Ask Me Another
11:27 am
Thu June 6, 2013

There's An Apt For That

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 12:01 pm

Have you ever met a baker whose last name was Baker, or a blacksmith whose last name is Smith? Then you might be familiar with the term "aptronym," a word that refers to a person's name that happens to suit her job or characteristics. In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg asks contestants about people both real and fictional whose last names are aptly suited to their professions.

Later, house musician Jonathan Coulton covers "Poisoning Pigeons In The Park," a seasonal favorite by Tom Lehrer.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

And we have our first two contestants. Please welcome Denny O'Hearn and Eileen Fitzpatrick.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Eileen, if you could have any job in the entire world, what would it be?

EILEEN FITZPATRICK: Well, if I couldn't be an NPR quiz show host, I would have the job I have now. I'm an elementary school librarian.

EISENBERG: That's nice. Fantastic.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I like your first choice. Denny, how about you?

DENNY O'HEARN: Well, I just built a car wash recently, so I think I'd like to get a job to go around and get people's cars dirty.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You want to make some business. That's good. All right, our first game is called "there's an apt for that," and it's about aptronyms. Of course, you know aptronyms. Here to explain what exactly an aptronym is, as well as keep score, and offer the occasional hint is our puzzle guru, Will Hines.

WILL HINES: Oh, hi there, Ophira. Yes, I get up every morning hoping someone will ask me what an aptronym is. A newspaper columnist named Franklin Adams coined the word aptronym to refer to a person's name if it happens to suit his job or characteristic.

EISENBERG: Very cool, right?

HINES: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Okay.

HINES: Just let that soak in.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So, contestants, we're going to ask you about people, both real and fictional, whose last names are aptly suited to their professions.

For example, if we said, Usain is a Jamaican sprinter who runs like lightning you'd say Bolt. Exactly. So ring in when you know the answer. And the winner of this will move on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show. Let's do it. In 1983, Sally took a historic trip on the Space Shuttle Challenger.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Eileen?

FITZPATRICK: Sally Ride.

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: On the television series "Lost," Jack helped guide a flock of extremely lost people.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Eileen?

FITZPATRICK: Shepherd.

EISENBERG: That is correct, Jack Shepherd.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Steve hit the Jackpot by building Las Vegas hotels and casinos, such as the Mirage and the Bellagio.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Eileen?

FITZPATRICK: Wynn.

EISENBERG: Steve Wynn is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: James Cash was a pioneering retailer whose stores allowed customers to save a few cents.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Denny?

O'HEARN: JC Penney.

EISENBERG: You got that, exactly.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: James Cash Penney, what a name. On "Star Trek: The Next Generation," this android kept track of more information than humanely possible. Whoa.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Eileen?

FITZPATRICK: Data.

EISENBERG: Data.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I got really scared there for a second, contestants, I'm not going to lie.

JONATHAN COULTON: That was almost a heartbreaking moment.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I loved Data and he didn't love me back because he could not experience love.

COULTON: Can't. He's unable to.

EISENBERG: That's why I loved him. A 19th century plumber, Thomas was probably the number one man in popularizing the flush toilet.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Eileen?

FITZPATRICK: John.

EISENBERG: Thomas John? That's a good idea.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: No, that is not correct.

O'HEARN: Thomas Outhouse.

EISENBERG: Puzzle guru?

HINES: The answer is Thomas Crapper.

EISENBERG: Yeah, Thomas Crapper.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Although he's face blind, Chuck is famous for painting large-scale portraits of faces.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Denny?

O'HEARN: Oh, Chuck Face.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Chuck Face, no. Eileen?

FITZPATRICK: Chuck Close.

EISENBERG: Chuck Close, that is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: The author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," Michael is busy as a bee supporting organic farming.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Eileen?

FITZPATRICK: Michael Pollan.

EISENBERG: Michael Pollan, that is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: This is your final question. As the heroine of a Truman Capote novella, Holly doesn't let anything keep her down.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Denny?

O'HEARN: Holly Golightly.

EISENBERG: Holly Golightly, you know that is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Will, who is the winner of that round?

HINES: Eileen Fitzpatrick.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Thank you so much, Denny. Eileen, congratulations. You'll be moving on to our final Ask Me One More round at the end of the show. Congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This is a song by Tom Lehrer, a bit of an aptronym himself. Lehrer in German actually means teacher. I know.

(LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING)

COULTON: Spring is here, spring is here. Life is skittles and life is beer. I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring. I do, don't you? Of course you do. But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me, makes every Sunday a treat for me.

All the world seems in tune on a spring afternoon when we're poisoning pigeons in the park. Every Sunday you'll see my sweetheart and me as we poison the pigeons in the park. When they see us coming, the birdies all try and hide, but they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide. The sun's shining bright, everything seems all right when we're poisoning pigeons in the park.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Jonathan Coulton everybody.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.