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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. We are playing this week with Adam Felber, Josh Gondelman and Helen Hong. And here again is your host, a man who as of this week has officially gone feral, Peter Sagal.


KURTIS: Thank you, Bill. 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.

ELLIOT LAFFERTY: Hi. This is Elliot from Essex Junction, Vt. And I just finished my peanut butter toast.


Oh, really? So you're...

HELEN HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: So you're ready to rock. Is that what you're saying, Elliot?


HONG: Nice.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Did you - where did you say you're from, Elliot?

LAFFERTY: I'm from Essex Junction, Vt.

SAGAL: Oh, Essex Junction, Vt. OK. And what do you do there?

LAFFERTY: I'm a Spanish teacher and a handyman.

SAGAL: A handyman.


SAGAL: OK. So in your handyman business - you're a Vermont person. You're handy, of course. Can you tell us, like, what's the oddest thing you've ever been asked to come over to somebody's house and do?

LAFFERTY: You know, I - boy, that's a stumper. I would say fixing a gazebo by the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain.

SAGAL: Yeah, I was hoping for something involving nudity or some embarrassing kind of home accident, but that's OK. That's lovely. That's good.


SAGAL: Speaks well of you, and...

JOSH GONDELMAN: That's - what a Vermont answer to that question.


GONDELMAN: Like, what's the weirdest thing you're asked, and you were like, I fixed a beautiful gazebo. Like, I live in New York City. And if a handyman here answered that, it'd be, like, well, someone called me to get a rat out of their bigger rat.


GONDELMAN: There's a rat stuck in my rat, and I just need to de-rat the rat. Oh, that's your problem. Now you got a rat in that rat.

SAGAL: Well, anyway, Elliot, it's really nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Elliot's topic?

KURTIS: You versus wild.

SAGAL: So we've all wondered, if I was stranded and starving in the wilderness, what wine pairs best with bugs? This week, we heard about a new survival tip for the great outdoors. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

LAFFERTY: Yeah, you betcha (ph).

SAGAL: All right. Well, then, let's do it. First up, let's hear from Adam Felber.

ADAM FELBER: Author Charles Lisby (ph) found himself in his own horror story last week while on a retreat to a rented cabin near Guerneville, Calif. Mr. Lisby had been catching a nap in a hammock when he was awoken by some prowling raccoons. Startled, Mr. Lisby panicked, thrashed and got himself hopelessly entangled in a hammock, a human cocoon, unable to move. Fortunately, his phone was on the ground beneath. But when he voice-dialed 911, he was told, A, that all the emergency personnel were combating nearby wildfires, and B, Charlie was pretty sure the EMTs were laughing at his description of his plight.

Desperate, he had an inspiration. Using Siri, he voice-activated his Domino's app, ordered his usual - a double cheese pizza and sweet mango habanero wings - and under special delivery instructions for the delivery man, he dictated, quote, "stuck in a hammock. Please help." The plan worked, and soon, Mr. Lisby was being cut free by local delivery guy, 17-year-old Ethan Kervela (ph), who then received what he called, like, the biggest tip ever. Lisby had nothing but praise for the teen and the chain, saying, quote, "the EMT said it would take hours. I got my rescue hot in 30 minutes or less."

HONG: (Laughter).

FELBER: However, he added that his offer was not correctly fulfilled. Quote, "when I saw he'd accidentally brought me a Hawaiian pizza, I almost asked him to leave me up in that hammock to die."

GONDELMAN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: A guy stuck in a hammock far in the woods is rescued simply by ordering Domino's. Your next story of survival comes from Helen Hong.

HONG: Getting drunk and heading into the wilderness seems like the plot of a slasher film where a bunch of oversexed teams get picked off one by one by a murderous maniac. But scientists have discovered getting drunk might actually be a great idea when getting lost in the woods. Researchers at the College of Little Compton in Rhode Island have discovered that intoxication may cause increased agility on rugged terrain.

They came to this conclusion after observing the patrons of the local pub, the Loose and Leaky Lighthouse of Little Compton. The pub was on an uneven cobblestone street with broken sidewalks from overgrown tree roots. And I'm actually going to ask Josh to help me out with some quotes here.

GONDELMAN: (Imitating New England accent) It's like an obstacle course just to get there...

HONG: ...Reported one local resident.

GONDELMAN: (Imitating New England Accent) People are spraining their ankles and smashing their noggins just trying to get a drink.

HONG: But patrons leaving the pub after a few pints never seemed to have a problem navigating the dangerous walkway.

GONDELMAN: (Imitating New England accent) Well, unless they are totally plastered.

FELBER: (Laughter).

HONG: College researchers then recreated the study with intoxicated hikers navigating highly technical terrain at a nearby wilderness park and discovered that three beers or two vodka tonics actually improve the hikers' ability to not smash their faces in. The researchers were quick to emphasize that any more than three beers or two vodka tonics did not help agility.

GONDELMAN: (Imitating New England Accent) Again, you know, you can't get too hammered.

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Getting drunk helps hikers manage difficult terrain without injury. Your last story of ah, ah, ah, ah, staying alive comes from Josh Gondelman.

GONDELMAN: Picture this - you're hiking through the remote tundra of the Arctic. You're face to face with a polar bear, and you're fully nude. No, this isn't the climax of a new Netflix dating show called "Baring It All" (ph). According to travel writer Paula Froelich, it's an effective method of surviving ursine attacks. If you should come face to face with a polar bear, back away while peeling your clothes off one at a time, says Froelich, whose strategy seems like it was pulled from a "Looney Tunes" episode where Bugs Bunny dresses up like a sexy lady to trick Elmer Fudd. It should be stated, however, that this is not an appropriate method to figure out if you and a polar bear have romantic chemistry or if you're better off remaining friends. Just be an adult, and ask the bear directly.

According to Froelich, a polar bear's natural curiosity could cause it to sniff and play with each item of your clothing individually as you disrobe. Scientists hypothesize that this strategy could be an effective distraction on account of the bear's classification under phylum, certified freak seven days a week.


SAGAL: All right. So let's put it this way. You're somewhere in the wilderness, and you're in trouble. Somebody has come up with a very useful thing to do. Is it, from Adam Felber, if you're lost, and you need help, just order Domino's - they'll find you in 30 minutes or less - from Helen Hong, if you have difficult terrain to traverse, get drunk because apparently that helps, or from Josh Gondelman, if you're confronted by a polar bear, just take off all your clothes, which will distract and possibly titillate the bear? Which of these is the real story of a wilderness survival tip?

LAFFERTY: Well, Peter, they all sound like they could work. But I'm going to go with Josh's story as the most believable.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Josh's story as the one where you - if you were confronted by one of the deadliest predators on the planet, you simply should remove your clothes. All right. To bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone familiar with the real story.


ELISABETH KRUGER: I would suggest wearing as many layers as you can because you might run out of clothing before you can escape from the bear.


SAGAL: That was Elisabeth Kruger - she's the Arctic wildlife manager for the World Wildlife Fund - talking about getting naked for the polar bears. Congratulations, Elliot. You got it right.

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: You earned a point for Josh, and you've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Congratulations.

LAFFERTY: All right.


HONG: Yay.

SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing with us today. Bye-bye.

LAFFERTY: Thanks, Peter.


MARVA WHITNEY: (Singing) Daddy don't know about sugar bear, and my daddy don't know I'm loving sugar bear. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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