This, That, Or The Other Is a "vorpal" a sea creature, gadget, or fictional sword? Contestants guess from these categories in this edition of "This, That or The Other."
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This, That, Or The Other

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This, That, Or The Other

This, That, Or The Other

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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JONATHAN COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from the Bell House in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.



Hi, everybody. Welcome. We have four brilliant contestants. They are backstage right now peeping each other's leaves and getting ready to come out here and play our nerdy games. I make the peeping joke because there's a lovely period right around now where things are dealable. And I mean not politically, just in the weather.


EISENBERG: And the leaves change color all at the same time. And you go up to a bunch of trees, and you go, wow, death.


EISENBERG: Right. That's how it works.

COULTON: Yeah. That's how it works. You...

EISENBERG: It's the beauty of...

COULTON: Of death.

EISENBERG: ...Of death, yeah. I love the fall. I'm super happy it's fall. What I like about fall is right now when everyone's in transition clothing 'cause no one knows how to dress anymore. My favorite outfit I saw last night - a woman was going out, and she was wearing shorts but then tights underneath and then high socks and boots. And I just wanted to run up to her and go, you know what you would love - pants.


EISENBERG: Yeah - brings it all together, yeah. You don't have to dress a la carte anymore. No, there's one thing, yeah. Our special guest tonight - amazing author, activist. He's known for wearing actually a puffy blue vest, so he's really happy it's fall. DeRay Mckesson is going to be up here, yeah.


EISENBERG: Very cool - can't wait to meet him. DeRay also hosts a great podcast called Pod Save The People.


EISENBERG: Yeah. That is a tall order. He can do it. He can do it. If I had a political podcast, I would aim a lot lower (laughter) personally. I'd call it Pod Save Me Half A Donut or something - just start quiet. He's a key activist in Black Lives Matter. And recently he received an honorary doctorate from The New School. You have to be a big deal if a prestigious liberal arts college gives you a degree for free (laughter). I mean, I just paid off my cultural anthropology degree, OK - just paid it off. And if you don't know what culture anthropology is about, it's the study of whatever.


EISENBERG: You got a real degree, right? Did you get a real degree?

COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah, as far as I know, yeah. They said it was a real degree, yeah.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) What was it in - music.

COULTON: I'm a bachelor of the arts.

EISENBERG: Bachelor of the arts.

COULTON: And I was a music major. That's right. Look at me now.

EISENBERG: It worked out.


EISENBERG: It worked out. All right, you guys. Let's play some games. Let's meet some guests and play some games.


EISENBERG: Do you know your salmon from your samurai sword, your tuna from your takoba, your flounder from your falchion? I hope you do. Let's meet our contestants. We have Laurel Goldstein. You're a lawyer but used to be a professional baker. And our producers tell me that you are very passionate about a certain kind of baking pan.

LAUREL GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, that's right. I have...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

GOLDSTEIN: So I have a lot of baking pans, but my favorite is a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.



EISENBERG: One other person is like, you picked the right one.


EISENBERG: All right, Laurel, when you ring in, we're going to hear this.


EISENBERG: Your opponent is Tirosh Schneider. You're an actor and recently led a "Harry Potter"-themed class for kids.


EISENBERG: Oh, what happened?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, my gosh, so much. We made love potions.


SCHNEIDER: We played Quidditch, which was just crumpled-up paper thrown at kids.



EISENBERG: Not a lot of budget for this class.

SCHNEIDER: No, no - but imagination galore.



EISENBERG: And how did they respond?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, my God, they loved it.

EISENBERG: They loved it.

SCHNEIDER: They - I have a note in my wallet still that says Tirosh, secret - you're a wizard. And I cherish it deeply.

EISENBERG: Good man - you're a good man. Tirosh, when you ring in, we'll hear this.


EISENBERG: Laurel, Tirosh, whoever has the most points after two games will go on to our final round. We're going to start with our favorite guessing game, This, That or the Other. The rules are simple. We'll give you the name of something. You tell us which of three categories it belongs to. Jonathan Coulton, what are today's categories?

COULTON: Today's categories are sea creatures, names of gadgets and fictional swords from literature.


COULTON: That's what it says on the piece of paper.

EISENBERG: I know. That's what it is.


COULTON: Inventive.

EISENBERG: It's not like we're running out of categories.



EISENBERG: We'll go back and forth - no need to ring in. Here we go. Laurel, fangtooth - sea creature, gadget or fictional sword?

GOLDSTEIN: Fictional sword.

EISENBERG: I'm sorry, that is incorrect. Tirosh, can you steal?

SCHNEIDER: Sea creature.

EISENBERG: It is a sea creature, yes.


EISENBERG: Fangtooth, let's agree, redundant - potentially.



EISENBERG: So its teeth are so large in proportion to the rest of its body that the roof of its mouth has special pouches so when it closes its mouth, the teeth don't go into its own brain.

COULTON: Tirosh, Glyph.

SCHNEIDER: I'm going to say a gadget.

COULTON: You are correct. It is a gadget. Well done.


COULTON: It's a pair of headphones that you put over your eyes to watch video through two small screens in case you we're having too much interaction with humans.


EISENBERG: Laurel, vorpal.

GOLDSTEIN: Fictional sword...

EISENBERG: You knew this one.

GOLDSTEIN: ...From the "Jabberwocky."

EISENBERG: That is correct.


EISENBERG: It is a sword used to slay the Jabberwocky.

GOLDSTEIN: Yep. He took the vorpal sword in hand.

EISENBERG: That's right.

GOLDSTEIN: Long - I'll stop.

EISENBERG: No, you can. Tell me about Gyre and Gimbel. How'd you feel? Who'd you like better? I was more of a Gimbel girl.

GOLDSTEIN: Yeah, I could see that.



COULTON: Tirosh, phronima.

SCHNEIDER: Phronima is a sea creature.

COULTON: You are correct. It is a sea creature. Yeah, well done.


COULTON: It's like a shrimp. It's clear. It's very small. It grabs its prey with its claws and rips it apart with its tiny mouth. They're adorable until they grab you by their claws and tear you apart.

EISENBERG: Right. The Pixar movie is not quite as good as "Finding Nemo..."

COULTON: No, no.

EISENBERG: ...About that one.

COULTON: It's darker.

EISENBERG: All right, these your last clues. Laurel, Atmos.

GOLDSTEIN: Wow. I'm going to go with gadget.

EISENBERG: It is a gadget, yes.


EISENBERG: So it's a surround sound system, a vape pen, a smart home system and a drip coffee maker. I know. I thought all of those things at once, but it turns out just all of those things are also called Atmos.


EISENBERG: So if you want to buy an Atmos online, be very careful.

COULTON: This dumb vape pen makes terrible coffee.

EISENBERG: Yeah, exactly.

COULTON: Tirosh, Rhindon.

SCHNEIDER: Fictional sword.

COULTON: You got it. It is a fictional sword. It is Peter's sword from "The Chronicles of Narnia"


EISENBERG: All right, that was a great game. You guys are both amazing. Tirosh is in the lead.


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