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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Our next two guests are not just guests. They are our go-to guest puzzle guru and guest musician from our Bell House days. Cecil Baldwin voices the podcast "Welcome To Night Vale," which is now in its tenth season, and he co-hosts "Random Number Generator Horror Podcast No. 9." Julian Velard's latest album is "Please Don't Make Me Play Piano Man."
Cecil, Julian, welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER.
CECIL BALDWIN: Aww, hello. Hello.
JULIAN VELARD: Hey.
EISENBERG: Cecil, you moved.
BALDWIN: I did. I did. Well, I move all the time.
EISENBERG: You move all the time.
BALDWIN: Like, just in space.
EISENBERG: Just movement, just movement.
BALDWIN: Just - I just move in space.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Yeah.
JONATHAN COULTON: (Laughter).
BALDWIN: But I...
EISENBERG: You're lithe and agile. Yeah.
BALDWIN: (Laughter) That's it. But no - I vacated New York City. And I moved to Asheville, N.C. to...
BALDWIN: ...Embrace my inner hippie.
EISENBERG: So people have joked before that Asheville and Brooklyn could be sister cities. Is that - is there any truth to that?
BALDWIN: (Laughter) Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
EISENBERG: Really? OK.
BALDWIN: Oh, yes. Yeah. Like, do you want oat milk? We got it. Do you want oat milk made at, like, your local farmers market co-op. We got that too.
BALDWIN: It's delightful.
EISENBERG: OK. But how much is the oat milk? Is that where the difference is? Is it, like...
BALDWIN: Nope - price point, still about the same, actually.
EISENBERG: Ow, I hate that.
COULTON: Brooklyn prices.
BALDWIN: Yup, Brooklyn prices, indeed.
EISENBERG: And was it emotional leaving New York?
BALDWIN: Oh, it really was.
BALDWIN: Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah - I mean, like, a full, you know, three months of hitting all my favorite New York hot spots and just, like, soaking in the New Yorkness (ph) before I had to say goodbye. But you know the thing about New York is that it's still there.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Oh, no. It doesn't go anywhere.
EISENBERG: And it has that painful thing, where, as far as I know - and Julian, I want to hear about this from you since you grew up here - that when you come back you're also like, oh, that place I used to - what?
EISENBERG: A CVS.
VELARD: Well, I - you know, we kind of ran in the night.
VELARD: Like, I feel like that's sort of how you have to leave New York. And like, it's like - you just run in the middle of the night for your life after two decades of adult life there. Just like, OK, we're out of here.
COULTON: It's like a hostage situation.
VELARD: A little bit.
VELARD: I mean, I've definitely for years thought I have a whole Stockholm Syndrome situation going on...
VELARD: ...With the five boroughs, especially with the subway, where I was the biggest...
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.
VELARD: ...Like, subway advocate. And then I had to come back. We left in September. And I'm - where I presently am in St. Louis, which is sort of a way station for the family - sort of a way station for anybody who lives here. Let's just be honest.
VELARD: Lovely city.
EISENBERG: It's wonderful.
VELARD: It's wonderful.
VELARD: It's a wonderful place for someone who grew up on the Upper West Side. It's great.
EISENBERG: OK. So when you're walking around where you are now and you meet people, do you feel like you're an outsider? Do you feel like you're constantly just wearing the sort of clothing that, I am from New York?
VELARD: My neighbor has already complained to my landlord that I pace too much outside of my house on the phone.
BALDWIN: Same, Julian, without the complaint. But it's - yeah.
VELARD: Seriously. They've said, something's wrong with that man. He's always pacing in front of his house, talking on a cellphone.
EISENBERG: They don't know about getting business done? They know nothing...
EISENBERG: ...About getting business done?
VELARD: That's how it works. You get on the phone. You just walk back-and-forth...
VELARD: ...Until the deal is done.
COULTON: That's your office.
BALDWIN: That's an office in New York City.
