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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 Tom Bodett, Amy Dickinson and Brian Babylon. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


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

DOUG HESS: Hi there, this is Doug Hess from Cincinnati, Ohio.

SAGAL: Oh hey, Doug, how are you?

HESS: I'm doing fantastic. How are you?

SAGAL: You sound very cheerful.

HESS: I've wanted to be on your show for so long, it's hard not to be.

SAGAL: How's it going so far?

HESS: So far, so good.

SAGAL: All right.

HESS: I don't think I've gotten anything wrong yet.



SAGAL: We haven't disappointed you yet, have we?

HESS: Not yet.

SAGAL: OK. Well, welcome to the show, Doug. You are going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Doug's topic?

KASELL: This seat's taken.

SAGAL: One downside to having a job is having to go to work. You have to content with delays, crowded trains, and of course arriving at you job. Well, it turns out, somebody has come up with a way to vastly improve the commute. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. One of them is telling the truth. Guess that person, you'll win our prize. Ready to go?

HESS: I'm ready as I'll ever be.

SAGAL: Here we go. First up: Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: You do everything right and you're lined up on the platform exactly where you should be to score a precious seat on the 810 Metro and you're still standing in the aisle. Now, you can have a permanently reserved seat on that train, with Strap Hanger TM, the exciting new commuter comfort system from Urban Survivor.

Unfurl the pocket-sized parachute material, secure the rugged titanium multi-hook to the overhead baggage rack or handhold and slip into your cozy sling chair, which forms perfectly and lovingly to your bottom, now hovering comfortably and free of the hard plastic germ-coated seats of those over saps.


BODETT: It's a simply swing chair for short hops on the subway or roll out and zip yourself into the Cocoon TM, for that long strange head and neck supported vertical nap on the way home. Now available in business black, what-are-you-looking-at red and the new personal space creating medical beige which says, "I'm injured and probably a little crazy."


BODETT: Strap Hanger, if you are one, you should own one.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: Strap Hanger for when you want a seat, here's one. Your next attempt to make the trip to work more enjoyable comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: How many times have you thought, "I sure wish Miss Yap-Yap next to me on the bus would shut up about her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend"? As with so many problems, the solution is a gun.


BABYLON: A special new Shut Up Gun, invented by Japanese scientists. The prototype speech jammer gun instantly records a loud talker's voice and shoots it right back at them with a slight delay. If you hear your own voice repeated back to you as you speak, you'd shut up because of what scientists call, quote, "A delayed auditory effect," or just because you realize how dumb you sound.


BABYLON: Either way, it works. With that, public transportation problem solved, Japanese scientists are now developing a "make it not smell like urine on the subway" gun.



SAGAL: The Shut Up Gun. Point it at them, they stop talking. Your last story of someone trying to improve your commute comes from Amy Dickinson.

AMY DICKINSON: Commuters on the freeways of Los Angeles have traditionally come up with creative ways to pass the time while they sit in traffic, including, of course, carjacking each other.


DICKINSON: Or worse, pitching scripts to fellow stalled motorists.


DICKINSON: Now, Jean Roseman, a frustrated and bored commuter has come up with a way to roll all of these LA pastimes into one. She's invented a game called Freeway Frogger. Every day, two bicyclists set out on the notorious 404, and try to navigate ten miles of wall to wall traffic, frogger style.

Cars with sensors try to block their path and drivers track their progress through an app on their phone. Drivers who correctly pick the winner can register for the grand prize: a bus pass.


DICKINSON: They still won't reach their destination, but at least they can sleep on the way.

SAGAL: All right, very good.


SAGAL: Here then are your choices. Is it from Tom Bodett, the Strap Hanger, a seat you hang from the strap, so you have a seat even when there's no seat to be had?

From Brian Babylon, the Shut Up Gun, which you can point at any noisy person on your bus and train and make them shut up with the sound of their own voice?

Or from Amy Dickinson, Freeway Frogger, a game that makes those interminable hours on the 405 Freeway much more fun as you play a real life game? Which of these is the real story of a commute being made a little bit better?

HESS: This never ever happens to me, but I happen to know the answer to this one.

SAGAL: How do you know the answer?

HESS: The gun, the auditory gun is the story that I read. I'm going to choose that one.

SAGAL: You read about that?

HESS: Yeah.

SAGAL: All right.

BODETT: So you're choosing it just because you happen to know it's true?


DICKINSON: Yeah, really.

SAGAL: That somehow doesn't seem fair.


HESS: It does seem like a flimsy...

SAGAL: A flimsy excuse. Well, let's see if your disreputable plan has success. We actually spoke to someone about this.

DAVID AXE: Sometimes you're on the phone and you get that weird echo where you hear your voice right after you speak and if confuses you. The voice jammer gun works on that principle.

SAGAL: That is, in fact, David Axe. He's a writer for Wired Magazine's "Danger Room" blog, talking about the Shut Up Gun. Congratulations, you were right.


SAGAL: You knew about it. You have earned a point for Brian, simply for telling the truth. And you have won our game. Carl's voice will be yours. Congratulations, well done.

HESS: Thank you very much.


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