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Oh, Oxymoron

Jun 27, 2013
Originally published on March 4, 2015 1:34 pm

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms, such as "deafening silence" or "living dead." Speaking of contradictory, house musician Jonathan Coulton applies his mellow acoustic guitar to a song by the electric wizard, Jimi Hendrix, because all clues in this round are sung to the tune of "Foxy Lady."

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UNKNOWN: Let's welcome our first two contestants: Sarah Edrie and Amy Patrick.



Welcome, Amy.


EISENBERG: You are a big pop culture lover.

PATRICK: Yeah. I have a lot of time on my hands, so...

EISENBERG: Yeah. You have a lot of time on your hands. Okay, what's your sort of guilty, trashy - is it television or a magazine? What's your...

PATRICK: Actually, like, I love when my husband comes back from London, because he brings me a three pack of magazines that's Ok.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

PATRICK: The Heat and their version of The Star and it is c'est magnifique.


EISENBERG: Is their version of The Star also the Star?

PATRICK: Yes, but different celebrities that you have no idea who they are, but you're like, "this is great."

EISENBERG: And they've done crazy things.


EISENBERG: Yeah, and they're on the beach a lot I bet.

PATRICK: Yes. Yes.

EISENBERG: In bad things. Oh, yeah.

PATRICK: Yeah, absolutely.

EISENBERG: I'm with you on that one. Sarah, I'm going to refer to you as Edrie. And why is it that you just go with the Edrie, the last name?

SARAH EDRIE: Because I'm a rock star.

EISENBERG: Got it. Perfect. So it's a stage name?

EDRIE: It is a stage name, although it's also my real name.

EISENBERG: It's a good choice, easy for you to remember.

EDRIE: I know, right.


EISENBERG: Our first game is called Oh, Oxymoron. It sounds like a bittersweet sentiment. And this week's puzzle guru is John Chaneski. He'll be tallying the score, giving hints, and he is the tallest of all of our gurus, so he'll also be making sure the contestants stay in line. John, just so we know what we're dealing with here, please explain to us what an oxymoron is.

JOHN CHANESKI: Sure. An oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms, like the deafening silence, or tight slacks, or government organization, something like that.


CHANESKI: Now, the word oxymoron comes from the ancient Greek words for sharp and dull, making the word oxymoron itself an oxymoron.

EISENBERG: I did not know that.

CHANESKI: Yeah, and now you do.

EISENBERG: Yeah, and now I know why that cleaning stuff is called oxy and I know all kinds of things now. This first game is actually a musical game so, Jonathan, take it away.

JONATHAN COULTON: What we've done is we've taken the Jimi Hendrix song "Foxy Lady" and rewritten the lyrics to be about common two-word phrases that are oxymorons. So ring in when you know the phrase. The winner of this round will move on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. This song, as you know, is traditionally played on the acoustic guitar.



COULTON: You know you're the star of my party, baby. Oxy. You're awesome either grilled or deep-fried, baby. Oxy. Don't forget the cocktail sauce. Love our scampi, of course. You really are so big and yet small. Oh, oxymoron.



EDRIE: Jumbo shrimp.

COULTON: Jumbo shrimp is right.


EISENBERG: That's how Hendrix died, right, jumbo shrimp.

COULTON: I think he was allergic, yeah.


COULTON: Very sad.


COULTON: I know this environment's simulated. Oxy. But that don't mean that I'm not feeling stimulated. Oxy. Huge goggles on my head. My imagination's being fed. I really feel so true and yet false. Oh, oxymoron.



PATRICK: Virtual reality.

COULTON: Virtual reality, yes.



COULTON: You know that you're not being straight with me. Oxy. I think you might be secretly angry. Oxy. If conflict you avoid, would someone please call Freud. You really seem so nice yet mean. Oh, oxymoron.



PATRICK: Passive aggressive.



EISENBERG: And you could tell that Amy know that within one. Right? You knew that immediately. Is it because you were like I know that because I am that?

PATRICK: It's because I'm passive aggressive, exactly.

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

EDRIE: She's from Brooklyn.


EISENBERG: Oh, is that everyone in Brooklyn is passive aggressive? We're all just hiding behind our glasses and beards.


COULTON: This music genre is known for mellow song stylings. Oxy. Acoustic guitars, they're so calm and beguiling. Oxy. James Taylor and Toto, Jackson Browne and Chicago. Really slightly rough yet smooth. Oh, oxymoron.



EDRIE: Soft rock.

COULTON: Soft rock, indeed.


EISENBERG: Our contestants are giggling up a storm over here. They're having the best time. That's good.

COULTON: Okay, this is your last clue. Okay, right, I know, it's important.


COULTON: You know that you're a circular sensation. Oxy. A donut that I can get at the gas station. Oxy. You put Dunkin' to shame. I love your alliterative name. But you're really not that hard or soft. Oh, oxymoron.



PATRICK: Krispy Kreme.

COULTON: Krispy Kreme, you got it.


EISENBERG: Did you saw awesome to her, Edrie? You're like awesome, well done, Krispy Kreme.

EDRIE: It was good.

PATRICK: Passive aggressive.


EISENBERG: Is that what's going on here?

CHANESKI: Wow, I'm surprised you knew that.

EISENBERG: Interesting. You're so smart. You guys are the best.

CHANESKI: That's the game, and Amy, you have won. Congratulations.


EISENBERG: Well done, Amy. Thank you so much, Edrie. Amy, you will be moving on to our final round at the end of the show, so we'll see you back. Thank you guys so much.


COULTON: Continuing a long tradition of causing dead musicians to roll over in their graves.

(LAUGHTER) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.