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 are playing this week with Roy Blount, Jr., Paula Poundstone and Faith Salie. And here again is your host at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill. Thank you everybody.
SAGAL: Thank you so much. Right now it is 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 are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
JAY STEWART: Hi, this is Jay Stewart from East Montpelier, Vt.
SAGAL: East Montpelier, Vt.? What do you do there in Vermont?
STEWART: Well, I'm a recovering attorney...
STEWART: ...Now I'm also a full-time stay-at-home dad.
FAITH SALIE: Oh, cool.
SAGAL: How old are your kids?
STEWART: I have a 4-year-old son and two 20-month-old sons.
SAGAL: Oh, my gosh. Now, do you find that your skills as an attorney in any way help you in dealing with your small children?
STEWART: Absolutely not.
SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Jay. You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Jay's topic?
KURTIS: That's no excuse.
SAGAL: No one will believe you when you say the dog ate my homework unless the homework assignment was put a bunch of meat in a bowl on the floor. Well, this week, we heard another hard-to-believe excuse. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who is telling the truth, you'll win our prize - Carl Kasell's voice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play, Jay?
STEWART: Yep. I'm dressed up and ready to go.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: You understand this is radio? None of us can see you.
STEWART: That's true.
SAGAL: All right, well, first let's hear from Faith Salie.
SALIE: The Vatican has a confession to make. For the past two and a half weeks, tourists have encountered scaffolding obscuring Raphael's most famous work "The School Of Athens." Museum officials were hoping disappointed art lovers would just assume that the restoration of the masterpiece is on Italian time. But when recently pressed to explain the delay, Romia Cametti, chief of the Vatican Laboratories of Restoration, admitted to the media that her lab engineers have run out of paint. Specifically, the paint needed to touch up Socrates' amber robe. You see, by the laws of their own municipality, Vatican restoration artists must work with the exact same pigment that Raphael used. Problem is the only way to produce that particular color is to mix Persian saffron with the poop of an endangered species called the Tuscan turtledove. The Vatican has only one such dove in captivity, and he named Rocco. And Rocco is well, constipated...
SALIE: Or (foreign language spoken) as they say. Dramatic appeals have been made to his bowels, including around-the-clock rosary circle prayed by the sisters of perpetual regularity.
SALIE: Pope Francis himself has blessed the bird with some holy water laced with Metamucil.
SALIE: Dr. Cametti hopes Rocco will be moved by faith, declaring, he's a creature of God. And through God, he will grace us with these - how do you say? - high Renaissance (foreign language spoken).
SAGAL: So a lack of...
SAGAL: ...Guano-based paint is delaying the completion of restoration of a famous painting in Rome. Your next story of a lame excuse comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: People go to Disney World hoping to make memories. Visitors got indelible ones last Tuesday when Eeyore went on an uncharacteristic rampage. At approximately 1 p.m. at the character meeting place at Cinderella's castle, reports say Eeyore's was brusque with fans and seemed confused. "He wrote a bad word in my autograph book," says Luke Maciero. He wrote, welcome to the f-ing happiest place on Earth...
POUNDSTONE: ...Says Luke's mother Tammy. At 1:35 p.m., Eeyore reportedly knocked down several young patrons in line for the "Finding Nemo" ride before staggering into the ranks of the passing Duluth High marching band trying fitfully to wedge his snout into the tuba player's horn belt. In an official statement, Disney has claimed that Eeyore suffers from depression.
POUNDSTONE: He has been put on mandatory unpaid leave and required to seek counseling and a more permanent tail repair.
SAGAL: Eeyore misbehaving at Disney World. Their excuse - he's depressed. Your last story of someone telling the truth - they swear - comes from Roy Blount, Jr.
ROY BLOUNT, JR.: Citizens of Brussels, Belgium, want to know why is Brussels' motor vehicle traffic so chaotic, so prone to gridlock? Officials of Brussels answer mice. What, too many mice on the roads? No, it's because some many of our underground tunnels are crumbling. And that's caused by - mice. Mice? Mice ate the tunnels? No, mice ate the plans - the master plans that could have been used to repair the crumbling tunnels.
BLOUNT: You know, you store master plans away inside a pier, under a viaduct for 20 years and then you go find them and mice already have. Well, this explanation has inspired a rich strain of mirth in Belgium and especially in neighboring France, where even Belgian people are regarded as comical. And blame it on the mice jokes abound. Unfortunately, to American ears, all these jokes sound like mice speaking untranslatable Walloon-inflected French, sort of like (foreign language spoken, laughter).
SAGAL: So here are the three stories.
SAGAL: I will present them to you, Jay, in the form of the excuse. Was it from Faith - oh, I'm sorry we can't finish the restoration of this famous painting because we don't have the paint because the birds won't poop, from Paula Poundstone - oh, I'm sorry, Eeyore was behaving badly here at Disney World; he was just really depressed or from Roy Blount Jr. - oh, we can't fix the infrastructure here in Brussels. The mice ate all the plans? Which of these was the real excuse offered this week?
STEWART: I really want A to be the truth.
SAGAL: You want the story of the poop paint in Rome?
SALIE: God bless you, Jay.
SAGAL: The pontiff's poop paint, in fact.
STEWART: I change a lot of diapers.
SAGAL: I understand.
SAGAL: All right, well, that's your choice. Let's hear from somebody who knows a little bit about this real excuse.
NIRAJ CHOKSHI: When they went back 20 years later, they couldn't find the plans. His best guess as to what happened was that they were eaten by mice.
SAGAL: That was Niraj Chokshi. That's the journalist who wrote about the Belgian mice for The Washington Post. So I'm sorry, you didn't win. But you earned a point for Faith, which might have been your intent, I think, judging the way you approached this. So thank you for doing that. Thanks so much for playing, Jay, good-bye.
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