Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell three stories of people making Christmas more environmentally friendly.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell three stories of people making Christmas more environmentally friendly.

CARL KASELL, host:

From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Adam Felber, Peter Grosz and Kyrie O'Connor. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, host:

Thank you, Carl.

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: Thank you everybody. Thank you so much. It's time, of course, for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait if you want to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

Mr. BILL MCLAUGHLIN: Hi.

SAGAL: Hi, who's this?

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: This is Bill McLaughlin from Crescent City, California.

SAGAL: Where's Crescent City?

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: It's northern California, by the Oregon border.

SAGAL: What do you do up there?

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm actually a longshoreman.

SAGAL: You're a longshoreman.

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

SAGAL: Wow. I'm going to confess, I didn't think there were many of you left.

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: No, actually there's not. We have to travel a long ways to get work.

SAGAL: Right. So you're out there and you're unloading and loading ships.

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: I actually have to drive all the way to San Francisco for work.

SAGAL: Do you really?

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

SAGAL: That is a long drive.

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: Yep, it sure is.

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

KASELL: I'm dreaming of a green Christmas.

SAGAL: The problem with Christmas is that it is an energy hog. All those lights and car trips to the mall, and as it turns out, Santa's sleigh only gets four miles to the reindeer. So, we were excited this week to read about an attempt to make this Christmas more environmentally sensitive. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about energy saving Christmas ideas. Choose the true story and you'll win our prize. Ready to play?

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah.

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

Ms. KYRIE O'CONNOR (Deputy Editor/Blogger, Houston Chronicle): Phil Johnson is a noted artist and, truth to tell, a bit of a hoarder. His barn in Thomaston, Connecticut is festooned with old Chevy fenders, rags and plastic Red Sox cups. But when he proposed to the town selectman that he create an all recycled nativity scene for the town green, they immediately agreed.

Johnson worked all November, under cover of tarps, on his creation. Neighbors saw him hauling metal. They heard him soldering. They even saw him pull an old meat smoker, presumably for the manger. Finally, on Thanksgiving, he finished, just in time for the Friday morning unveiling.

The kindergartners from St. Rose of Lima School were marched out for the ceremony, their little faces shining in anticipation. And then their little faces filled with horror when the tarps fell. There, amid the shining hubcap halos and bobbing steam punk wise men, was a family of opossums, chomping on the shepherd's robes, gnawing off the angels' feet and worst of all, the mother possum ran off with the baby Jesus in her nasty, nasty mouth.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. O'CONNOR: "They were screaming and crying; it was horrible," said Carol Fitzgerald, their teacher. Johnson is repairing the scene, but admits the smoke was the problem. "I guess there was still some brisket in there," he said.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Hungry opossums ruin a recycled cr�che. Your next story of a Christmas that will make Al Gore's heart grow three sizes comes from Peter Grosz.

Mr. PETER GROSZ (Comedy Writer/Performer): What's the last thing you remember to do every year when the holidays come around? Well, other than faking appendicitis to get out of going to your in-laws? Of course, it's buy wrapping paper. Well, for Constance Schram of Middlebury, Vermont, she does not have that problem. Granny Schram, as she's known to family, has been using the same wrapping paper for her presents since Christmas of 1980.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GROSZ: Every year, she generously showers her three children and eight grandchildren with dozens of gifts, makes them neatly unwrap the same disintegrating paper that she used the previous year and immediately stores it away for the following Christmas. Except, of course, for that one year when 6-year-old Jimmy accidentally threw out a piece of the sacred paper and Granny Schram made the whole family spend the next day rifling through the town dump.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GROSZ: As you can imagine, her family is less than thrilled. Says her son Jason, "We get what Granny Schram is doing, but honestly, it's kind of gross. It's hard to get excited about opening up a present that looks like it's been wrapped by a homeless person."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. GROSZ: Despite these criticisms, Granny Schram is undeterred. Asked why she doesn't just give unwrapped presents, rather than ones covered in decades-old paper, she frowns and says, "Well, what would be the fun in that?"

SAGAL: Award-winning recycled wrapping paper. Your last story of a Christmas eco-miracle comes from Adam Felber.

Mr. ADAM FELBER (Writer, "Real Time with Bill Maher"): Hey, kid, come over here. A little closer. Listen to me. One word: eels. Get into eels. They're the future: eels.

Yes, while lots of folks might be hesitant about the switch to alternative energy, the good people of the Helsinki Sea Life Center are forging ahead, by harnessing the power of electric eels to power their Christmas lights. Going green, well green and slimy, has never been easier.

Four specialized steel probes in Finland's finest electric eel tank capture enough of the 650 volts per eel to power a Christmas tree and some extra lights. Eel spokesman, Markus Dernjatin says that it works great. "At feeding time, though, it really powers up. You can hear the voltage increasing and the lines shine bright and steady." Presumably, things calm down when they're finished.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: All right.

(Soundbite of applause)

SAGAL: These then are your choices. From Kyrie O'Connor, a cr�che made entirely of recycled products that were ruined by wild opossums. From Peter Grosz, a woman who won an award for her obsessive reuse of wrapping paper. Or from Adam Felber, electric eels powering Christmas lights at an aquarium. Which of these are the real story?

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: Well I like number three, it sounds cool. But I think it's number two because I think they're talking about my grandma.

SAGAL: Really?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Your grandmother also is an obsessive recycler of wrapping paper?

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: Yes. Please don't rip it.

SAGAL: All right, well your choice then is Peter's. Well, we spoke to someone familiar with the true story.

Ms. ERICA HORNBROOK (Shedd Aquarium): It's not like the eel is hooked up like Frankenstein, wired up for the display. The probe is put in the water, and so when the eel is charging, it's getting the electricity off of that.

SAGAL: That was Erica Hornbrook. She works with the eel exhibit at the Shedd Aquarium here in Chicago, explaining how you could, in fact, power your Christmas lights with an electric eel. So I'm sorry, you did not win. But you did earn a point for Peter for his terribly true-sounding story.

(Soundbite of laughter)

SAGAL: Well thank you so much for playing.

Mr. MCLAUGHLIN: All right, thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

(Soundbite of applause)

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