PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Coming up, it's Lightning Fill In The Blank. But first, it's the game where you have to listen for the rhyme. If you'd like to play on air, call or leave a message at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Or click on the Contact Us link on our website waitwait.npr.org. And if you want even more WAIT WAIT in your week, check out the WAIT WAIT quiz for your smart speaker. It's out every Wednesday with me and Bill asking you questions all in the comfort of your home. And just like our panelists on the real show, you can play in the nude. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.
CATHERINE: Hi, this is Catherine from Denver.
SAGAL: What do you do there?
CATHERINE: I'm an English professor.
SAGAL: An English professor. What do you specialize in?
CATHERINE: I specialize in apocalypse and horror literature. So this is kind of my time.
HELEN HONG: Wow.
SAGAL: Really? Your specialty is apocalyptic and horror literature?
CATHERINE: Yes, it is.
SAGAL: I grew up reading a fair amount of post-apocalyptic science fiction. And I have to say that when the end of the world came, I did not expect it to be so dumb.
CATHERINE: Yeah, and boring.
SAGAL: Well, Catherine, welcome to the show. Bill Kurtis is going to read you three news-related limericks with the last word or phrase missing from each. If you can fill in that last word or phrase correctly in two limericks, you will be a winner. Here is your first limerick.
BILL KURTIS: On the path where we tread with our feet grows a fungus for old men to eat. A taste of this asphalt will help my pants pole vault. Skip Viagra. Try licking the...
SAGAL: Yes, a street.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Very good. Health experts are advising people against licking the fungus that sometimes grows on pavement after a rumor spread that it may have Viagra-like effects. When do people who believe this expect to make use of it? Hey, baby, just wait here. I've got to go lick my parking spot.
SAGAL: It's hard to imagine how this myth even got started. Did somebody just trip on the sidewalk with their mouth open and suddenly feel frisky?
ALONZO BODDEN: I just picture...
PETER GROSZ: They fell down with their tongue open, and they popped up.
SAGAL: Yeah, exactly. Boing (ph).
BODDEN: You know, what's great is how the rest of the world is looking at this. They're like, first, we had to tell them not to drink bleach. Now we got to tell them not to lick the street. Maybe we'll just let them go.
SAGAL: Exactly. All right. Here we go. Here is your next limerick.
KURITS: The denim might burst at the seams 'cause a runner's legs pound like machines. In very few seconds - world record, I reckon - a mile that was run in tight...
SAGAL: Jeans, yes.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Very good. Johnny Gregorek is a 28-year-old professional runner. And he broke a record this week - the fastest mile ever run in jeans. Apparently, the runner took on the world record after the pandemic delayed his plans to compete in the Olympics, where his event is normally speed chafing. Gregorek ran - nearly ran a 4-minute mile in a pair of Levi's. But to be fair, it would've been way under four minutes if he hadn't had to stop to figure out the button fly.
HONG: Wait. Was there - like, was it Spandex-y jeans? Was it stretchy jeans?
SAGAL: No, it was - it's actually - funny that you ask because as with any legitimate athletic event, there are very, very, very severe rules. In order to qualify as a champion, your jeans must be 100% denim or cotton. It specifies no jeggings. One runner who technically broke the record in 2017 had on jeans that were 99% cotton, and he still got an asterisk next to his title.
HONG: How new are these jeans? Like, are these, like, nice, worn-out jeans?
SAGAL: Oh, that's an important question. You're right.
HONG: Or are these brand-new, off-the-shelf jeans? Because that makes a big difference.
SAGAL: There should be a separate record for, like, mile in jeans and a mile in dad jeans.
SAGAL: All right. Here is your last limerick.
KURITS: With humans, I've thrown in the towel. I hang out with a nocturnal fowl. Though he hasn't a clue and keeps asking who's who, I am watching TV with my...
SAGAL: Yes, with your owl.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: A family of giant Eurasian eagle-owls have nested in a Belgian man's living room window to watch TV with him. The birds stand at attention to look over his chair at the TV. The man is delighted with his new friends but complains they keep interrupting his shows with dumb questions like - who, who, who? What did he just say? Could you turn on the closed captioning?
HONG: (Laughter) Wow. This is the coolest story. So this - it's just - random owls are like, hey, man.
SAGAL: Yeah. Just random owls are just, like, regularly hanging out, watching TV through his window. And it is very cool. But just imagine the very first time you're sitting there watching TV and you feel, like, the gaze of someone behind you. And you turn around, and there are five owls staring at you.
GROSZ: My God, it's like "The Raven" by Poe. "The Owl."
SAGAL: You would need a new couch - right? - after that.
BODDEN: Have any of you ever had an owl, like, looking at you? There was an owl outside of my window once. And they don't blink. They just stare. It is the scariest, creepiest thing. I wouldn't want owls hanging outside of my window watching TV because then I have to sell the house and move.
BODDEN: The owls came, and it was time to go.
SAGAL: And what's really freaky - is the owls are watching your TV. And then they just turn around and watch one directly behind them.
BODDEN: Exactly, exactly.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Catherine do on our quiz?
KURITS: Even though she knows it's the apocalypse, Catherine is a winner.
(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)
SAGAL: Congratulations, Catherine. You did great. Good luck. And I hope none of your reading comes true.
CATHERINE: Thank you. So do I. Thanks so much.
SAGAL: Bye-bye, Catherine. Take care.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE WHO SONG, "BABA O'RILEY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.