Stuck in the Backseat Are we there yet? Wrap up with a set of games that'll get you through those final hours of a cross-country drive. Plus, indie band Lake Street Dive reveals how they pass the time on the tour bus.

Stuck in the Backseat

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Hey, this is Ophira Eisenberg, and you are listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR and WNYC. This is our road tripping edition, and I'm joined by our house musician Jonathan Coulton and our puzzle editor Art Chung.

ART CHUNG, BYLINE: So, Ophira, halfway through any road trip is usually the time I start making up dumb games to play.

EISENBERG: Oh, absolutely because you have to keep yourself occupied.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: It gets very boring. We used to play a game called The Alphabet game, which was spotting all of the letters in the alphabet in order.

EISENBERG: Oh, like, in license plates and on signs?

COULTON: Wherever you see letters. It's a pretty complicated game.

CHUNG: When did you get stuck? At the Q or the Z?

COULTON: Q was the worst. Headquarters - you always look for the word headquarters 'cause you get Q, R, S, T, U quickly.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. Where you gonna get that X?

COULTON: Exit. That's easy.

EISENBERG: Oh, right.

CHUNG: Wait. That sounds like an easy version of the game, like anywhere you see the letter. I thought it had to start with it.

EISENBERG: Don't squash his personal story, Art.

CHUNG: I'm just saying, it seems like an easy game.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Well, what do you do in the car?

CHUNG: I take license plate numbers, and I factor them.

COULTON: Oy. We asked the members of the band Lake Street Dive, who were on as our very important puzzlers, how they keep themselves occupied on long car trips. And they presented a game that doesn't really work very well on the radio.


EISENBERG: Let's welcome our very important puzzlers from the band Lake Street Dive, Rachel Price, McDuck, Bridget Kearney and Mike Calabrese.


EISENBERG: Welcome to the show, my friends. So Rachel, you guys are on tour having a good time. Do you guys play games in the tour bus?

RACHEL PRICE: Yes. The current game is called "Guess Butt."

EISENBERG: "Guess Butt."

PRICE: Yeah.

EISENBERG: OK, I like it already.

PRICE: Then one person lies facedown...


PRICE: ...And you put various objects unknown to them just on their butt in any way possible. And they have to use their butt to guess what the object is. I came up with that game myself.

EISENBERG: That's amazing. Who is the reigning champion?

PRICE: I guessed, I once guessed a table maybe once.


PRICE: I feel like Michael Calabrese, our drummer, is the reigning champion.

MIKE CALABRESE: No, no, no, I'm the worst. I always - for some reason I always think it's a bag of socks. That's the only thing I can think of when - no matter what it is.

PRICE: He thought a guitar was a bag of socks. Yeah, you're right. He's terrible. In fact, no one's good at it, so...

CALABRESE: It's hard.

EISENBERG: You met in jazz school, right, in the New England Conservatory of Music?

PRICE: Correct.

EISENBERG: Were you in a jazz band? Did you guys come together and say let's play jazz?

PRICE: No. Actually, we came together and McDuck said let's play...

MIKE OLSON: Don't say it.

PRICE: I'm not going to say it. It wasn't jazz. We were trying...

OLSON: Let's play "Guess Butt" is what I said.


EISENBERG: I feel like people describe the music you're putting out a lot of different ways - vintage pop meets rockabilly, swing, soul, Motown. Bridget, how do you describe - like, if someone's like, what kind of music do you play? What do you say?

BRIDGET KEARNEY: We put it in like soul-pop category, generally.

EISENBERG: Soul-pop.

KEARNEY: Yeah, but I don't know. We try not to limit ourselves to either of those.

EISENBERG: OK guys, I'm excited you're bringing your diverse musical talents to this next game. So let's chat with our lucky contestant, please welcome Pamela Vachon.



EISENBERG: Hi. Yes, you see what's going on.

VACHON: Yes, they're all blowing up balloons so that's terrifying.

EISENBERG: Isn't it? So, Pamela, this is not your first time on the same - in the same room as Lake Street Dive.

VACHON: No. In fact, just last week, I took a bus to and from Boston in the same day to see your songwriting workshop at New England Conservatory. Yeah, I was there.

CALABRESE: Oh, yeah. Oh, hey, good to see you again.

VACHON: Yeah, you answered my question about literal songwriting.

CALABRESE: That's right.

VACHON: Exactly.

CALABRESE: Good to see you.

VACHON: I love that.

EISENBERG: That is so great.

VACHON: Thank you.

EISENBERG: So it was a good workshop, you enjoyed it?

VACHON: It was great. Yeah, it's going to come in handy when I start my Lake Street Dive tribute band, which is going to be called Fake Street Dive - copyright.

EISENBERG: Copyright. Well, this game is called My Beautiful Balloon.


EISENBERG: It turns out the band has a hidden talent. Rachael, I'll let you share the good news.

PRICE: I'm so sorry about this game you're about to play. We - this is a...

OLSON: It was this or "Guess Butt."

PRICE: This was pre-"Guess Butt." This was one of the first band games we liked to play. We are going just - we are going to play a song for you on these balloons and...

