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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 Alonzo Bodden, Joanna Hausmann and Maeve Higgins. And here again is your host, wearing his business pajamas, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. Right now, it is 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.

BEN: Hi, this is Ben from Richmond.

SAGAL: Hey, Ben from Richmond.

KURTIS: Hey, Ben.

SAGAL: You know, we were just in Richmond - I was in Richmond for the very first time - just about a year ago, when we were allowed to go places. And it's a remarkably beautiful city.

BEN: Yeah, it's a lot of history, a lot of fun...

SAGAL: Yeah.

BEN: ...Lot of bars.

SAGAL: Have they taken down the monuments yet? They've all - that big row of Confederate monuments that they were going to take down - have they done that yet?

BEN: They've taken down a bunch of them. The big one, the big Lee statue is still up.

SAGAL: Right. Have they decided what they're going to put up on those enormous pedestals instead?

BEN: I have no idea.

MAEVE HIGGINS: I think it's going to be Beyonce and Rihanna. Sure...


HIGGINS: ...Dolly Parton.

SAGAL: Well, I was also going to say, Benjamin, if you do really well in this game, could be you...


SAGAL: ...You know?

KURTIS: That's the prize.

SAGAL: All right. So you're going to play, of course, the Bluff the Listener game. You're going to have to tell what's truth and what's fiction. Bill, what is his topic?

KURTIS: Topic is, you were made for this.

SAGAL: There are lots of doctors, lots of lawyers - right now, we may even have more than one president. But this week, though, we heard about a job that, as far as we know, only one person in the entire world has. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

BEN: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Maeve Higgins.

HIGGINS: Mary Oliver asked what it is we want to do with our one wild and precious life. I've never been sure how to fill those long hours between coffee and alcohol, but I manage nicely by lying on my bed, reading books and humming tunelessly, stopping only to eat white buttered toast every now and again. That's how I knew a real one.

Kaori Kajita is the director of the Japan Toast Association. The stated goal is, by deepening our knowledge about toast and spreading the appeal of toast more widely, we aim to increase the value of toast, bringing about a rich diet. Ms. Kajita is the world's only known buttered toast critic, aka the Crisp Carb Queen, aka my hero.

Something magical happens when butter meets toast, but not all buttered toast is created equal. Ms. Kajita presides over buttered toast nights, contests where other members of the Japan Toast Association gather and compare various toasted breads and butters.

In America, we have roast battles, where different roast meats cut each other down with terrible insults. A lamb shoulder might scream at a pork bust, your mama's so fat she goes in the oven and comes out just crackling. But things are more genteel in Japan. And I, for one, will raise a glass of toast to that.

SAGAL: The world's only buttered toast critic working and advocating for buttered toast in Japan. Your next story of a job somebody was born to do comes from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: One night last year on the Greek island of Corfu, every resident of a small town was awakened by a terrible screaming. Was somebody being murdered? Were they being murdered while murdering someone else? No. The horrible sound was just an American tourist named Stacey Chandler (ph). Stacey told the police who arrived at her hotel room door that it was nothing. She just always had a loud scream. Her friends back in Duluth call her screaming Stacey, and they said...

HIGGINS: (Laughter).

BODDEN: ...She could wake the dead. Seems her friends were psychic because the next day, Stacey was contacted by a medium named Atara (ph), who offered her a deal. Stacey would go to cemeteries on the island and scream until certain spirits returned to the underworld. For that, she'd get half the fee from the ghost's living relative. With each ear-piercing scream, more clients demanded her services on Corfu, then all over Southern Europe, paying premium fees plus first-class travel and hotel.

Tested by audiologists, her scream reaches 120 decibels, which is literally louder than a chainsaw. The only mystery is what exactly happened that night in Corfu to inspire that first blood-curdling scream. She won't say. And when her ex-boyfriend with whom she was traveling was asked, he said, huh? Sorry - I can't hear you.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Stacey Chandler, who literally screams to wake the dead. Your last story of a one-of-a-kind occupation comes from Joanna Hausmann.

JOANNA HAUSMANN: What is something most countries in the world use that the United States refuses to? No, I'm not talking about the metric system or a reasonable drinking age.

HIGGINS: (Laughter).

HAUSMANN: I'm talking about bidets. While America keeps trying to convince us on dry paper, in countries like Italy, a bidet is required by law to be in every bathroom containing a toilet, which is where 57-year-old Cosi Mopisolate (ph) has forged his prolific career as a sanitary beautification specialist - or, as his Instagram calls it, a bidet bedazzler. After seeing so many boring bidets all over his country, this former art restorer quit his job repairing frescoes in chapels to paint boring, old booty baths, transforming them into works of fart - art.

KURTIS: (Laughter).

HAUSMANN: One of his finest examples is a working-scale model of the fountains at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas. Another is filled with actual live goldfish who do their best to never, ever look up while you're using it. Cosi Mopisolate doesn't just paint still lives of peaches on porcelain. He's made your doody his duty.

SAGAL: All right. One of these is a real job. Is it, from Maeve Higgins, a critic of buttered toast living and working in Japan; from Alonzo, Stacey Chandler, a professional screamer who can wake the dead; or from Joanna, a bidet bedazzler working in Italy? Which of these is a real person pursuing a real profession?

BEN: As much as I want it to be the bidet, I think it's the toast society.

SAGAL: The Japanese toast critic is your choice.

BEN: Yes.

SAGAL: All right. That's Maeve's story, of course. Well, to find out the correct answer, we spoke to a reporter familiar with the real story.


KEVIN PANG: Do we actually need a toast critic? No. But is it good to have one? Absolutely.


SAGAL: That was Kevin Pang from "America's Test Kitchen" - he's a former food critic at the Chicago Tribune - talking about the Japanese buttered toast critic. Congratulations. You got it right. You earned a point for Maeve, and you've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. And as far as I'm concerned, you deserve to be on that plinth in Memorial Avenue.


BEN: Why, thank you.

SAGAL: You're very, very welcome. Thanks so much for playing.

BEN: Thank you.


THE FOUNDATIONS: (Singing) Why do you build me up, build me up, buttercup, baby, just to let me down, let me down, and mess me around? And then, worst of all... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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