Bluff The Listener
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT ...DON’T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Luke Burbank, Paula Poundstone and Faith Salie. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: Thank you, everybody. 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.
NICHOLAS MCDONOUGH: Hi, my name is Nick. I'm calling from St. Paul, Minn.
SAGAL: St. Paul, Minn., one of my favorite towns.
SAGAL: It's pretty cold there this weekend. How are you handling the deep dark Minnesota frigid winter?
MCDONOUGH: You know, it's not below zero right now, so it's kind of a heat wave. It's not too bad.
SAGAL: Now, did you grow up in Minnesota?
MCDONOUGH: Oh, yes I did.
SAGAL: Oh, so you don't know what it's like to feel pleasure this time of the year.,,
SAGAL: ...So it's no problem. Well, welcome to the show, Nicholas. You're going to play our game in which you must tell truth from fiction. Bill what is the topic?
KURTIS: Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? My GPS is broken.
SAGAL: Last weekend, the new version of "Sesame Street" premiered on HBO with Oscar the Grouch and Bubbles from "The Wire" getting in a knife fight over who gets to sleep in the trashcan. It was great.
SAGAL: But "Sesame Street" was not the only children's TV show in the news. We heard an interesting story about another one that made it into the newspapers. Each of our panelists is going to tell you a story about a kids show in the news. Only one of them is true. Pick that story, you will get Carl Kasell's voice doing the alphabet on your voicemail. You ready to play?
MCDONOUGH: Yes, I am.
SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear about a kids TV show from Luke Burbank.
LUKE BURBANK: With oil prices falling, the Canadian economy has taken a hit, the effects of which have been felt all across the country, including at the spelling bee level. This when the Vancouver Sun announced it could no longer afford to sponsor the TV broadcast of the British Columbia Spell-Off, which for years had featured adorable fifth and sixth-graders learning the important lesson that trying your hardest is fine and all, but in life there can only be one winner. It looked like the competition might be shut down, but then another company came to the rescue and offered to sponsor the TV broadcast. That company was IKEA. However, there was one catch - in exchange for sponsoring the show, the Swedish furniture giant would require that all the words in the competition be replaced with names of IKEA furniture.
BURBANK: Incorrigible and verisimilitude were out, flardfull and fyrkantig were in.
BURBANK: "At first, it was kind of hard to learn all the new words," said fifth-grader Nihar Patel, who took second place overall, losing out to eventual champ Madeleine Nelson, who correctly spelled dagstorp, which is a leather sofa, by the way. Josh Scofield, who directed the event, said things ended up turning out pretty well, actually. The ratings for the broadcast were up, maybe because it was also the shortest competition they'd ever held. I think it was because none of the kids ever had to ask country of origin for the words. They just knew, like, Sweden.
SAGAL: Televised kids spelling bee in which all the words were IKEA furniture items. Your next story of a children's TV show making the news comes from Faith Salie.
>>SALIE; For years, Japan's birthrate has been plummeting. But just last month, government officials gleefully announced the birthrate is starting to show the tiniest bump. Ninety-two-thousand babies were born December, up 27 percent from the previous year. Government officials are lighting cigars over this news because it was they who conceived a new children's television show dedicated to giving parents a half hour to make babies. The state-run show is called Peko Peko Arcachon, which roughly translates to baby time. It began airing last year, and immediately became a national tradition. Millions of kiddies in footie pajamas sit on their tatami mats in front of the TV. Their parents turn it on, then close their bedroom door to get it on. The host of the show is an adorable anime blastocyst called Pokeyourmom.
FAITH SALIE: Pokeyourmom keeps the children of Japan riveted, offering them plenty of action while their parents get some action. Every episode features role play with chopsticks, sticky rice snowball fights, songs about not knocking on mommy's door.
SALIE: Instead of commercials, the friendly day-five blastocyst reminds kids to go the potty and brush their teeth. And at the 22-minute mark, it's the climax of the show...
SALIE: ...When Pokeyourmom encourages children to make tons of noise.
SALIE: In a country where most 8-year-olds still sleep in a family bed, this window of baby-making time is valuable. Still, Yukiko Sasaki, a mother of 4-year-old twins, says I don't know why we need a half hour. Ten minutes is enough.
SAGAL: A TV show for children, expressly for the purpose of making more children. Your last story of a kids television show making the headlines comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Misplaced subtitles from the American children's show "Dinosaur Train" were inadvertently and inexplicably posted on a Swedish television station broadcast of a debate between politicians.
POUNDSTONE: While Asa Romson, minister for the environment, spoke into a thin microphone from a podium, looking quite serious, the Swedish translation of the words greeting, Earth creature appeared on the screen,
POUNDSTONE: She continued to speak as such posts as I have two pairs of boots - one red pair and one yellow pair - displayed beneath her. Unfortunately, only Swedish-language speakers will ever know what she was really saying about the environment when the hearing-impaired Swedes were led to believe she said, which one should I take? I'm going to ask my dolls.
POUNDSTONE: Minister of Education Jan Bjorklund appeared to proudly announce I will build the best sandcastle in the galaxy.
POUNDSTONE: And Stefen Lofven, prime minister of Sweden, brought a sense of hope to the nation when he seemed to announce the latest invention - the fantastic dinosaur train submarine. Only American political debates with correct subtitles could possibly be nuttier.
SAGAL: All right, here are your three choices. You noticed a story about one of these three kids TV shows in the news. Was it from Luke Burbank, how a televised spelling bee got switched over to using all IKEA names, from Faith Salie, a special new TV show that is helping the Japanese birthrate by giving mommy and daddy a little private time or from Paula Poundstone, how the subtitles from a kids TV show got transposed onto a Swedish Parliamentary debate. Which of these is the real story of kids TV in the news?
MCDONOUGH: I am going to guess number two, the Japan birthrate.
SAGAL: The Japan birthrate - you're going to choose Faith's idea of this TV show hosted by a 5-day-old blastocyst named Pokeyourmom...
SAGAL: ...If I've got that...
SALIE: It's Japan, Peter.
SAGAL: It's Japan.
MCDONOUGH: Yes, I am.
SAGAL: Well, to bring you the real answer, we thought we could do nothing better than actually play a little bit of the TV show in question.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DINOSAUR TRAIN")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Dinosaurs, I give you the amazing dinosaur train submarine.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, cheering).
SAGAL: That was a clip from "Dinosaur Train," the show whose dialog was transposed onto a parliamentary debate in Sweden. We're sorry, Nick, but Paula had the real answer. So you did not win, but you did earn a point for Faith, who fooled you with her very clever story a Japanese show to entertain children while their parents entertain themselves.
SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing, Nick.
MCDONOUGH: Yes, no problem. Thanks, guys.
POUNDSTONE: Bye Nick.
SAGAL: Stay warm.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WORDS IN MY MOUTH")
BLONDIE: (Singing) Don't put your words in my mouth. That's not what I meant.