OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
So every so often, our house musician Jonathan Coulton has somewhere else to be. Maybe he's on vacation, maybe a cruise. Maybe he's cheating on us with another podcast. No matter what the case may be, our next two guests come in and save the day. Julian Velard is our guest house musician. His latest album is called "Please Don't Make Me Play Piano Man."
EISENBERG: And Cecil Baldwin is our guest puzzle guru. He voices the podcast "Welcome To Night Vale," which is now in its 10th season. And he co-hosts "Random Number Generator Horror Podcast No. 9." Cecil, Julian - thank you so much for joining us. This is our finale. Welcome.
CECIL BALDWIN: Aw, so bittersweet.
EISENBERG: I know.
BALDWIN: But mostly sweet.
JULIAN VELARD: You saying those words kind of gave me a little bit of goosebumps. I'm like, oh, yeah, this is - wow, OK, this is the finale.
JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Yeah, this is it.
EISENBERG: Yeah, this is it.
VELARD: This is it.
EISENBERG: So you both have joined us in Brooklyn, outside of Brooklyn, on the road.
EISENBERG: Anything stand out? Anything stand out from these experiences?
VELARD: I - yeah, I mean, I've had some pretty awesome experiences. My favorite one was - I'm pretty sure that Jessica Walter was indirectly flirting with me on stage. I'm pretty sure that was happening 'cause I was singing, and she was totally like, ooh, I like your voice.
VELARD: Like, I couldn't tell if she was Lucille Bluth-ing (ph) me or if it was real, but I totally just went with it, and it was great.
EISENBERG: No, no, I sat beside her. I remember that she had, like, I would say, a look of mischief on her face.
VELARD: It was a little - there was a little bit - I was like, she's totally kind of hitting on me right now.
VELARD: I'm into this.
EISENBERG: That's right. Cecil, that's hard - there's no topping that. That's impossible to top. But what do you - what's some memories that you have from this crazy, crazy ride called ASK ME ANOTHER?
BALDWIN: I got to say, out of all the ASK ME ANOTHER memories, when Antoni Porowski of "Queer Eye" told me I had really cool shoes.
COULTON: Oh, that's great. That's great.
BALDWIN: My little gay heart went a-pitter-pat (ph).
COULTON: That's great.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) And what were the shoes? Just remind our listeners what your shoes were.
BALDWIN: Yeah, they were a cool shape, had little stripy bits on them.
BALDWIN: "Queer Eye" approved.
EISENBERG: "Queer Eye" approved. Do you - as people who work in the entertainment field as, you know, basically your entire lives, as your career, any thoughts on endings and beginnings?
VELARD: I feel really privileged that I even am getting to have an ending with you guys.
VELARD: 'Cause I feel like - and that's a - it's like, especially in this time with everything that's going on...
VELARD: ...It's like, we started together, and we get to end together.
EISENBERG: That's true.
VELARD: And, like, that's really kind of cool. Like, it doesn't - it's so tough. It's such a crazy way to make a living. You kind of have to become hardened to all these elements to actually get to have that. It's kind of emotional. It's like - it's a - wow, this is, like, a real thing that we did together, that we built, and it's really awesome to, you know, get to do it all with you guys. And you're the best. I love hanging out with you.
EISENBERG: Aw, Julian. You know, I got to tell you, Julian, you just - what you said sent chills into my body.
VELARD: Oh, whatever.
EISENBERG: And also, I never expected any wisdom from you. And...
COULTON: Shots fired.
VELARD: No, rightfully so.
EISENBERG: He knows. He knows that's it all in light (laughter).
VELARD: No, it's - I - my brain is - it's - believe me, I'm amazed that that just came out of my mouth, too.
EISENBERG: All right, so let's have a final game. Want to play a game?
BALDWIN: Sure. Why not?
VELARD: Let's do it.
EISENBERG: Guys, guys, want to play a game?
BALDWIN: One last time.
EISENBERG: OK, so you're in luck. For your very last game, your last time here, Jonathan Coulton is going to sing you the clues in a music parody game called The Ends.
COULTON: That's right. We changed the lyrics of famous breakup songs to make them about things that contain the letters E and D - things like calendar, Big Bend National Park, endocrinology and so on.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) And so on.
COULTON: You can earn a point by telling me the end thing or by identifying the song I'm parodying with the artist who made it famous. And, Julian, you can also earn a point by just telling me how you would have done it instead.
VELARD: Oh, yeah, sure. If that's the - yeah, good, absolutely, I'll do that.
COULTON: I'll take - criticism is fine.
COULTON: OK. (Playing guitar, singing) I keep waving so you notice me because my highball is empty, you see. I've been drinking lots of gin and tonics all night long. And now nothing - I've got nothing. Please, come back to me, and mix me a drink, mix me a drink, will you?
And I should say, you're working together on this, so feel free to...
BALDWIN: OK. You got this, Julian? Do you - I feel like this is your wheelhouse here.
VELARD: Oh, well, you know, the song is - I - it sounded like you were emulating Sinead O'Connor's a version of the famous Prince composition Nothing - numeral 2 - Compares to You. And I think you are referring to - Cecil, I will let you - what's the profession?
COULTON: Yeah, that is correct. Julian, I appreciate your overly detailed answer. You were correct on all accounts.
BALDWIN: "Nothing Compares 2 U."
VELARD: That's right. I forgot the U - the letter U.
EISENBERG: That is so great.
COULTON: I like that - the Sinead O'Connor version of the Prince song. Hilarious.
