Ask Me Another
4:52 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Ophira's Favorites: Round 3

Originally published on Fri May 17, 2013 11:28 am

In the final set of host Ophira Eisenberg's favorite games, we try to identify literary classics and bestsellers based on their actual Amazon one-star reviews in "Everyone's A Critic." House musician Jonathan Coulton attempts a round of "Radio Pictionary," asking contestants to identify corporate logos by a description of his drawings. Finally, with the help of recent VIP Michael Ian Black, host Ophira Eisenberg re-imagines famous advertising slogans as if they were delivered by Valley Girls, in "Just Do It?"

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Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this hour we're featuring some of my favorite trivia puzzles and word games. Whoever decided that user comments should be allowed on the internet had no idea what they were getting into.

In this inspired game, we've taken not the best but the worst real comments posted about classic literature and best selling books and asked if you can still identify from their one-star Amazon reviews.

On stage right now, we have Rob Jacklosky and Lisa Gargiulo ready for our next game.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Now this is very special because we know you're both English teachers. Rob, you teach 19th century literature to college students. Lisa teaches mythology to seventh and eighth graders. It's a perfect match.

(LAUGHTER)

ROB JACKLOSKY: There is practically no difference between those two.

EISENBERG: It's exactly the same. It's a perfect match for this game that is called Everyone's a Critic. You see, for every universally loved piece of literature, there is someone out there who hates it. Hates it.

And thanks to the internet, we get to hear exactly how much they hate it. Thank you, World Wide Web. So we're going to ask you to identify best sellers and literary classics based on their one-star review on Amazon.com.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We've edited them down a bit, but these are actual reviews from real people. Just to make it a little harder, we've removed the name of the author. We should probably say that the opinions in these reviews in no way reflect any of our feelings about anything, not even the game's writer.

"This is one of the most boring books I've ever read. The only exciting thing in the whole book was when the sharks appeared. I cared so little for all the characters, especially the main character, that I hoped that they were going to eat him. But nope, they ate his stupid marlin instead. When the reader is hoping for the hero to die, your book sucks."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Rob?

JACKLOSKY: "Old Man and the Sea."

EISENBERG: Yeah, it is so right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: "I, too, cannot believe the hype. This is a truly dreadful book full of shallow, unlikable, unbelievable characters. The plot is tortured, like the victims, and the dialogue is so cliché ridden, it almost rots on the page. I have never read a book where so many cups of coffee are brewed, smelled, sipped or downed, nor so many cigarettes shared between protagonists. Finishing it was an exercise in Swedish masochism."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Rob?

JACKLOSKY: "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: "I used to feel bad about Sherman burning Atlanta, but that was before I read this book. Though it is very well written, it is very offensive to African Americans, women, and of course, Yankees."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Rob?

JACKLOSKY: "Gone with the Wind."

EISENBERG: "Gone with the Wind." Those cruel and viscous Yankees. You are correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: "I understand that autobiographies can be self-centered and naval-gazing."

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: "But the author is one of the most self-important, obtuse, boorish, annoying cretins ever to put pen to paper. I found the author stunningly un-empathetic and uninvolved in the world around her, no matter where she was, under what circumstances. And I, too, thought that her ex-husband is well rid of her."

"She has, by the way, since the book's publication, married her Brazilian lover and moved with him to New Jersey. So for all of her exploration, she is pretty much, like the song says, back where she started."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Lisa?

LISA GARGIULO: "Eat, Pray, Love."

EISENBERG: You got that one.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Did you read "Eat, Pray, Love?"

GARGIULO: I did. I agree with most of the review.

(LAUGHTER)

GARGIULO: It's good, but...

EISENBERG: "Since a less than one-star review is not allowed, this book gets the single star for the cute cover picture of the dog. That's the only redeeming quality of this paltry, overrated book."

"This book is really about a family of boring, mediocrities who just happen to own a dog. One gets the impression that the dog is nothing but a frustrating burden to them. And after reading half of this book, I was convinced the author was incapable of having a loving relationship with this dog or any other dog."

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Lisa?

GARGIULO: "Marley and Me."

EISENBERG: "Marley and Me" is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Rob is the winner of that round. Congratulations, Rob.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: Let's welcome our next two contestants to our stage: Ben Smith and Nicole Holliday.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Welcome to the ASK ME ANOTHER stage. Ben, are you a visual thinker?

BEN SMITH: A little bit.

EISENBERG: A little bit. Have you ever played Pictionary?

SMITH: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah, you like it?

SMITH: Uh.

EISENBERG: Okay.

SMITH: Kind of.

EISENBERG: Sure, that's okay. That's honest. Nicole, how about you, a Pictionary player?

NICOLE HOLLIDAY: Terrible.

