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Bluff The Listener


BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Adam Burke, Luke Burbank and Jessi Klein. And here again is your host, who if it weren't for the pandemic would have been recruited for the LA Lakers, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. Right now, it's 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.

GREGORY FRANKLIN: Hey, this is Greg Franklin (ph) calling from a little town in Illinois called Chicago.

SAGAL: Chicago.


LUKE BURBANK: (Laughter).


SAGAL: You know, it's weird. I live just outside Chicago, and I literally went to Chicago for the first time in three months yesterday. I was glad to see it's still there.

FRANKLIN: Yep, yep. Still kicking.

SAGAL: It's very far away and exotic now. What do you do there?

FRANKLIN: Yeah, so I just graduated from Amherst College this past May. And I actually just got back from Alaska with a hiking trip, so...

SAGAL: Oh, that's nice. How's Alaska? I understand it's not on fire.

FRANKLIN: No, no. It is not on fire. No, it's great. You know, we did a lot of hiking. I had a reindeer burger for the first time, which was very (unintelligible).

SAGAL: Oh, wow.

FRANKLIN: Yeah, but quite delicious - quite delicious.

SAGAL: Oh, sure. It's good for you, bad for the reindeer.

BURBANK: Well, you had a good run, Blitzen.

ADAM BURKE: (Laughter) I was going to say, you could eat them by the light of their own nose.


FRANKLIN: Exactly.

SAGAL: Well, Greg, it's very nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Greg's topic?

KURTIS: Now, that's what I called divine intervention.

SAGAL: Now, people have been praying for miracles ever since God turned that water into a nice Chianti. Well, this week, we heard a story of what seems like a real-life prayer answered. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

FRANKLIN: I was born ready, Peter.

SAGAL: Of course. You're from Chicago. Here we go. Your first story is from Adam Burke.

BURKE: The Lord, they say, moves in mysterious ways. But sometimes, the Lord says, to heck with mystery and cutteth (ph) right to the chase. And so it came to be in the year of our Lord 2020, in the land of New York on the lake of George, there came to be a man named Jimmy McDonald. And yea was Jimmy on a kayaking trip with his family. And lo did Jimmy's kayak float away from his family, so engrossed was he in taking selfies. For as Thomas did say to the disciples, pics or it didn't happen.

JESSI KLEIN: (Laughter).

BURKE: And ye, there came to be a great tumult upon the waters. Jimmy's kayak did flippeth (ph) upside down, and Jimmy did fall into the water, where he did struggle to hold onto the boat while keeping his smartphone aloft above the waves, for it did costeth (ph) 1,400 bucks, and lo, he had not sprung for an Otter Box.

BURBANK: (Laughter).

BURKE: And yea, though he saw the other canoes and swimmers pass by, he did not call out, for he was proud. And so Jimmy did close his eyes and pray to the Lord for deliverance. And ye, what did he see in the distance but a floating tiki bar boat? And ye, did the festive Hawaiian-themed booze-craft bestride the waters, just like our savior did upon the sea of Galilee, only with more cocktail umbrellas and chunks of pineapple.

And straightway, Jimmy was lifted onto the boat, where he discovered it had been rented out by a group of Catholic priests and seminarians. And thus was Jimmy delivered from the waters of the George. And verily, there was much rejoicing among those that were in the tiki boat who probably had a few pina coladas and mai tais - or, if thou will, God al-mai tais (ph).

KLEIN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: A kayaker sinking in Lake George rescued by the miracle of a bunch of priests on a tiki bar boat. Your next story of a savior comes from Luke Burbank.

BURBANK: Performer David Blaine made headlines recently when he floated above the Arizona desert held aloft by helium-filled balloons. But something equally if not more amazing happened just this past week when Blavid Dane (ph), Canada's answer to the American magician, strapped himself into a bunch of balloons and attempted to float over the city of Saskatoon. Dane, whose real name is Charles Kelly (ph), brought a pellet gun along to shoot some of the balloons when it was time to return to Earth.

Well, that was problem No. 1 right there, eh, he told the Regina Sun (ph) newspaper. I pretty much dropped the gun somewhere over Grandora when I was taking it out to admire it. So once I lost the gun, I knew I was pretty much hosed in terms of coming down, he added. What followed was a harrowing 49-hour drift over rural Canada. Then things took a turn for the truly dangerous as Dane entered the airspace of Saskatchewan International Airport.

Miraculously, though, just as a Boeing 777 was bearing down on him, a flock of Canada geese surrounded him and his balloons and ushered him to safety, using their weight to gently bring him back down to earth. I owe these birds my life, said Dane, who announced he's retiring from magic to work on preserving wetlands for his new feathered friends. As of press time, the other David Blaine could not be reached for comment as he was frozen in a block of ice.

BURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Canada's answer to David Blaine saved while aloft by a flock of Canada geese. And your last miraculous moment comes from Jessi Klein.

KLEIN: When the history of this moment is written, one figure will rise as the most confusing of all - the guy who wears a mask but lets his nose poke over the top like a little snorkel for both exhaling and inhaling the coronavirus. The mayor of Smithson (ph), N.M., noticed these people everywhere. I don't get why they don't get it, she said. That's exposing 66% of the face holes you're supposed to be covering. She tried everything, but her public information campaign, just say nose, failed.

BURKE: (Laughter).

KLEIN: I finally just gave up and prayed to God to enlighten the people of my town, she said. The next day, what meteorologists are calling a once-in-a-generation phenomenon, the prevailing winds in town shifted 180 degrees, blowing from the neighboring town of St. Alban (ph), known for having the state's largest and most fragrant sewage treatment facility in the world. All of a sudden, her town smelled terrible, and everyone was forced to put their mask over their noses. We're saved, said the mayor. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Many of Smithson's residents, however, wanted to make sure their intentions were known, and they had not changed their minds. Said one local real estate agent, even though my mask is up, I want people to know I'm only doing it for myself because of the smell, not for anyone else because of the virus. Asked for comment, the mayor responded, quote, "I just say, Lord, forgive them. They know not how stupid they're being."


SAGAL: All right. One of these stories, Greg, is the story of what seems like a real miracle in the news. From Adam Burke, a kayaker who had capsized in a lake was rescued from certain doom by a bunch of priests who paddled by on a tiki bar boat; from Luke Burbank, Canada's answer to David Blaine saved from floating off - well, into wherever - by a flock of Canada geese; or from Jessi Klein, a mighty, stinky wind gets people to wear their masks right in New Mexico. Which is the real story of a miracle in the week's news?

FRANKLIN: I'm going to have to go with choice A.

SAGAL: You're going to go with choice A, Adam Burke's story of the kayaker and the tiki bar boat.


SAGAL: All right, then. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke with someone quite familiar with the real story.


NOAH ISMAEL: We were able to pull him up onto the boat, and he said, I've been sober for seven years, and the bar comes and saves my life.


SAGAL: That was first theologian Noah Ismael of the Paulist Fathers who was actually one of the seminarians who saved the kayaker on Lake George in New York. Congratulations. You got it right. It must have been divine inspiration.

FRANKLIN: Exactly. Thanks so much.

SAGAL: Thank you, Greg. And congratulations. You earned a point for Adam. You've won our prize - the voice of anyone you might choose on your voicemail, probably at this point calling for help. Thank you so much for playing with us today.

FRANKLIN: Bye-bye.


GRATEFUL DEAD: (Singing) Just one thing, then I'll be OK. I need a miracle every day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.