Mnemonic, Mountain Goats Song, or Paperback Thriller In this game of This, That Or The Other, contestants must identify if a phrase is a mnemonic device, name of a Mountain Goats song, or the first line of a paperback thriller.
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Mnemonic, Mountain Goats Song, or Paperback Thriller

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Mnemonic, Mountain Goats Song, or Paperback Thriller

Mnemonic, Mountain Goats Song, or Paperback Thriller

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  • Transcript

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.

(APPLAUSE)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Hello. Hey, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: We have a great show for you. We have four brilliant contestants. They're hanging out backstage right now lighting our public radio menorah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: They are. Yeah, it stays lit for eight days and eight nights thanks to the miracle of CBD oil.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We have two guests on this show.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Two amazing guests. Yeah. Michelle Wolf.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Amber Ruffin.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yes. Women comedians - actually, including me, there will be three female comedians on this stage, and it's not even a Planned Parenthood benefit. OK.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Small strides. Michelle Wolf, in addition to doing all the things she does, she also runs ultramarathons - ultramarathons. Yeah, they're harder than marathons. For example, at ultramarathons, the fans on the sidelines boo you as you run by.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That happens. They hold up signs that say for God's sake stop.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: They're actually just longer. They're longer marathons. I've actually never run a marathon, period...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...I guess 'cause I've never had a breakup that bad. But...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Our second guest is Amber Ruffin who is a writer...

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: ...For "Late Night With Seth Meyers." Yeah. So when she was hired in 2014, Amber became the first black woman writer on a late night network television talk show. Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Amber Ruffin, who's a comedian, is also a storyteller on "Drunk History" - so hilarious.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: We're going to see if Amber wants to play the NPR version of "Drunk History." It's called calmly discussing politics while sharing a half glass of Merlot...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...Which I'm pretty sure is a podcast, by the way...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...And an offering from the NPR wine club.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: All right. Let's play some games, everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Our first two contestants will play a game about paperback novels. I've always felt that my dating style was similar to the publishing industry. At first, I'm expensive with a hard protective cover. But after a year, I get cheap and vulnerable and covered in food stains.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Let's meet our contestants. First up, Laurell Haapanen. You recently moved here from Seattle.

LAURELL HAAPANEN: I did.

EISENBERG: What's one thing that you are loving about New York that Seattle does not have?

HAAPANEN: You know, it's New York. What are you doing? You're in my face. You're in my space.

(LAUGHTER)

HAAPANEN: What do you want? It's just like "Taxi Driver," "Law And Order" and bagels.

(LAUGHTER)

HAAPANEN: This is basically what I do on my couch, though. So...

EISENBERG: Are you just hanging out on one corner in front of a bagel store?

(LAUGHTER)

HAAPANEN: This might be my problem. Yeah, so I might want to, like, go a block out.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Laurell, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Jennifer Connors. Jennifer, you told our producers that once in the early 2000s you sold a whoopee cushion to Ice-T. What were the circumstances?

JENNIFER CONNORS: Well, I worked in a children's toy store.

EISENBERG: OK.

CONNORS: And so yes, Ice-T and Coco came in, and they purchased a whoopee cushion. And it was like - they had never seen anything like it before. Their minds were blown.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: They were just laughing and giggling.

CONNORS: They were like, this is - it makes that sound when someone - yes, that's...

(LAUGHTER)

CONNORS: ...What happens when you put a whoopee cushion under someone. It will make a sound of flatulence. And it was just...

EISENBERG: They were like, this is so great.

CONNORS: Yes.

EISENBERG: Dick Wolf is going to never see this coming.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Yeah, I bet that day on set was pretty fun.

CONNORS: I would imagine so.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jennifer, when you ring in, we're going to hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Laurell and Jennifer, whoever has more points after two games will go on to our final round. We're going to kick things off with one of our favorite guessing games, This, That Or The Other. We will read you a phrase. You tell us which of three categories it belongs to. Jonathan Coulton, what are today's categories?

COULTON: Today's categories are the first line of a paperback thriller, the title of a song by the beloved verbose indie band the Mountain Goats...

(LAUGHTER)

CONNORS: Oh, them.

COULTON: ...Or a popular mnemonic device taught in schools, such as my very excellent mother just served us nachos, which helps you remember the order of the planets.

EISENBERG: Ring in to answer. And if it's a mnemonic device, you can earn a bonus point by telling us what it's for. Here we go. Here's your first one. The last camel collapsed at noon. Is that a book, a song or a mnemonic device?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Laurell.

HAAPANEN: From a book.

EISENBERG: It is from a book. Yes. That is from...

HAAPANEN: Thank you.

EISENBERG: ..."The Key To Rebecca."

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It's a great book for humans, not a popular book with camels.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Never eat shredded wheat. Is that from a book, a song or a mnemonic device?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Laurell.

HAAPANEN: A mnemonic device.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Do you know what it stands for?

HAAPANEN: No, I have no idea.

COULTON: It is for the cardinal directions - north, east...

HAAPANEN: Oh.

COULTON: ...South and west.

EISENBERG: Never eat shredded wheat. Maybe it's just also something celiacs say in their head.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jennifer.

CONNORS: Mnemonic.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: For the bonus point, do you know what it's for?

CONNORS: It's the order you do math - math stuff...

(LAUGHTER)

CONNORS: ...Parentheses, exponents, multiply, add, divide and subtract.

COULTON: That's right. That's right. That's order of operations in math. That's correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: "There Will Be No Divorce" - book, song or the weirdest mnemonic of all time?

HAAPANEN: I'm going to say book.

EISENBERG: Good guess.

HAAPANEN: Aw.

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

CONNORS: I'm going to go with song.

HAAPANEN: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah, it is a Mountain Goats song.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yes.

This is your last clue. Every Good Boy Does Fine.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Laurell.

HAAPANEN: That is a mnemonic.

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Can you tell me what it stands for?

HAAPANEN: It's for the scale.

COULTON: It's very close.

EISENBERG: You were in the - totally, the...

HAAPANEN: I was in the...

EISENBERG: ...Right place. We were looking for the treble clef line notes - E, G, B, D, F. That was a great game, and at the end of that first game, we have a tie.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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