EISENBERG: Terrible Pictionary. Awful. Not a visual thinker at all.

JONATHAN COULTON: Can't do it for anything.

EISENBERG: Oh, excellent. This game is called Radio Pictionary.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Sounds impossible, but impossible is my middle name, because Ophira Eisenberg wasn't bad enough.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jonathan, can you explain?

COULTON: Yes. Well, I'm going to describe what I'm drawing.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And you have to guess what I'm trying to draw. To keep it simple, I'll be drawing famous corporate logos, as I often do. For example, if I were to draw, or describe drawing a large uppercase letter G and then an orange lightning bolt superimposed on top of it, you would say?

HOLLIDAY: Gatorade.

COULTON: Gatorade, that's right. And I should mention one more thing, some of these logos are not the ones currently used by the companies.

(LAUGHTER)

HOLLIDAY: Great.

COULTON: But they are the best ones. Okay, here we go. I'm drawing a thick circular black ring with the company's initials in white letters. Inside that is a circle divided into four quarters, with the quarters alternating white and light blue. It's an automobile company.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Nicole?

HOLLIDAY: BMW.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Now I'm drawing a sphere, which is not easy to do.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: I am a great draw-er. This sphere is assembled from jigsaw puzzle pieces. Each piece has a letter on it from a different alphabet. There's an omega, a W, a Chinese character, an Arabic script letter.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Nicole?

HOLLIDAY: Wikipedia.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Nice. This game kind of sounds like you're going into a company to pitch them. You know, you're the designer but you forgot your PowerPoint presentation.

COULTON: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So, you're like, all right, everybody.

COULTON: I wish you guys could see this logo that I drew at home because it is so great. I'm drawing another circle. The entire circle is green. There is also a mermaid with very long hair. She has a crown on her head and also, her tails are next to her ears.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Nicole?

HOLLIDAY: Starbucks.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: I did not know until the show that that was mermaid in there.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: I am now drawing football team logo, a circular ring, inside of which and to the left is the team name. On the right within the ring are three diamonds with concave sides, also known as hypocycloids in the drawing business. They're in primary colors. Symbolically, the diamonds are yellow for coal, red for ore, and blue for scrap metal.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Nicole?

HOLLIDAY: The Steelers.

COULTON: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

HOLLIDAY: Which I hate, because I'm from Ohio.

COULTON: I was going to ask. You were pushing that button from the second I said circle, so I could tell either you hated them or loved them.

All right, now I am drawing this company's logo, which is its two-syllable name. The first syllable is purple and the second is typically orange or gray. Image that there is a hidden arrow pointing to the right, formed by the negative space between the two letters of the second syllable.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Ben?

SMITH: FedEx.

COULTON: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Okay, now I am drawing this fashion brand logo by drawing two letter C's, except the first C is backwards and it interlocks with the second, like the links of a chain.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: A beautiful chain worn on the slender hips of a model. Nicole?

HOLLIDAY: Chanel?

COULTON: Yes, that's right.

EISENBERG: Yeah, well done.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Congratulations, Nicole, you have won this visual round of drawing.

Jonathan, you got that guitar and everything.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Would you like to play a little something for us?

COULTON: Yeah, sure, this is my attempt at children's literature, "The Princess Who Saved Herself."

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING)

COULTON: There was a castle by a waterfall, with a pink and purple wall and a princess living there. She had no parents and was all alone. She got by on her own, and she liked it pretty well, because she never wore socks.

She had a pet snake. She bought a red guitar and she ate a whole cake. And there wasn't anybody there to tell her what to do, so she did what she wanted to. Everybody knew the story of the princess who saved herself, princess who saved herself.

There was a dragon with a pointy tail, and was bigger than a whale and his breath was terrible. He scared the princess when he came around, tried to burn the castle down, until she caught him by his tail. And she tied him to a tree, the dragon couldn't fly. She told him he was mean and it made the dragon cry.

When she finally apologized, she offered him some tea. He accepted it graciously. Now he visits every weekend with the princess who saved herself, the princess who saved herself.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Thank you.

EISENBERG: And finally, no favorites episode is complete without exploiting the talents of our VIPs. That's puzzle speak, of course, for very important puzzlers. So when comedian Michael Ian Black came on our show, we knew he was up for anything. So we asked him to do something we don't usually do. We asked him to lead a game, a game where we all had to channel our inner Valley Girl.

We're going to first, welcome our contestants that are going to play this game. Let's welcome Andrew Sommerfeld and Erica Pietricola.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Erica, I enjoy last name and I am told you have a very strange nickname, E-M-D-B. That's a family nickname.

ERICA PIETRICOLA: Yes.

EISENBERG: What does E-M-D-B stand for?