EISENBERG: (Laughter). All right. Well, let's try this. I don't think we've ever done this. We've had you both obviously lead games. But have you been on the other side of a game? I don't think so.
VELARD: I feel that - they've tested games with me during soundcheck, and I'm highly competitive...
VELARD: ...As a gameplayer to the point where it's borderline obnoxious. It's like...
VELARD: I'm trying to beat...
EISENBERG: This is going to be good.
VELARD: ...All of the PAs on the show, and it gets really aggressive. And so...
VELARD: ...It's a great side of me that has never been displayed on the air that I'm grateful for that - you know, it gets a little ugly sometimes. So I have - this will be my first.
EISENBERG: OK. I know that - and actually, Cecil, I'm thinking you were. You came as a contestant.
EISENBERG: You have already been on both sides.
BALDWIN: Yes, I have. Yeah. I came on with my friend Kate Jones, who actually lost on an early, early, early...
BALDWIN: ...Episode of ASK ME ANOTHER at The Bell House. And so we tried to get a little redemption under our belts...
BALDWIN: ...For Kate.
EISENBERG: And it worked out.
BALDWIN: It did.
EISENBERG: It worked out.
EISENBERG: Yeah. OK.
EISENBERG: Great. So then you know the game. So we thought if you know the games and you know the best games, we should play one of our favorite games with you. You know what I'm talking about - This, That or the Other. OK.
BALDWIN: Love it.
EISENBERG: It's simple. We'll give you the name of something, and you just tell us which of three categories it belongs to. Jonathan Coulton, what are today's categories?
COULTON: Today's categories are famous gemstones, like the Hope Diamond, Revlon lipstick colors and video games in Nintendo's series The Legend Of Zelda.
EISENBERG: All right. Julian, starting with you, gemstone, lipstick or Zelda - Moon of Baroda?
VELARD: I'm going to say that is a gemstone.
EISENBERG: Yes, it is a gemstone. It was a diamond worn by Marilyn Monroe in the press tour for "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes." It was the largest diamond she wore in her lifetime.
EISENBERG: Which - I feel like I would love to say that about something. I'm going to...
COULTON: I'm trying to think of what is the largest diamond I've ever worn.
EISENBERG: Exactly, in my - let's see. Well, there's still time, everybody. There's still time.
COULTON: Yeah. Let me just make a list of all the named diamonds that I've ever worn.
COULTON: And then we'll figure out which of them is the biggest.
COULTON: All right, Cecil, gemstone, lipstick or Zelda - Majora's Mask?
BALDWIN: That's got to be Zelda.
COULTON: Yeah, that's a Zelda game. It's a...
COULTON: Nintendo 64 featured a "Groundhog Day"-style story where the hero, Link, had to prevent the moon from crashing into the town and killing everybody. Classic, classic situation.
EISENBERG: And there's a mask involved. So there's a mask involved. It's the same day over and over and impending doom. Got it.
COULTON: (Laughter) Sounds familiar.
COULTON: Julian, Twilight Princess.
VELARD: That's a very strange lipstick, I'm going to say.
EISENBERG: You know, I can tell you've never worn lipstick.
VELARD: It would be weird, I think, to wear - you'd be like, what are you wearing? Twilight Princess.
EISENBERG: Twilight Princess. I know. That would be definitely marketed to, like, tweens or something like that.
COULTON: Yeah, to goth tweens, yeah.
EISENBERG: Yeah, right. Twilight Princess. Just call it Kristen Stewart. No, that is Zelda. That is a game that came out for two Nintendo systems, the Game Cube and the newly released Wii. The Game Cube version depicts the hero, Link, as left-handed. Whoa. But in the Wii version, to accommodate the Wii's motion controls, the entire game was mirror flipped to make Link right-handed because most players would be right-handed.
COULTON: Wait, is that canon that Link is a left-handed hero?
