The trickiest games on Ask Me Another ask you to keep two things in your brain at once, then mash them together to form a mega-answer. In this one, combine the titles of books and newspaper comic strips, such as "Doonesbury My Heart at Wounded Knee." (Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury meets Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.)
Heard in Episode 307: Eat, Play, Love
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
You're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR and WNYC. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and let's say hello to Jim Harvey and Matt Melchiorre.
EISENBERG: So, Jim, you are a self-proclaimed know it all.
JIM HARVEY: Yes.
EISENBERG: And you helped build a school in Port Au Prince, Haiti. I would like to hear about this.
HARVEY: Well, it wasn't exactly a school. We were working with...
EISENBERG: I can tell that...
HARVEY: It was a hospital. We were...
JONATHAN COULTON: You're right. That is not exactly a school.
EISENBERG: No, no, no.
HARVEY: It was a mission trip. We were doing construction on a hospital for children with tuberculosis.
EISENBERG: That's amazing. And thank you. But I love how you corrected me. It was like, no, no, no. I didn't save puppies; we saved an entire continent of rescue dogs.
EISENBERG: That's amazing. So thank you. Matt.
MATT MELCHIORRE: Yes.
EISENBERG: You work in the New York Department of Education.
MELCHIORRE: I do.
EISENBERG: What do you do there?
MELCHIORRE: I'm an educational administrator. I'm responsible for the operation of a group of 34 schools.
EISENBERG: All right. That's a big responsibility.
EISENBERG: And you were a principal and a teacher so you are the perfect person to ask this question to. What is wrong with kids today?
MELCHIORRE: Absolutely nothing.
EISENBERG: They're going to be fine?
MELCHIORRE: No, honestly. Seriously. I think that it falls upon the older generation to find something wrong. That doesn't mean everyone's OK. But most kids are.
EISENBERG: Look at you. It's like two of the most do-goodery contestants we have ever had.
EISENBERG: All right. This game is called Literary Comic Strips because as kids we all loved reading the Sunday funny papers but the comics are so short. So we have taken popular newspaper cartoon strips and mashed their titles with some classic books to produce longer literary works of art. OK. Puzzle guru Greg Pliska, we need an example.
GREG PLISKA: If we combined Gary Trudeau's comic strip about a bunch of Baby Boomers with Dee Brown's historical account of the plight of Native American tribes, that would be: Doonesbury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
COULTON: Yeah, it's easy.
COULTON: It's easy. We could skip this, it's so easy.
EISENBERG: So don't panic, OK? Just talk it out. Every answer will be a mashup of a comic strip title and a famous book title. And sometimes the title of the comic strip will start the answer, sometimes it will be in the end. So ring in when you know the answer and the winner of this round will move on to our final round at the end of the show. How do you feel?
EISENBERG: Nervous? Matt?
EISENBERG: OK. Good. See?
MELCHIORRE: Nothing much.
EISENBERG: Just remember it's just trivia. And a lot of people are looking at you.
HARVEY: I'm just hoping that my thumb doesn't sweat so much that it slips off the buzzer.
EISENBERG: Those are specially designed for that. Not to worry.
COULTON: Just use the special thumb towel that you have.
COULTON: They're at your table.
EISENBERG: Our branded thumb towels?
COULTON: Yeah. It's an ASK ME ANOTHER thumb towel.
HARVEY: I didn't bring one.
EISENBERG: Here we go. In this adaptation of a W.P. Kinsella novel which was made into a movie starring Kevin Costner, a fat orange cat is told if you build it, he will come.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
MELCHIORRE: Garfield of Dreams.
EISENBERG: Everyone loves this game, right?
MELCHIORRE: How could you not?
EISENBERG: Call me Ishmael on my two-way wrist radio is how this story begins. It's the tale of a lantern-jawed detective who will stop at nothing to track down the whale or the hideously deformed gangster that stole his leg.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
MELCHIORRE: Moby Dick Tracy.
HARVEY: I knew my thumb was too slippery.
EISENBERG: Lots of time, Jim. Not to worry.
