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Coming up, it's Lightning Fill In The Blank. But first, it's the game where you have to listen for the rhyme. If you'd like to play on air, call or leave a message at 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Or click the Contact Us link on our website waitwait.npr.org. You can also check out the Wait Wait quiz for your smart speaker. It's Bill and me asking your questions and finally putting an end to the idea that the speaker is really all that smart.

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

MARY HALL: Hi, this is Mary from St. Louis.

SAGAL: Oh, how are things in St. Louis?

HALL: We do hot really well here.

SAGAL: Oh, I know.

HALL: (Laughter).

SAGAL: What do you what do you do there in St. Louis?

HALL: Well, I am a psychotherapist.

SAGAL: Oh, my gosh.

HALL: How do you feel about that, Peter?

SAGAL: (Laughter) Oh, you are one.

HALL: (Laughter).

SAGAL: I imagine business is booming for you right now. People are really stressed out.

HALL: Yes. Right. This is a really a rough time for people who need to be around other people a lot, yes.

SAGAL: So do you have any - I imagine some of the people listening to us are feeling that. Do you have any sort of quick advice you could give them?

HALL: Yes. Keep in touch with the people that you care about and reach out to people who you feel may be feeling alone or isolated.

SAGAL: That's a good idea. I mean, that's all excellent and very useful advice. But I have to tell you secretly I was hoping you'd say drink a lot and play video games. But oh, well.

HALL: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Well, Mary, welcome to the show. Bill Kurtis is going to read you three news-related limericks with the last word or phrase missing from each. If you can fill in that last word or phrase correctly in two of the limericks, you'll be a winner. You ready to play?

HALL: Oh, sure. Great.

SAGAL: Well, then let's do it. Here is your first limerick.

BILL KURTIS: Our infection won't strike you as news, but that boat trip has marvelous views. When COVID rates dipped, we boarded a ship. And now we're sick 'cause we went on a...

HALL: Cruise.

SAGAL: Yes, a cruise.



SAGAL: Now, you may remember in the distant past that coronavirus hit the passengers of cruise ships really hard because, well, basically, they're giant floating petri dishes - but with buffets. But the pandemic seems to be under control in Norway. So what did a bunch of people do to celebrate? They went on a cruise. And that cruise ship has reported 41 of their passengers have tested positive for COVID-19 while all of the passengers tested positive for loving midnight ice cream sundae stations.

TRACY CLAYTON: So pandemic or not, cruises don't sound fun to me. I'm just, like, out on the ocean.

JOEL KIM BOOSTER: Oh, no. I love a cruise.

SAGAL: You do? You're cruise guy? I didn't know that, Joel?

BOOSTER: I take jobs on cruises all the time, much to the anger of by representatives. My agents hate it because I don't make any money, and it's just fun for me...

SAGAL: What is the appeal, other than catching COVID?

BOOSTER: Eating at a Sbarro at 3 a.m. in the middle of the Caribbean. I mean, come on.

CLAYTON: (Laughter).

SAGAL: That sounds literally like a nightmare. I mean, like, you'd wake up screaming. What's wrong? It's like, well, I dreamt I was in the middle of the Caribbean and eating at a Sbarro in the middle of the night.

CLAYTON: With lots of strangers with questionable habits.

SAGAL: Exactly.


BOOSTER: See. The ones that I go on for, like, young, single people. So it's a slightly different vibe. But it is still the same petri dish.

SAGAL: Although I imagine on the kind of cruise you're talking about, Joel, there are even more vectors of infection.

BOOSTER: Oh, yeah. You want to stay away from the salad bar on those ones.

CLAYTON: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Yeah. All right, back to Mary.

Mary, here's your next limerick.

KURTIS: This insect swarm I'd like to veto. To them, we're just jeans-clad burritos. A tornado of bugs that will suck all our blood. It's a biblical storm of...

HALL: Mosquitos.

SAGAL: Yes, mosquitos.

KURTIS: You're right.


SAGAL: If you are exhausted by the pandemic, try mosquito tornadoes.

CLAYTON: (Laughter).

SAGAL: In eastern Russia, billions of mosquitoes are forming tornadoes rising hundreds of feet into the sky. This whole new thing to worry about - it's part of a mating ritual where hundreds of thousands of males swirl around just one or two females trying to get near her. Do you guys remember going to bars?

CLAYTON: Story of my life. Am I right?

SAGAL: Absolutely (laughter).

CLAYTON: It's not at all.

BOOSTER: That's a sweet ending to that story. There's billions of mosquitoes, and the good news is they're there to make more.

CLAYTON: And there are two very stressed out women in the center of this tornado.

TOM BODETT: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right, very good, Mary. Here is your last limerick.

KURTIS: Being eaten may seem a tough scrape, but we beetles remain in good shape. We stay small and compact as we work through the tract. From the rear end, we'll make our...

HALL: Oh, dear.

BODETT: Appropriate response.

HALL: Departure?

SAGAL: Rhymes with scrape and shape.

HALL: Escape. Escape.

SAGAL: Yes, escape.


SAGAL: Very good, Mary.



SAGAL: Biologists studying the water beetle finally discovered why it can survive even though it's constantly being eaten by its primary predator, the dark-spotted frog. It turns out these little guys, once they're swallowed by the frog, just crawl right down and out the frog's anus. That's right, anus. It's a science word. So apparently, 90% of the water beetles who get eaten by these frogs survive by doing that, which is, again, just crawling right out that frog's croaker. Come on, dark-spotted frog, chew your food. Here's the amazing thing, and I love this. So the scientists were like, OK, this is what happens. The beetles come out alive the other end. But is that just a natural accident of the frog's digestive system or the beetles actively doing it? So they actually - and I hate to think of these poor beetles - paralyzed some with, like, wax so that they couldn't move. And they fed them still alive to the frog. Those beetles didn't come out, which means that there are beetles who get eaten by frogs and they're like, this again. All right...


SAGAL: ...Here we go. I didn't know beetles could sigh.

CLAYTON: I think every animal can sigh now.

SAGAL: (Laughter) Yes, exactly.

Bill, how did Mary do on our quiz?

KURTIS: She did three in a row. Boy, she got them all right.


SAGAL: Congratulations, Mary.

HALL: (Laughter).

CLAYTON: Woo-hoo.


KURTIS: Good for you.

SAGAL: And thanks for the good work you do for people. I'm sure it's necessary, and I'm sure you're helping. Thank you so much.

HALL: Thank you. Bye.

BODETT: Thank you, Mary.

SAGAL: Bye-bye, Mary.

BOOSTER: Bye-bye.

CLAYTON: Congrats, Mary.


PAUL SIMON: (Singing) You just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don't need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free. Or hop on the bus, Gus... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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