Cream City Actors Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Lauren Ash (Superstore) play a game about city nicknames. Will they pass the quiz, or get taken to Stumptown?

Cream City

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: This is ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and parent teacher teleconferences. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


Thanks, Jonathan. We're playing some games with two totally delightful people, Stephanie Beatrize from "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and the upcoming film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical "In The Heights," and Lauren Ash from "Superstore" and "She-Ra And The Princesses Of Power." All right. Stephanie, Lauren, are you ready for another game?


LAUREN ASH: Born ready. Born ready.

EISENBERG: Great. So this is a multiple choice quiz about how cities got their nicknames...



EISENBERG: ...So we'll go back-and-forth. All right. Stephanie, why is New York City nicknamed the Big Apple?


EISENBERG: Is it because, A, a newspaper sports columnist used the term to refer to the city's preeminent horse racing venues - B, because all of the appletini's the gals drink on "Sex In The City" - or C, because it's got a rotten center?

BEATRIZ: That's A.

EISENBERG: Yes, it is A. That's right.

BEATRIZ: I was like...


COULTON: (Laughter).

BEATRIZ: I was so sure, and then I was like, wait. Is this a setup? Am I...


EISENBERG: Yeah. Supposedly, horse racing reporter John Fitz Gerald overheard two stable hands refer to New York as the Big Apple, and he loved it, so he used it for an article for The New York Morning Telegraph.

BEATRIZ: What were the names of those stable hands?

ASH: That's so funny.

EISENBERG: Isn't that interesting...

BEATRIZ: You know.

EISENBERG: ...That their names are missing.

BEATRIZ: Lost to history.

ASH: Call Lin-Manuel Miranda. We got his next story.


ASH: This is the story.


ASH: This is it.

BEATRIZ: Let me text him right now.

ASH: Text him right now. The stable hands that came up with this.


EISENBERG: You know what? That's a good idea - just a retelling of the musical "New York, New York."


ASH: Yeah. Yeah.

COULTON: Focused on these two stable hands. That's a good idea.

ASH: Absolutely.

COULTON: All right. Lauren, this one's for you.

ASH: I'm ready.

COULTON: Miami is known as Magic City because, A, more magicians live there per capita than any other U.S. city - B, an ad campaign from a Florida developer was trying to lure northerners to the city despite its reputation for swamps and mosquitoes - or C, because it said that if you put money into Miami real estate, it disappears like magic?

ASH: (Laughter) Oh, B.

COULTON: Yes. According to the Miami Herald, a Florida developer hired a writer to write a positive article about Miami to lure people to the city, and they think probably the writer stole the nickname Magic City from Birmingham, Ala.

ASH: Now, Birmingham, Ala., was the original Magic City?

COULTON: That's right - because of all the magicians who live there. No, that's...

EISENBERG: That's right.

COULTON: ...Not true. I just made that up.


EISENBERG: Stephanie, Paris is known as the City of Lights, why? Is it, A, because of the Eiffel Tower, which is illuminated every evening - B, because it was one of the first European cities to adopt street lighting to deter crime - or, C, because berets are highly flammable and everybody smokes?


BEATRIZ: I think it's B.

EISENBERG: You're right. That's right.


EISENBERG: In 1667, lanterns were placed on main roads in Paris, and residents were asked to hang candles and oil lanterns on their window sills at night to deter crime.

BEATRIZ: Oh, imagine how beautiful that must...

EISENBERG: Beautiful.

BEATRIZ: ...Have been. It must have...


BEATRIZ: ...Been so incredible. Oh, my gosh. I wish I could time travel for things like that.

COULTON: All right. Lauren, this is the last question. It's for you.

ASH: All right.

COULTON: Why is Milwaukee's nickname Cream City? A, for Wisconsin's dairy industry - B, for the cream colored bricks many of the city's buildings are made out of - or, C, for the creamy head of its many locally brewed beers?

ASH: Oh, I am going to say A.

COULTON: Dairy industry?

ASH: Yeah.

COULTON: I'm sorry, that is incorrect. It is actually the color of the bricks...

ASH: What?

COULTON: ...That many of the city's...

BEATRIZ: I know.

COULTON: ...Buildings are made out of.

