This Is United States The contestants swap two-letter terms and phrases for states that share those same two letters in this high-concept word game. It's that simple!

This Is United States

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Our next game is about the United States. I'm Canadian, so the first time I heard the president's State of the Union, I thought it was like an award.

Let's meet our next two contestants. First up, Alaire Comyn. You're from Durham, N.C.



EISENBERG: And you're a data analyst in metabolomics. Did I say it right?

COMYN: Metabolomics.

EISENBERG: Oh, my God. I said it totally wrong. What is that?

COMYN: So what we do is we will get a biological sample, and we'll find, like, all of the metabolites that are being produced. So, like, we always produce things in our bodies like lactic acid. You know, we have glucose in our bloodstream, things like that. And we basically find all of that in samples. And cancer research is a big area for it. But even things like the gut microbiome, we're learning more and more about the relationship between microbiology and metabolites.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Any any tips for...

COMYN: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: ...The average person just trying to live better and...

COMYN: A lot of what we're seeing right now is a lot of the money you spend on probiotics is useless. So (laughter)...

EISENBERG: OK, so no more...

COMYN: ...You're basically taking (ph) expensive sugar pills, so (laughter)...

EISENBERG: Well, I've got a lot of things to throw away when I get home.


EISENBERG: OK, Alaire, when you ring in, we'll hear this.


EISENBERG: Your opponent is Kathryn Brower. You teach art and theater to children from kindergarten to the eighth grade. As an art teacher to young kids, are you like, oh, my God, you might be the next star? Or is your goal something totally different?

KATHRYN BROWER: I have two goals in both theater and art. And they are to have the children like themselves and to have them like what they are doing. Actually, sorry, it's three goals - and then to really like art and to really like theater.


BROWER: So it's, do you like what you're doing, and are you happy with this? Great, then we all win. So it's all good.


EISENBERG: Kathryn, when you ring in, we'll hear this.


EISENBERG: Remember, Alaire and Kathryn, whoever gets more points after two games will go to our final round.

So this high-concept word game is called This is United States. Every answer is a phrase that begins with a two-letter word or initialism (ph) that is the same as a two-letter abbreviation for a U.S. state or territory. So your job is to replace those two letters with the full name of the state or territory.

JONATHAN COULTON: So, for instance, if I said this "Today Show" weatherman gives the temperature in all 50 states starting with the first one alphabetically, you would answer Alabama Roker, taking Al Roker and replacing AL with Alabama.

EISENBERG: Here we go. Turns out, Duke University's Blue Devils work too blue. That's why the Motion Picture Association of America gave this state to the movie rating that replaced X for adult-only content.



BROWER: N - North Carolina 17.



BROWER: I'm sorry. She's from North Carolina.

EISENBERG: That's right. I know. Well...

COMYN: No, it's OK.

EISENBERG: ...Sometimes this is how we know we're all together.

BROWER: It's an ensemble piece.

EISENBERG: That's right, when we're all together.

COULTON: This just in. You might be a Mudcat if you live in the Magnolia State. Stay tuned to Rachel Maddow on this cable news network for more.


COULTON: Alaire.

COMYN: Mississippi NBC.

COULTON: That's right.


EISENBERG: It's the second smallest state, the first state to ratify the Constitution and has zero sales tax. Me, myself and I want our favorite '90s rap trio to play there.



BROWER: Run Delaware MC?

EISENBERG: Not what we're looking for, but a very good idea. Alaire, can you steal?

COMYN: Run North Dakota MC?

BROWER: Oh, I know what it is now.

EISENBERG: OK, you're both not getting a point, but you want to just say what you...

BROWER: It's Delaware La Soul

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's...

BROWER: I hate myself.

EISENBERG: Don't hate yourself.

COULTON: (Laughter) Wait, you just broke your own rule No. 2.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's (laughter).


COULTON: Kathryn, how are you going to teach these kids to love themselves...

EISENBERG: Got to lead by example.

BROWER: I'll do better.

COULTON: ...When one little thing goes wrong, and suddenly, you're way off the rails?

BROWER: (Laughter) Please don't put that on the radio.

COULTON: I believe in you, Kathryn. I believe in you.

BROWER: Thanks.

EISENBERG: Show me a state that's the birthplace of Mark Twain, home to the Gateway Arch and features prominently in Biggie's song about the perils of financial success.


COMYN: Alaire.

COMYN: Missouri Money, More Problems.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's great. That's great.


COULTON: This northern state has it all - great cars, great lakes and the Great British Secret Intelligence Service.


COULTON: Alaire.

COMYN: Michigan 6.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right, MI6.


EISENBERG: This is your last clue. This state is sick of being known for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical where the wind comes sweeping down the plain. They'd rather take credit for a 1997 Radiohead album.



COMYN: Oklahoma Computer.

EISENBERG: That's right.


EISENBERG: Congratulations. Well done.


EISENBERG: And Alaire is in the lead.


EISENBERG: Coming up, we have comedian Marina Franklin, who's been in "Trainwreck" and "Crashing." But in this case, that means she's doing great. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.


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