENZA: Well, a lot of sea creatures are found in schools.

JR.: There you go, that's true, that's true. I think I read this. I think - was it intercourse?

SAGAL: You're right, yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Scientists...

JR.: I was going to say that for the schoolteachers. I should have just gone ahead and answered, and we could have moved on by now.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Scientists have wondered where mating actually evolved, and they now believe it was longer ago than they thought. They've been studying the fossils of these shark-like placoderms, that's a now extinct fish. And they found what they believe to be fossilized evidence that those ancient fish actually mated. Prior to this discovery, most researchers believed copulation began sometime around 1964...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: On or around the release of the first Rolling Stones record.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: You can't just say that, like, oh they think it happened. What makes them think that?

SAGAL: There are two things. First of all, they found some rather technical anatomical features in the fossils that are common to fish that were able to do that. And also they found a fossilized letter to a magazine called Placoderm Forum.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And it starts: This has never happened before, but...

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: And, of course, we humans sometimes go too far in our attempts to be close to animals, as we discovered in June of this year with panelists Ken Jennings, Roy Blount, Jr., and Amy Dickenson.

Ken, this week we learned about a North Carolina couple headed to Hawaii to have their baby. They're headed there because they want their baby to be delivered by what?

KEN JENNINGS: I did see this. They want the baby delivered by dolphins.

SAGAL: That's correct.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: It's dolphin-assisted childbirth.

(LAUGHTER)

JENNINGS: Wow.

SAGAL: The couple will stay at the Sirius Institute, a group organized with the purpose of, quote, "dolphinizing the planet and taking money from crazy people."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: The idea is that the couple will swim with a dolphin pod, they'll be there in the water and when the time comes for the baby to be born, the dolphins will help with the birth. How will they do this? Presumably by being just as useless as every husband is at that point.

JR.: I happen to know about dolphins a little bit, which is that's how they - you have a midwife dolphin that swims along with the...

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ...no seriously, expecting dolphin. And when the - because they breathe air, dolphins, you know.

SAGAL: I know that, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So when the baby comes out, the midwife dolphin flips it up in the air so it's first breath is of air and not water. Now how they do it with a baby, I don't know.

(LAUGHTER)

AMY DICKINSON: Right.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So you're telling me like this woman's going to give birth in the water and the dolphin's going to flip the infant...

(LAUGHTER)

DICKINSON: Now, but...

SAGAL: So they'll know the baby is born watching from the shore when all of a sudden it's like, oh there she goes.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Newborn infant. Like a Polaris missile headed for the top of the water.

(LAUGHTER)

JENNINGS: You got to get the shark in to cut the cord, and then everybody's happy.

(LAUGHTER)

JENNINGS: And do the circumcision.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: A shark mohel.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Here comes a little shark with a yarmulke. I love that.

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