EISENBERG: You're talking to the wrong person. I'm just mad that it's called Legends of Zelda and so far it's a male protagonist. How did that happen?
VELARD: Well, that's what threw me. Because I always forget Zelda's the princess and Link is the hero.
VELARD: But now I want to replay the NES game and check which hand he's wielding his...
EISENBERG: It's interesting, yeah.
VELARD: ...Whatever thing he holds.
COULTON: I'm being told by my producer that, in fact, Link is left-handed. That is a thing. That is Link's thing.
EISENBERG: Wow. That's amazing. Amazing. So - but they had to mirror flip it. You know, I would love to have known if that was, like, a problem that they were trying to solve for, like, countless meetings, and all of sudden, someone said, I know, we'll flip it. And they're like, you're getting a promotion. Or if it was just the first thing - they're just like, eh, flip it. All right, next.
COULTON: Yeah. I'll just do a search and replace, replace all the pluses with minus.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly.
COULTON: All right, Cecil. Midnight mystery.
BALDWIN: Oh, man. I feel like midnight mystery has got to be a lipstick color.
COULTON: It is absolutely a lipstick color. It's kind of a blue-black color, yeah.
BALDWIN: Just like my heart.
EISENBERG: Yeah. That's - it's supposed to match your heart. There's some lipsticks that match your inner organs. So you just do...
BALDWIN: That's it.
EISENBERG: You do that color test first.
BALDWIN: Ooh, the spleen is amazing. Reapply, reapply.
COULTON: Everybody wants liver lips, right?
COULTON: Liver lips.
EISENBERG: I know. They start red; they turn brown. Awesome.
EISENBERG: All right, Julian. Iced amethyst.
VELARD: Ooh, that's got to be a gemstone.
EISENBERG: Iced amethyst is - sounds like a Starbucks drink. Honestly, I was like, oh, that's a Starbucks drink. But, no, it's a lipstick.
EISENBERG: It is a berry-colored lipstick. But here's a fun fact about amethyst. Ancient Greeks believed that amethyst would keep you from getting drunk, so they would make wine glasses out of amethyst to help you, yeah, I guess, drink longer, stay sober longer.
COULTON: Why would you ever want to - I mean, why would you ever want to drink out of an amethyst wine glass if it's not going to get you drunk?
EISENBERG: First of all, super heavy. I mean, really, like...
VELARD: So heavy.
COULTON: Too heavy.
EISENBERG: Yeah. You can't even get that to your lips. That's the first reason you're not getting drunk.
COULTON: (Laughter) You can't lift it after a while.
EISENBERG: And second, you want to - it's just so you could party longer, baby. That's all (laughter).
COULTON: Yeah, it's all just about - it's about hanging out. It's about hanging out.
COULTON: OK, this is the last one. Cecil, it's for you. Minish Cap.
BALDWIN: You know, just - I can't imagine putting anything called minish cap on my face. I'm having a hard time - it doesn't sound terribly sexy or alluring. So gemstone is probably out. I'm going to go with Zelda.
COULTON: You are correct. It's actually...
EISENBERG: Well done.
COULTON: The word minish is an archaic word meaning to lessen. And in this Zelda game, the hero Link uses the minish cap to shrink in size.
BALDWIN: Also like my heart.
COULTON: Also like your heart - very small and sort of a blue-black.
BALDWIN: Yep, that's it.
EISENBERG: It's sort of the opposite of a fedora, right?
EISENBERG: OK. Well done. Lots of points were had, and someone won. If you want to know - do you want to know who won? Do you care?
VELARD: As being a highly competitive person I don't need to know. I know who won.
EISENBERG: OK, OK.
VELARD: And I know it was not me.
EISENBERG: OK, that's what your tone said.
VELARD: Yes, I'm not happy with the result of this game.
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EISENBERG: Coming up next, some real sponsorship messages and then some fake sponsorship messages. More with Cecil and Julian and, of course, our MVP VIPs - the Lopezes.
I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
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