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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Now, maybe you are the kind of person that knows all the names of all the presidents and you also know how to recite them in chronological order. In which case, good for you. Well done. I like that. But on ASK ME ANOTHER we take it a step further.

ART CHUNG: That's right. Sometimes we'll ask you what their middle names are and then we'll ask you to mash them up with the name of another celebrity.

EISENBERG: Which is very difficult.

CHUNG: It's hard to keep two ideas in your head at the same time, which is why these mashup games are so hard. But, for example, we could say combine Chester Alan Arthur with the star of "M*A*S*H*" Alan Alda and you'll get Chester Alan Alda Arthur.

EISENBERG: That's challenging. That is the definition of challenging, I would say.

CHUNG: It was so hard we cut that from the show.

EISENBERG: But we added plenty challenging in the show with our contestants who did pretty well with this game.

CHUNG: Pretty good, yeah.

EISENBERG: And this game is called Presidential Middle Names and it is led than none other than one-man house band Mr. Jonathan Coulton.

Let's welcome our next two contestants: Scott Sanders and Tim Kilroy.

(APPLAUSE)

SCOTT SANDERS: Hello.

TIM KILROY: Hey.

EISENBERG: So we have two dads here that are both really into American history. All right, Tim, who is the weirdest president, in your mind?

KILROY: Jimmy Carter.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: The way you said it was weird too.

KILROY: Yeah.

EISENBERG: So that's good. And why?

KILROY: He was attacked by a rabbit.

EISENBERG: He was attacked by a rabbit?

KILROY: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that is weird. I'm going to say you're right on that one. Scott, do you have an answer for that?

SANDERS: I'm gong to go with Martin Van Buren.

EISENBERG: Wow, I like the way you think.

SANDERS: Yeah.

EISENBERG: And what's your reasoning?

SANDERS: Oh, his name's just weird, that's enough.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Coulton, what game are we going to play with these guys?

JONATHAN COULTON: Well, this game is called Presidential Middle Names. And we are going to spice up the names of U.S. presidents by expanding their middle names to include other famous people or characters. So what we're looking for is the full expanded presidential name. For example, if is said, this president convinced his best friend Bart Simpson to break into then Watergate Hotel, you would say "Richard Milhouse Van Houten Nixon."

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: So that's Richard Nixon, whose middle name is Milhous and then in the middle we have Milhouse Van Houten, who is Bart Simpson's best friend. It's a very easy game.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: OK. Here we go. After this man became the first son of a president to become president, he wrote the theme for "Sanford and Son" and produced Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Tim?

KILROY: John Quincy Jones Adams.

COULTON: That is right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: After his predecessor resigned in disgrace in 1974, this vice president turned president led Santa's sleigh through the fog one Christmas Eve.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Tim?

KILROY: I got nothing.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You just wanted to ring in?

KILROY: Yeah.

EISENBERG: OK. That's cool. Do you want to...

COULTON: Scott, do you want to ring in and say that you don't have anything?

SANDERS: I don't.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Let me give you a hint. Can you think of a president who resigned in disgrace?

KILROY: Nixon.

COULTON: OK. Can you think of who came after that president?

SANDERS: Ford.

COULTON: Mm-hmm. So now what we're looking for is the first name of that president.

KILROY: Gerald.

COULTON: OK. Yeah, good, great, we're doing it. We're doing it. And then, do you know who might have led Santa's sleigh through the fog one Christmas Eve?

KILROY: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

SANDERS: Oh, I know that. Yeah.

COULTON: Right. OK. Great, great. That's all components.

KILROY: Okay. Gerald Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Ford.

COULTON: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Wow.

EISENBERG: Right? Because both of them share the middle name Red-Nosed.

KILROY: Yes.

See, I thought it was "the."

COULTON: I have no idea if it's appropriate to give you a point, Tim, but I'm going to.

KILROY: Thank you.

SANDERS: No. No point.

COULTON: A five-star general and former supreme commander of NATO, this president was obsessed with the log lady, people speaking backwards in dreams, and the question, who killed Laura Palmer?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Scott?

SANDERS: Dwight David Lynch Eisenhower.

COULTON: You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: And Scott's on the board. High fives all around.

SANDERS: That was awesome.

COULTON: That was awesome. This president, who campaigned under the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," beheaded two of his six wives before he died, only a month into his term.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Scott?

SANDERS: Benjamin Henry Tyler.

COULTON: No.

SANDERS: OK.

COULTON: Not to be rude about it, but no.

SANDERS: No, that's cool.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Tim, do you want to have a guess here?

KILROY: So, it's - I don't know.

COULTON: Audience, do you know who it is?

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP OF WOMEN AND MEN: William Henry VIII Harrison.

COULTON: William Henry VIII Harrison. Since this president spent over 12 years in office, he had plenty of time to write the screenplays for "When Harry Met Sally" and "Sleepless in Seattle."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Scott?

SANDERS: Franklin Delano Nora Ephron Roosevelt.

COULTON: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: And unbelievably, it is a tie score.

EISENBERG: It is a tie.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: This president split his time in the Lone Star State between clearing brush on his ranch in Crawford and using martial arts to fight crime.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Tim?

KILROY: It is George Herbert Texas Ranger Walker Bush.

COULTON: I feel like Tim got close but he got a couple of things wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Scott?

SANDERS: George Walker Texas Ranger Bush.

COULTON: That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Scott, well done. We will see you again at the end of our show for our Ask Me One More final round.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll see if you know your QWERTYUIOP. Of course you do. We're going to play a mathematical music game and what is a Really Hard Edition without NPR's puzzle master Will Shortz and a diabolical game of his devising. It's all coming up. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and you are listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

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