PIETRICOLA: My father doesn't use IMDB.com. He calls me on the phone when he has a question. He's like "who is that person in that movie that did that thing?"

(LAUGHTER)

PIETRICOLA: And I can always figure out who that person was who was in that movie who did that thing.

EISENBERG: So, does he have a computer?

PIETRICOLA: Yes.

EISENBERG: Oh, okay, you just...

PIETRICOLA: But he kind of fat fingers everything, so...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Aw.

PIETRICOLA: I love my dad.

EISENBERG: That's adorable.

PIETRICOLA: It's so cute. There's always like a finger in the photo, you know.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Andrew, do you have a family nickname?

ANDREW SOMMERFELD: I don't have a family nickname. I have a nickname at work.

EISENBERG: Okay, what's your nickname at work?

SOMMERFELD: They call me the goog.

EISENBERG: The goog.

SOMMERFELD: Because I have my smart phone and I Google everything, anytime there's a question. So I'm...

EISENBERG: You guys are both people with answers. Good.

SOMMERFELD: Let's hope we have the answers here.

PIETRICOLA: That's a lot of pressure.

EISENBERG: Well you are Google free and IMDB free on this next game. This next game has to do with a little something called uptalk. Like, you know, when teenage girls' voices go up on the end of everything. No matter what they say, it always sounds like a question.

So in this game, we imagine what famous advertising slogans might sound like if they had Valley girls say them. Like suddenly, a powerful command like "just do it" becomes "just do it?"

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Or for example, if we said a computer company wonders whether you should have unique ideas, you would say "think different." So you're going to go up on the end like that. And we are looking just for the slogans, not the companies. And Michael is going to help me here.

MICHAEL IAN BLACK: I guess?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And do alternate questions.

BLACK: Okay, I guess, all right.

EISENBERG: A famous newspaper might have all the stories that are suitable to read?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Andrew?

SOMMERFELD: Like all the news that's fit to print?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

BLACK: For sure.

EISENBERG: Totally right.

BLACK: The goog.

EISENBERG: The goog.

(LAUGHTER)

BLACK: A breakfast chain wonders if the US is fueled by them?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Andrew?

SOMMERFELD: Like America totally runs on Dunkin'?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Like you're way too good at that?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: A precious stone monopoly thinks maybe their product will last an eternity?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Erica?

PIETRICOLA: A diamond is forever?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Correct.

BLACK: A long distance telephone company asks you to extend a hand and contact a person?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Erica?

PIETRICOLA: Reach out and touch someone?

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Yes. But if I'm going to let someone reach out and touch me, like they have to buy me something, you know?

PIETRICOLA: Yeah, like, totally.

EISENBERG: Totally.

BLACK: There's this guy in my chemistry class and I totally wish he would reach out and touch me.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It is always chemistry, isn't it? It's always chemistry. Paid for by farmers, these ads want you to try the alternative, colorless protein?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Erica?

PIETRICOLA: Pork, it's what's for dinner?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You're very close. It's not exactly the slogan. The alternative colorless protein?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Andrew for the steal.

SOMMERFELD: Pork, it's what's for dinner?

PIETRICOLA: That's what I said.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's what Erica said.

PIETRICOLA: I know it. I know it. I know it.

EISENBERG: Okay, I'm sorry. You already gave the wrong answer, but you can give it to me.

PIETRICOLA: It's pork, the other white meat.

EISENBERG: Ah, there you go.

PIETRICOLA: It's beef, it's what's for dinner.

EISENBERG: Beef, it's what's for dinner.

PIETRICOLA: That has color.

EISENBERG: That does have color.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I know, a colorless protein just sounds terrible though.

BLACK: All right, are you guys ready for your next question? A restaurant chain's poultry might be hand lapping tasty?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Andrew?

SOMMERFELD: It's totally finger licking good.

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: For a popular beer brand, some people say it has flavor? Some people say it leaves room?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Andrew?

SOMMERFELD: It tastes great or less filling?

EISENBERG: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

BLACK: Yeah, maybe it's the first meal of the day for winners.

EISENBERG: That was the question.

PIETRICOLA: That was a question.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that was the...

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

SOMMERFELD: It's like the breakfast of champions?

EISENBERG: Oh my god, it's totally the breakfast of champions.

SOMMERFELD: Totally.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That's Wheaties. Andrew, you are the winner of this round. Congratulations, you are the teenager of the year.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: So, there you go, some of my top puzzle picks from our shows so far, and a special shout out to our puzzle writers for being such mad geniuses. Still need more? No problem. Listen to all of our episodes by subscribing to our podcast, and you can always find us on Facebook or Twitter. Just look around for NPR ASK ME ANOTHER. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.