Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Clippy And Paula

We listen to one of the all-time most requested bits on our show, and Paula Poundstone takes issue with more than one scientific study.

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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 everybody. Thank you so much. Listen, for many years now this show has completely been ignoring our listeners' tastes, preferences and good judgment, and frankly it's worked out pretty well.

KASELL: But that, Peter, ends today. This week you, the listener, get to produce our show, although you are limited by your raw materials, mainly us.

SAGAL: We asked you all to submit your favorite WAIT, WAIT moments for the last few years. What follows this hour is the result. Everybody wins. You get to hear the stuff you like best; we get to take the week off.

KASELL: And we begin with the single most nominated WAIT, WAIT moment. It happened during a show we taped in Seattle in June of 2008 with panelists Paula Poundstone, Paul Provenza and Adam Felber.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME.

MOLLY EWING: Hi.

SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

EWING: I'm Molly Ewing, and I'm calling from Denver.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Denver?

EWING: Beautiful. Hot.

SAGAL: Hot, really? Wow.

EWING: Yeah.

SAGAL: So the ski season is finally over.

EWING: Yes.

SAGAL: Molly, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play Who's Carl This Time? Carl Kasell, once again, will read three quotes from the week's news. If you correctly identify or explain two of them, you win our prize. Ready to go?

EWING: Yes.

SAGAL: All right, here's your first quote.

KASELL: Disappointed. Backwards. Unusable. Totally confusing. Pathetic. Completely odd. Weird. Scary. Slow. Garbage. Not usable. Crapped up. Crap. Absolute mess. Craziness. Terrible.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: According to MacDailyNews, those were just some of the highlights from a long flame email a couple of years back. It was describing the writer's experience using Microsoft Windows. In fact, this week, the author of the email got so frustrated, he quit Microsoft completely.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Who was it?

EWING: Bill Gates?

SAGAL: Yes, Bill Gates.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: This week, more than 30 years after he founded Microsoft, Bill Gates officially turns in his badge and cleans out his cubicle. He's now going to go try to make something of his life.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Gates' departure from the software behemoth is not expected to result in any huge changes at Microsoft. They will still be an implacable force for evil.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: But on the occasion of his departure, some people found this 2003 email; it was revealed in some court documents from the antitrust case. In it, Gates complains at great length, with the most bitter frustration and anger - much like any of his customers - about his experience trying to use the Microsoft website to download software. Gates said, quote: This site is so slow, it is unusable. Others pointed to his even more angry, 1999 memo, titled simply, Clippy Must Die.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

ADAM FELBER: I've seen that video of them putting Clippy in a car. "Hey, where are we going?"

(LAUGHTER)

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Who's Clippy?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: One day the engineers at Microsoft said, you know, the people using our products, they're frustrated, they're angry, but they're not insane with rage. How can we focus their rage? How about if just in the middle of doing something, an animated paperclip pops up on the screen and says: Can I help you? What are you doing? Oh, can I see?

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Geez, there's a lot of trees out here.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Tell...

FELBER: I don't think we're anywhere near Redmond anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

PAUL PROVENZA: What is that, cannoli?

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: What are you digging? What are you digging? Can I help you dig?

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Oh, you got a baseball bat. Do you want to learn how to play baseball? Maybe I could help you with that?

PROVENZA: It looks like you're digging a grave. Is this a business grave or a personal grave?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

POUNDSTONE: So he's an animated character that you didn't like?

SAGAL: Yeah, basically.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We'll explain later.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KASELL: You folks must love technology because many of you asked to hear this moment from that same show in Seattle.

SAGAL: Paula, perhaps a solution for our latest energy crisis, Slate magazine published a scientific inquiry that seeked to prove that in the future, women will be able to power their iPods and other devices by harnessing the power of what?

POUNDSTONE: Oh my.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: By harnessing the power of - I don't know, jiggling fat comes to my mind.

FELBER: So close.

SAGAL: Jiggling yes, fat no.

POUNDSTONE: Breasts?

SAGAL: Yes.

POUNDSTONE: No.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

PROVENZA: Wait a minute, is it just women or fat men, too?

SAGAL: Well, who knows how far the technology may go.

POUNDSTONE: So already girls who feel inadequate...

