Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell three stories about someone's last name causing unique problems, only one of which it true.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Our panelists tell three stories about someone's last name causing unique problems, only one of which it true.

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Amy Dickinson, Alonzo Bodden and Adam Felber. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Thank you, everybody. Great to see you again.


SAGAL: We're back with 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.

REBECCA WARD: Hi, Peter. This is Rebecca Ward from Oakland, Calif.


SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Oaktown? We have some Oakland fans here, yes.

WARD: I see I've got some friends there. Things are great. It's beautiful here.

SAGAL: Oh, I know it is. Now, what do you do there in Oakland, home of artisanal and independent everything?

WARD: (Laughter). Yeah, actually I work in the South Bay.


WARD: Yeah, more people there. I'm a chef for a tech-related fruit company.

SAGAL: A tech-related fruit company?


SAGAL: I see.

AMY DICKINSON: Is it called Apple? No.


WARD: Well, I did sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I'm not...

SAGAL: Right.

WARD: Yeah.

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

KURTIS: Hey there, what's your name?

SAGAL: Last names are great. They bond you to your family. They let you know if the person you're talking to is from one of the good countries. Well, this week, we read a story of someone's last name causing some unique problems. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Guess the one who's telling the truth, you'll win our prize, Carl Kasell’s voice on your voicemail. Ready to play?

WARD: Oh, I'm so ready, yes.

SAGAL: Let's hear first from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: The LA Daily reports they found a Kardashian that isn't a Kardashian. Alyssa Kardashian has three problems - she lives in Hollywood, her name is Kardashian, and she's not a member of the famous family. At first, it was kind of funny, Alyssa said. I mean, it's easy to get a reservation anywhere when a Kardashian calls. Unfortunately, a few years ago, the whole thing changed. Kardashian negativity started growing, and I was trapped in it. I had to shut down any and all social media. I had a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, but after receiving tons of unsolicited opinions and pictures, particularly from men who wanted to share their body parts, I had to shut all that down. It got so bad at point I thought of legally changing my name to Not That, so I could be Not That Kardashian.


BODDEN: My friends said to embrace it. You're legally a Kardashian. Start taking selfies and asking for freebies. It's your name cash-in. It sounded like a great idea, and it might have worked, except once I started, I got a cease-and-desist order from the lawyers of the actual Kardashians telling me I'm not legally a Kardashian and not entitled to any profit from it. Now, I just wish they would tell their 10 million fans and haters I am not a Kardashian.


SAGAL: A woman named Kardashian tried to be a Kardashian, but the Kardashians won't let her be a Kardashian. Your next story of a name ruining everything comes from Adam Felber.

ADAM FELBER: If you're into computers, you know that when you forget to fill out a required space in an online form, the computer invisibly fills in the word null and refuses to go forward until you put something in. And this works out great for everyone except for Virginia residents of Mrs. Jennifer Null.


FELBER: See, null is something that's nothing to everyone, but it's not nothing to Null, whose online participation has been rendered null and void, or rather Null and therefore voided. It's complicated. Just as Mr. Null warned her when they got married, Jennifer Null finds herself in a world where she can't buy airline tickets, do her taxes or even make herself available for substitute teaching work without picking up a phone and wading through the system to speak to an actual human, who then gets to share in the horrific frustration. You'd think such a name would be a thing for Null to avoid, but apparently Mr. and Mrs. Null and all the little Nulls wouldn't have it any other way. And to be fair, it's probably better than her maiden name, Ms. Jennifer Punchmehard.


SAGAL: Your last story of someone's name making things difficult comes from Amy Dickinson.

DICKINSON: Uberto Car was born in Italy, but moved to San Francisco in the 1980s. He works in a bakery. In 2008, Car signed up for a Twitter account using his nickname, Uber, and his last name, Car. His Twitter handle is @ubercar. Uberto's problem began when Uber, the car-hiring service, started up in San Francisco. A zealous, young employee at the young company mistakenly took Uberto's Twitter to be an official company and linked it to Uber. Starting about three years ago, Uberto Car started receiving mysterious text messages from people demanding rides from him. Car told the San Francisco Chronicle, at first, I was like, what? I kept saying to people, I'm Uber Car, Uber Car. And they said, yeah, I know.


DICKINSON: I'm like, that's my name - Uber Car. I can make you a pancetta, but I don't want to drive you down to Fisherman's Wharf today.

SAGAL: All right, one of these was the name...


SAGAL: ...That we saw the news is causing trouble to someone. Was it, from Alonzo Bodden, poor Alyssa Kardashian, who has to deal with the burden of that name, from Adam Felber, a woman named Jennifer Null who can't fill out online forms, or from Amy Dickenson, the saga of poor Uber Car, a man who isn't an Uber or a car, but is always mistaken for one.

WARD: Well, I do read Amy's column, and I take her advice, but I'm choosing Adam's story about Jennifer Null.

SAGAL: All right, you're going to choose Adam's story about poor Jennifer Null? Well, we actually spoke to someone with this name problem.

CHRIS NULL: My last name, Null, means nothing. So when you put the word null into a field, systems will often see that as the field is blank.

SAGAL: That was Chris Null. He's a tech journalist and the owner of Null Media. And he is very familiar with the issues between his name and the Internet. Thank you so much because you got it right.


SAGAL: You did, in fact, pick Adam's story. He's the right one.

FELBER: Thank you.

SAGAL: You earned a point for him. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail. Well done. Congratulations.

WARD: Oh, that's so great. Thank you so much.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

WARD: Bye-bye.

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