Bluff The Listener
BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Adam Burke, Peter Grosz and Amy Dickinson. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill. Right now, it is 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.
DAWN DUPRIEST: Hi, this is Dawn Dupriest from Fort Collins, Colo.
SAGAL: Hey, Fort Collins is beautiful up there in the front range. What do you do there?
DUPRIEST: I'm a middle school computer science teacher.
SAGAL: Oh my gosh. So what could you possibly have to teach them about computers?
SAGAL: I just imagine these 12-year-olds going, no, that's not right. This is how you do it.
DUPRIEST: Yeah, I'm kind of a nerd, too, so it works out pretty well.
SAGAL: That's great. And have you ever, like - do you pick up any, like, tips on "Minecraft" from your students?
DUPRIEST: I do. I pick - I've learned so much about "Minecraft" from them.
SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Dawn. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Dawn's topic?
KURTIS: What's the deal with "Seinfeld"?
SAGAL: Years after it went on the air, "Seinfeld" still holds a place in our heart. Who could forget Kramer, Newman, Chandler and Phoebe?
SAGAL: This week, a story in the news reminded us very closely of a classic episode of "Seinfeld." Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth and you will win our prize, Carl Kasell's sponge-worthy voice on your voicemail.
SAGAL: First, let's hear from Adam Burke.
ADAM BURKE: In a case of life imitating Art Vandelay, a man was arrested in Michigan on a charge of pursuing a scheme very similar to one first attempted by Kramer and Newman in the "Bottle Deposit" episode of "Seinfeld." Brian Edward Everidge, who may or may not be a hipster doofus...
BURKE: ...Was caught while attempting to drive 10,000 aluminium cans - I can never say it the way you guys say it.
AMY DICKINSON: Aluminum.
BURKE: Aluminum cans (laughter) - while attempting to drive 10,000 aluminum cans from Kentucky to Michigan in order to cash in on above-average return fees.
BURKE: That's right, the old Michigan bottle return scam.
BURKE: Everidge, who attempted the caper without the help of a pudgy, nefarious Wayne Knightesque mailman, was pulled over in a box truck for speeding by Officer Clifford Lyden, who then noticed plastic bags that were full to bursting with used cans. Anyway, yada yada yada (ph), Everidge was arrested on one count of beverage return of non-refundable bottles. Really, that's a thing? Oh, it's a thing, Jerry.
BURKE: Everidge is currently awaiting his trial, although his lawyer, Marcus Wilson - who it pains me to report resembles neither Jackie Chiles or Johnnie Cochran - has high hopes for his client's acquittal. They caught him too early, said Wilson. This statute doesn't fit. And you know what they say - if the statute doesn't fit, you must acquit. Or to put it another way, it's a case about nothing.
SAGAL: Your next story...
SAGAL: So somebody imitating the scheme from the episode "The Bottle Deposit." Your next story of "Seinfeld" come to life comes from Peter Grosz.
PETER GROSZ: State Senator Jodi Shelton of Tipton, Mo. is a staunch social conservative. He rails against the demoralization of culture, the disappearance of religion from public life, and even once introduced a bill to ban the sale of Maxim magazine within a thousand feet of schools, earning him the praise of local parents and the scorn of local teenage boys.
GROSZ: Which is why it was so embarrassing for Senator Shelton this week when leaked emails showed that members of his staff were engaged in a contest reminiscent of the "Seinfeld" episode where George, Jerry, Kramer and Elaine tried to see who'd go the longest without, shall we say, satisfying certain urges. In an effort to prove their ideological purity and fealty to Senator Shelton, these millennial staffers who had never seen that "Seinfeld" episode had taken it upon themselves to, well, not take it upon themselves.
GROSZ: Emailing each other long descriptions of how they had avoided temptation, including a tally of total days spent without self-gratification and even pictures of themselves fully clothed with the hashtag #handsoff...
GROSZ: ...In what the local Tipton newspaper has called the complete opposite of sexting. The absence of sexual behavior might not seem like a big scandal, but the actions of his staff members nonetheless have Senator Shelton plenty embarrassed. I'd rather not have my name associated with the sexual habits of 25-year-olds, he lamented. Plus, I've never had to say the words staff and members so many times in my life.
SAGAL: So some staffers for a senator reenact...
SAGAL: ...Without even knowing it the plot from the episode "The Contest." And lastly, let's hear a "Seinfeld"-themed story from Amy Dickinson.
DICKINSON: Like other newspapers across the country, the Los Angeles Times is shrinking its staff and its workspace. This leaves acres of empty office space on floors that were once bustling, but are now abandoned. Cleaning crews are finding what the journalists left behind, mostly notebooks, Rolodexes and lots of Slim Jim wrappers. And, of course, those fedoras with the press card sticking out of them.
One desk, however, revealed a surprising treasure trove when workers looked underneath and discovered a platform holding a small mattress, a pillow and a blanket. There was also a one-cup coffee maker and a hamster cage with a teeny tiny empty hamster wheel inside. The desk had once belonged to Bud Knightley (ph), an obit writer for the Times.
According to Carolyn Crosby (ph), a former editor at the paper, napping at their desk wasn't all that uncommon at the newspaper. But Knightley had taken it to a new level, basically installing his own condominium underneath his desk. You know, like George Costanza did at Yankee Stadium. No one knew Knightley that well. His editor said he was kind of a jerk, really. Come to think of it, the only decent thing I can say about the guy is that he seemed pretty well-rested.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: So basically, one of three "Seinfeld" episodes came to life in the news this week. Was it from Adam Burke, "The Bottle Deposit," from Peter Grosz, "The Contest," or from Amy Dickinson, "The Nap"?
DUPRIEST: I'm leaning toward A.
SAGAL: You're leaning toward the first one. That would be Adam's story involving the bottle deposit.
SAGAL: All right, is that going to be your final choice?
SAGAL: All right. You have chosen Adam's story, which is about a guy acting out the scheme from the famous two-part episode "The Bottle Deposit." Well, to bring you the truth, we spoke to someone familiar with the real story.
ALFRED NG: He had more than 10,000 bottles stashed in his car. It is very similar to "Seinfeld."
SAGAL: That was Alfred Ng. He is an editor at the New York Daily News. He was talking about the man trying to illegally deposit cans across state lines in Michigan. It is unclear whether this guy actually got the idea from the "Seinfeld" episode, but he certainly lived it out. Congratulations, Dawn, you got it right. You earned a point for Adam. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your voicemail.
DUPRIEST: Thank you very much. I'm excited.
SAGAL: Thank you for playing, Dawn, bye-bye.
(APPLAUSE, SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
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