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Bluff The Listener

CARL KASELL, host: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Brian Babylon, Tom Bodett and Roxanne Roberts. And here again is your host, at the Clews Memorial Hall in Indianapolis, Peter Sagal.


PETER SAGAL, host: Thank you everybody. 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.

BRENT BUBONY: Hi, Peter, how are you this? This is Brent.

SAGAL: Hey, Brent, how are you? Where are you calling from?

BUBONY: I'm calling you from Fayetteville, North Carolina today.

SAGAL: You're traveling around? Are you going to be someplace else tomorrow?

BUBONY: Yeah, I'm here for some training at Fort Bragg. I'm a military intelligence officer. And for the last three weeks...



SAGAL: You've got some fans.

BUBONY: Thank you.

SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show. It's good to have you. Brent, you're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Brent's topic?

KASELL: If you can't beat them, join them.

SAGAL: When life gives you lemons, sometimes you just have to give in and eat the damn lemons.


SAGAL: Our panelists are going to read you three stories this week of efforts to solve problems by embracing them. Guess the true story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?

BUBONY: Yes, sir.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: We've all had the experience of flipping through the 600 channels on the TV to find nothing but a big steaming pile of programming you can't imagine anyone watching. Well, this general impression of non-premium cable offerings has presented a real problem for cable providers now required by the FCC to sell their channels ala carte.

"When you can no longer bundle 'Bridezilla' with 'The Ellen Show,' the bride is going to get left at the alter," says industry spokesperson Marsha Errand. "We had to figure out how to add some market buzz to, face it, some pretty awful television. That's when we came up with curiously ridiculous adult programs. Crap TV offers the entire lineup of channels you used to only watch drunk or in the basement guestroom at your relatives."


BODETT: "'Judge Alex', 'Wheeler Dealers', CNN, and people are paying for it," says Errand. "We sell Crap TV as a guilty pleasure. It is the white powdered donut to premium cable's banana nut muffin."


BODETT: You know, sometimes you just got to go for the donuts.


SAGAL: Crap TV, that it's named.


SAGAL: Bad stuff packaged as a guilty pleasure. Your next story of someone giving up the fight comes from Roxanne Roberts.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: After years of trying to stop Halloween pranks, egging cars, whitewashing homes and the classic toilet paper in the trees, the town of Arcadia, California has taken all the fun out of vandalism by turning it into performance art.


ROBERTS: The first-ever "Charmin All Hallows Exhibit" kicks off at dusk Monday, with smashed pumpkins, graffiti, TP'd houses and other, quote, "art," part of the citywide installation. Charmin paid $1 million for the naming rights. Famed artist Christo will select the winning entry.


ROBERTS: Which gets a lifetime supply of toilet paper.


ROBERTS: Quote, "We tried, arrest, fines, street patrols, nothing stopped the trash," Mayor Todd Whitman told the Associated Press. "So we thought: modern art." Not everyone is happy about the idea. Quote, "They co-oped Halloween," grumbled a teenage gang member, who said he tossed out his spray paints. Quote, "Now I'm taking my little sister trick or treating."


SAGAL: A town in California...


SAGAL: Co-ops vandalism by making it an art form. Your last story of surrender, sweet, sweet surrender comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: All right, drunks will be drunks, from bar fights that spill out onto the street to a high heel that'll break from too many Jagerbombs. In an effort to cut down injuries from late night curbside drunkenness, Australian officials have tried a bouncy approach: rubber sidewalks.


BABYLON: The installation of matting made from recycled rubber tires started as an effort to cut down on clanking keg noises. "They're even putting them up in clubs," said Steve Thomas, head of marketing from A-1 Rubbers.


BABYLON: Nobody sees the rubber sidewalks as a cure for Australia's drinking woes, but this bouncy solution is taking off all across Australia.


SAGAL: All right. Let me review the problems and the solutions. From Tom Bodett: cable shows that simply weren't selling. They were packaged together in a packaged called Crap TV, so you could just enjoy that bad programming as a special treat.

From Roxanne Roberts, toilet paper in the trees in a town in California. They couldn't stop it so they made it into a contest in modern art. Or from Brian Babylon, you can't stop the Australians from drinking, getting drunk and falling down, so why not just make the sidewalks rubber.


SAGAL: Which of these is the real story of a creative solution to a problem that otherwise couldn't be fixed?

BUBONY: Well, I like Brian's story, but I don't know that a commonwealth country would name a company A-1 Rubbers.


BUBONY: So, Roxanne, I'm going with your story.

SAGAL: All right, you've chosen Roxanne's story, as so many have before you.


SAGAL: To bring you the real answer, we spoke to someone familiar with it.

LINDSAY SMITH: Rubber sidewalks, providing a safe surface to anybody who drinks, because when you fall on it, nothing breaks.

SAGAL: That was Lindsay Smith.


SAGAL: Founder CEO of Rubber Sidewalks, Incorporated, an American company, I believe. She was speaking to the merits of spongy sidewalks and why they're perfect for dealing with drunks. So, as so many have before you, you've been seduced by the wiles of Roxanne Roberts.


SAGAL: Sadly, you didn't win our prize. You did earn a point for Roxanne...

BUBONY: All right, well...

SAGAL: ...for which I'm sure she's very appreciative.

BUBONY: Thank you for having me on the show, Peter.


SAGAL: Thank you, Brent and thanks for your service.

BODETT: Thanks, Brent.

SAGAL: Good luck.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.