Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell us three stories about Lithuania's attempts to broaden its appeal.
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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 us three stories about Lithuania's attempts to broaden its appeal.

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 Charlie Pierce, Mo Rocca and Amy Dickinson. 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. 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 the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

JUSTIN HITE: Hey, this is Justin Hite, and I'm from Gray, Tennessee.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Gray, Tennessee.

HITE: Oh, absolutely wonderful.

SAGAL: Not slightly gray.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HITE: Not slightly gray.

SAGAL: Really? Was that an ironic laugh or a joyful laugh just there?

HITE: More ironic than joyful.

SAGAL: More ironic, I see. What do you do there in beautiful Gray?

HITE: Right. I do window cleaning and interior painting.

SAGAL: Oh really?

HITE: Yes.

SAGAL: So you're like the guy who's out there hanging on the high buildings cleaning windows?

HITE: Oh, absolutely.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We've always seen in the movies or it happens in real life that you're standing there in an office doing whatever and then somebody just appears outside the window, cleaning it. Have you ever seen anything in an office or anything else that was surprising or shocking or fun?

HITE: Oh absolutely. Like, we do hospitals here and I one time came down a little too hard and hit the window frame. And the nurse is like, "you just gave three patients a heart attack."

SAGAL: That's fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

AMY DICKINSON: That's hilarious.

MO ROCCA: Have you ever made out with somebody through the glass?

HITE: Absolutely not.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Smooshing your lips up.

ROCCA: Yeah.

HITE: That's gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Justin, it's great to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you must tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Justin's topic?

KASELL: I'm convinced. Book me on a one-way ticket to Vilnius.

SAGAL: The country of Lithuania is known for all sorts of things: being part of the former Soviet Bloc. That's about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Which is a problem the Lithuanians want to solve. This week, we read about a national effort to attract people to its majestic Baltic shores. Our panelists are going to read you three stories about Lithuania's efforts to make a name for itself. Guess the true story, you'll win Carl's voice on your voicemail. Ready to play?

HITE: Absolutely.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Amy Dickinson.

DICKINSON: Lithuania is a former Soviet satellite. Lithuania has the highest murder rate in the European Union. And yet, tourism in Lithuania is down.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DICKINSON: And so, three Lithuanian buddies came up with a novel way to sell their home country: air fresheners. Not only those pine tree-shaped things you see dangling from rearview mirrors, but scented candles and perfume, all infused with the unforgettable smell of Lithuania.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DICKINSON: The organizer behind this effort claims the national perfume will do for Lithuania what leprechauns have done for Ireland, what the cuckoo clock has done for Switzerland, and what crushing debt has done for America.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

DICKINSON: Put their country back on the map. The Lithuanian scent is infused with a mix of bergamot, raspberry and grapefruit, with base notes of amber, tree moss and patchouli. Scents that were rejected include: sausage, cigars and the raw smell of fear.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Your next story of Lithomania comes from Charlie Pierce.

CHARLIE PIERCE: Lithuania's place in European history is roughly the same as its place on the European continent, namely, on the far north side of the stuff you've actually heard of.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PIERCE: No longer. Scholars working with manuscripts from the 13th century at the University of Vilnius have now announced Lithuania's entry into one of Europe's competitions. A Lithuanian, they said, discovered America. The claimant is Friar Victor of Vilnius, a Benedictine monk and sailor. The Friar, it is said, plied the Baltic Sea in a leather boat. He lived on bread and goat cheese. He also weighed approximately 280 pounds.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PIERCE: Nevertheless, the scholars say Friar Victor's journals of 1211 describe a "long voyage to where the sun dies," where Victor describes the lands that sound very much like Labrador or New Brunswick. "He talks of tall pines and rocks that break the seas," says Professor Vedas Marcellinus(ph), who is heading up the project. "He also describes it as the homeland to the wild people of the hills. Marcellinus concludes those to be Native Americans. Skeptics say that Friar Victor might have only discovered Scotland.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Lithuania discovered America is the claim.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Lastly, let's hear a story of someone putting a new face on Lithuania from Mo Rocca.

ROCCA: The Lithuanian people have had it. They're sick and tired of the outlandish lies they believe Americans tell about them. "The American people must understand," says Cultural Minister Jon Mokus(ph), "that we're not just a bunch of basketball playing, folk dancing, potato dumpling eating yahoos." And to combat these scurrilous stereotypes, the government of Lithuania has completed work on Mithuania, a 1,000 acre theme park in Central Missouri, dedicated to righting wrongs about the Baltic country.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Visitors are greeted by giant walk-around puppets, dressed as famous Lithuanians like Charles Bronson and Monica Lewinsky.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Little kids can try to throw a discus, a popular native sport, through a tire and win a plush Jascha Heifetz or Emanuel Conch, both Lithuanian descendants.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Rides include a cold beet soup flume ride.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: The most popular attraction at the park? The live show Latvia Shmatvia(ph), a blistering song and dance takedown of neighboring Baltic Republic and bitter rival Latvia, in which Latvians are portrayed, in the words of Jon Mokus, "as folk dancing, potato dumpling eating yahoos."

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: All right. Here are your choices. From Amy Dickson, the Scent of Lithuania.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: They like that. From Charlie Pierce, a claim that a Lithuanian fat friar discovered America? Or from Mo Rocca, the Lithuanian-themed theme park in central Missouri?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Which of these is the real story of Lithuania trying to re-brand itself?

HITE: Well, you can imagine living in Gray, Tennessee how much I know about Lithuania.

SAGAL: Sure.

HITE: So I'm just going to take a wild guess. We'll go with Charlie's.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Charlie's story...

HITE: Yes.

SAGAL: ...of the fat monk discovering America?

HITE: It sounds good to me, why not?

SAGAL: Sure, all right. Well, we spoke to a person who knew a lot about the true story.

DAINIUS RUTKAWSKAS: When I smelled this perfume, it reminds me of a hot summer day somewhere in the countryside of Lithuania.

SAGAL: That was Dainius Rutkawskas. He's the creator of The Scent of Lithuania.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: The perfume product that's supposed to remind us all of the homeland we wished we had. I'm sorry, but as you no doubt know, Amy had the real answer. You didn't win, but you did earn a point for Charlie for his scholarly work, and we really appreciate you playing.

HITE: Sweet, thanks.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

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