Ask Me Another
10:38 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Can't Place The Place Name

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 11:35 am

Fame knows no geographic bounds in this game about celebrity-city name mashups. In what Florida city does the singer of "Nasty" hang out? That's "Janet Jacksonville."

Heard in Episode 323: Smitten With The Mitten State

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

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Live from the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, this is ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR and WNYC's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia. And I'm your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I've got to say as a Canadian, Michigan feels very homey to me. We drink pop.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: We play euchre.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: We had to fashion our Halloween costumes so they fit over our ski suits.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And we all know that at the end of the night when the clothes come off, the socks always stay on.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: We have a great show for you, including a homegrown sports writer and a celebrity milliner - that's right, I said milliner. But first, please welcome a man who is half wolverine, half Spartan, but all heart - our one man house band, Jonathan Coulton.

(APPLAUSE)

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Hello everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Our first game is called Can't Place The Place Name. And here to play it we have Saladin Ahmed and Natalie Tronson.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Saladin, how did I do with your name, all right?

SALADIN AHMED: You did fantastic, yeah.

EISENBERG: You are a Hugo Award nominee. And if you don't know what that is, it's an annual award for science fiction and fantasy works. What was the name of the book?

AHMED: The novel is called "Throne Of The Crescent Moon."

EISENBERG: That sounds amazing - yeah, they're excited.

(LAUGHTER)

AHMED: It's a fantasy novel - "Lord Of The Rings" meets the Arab Spring.

(LAUGHTER)

AHMED: That's - that's actually fairly accurate (laughing).

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And Natalie you are - this is also amazing - a neuroscientist specializing in memory and learning, including fear memory. Now, this is really just for my own personal thing, we - I've got to talking for a second - I don't really - what do you do with fear memory? How do you cure it? How do you soothe it?

NATALIE TRONSON: Well, I don't cure it, I induce it. So you'll have to...

EISENBERG: You induce it?

(LAUGHTER)

TRONSON: I can - I can make you afraid. But...

EISENBERG: Oh, good, yeah, that's a fun game. All right, so how do you frighten mice? What's the easiest way?

TRONSON: Well, what we do in the lab is we take the mouse and we put it into a box. And then we let it explore the box for a minute and then we give it a little foot shock on its feet, which it doesn't like very much. But it doesn't really hurt it, they jump and squeak. And then the next day when we put them back in the box, they show all of these kinds of defensive behaviors which are similar to what humans do, which include what I'm doing now which is shaking.

(LAUGHTER)

TRONSON: True story.

EISENBERG: So we know how to do it, we don't know what to do about it.

TRONSON: Exactly.

EISENBERG: This is where we're at.

TRONSON: Other people are working on that.

EISENBERG: That's the other half of the people. OK, we've got a great game for you. Jonathan, when we're on the road all the time as we are, do you ever forget where we are?

COULTON: Usually - I don't even know where we are right now. It usually helps to remember the name of the town if it's named after someone. For instance, Ann Arbor allegedly is named after the wives of the city's founders.

EISENBERG: Oh, I want to be an alleged wife.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It's important to have a dream, I suppose.

EISENBERG: I think you're right.

COULTON: In this game, we're going to ask you about other places named after people. But there's a little twist, we're going to ask you to combine each place name with the name of a completely different person. So for an example, let's go to our puzzle guru John Chaneski.

JOHN CHANESKI: If we said long before the NFL's Jaguars arrived, the singer of "That's The Way Love Goes" and "Nasty Boys" like to kick back in this northern Florida city, the answer would be Janet Jacksonville.

COULTON: It's very unsettling. I understand.

CHANESKI: That's Miss Jacksonville if you're nasty.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Who's in the shock box now, Natalie?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right, here we go. A famous interior designer, business owner and ex-con likes to kick back in this ritzy vacation island off the coast of Massachusetts.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Saladin.

AHMED: Martha Stewart's Vineyard?

EISENBERG: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: There are always a lot of home improvements underway when a certain '90s sitcom star spends time in this Pennsylvania city, immortalized in a Billy Joel song.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Saladin.

AHMED: Tim Allenville - Tim Allentown, Tim Allentown.

(Laughter)

COULTON: Usually at this point I say Natalie, can you steal it? So...

TRONSON: Tim Allentown.

COULTON: Tim Allentown is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I just realized you - you realized a tactic. You can just say the person's name and I like ville or town to the end of it.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You'd probably get it right, that's good enough.

EISENBERG: It's a possibility, yeah. The Twin City to Minneapolis is straight up the favorite hot-spot for this singer, choreographer and former American Idol judge.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Saladin.

AHMED: Saint Paula Abdul.

EISENBERG: Yes, that is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Just south of New York City, you'll find a landmass where immigrants once came to America, decked out in natural fabrics and oversized shoulders, in outfits inspired by an iconic '80s fashion designer. I know, what?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

TRONSON: Perry Ellis Island.

CHANESKI: Oh, good.

COULTON: That's exactly right.

CHANESKI: That's right, Perry Ellis Island.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: This legendary Las Vegas performance says danke schoen every time he visits the second largest city in Indiana, which is home to the burial place of Johnny Appleseed.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Saladin.

AHMED: Wayne Newtonville.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Someday maybe that will be a place.

EISENBERG: That sounds like an amazing restaurant.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Natalie, he did give you a clue. Do you think you can steal it?

TRONSON: It's the second largest city in Indiana, which is home to the burial place of someone I thought didn't actually exist.

(LAUGHTER)

TRONSON: Johnny Appleseed. I have no idea but I want to say Wayne Bloomington.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Anyone out there?

AUDIENCE: Fort Wayne Newton.

EISENBERG: Wow, in unison. Well done.

COULTON: That's right, Fort Wayne Newton. Nicely done crowd.

EISENBERG: And this is your last question. Don't kill any mockingbirds in this historic West Virginia city, notable for John Brown's raid in 1859.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Saladin.

AHMED: Harper Lee's ferry.

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: The winner of Can't Place The Name is I can't place the name - no, yes I can, it's Saladin. Way to go.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Well done, Natalie. And Saladin, congratulations. We will see at the end of the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I GOT A GAL IN KALAMAZOO")

GLENN MILLER AND HIS ORCHESTRA: (Singing) I'm going to Michigan to see the sweetest girl in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.