EISENBERG: A precocious six year old boy, his imaginary tiger friend, and Bilbo Baggins discover a magic ring. Mischief ensues.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
HARVEY: Calvin and the Hobbit?
EISENBERG: Yeah. Exactly.
EISENBERG: Feels good, right, Jim? Feels good.
EISENBERG: A lazy Army private whose eyes are always covered by his cap sees his whole life change when he falls in love with the wealthy heiress Daisy Buchanan. He spends the rest of his short life building a fortune to impress her and his commanding officer Sergeant Snorkel.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
HARVEY: Beetle Baily - Beetle Bailey Gatsby.
EISENBERG: All right. OK. Try it in another...
HARVEY: The Great Gatsby Bailey?
EISENBERG: Now one more time and you said it perfectly. Keep going. Like, exactly what you said, just all the words. Let's do it.
HARVEY: The Great Gatsby Beetle Bailey?
HARVEY: I don't get it.
MELCHIORRE: No. I don't either.
EISENBERG: We're doing a lot of things with this game, OK? You don't get it?
COULTON: It's the Great Gats-Beetle Bailey. Bailey.
HARVEY: Oh, if you merge them.
HARVEY: So it's the Great Gats-Beetle Bailey.
EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
HARVEY: I get it.
EISENBERG: Yeah. I like that you're like I don't get it. This game is stupid.
EISENBERG: In an odd casting choice, a pipe-smoking, spinach swilling sailor man plays a thrice-married, twice widowed black woman named Janie Crawford in this adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's 1937 novel.
PLISKA: You're going to put the comic strip in the middle of the title.
PLISKA: Of course, if you don't know the title that doesn't help at all, does it?
PLISKA: The title completes the quote: They seem to be staring at the dark but...
HARVEY: Oh, oh, oh, oh, um, um, um...that doesn't really help. It's not...
PLISKA: He's strong to the finish 'cause he eats his spinach-k.
MELCHIORRE: We got Pop-Eye.
PLISKA: Oh, OK. Good.
PLISKA: Just trying to help. Just trying to help.
EISENBERG: How about this? Maybe he loves the Lord more than spinach.
COULTON: And a part of his body is observing the Lord.
EISENBERG: All right, all right. Yeah. It's - I think we could...
PLISKA: Bail out. Bail out.
EISENBERG: Anyone out there?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMEN AND MEN: Their Pop-Eyes Were Watching God.
EISENBERG: Their Pop-Eyes Were Watching God.
PLISKA: Everybody knew that.
MELCHIORRE: Why are they never that obscure when I'm listening at home?
EISENBERG: They are. This is your last clue but I would just like to point out this is one of our toughest games and you guys are doing incredible and showing off your pure genius.
EISENBERG: So we applaud you for that. And here's your last clue. When a European couple and their four sons get stranded on an uninhabited island in the East Indies, they run around the island drawing dotted lines and shirking responsibility for wrecking their ship. It was not me, they all claimed.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
MELCHIORRE: The Swiss Family Robinson Crusoe? Two novels. That's wrong.
EISENBERG: Two novels?
COULTON: Yeah, yeah.
EISENBERG: That's OK. Do you know what the strip might be? The comic strip?
MELCHIORRE: They can be mushed, right? So how about the Swiss Family Circle Robinson? Family Circus.
MELCHIORRE: Swiss Family Circus Robinson.
MELCHIORRE: You said we could talk it out.
MELCHIORRE: That doesn't disqualify me. OK. Just checking.
EISENBERG: Greg, how did our contestants do?
PLISKA: Well, it was very, very close but Matt edged that one out at the end.
EISENBERG: Well done, Matt. You're going to be moving on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Are you one of those trivia lovers who hates to leave the house? We know you are. Never fear. You can now play with us from anywhere as long as you have access to a landline. So while you're searching through your contacts for home phone numbers, why don't you multitask and send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll bring the games to you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MR. TELEPHONE MAN")
NEW EDITION: (singing) Mr. Telephone Man, there's something wrong with my line. When I dial my baby's number, I get a click every time. Mr. Telephone Man... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.