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Bluff The Listener

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Kyrie O'Connor, Tom Bodett and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host, at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas, Texas, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Thank you so much. Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

GREG MILBORNE: Hi. My name is Greg. I'm from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

SAGAL: Oh, hi, Greg. What do you do there in Swarthmore?

MILBORNE: I'm a psychologist.

SAGAL: Oh really, you do therapy? You listen to people's problems all day.

MILBORNE: We try and fix them, yeah.

SAGAL: I understand. Do you ever find yourself just wanting to say, "Would you just get over it?"


SAGAL: Stop your whining.

MILBORNE: That's why I go for a run at the end of the day.

SAGAL: I understand.


SAGAL: Greg, welcome to the show.


SAGAL: You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Greg's topic?

KASELL: I'm not in the mood for love, Peter.



SAGAL: For many people, Valentine's Day is just an obnoxious reminder of how crazy un-in-love they are. But this week, our panelists are going to read you three stories of people going to extreme lengths to bring romance to those not in the mood for love. Guess the true story and you will win Carl's voice on your home answering or voicemail. You ready to go?


SAGAL: Let's hear from Paula Poundstone first.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: Third grade teacher Judy Plot and Sam Steiner met at a party in their small town of Lewis dale, Minnesota. Sam had never met anyone more beautiful and interesting in his life. Judy didn't remember meeting Sam at all, until he showed up in front of her apartment a few days later, where she declined his offer to go for a drink.

That evening, her pink dot grocery deliveryman handed her two cans of whipped cream that she hadn't ordered, saying "Sam Steiner is a great listener." "At first I thought it was kind of funny," says Judy Plot. "It was little weird stuff. I found a mailer in my mailbox from Mike's Carpet Cleaning, offering 10 percent off on cleaning any carpet Sam Steiner had walked on."


POUNDSTONE: When she stopped off to pick up her dry cleaning, she found a teddy nestled in between the sweaters she had dropped off. Plot was shocked to receive an email claiming to be from that said God, making a rare exception, wanted to hook her up with Sam Steiner, a wonderful Jewish man.


POUNDSTONE: "I'm telling you, everyone in this town was soldier in the fight to get this guy laid," says Plot.


POUNDSTONE: "When my third grade students started turning in extra credit projects that I had never assigned that include paper-Mache sculptures of Sam and I holding hands and an essay entitled 'Loving Sam: Every Woman's Dream,' I contacted the police."


SAGAL: An entire town tries to bring a couple together. Your next story of somebody getting their groove back comes from Kyrie O'Connor.

KYRIE O'CONNOR: You've got to hand it to Vladimir Putin. The Russian premier known for his strange bare-chested photo ops has hatched a plan to build up the sadly sagging Russian birth rate.

This week, he staged a gala concert in Moscow by the 90s R&B trio Boyz 2 Men, known for such romantic ballads as "End of the Road," and of course, "I'll Make Love to You." See, if you hear a lot of Boyz 2 Men's 20-year-old hits, you'll get all swoony, rush home and ditch the birth control for a night of passion.


O'CONNOR: Because a night of passion is so worth then throwing up for three months and then getting a hugely distended abdomen and then going through 12 hours of excruciating pain and then not sleeping ever for the rest of your life.


SAGAL: Vladimir Putin brings in Boyz 2 Men to increase the Russian birth rate. Your last story of somebody bringing sexy back comes from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: The musk ox herds of Nunavut, Canada are the pride of the nation, having been brought back from near extinction in the 1950s to a population of over 100,000 today. So when Canadians learned that the musk oxen had mysteriously stopped mating, they were upset. "I'm upset," said Maria Ogden of Montreal.


BODETT: "Those are the hairy ones that stand in a circle, eh," said Prince George truck driver Chris Smith.


BODETT: They are the hairy ones who stand in a circular defense formation when threatened, and that's exactly what the cows have been doing: heads facing out, with the business ends of their mating equipment hidden from the frustrated bulls, stomping and grunting around the perimeters.

If this sounds like your junior high school experience too, then you'll understand the inspiration for the actions the government took to save the situation. Just as defensively crouched herds of preadolescent females will eventually shove one of their own out onto the dance floor to be picked off by some pimply kid with matted hair...


BODETT: ...the Canadians had army Special Forces paraglide into the circle of reluctant cows and goose one from behind...


BODETT: ...until she bolted out into the waiting embrace of some matty-haired bull. Simultaneously, the soldier would blow a horn, imitating the musk oxen mating call. This had the same effect as a group of human girls shouting, "She really likes you."


BODETT: As they cast their friend into the dance.


SAGAL: All right then.


SAGAL: Here are your choices. From Paula Poundstone, the story of a whole town which all got together and did everything they could to get a girl interested in a particular boy.

From Kyrie O'Connor, Vladimir Putin taking a personal role in trying to bring up Russians' birth rate, by bringing in Boyz 2 Men to get everybody in the mood. Or from Tom Bodett, how the Canadian government managed to break up the protective circle of female musk oxen. Which of these is the real story of people trying to give romance a chance?

MILBORNE: Well, as much as I think the Canadians are in love with their musk oxen, and the first one just sounds a little too creepy.


SAGAL: So you think...

MILBORNE: So I'm going to go with the Russians.

SAGAL: So you're going to go with Kyrie's story of Vladimir Putin bringing in Boyz 2 Men just to bring a romantic mood to the frozen steps of Russia. All right, well, to bring you the real story - well, let's listen to this.



SAGAL: Oh my god, they're grappling in the aisles of the opera house. They do have a powerful effect.


SAGAL: That was Boyz 2 Men, who played a concert in Moscow this week. You picked the correct story and you have won Carl's voice on your home voicemail.


MILBORNE: A typical story.

SAGAL: A typical story. Congratulations, you did well.

MILBORNE: Thank you very much.

SAGAL: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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