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Bluff The Listener

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, in for Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with P. J. O'Rourke, Charlie Pierce and Roxanne Roberts. And, here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Thank you so much. Right now, it's 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!

SEAN EILERS: Hi there, it's Sean from Springfield, Oregon.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Springfield, Oregon?

EILERS: Quite nice. Sitting on the back deck right now.

SAGAL: I have to tell you, I did not know there was a Springfield, Oregon, although I should have assumed there was. There's a Springfield everywhere.

EILERS: Oh, yeah and we tried to claim it from "The Simpsons."

SAGAL: And how'd that go?

EILERS: Not so well.

SAGAL: I see.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Sean. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Sean's topic?

KURTIS: Reduce. Reuse. Rinse. Repeat.

SAGAL: We all want to save the planet, and once you separate your glass and your plastic, there doesn't seem to be much more you can do. But there is. This week our panelists are going to read you three stories of people taking something unwanted and repurposing it for another, much-needed product. Guess the real story and you'll win Carl Kasell's voice on your home-answering machine or voicemail. Ready to go?


SAGAL: First up, let's hear from Charlie Pierce.

CHARLIE PIERCE: Tourists are slowing down these days as they drive down the streets of rural Bayfield County in northern Wisconsin. The local taxidermy firm of Wilcox and Statman has created a sensation with its latest innovation: road kill lawn ornaments.


PIERCE: "We were driving along one day," said Bud Wilcox, "when we noticed that the county hadn't been picking up the carcasses the way it used to." The local county commission admits this, but pleads budgetary priorities in its own defense.

So Wilcox and his partner Sam Statman enlisted the aid of Statman's nephew Paul, a sculptor and recent graduate of the Wisconsin College of Art, to create decorations out of the deceased fauna. Soon, the lawns of Bayfield County were replete with the lovely lifelike statues of deer and elk. Some of these were decorated with lights for last year's Christmas rush.


PIERCE: But the real craze began when the taxidermists began cutting and pasting parts of different animals together.


PIERCE: Soon, a dozen houses became roadside attractions, featuring woodchucks with antlers, porcupines with the heads of squirrels, and most memorably, a chipmunk head atop a black bear.


PIERCE: "I've met so many wonderful people since I put that up," said Connie Fitzgerald, owner what she calls the bearmunk.


PIERCE: "One couple has been back twice to take pictures with their grandchildren." Wilcox and Statman are now making plans to leave the boondocks of Dr. Moreau and take their business national.


SAGAL: Road kill as lawn ornaments. Your next story of a fresh take in recycling comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: For many years, University of California at Berkeley entomologist Judy Talbon simply tossed the skin shed by her pet snake Spot. One day last year, while extracting the delicate coral skin from his pen, her graduate assistant stared at the red, yellow and black design and said "that would look badass on my nails."


ROBERTS: And voila, Scale Nails was born. Talbon collaborate with Berkeley makeup artist Sandy Wilmot on a line of nail stickers. The snake skin is laser cut for small, medium and large nails. A set of ten sells for $40.

.The line, especially popular with both bikers and Park Avenue socialites includes: Fang, which is rattle skin; Squeeze, which is python; and Bite Me, the exclusive design from her beloved Spot, who only sheds twice a year. Quote, "That's my boy," Talbon told KABC-TV. "He's backordered for three years."



SAGAL: Shedded snake skin as fingernail décor. And your last story of someone finding a new use for something comes from P. J. O'Rourke.

P. J. O'ROURKE: Did you ever wonder about tank battles? I mean with the soldiers sealed inside their armored vehicles for hours and hours, while war wages all around them. How do they go to the bathroom?

The problem has been solved. Russian inventor Aleksandra Georgievich Semenov has created a method for tank crews to not only do number one and number two, but to also repurpose their biological waste and recycle it. It's an artillery shell that can be filled with pee and poop.


O'ROURKE: And shot at foes. Semenov claims that this novel reclamation of used food and drink resources has two advantages. One is ecological, preventing climate change, as it were, in the atmosphere inside the tank.


O'ROURKE: The other advantage is strategic. In his patent application, Semenov says, quote, "Additional military psychological and military political effects are achieved" by the contents of his ammunition having, quote, "distribution on equipment and uniform of an enemy."



SAGAL: All right. Here then are your stories. From Charlie Pierce: road kill being made into lawn ornaments in Wisconsin. From Roxanne Roberts: used snakeskin no longer needed by the snake becomes beautiful fingernail decorations. Or from P. J. O'Rourke, the call of nature becomes a war cry, according to a Russian inventor, who's come up with a clever solution for tanks and tank crews. Which of these is the real story of clever repurposing?

EILERS: My goodness.


SAGAL: I don't think goodness comes into this one.

EILERS: Yeah, it doesn't sound like it. I really want to see some of those animals in front yards, so I am going to go with Charlie.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Charlie for his repurposed road kill in Wisconsin.

EILERS: Yeah, it does sound cool.

SAGAL: All right, well, to bring you the real answer, we spoke to someone who was familiar with the real story.

MARC ABRAHAMS: Crewmen of armored tanks package up their biological waste into the shells that they then fire across the battlefield.

SAGAL: That was Marc Abrahams, the man behind the Ig Nobel Prizes, talking about the tank that recycles human waste for weapons. His new book is "This is Improbable." I'm sorry, Sean, but P. J., as disgusting as it might be, was telling the truth.

O'ROURKE: I'm just a reporter.


SAGAL: I'm afraid you didn't win, but you did earn a point for Charlie for his brilliant idea, which I hope taxidermists all over Wisconsin will now take into effect.

EILERS: I've always heard the shooting the you know.


SAGAL: Yeah.

O'ROURKE: There you go.

SAGAL: Thank you for using that one because we forgot to. Thank you so much for playing.


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

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