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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're playing this week with Peter Grosz, Adam Burke and Negin Farsad. And here again is your host, wearing a full-body rubber glove. It's Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: 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 are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

JEN: Hi.

SAGAL: Hi. Who's this?


JEN: This is Jen (ph) and my daughter Rachel (ph).

SAGAL: Oh, hello, Jen. Hello, Rachel. Where are you two calling from?

JEN: St. Pete, Fla.

SAGAL: St. Pete's, OK. And, Rachel, how old are you?


SAGAL: You're 10. OK. And, Rachel, how is it going for you? I'm assuming...


SAGAL: ...That you guys have been stuck in your house for a while like everybody else.

RACHEL: It's weird because we have to do school online.

SAGAL: Is that better or worse than actually going to class?

RACHEL: Well, you get to stay in your pajamas all day.

SAGAL: That's a plus.

RACHEL: And I don't really know how it works, so...

SAGAL: Yeah. You know, I'm going to say, if you like being in your pajamas all day, consider a career in radio.


SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, both of you. It's great to talk to you. Now, I guess you two are going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's their topic?

KURTIS: I love what you've done with the place.

SAGAL: It's a great time to take on those home improvement projects you've been thinking about because you're not just improving your home. You're improving the only place you're allowed to go. This week, we heard about a home fix-up gone wrong. Our panelists are going to tell you and your daughter all about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

JEN: Absolutely.



ADAM BURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Adam Burke.

BURKE: Can I suggest that we get some earmuffs for Rachel for this one? You were warned. Nothing revitalizes familiar surroundings like a fresh coat of paint. And one woman in England was so excited about her impending redecoration that she decided to add some fun graffiti to her wall for a bit of a lark, safe in the knowledge that this silly act of auto-vandalism would soon be covered up. And so she took a Sharpie and scrawled a large image of a body part that is generally particular to the male anatomy right on her living room wall.

NEGIN FARSAD: (Laughter).

BURKE: That is to say, she drew a large picture of - to use a quaint English euphemism - the devil's own croquet mallet in permanent marker. Imagine her shock and dismay, then, when even after an application of some beige matte Sherwin Williams, her doodled pool noodle was still visible.

PETER GROSZ: (Laughter).

BURKE: Panicked, she added several more coats of paint over the old orb and scepter only to find each layer made the bangers and mash even more prominent and visible.

GROSZ: (Laughter).

BURKE: In desperation, she enlisted her boyfriend to apply a belt sander - ironically, also English slang for the appendage in question. But alas, it merely created a huge concrete mark in the shape of a Boris' Johnson.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

BURKE: Although her Facebook post was mainly met with the amusement of thousands, some did helpfully suggest that she cover the offending area with a framed photo of a famous landmark - Big Ben, perhaps - or Nelson's Column depending on the weather.

SAGAL: A woman's attempt at some amusing self-home vandalism goes very wrong when she can't get rid of it. Your next story of a reno gone wrong comes from Negin Farsad.

FARSAD: The Van Damme (ph) family - no relation to Jean-Claude Van Damme - decided to remodel their beautiful mid-century modern home in Denver, Colo. They wanted their old Italian marble replaced with new Italian marble, new Japanese smart toilets that heat your buns and squirt freshener in your nether regions. And they obviously needed a custom-built entertainment console made of imported Moroccan soapstone. I mean, they're not peasants.

Anyway, the Van Dammes left it to the contractors and went to the Grand Cayman Islands (ph). It was mostly a vacation, but they managed to get a little light banking in. When they returned, they found that the contractors had left a bunch of garbage from the remodel - old toilets, old marble slabs, various pieces of furniture - by the curb. And someone had arranged all of it into a massive Stonehenge-like monument.

