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 Bim Adewunmi, Adam Burke 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.
SAGAL: Thank you, everybody. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. You can call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT if you want to play our games on the air.
Hi, you are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
KEN BRENNEMAN: Hi, Peter. This is Ken Brenneman from Pasadena, Md.
SAGAL: I don't know Pasadena, Md. I know the other one pretty well, but where's Pasadena?
BRENNEMAN: It's near Annapolis, Md.
SAGAL: Oh, OK. And what do you do there?
BRENNEMAN: I'm the radiation safety officer for a large university...
BRENNEMAN: ...In Baltimore.
SAGAL: OK. So your job is to make sure that people don't get irradiated.
BRENNEMAN: We make sure that they use the radiation safely.
SAGAL: Right. It's because of people like you that we don't really have a Spider-Man, so I'm a little disappointed.
SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Ken. You're going to play our game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Ken's topic?
KURTIS: A real American hero.
SAGAL: There's a hero inside all of us if we're, of course, talking about a hero sandwich. Actual heroes - not easy to find. Which is why we were so excited when we came across a story of an American who actually did an amazing, heroic thing. And we are going to have our panelists tell you three stories of American heroes. Only one of them is real, sadly. Your job - pick that real story. Ready to do it? Here we go.
SAGAL: First, let's hear from Adam Burke.
ADAM BURKE: The long-running skating spectacular Disney On Ice can be a logistical nightmare at the best of times. But a downright disaster seemed inevitable during a special 30th anniversary performance at Madison Square Garden. Tommy Quigley (ph), the show's longtime technical director, explained, it was a special charity show, so we've got 20,000 excited kids in the audience. An hour before go time, we find out that our Ursula and Ariel are in the hospital. There was a big snowstorm that night, and would you believe it? Their cab skidded on a patch of ice, and bam - they're out. Ordinarily, understudies would take up the slack but had been reassigned to a specially designed finale due to follow directly after the "Little Mermaid" dance.
I wanted to just cut the act, explains Quigley. But the whole point of that number is to give the rest of the cast time to change, so we're screwed. Which is when Paolo (ph), the production's dedicated Zamboni driver, stepped into the fray.
BURKE: I guess he'd seen the show thousands of times in rehearsal, so he knew the Ursula choreography pretty well and had done a little skating in his youth. Even better - Paolo's son, an amateur hockey player, gamely offered to don the iconic seashell bra.
BURKE: It wasn't the most graceful version of that number I've seen, said Quigley. And Ariel had more hockey stops, fist bumps and ice spray than usual. But the crowd loved it. They got a standing ovation. I kept that detail from the regular performers, though. I figured they'd been through enough.
SAGAL: A Zamboni driver and his son...
SAGAL: ...Step in for Ursula and Ariel to thrill 20,000 kids at Disney On Ice. Your next story of a hero getting his or her due comes from Amy Dickinson.
AMY DICKINSON: This year, a special posthumous Oscar will be awarded to "Gone With The Wind" star Vivien Leigh, who risked her reputation and her pantaloons in a smuggling operation that changed the course of film history. While shooting "Gone With The Wind," the actress became concerned about the welfare of the monkeys that MGM was using to film the flying monkey scene in "The Wizard Of Oz," which was being filmed on the lot next door. The animal-loving actress first turned to co-star Clark Gable for help in saving the monkeys. But his response - frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn...
DICKINSON: ...Enraged her so much that they inserted the line into the movie.
DICKINSON: So in a stealth operation worthy of "Dunkirk" or a Jerry Lewis bit, the actress hid several monkeys under her massive hoop skirt and led them away from the set and into a waiting ice cream truck. MGM reshot the scene, and instead of using monkeys dressed as people, they used people suspended on wires and dressed in weird monkey bellhop uniforms, terrifying generations of children.
SAGAL: Vivien Leigh finally getting credit, long after her death, for her heroic rescue of monkeys under her skirt. Your last story of someone going from zero to hero comes from Bim Adewunmi.
BIM ADEWUNMI: As Jane Austen never said, it is a truth...
ADEWUNMI: ...Universally acknowledged that there is no greater pleasure than cracking your knuckles.
ADEWUNMI: But sometimes you need something a little more exhilarating. And that's when you turn to a true American hero - Pete the groin crusher, who was recently profiled in The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fifty-two-year-old Pete Schiavo, also - known as the groin guy and Petey Pressure, used to be a welder in a past life until he found his true calling - to crush groins. It was like the missing piece of the puzzle for me, he says. He works at Pennsylvania Hospital, and he has one job - applying pressure to people's groins after surgery until the bleeding stops, which can mean he's standing there crushing on your groin for up to 40 minutes.
ADEWUNMI: Pete delights in and indeed excels at crushing your groin.
ADEWUNMI: By his own estimate, he's consensually crushed more than 10,000 groins.
ADEWUNMI: And he's so good at groin crushing that he has won awards. I'm holding someone's groin for 20 minutes, they tend to remember me and nobody else, says Pete...
ADEWUNMI: ...Presumably with a straight face. He might sound like a man who's watched "The Sopranos" a bit too enthusiastically, but he's no henchman without technique. Pete has got groin crushing down to an art thanks to his three-finger method that doesn't fatigue his whole hand.
ADEWUNMI: Pete's crushing groins to save lives after surgery, but he's a gentleman, too. As he told one patient, I couldn't have been more privileged to hold your groin.
ADEWUNMI: He's been doing this for 15 years, and he knows deep in his gut that it's the only job for him. As he tells his patients, I can promise you two things when I'm done. You'll never forget my name or my face. And they never do.
SAGAL: All right.
SAGAL: Sadly, only one of these three stories of heroism is true. Was it, from Adam, the Zamboni driver and his son who leapt to take the place of Ursula the sea witch and Ariel in Disney On Ice when no one else could do it? From Amy, was it Vivien Leigh, the famous actress, who we now know saved the original monkeys of "The Wizard Of Oz" by smuggling them under her voluminous skirt? Or, from Bim Adewunmi, the groin crusher of Philadelphia? Which of these is the real story we found in the news?
BRENNEMAN: I do know that for cardiac catheterizations, they do pressure the groin. So I'll go with the groin crusher.
SAGAL: You're going to go for the groin crusher because of your medical knowledge. All right. Your choice is...
BRENNEMAN: All right.
SAGAL: ...Bim's story of Pete the groin crusher. Well, we spoke, I'm very proud to say, to the hero himself.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PETE SCHIAVO: They call me the groin crusher, which...
SCHIAVO: ...The groin guy.
SAGAL: That was Pete the groin crusher, of course - Pete Schiavo of Philadelphia. We found out about him via a profile by Stephanie Farr, who writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer. And she tells us that she profiled him because so many of his patients got in touch with her and said, you should profile this guy. We love him.
SAGAL: True story.
SAGAL: Congratulations, Ken. You got it right by picking Bim's story. Bim won a point, but more importantly, you won our prize - the voice of anyone you might choose on your voicemail. Congratulations.
ADEWUNMI: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'VE GOT A CRUSH ON YOU")
BING CROSBY: (Singing) I've got a crush on you, sweetie pie.
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