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're playing this week with Faith Salie, Tara Clancy and Adam Burke. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: Thanks, everybody. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff The Listener game. Call 1-888-WAITWAIT to play our game on the air. Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
AMBER MAKER: Hello. How are you?
SAGAL: I'm fine.
SAGAL: Who's this?
MAKER: My name is Amber Maker. I'm calling from Tucson.
SAGAL: You seem to be calling in front of a amusement park carousel.
MAKER: Oh, well, I am - there is some music happening in the background. Is it a little better now?
SAGAL: Fun. All right. I am told that we can proceed with this charming underscoring. Well, Amber, it is very nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Amber's topic?
KURTIS: The mystery of Ipswich.
SAGAL: This week, we read a real-life mystery, and it began like this.
SAGAL: Each night, a woman in Ipswich heard the sound of the nursery rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring," but she had no idea where it was coming from. So our panelists are each going to tell you the rest of the story, but only one of them is telling you the real solution to this mystery. Pick that, you'll win our prize - the voice of the WAIT WAIT-er (ph) of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?
MAKER: I am so ready, I hope.
SAGAL: OK. Let's hear first from Faith Salie.
FAITH SALIE: Each night, a woman in Ipswich heard the sound of the nursery rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring," but she had no idea where it was coming from. Bunny Glass (ph) says she rented her cottage in the ancient town because she wanted a respite from the hubbub of London. She expected peace and quiet, and not the creepy sounds of children singing about an old man's concussion at 1 a.m. every night for a week.
What Barbara didn't know was that she'd chosen a cottage just down the lane from the Suffolk Center for Atmosphere and Meteorology, also known by its acronym, SCAM, and that her holiday coincided with SCAM's annual hazing week for budding meteorologists. Upperclassmen begin what they call Climate Change Week by bursting into freshman dorms, thrusting the dolls that sing, (singing) it's raining, it's pouring. Then they pelt the dolls at the sleepy, yet terrified, freshmen in a ritual they call El Nino.
SALIE: At the end of Climate Change Week, the SCAM marching band plays "It's Raining Men" for five hours straight...
SALIE: ...And all the graduating male meteorologists dress themselves in Speedos and galoshes and tackle the freshmen.
SALIE: Once the Ipswich Borough Council explained the situation to Ms. Glass, she was able to enjoy her stay, admitting (imitating British accent), even though they're very pale, the sight of young men in Speedos and wellies makes for a memorable holiday.
SAGAL: So it turns out it was all part of a hazing ritual at a nearby school for meteorologists. Your next story of just what was making it rain and making it pour comes from Adam Burke.
ADAM BURKE: Each night, a woman in Ipswich heard the sound of the nursery rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring," but she had no idea where it was coming from. Having recently moved into a new flat in town, Marjorie Phelps (ph) spent days searching in vain for the source of the melody. Finally, a trip to the local pub yielded some answers.
That would be Casper Atkins (ph), replied the landlord. He rents a little cottage across from you and is probably rehearsing for a tour. Atkins, it turns out, was the frontman for The Snuggle Tones (ph), a popular musical group for children. Think The Wiggles, but without the sex appeal, explained Phelps.
BURKE: Unfortunately for her, it seems the success of The Snuggle Tones was due to Atkins' penchant for perfection. He's an absolute obsessive about nursery rhymes, explained former bandmate Wesley Bluth (ph). He's like Phil Spector, but for "I'm A Little Teapot."
BURKE: After several weeks of aural torment, Phelps finally got Atkins to answer the door. He yelled something about it being an allegory for climate change and slammed the door in my face, she said. Phelps has since filed a noise complaint with the local council, but, on the upside, reports, at least he's moved on to "The Muffin Man."
SAGAL: It was actually Casper Atkins...
SAGAL: ...Lead singer of The Snuggle Tones who was singing that song over and over. Your last story of why the old man was snoring comes from Tara Clancy.
TARA CLANCY: Each night, a woman in Ipswich heard the sound of the nursery rhyme "It's Raining, It's Pouring," but she had no idea where it was coming from. All she knew was that it wasn't coming from inside her house. So naturally, she assumed someone was trying to kill her.
CLANCY: It occurred at random times of night, sometimes just once, and in other instances, several times in a row. And though she briefly considered that the source could be a mother singing to a sleepless infant, she knew it was far more likely to be Freddy Krueger.
CLANCY: Baffled local authorities followed the sound of the classic children's ditty to a nearby warehouse that was using it as a burglar alarm. When asked why they chose the nursery rhyme to ward off would-be robbers, management responded that it was, quote, "more effective."
CLANCY: Of course, that didn't answer the question of how the system was being set off. But review of the CCTV footage soon revealed that it was, in fact, an itsy-bitsy spider...
CLANCY: ...Though authorities couldn't confirm whether this was before or after it went up the water spout.
CLANCY: Either way, every time the eight-legged rogue crawled across the camera lens, its motion would trigger the tune, which was loud enough to be heard throughout the surrounding residential area. In an ingenious stroke of creative problem-solving, management addressed this problem by lowering the alarm volume.
CLANCY: The woman said that on Tuesday, she stood by her window as they tested the system at a new, lower volume, and she was pleased to confirm that, at long last, she, quote, "couldn't hear it."
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: So this much is true. A woman in Ipswich, England, was hearing this song - it's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring. But the explanation is either, from Faith Salie - it was a hazing ritual at a school for climatologists nearby; from Adam Burke, it was just the rehearsals of a popular children's performer; or, from Tara Clancy, it was spiders setting off the world's most creepy alarm system. Which of these was the real solution...
MAKER: Oh, God.
SAGAL: ...To this strange mystery?
MAKER: I enjoyed the first one. I don't know. It sounds crazy, but I'm going to go with No. 1.
SAGAL: So you're going to go, then, with...
MAKER: I'm going to go with that.
SAGAL: You're going to choose Faith's story, which was that it was all happening at the meteorological school...
SAGAL: ...Up the street. Well, this is the thing. We managed to reach this woman, and asked her what the cause of her trouble was.
ALICE RANDLE: They saw that there were spiders all over the lenses...
MAKER: Oh, God.
RANDLE: ...And that was what was making...
RANDLE: ...The nursery rhyme play so often throughout the night.
SAGAL: That was Alice Randle. She was the woman who complained to the Ipswich Borough Council in England about the nursery rhymes, telling us that, in fact, in the end, the spiders did it. Well, I'm afraid you were fooled by Faith's story, earning her a point. So thank you so much for playing. We really appreciate it.
SALIE: Thanks, Amber.
MAKER: Oh, thank you so much.
SAGAL: Thank you. Bye-bye.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE WHO SONG, "BORIS THE SPIDER")
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