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License To Ill

Oct 23, 2013
Originally published on March 4, 2015 12:57 pm

If you could have any spy gadget in your repertoire, what would you choose? Maybe a mind-reading device that gives you all the answers to this trivia game. This round imagines that James Bond, who boasts a "license to kill," has other types of licenses--a "license to grill," for example. Contestants must guess words that rhyme with "ill" to reveal Bond's other activities.

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Onstage right now we have Katie Sisneros and Zach Wilson.


EISENBERG: Katie, Zach, you know James Bond had all these cool gadgets like a hydro car and a pen that shoots poison darts. So, Katie, you're studying to be an English teacher.

KATIE SISNEROS: Yes, you got it.

EISENBERG: What neat gadget, if you were a spy, would you like to have in your repertoire?

SISNEROS: I would want a gadget that immediately allows me to read the mind of somebody who's thinking something about me and then I would never use it because that thought terrifies me.


SISNEROS: I just want to know that I can.

EISENBERG: You want to be a mind reader.

SISNEROS: But only thoughts about me because...

EISENBERG: A narcissistic mind reader.

SISNEROS: Yeah. I'm a narcissistic mind reader.




EISENBERG: You are a minister.

WILSON: I am. I'm a Presbyterian minister.

EISENBERG: That's great.

WILSON: Thanks.


WILSON: Yeah. Presbyterians.


WILSON: But I'm married to a Lutheran minister.

EISENBERG: Whoa. You're married to a Lutheran minister?


EISENBERG: The arguments must be out of control.


WILSON: They tend to be more about cleaning than Christ, but...

EISENBERG: That's always the way.


EISENBERG: Always the way. Do you claim Christ was a little messy and she's like Christ was clean?

WILSON: Trying to get Jesus on your side is always a bad plan of action.


EISENBERG: That's what the Jews say.


WILSON: Awkward.

EISENBERG: So if you were a spy for God, no. Or if you were a spy in any way...

WILSON: Okay. Yes.

EISENBERG: ...what kind of gadget would you like?

WILSON: It's ironically a little related to Katie's but it's just the right amount of truth serum.


WILSON: Because I don't think I could really handle the whole truth.

EISENBERG: No one can handle the truth.

WILSON: But just the right amount of truth would be perfect.



EISENBERG: This game is called Licensed to Ill. We're talking, of course, about the fictional British super spy James Bond who has the license to kill, but in this game we're going to talk about his lesser known licenses. Puzzle guru Art Chung, would you like to give an example?

ART CHUNG: Did you know James Bond also has the freedom to endorse any product he likes? It's because he has the license to shill.


CHUNG: Thank you. Thank you.

EISENBERG: Pun alert.

SISNEROS: Oh, god.


SISNEROS: This is either going to be awesome or horrible.


JONATHAN COULTON: It might be both, Katie. It might be both.

EISENBERG: That's right. So in this game we're going to describe some of Bond's more obscure privileges, all which end in "ILL" or ill. And you have to guess what each license is. Let's give it a shot. In his free time, Bond grows a particularly aromatic herb in his garden which he uses to make some of London's best artisanal pickles.



SISNEROS: License to dill?

EISENBERG: Yes. License to dill.


EISENBERG: We know of Bond's fondness for martinis but what if there isn't any vodka or gin? Does he give up? No, he doesn't. He can always vaporize and then condense the alcoholic spirit of his choice. Because he has the license to...



WILSON: License to distill.

EISENBERG: Yes, he does.


EISENBERG: James Bond is a 7-11 store's worst nightmare. That's because anywhere at any time he can help himself to another 64 ounces of cherry soda without buying a new cup.



WILSON: License to chill?

EISENBERG: To chill. That's a good idea but incorrect. Katie?

SISNEROS: Is it license to refill?

EISENBERG: License to refill.


EISENBERG: If his tuxedo gets shredded by sharks with lasers, otherwise known as a shark lasernado, 007 can always whip up new clothes by weaving his own fabric - maybe denim or chino with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs.



WILSON: License to twill.

EISENBERG: That's correct.


EISENBERG: If 007 loses his usual writing implement he can always whip out some vellum, pluck a nearby fowl, sharpen the nib, and inscribe his script posthaste.



SISNEROS: License to quill.



EISENBERG: All right. This is your last clue. If all else fails, Bond can always annoy his enemies to death by causing an accumulation of fuzzies all over their favorite sweaters or blankets.



SISNEROS: License to pill.

EISENBERG: License to pill.


EISENBERG: Hard to swallow answer but it is correct. Art, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: It was a close game but Katie was our winner.

EISENBERG: Well done.


EISENBERG: Huge thanks to Zach for being a fantastic contestant. Katie, you're going to be moving on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show.



EISENBERG: We're live from the famed Fitzgerald Theater here in St. Paul, Minnesota, and coming up, our VIP — that's Very Important Puzzler - is author Piper Kerman.


EISENBERG: Her memoir "Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison" has just been turned into a hit drama on Netflix. And we'll talk to Piper about her life behind bars and after. So stick around. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and this is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER.




(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, THE "JAMES BOND THEME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.