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Who's Bill This Time?


BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. Get ready for a nutcracker. You're going to the Bill-et. I'm Bill Kurtis. And here's your host, the No. 14 pick of the 1998 NPR draft, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. Thanks, everybody out there. We have got a great show for you. Later on, we're going to be talking to actor Anna Konkle. She created and stars in the hit comedy "PEN15," in which she plays herself as a seventh grader. We have lots of questions, including what bet lost that forced her to go do that. We know you are happy as an adult because you have the independence to call us up and play our games. The number is 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Let's welcome our first listener contestant.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME.

KAREN THEPANU: Hi, this is Karen Thepanu (ph) from Silver Spring, Md.

SAGAL: Hey, Karen. Silver Spring, Md., that beautiful suburb of Washington, D.C. I know it well. What do you do there?

THEPANU: Well, I'm a student, and then I'm also a barista. I make coffee for a living when I'm not in the classroom.

SAGAL: Oh, I see. Are you one of those very serious baristas, the kind who, like, takes 20 minutes to, like, slowly hand pour hot water over the coffee grounds? Are you just like me, and you just whatever?

THEPANU: No, I'm really casual about it. I do get annoyed when people don't know the difference between a cappuccino or a latte, but that's it.

SAGAL: Really? Do you refuse to serve it to them?

THEPANU: No, I still do it.

SAGAL: You just silently resent them. I understand. Come on, people.

THEPANU: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Well, Karen, welcome to our show. Let me introduce you to our panel this week. First up, it's a contributor to "CBS Sunday Morning" and the host of the new parenting podcast, "Stroller Coaster." It's Faith Salie.


FAITH SALIE: Hi, Karen. I still don't know what a flat white is, so be nice to me.

SAGAL: Next, it's the host of the daily "TBTL" and the public radio variety show "Live Wire." It's Mr. Luke Burbank.


LUKE BURBANK: Hey there, Karen.

SAGAL: And a correspondent on "The Daily Show" and the voice of Honey Bee on "The Great North." It's Dulce Sloane.


DULCE SLOAN: Of all the things I could say, there's nothing that I could say that would be OK for what I thought a flat white was. So...


SLOAN: I'm just going to leave that off the table.

SAGAL: I think you should. Karen, welcome to the show. You're going to play Who's Bill This Time? Bill Kurtis, of course, is going to read you three quotations from the week's news. If you can correctly identify or explain two of them, you'll win our prize - any voice from our show you may choose on your voicemail. You ready to play?


SAGAL: All right, Karen, here we go. Your first quote is from somebody who had just spent four hours in a room with President Biden.

KURTIS: There's no happiness in life. There's only a specter of happiness on the horizon. So we'll cherish that.

SAGAL: Who maybe didn't have the best time in Geneva?

THEPANU: Was it Russian President Vladimir Putin?



SAGAL: The answer is Vladimir Putin. President Biden and Vladimir Putin met in Geneva on Wednesday for another important summit where the U.S. and Russia ask each other to stop doing something. And then they both laugh and keep doing that thing. As always, these summits aren't about issues but stagecraft and dominance displays. Biden scheduled his arrival after Putin, so Putin couldn't keep him waiting, then very deliberately put out his hand and made Putin step forward to shake it, right? In response, Putin then urinated on Air Force One. And both of them inflated their throat pouches to appear larger.


SALIE: You know, Putin showed up at 1:04 - right? - for a 1 o'clock meeting, which must have made Donald Trump furious because one time, he kept him waiting 45 minutes. And one time he kept Angela Merkel waiting four hours.

SAGAL: Well, apparently - and this is true - Putin is known for this.

SALIE: Yeah, it's his power.

SAGAL: So they actually said - the protocol people said, OK, Mr. President Putin, will have to be there at 1. And Mr. Biden will arrive at 1:30 just to keep him from doing that. They're on to his tricks - is what I'm saying.

SLOAN: Can't Putin just reschedule? Hey, sorry. Just got out of the shower, running late. Sorry, squashing a coup in my country. Going to be there at three.

BURBANK: He's, like, texting, parking right now, and he's in the shower still.


BURBANK: Putin's body language - I researched this story the way I research most news articles. I just did a Google image search and just looked at all the photos of what was going on. And Putin's body language when they're sitting in the chairs in that, like, library was very telling. He looked like a kid who was waiting to talk to the principal but thought it was total B.S. that he had to be there. Like, he slouched. It's like Biden is like sitting up pretty, you know, sort of upright and like looks pretty plugged into what's going on. And Putin just looks like, this sucks.

SAGAL: He really is the Judd Nelson in the "Breakfast Club" of national tyrants.


BURBANK: Smoke them up, Johnny.

SAGAL: All right, here, Karen, is your next quote.

KURTIS: We are closed because I hate this job.

SAGAL: That was a note left in a McDonald's drive-thru, one of the many businesses facing a surge in their employees doing what?

