Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell three stories about someone making trash into a must-have item.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News Quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis filling in for Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Adam Felber, Mo Rocca, and Faith Salie. And here again is your host, at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.



SAGAL: 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're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

DAN KERNS: Hi, this is Dan Kerns from Burbank, California.

SAGAL: Beautiful downtown Burbank. How are things there?

KERNS: Sunny and smoggy right now.

SAGAL: It usually is. And what do you do there?

KERNS: I am a gaffer for film and television.

SAGAL: That is great.


SAGAL: You're a gaffer. I've always wanted to talk to a gaffer because what the hell is a gaffer?



KERNS: A gaffer is the chief lighting technician.

SAGAL: The chief lighting technician, so your...

KERNS: Correct, yeah.

SAGAL: ...job is to, like, hang the lights and connect the lights and execute the lighting plot that the designer gives you.

KERNS: No, my job is to tell other guys to do that.



SAGAL: All right. Here you go, Dan. Welcome to our show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Dan's topic?

KURTIS: One man's trash is another man's weird treasure.

SAGAL: To you, it's just a plastic six-pack ring. But with a little folding and an Etsy account, it's a $30 artisanal bracelet.


SAGAL: This week, we read about something normally considered trash being highly sought after. Our panelists are going to tell you about it, but of course, only one of them is telling the truth. Guess the real one, and you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. You ready to go?

KERNS: I am.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Adam Felber.

ADAM FELBER: Remember the '80s when we crazy kids used to strategically rip our jeans because it made us look cool? It gave us cred much like the carefully tied bandanas on our heads and the street-ready leg warmers. Well, kids today are doing the same thing only they're doing it by smashing their smartphone screens.

According to the Washington Post, nowadays, when it comes to phones, crack is far from whack.


FELBER: Says youth spokesperson Brittany Lofton it's, like, this total trend because it's not like we're rushing out to get them fixed. A cracked screen is, like, a really cool scar.


FELBER: This conversation-starter has gotten so popular that you can now buy simulated shattered screens as plastic overlays or downloaded home screens. Either way, it's the fashion that definitely says I'm street much like the new trend waiting in the wings, designer masking tape for the bridge of your intentionally smashed eyeglasses.


SAGAL: Smashed smartphone screens.


SAGAL: A sign of status amongst the youth of today. Your next story of creative recycling comes from Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: When 13-year-old Raina Lowenstein celebrated her Bat Mitzvah last month in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, she became a woman in the eyes of her Jewish faith. But as the great Whitney Houston song goes, she really became every woman because she found a way to turn her coming-of-age bash into a charity for mothers - breastfeeding mothers - who can wear used yamakas as breast pads.


SALIE: I was going to, like, a ton of bars and bats this year, Raina says, and I just got disgusted by all the boys tossing their yamakas into the trash after temple. Then two things happened. Raina was at her cousin's Bar Mitzvah when Brad Mizlow spilled a Coke Zero on her. She discovered that Brad's yamaka was remarkably absorbent.


SALIE: Then Raina, whose mom is currently nursing Raina's 19-month-old baby brother, Isaac, noticed that the breast pads her mother uses to stop lactation leaks were just about the size of a kippah.


SALIE: So she decided to donate the yamakas of her, quote, "friends who are boys but not boyfriends," to...


SALIE: ...the maternity ward of Lancaster General. She placed a collection bin between the henna tattoo booth and the mobile grilled cheese truck that her parents hired for the party.


SALIE: Honestly, Raina says, it does kind of weird me out that my brother has teeth and can tell mom he's thirsty, but I still want to be super supportive of breast feeding.



SAGAL: All right. Excess yamakas being used as breast pads for needy pregnant women. Your next story of recycle and reuse comes from Mo Rocca.

MO ROCCA: It's no secret that a Pringles can is reusable as a container for tennis balls, as a homemade kaleidoscope, as something for the late night enjoyment of college sophomores.


ROCCA: But for the Kokomo Indians of Indiana, Pringles cans are a way of honoring the salamanders they revere. They use them as caskets. Quote, "The Kokomos buried their salamanders in clay cylinders," says anthropology professor Ann Bagnoli. "Larger ones would be laid to rest lengthwise. The smaller newts would be stacked one on top of another."


ROCCA: So a Pringles can makes a perfect salamander casket. Additionally, the airtight Pringles can preserves the salamander's moisture indefinitely without the heavy expense of embalming, and the plastic lid allows loved ones to view inside the burial chamber.


ROCCA: One thing that's odd about all of this, the Kokomos use the cans of any of the 96 Pringle flavors except sweet mesquite. Says Professor Bagnoli, makes perfect sense, salamanders hate sweet mesquite.



SAGAL: All right. Here then are your choices. Is it from Adam Felber, how cracked phone screens instead of meaning you throw your phone away, for the youth of today means you show them to your friends because it means you're cool; from Faith Salie, how used yamakas from a Bat Mitzvah end up being breast pads for breastfeeding mothers; or from Mo Rocca, how used empty Pringle cans become ceremonial coffins for salamanders as buried by the Kokomo Indians.

ROCCA: No, the Kokomo.

SAGAL: The Kokomo, excuse me.


SAGAL: To any Kokomo Indians who were listening, I apologize for mispronouncing your name, so which of these is, do you think, the true story of something that could be garbage not being garbage?

KERNS: Well, I've actually seen a lot of cracked screens, so I'm going to go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A. It's Adam's story about the cracked iPhone screens...

FELBER: Excellent.


SAGAL: ...smartphone screens. Well, we spoke to somebody who knew a little something about this reuse and recycle program.

MARK BAUERLEIN: This sort of underground idea has circulated in having a cracked cell phone gives you some kind of status.


SAGAL: Well done! That was Mark Bauerlein. He's the author of the book, "The Dumbest Generation," and he's talking about cracked smartphone screens. Well done. Congratulations, Dan. You got it right. You earned a point for Adam for telling the truth.


SAGAL: Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail. Well done, sir.

KERNS: Thank you.


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