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Who's Carl This Time

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here's your host, at the Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl. We are delighted to be here on the campus of Western Michigan University, and later on we'll be talking to one of its most accomplished alumni, that would actor and football player Terry Crews.

But first, this show marks the beginning of Carl Kasel's Victory Lap, a last lap around the country before he becomes our scorekeeper emeritus in May.


SAGAL: And thank you, and we wanted to say thanks to the good people of Kalamazoo, who have agreed to rename their city in his honor.


SAGAL: From this time forward, it will be known as Carl-amazoo.


KASELL: I like it, Peter. I like it very much, too.

SAGAL: However, the only tribute Carl wants from you is that you call in to play our games, the number is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. It's time to welcome our first listener contestant. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

DANNY DEAN: Hi Peter, this is Danny Dean from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

SAGAL: Hey, Danny, how are you?

DEAN: Pretty good, buddy, how are you?

SAGAL: I'm not bad. You should like - are you from Philly?

DEAN: Yes.

SAGAL: Oh, you have the accent, and it's great.

DEAN: (Unintelligible).

SAGAL: I know, and what do you do there?

DEAN: As little as possible.


SAGAL: I understand.

DEAN: I'm a retired steamfitter at Local 420 here in Philadelphia.

SAGAL: Hey, a union guy. And I've heard the phrase, pipefitter, steamfitter. And I've never understood what they do. I mean, do you just stand there with a pipe this size and that size and go that fits, put it down move on to the next...?

DEAN: No, not quite. All you have to do is be smarter than the pipe. That's what it comes down to.


SAGAL: Be smarter than the pipe. Well, Danny, let me introduce you to our panel. First up it's a comedian who will be performing at the Melt Down show in Hollywood on April 23, it's Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: Hey, Danny, what's up?


SAGAL: Next it's the stylish woman behind the stylish syndicated advice column Ask Amy, it's Amy Dickinson.




SAGAL: Next it's a filmmaker and comedian performing March 22 at Laffs Inc. in Toledo, Ohio and at the Comedy Club on Main in Madison, Wisconsin, on April 10 through 12, it's Bobcat Goldthwait.


BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: You know, I was initially going to be a meat cutter, but it turns out I'm not as smart as meat.


SAGAL: That may well be the case.

DEAN: It's a trial sometimes.

SAGAL: I know. Danny, welcome to the show. You're going to start us off with Who's Carl This Time. Carl Kasell, living legend that he is, is going to recreate for you three quotations from this week's news. Your job, of course, identify or explain just two of them. Do that, you'll win our prize, Carl's voice on your home answering machine. You ready to go?

DEAN: Yes, I am.

SAGAL: All right, here is your first quote:

KASELL: That's pretty damn cool.

SAGAL: That was a theoretical physicist named Marc Kamionkowski. He's reacting to news that researchers had found evidence of what?

DEAN: The big bang.

SAGAL: Indeed, yes, the big bang or what came right after the big bang, basically the beginning of the universe. Physicists all over the world were incredibly excited. They said a discovery announced this week was the most revolutionary advance in science in decades, it's amazingly cool, it is deeply important, it is impossible to explain in English.


SAGAL: They tried. They compared the universe to a grapefruit, to a pot of boiling pasta, to bread dough being stretched. And then we realized the physicists had just skipped their lunch. And what happened this week is they announced an experiment that proved that they were right. They predicted this result, and they got it. And they said this was such an amazing discovery, so specific, that one person made an analogy to imagine if someone were to create a model of the world in which they predicted that there would be a - this is their example - a little troll doll under a floorboard on the third floor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's childhood home, right.


SAGAL: That was the example. And then this week's discovery was like somebody going to home, going to the third floor, opening up a floorboard and finding it. That's how amazing this prediction was. That's the example.

GOLDTHWAIT: So that would be exciting? Like if I found a Furby I might be excited, but...


BABYLON: Or a Teddy Ruxpin doll. Now that is something I'm talking about. Here's what I don't know - you don't try to tell me you understand the universe because you carried the one. I think that's - get out of here, man.

SAGAL: What do you mean?

