Underestimated New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake and her husband John Pastore take a quiz about culinary, literary and cultural underdogs from around the world.


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JONATHAN COULTON: (Playing guitar). This is ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and learning how to cut your own hair. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


Thanks, Jonathan. I'm growing out my bangs.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: This week we're calling our friends to play some games, and right now we're here with New Yorker cartoonist Emily Flake and her husband John Pastore. Emily, John, you want to play another game with us? Are you up for it?

EMILY FLAKE: Yes, we are.

JOHN PASTORE: Let's do it.

EISENBERG: This trivia game is about people, inventions and works of art that were at first past over, mocked, and yet they later rose to prominence. It's - this is a game that really just brings together everybody's revenge fantasy. OK, John, in the 18th century, this newfangled object was criticized for being too French and for defying the heavenly purpose of rain, which obviously was to make people wet.

PASTORE: An umbrella?

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's right.

PASTORE: Whoo (ph).

EISENBERG: Too French.

FLAKE: I was going to guess bidet, but...

PASTORE: That's where I was going at first.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Emily, here's one for you.


COULTON: In 1851, a rejection letter for this book read, first, we must ask. Does it have to be a whale? We recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the young readers. For instance, could not the captain be struggling with the depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous maidens?


FLAKE: I'm going to go ahead and guess "Moby Dick."

COULTON: That is correct. I love that idea. It's very Hollywood. Does it have to be a whale? Can it be sexy ladies instead?

FLAKE: Yeah (laughter). Can we now rewrite "Moby Dick" with sexy ladies as the antagonist?

COULTON: I think it's a million-dollar idea. Ophira's audio has cut out. Can't hear you, Ophira.

EISENBERG: Oh, I'm back. I'm back.




COULTON: When did you cut out, Ophira? We were doing the "Moby Dick" question.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Was that fun? Did you guys have a good time with that answer since I...

COULTON: It was a blast. Man, you missed maybe the best question we've done in this whole game.

EISENBERG: Did you talk about the maidens? Did you talk about the maidens?

COULTON: We talked about the maidens, and, like, we made some Hollywood jokes. It was a good time.

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah. No middle-aged maiden - did you talk about that?


EISENBERG: A maiden - OK. John?

PASTORE: All right.

EISENBERG: John, this former Baltimore anchorwoman said that she was demoted for being too emotional. She said, they didn't want to pay out my contract, so they just kept me on and said, we'll put you on this talk show just to run out your contract.


EISENBERG: That is correct.

PASTORE: Whoo. That was a guess.

EISENBERG: Oh, hey. Who's joining us?



FLAKE: This is my daughter Augustine, also known as Tug. You want to say hi?


EISENBERG: Hi, Tug. How's it going?


FLAKE: Tug is 7 and currently completing second grade online.

EISENBERG: Oh. Are you learning a lot?

AUGUSTINE: Not really.

EISENBERG: Not really.

COULTON: Not really.

EISENBERG: That's...


EISENBERG: Same. Me, too.

COULTON: Me either.

EISENBERG: I'm not learning. No, nothing. Nothing (laughter). OK. I'm going to talk to your mommy for a second, OK?


EISENBERG: OK, here you go. Proving that critics are clueless, art critic Louis Leroy called this painter's work impression because it looked incomplete, more like a mere impression of a scene. He wrote, a preliminary drawing for a wallpaper pattern is more finished than this seascape.

FLAKE: Monet?

EISENBERG: Claude Monet is correct.

FLAKE: I'd be in a lot of trouble if I biffed that one, I think.


EISENBERG: Yeah. Louie (ph) Leroy or Louis Leroy - I have no idea, but I'm assuming it's Louie.

FLAKE: It just would be, wouldn't it? It just would.

COULTON: So typical.

FLAKE: This guy sounds like a jerk.


COULTON: So typical of the French to have a French pronunciation of their French names.


COULTON: Sick of it.

EISENBERG: That guy would hate cubism. He didn't even know what was coming.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: I just want to say live shows are so much easier.


EISENBERG: And also, thank you for being part of the most technically weirdly fraught trivia show.


FLAKE: I am a hero.


EISENBERG: Emily, John, you guys are the best. Thank you so much for dropping in and playing a couple games.

FLAKE: Thank you so much for having us.

PASTORE: Yeah, thank you.

FLAKE: This was so much fun.


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