COULTON: All right, here's another one. (Playing guitar, singing) My snack's stuck. I really want my Sun Chips, so let it loose from your grips. Contraption, hear my plea. My snack's stuck. Please release my Twix bar. It doesn't have to fall far if I could shake it free.
BALDWIN: It's Gwen Stefani. It's No Doubt.
BALDWIN: But I was trying to, like - I got stuck on Twix. And I was like, wait; why are you shaking your Twix bars?
COULTON: Julian, you have any thoughts?
VELARD: I think the song that Cecil is referring to was actually recorded originally by the band No Doubt, and it's called "Don't Speak." And you are referring to the contraption known as the vending machine.
COULTON: That's correct.
COULTON: All right. Here's your next one.
(Singing) Did you see me when I played Jesus on TV? The piano is where I go when it's time to croon my hit "All Of Me." And I - I have an EGOT. I have an EGOT.
BALDWIN: OK. So clearly, Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You."
COULTON: That is correct.
BALDWIN: But I don't know the answer. Julian, do you know?
VELARD: He's referring to multi-Grammy and Oscar and Tony and Emmy Award-winning star of the live-action or televised version, live version of "Jesus Christ Superstar," along with Sarah Bareilles, Mr. John Legend.
COULTON: (Laughter) That is correct.
EISENBERG: That is correct. That is correct.
BALDWIN: I feel like I'm on Wikipedia right now. I feel like every time Julian's like - it's like getting, like, Wikipedia live.
VELARD: I just never get to be that guy on this show because...
EISENBERG: That's great.
VELARD: ...That would make me obnoxious, and you'd never hire...
EISENBERG: That's great.
VELARD: ...Me back. And this is my last one.
VELARD: So I'm just going for it.
EISENBERG: Fantastic. No, I love it. I love it so much.
COULTON: All right. Here's another one. (Singing) I form a corner. It measures 90. Oh. Vertical line that meets the horizon, oh. Just look at the clock's hands when it's striking 3 or 9 p.m., oh. With me, every angle is right.
BALDWIN: The only word I can think of is perpendicular.
COULTON: That is correct. That is the word.
BALDWIN: Is it?
EISENBERG: That's the word, yeah.
BALDWIN: I'm unconsciously a genius.
EISENBERG: Julian, what...
COULTON: Julian, you want to give a detailed answer?
VELARD: Yeah. That is a beautiful acoustic rendition of Swedish songwriter and performer Robyn's synth pop smash "Dancing On My Own."
COULTON: (Laughter) That's right.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Exactly.
COULTON: And I gave you eighth notes instead of sixteenth notes. I didn't think that was - I didn't know if you were going to still, you know.
EISENBERG: Oh, was that like a hidden way to try to trip a musician up?
VELARD: Jonathan honored the song and not the production. And I - as a songwriter, I appreciate that.
COULTON: (Laughter) We should have you guys on all the time.
COULTON: OK. Here's another one.
(Singing) And the volume's going up. And the volume's going up. It's getting loud, getting loud 'cause the volume's going up just like in this song, which starts quiet and gets loud. It's getting loud. It's said in Italian.
BALDWIN: Julian, you got this. What is this?
VELARD: You don't have this?
BALDWIN: Well, I mean, U2. The U2...
BALDWIN: ...Song I got.
COULTON: Yes, that's right. The song?
BALDWIN: Now I'm trying to get the clue.
VELARD: OK. Well, the clue is - the Italian musical word for loudness is a crescendo. And - yeah. And the - you're right, U2. It's their classic from "The Joshua Tree," "With Or Without You."
COULTON: That's right, yeah. All right, couple more.
(Singing) Loving me, is that what you want to do? Why don't you come out and say it to me? All you do is make allusions and hint, flirt and wink, nudge-nudge and insinuate. Yeah, you make it so hard, make it so hard. Be direct, and I might lower my guard. Yeah, you make it so hard, make it so hard.
VELARD: All right. The word - you got nothing, Cecil? You sure? Should I just go straight in?
BALDWIN: Well, it's "Go Your Own Way."
BALDWIN: "Go Your Own Way"...
COULTON: "Go Your Own Way," yes.
BALDWIN: ...By Fleetwood Mac. Is the clue innuendo?
COULTON: Innuendo is correct. We also would have accepted double entendre.
COULTON: All right. Here's the last clue, the last of the last. Really enjoy it, everybody.
(Singing) I signed here to proclaim that we'll no longer obey the English king. It's not fair that he tax us. We hold these truths to be self-evident. We, we, we got to go.
BALDWIN: So "You've Got To Know," Alanis Morissette. Yes.
COULTON: "You Oughta Know." That's right.
BALDWIN: But it's, like, the Declaration of Endependence (ph)?
COULTON: It is Declaration of Independence. Independence has an E-N-D in the middle.
BALDWIN: OK. Got you, got you, got you.
VELARD: Oh. So, you got to go.
VELARD: You got...
EISENBERG: So you had it. You just made it better. That's it.
BALDWIN: I just said it with a funny accent. That's all.
COULTON: Yeah, you just did - (laughter).
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
COULTON: You just added a layer that I really appreciated.
EISENBERG: Thank you so much. Oh, my goodness. We love you guys. Thank you for everything. Thank you for always being there. I'm so glad we finally got together to do this. Julian, Cecil - thank you. See you again.
VELARD: Yeah, it's been an honor and a privilege. Thank you so much for having me be a part of the show.
BALDWIN: Thank you. Thank you both.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Coming up, Jonathan and I will answer your questions in our final, final round. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
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