Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Bluff The Listener

Our panelists tell three stories about a new Dr. Seuss story in the news, only one of which is real.

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CARL KASELL, BYLINE: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Alonzo Bodden, Paula Poundstone and Adam Felber. And here, again, is your host at the San Diego Civic Theatre in San Diego, California, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Thanks, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.

CATHY GURTOWSKY: Hi. It's Cathy Gurtowsky from Bristol, Connecticut.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Bristol?

GURTOWSKY: The sun came out today.

SAGAL: Oh, congratulations.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Oh, I'm so glad.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: People in San Diego go ha, ha, ha, ha.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It's nice to have you with us, Cathy. Now you're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Cathy's topic?

KASELL: Oh, the places you'll go, Peter.

SAGAL: It's been more than 50 years since Dr. Seuss wrote such children's classics as "Green Eggs and Ham" and "To Kill a Mockingsneetch."

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But this week, he made headlines once again. Our panelists are now going to tell you about Seuss in the news, if you will. Guess the real story, and you'll win Carl in a Hat's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?

GURTOWSKY: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear about Dr. Seuss in the news this week from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: The Valencia, California massage parlor Dr. Masseuse...

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: ...Rubs the town the wrong way. It's in trouble for offering Dr. Seuss-themed massages in an effort to get around local zoning laws. Whether you want a Grinch, a Lorax or your massage performed by a Fox in Socks...

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: ...Many doubt this is what Dr. Seuss had in mind. Valencia has strict zoning laws regarding location of belt-themed businesses. So when Arthur Conan applied for his business licenses and said it was a relaxing Dr. Seuss-themed atmosphere, the city council thought an afterschool center was open.

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: The local parents were up in arms in and want the businesses closed immediately. Lois Watson, a local mother, complained I don't want to know what goes on in there, and I certainly don't want to have to explain to my children why they can't see what happens to Gerald McBoing Boing in there.

(LAUGHTER)

BODDEN: The Cat in the Hat couldn't clean this one up. And we can be pretty sure that Mr. Conan's establishment would not be welcomed by every Who in Whoville.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Dr. Masseuse causing some controversy in Valencia, California.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Your next Seussian story comes from Paula Poundstone.

POUNDSTONE: While reading to his great-granddaughter, Paris May Wynette, 77-year-old Herbert Wynette got an awful shock. I picked up a big book of stories. I read one about different colored fish, I think it was. And I caught sight of the author's name. It was a collection of stories by a fellow named Dr. Seuss. And there was a picture of him on the inside flap and a little bio saying his real name was Theodore Geisel. Well, that little so-and-so, I said right out loud. He gave me a medical exam.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: Wynette had been at a party in La Jolla in 1985 and was introduced to Dr. Seuss by the name Dr. Seuss. Naturally, I thought he was a doctor. And I had been feeling quite poorly. So after we'd had a few drinks, I mentioned this to him.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: And right there at the party, he palpitated my liver, says Wynette.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: Geisel has been deceased since 1991, but his wife Audrey Geisel confirms the story. Theodore was a bit tipsy, and we weren't, at first, sure if Mr. Wynettewasn't pulling his leg. I mean, Dr. Seuss was quite a famous name as a children's author. He looked in my ear with a light, says the still incredulous Wynette. He said he saw a Who.

(LAUGHTER)

POUNDSTONE: I thought it was a type of infection.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: A story of Dr. Seuss playing doctor comes to light.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: And your last story comes from Adam, a star-bellied Felber.

(LAUGHTER)

ADAM FELBER: If you go to a library right near Toronto, you may read of the Lone Ranger and of Tonto. But the librarian may have to make you stop, if you try to open "Hop on Pop." See, one weird patron round that hood, thinks "Hop on Pop" is quite un-good. The reason for such fusses and bothers, why the book promotes violence on fathers.

(LAUGHTER)

FELBER: Damages were sought, apologies demanded. Dr. Seuss and the staff were reprimanded. So much clattering and fuss was had to save the health of dear old dad. But our brave librarians then thought better and tossed the letter in the shredder.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So here are your choices. From Alonzo Bodden, a man who wants to open a massage parlor called Dr. Masseuse gets in trouble this week in Valencia, California. From Paula Poundstone, the story comes forward about how Dr. Seuss, at least once, maybe more, at a party played doctor. And from Adam Felber, a story about how a library in Toronto was asked to ban "Hop on Pop," his classic early reader book, because it promoted violence against fathers. Now, which of these is the real story of Dr. Seuss in the news?

GURTOWSKY: Well, I could see all of them happening, but I have to go for the poem - the true Suessian style.

SAGAL: That is true. You have to applaud Adam's rhyming couplets...

(APPLAUSE)

FELBER: Thanks.

SAGAL: ...Whether or not you believe them. So your choice is Adam's rhyming story of how "Hop on Pop" was denounced for its...

GURTOWSKY: Yes.

SAGAL: ...Scenes of violence against innocent fathers. Well, we spoke to someone who was intimate with this story.

VICKERY BOWLS: We received a request to remove the "Hop on Pop" Dr. Seuss book from our collection because people thought that it would cause children to badger their fathers.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That what is Vickery Bowls of the Toronto Public Library, which chose not to ban "Hop on Pop" despite its violent themes. Congratulations, Cathy. You got it right. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

FELBER: Thank you, Cathy.

SAGAL: Earned a point for Adam Felber, although he deserves more for writing his story in rhyme. And you won our prize. Carl Kassel will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Thank you so much for playing with us today, Cathy.

GURTOWSKY: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

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