ALISON STEWART, host:
Robert played an integral role in helping us reach another goal, by the way. I want to give you a little bit of backstory. Every day we'd do a segment called The Most, where we'd look at the most-emailed, most-popular, most-read stories on the web, and as a part of that segment, we keep close tabs on the npr.org most-emailed list. Well, one day, we decided we wanted one of our stories to make The Most NPR list, even go to number one. So, BPP producer, Dan Pashman, took up the challenge, and after careful study, devised a foolproof plan. Here's how it happened.
(Soundbite of reverse playback)
(Soundbite of NPR's The Bryant Park Project, February 13, 2008)
DAN PASHMAN: Well, Ali, I looked at the common topics and themes in the NPR most-emailed list to find out what types of stories and what subjects tend to make it to number one. Here's what I found. Food stories and recipes are huge. Folks love those, neti pots, which are homeopathic devices used for nasal irrigation - you pour saline solution into your nose - that was one of the most-emailed stories of 2007, the neti pots - student life, "Star Wars" - a lot of "Star Wars" fans at npr.org world - Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul. We all know...
STEWART: Always the favorite, yeah.
PASHMAN: Anything on Ron Paul gets a lot of attention. Interesting scientific discoveries and studies...
PASHMAN: Get a lot of emailing. Quinoa, which is a grain, a story about quinoa was also one of the most-emailed of all of 2007.
STEWART: Very popular. It was on there forever!
(Soundbite of laughter)
PASHMAN: Then, one of the always-popular big ones in the list, NPR's esteemed science correspondent, Robert Krulwich.
STEWART: Yes, yes
PASHMAN: Then there are the classical arts, theater-slash-opera-slash-classical music. And then, of course, the whole This I Believe series, which are first-person accounts, often of personal tragedy-slash-loss and the overcoming of said loss.
STEWART: Very popular.
PASHMAN: So, with all these elements in mind, I put together a piece. It's my attempt to get to number on the npr.org most-emailed story list. Here you go.
(Soundbite of song, "This I Believe" theme)
PASHMAN: I was making quinoa cakes shaped like Yoda the day my dog, Pavarotti Skywalker, died. He was chasing the tennis ball, playing in the yard, when he was crushed to death by NPR's esteemed science correspondent, Robert Krulwich.
(Soundbite of birds chirping)
ROBERT KRULWICH: Come on, boy. Come on, boy.
(Soundbite of thud)
(Soundbite of dog yelping)
PASHMAN: I haven't made Yoda-shaped quinoa cakes since. But I believe in moving on, and I know the only way to move beyond my beloved Pavarotti Skywalker's death is to enjoy the food we enjoyed together so many times.
(Soundbite of door opening)
(Soundbite of song "Water Music")
(Soundbite of door closing)
PASHMAN: So I'm in my apartment in Brooklyn...
(Soundbite of water boiling)
PASHMAN: Where I bring one and a half cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, wash and drain a cup of quinoa, and simmer the quinoa in the covered saucepan. While the quinoa cooks, I like to prepare my palate for the feast by using a neti pot to irrigate my nasal passages.
(Soundbite of water dripping)
PASHMAN: Mm, saline solution. As we all know, a good nasal irrigation usually takes about 20 minutes, which is also how long it takes the quinoa to absorb all the water.
(Soundbite of stirring)
PASHMAN: Stir one lightly beaten egg into the quinoa, separate the mixture into clumps, and arrange them on a baking sheet, each in the shape of Yoda. You all remember what Yoda looks like, right? After the cakes to chill in the fridge, put them in a hot, oiled skillet.
(Soundbite of oil sizzling)
PASHMAN: That sizzle was always Pavarotti Skywalker's favorite part. While the quinoa cakes fry, read up on a fascinating study from the scientific journal, Child Development. This one says that if you teach your kids their intelligence is capable of increasing, they do better in school. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Eight to 10 minutes later, you've read the piece and the quinoa cakes are golden brown, which means they're done. Seeing them in my kitchen brings back a flood of memories. Pavarotti Skywalker and I sure had some good times together. I want the healing to begin, and I know it must. But something is holding me back.
(Soundbite of footsteps)
PASHMAN: Hey, NPR's esteemed science correspondent, Robert Krulwich.
KRULWICH: Hi, Dan. How're you?
PASHMAN: I'm all right. I know we haven't spoken in awhile.
KRULWICH: Yes. It's been a bit of a time, yeah.
PASHMAN: Would you want a quinoa cake shaped like Yoda?
KRULWICH: A quinoa cake, this thing here? It's shaped like - let me...
(Soundbite of crunch)
(Soundbite of chewing)
KRULWICH: Mm, actually, these are...
(Soundbite of swallowing)
KRULWICH: These are pretty good.
PASHMAN: They sure are, Robert Krulwich. They sure are.
KRULWICH: Oh, and Dan, I meant to tell you before, I'm really sorry that I killed your dog.
PASHMAN: That's OK, Robert Krulwich. That's OK.
(Soundbite of song, "This I Believe" theme)
PASHMAN: Breaking bread with someone has never made me feel so whole. And now I'm pleased to report that I've welcomed a new puppy into my life. I named him Ron Paul. Here, boy.
(Soundbite of barking)
PASHMAN: Dan Pashman, NPR News, New York.
STEWART: Now, that piece shot to number two with a bullet on the npr.org most-emailed list. But just when it looked like it couldn't be stopped, another story on npr.org got picked up by Yahoo! News and it was posted on Yahoo.com, and that was that. Some dumb story about how being sad is good for you. Whatever.
Anyway, well, we never got the piece to number one. But we're going to give it one more shot. We're posting it on the site all over again, and we're starting from scratch. Email that story, people. If we can get it to be one of the most-emailed stories of 2008, it can be our show's lasting legacy. And remember, if you enter a bunch of email addresses, separated by commas, the site only counts that as one email. You have to put each address on its own, hit send, and then enter the next one. I mean, what else do you have to do this weekend? Now, get to it!
(Soundbite of music)
STEWART: Next up on the show, Ben Harper from the BPP Archives. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News.