The problem for the Van Dammes is not the monument itself, though, but the throngs of people who are lining up - six feet apart, of course - to see it. And when the Van Dammes asked the city to remove the garbage, the city council deemed it a public art landmark and refused. The Van Dammes are currently suing the city of Denver. In the meantime, Denhenge (ph) is only growing in popularity. The latest trend - visitors leaving toilet paper fashioned into roses.

GROSZ: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Denhenge, a public artwork made from the garbage left from someone's reno project. And your last story of home improvement with room for improvement comes from Peter Grosz.

GROSZ: There are three things you need to know about Brad (ph) and Marty Janice (ph). One, they had long dreamed of renovating their modest three-bedroom craftsman home. Two, they planned to attend a 12-week silent Buddhist meditation retreat near Bend, Ore., starting January 1. And three, they are very, very efficient multitaskers. Said a proud Brad, we thought, hey, we're already going to be away for three months, so why not just do our reno at the same time?

They drew up their blueprints and gave them to their contractor, Sean McGinnis (ph), with strict instructions that he follow the plans to a tee and set off for their retreat. But there's a fourth thing you need to know about Brad and Marty. They were too cheap to hire a professional architect, so they drew up their reno plans themselves and made numerous errors.

And finally, there's a fifth thing that you need to know. They were really annoying to deal with. I caught their mistakes pretty early, said McGinnis. But they were such condescending jerks about me following their plans exactly to the letter, so I figured, hey, they hired me to do a job, so I guess I'm just going to do the job.

Brad and Marty mixed up the one hash for feet, two hashes for inches designation, so McGinnis built them an 18-foot-wide fireplace, which takes up a whole wall in their living room. They didn't measure things correctly, so the kitchen features an island so large it prevents the refrigerator door from opening. And since they forgot to include it on the plans, there is no front door. So when the Janices returned home from their peaceful, restorative retreat, their first words upon seeing their new home were unable to be uttered on NPR.


SAGAL: All right. Here are your choices, Jennifer and Rachel. From Adam Burke, a willy on the wall stays no matter what they try to do to it; from Negin, Denhenge, a public artwork made out of somebody's garbage that got thrown out of their house after their renovation; or, from Peter Grosz, a very, very bad reno job done because of the very, very bad designs left by the very, very confident owners. Which of these is the real story of a home renovation problem?

JEN: OK. So Rachel says the first one.


JEN: Neither one of us think it's the garbage.


JEN: I think it's the third one.

SAGAL: Wait a minute. So you think it's the third one, but your daughter, who is 10...

JEN: Yeah.


SAGAL: ...Chose Adam's story about the person who did a very rude drawing on their own wall and cannot get rid of it no matter what they do.

JEN: Right. Right. Right (laughter).

SAGAL: But you - the mother, the sensible one - you are overruling your immature daughter, who picked the silly...


SAGAL: ...Story about the naughty picture, and you were picking the much more sensible one.

JEN: I don't know about immature. But we'll try innocent. Let's go innocent.

SAGAL: All right. Well, we spoke to someone familiar with the real story.


SEAN RUTLEDGE: Sharpie will always bleed through paint. You need to do another priming afterwards or else remove the drywall.

RACHEL: (Laughter).

SAGAL: That was Sean Rutledge...

BURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...Owner of All In One Project Management, a remodeling and a construction company talking about the wall that got shafted. Now, Jennifer...

BURKE: (Laughter).

SAGAL: I'm going to tell you...

JEN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...That I would have tried harder to talk you back to the right one, but I so wanted your daughter to be able to lord it over you for the rest of your natural life.


SAGAL: Tell you what - she wins our prize.


SAGAL: She...

JEN: Yay.

SAGAL: ...Can choose whatever voice she likes. You're out of luck. But however, you, because of your generosity, won a point for Peter for fooling you. So thank you so much to both of you for playing.

JEN: OK. Yay, Peter. Good luck.

SAGAL: Bye-bye, guys.

GROSZ: Thank you.


MACY GRAY: (Singing) And every time I see you, I want to love you all over the place. And everywhere I see you... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.