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Bluff The Listener

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Josh Gondelman, Brian Babylon and Amy Dickinson. And here again is your host, America's sweetheart, Peter Sagal.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: Thank you, Bill. 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.

ROBERT: Hey, this is Robert (ph) from Raleigh, N.C.

SAGAL: Hey, Robert, how are things in Raleigh?

ROBERT: They're going for sure.

SAGAL: They're going.

JOSH GONDELMAN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Well, what do you do there in Raleigh?

ROBERT: Well, right now, I'm just a college student at Wake Tech, just working on getting a degree, like everyone else.

SAGAL: OK, that's good. That's good. And what are you going to get your degree in?

ROBERT: I'm thinking - get ready for this. I'm thinking of being a nuclear chemist.

GONDELMAN: Whoa.

SAGAL: Really?

ROBERT: Yes.

SAGAL: That's...

GONDELMAN: OK, just coming in with a slam dunk - like, listen to me. Robert, get your degree in something useful that has applicable skills that people need a specialty for.

ROBERT: What do you mean?

GONDELMAN: None of this nuclear science. Take that from an English major.

(LAUGHTER)

BRIAN BABYLON: Yeah.

SAGAL: Well, Robert, it is nice to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Robert's topic?

BILL KURTIS: Benigno numine.

SAGAL: As I'm sure you know, that is the motto of the city of Pittsburgh, also known as the Steel City, the City of Bridges, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," the pit of not-despair, Burghy Sanders (ph), the pitsy-bitsy (ph) spider. Our panelists are going to tell you about a new fun activity that they're doing in old steely pants Pittsburgh town. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you will win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

ROBERT: Yes, I think I am.

SAGAL: All right. First up, let's hear from Amy Dickinson.

AMY DICKINSON: Pittsburgh is known for sports, but the most exciting competition these days is the Litter League, a competitive trash-collecting league that is far more interesting than the Pirates this year. It began when civic-minded trash pickers in Pittsburgh have used their free time during the pandemic to clean up illegal dumping grounds in the city. And as with any good deed, the temptation to cheat began almost immediately. So the official rules are trash must be manmade junk already in place. Volume and weight are the name of the game. You want your illegally dumped mattresses, your tires, your bathtubs, hopefully a piano or two. One fierce competitor noted - if you get obsessed with picking up cigarette butts, you're going to lose.

SAGAL: All right. Competitive litter cleanup from the good people of Pittsburgh. Your next story from the pittle engine that could comes from Brian Babylon.

BABYLON: Every year, the physics department at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh holds the Magneto championship, named after the Marvel character. Students design and wear magnetized metal armor and try to attract the most ball bearings after they are dropped into the middle of a field. It's like Hungry Hungry Hippos but with nerds.

This year, because everyone has been locked inside so long, the department moved the competition to Heinz Field and, instead of ball bearings, use one small 1-pound cannonball. So the competitors naturally superpowered their Magneto suits to keep up. But when the ball dropped and they powered on, all hell broke loose. One competitor flew straight up and stuck to the metal support beam. Another found herself being chased by an empty car that was pulled from a parking lot. And as for the rest of the would-be super villains, even though they avoided immediate danger, it turns out a 1-pound cannonball flying towards your chest from 30 yards - it hurts.

SAGAL: So the Magneto championship goes awry when they try using cannonballs instead of BBs. Your last story from the town they sometimes call Pitter Sagal - well, you don't know they don't - comes from Josh Gondelman.

GONDELMAN: You probably know all about Pittsburgh's legendary steel industry. But now the city also has a burgeoning stealing industry. Pittsburgh Stealers - spelt S-T-E-A-L-E-R-S - is the name of a recently announced 24-hour shoplifting jubilee.

DICKINSON: (Laughter).

GONDELMAN: It was instated by the city to encourage citizens to return to stores and has been described by economists as a cross between an economic stimulus package and "The Purge." The 24-hour legalization of shoplifting is meant to get consumers back into stores as capacity restrictions are lifted. And it's getting rave reviews from some customers. I think this could be a real boost for the city, said Eric Malloy (ph), a local schoolteacher who was carrying a trash bag and wearing cargo pants with the biggest pockets you've ever seen.

DICKINSON: (Laughter).

GONDELMAN: To avert total chaos, the city has implemented a few guidelines to keep things from getting out of hand. Shoplifters can't steal more than they can physically carry. That's unfair. Shoplifters may not steal the personal belongings of retail employees. That's just rude. And shoplifters may not fight each other for goods. This isn't a clearance sale at a bridal boutique. Vendors may request reimbursement for any stolen merchandise. So let's hope this event is followed by a 24-hour legalization of insurance fraud.

DICKINSON: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right. One of these is a way that Pittsburghers are amusing themselves. Is it from Amy Dickinson, the Litter League, where people compete to pick up trash - from Brian Babylon, the Magneto championship, where magnetized physics students try to attract ball bearings - or from Josh Gondelman, the Pittsburgh Stealers, a 24-hour jubilee of, well, stealing? Which one of these is the real good time in Pittsburgh?

ROBERT: I'm being pulled toward B with the Magneto thing, but I think I'm going to have to trust my gut and go with Litter League.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Litter League. That's Amy's story. Well, we actually spoke to someone involved with the real Pittsburgh pastime.

DOUG CLARK: The league was I guess a way to bring people together to do litter collection and I guess have some fun.

SAGAL: That was Doug Clark (ph), captain of the team Waste Deep - that's W-A-S-T-E - of the Pittsburgh Litter League. Congratulations, Robert. You've got it right.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE SOUND EFFECT)

SAGAL: You've earned a point for Amy, and you have won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Well done, sir.

ROBERT: Awesome. Thank you so much.

SAGAL: That's really great. Congratulations, man. And good luck with the college thing.

ROBERT: Thank you.

GONDELMAN: Nuclear chemistry.

BABYLON: (Laughter).

GONDELMAN: Gen Z, what are they even thinking?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK AND YELLOW")

WIZ KHALIFA: (Rapping) Yeah, you know what it is.

SAGAL: Thanks, Robert. Take care.

ROBERT: All right. Thank you.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BLACK AND YELLOW")

KHALIFA: (Rapping) Black and yellow. Yeah, you know what it is. Black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.