VACHON: Naturally.

PRICE: ...You have to guess what it is.


PRICE: Yeah.

PRICE: Yeah, they're pretty recognizable and otherwise yeah, good luck.

VACHON: Thank you.

OLSON: One, two, three, go. (Playing balloons).



VACHON: "We Will Rock You"...


VACHON: ...By Queen?


EISENBERG: Same range as Freddie Mercury.

VACHON: Thank you for the drums. That was very helpful.

CALABRESE: Just providing some context.

PRICE: All right, you ready for the next one?

VACHON: Indeed.

PRICE: OK, one, two, three (Playing balloons).


VACHON: (Singing) Now I'm free...

OLSON: Yeah exactly.

VACHON: (Singing) I'm free fallin'.


EISENBERG: That was originally written for the balloon, I believe.

VACHON: It sounded like Tom Petty, truthfully.

COULTON: I love the idea of somebody driving in their car and they're like, I wonder what's on public radio right now?


VACHON: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

PRICE: Yeah.

OLSON: Yeah.

PRICE: That was very good.


EISENBERG: Pamela, congratulations.

VACHON: Thank you so much.


VACHON: Thank you.

EISENBERG: You get a prize...

VACHON: Oh, boy.

EISENBERG: In honor of their new album, "Bad Self Portraits," Lake Street Dive has agreed to take a selfie with you...

VACHON: Oh, my God, great.


LAKE STREET DIVE: (Singing) I bought this camera to take pictures of my love. Now that he's gone, I don't have anybody to take pictures of me. I'm taking landscapes. I'm taking still lives. I'm taking bad self-portraits. Sad self-portraits. Oh, I'm a lonely woman.


EISENBERG: You know what my favorite game to play in the car is? I like to pretend I live in a world where the only things you can eat are beef jerky and drink cream soda, and that's good for you.

COULTON: Yeah. You'd get pretty far on that. It would be interesting to see how long you could stay alive eating only food purchased at gas stations.

EISENBERG: I love gas station food. Mojo's - do you know what mojos are?

COULTON: What is a mojo?

EISENBERG: Yeah. You'll find out.

COULTON: Gas station candy. It's good.

EISENBERG: That's how I entertain myself - beef jerky and cream soda. I'm not factoring license plates. But we have played some hard games on the show, like this next one.

CHUNG: Yeah. That's right. This was one of my more challenging quizzes. We asked our contestants to combine the names of famous people with country names, and they did not so great.

COULTON: Ophira leads this next game, and it's called International Doppelgangers.


EISENBERG: On stage right now we have Kim Roth and Ryan Hyde.


EISENBERG: Kim, do you ever have people telling you that you look like a certain celebrity?

KIM ROTH: I've had Kate Winslet twice, but I see it not at all. Not at all.

EISENBERG: Kate Winslet twice. I can kind of see that.


EISENBERG: Yes. Yes. Ryan, how about you? Been told anyone that you look like?

RYAN HYDE: Laurence Fishburne.

EISENBERG: Laurence Fishburne?


EISENBERG: I know. It is striking.

HYDE: You can see it.

EISENBERG: Yeah. It's the eyes. So this game is called International Doppelgangers. So there are plenty of celebrities who are known throughout the world, but you might be surprised to learn that some countries have their own versions of these well-known personalities. Puzzle guru, John Chaneski, how about an example?

JOHN CHANESKI, BYLINE: Did you know that in Buenos Aires, there's a very funny actress and writer who had a hit TV show called "Treinta Rock?" Her name's Argen-Tina Fey.

EISENBERG: It's going to be OK. It's going to be OK.


EISENBERG: Stick with me, contestants. I'm walking you through this. So in this game you're going to combine the name of a country with the name of a celebrity. OK? And the big hint here is that the country is always going to go first.

COULTON: Our radio audience can't see it, but these contestants look very confident.


EISENBERG: Let's play. To be or not to be a porn star asked this actor in his breakout role in "Boogie Scandinavian Nights." You can do it. We'll talk it through together.



ROTH: Den-Mark Wahlberg?

EISENBERG: Exactly correct.

COULTON: Den-Mark Wahlberg. All right.


EISENBERG: This celebrity look alike hails from the Andes Mountain and is a real drag queen.



ROTH: Pe-Ru Paul?


COULTON: Pe-Ru Paul.


EISENBERG: All right. I was trying to come up with what Peru Paul's imaginary catchphrase would be. What do you think of Machu Piched too much? No? How about at the end of "Drag Race" in Pe-Ru Paul he would be I'm sorry. You have to go alpaca your bags.


EISENBERG: No? I only have 40 more.


EISENBERG: This actor has portrayed everyone from Oscar Schindler to a Jedi knight and can trace his lineage all the way back to Genghis Khan.

CHANESKI: He's in Ulan Bator somewhere between Russia and China.



ROTH: Mongo-Liam Neeson?




EISENBERG: This pop diva from a four-letter central African nation was proud that her British doppelganger was rolling in the deep.

CHANESKI: The nation sort of sounds like a man's name; a four-letter man's name. Rolling in the deep.