PROVENZA: Now can't even watch TV.

POUNDSTONE: Right, exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: This is what I'm thinking.

FELBER: They'll just have to listen to shorter songs.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: What, the big girls will get to hear, like, symphonies and...

POUNDSTONE: Some day high school boys will leer at a girl and say she could power "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida."

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

POUNDSTONE: See that girl over there? Couldn't get through "Twinkle Twinkle."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Should I explain this or just...?

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, yeah, no, definitely.

SAGAL: Writer Adrian Tso(ph), her name is Adrian Tso, she's writing in Slate. She says, quote, I've always found the concept of breasts bothersome. They will fulfill their intended function for about three of the 70 years that I have them. The rest of the time they alternate between getting in my way and embarrassing me, unquote.

So she decided to see if they could be put to some useful work. She talked to engineers who are working on ways to harness motion and generate energy.

PROVENZA: I just want to see the patent that these guys have written up.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Ms. Tso discovered that in theory you could construct a bra that captures the otherwise wasted energy of bouncing breasts and convert it into electricity to power personal devices, cell phones, iPods...

FELBER: That's not a stupid idea.

POUNDSTONE: If you're Pamela Anderson, the nation of Colombia.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SAGAL: Many of our stories, particularly in our Listener Limerick Challenge, rely on scientific studies. In November of 2008, Paula Poundstone had had enough. And apparently so had you because you wanted to hear this again. Here's Paula along with panelists Adam Felber and Roxanne Roberts.

Paula, a British psychologist has determined that the best way for a man to attract a woman at nightclub is to do what?

POUNDSTONE: Show her money.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Actually flash the cash.

POUNDSTONE: Yeah.

SAGAL: No. In order to do this correctly, one must wear a white polyester three-piece suit with a black shirt opened halfway to the navel.

POUNDSTONE: Disco dancing?

SAGAL: Yes, but disco dancing specifically like whom?

POUNDSTONE: Like John Travolta?

SAGAL: Exactly right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SAGAL: Dance like John Travolta. Women like nothing better than a man confident enough Women like nothing better than a man confident enough to strut his stuff, Travolta-style, on the dance floor.

POUNDSTONE: You know, I've really been suspect of some of the studies that you guys mention.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

POUNDSTONE: Where did you get that study? Was it done by Mr. Kotter's class?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It must be true. We read about it on the Internet.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Yeah, I think it...

POUNDSTONE: This is my problem.

ROBERTS: I think it was funded by the John Travolta Sexual Attraction Foundation.

POUNDSTONE: Yes.

FELBER: You know, the San Diego's Travolta Institute is a respectable organization.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBERTS: And they proved many, many interesting scientific points over the years. This is just one of them.

Name another.

FELBER: Another is that angels probably look like John Travolta.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: It's scientific fact.

SAGAL: So what the researchers did was, they showed video clips of 15 different dance moves to women, and they asked their opinion about which is the most sexy, attractive - and they went for the John Travolta doing the hustle disco dancing, from "Saturday Night Fever."

POUNDSTONE: Yeah, but you made it sound like when a guy's in a bar. Carl, I'm going to ask for a judgment here. I thought you made it sound like when a person was in a bar, what a man would do that would attract a woman. I got to tell you, if a man is in a bar, and he gets up and begins to dance like John Travolta...

FELBER: To Lynyrd Skynyrd.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: I think - OK, let me just say, there are so many factors that can't be controlled here.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: What bar? Yeah, is it...

ROBERTS: I think the distinction is, is that I would be highly suspect of a man who walked up to me wearing a three-piece, white, polyester suit. However, if someone actually had some good moves but was not wearing a three-piece, white, polyester suit, I might be more impressed.

POUNDSTONE: You guys, have you seen "Saturday Night Live" - "Saturday Night Fever" recently?

SAGAL: No.

FELBER: No.

POUNDSTONE: It doesn't hold up that well.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: I don't know what we were on in the late '70s, but let me tell you...

FELBER: Well, I read a study that says it - helds up very well.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Coming up, the most adorable, horrifying spokesman ever plus Marian the Librarian, Laurie from Oklahoma and Mrs. Partridge all squeezed somehow into one interview.

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We'll be back in a minute with more WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! from NPR.

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