BABYLON: I mean now you understand how the universe works because you figured out some equation? Get out of here. That's - who do you think you are, nerd? You're not God.


BABYLON: That's my beef with that.

SAGAL: Well it's a very complicated equation.

BABYLON: Yeah, and just let that be mysteries of the cosmos.

GOLDTHWAIT: I should have had the brownies that you guys had back there.


SAGAL: All right, very good. Here, Danny, here is your next quote.

KASELL: Our Western partners have crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly.

SAGAL: That was a world leader who certainly has his fair share of experience dealing with bears. He was railing against the U.S. in a big speech to his parliament this week. Who was it?

DEAN: That would be that Vladimir Putin.

SAGAL: That Vladimir Putin guy, yeah.



SAGAL: This week, Vladimir Putin of Russia annexed Crimea. He just took it. He ran out of tigers to tranquilize, was bored, looked around for something to do. Russia's justification? United Nations Charter Article 4, Section 2: Finders, Keepers.


SAGAL: And this is true. Ukraine is in such bad shape, both in terms of both political leadership and its finances that they actually announced a fundraiser for their army.

DICKINSON: Like in Kickstarter?


SAGAL: Not that bad. More like one of those red crossings: if you text to this number, you donate $5 to the army. It's like hello, can you support our army? It's the public radio approach to national defense.


BABYLON: So they don't have guns; they have mugs.

SAGAL: Exactly. It's like, you know, every now and then the Ukrainian defense minister makes a speech. It's like we know you enjoy the security and comfort you get from a functioning military.


SAGAL: So won't you take some time to support it? Donate now, and we'll send you a wonderful souvenir mug you can throw at the invading forces.



SAGAL: Or if you're driven from your homes, carry your possessions in this tote bag.


SAGAL: You know, what's interesting is, of course, this is happening in the U.S., is pretty much - well, it's impotent. What are you going to do? Are you going to launch a war? Are you going to send in troops? You can't do that. The U.S. instead...

GOLDTHWAIT: Yeah, we're the U.S. We never do that.


SAGAL: Yeah I know. Well, we never do it against countries that can fight back.


SAGAL: That's the rule.

GOLDTHWAIT: What we need to do, we need to get the Ukrainians to discover oil.

DICKINSON: Then we'll go in.

SAGAL: Then of course there'll be...

GOLDTHWAIT: Then we'll help.

BABYLON: But, you know, I saw Barack Obama did his press conference, and he was talking about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I just realized like, man, I think like today he realized man, this job sucks.


BABYLON: I think today, today was the day. He was like oh, this job sucks.

SAGAL: All right, Danny, here is your last quote.

KASELL: You have a better chance of being crushed by a falling vending machine.

SAGAL: That was a staff writer at the Lancaster Online, discussing the odds of creating a perfect bracket for what major sporting event?

DEAN: The NCAA basketball tournament.

SAGAL: Yes, March Madness, the NCAA brackets.



SAGAL: It's a time of year when half the country doesn't get any work done so they can follow college basketball. The other half just goes on not getting any work done for the usual reasons.


SAGAL: As what has become a tradition now, Barack Obama filled out his bracket on ESPN, although he seems distracted by events this time. In the final, he predicted Kentucky would be taken over by Vladimir Putin.


BABYLON: So what is this, Warren Buffett's giving a billion bucks?

SAGAL: Yeah, this is - this is why it's actually very exciting, even for non-sports fans. Warren Buffett and Quicken Loans have this - I don't know what you call it, a wager. If anybody of the 15 million people who entered this contest write a perfect bracket, i.e., to predict the winner of every single game, they will win a billion dollars.



BABYLON: So now like March Madness is going to turn into "The Hunger Games."

SAGAL: A little bit.


GOLDTHWAIT: I actually think that the Ukrainian army should all be trying to guess this right now.



SAGAL: That would help.

Carl, how did Danny do on our quiz?

KASELL: Danny, you had three correct answers. You're a winner, so I'll be doing the voicemail message on your home answering machine or your voicemail...

SAGAL: Well done, Danny.


DEAN: Thank you.

SAGAL: Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.