Panel Questions Spinach spam and thank God it's Wednesday.

Panel Questions

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Peter Grosz, Laci Mosley and Faith Salie. And here again is your host, a man whose first and last names are both palindromes if you spell them weird, Petep Sagas (ph).


Thank you, Bill.

LACI MOSLEY: (Laughter).


SAGAL: In just a minute, Bill channels South Carolina Senator Lindsey G-rhyme in our Listener Limerick Challenge. If you'd like to play, give us a call at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Right now, panel, some more questions for you from the week's news.



SAGAL: ...Scientists have developed a new strain of spinach that can do what?

SALIE: OK, I actually know this one. And it's email. Spinach that can email.



SAGAL: It's spinach that can email you. Now, we should be clear, they don't send the kind of emails you might expect. Hi, Peter. Why haven't you been eating me lately? I hope you answer this time. I'm so good for you. Engineers at MIT have used nanotechnology to engineer spinach plants that can detect certain compounds in the ground, and then they emit a signal that triggers an email to scientists containing the spinach's findings. Then after that, you start getting a ton of spam from the carrots.

SALIE: (Laughter).

PETER GROSZ: Or from the Spam.

SALIE: Even though you just explained it very simply and perhaps accessibly, I do not understand one bit of that.

GROSZ: Yeah, the spinach detects - what? - like a mineral or something? Because you did say it will send an email with the spinach's findings. You did say that as if the spinach was doing research.

SAGAL: Yes, the spinach apparently goes through some sort of chemical change when it detects some sort of substances in the soil because it's been engineered that way. And then that chemical chain triggers another kind of device that eventually leads to a computer that sends you an email.


SAGAL: Now, this has been used before. They've actually used it to detect explosives like landmines. It's great, though. What it means is the next time you want to get out of a meeting, you can say, oh, wait, the spinach just emailed. There's a bomb.

MOSLEY: Right. Sent from my dirt phone. Also, I thought the spinach would be sending messages like help, papayas' hurting me. Like, that's what I wanted (laughter).

SALIE: Exactly. Like, I'm not the superfood you want. Go try some kale.

MOSLEY: Right. Stop putting me in smoothies. Like, I wanted opinions. But that's good, I guess, technology. We can't just go out and look at the spinach anymore. We need the spinach to email us.

SAGAL: I know.

GROSZ: Does it seem like you're going to get, like, a thousand emails? And then when it's done, you only have, like, one email?


SAGAL: Yeah.

GROSZ: I mean, that's a great spinach joke 'cause it just really seems like it's going to be a lot.

SAGAL: Yeah, it is.

SALIE: I totally got it.

SAGAL: Very good spinach joke, very good spinach joke.

SALIE: No, but when you cook it. It get it.

GROSZ: It gets very small.

SALIE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Laci, as work from home blurs together the days of the week, more and more people are taking part in a Swedish tradition where on Wednesdays you do what?

MOSLEY: A Swedish tradition where on Wednesdays, you clog?


SAGAL: I wouldn't put it by the Swedes...

SALIE: Good guess.

SAGAL: ...To put aside an entire day for clogging.

GROSZ: No walking.

MOSLEY: (Laughter) And, like, it's - their wood heels out, and they hit the streets?

SALIE: I like that.

MOSLEY: Yeah. And the Uten Hagen (ph)? Yeah (laughter).



SALIE: Uta Hagen, the actress, ja.

SAGAL: Uta Hagen? The Uta Hagen from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" That Uta Hagen?

SALIE: We do exercises, yeah.

SAGAL: It's like Uta Hagen.

MOSLEY: We do Uta Hagen, yes.

SAGAL: No, none of these are correct.

MOSLEY: No, Peter, I'm right, no.


SAGAL: To my knowledge, nobody gets up and celebrates Uta Hagen every Wednesday in Sweden.

MOSLEY: (Laughter) She needs a holiday. This is my stance.

SAGAL: She does, Uta Hagen Day.

GROSZ: This is another one where we don't need the real answer.


GROSZ: I think it's just too much fun having the wrong answer. I'm enjoying this.

SAGAL: Meanwhile, back to Wednesdays in Sweden.


SAGAL: So this is a Swedish tradition. They're doing this on Wednesday to sort of brighten up the week. What do they do on Wednesday?

MOSLEY: I'm going to say on Wednesdays, they have happy hour (laughter).

SAGAL: You're awfully close. No, I'm actually - I'm going to give it to you 'cause I don't know how I could get you closer. Basically, what they do is they decide to pretend that Wednesday is the weekend.


SAGAL: That's what they do. They party like it's the weekend. It's called Lillordag, which means Little Saturday. So in Sweden, on Wednesday night...

SALIE: Oh, that's like a rapper name, too, Lil Lordag.

SAGAL: It is, Lil Lordag, yeah.

MOSLEY: Yeah, the weekend.

SALIE: Yeah, yeah.

SAGAL: Yeah, Lil Lordag.

MOSLEY: And Lil Lordag (laughter).

SAGAL: Yeah.

GROSZ: Lil Lordag is playing the Super Bowl, isn't he?

SAGAL: Exactly. Anyway, on Wednesday nights, people have a special meal in Sweden. They drink cocktails. They talk about how "Wednesday Night Live" used to be so much better.


GROSZ: That's basically, like, everybody in Sweden is in college or in their 20s where they just drink for no reason on a Wednesday night and then have to go to work hungover.

MOSLEY: Right. They're like, we've all decided to be hungover on Thursdays. That's our position.

GROSZ: Thursday is called We Don't Get Anything Done Thursdays.


BAY CITY ROLLERS: S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night. S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night. S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. 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.