THEPANU: They're quitting.

SAGAL: Exactly.


SAGAL: Quitting. The pandemic is coming to an end. Businesses are opening up. But apparently, nobody wants to go back to work. This phenomenon is being called the big quit. Employers are absolutely desperate to get people to come back. They're offering hiring bonuses, higher wages and forgiveness for exposing yourself on a Zoom call with the rest of the staff of The New Yorker.

SALIE: People now are like, you made me work from home. Now I just don't want to work at all, right?

SAGAL: Exactly.

SLOAN: Yeah.

SAGAL: I mean, it's a lot of things. Many of us have discovered that it's really nice to be home with our families doing what we want. Some of us have started our own businesses or new projects. And also, none of us know where our shoes are.

SLOAN: No, man. Listen. During the pandemic, I quit wearing drawers. For what? I'm the only person here. Why am I putting on panties for this?

SAGAL: So why would anybody, given that pleasure and freedom, everyone would have to put drawers back on? You see what I mean?

SLOAN: I mean, but also they're calling this the big quit, but that's only, like, a certain level - like, you have to be at a certain income level to do that. Like, if you want to...

SALIE: That's the thing. How are you going to pay for this?

SLOAN: Because a lot of people did quit. They were like - because a lot of people - like, you saw these articles were just like, yo, I really hated my job.

SAGAL: Exactly.

SLOAN: I got to do a new job.

SAGAL: And life is short.

SALIE: But isn't - I mean, isn't a lot of this also kind of generational? Like, like...

SLOAN: Definitely. Definitely.

SALIE: Like, I feel like people who are younger than I am are, like, this doesn't feel good. I don't like it. I don't want to spend my life doing this. So I won't.

SLOAN: I don't know what happened when they were programming them. But I think there's a glitch in the system because when they programmed me, I was like, all right, I'm going to work. I'm going to be happy. I'm fine. Yeah, it is a generational thing.

SALIE: The other layer is the parents who have had kids at home because that's the job I want to quit. And you can't (laughter). Like, you can't. And there have been all these articles recently like how to quit gracefully. And I read them longingly. And it's like, you know - and I just think, like, if I could sit down with my family and just negotiate new terms, I need a different payment structure.

BURBANK: Just imagine when you're interviewing for your next job as a parent and they're like, what was this four-year gap on your parenting resume?


BURBANK: That was when I lost my mind.

SALIE: Exactly. That's how I feel.

SAGAL: All right. Here, Karen, is your last quote.

KURTIS: I wasn't swallowed. I was in its mouth.

SAGAL: That was a man named Michael Packard, who made the news this week when he was pointedly not swallowed, ultimately, by a what?

THEPANU: A whale.

SAGAL: A whale. Yes.


SAGAL: Mr. Packard was diving for lobster off of Cape Cod last weekend when he says he felt a big bump and everything went dark, and his first thought was that he had just been attacked by a shark. So imagine his relief when he realized, oh, no, I've just been swallowed by a whale. Then he says, after about 30 seconds in which he was absolutely sure he was going to die, the whale spit him out.

SALIE: This is the craziest story. You hear people, like, challenging him saying he's lying. Like, can you imagine? First of all, I...

BURBANK: And all his, like, lobster hunting friends are like, no, no, no, no, no. He wouldn't lie about this. He's the most straightforward lobster diver we know. I mean, this is - there's a long history of being swallowed by whales and not being believed by the larger public. This is a whole thing.

SAGAL: It's true, yeah.

SLOAN: It's a whole - I mean, there's a whole book about it.

SAGAL: Besides, we know how this works. If he was lying about it, his nose would be growing, right?

BURBANK: (Laughter).

SALIE: There is some whale expert who somehow figured out that this whale was probably, like, a teenage whale, got all flustered, like a puppy of a whale.

SLOAN: Listen. You're out here. You're - you know, you're young whale out here in these ocean streets, and you've got a shark buddy. And he's like, you can't eat a human. He's like, I can definitely eat a human. Like, you can't eat a human.

SALIE: Watch this.

SLOAN: Watch me. And he gets into his mouth. He's like, what's wrong? And I was like, my throat's too small. I don't have teeth. He's still moving. And it's like, spit them out, spit them out. You're going to choke.

SAGAL: Now, you have to imagine what this is like for the whale. I mean, whales eat plankton, right? This is like if you were just, you know, eating, say, popcorn and suddenly you had lobster diver Michael Packard in your mouth.

SLOAN: Hey, I don't know that man like that. Come on, y'all. Don't do that to me.


SAGAL: Bill, how did Karen do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Well, Karen even got the whale question. She's got a perfect score.

SAGAL: Congratulations, Karen. Well done.

THEPANU: Thank you.

SAGAL: Thank you. Well done. And stay away from teenage whales.

THEPANU: Bye-bye.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.