EISENBERG: Rolling in the deep.



HYDE: Ch-Adele.

EISENBERG: Ch-Adele. You've got it.


EISENBERG: This is your last clue.


EISENBERG: I know, I know. Get excited. You've got a friend in this Persian songster who is also a favorite of his nation's short people. Persian songster.


CHANESKI: (Singing) He wrote a lot of movie songs.

EISENBERG: That is a darn good hint.

CHANESKI: "Toy Story III."

COULTON: That's not how the songs go.



ROTH: I-Randy Newman?

CHANESKI: I-Randy Newman is right.


EISENBERG: John Chaneski, how did our contestants do?


CHANESKI: You know, they scored some decent points, I've got to say.

EISENBERG: There were some points.

CHANESKI: But Kim did better. Kim wins the game. Way to go, Kim.


THE GO GO'S: (Singing) Vacation, all I ever wanted. Vacation, had to get away. Vacation, meant to be spent alone.

EISENBERG: Are we there yet? Actually, I know the answer to that. We are in our final stretch.

CHUNG: We are almost there, and we're going to end this trip the way we usually do with our Ask Me One More final round. These are contestants from other shows so their voices are going to be a little different so please do not write me, do not panic. These are just normal human beings. Our puzzle guru John Chaneski leads our final round.


CHANESKI: This final round is called State Of Mind. In this game, all of the answers will contain the name of a U.S. state. For example, if I said Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worked for this newspaper, you would say The Washington Post. Now, we're playing spelling bee style, so one wrong answer and you're out. You'll only have a few seconds to give us the answer. Last person standing is our grand winner.

Remember, all of the answers contain the name of a U.S. state, and if it helps, we've only used each state once in the game. Here we go. Amy, this muddy body of water has its origins in Minnesota and ends in the Gulf of Mexico.

AMY PATRICK: The Mississippi River.

CHANESKI: Yes, that's right.


CHANESKI: Joslyn, it's what the K in the fast food chain KFC used to stand for.


CHANESKI: That's right.


CHANESKI: Denise, Miley Cyrus was the star of this long running Disney TV show. Three seconds. Step aside, Denise. Let's see if Michael knows the answer to this.

MICHAEL CROMMETT: "Hannah Montana."

CHANESKI: "Hannah Montana" is correct. Thank you for playing, Denise.


CHANESKI: Thomas, it was the gigantic land acquisition made by Thomas Jefferson in 1803.

THOMAS TAYLOR: The Louisiana Purchase.

CHANESKI: That's correct.


CHANESKI: Amy, the original version of this tropical cop show starred Jack Lord.

PATRICK: "Hawaii Five-O."



CHANESKI: Joslyn, Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for "The Hours" portraying this English novelist.

HANSEN: Virginia Wolfe.



CHANESKI: Michael, this song was written for Liza Minnelli, but it became Frank Sinatra's last top 40 hit.

CROMMETT: "New York, New York."

CHANESKI: That's it, that's where we are.


CHANESKI: Thomas, this classic educational computer game casts you as the leader of a wagon train heading west. Three seconds.

TAYLOR: California Rush.

CHANESKI: No, not California Rush. Let's see if Amy knows the answer to this.

PATRICK: Oregon Trail.

CHANESKI: Oregon Trail is correct. Thank you for playing, Thomas.


CHANESKI: Joslyn, this Mark Twain novel involves a New Englander who travels back to the middle ages.

HANSEN: "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court."

CHANESKI: Correct.


CHANESKI: Michael, Tijuana, Ensenada and Mexicali are all cities in this Mexican state bordering the Pacific Ocean.

CROMMETT: Baja, Calif.

CHANESKI: Baja, Calif. is right.


CHANESKI: Amy, according to the theme song of the "Beverly Hillbillies," it's a slang term for oil.

PATRICK: Texas tea.

CHANESKI: That's right.


CHANESKI: Joslyn, this battleship exploded in Havana harbor, helping to trigger the Spanish American War.

HANSEN: The Indiana.

CHANESKI: No, not Indiana. Let's see if Michael knows what it is.


CHANESKI: The Maine. He remembered The Maine. Yes, Michael, way to go.


CHANESKI: Thank you for playing, Joslyn. Amy, the capital of this former Soviet Republic is Tbilisi. Three seconds.

PATRICK: I have no idea.

CHANESKI: Let's see if Michael knows it.

CROMMETT: Georgia.

CHANESKI: Georgia is correct.


CHANESKI: Thank you for playing, Amy. That makes Michael our grand winner. Congratulations.

EISENBERG: That's our show. Thank you so much for playing. Check out our podcast on iTunes or Stitchr, and you can find us on Facebook or Twitter. Just look for NPR ASK ME ANOTHER. Come see us live. Go to ASK ME ANOTHER's puzzle guru is Art Chung.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hey, his name anagrams to Nark Thug.

EISENBERG: Our house musician is Jonathan Coulton.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Thou jolt a cannon.

EISENBERG: We'd like to thank our home in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Bell House.


EISENBERG: And our production partner WNYC. I'm her ripe begonias.



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