Don't Know Much About History This game recalls descriptions of historical events from the perspective of someone who wasn't really paying attention in school.
NPR logo

Don't Know Much About History

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/475112314/475135348" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Don't Know Much About History

Don't Know Much About History

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/475112314/475135348" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

We have our next two contestants. Adam Martin, you're an attorney. I bet you've seen some wacky stuff in the Pennsylvania courtrooms.

(LAUGHTER)

ADAM MARTIN: Oh, it's wacky.

EISENBERG: Is it wacky? Give me an example of the wackiness.

MARTIN: Well, we basically had a defendant who was a walking, talking, country song. He was found sitting in the front seat of his pickup truck listening to George Jones, drinking a pint of moonshine. And he went on to be convicted of arson for burning down his ex-wife's trailer.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: What's - I don't see any problems.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Caitlyn Spiller. You're a grad student studying ESL.

CAITLYN SPILLER: I skipped class to be here tonight.

EISENBERG: Really?

(LAUGHTER)

SPILLER: I'm going to be a great teacher. (Laughter).

EISENBERG: That's great.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Hey, it's all about priorities. Teach people about priorities. It's important. You have an obsession, more importantly, with the show "Gilmore Girls."

SPILLER: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

SPILLER: Right? (Laughter).

EISENBERG: What is it about that show for you?

SPILLER: I mean, it's kind of personal 'cause I used to watch it with my mom growing up.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

SPILLER: But it's just, like - 'cause I moved really far away from home so it's, like, comfort for me to watch it.

EISENBERG: Totally understand. Adam, what subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?

MARTIN: I'd have to say science.

EISENBERG: Why?

MARTIN: Well, mostly 'cause that's the class I paid the least attention to. We had a really, really cute teacher.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I like how you're smiling like that's still dirty.

MARTIN: It's...

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: It's a fond memory.

EISENBERG: It's a fond memory? (Laughter). Good.

Caitlyn, how 'bout you? What subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?

SPILLER: Probably the class I skipped tonight. (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Yeah? This is a very active question for you, yes.

SPILLER: It's pretty difficult so - it's called corpus linguistics.

EISENBERG: And what's going on there?

SPILLER: So, like, it's really tech-y, and I'm not tech-y at all. So sometimes the professor, it seems like she's speaking a different language. And I'm like...

EISENBERG: Is it the language of the dead?

(LAUGHTER)

SPILLER: No.

EISENBERG: Corpus. OK.

JONATHAN COULTON: That's a relief.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Well, we have a game for you about history. As the saying goes, those who don't learn from history are doomed to make things up on the test. So in this game, I'll give you descriptions of historical moments from the perspective of someone who really wasn't paying any attention in school.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So for an example we're going to go to our puzzle guru Art Chung.

ART CHUNG: In the 1930s, everyone was really bummed out, but it wasn't that bad. In fact, it was pretty good. That would be a confused description of the Great Depression.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: All right. So these clues are overly literal descriptions of phrases that you might find in a history textbook. Let's give it a shot. This was a conflict during the 20th century when it was snowy all the time. America and the Soviet Union were both freezing.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Adam.

MARTIN: The Cold War.

EISENBERG: Exactly, yeah. Czechoslovakia's communist government stepped down after those peaceful protests in which everyone wore clothes made from a smooth, fuzzy fabric. Let's go to our puzzle guru Art Chung.

Do you have a hint?

CHUNG: We were expecting a hint necessary here. The fabric we're looking for is sort of like on the rope that you'd find at a nightclub.

EISENBERG: That's pretty good. That's a good hint.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Adam.

MARTIN: The Velvet Revolution?

EISENBERG: Yeah.

MARTIN: What? Really?

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: You did it. You learned something.

During the American Revolution, a bunch of patriots went to Massachusetts to host a social gathering with cakes and light refreshments.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Caitlyn.

SPILLER: The Boston Tea Party?

EISENBERG: Exactly.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It seems guns used to be a lot louder because this opening salvo of the Revolutionary War was audible to the entire planet.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Adam.

MARTIN: The shot heard round the world?

EISENBERG: Exactly. Nice.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: This was a metal divider that Stalin hung across Europe after World War II...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...I guess so he wouldn't have to look at the capitalist world.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Adam.

MARTIN: The Iron Curtain.

EISENBERG: That's what we're looking for, exactly.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It was like that curtain between first and economy class in the plane.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That little tiny, filmy, silver thing. So you can see all the rich people - just slightly blurs. All right, this is your last clue. Science took a step back after the fall of Rome, including torch and lantern technology. There wasn't a lot of light, and it was really hard to see.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SPILLER: The Dark Ages.

EISENBERG: Caitlyn, you are correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right, puzzle guru Art Chung, how did they do?

CHUNG: They both did great. Congratulations to Adam. You're moving on to the final round at the end of the show.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Coming up, I'll be talking to Leslie Odom, Jr., about playing Aaron Burr in "Hamilton," a show that honestly made me laugh so loud and cry my eyes out and almost convinced me to become an American citizen.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Plus we'll play another installment of one our favorite games - This, That, or the Other. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and you're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

(APPLAUSE)

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.