Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories about a new government attempt to control citizens' lives, only one of which is true.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz.


KURTIS: I'm Bill Kurtis, filling in for Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Mo Rocca, Kyrie O'Connor, and Brian Babylon. And here again is your host, at Powell Hall in St. Louis Missouri, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Thank you so much. 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 air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!


SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

PATRICK: Bradley Patrick from Denver, Colorado.

SAGAL: Hey, Bradley. From Denver. How are things in Denver?


SAGAL: Yeah, pretty much everywhere it is these days. What do you do there in Denver?

PATRICK: I pass gas for a living.

SAGAL: You pass gas for a living?

PATRICK: Yes, I'm a nurse anesthetist, so I do anesthesia.

SAGAL: You prepared that line just for us, didn't you?


MO ROCCA: It's funny.

SAGAL: It's frightening to be known, isn't it?


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Bradley. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Bradley's topic?

KURTIS: Take that, Bloomberg.

SAGAL: You think New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's soda bans and forced composting are bad, wait until you hear about a new government attempt to control citizens' lives. Our panelists are going to read you three stories about a government that is really trying or considering trying to out-Bloomberg Bloomberg. Guess the true nanny state program and you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?


SAGAL: First, let's hear from Kyrie O'Connor.

KYRIE O'CONNOR: It all began when little Braydon Castalde(ph) took a hard line drive to the shoulder. But it soon escalated. When 50 mothers showed up at the Harwinton, Connecticut, town council meeting, it got serious. Baseballs were just too dangerous, the mother told town officials. They should be banned before someone really gets hurt.

Cowed by maternal ire, the council voted six-two to ban the throwing or hitting of baseballs within town lines. For the volunteer baseball coaches, this posed a problem. Here's Bob Ducker(ph) coach of the Ace Hardware Hammers: We tried gym balls, but they were sluggish, he said. Water balloons popped on contact.


O'CONNOR: Ping-pong balls couldn't make it over the plate. Oranges were a huge, gooey mistake. Then Ducker had an idea. They'd still have real games, but with an imaginary ball.


O'CONNOR: Here's how it works. The two coaches meet a half hour before the game to choreograph the game. When a kid gets to the plate, he's told whether he'll get a hit that turn. Every team practiced making the (makes noise) sound of a solid hit.


O'CONNOR: It's been kind of a success, said the astonished Ducker. My wife calls it ballet ball, but the games are all kind of close, and everybody's a good player, and no bloody noses is a very, very big deal.

SAGAL: A baseball league with no baseballs because that would be safer.


SAGAL: The next story of a government getting too big for its britches comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: On June 22nd, each resident of Nicasio, California, received a box filled with a custom-made Ewok costume and a set of instructions.


BABYLON: The reason, nearby resident George Lucas was getting married, the man responsible for Star Wars" had finally found his Princess Leia, the Amidala to his Anakin, the Jar Jar Binks to his Chewbacca.


BABYLON: The idea was for residents of Nicasio, California to dress up as Ewoks and create for Lucas and his new bride the celebration scene at the end of the film "Return of the Jedi." Says Nicasio town executive Abigail Wood(ph), quote, "It was the least we could do. To paraphrase Obi-Wan, we wanted them to feel as if a million voices suddenly cried out in happiness."


BABYLON: Though Lucas did not come out and ask for the Ewok celebration, Wood said, he did send her a note saying how nice it would be if the people in the town would be as happy as, quote, "as the residents of Endor were the day the empire fell" and included a note with a number of LucasFilms costume shop and a check for $1 million. Says Ms. Woods, in other words, celebrate them you must or loss $1 million we will.


SAGAL: People in a town in Marin being told by their government to dress up as Ewoks and dance around for the benefit of George Lucas. You last story of a goading government comes from Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: Gentlemen, please be seated while you do your business. That's the message being sent by Sweden's Left Party to men who use public restrooms. The coalition of socialists and feminists want to ban men from urinating standing up. It's a health, not partisan, issue. They're tired of men who lean right and lean left when they relieve themselves.


ROCCA: These are men who spray the seat and turn the bathroom floor into a bayou.


ROCCA: The first step, replace all urinals with sitting-only toilets. Of course removing urinals won't guarantee that men sit, only lowering the ceilings would do that.


SAGAL: Of course even then you could just crouch. And if you're a tall guy using an airplane bathroom, you know what I'm talking about.


ROCCA: Party officials deny that the law is overreaching. They cite doctors who say that peeing lady-style is better for men's health. It's easier to empty the bladder, and you've got two hands free to check your email.



SAGAL: All right, one of these is a true story about a government perhaps overreaching. From Kyrie O'Connor, a Little League league in Connecticut, which has been told they can't use baseballs for their baseball games. From Brian Babylon, a town in Marin County, which has asked, if not insisted, that all the citizens dress up as Ewoks to celebrate George Lucas' wedding. Or from Mo Rocca, Sweden's Left Party, which wants all men to sit down when, as Mo says, doing their business. Which of these is a real story of a government perhaps reaching too far into our lives?

PATRICK: This is a favorite story of mine. It's the Sweden one with trying to ban men standing up while urinating. We just talked about this, and it's making the journals.

SAGAL: Oh really, making the journals?


SAGAL: You mean like the scientific journals?

PATRICK: The medical community journals.

SAGAL: All right. So you believe you know that the real story is Mo's. Well, to confirm or deny your assertions, we spoke to someone familiar with this real story.

JOHN GAMMEL: What the Swedish should do is pass a law saying that men should either (unintelligible).


SAGAL: That was John Gammel, who wrote a real journal article titled "Why Men Should Pee Standing Up," arguing with Sweden's assertion that maybe they shouldn't. Congratulations, Bradley, you've got it right.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Mo Rocca. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Thank you so much for playing.

PATRICK: You're welcome, thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


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