Bluff The Listener

Feb 21, 2014
Originally published on February 22, 2014 12:03 pm
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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 his week with Alonzo Bodden, Faith Salie, and Roy Blount, Jr. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


KASELL: Thank you Carl. Thanks everybody.



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

PATRICK BOYCE: Hi, this is Patrick Boyce of Southampton, Massachusetts.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Southampton, Patrick?

BOYCE: Wonderful.

SAGAL: I'm glad to hear it; a nice place. And what do you do there?

BOYCE: I'm a primary care internal medicine physician.

SAGAL: Oh, you're a doctor, you actually take of, like, people, as opposed to their parts.

BOYCE: Yes, that's right.

SAGAL: That's good. I appreciate that. Well, welcome to our show, Patrick. You are going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Patrick's topic?

KASELL: Turns out Picasso was just really bad at painting.


SAGAL: As we heard before, Obama dissed art historians this week. Well they proved their worth by making an amazing discovery about a famous work of art. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about a discovery in art. Guess the real story, you'll win Carl's voice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

BOYCE: I sure am.

SAGAL: All right. You first story comes from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: It's the shoes. The famous statue of Michael Jordan in flight in front of the United Center in Chicago is missing one thing: the swoosh. The famous Nike trademark is missing from the most famous shoe of all time. It was a sponsorship dispute. The Jordan statue was to be unveiled upon the opening of the United Center, the new home of the Chicago Bulls, and United Airlines having paid millions for naming rights, had a problem with Nike getting such a prominent display for free.

They demanded the swoosh be removed. It's not that we don't love Michael, said John Billsworth(ph), United's public relations officer. It's just that we believe the statue should represent Michael Jordan in Chicago, not a shoe brand. When a rep from Nike discovered the missing swoosh, they had an intern camp out near the United Center and paint it back on the shoe.


BOYCE: It was a game of cat and mouse. Nike would have the swoosh painted on, and the United Center would clean it off. After numerous violations for loitering and vandalism, Nike's legal department advised them to stop. As a result of this, the Jordan statue will be swoosh-free. So in answer to a question first asked by Mars Blackman(ph), the Spike Lee character in the old Air Jordan commercials, I guess it's not the shoes.


SAGAL: The Michael Jordan statue doesn't actually have a Nike swoosh, it was just painted on there by Nike interns. Your next story of the secret lives of art comes from Roy Blount Jr.

ROY BLOUNT JR.: For 500 years, people have scrutinized the grotesque details of "The Garden of Earthly Delights," the famous triptych by Hieronymus Bosch. Not until now has anyone discovered there a song. This week Amelia Hammerick(ph), a student at Oklahoma Christian University, revealed on her Tumblr blog that she had found the notes of that song.

She found those notes in the part of the triptych that represents damned souls being tormented in hell. She found them on the tiny figure representing one of those damned souls. To be precise, she found them etched across that damned soul's bare buttocks. Yeah, and her blog post went viral, viral in part because she included a recording of the song played out loud for the first time for all to hear, but viral mostly because of the title she gave the song, "Butt Song from Hell."



SAGAL: The, quote, butt music from hell discovered in the painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" by Hieronymus Bosch. And your last story of art hiding something comes from Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: The Lincoln Memorial, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, a monumental lie. That's the bombshell recently dropped by Princeton Ph.D. candidate Margot Quinlan(ph), who has discovered that our 16th president hated sitting. America's iconic masterpiece of Lincoln sedately ensconced in a chair makes a liar out of Honest Abe because according to his most obscure writings, the famously lanky 6'4" Lincoln suffered so much restless discomfort from being confined to 19th century furniture that he refused to have a chair at his desk.


SALIE: Lincoln mused that, quote, sitting saps the soul. I find in my darkest hours that nothing so inspires as standing over my team of rivals, who are made to sit like schoolchildren.


SAGAL: All right then, here are the three potential discoveries. From Alonzo Bodden, the fact that the statue of Michael Jordan here in Chicago does not really have a Nike swoosh, it just got painted on by Nike. From Roy Blount Jr., the discovery, deciphering and playing of, quote, the "Butt Music from Hell" found in an old painting. And from Faith Salie, that Lincoln, depicted sitting in the famous statue of him in the Lincoln Memorial, never really liked to sit. Which of these is the real discovery in the art world this week?

BOYCE: Well, I think it's a tough one, but I'm going to go with the Michael Jordan story.

SAGAL: Are you really?


SAGAL: So you feel that the Michael Jordan statue did not have the Nike swoosh, so Nike painted it on for years until they were caught?

BOYCE: I think it sounds very possible, knowing Nike.


SAGAL: Well, to give us the correct answer, here is our intern Seth.


SAGAL: That was Seth, a French Horn player...


SAGAL: Thank you, Seth - playing the "Butt Music From Hell," written hundreds of years ago on the backside of a tormented soul in hell by Hieronymus Bosch and only this week deciphered, transcribed and played. So obviously, as you now know, Roy had the correct answer. You did not win, but you did earn a point for Alonzo by being fooled by his very credible story of Nike being up to their Nike ways.

JR.: Hey, Doc, just because it didn't win and I made it up doesn't mean it's not true.


BOYCE: It's a great story. I'm still going to believe it.

SAGAL: Patrick, thank you so much for playing.

BOYCE: All right, well thank you very much.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.