Common Denominators What do Wiffle balls, bad alibis, donuts and bagels have in common? If you said they are things with holes in them, then you'll enjoy playing this game, in which house musician Jonathan Coulton asks contestants to name the common denominator in a list of four words.

Common Denominators

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Let's bring out our puzzle guru, John Chaneski, for our next game.

JOHN CHANESKI: Oh, hey, I'm back. Hi, guys.

EISENBERG: And our next two contestants, Annalee Fannon and Eric Miles. Now both of these contestants have very unique hobbies so I'm just going to let them tell us about them. Annalee?

ANNALEE FANNON: Among mine, I marry people, occasionally, yeah.

EISENBERG: You marry people. That's a hobby, huh?

FANNON: Yeah. I like it.

EISENBERG: I like that.

FANNON: It's fun for me.

EISENBERG: How long have you been marrying people?

FANNON: Four years now, I think, six weddings.

EISENBERG: Six weddings. And how have they gone, those weddings?

FANNON: So far, so good.

EISENBERG: All right. Eric, how about you? Weird hobbies? I know you do.

ERIC MILES: I guess the weirdest is probably that I help run a 1940s detective agency at Burning Man every year.

EISENBERG: I do that, too. Not to mention - yeah.

MILES: There's another detective in the audience here, too, actually.

EISENBERG: There's another detective in the audience? OK. I've never heard that before.

JONATHAN COULTON: What kind of - do you solve cases? Do you actually solve cases?

MILES: Sometimes. One thing that we do is we sort of like...

EISENBERG: It's Burning Man, remember?

MILES: It's a lot of cases, the Burning Man.

EISENBERG: There's a lot of cases.

COULTON: I can't find my pants.

MILES: We get a lot of those. We get a lot of those, yeah. I'm on fire. I'm literally burning.

EISENBERG: All right. Well, this game is called "Common Denominators," but it's not a math game, I hear.

COULTON: No. I wish it was 'cause I love math so much.

EISENBERG: I know. Math is awesome on the radio.

COULTON: In this round, I will give you a list of four things that have something in common. You just have to name what that common denominator is. John Chaneski, will you give us an example?

CHANESKI: If we said wiffle balls, bad alibis, donuts and bagels, you would say, things with holes in them. Yes, you would.

COULTON: Only if you wanted to get the correct answer would you say that. You can say whatever you want, I suppose technically. So ring in as soon as you know the answer. What is unique about this game is that you can ring in before I have finished reading the entire clue. But if you get it wrong, your opponent will be able to hear the rest of the clue before they answer. OK? Are you ready?

MILES: Sure.

COULTON: Here we go. Wheelbarrow, race car, dog, top hat. I'm finished with the reading - Annalee, yes.

FANNON: They're all Monopoly pieces.

COULTON: They are all Monopoly pieces, that's right. A flapper, Shawn White, cherry, beef steak. Eric.

MILES: Kind of gin?

COULTON: No, not gin. Annalee?

FANNON: Kind of tomato?

COULTON: All kinds of tomatoes, that's right. Shawn White's nickname is the flying tomato. Technically, he is not an actual tomato.

EISENBERG: And beef steak has never lived up to its name.

COULTON: It's true. It does set up high expectations.

EISENBERG: Yeah, exactly, for a tomato.

COULTON: OK. The flu vaccine, tempura paint, custard, frittatas. Annalee.

FANNON: All made of eggs.

COULTON: All made from chicken eggs, that's right. This one's maybe a little misleading. Pillow, intercourse, keep it together audience, climax, Philadelphia. Annalee.

FANNON: They're all cities in Pennsylvania.

COULTON: They sure are. Anna's like what's the big deal? What's the big deal?

EISENBERG: Yeah, you've married one in each of those towns, haven't you?

FANNON: What else could they have been?

EISENBERG: I don't know, but Philadelphia has never sounded sexier, I'll tell you that.

COULTON: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Carl Vinson, Nimitz. Eric.

MILES: They're aircraft carriers or, like, warships.

COULTON: That's right. U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. I Love Lucy, Time Square, soccer, Cinderella. Wow. Annalee.

FANNON: Shoot. They all feature a ball?


COULTON: They all feature a ball, that's right.

FANNON: Oh, my god. I know I'd get there eventually.

COULTON: That was impressive. I think I actually saw a light bulb over your head when that happened. This is your last question. California, Thor, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein. Eric.

MILES: Except for Thor, they all have elements named after them?

COULTON: They do, indeed, yes.

MILES: Including Thor then, I guess.

COULTON: Including Thor, including thorium, that's right.

EISENBERG: Yeah, just go with it. Just go with it to get the point.

COULTON: John Chaneski, how'd they do?

CHANESKI: The winner of "Common Denominators" is the uncommon Annalee. Way to go, Annalee.

EISENBERG: Well done. That was a tough round. You both are geniuses. Annalee, you'll be moving on to our final round at the end of the show. Coming up, we'll force Jonathan Coulton to play some Disney musicals and we'll test our VIP Justin Long in a round of Woody Allen trivia so stay tuned. This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER.


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