ASH: Wow.

COULTON: Where they were - all these bricks were made in the 1800s from clay that was found in southeastern Wisconsin, so there's this very common color of bricks in the city's buildings.

BEATRIZ: Well, that sounds beautiful.

ASH: Well, let's take a trip to Milwaukee when this is all over.

BEATRIZ: Shall we?

ASH: We'll...

EISENBERG: Let's do it (laughter).

ASH: We'll recreate the "Laverne & Shirley" opening. Wasn't that Milwaukee?

EISENBERG: Absolutely.

COULTON: That's right.

BEATRIZ: Cream City...

COULTON: Guys, when this...

BEATRIZ: ...Here I come.

COULTON: ...Pandemic is over, no matter what happens, let's promise right now that all four of us are going to go on a road trip and visit all of the cities that we've talked about in this game. If we really want to honor what happened today...

EISENBERG: Oh, my gosh.

BEATRIZ: That's right.

ASH: (Laughter).

COULTON: ...We'll commit to it right now.

BEATRIZ: I do want to honor it. Second pitch is that we all just get matching T-shirts that say Cream City on them, and don't explain them.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) I know.


ASH: This we can - we can have this happen very quickly. I like that. Yeah.

BEATRIZ: (Laughter) I want that...

COULTON: I could do it...

BEATRIZ: ...Shirt so bad.

COULTON: ...Right now while we're on the phone together.

BEATRIZ: What's the weirdest thing everybody's bought online since this all started?

ASH: Oh, gosh, so much.

BEATRIZ: So many things.

ASH: Full track suits.


ASH: A pair of - I'm a Blue Jays fan. I'm from Toronto originally, outside Toronto, and so I bought a pair of shorts that are Toronto Blue Jays shorts. Why?

BEATRIZ: Oh, cool. That's cool.

ASH: Why? But, you know.

EISENBERG: What have you bought, Stephanie?

BEATRIZ: I think the weirdest thing was like a pair of Isotoner slippers. Like, they're not fashionable...

EISENBERG: Are they comfy?

BEATRIZ: But - they're great.

ASH: I also wear a hard-soled slipper. I don't know about anyone else.

EISENBERG: I'm wearing a hard-soled slipper right now.

ASH: Yeah, yeah. It's come to that.

COULTON: I'm showing you the slipper that was just on my foot just a second ago.


ASH: Oh, yeah.

EISENBERG: This is the one I got, see?

ASH: Well, if...

COULTON: We all have our slippers right here.

ASH: Well, I've...


ASH: I've gotten a slipper - I'm in an orthopedic - this is an orthopedic sandal that I got at a Walgreens a few years ago...


ASH: ...And it's the greatest, greatest thing.

EISENBERG: Fantastic. Stephanie, Lauren, what a pleasure it is to hang out and play games with you. And...

BEATRIZ: That was so fun.

EISENBERG: ...You know, so happy to know that we are all wearing slippers. Just another reason why we came together today.

ASH: Of course.

EISENBERG: Because no one ever sees us from the waist down anymore. I mean, I don't know. There could be people in your house that see you.

ASH: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: I'm living with my husband, of course. Well, not of course. But...


COULTON: Of course.

ASH: I'm so deferred.

EISENBERG: But we only talk through Zoom.

ASH: Of course.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Of course - different rooms, so yeah.

ASH: Yes.

EISENBERG: He hasn't seen me from the waist down in years. OK.

ASH: (Laughter).

BEATRIZ: Ba-dum, tss.


EISENBERG: None of this is usable. None of that's usable. None of that's usable.


ASH: Sometimes you have to cross the line to remember where it is. You know what I mean?

BEATRIZ: That's real.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: I know. Well, sometimes - it's so funny because sometimes as you try to make things less crude with language, it makes it a thousand times worse.

BEATRIZ: Thousand times worse.

ASH: Yep.

COULTON: (Laughter).


ASH: Yep.

EISENBERG: Well, thanks, again, for playing some games with us. And we'll see you soon.

ASH: Thank you so much. This was so fun.

BEATRIZ: This was fantastic.

COULTON: Thanks a lot, guys.

EISENBERG: Thank you. Bye.

BEATRIZ: Thank you for having us.


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