We're Having Space Problems Houston... you know what we're gonna say. Contestants guess which celestial bodies are calling in with their real, space-related problems.
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We're Having Space Problems

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We're Having Space Problems

We're Having Space Problems

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from the Cullen Performance Hall at the University of Houston, Texas...

(CHEERING)

COULTON: ...It's NPR's hour of puzzles word games and trivia, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(APPLAUSE)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Hey, everybody. Wow, wow, wow. This is - this is exciting for us to be here. We have an amazing show for you people.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: We have four brilliant contestants. They are backstage. They're going to be up here very soon playing some nerdy games with us, and one of them is going to be our big winner, becoming the second-most-famous person from Houston after Beyonce.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I truly believe. And I'm really excited about this. Our special guest from Broadway, from television...

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: ...Kristin Chenoweth.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Kristin Chenoweth has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame...

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: ...Which is - yeah - the only place in Hollywood where it's still OK to walk all over a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Progress.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Small, but mighty. Kristin Chenoweth originated the role of Glinda the Good Witch...

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: ...In the musical "Wicked." "Wicked" is the backstories of the witches from "The Wizard Of Oz." There's a good witch and a bad witch. You know what? I never really liked how there was a good witch and a bad witch. I feel like that's a very shallow categorization of women. You know, it's much more complex than that. Why couldn't they just have a really good at a lot of things and much smarter than you but nice about it witch...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...And kind of mean, but really she just wants to connect - could you just buy her a Pinot Grigio witch?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And, of course, my favorite, sandwich.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: The very, very best witch.

COULTON: Best witch of all.

EISENBERG: The best witch of all. And she has a new album coming out that we're going to talk about. It's a cover of all songs by female performers called "For The Girls"...

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: ...For the girls. That's right. If you're a man, and you buy it, it explodes in your face.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It's not for you, this one. It's not for you. We have a game called Houston, We Have Space Problems.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You know, why is it always, Houston, we have a problem? Why isn't it ever, Houston, what's your problem?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: What's going on with you? Are you guys sick of not being asked how you're doing?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Houston was obviously the very first word to be said on the moon.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: You'll always have that. You know what? I'm going to become an astronaut just so I can go to Mars and be the person that says the first word on Mars. And you know what the first word is going to be? Moist.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Moist, we have a problem...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...Which - trust me, that makes perfect sense if you've ever entered a room and said, moist - you have a problem.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: All right. Let's play some games, everybody.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: Let's meet our contestants. First up, Amy Paull. You are a stay-at-home mom, and this is your fifth game show.

AMY PAULL: That is correct.

EISENBERG: OK. You've already been on "Jeopardy," "Wheel Of Fortune," "Millionaire" and "Supermarket Sweep."

PAULL: That's correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: "Supermarket" was the first one?

PAULL: "Supermarket Sweep" was the original with my sister.

EISENBERG: Did you "train" - quote-unquote?

PAULL: We pretty much trained our whole lives for the actual game part where you give each other clues and that sort of thing.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

PAULL: And then we maybe made - drew out a map of the whole supermarket and studied the previous shows so that we would know where everything was in the store.

EISENBERG: Oh, my goodness.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: And how'd it go?

PAULL: We won. We won the whole thing.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right. Amy, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Zach Popkin-Hall. You're a Ph.D. student in entomology at Texas A&M. And recently, while you were doing some fieldwork in Australia, you were chased by a family of cassowaries, which are - it's like a...

ZACH POPKIN-HALL: So a sort of...

EISENBERG: ...Bird.

POPKIN-HALL: ...Like - yeah. So people are familiar with emus, probably, from Australia.

EISENBERG: Sure.

POPKIN-HALL: So cassowaries are the much scarier version of that.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Why were you in contact with these birds?

POPKIN-HALL: So we were staying at this place called the Cassowary House where they, like, throw...

EISENBERG: Well, that would be the reason. Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

POPKIN-HALL: They throw fruit to them in the morning, which is, like, really cute and charming when you're doing that. But then we were trying to look for some bugs there and, of course, forgot about the cassowaries. And then they came looking for more fruit.

EISENBERG: Very good. All right. Zach, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Amy and Zach, whoever has more points after two games will go to our final round. This quiz is inspired by the Apollo 13 quote Houston, we have a problem, which technically is a misquote. The real quote is "Houston, we've had a problem," but we don't want to correct Tom Hanks. So...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...In this game, Jonathan and I will pretend to be planets and other celestial objects calling into Houston with their own problems. Ring in to identify the celestial body. Here we go.

Houston, everyone visits me, but nobody stays. Is that the life of a famous influencer? I feel like we're getting farther apart every year, 1.48 inches to be exact.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Amy.

PAULL: The moon?

EISENBERG: That's right. Earth's moon.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yeah. According to the BBC, the moon is moving away from us at the same speed fingernails grow.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It's like the creepiest comparison of all time.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It's a weird, useless coincidence.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: It's not going to come up.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Houston, great news - the cream is working. My Great Red Spot is shrinking. Bad news - my own moons don't recognize me anymore.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Amy.

PAULL: Jupiter?

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yeah. Jupiter's famous storm the Great Red Spot is not a cold sore. It's a famous storm, and it used to be able to fit three earths inside of it. Now it can only fit one. Well, something else to worry about.

COULTON: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

PAULL: It's exciting.

EISENBERG: Houston, I don't want to make a fuss, but Pluto keeps cutting in front of me every 228 years. How do I confront him without seeming shrill?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Zach.

POPKIN-HALL: Neptune.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's right - Neptune.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Every 228 years Pluto is closer to the sun than Neptune, which would technically make it the eighth planet if it were a planet. Nobody knows. Big debate.

COULTON: It's complicated.

EISENBERG: It's complicated (laughter).

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: This is your last clue.

COULTON: Houston, it's always Earth, Earth, Earth. But what about me, your sister planet? Sure, I smell like rotten eggs and a day on me is longer than a year, but I do have a pink razor named after me.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Amy.

PAULL: Venus.

COULTON: Oh, yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right. Great game. And Amy is in the lead.

(APPLAUSE)

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