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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 Tom Bodett, Tracy Clayton and Joel Kim Booster. And here again is your host, the last person in America still making sourdough bread...


KURTIS: ...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're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

DARRELL DEMAKES: Hi. This is Darrell from Greenwich, Conn.

SAGAL: Hey, I know where Greenwich is. What do you do there?

DEMAKES: I'm the e-government coordinator for the town of Westport, Conn.


SAGAL: Westport, Conn. - it's a - it's quite a fancy place, if I remember. I've been through there once or twice. Are you dealing with people complaining about their neighbor's peacock herd - stuff like that?

DEMAKES: It's a lovely part of the Eastern Seaboard.

BODETT: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right. The residents of Westport have the same problems the rest of us do. I shouldn't make stereotypes. I'm sorry.

TRACY CLAYTON: Are peacocks native to any place?

SAGAL: They have to be native to someplace. They came from somewhere.

CLAYTON: They're terrible. They're awful. I got chased by one once at the zoo, and I've never forgotten it.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Darrell, welcome to the show. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Darrell's topic?

KURTIS: The letter of the law.

SAGAL: Sometimes you have to bend the law, like to feed your family or when there's a really nice watch you really have to have. Our panelists are going to tell you about someone figuring out a clever way to stay within the letter of the law while doing what they want. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?


SAGAL: All right. Your first story comes from Tracy Clayton.

CLAYTON: A park in Pennsylvania has become the unexpected battleground of a war between one man and the Department of Parks and Recreation. When the city of Doylestown banned dogs in a small park favored for sitting by the town's older residents, one man got mad. And then he got busy.

Veterinarian Matt Bradston (ph) set up shop at the park's entrance wearing a white lab coat and holding a large magnifying glass near a sign that said, free pet evaluations. Word soon spread that Bradston was inspecting the dogs of passersby wishing to use the park and officially re-categorizing them as other animals to get around the ban. For example, does your dog completely ignore you until it's time to eat and intentionally hurt your feelings at least once a day? Boom - your dog is a cat.

BODETT: (Laughter).

CLAYTON: Is he really big - like, too big - like, uncomfortably big? He's actually a baby whale. And then we have a park full of happy animals that are definitely not dogs.


SAGAL: A park in Pennsylvania where you can get your dog into a park where they're not supposed to be by simply having a man decide they're not a dog officially. Your next story of someone being technically law-abiding comes from Tom Bodett.

BODETT: Chad and Amelia Farnham (ph) spent their entire 40-year marriage deeply in love and settled in their modest rowhouse in San Francisco's Sunset District. When Amelia passed away after a long illness, Chad proceeded to make good on his promise to bury her in the backyard garden where they had spent so much time together.

After being told by city officials that San Francisco does not allow people to bury other people in their gardens, the undaunted Farnham asked, what if I don't bury her in the garden? The puzzled official replied, that's what we would like.

Farnham knew the city's dire housing shortage made accessory apartments very easy to get permitting for. The attached apartment made of brick and carved marble facing features a long, padded concrete day bed that houses the not-buried-in-the-garden remains of Mrs. Farnham, along with a small kitchen and bath.

CLAYTON: (Laughter).

BODETT: Several pleasant months later, Farnham was visited by a city inspector who informed him he must rent out the permitted apartment for at least six months of the year in order to avoid stiff penalties. Stiff penalties were exactly what he was trying to avoid, so he went about finding people willing to share space with his beloved while in her present condition. It was disturbingly easy. The first renters stayed a month - said they never slept better - said I should call the place Over My Dead Body. Amelia would love that, so I did, and people went nuts.

Farnham is making an extra four grand a month and has short-term renters lined up for two years. The city leaves him alone, and his tenants allow him to come in anytime he wants to spend time with the love of his life. We are having the best time with this, said Farnham. I can hardly wait to start the addition for my place.

CLAYTON: (Laughter).

SAGAL: A man gets around the rules for burying people in his backyard by building an apartment. And since it's San Francisco, everybody wants to move in. Your last story of legal loopholing (ph) comes from Joel Kim Booster.

BOOSTER: While possessing small amounts of marijuana is now legal in Maine, it's still illegal to have it delivered - a tricky problem to get around if you're trying to shelter in place - or, in a more likely scenario, you're already too stoned to leave the house. But incredibles.me, the finest psychic lost pot recovery service in Portland, Maine, are here to help. Just tell them exactly what kind of weed you lost, how much of it you misplaced, and they'll find it using their psychic powers. Don't remember losing any weed? No problem. Trust me, they'll find it. They're that good. Incredibles.me

claims their service is legal in, quote, "their opinion." And, further quote, "we are not scofflaws. We respect the men and women in blue who protect this state." Now read that sentence again and imagine them winking while they say it, and you might have a better picture of what kind of psychics we're dealing with here.

There are some limitations to their powers. For instance, they're unable to locate lost weed for those under the age of 21 or those who lost their weed within a thousand-foot radius of a school. Plus, remember all this is only legal in, quote, "their opinion." For now, at least, it seems to be a perfectly victimless con. As of showtime, the website is still up - maybe the one true supernatural miracle to be found in this story.

SAGAL: All right. So these are your choices, Darrell - from Tracy Clayton, a park that banned dogs that are filled with dogs, but the dogs, it turns out, are actually other kinds of animals according to the guy giving out certificates at the entrance. From Tom Bodett, a man who managed to bury his wife in his backyard just by building her an apartment for her corpse and other people who want to rent it. Or from Joel Kim Booster, a psychic service that can't sell you weed but will find the weed you mysteriously lost for a set price.

Which of these is the real story of some people who are very clever about getting around the rules?

DEMAKES: Well, they're all pretty wacky stories there, Peter. But I'm going to have to go with incredibles.me.

SAGAL: You're going to choose Joel's story of the pot shop that doesn't sell you weed but merely finds the weed that you lost through their psychic powers. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to a lawyer specializing in the rules that are being broken.


HANNAH KING: If you've lost your marijuana, you call them. They send in a psychic, and the psychic figures out where you misplaced your marijuana.


SAGAL: That, of course, was Hannah King, a partner at the law firm of Drummond Woodsum in Maine and the founder and head of the firm's regulated substances practice, talking about the psychic weed locators. Congratulations. You got it right. Joel was telling the truth. You earned a point for him. You've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Congratulations. You did great.

DEMAKES: Thanks, Peter. Thanks, Tracy, Tom, Joel.

CLAYTON: Congratulations.

BODETT: Nice to talk to you.

SAGAL: Take care. Stay safe.

DEMAKES: Bye-bye.


THE FLAMING LIPS: (Singing) I think we hit a wall. I think we hit a psychic wall. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.