Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell us three stories of a modernization of classic literature, only one of which is true.

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of a modernization of classic literature, only one of which is true.

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Roy Blount Jr., Kyrie O'Connor and Charlie Pierce. And, here again is your host, at the Leed Center in Lincoln Nebraska, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl. Thanks everybody. 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 the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

JONATHAN TOFEL: Hi, this is Jonathan Tofel from Denver, Colorado.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in beautiful Denver?

TOFEL: It's fantastic right now, got beautiful weather.

SAGAL: There you go. And what do you do there?

TOFEL: I help create new products big companies, things you guy in a grocery store.

SAGAL: Really, can you give me an example of something you came up with?

TOFEL: I've come up with lots of different things, from cake mixes to cleaning products to pet food.

SAGAL: Really?

TOFEL: Yeah.

SAGAL: Have you ever combined them, like a pet food that you can clean with and make a cake?

TOFEL: Nothing that complicated yet.


SAGAL: It's nice to have you with us Jonathan. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Jonathan's topic?

KASELL: "War and Peace," More Like "Bore and Peace."

SAGAL: The wisdom of the ages are found in the classic books of Western Civilization. The problem is, though, most of those important books are super boring. This week, we heard about an exciting adaptation of classic literature to a 21st Century form. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories. Guess that true story; you will win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?

TOFEL: I'm ready.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Charlie Pierce.

CHARLIE PIERCE: The people behind "Magic: The Gathering" have spent a few years trying to find new frontiers of nerdery to which they can bring the youth of America, and they've come up with an idea for all dweebs, an adventure card game, starring the heroes of classic literature.

Each character, in what is going to be called The Dark Library, will be possessed of all the qualities developed for them by their original creators, plus a character-specific superpower bestowed by the makers of the game.

For example: Queequeg, Tashtego and Daggoo, the three harpooners from "Moby Dick" will each get you 125 marksmanship points. While Montresor, the dark villain of Edgar Allen Poe's, "The Cask of Amontillado," will carry with him 50 brooding points, capable of being overcome only by a greater number of optimism prime points, such as the combined one thousand OP points possessed by the Bennet sisters from "Pride and Prejudice."


PIERCE: There will also be a special gold edged Mr. Darcy card, of which on five hundred will be made, that trumps every Jane Austen character, except Emma Woodhouse, whose archery skills will lay him low.


PIERCE: "This is a field we've been itching to get into," said Martha Willows Gausman, the company's director of marketing. "The number of possibilities are absolutely limitless. And now that zombies have made Jane Austen cool again, the youth market is wide open."



SAGAL: A deck building card game, featuring characters from classic literature. Your next story of literature updated comes from Kyrie O'Connor.

KYRIE O'CONNOR: The next time you're cleaning up cat barf at 5 a.m., you may be surprised to read this on your paper towel: you are a little soul carrying around a corpse, Epictetus. That's right, quotations, four of them in sequence, from the great stoic philosopher Epictetus, printed on sheets of humble paper towel.

It's the brainchild of Heidi Rich, who studied philosophy at Sarah Lawrence. She started a paper goods company called Great Philosophers Toilet Paper.


O'CONNOR: Where she sells the likes of John Locke Empiricist Moist Toilettes, Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason Baby Wipes, and Maimonides Adaptation of Aristotelian Thought Precise Tissue Packs, each emblazoned with quotations from the greats. "Philosophy isn't just for college, it's for everyday life," Rich says. But her dream product is still just a dream: Kierkegaard Disposal Diapers.


O'CONNOR: "Because," she says, "disposal diapers are the perfect embodiment of the teleological suspension of the ethical."



SAGAL: Great philosophers, printed on paper towels, baby wipes and toilet paper. And your last story of the page in the modern age comes from Roy Blount, Jr.

ROY BLOUNT JR: Henry David Thoreau was not a high tech guy. "We do not ride on the railroad," he wrote, "it rides on us." So we can guess what he would say about Angry Birds.


JR: But what would he say about Walden: The Video Game? A century and a half or so ago, Thoreau wrote of immersing himself in, like, actual nature in the, like, actual woods near Walden, like, actual pond.


JR: Now, from the University of Southern California's Game Innovation Lab comes a virtual version of Thoreau's, like, experiences. "The game starts, as does the book," says USC Professor Tracy Fullerton, "with the building of the cabin. It takes place in both the woods and in a section of Concord, Mass."


JR: Of course, you don't have to actually build anything or hang out with squirrels to read the book either. So, is Thoreau jumping up and down in his grave? Maybe someone will come out with a game called Angry Bards.



SAGAL: All right, one of these is a modern updating of classic literature. Is it, from Charlie Pierce, a deck building game like "Magic: The Gathering" but featuring characters from classic literature? From Kyrie O'Connor: toilet paper and other paper products featuring quotations and wisdom from the great and most obscure philosophers? Or from Roy Blount, Jr., "Walden: The Video Game"?


SAGAL: Yeah.

TOFEL: I want to give it to the toilet paper, but - the toilet paper sounds interesting but I think I got to go with the video game.

SAGAL: So your choice is the video game, the story that Roy gave you. Well, we actually have a little sample of this for you right now.



SAGAL: That was from the trailer for "Walden: The Video Game." Well done. You got it right, Jonathan.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Roy Blount, Jr., just for being honest. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Well done.

TOFEL: Thank you very much.

SAGAL: Thank you.



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