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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Fri December 27, 2013
Bluff The Listener
Originally published on Sat December 28, 2013 9:03 am
CARL KASELL: Sometimes fiction is stranger than truth. Now that seems to have happened with a game you wanted to hear again. It's from August of 2008 with panelists Roxanne Roberts, Charlie Pierce, Paula Poundstone and guest judge and scorekeeper Corey Flintoff.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Hi, you're on WAIT, WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
JIM STAUTS: Hey there, Peter.
SAGAL: Hey, who's this?
STAUTS: This is Jim Stauts from Conroe, Texas.
SAGAL: Conroe, Texas. Where the heck is that?
STAUTS: That is one county north of Houston.
SAGAL: Can you smell Houston from there?
STAUTS: Unfortunately sometimes, yeah. There's a (unintelligible) and subtle breeze here.
SAGAL: That's great. Well, that's nice that little whiff of Houston in the morning. Well, welcome to the show Jim. Now you are going to play the game in which your job is to tell truth from fiction. Corey, what is Jim's topic?
COREY FLINTOFF: If I find Andrew Weil, I'm going to rip out his beard one hair at a time.
SAGAL: So everybody is constantly offering us advice on how to live more healthily. Let's be honest, a lot of the stuff will not help at all. In fact, some of it is downright bad for you. Our panelists are going to tell you about three stories that clearly illustrate the unexpected dangers of healthy living. We found it in this week's news. Choose that real story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine. Ready to play?
STAUTS: I'll give it a try.
SAGAL: All right. First off, let's hear from Roxanne Roberts.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: British celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson had a fantastic recommendation. Henbane, he said in August's Healthy and Organic Living magazine, is quote "great in salad, really yummy." Unfortunately, henbane, an old Anglo-Saxon term meaning killer of hens...
ROBERTS: ...happens to be a very toxic weed that causes hallucinations, drowsiness, seizures and possibly even death.
ROBERTS: Thompson meant, of course, to say Fat Hen, a safe wild herb used for tea and salads. He told the BBC the mix up was quote "embarrassing" but one of those genuine mistakes.
ROBERTS: No reports of any casualties yet but the magazine has posted a warning on its website, as always check with an expert when foraging or collecting wild plants.
SAGAL: A lovely organic gathered salad that could kill you. Your next story of an unintended consequence of healthy living come from Charlie Pierce.
CHARLIE PIERCE: The Broadway Pilate Studio in Delafield, Wisconsin was forced to destroy all its apparatus this week when students found themselves afflicted with a rash on the palms of their hands. Studio Director Wendy Bendoski mixed up a batch of moss-based organic cleanser from an old Native American regime only to find that it reacted virulently with the material in the equipment causing the rash. Now all students have to wash their hands thoroughly under the supervision of the studio staff after each session, prompting Bendoski to joke that the studio will change its name to Pontius Pilates.
SAGAL: Poisoned Pilates equipment in Wisconsin. Your last story of bad juju from too much tofu comes from Paula Poundstone.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: Just say no to tea tree oil. Keith Richards was among the passengers on American flight 72 from Boston Logan Airport to London Heathrow who got an unexpected free high despite the airlines recent cutback on perks.
POUNDSTONE: When she awoke with a big of congestion that morning, flight attendant Andrea Brant applied Vicks VapoRub to her chest. Once at the airport Ms. Brant topped the VapoRub with tea tree oil, an herbal healing agent. This, investigators found, created an intoxicating aroma. Soon after takeoff, the fumes began to affect the passengers. It was a big like heroin really. It was slow and then bam, said Keith Richards.
POUNDSTONE: Pilot Jasper Burn, secure within the cockpit, remained unaffected but suspected something odd when strains of Beast of Burden reached him through the cockpit door.
POUNDSTONE: They were all singing. All I could think was, how am I going to get these burgers to put their seat backs forward, said Burn.
POUNDSTONE: It was a bit like a hit of ecstasy, said Keith Richards.
POUNDSTONE: A jubilant group of ten from business class donned their flotation devices and formed a Congo line chanting, cut the engines over the Atlantic.
POUNDSTONE: It was more sort of like a bit of Quaalude with a vodka chaser, kind of how the top of your head comes off, said Keith Richards.
POUNDSTONE: The flight landed safely at Heathrow. Really hard to come down, said Richards.
SAGAL: No, no, Paula, go on.
SAGAL: All right.
POUNDSTONE: Was my story a little long?
SAGAL: It was, but worth every second, Paula. It was fabulous. Jim, let me review your choices for you. From Roxanne Roberts, the story about how a chef in Healthy Living magazine recommended that the readers poison themselves with ingredients for an organic salad. From Charlie Pierce how a Pilate studio became a toxic waste dump through the use of an organic cleanser. Or from Paula Poundstone, the story of how a flight attendant's experiments with VapoRub and tea tree oil ended up pretty much sending the passengers on a trip they had not expected.
SAGAL: Which of these is the real story in the news this week?
STAUTS: Wow, that Keith Richards is just a never-ending source of amusement.
SAGAL: Isn't he though?
STAUTS: Yeah, but I'm going to choose answer A because the phrase that was used in that one, genuine mistake. The British accent sounds the most genuine.
SAGAL: All right. So you're going to choose Roxanne's story about the poison herb being recommended for use in salads. Well, we spoke to an authority in this area to bring you the truth.
GRANT ACHATZ: We would never consider using henbane on a menu at Alinea. Yeah, it's fatal.
ACHATZ: Perhaps something like eye of newt?
SAGAL: That was Grant Achatz who is the chef and owner of the award-winning restaurant Alinea right here in Chicago who is explaining why he would do a lot of things but he wouldn't put henbane in his salads because it's bad for you. Congratulations, Jim.
STAUTS: Thank you.
SAGAL: You picked the right answer. Roxanne was telling the truth.
STAUTS: Thank you.
SAGAL: You earned a point for Roxanne, which I know is her greatest pleasure in this life. And you've won our game. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Congratulations. Well done.
STAUTS: Thank you, sir.
SAGAL: Thank you. Bye-bye.
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SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.