Ask Me Another
9:16 am
Thu August 14, 2014

Scrabble City

Scrabble doesn't allow proper nouns, but we're rebels who laugh at their "rules." This game gives hints about cities along with their Scrabble point values. For 19 points, what's the capital of Arizona?

Heard in Episode 324: His Dark Material

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

All right, let's meet our next two contestants - James Simmons and John Weicher.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Somehow that is - your names are made for a game show. I said the more game showy than of any other names. James, you are visiting from Indiana.

JAMES SIMMONS: Yep.

EISENBERG: Thanks for coming all the way to New York.

SIMMONS: First time here.

EISENBERG: Really?

SIMMONS: Yep, first. Never made it farther north than Baltimore before.

EISENBERG: Really? And so what have you done while you're here?

SIMMONS: Went to see "Rock Of Ages" on Broadway...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

SIMMONS: ...and then pouted for a while because I can't ride the Cyclone.

EISENBERG: Oh, why can't you ride the Cyclone?

SIMMONS: They're not open on weekdays yet.

EISENBERG: Oh, well, I know a guy.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We can make that happen. Nothing is really closed here. You just graduated from college. So is this your sort of have some fun time?

SIMMONS: This is my parents last hurrah with me in tow listening to their snoring time.

EISENBERG: Oh nice. So you're traveling together.

SIMMONS: Yep, they're hiding over there somewhere.

EISENBERG: OK, very good. What kind of degree did you get?

SIMMONS: Social Studies Education - teach history, geography, government - all that fun stuff.

EISENBERG: All right.

(APPLAUSE)

SIMMONS: The stuff that really matters.

EISENBERG: Sure, no that's good. I like that you laid out the plans so your parents feel good in this moment.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: But that sounds great. John, welcome. You are also visiting us from Media, Pennsylvania.

JOHN WEICHER: Yeah, right outside Philly.

EISENBERG: Right outside Philly. And you're a Presbyterian minister.

WEICHER: I am. I am. So that organ playing...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

WEICHER: ...We'll get together later.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

WEICHER: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Are you looking for an organ player in wherever?

WEICHER: Not if our organist is listening to this, no.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Got it, maybe. And you love trivia, which is a nice combination.

WEICHER: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Were you ever on a trivia team?

WEICHER: I was. We had a Monday night trivia team and it was all clergy because when you're clergy, that's who you get to hang out with.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

WEICHER: You opt out of the rest of culture and you just get other ministers as your friends.

EISENBERG: How were you guys? Were you good?

WEICHER: We were consistently fifth.

(LAUGHTER)

WEICHER: Yeah, and prizes stopped at forth. So we were consistently right behind.

EISENBERG: Oh yeah. So it was very humbling, yet...

WEICHER: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah, good. All right. Well, now you're on your own playing trivia. So we'll see how it goes. This game is called "Scrabble City." Let me just see what happens. You said no John to that, you did not like that at all?

WEICHER: Well, I heard the geography teacher next to me.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Oh yeah, that's true.

SIMMONS: I can write a quick lesson plan for you if you'd like.

WEICHER: Thank you, yeah.

EISENBERG: He might help you. That's very nice. This game is called "Scrabble City." And in this round, we'll give you clues about cities that would have pretty sweet Scrabble scores if they were allowed, of course, since proper names are not allowed, according to the standard Scrabble rules. So all you have to do is identify the city. Sounds easy. Puzzle guru John Chaneski?

JOHN CHANESKI: If we said for 19 points, it's the capital of Arizona. You'd say Phoenix. Now bear in mind, these are the minimum scores, we're not using any double or triple word scores.

SIMMONS: But what if I want the extra points?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You just give them to yourself, my friend.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: OK good.

JONATHAN COULTON: And these are going to be about both U.S. and world cities. So think globally and I guess also technically act globally.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: If you need a hint, John Chaneski will give you some key letters to help out. Located near the Columbia and Snake rivers, this 16-point Washington town might make you holla, holla if you like water sports.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: John.

WEICHER: Walla Walla.

COULTON: Yes.

EISENBERG: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: I can't believe I had to say those words.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: According to urbandictionary, this 16-point city has a reputation for being so hard to reach, so much so that despite being in West Africa, it has become a stand-in for any extremely distant and inaccessible location.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: James.

SIMMONS: Timbuktu.

EISENBERG: Yeah, Timbuktu.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Regionally, everyone has a Timbuktu because my mother is Dutch, and she used to say it's as far as Egvelt (ph). And I didn't know what that was.

COULTON: Egvelt (ph).

EISENBERG: Yeah. And so I would say that to my friends and they would go what's wrong with you?

COULTON: Nobody goes to Egvelt. Unfortunately for Scrabble players, this state capital was given its current two word name instead of the proposed 18-point name Missouriopolis.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: James.

SIMMONS: Jefferson City.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: James, are you one of those guys who has all the state capitals memorized? Is that you?

SIMMONS: Yeah.

COULTON: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS: Just don't ask me to draw a map freehand. It doesn't work.

COULTON: OK.

EISENBERG: I love that that's where it falls apart for you.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: This 11-point place isn't so much a city as it is a beachfront neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro and a great place for ladies in Bossa Nova songs to be from.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: John.

WEICHER: This is wrong but it Brasilia?

EISENBERG: That is wrong.

WEICHER: OK good.

EISENBERG: But a good guess.

WEICHER: I got something right. So that's good.

EISENBERG: You were right, you're wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: James?

SIMMONS: Is it Copacabana?

EISENBERG: It is not Copacabana.

SIMMONS: Well, I got to enjoy the Barry Manilow song in my head either way.

CHANESKI: We can still salvage this. John, can you describe the lady from this place?

COULTON: Sure. (Singing) Tall and tan...

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: (Singing) ...And young. Oh.

WEICHER: Ipanema.

COULTON: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Just hearing it makes me feel like I'm in an elevator.

COULTON: Right?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: According to legend, this city's 24-point name comes from a Native American phrase that's translated as stones seen in the water whose reflection looked like otters.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: I'm just kidding, I have more.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: There's no way you would know the answer to that. And Glenn Miller has a gal in this Michigan city.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: John.

WEICHER: Kalamazoo.

COULTON: Oh yeah. You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: All right, this is your last clue. Located along the Rio Grande, this 31-point whopper of a New Mexico City is where Bugs Bunny once remarked that he should have taken a left turn.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: John.

WEICHER: Albuquerque.

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: John Chaneski, how did our contestants do?

CHANESKI: It was a very close game, but the bingo in "Scrabble Cities" goes to John. Way to go John.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Nice job both of you. John, congratulations. We'll see you at the "Ask Me One More Final Round" at the end of the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MACK THE KNIFE")

LOUIS ARMSTRONG: Dig man, there goes Mack the knife.

EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll find out why our VIP Anthony Jeselnik wants to be quizzed about the deadliest predator in the water. Stay tuned. This is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MACK THE KNIFE")

ARMSTRONG: (Singing) Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear. And he shows them pearly whites. Just a jackknife has MacHeath, dear. And he keeps it out of sight.

EISENBERG: Support for NPR comes from NPR member stations and from Fifth Generation Incorporated, maker of Tito's Handmade Vodka. American made and gluten-free, recipes at titosvodka.com, The Kauffman Foundation, dedicating startups through the Kaufman Founder's school online at entrepreneurship.org and Angie's List, where customers can browse by and schedule local services online. More at angieslist.com. This is NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MACK THE KNIFE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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