Bluff The Listener Our panelists read three stories about a competition other than March Madness captivating us this month, only one of which is true.
NPR logo

Bluff The Listener

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/706042840/706171444" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/706042840/706171444" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Our panelists read three stories about a competition other than March Madness captivating us this month, only one of which is true.

CHIOKE I'ANSON: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm one of the voices of NPR's credits and the voice of your NPR fantasies, Chioke I'Anson...

(LAUGHTER)

I'ANSON: ...Filling in for Bill Kurtis.

(APPLAUSE)

I'ANSON: We're playing this week with Mo Rocca, Negin Farsad and Adam Burke. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Chioke.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: 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 are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

KRISTIN SPARAGO: Hi, this is Kristen. I'm calling from Wilbraham, Mass.

SAGAL: Wilbraham, Mass. - I've traveled Massachusetts back and forth, but I've never been to Wilbraham. Where's that?

SPARAGO: It's in the western part of the state.

SAGAL: Tell me what you do there in Wilbraham.

SPARAGO: Right now, I don't do a lot. But I just moved back from Texas, where I was a Democratic campaign staffer.

SAGAL: You were? How did you find the experience of working for a Democrat in Texas?

SPARAGO: I think people have this impression that there's a lot of just cowboys. And the voters were great and, yeah, it was a lot of fun.

SAGAL: That's great. I think the only people who want us to believe that Texas is filled with cowboys are Texans.

(LAUGHTER)

SPARAGO: Yes.

SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Kristin. You are here to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Chioke, what is Kristen's topic?

I'ANSON: I'm mad, I tell you - March Madness mad.

SAGAL: It is time for March Madness, when everybody pretends to care about college basketball so they can watch TV at work.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: But our panelists are going to tell you about another competition that caught our attention this month. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAIT-er of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

SPARAGO: Yes.

SAGAL: First up, let's hear from Adam Burke.

ADAM BURKE: It's that time of year again when the nation's make-believe sports moguls roll up their sleeves, dust off their special drafting laptops and pick their fantasy football and baseball teams. They'll come up with a hilarious name, pore over stats and blogs, and they'll definitely corner you in the break room to tell you all about it regardless of your level of interest. But fear not, tedium fans - there now exists an even duller version of your co-worker's favorite hobby. That's right - fantasy bird-watching is finally a thing.

(LAUGHTER)

BURKE: And you're thinking, cool. Is that where I get to see a hippogriff mate with a phoenix? Not even remotely.

(LAUGHTER)

BURKE: The brainchild of vicarious ornithologist and all-round uber-geek Matt Smith, fantasy bird-watching involves picking a spot in America frequented by real-life bird watchers and then scoring points every time the actual avian enthusiast reports seeing a rare or common species to an online database. I know, right?

(LAUGHTER)

BURKE: Sure, you can go bungee jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge or fly a wingsuit through the Grand Tetons. But for sheer white-knuckle excitement, nothing beats the adrenaline pounding thrill of scoring eight points every time some birder in the field spots a red-breasted nuthatch HATCH, blue-footed booby or, hope of hopes, a San Clemente loggerhead shrike. Because it's March, baby, and are you ready for some bird-watching?

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Fantasy bird-watching from Adam Burke. Your next story of a game we're gaga for comes from Negin Farsad.

NEGIN FARSAD: Referees are never the belle of the ball. ESPN doesn't include a guy in stripes blowing the whistle on the highlight reel. But refs are sick and tired of it. If they wanted to work incredibly hard for low pay and only get noticed when they screw up, they would have been women. So...

(LAUGHTER)

FARSAD: So a group of referees from across the sports landscape have launched their own games where they can finally shine. This is competitive refereeing where a referee's ability to judge a competition is in itself judged as a competition.

(LAUGHTER)

FARSAD: Challenges include being timed on timing and flag-throwing precision. Agility skills are tested for how fast they can get out of the way of a play.

(LAUGHTER)

FARSAD: After a questionable game-deciding call, they're tested on their composure while reading through a Twitter feed where the entire globe hates them.

(LAUGHTER)

FARSAD: After winning the coveted golden whistle, NFL ref Jeff Triplett (ph), having watched touchdown dances for years, did his own jig, which could best be described as a white man twerking.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: A competition for referees themselves to compete in. Your last story of a new competition comes from Mo Rocca.

MO ROCCA: Call it March Sister Madness - 64 teams of four women, each team representing the four March sisters in the novel "Little Women," square off.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: It's an event that combines the high stakes of NCAA basketball with the exploding popularity of Louisa May Alcott cosplay. Each player has a clear role. The Jo is the team captain and power forward. She basically does everything on the court. The Meg plays for the first half, then meets a guy, gets married and spends the second half watching with him and their children from the stands.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: The Amy doesn't pay any attention to the game or help the other players. She just cheers for herself the whole time. No one really likes her.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: The wild card for each team is the Beth. She lies surrounded by her dolls and kittens on a stretcher courtside offering words of comfort to fans of the losing team and sewing things for poor children.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: And then she dies.

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Whichever team's Beth garners more sympathy invariably advances to the next bracket. The March sisters of Purdue are top seeded this year. Said their team's Jo, we're feeling good. This whole campus has got scarlet fever.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So here are your choices, Kristen. You've got, from Adam Burke, fantasy birding, in which people don't actually go outside but just sort of score points for where birds are found by other people. From Negin Farsad, a competition finally for referees to compete themselves. Or from Mo Rocca, March Sister Madness...

(LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: ...About which I can say no more.

(LAUGHTER)

SPARAGO: Wow.

(LAUGHTER)

SPARAGO: I'll go with A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with A, Adam's story. Well, we spoke to someone involved in the real story to bring you the true answer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RYAN MANDELBAUM: Fantasy birding lets you bird-watch through your computer so you can (unintelligible) without actually having to travel across the world.

SAGAL: That was Ryan Mandelbaum. He's a fantasy birder and science writer at Gizmodo. Congratulations, Kristen. You got it right. Adam was telling the truth in his own particular way.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: You've earned a point for him. You've won our prize - the voice of anyone who might choose on your voicemail. Thank you so much for playing.

SPARAGO: Thank you so much.

SAGAL: Take care.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'VE BEEN WATCHING YOU")

MIDNIGHT STAR: (Singing) I've been watching you, everything that you do. I've been watching you, every little thing you do.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.