© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bluff The Listener

CHIOKE I'ANSON: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Chioke I'Anson. We're playing this week with Josh Gondelman, Helen Hong and Mo Rocca. And here again is your host, a man sitting alone in the corner wearing his mittens, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Chioke - or I should say, (imitating Bernie Sanders) thanks, Chioke. 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.

CHRIS MARTIN: Hi. How are you?

SAGAL: I'm fine. Who's this?

MARTIN: My name is Chris Martin (ph), and I'm calling from Lavallette, N.J.

SAGAL: Now, I'm from New Jersey, as I occasionally mention. I have no idea where Lavallette is.

MARTIN: I'm by Seaside Heights - you know, where that "Jersey Shore" TV show is?

SAGAL: Oh, yeah.

MARTIN: Yeah, where the roller coaster was in the ocean following Superstorm Sandy - I'm about a mile from that now.

SAGAL: Oh. Do you feel that that show affected people's expectation of what you actual residents of the Jersey Shore might be like?

MARTIN: Yeah (laughter).

JOSH GONDELMAN: I'm a little starstruck just because "Roller Coaster In The Ocean" is my favorite Bruce Springsteen album, so it's really nice to hear from someone...


GONDELMAN: ...Around there.

MARTIN: That's great (laughter).

SAGAL: Chris, welcome to the show. You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Chioke, what is Chris's topic?

I'ANSON: Reputation Rehab.

SAGAL: Now, reputations get dragged through the mud for plenty of stupid reasons, and they just need a few Tide Pods to clean them up. Our panelists are going to tell you about a reputation that is on the mend. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Ready to play?


SAGAL: Let's do it, then. First, let's hear from Mo Rocca.

: So you're ordering the chicken breast, and you want to make sure it's not dry, that it's tender. What you really want to ask is, will the chicken be moist? But for the last few years, the word moist has been about as acceptable as phlegm or nubbin. In fact, moist topped the 2016 OED's list of most-hated English-language words.

Now Washington Post writer Emily Heil is bringing moist in from the rain. Her inspiration - cookbook author Nigella Lawson's obvious attempt to avoid the word in a cake recipe. Lawson described her cake as, quote, "wonderfully damp." A damp cake? Turns out there is no acceptable synonym for moist. Dank, clammy - I mean, who wants a sweaty cake?

Heil cites sexism in the collective squeamishness around moist because of the word's association with the female anatomy. There is, she points out, no equivalent revulsion around adjectives that might describe a man's anatomy. And it's true. I don't mean to brag, but I have no problem ordering the succulent, monster-sized drumstick.

HELEN HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: An attempt to rehabilitate the image of the word moist, long thought of as being the ugliest word. Your next story of a reputation refurbished comes from Helen Hong.

HONG: On everyone's list of most-hated neighbors ever, there's the guy who blasts EDM at top volume and the retired nudists who don't believe in curtains. But at the very top of the list of bad neighbors may well be the ones who never pick up their dog poop. Now a group of laissez-faire dog owners are hoping to change that attitude.

Members of Woof For Freedom, or WFF for short, have launched a campaign to make abandoned dog droppings socially acceptable. (Imitating Southern accent) It's bad for a dog's self-esteem, exclaims WFF president Margie Hunter (ph). Can you imagine if you did your business, and then someone rushed over with a plastic bag and scooped up after you with a disgusted look on their face?

She also adds, (imitating Southern accent) nothing is more natural than doody, so leaving pooch poop is probably good for the environment somehow, right? When asked about the inevitable poop landmine that will have to be avoided by innocent pedestrians, Ms. Hunter just shrugs and responds, (imitating Southern accent) well, as they say, [expletive] happens.

SAGAL: People who don't pick up after their own dogs attempting to rehab their own reputation. Your last story of someone or something giving their name a glow-up comes from Josh Gondelman.

GONDELMAN: On his first day in office, Joe Biden announced that the United States would re-enter the Paris climate agreement. But energy giant ExxonMobil was ready and rolled out a bold environmental proposal of its own. In a dynamic and rapidly evolving world, said CEO Darren Woods at a press conference last week, we need to make sure our climate continues to change with the times, and we here at ExxonMobil want to be a part of that climate change. That's why I'm proud to announce our company's Naturally Occurring Deeper Oceans Initiative.

The Naturally Occurring Deeper Oceans Initiative, or NODOI for short, is ExxonMobil's active attempt to deepen the world's bodies of water by intentionally melting polar ice caps. We know less about our own ocean's depths than we know about outer space, Woods continued ominously. And soon, with deeper oceans, there will be even more to explore. Who knows what we'll find under there? Extra tasty shrimp, sexy merpeople (ph) of all races and genders, a cool shark wearing sunglasses. The sky is the limit, except the opposite.

Without taking questions, Woods concluded the press conference and climbed atop two Hummer SUVs at once like he was skiing on them, presumably on his way back to ExxonMobil's Dallas headquarters, which he hopes will be beachfront property by the year 2030.

SAGAL: All right. Here are your three choices of something that someone attempted to rehab. Was it, from Mo Rocca, the word moist, which needs to be used because what better word is there; from Helen Hong, people who don't pick up after their dogs pleading to be understood and even admired; or from Josh Gondelman, ExxonMobil trying to make global warming and sea level rise a good thing by stressing how cool and deep the ocean will be? Which of these stories of rehab was, in fact, the true one?

MARTIN: I'm going to go with Mo.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Mo.


SAGAL: Well, to give you the correct answer, we spoke to someone very familiar with the real story.


EMILY HEIL: There really is no good synonym for moist. We'll just have to get over it.


SAGAL: There you go. You're right. That was Emily Heil. She's a field reporter for The Washington Post and the person who, in fact, wrote the article defending the word moist. Congratulations, Chris. You got it right. You earned a point for Mo. You've won our prize, the voice of your choice on your voicemail.

MARTIN: Well, thank you so much. And congratulations on the new baby, Peter.

SAGAL: Oh, thank you so much. I will find the baby and tell him you said hello.

MARTIN: Thanks, guys. I really love the show. Take care.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


CARDI B: (Singing) I said certified freak, seven days a week. Wet - make that game weak, woo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.