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Bluff The Listener


BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Negin Farsad, Josh Gondelman and Jessi Klein. And here again is your host, a man who is currently building a fake audience out of old napkins and cardboard - Peter 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.

JEFF: Hi. This is Jeff (ph) from Durham, N.C.

SAGAL: How are things in beautiful Durham?

JEFF: Oh, good - very, very hot, though.

SAGAL: And what do you do there?

JEFF: Actually, I started on learning how to brew my own beer.

SAGAL: Oh, my gosh.

JEFF: That's been something that I started doing. Yeah. All the breweries in North Carolina are closed. Well, actually, they just now opened.

SAGAL: Sure. So you've kept yourself in beer while the breweries were closed.

JEFF: Exactly. And now they're opened back up. And one of my favorite breweries that I go to has allowed me to exchange my beer in exchange for one of his beers whenever I go there. So it's been a pretty good deal so far.

SAGAL: Oh - well, that's fair enough - a beer exchange.

JEFF: Yeah.

SAGAL: I like it.

JEFF: Yeah.

SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Jeffrey (ph). You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Jeffrey's topic?

KURTIS: Who done it? No, seriously, please tell me.

SAGAL: Unsolved mysteries - that's, of course, the cool, enigmatic thing detectives say when they just didn't finish something at work. This week, our panelists are going to tell you about an unsolved mystery plaguing someone. Pick the real one, and you'll win our prize - the Wait Waiter of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

JEFF: I am.

SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Jessi Klein.

JESSI KLEIN: This week, a team of researchers at UCLA who have been working for years to solve one of society's enduring mysteries published a paper of their findings, and the scientific community was rocked by what they had found - or rather didn't find. The researchers had been trying to get to the bottom of one of the most confounding sartorial phenomena of the modern age - young men who wear shorts in the winter.

We literally couldn't figure it out, said Dr. Lena Hawke the lead anthropologist on the project. Quote, "There is no logical or even illogical reason for people to do this." At first, the team had conjectured that perhaps the winter short-wearing men were displaying their legs as some kind of mating signal to the opposite sex. This theory, however, was debunked after interviews with thousands of women in which it was clear literally none of them found this look appealing.

As Dr. Hawke said, this really deepens the mystery because we don't know how this segment of the species has survived. The team then began to wonder...

NEGIN FARSAD: (Laughter).

KLEIN: ...If these men, who are primarily young and congregate in frats, might genetically be less inclined to feel cold.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

KLEIN: However, the subjects' answers were only more confusing because while some of them reported feeling cold and wore appropriate jackets, they still finished off their outfits with Adidas slides. Some of the subjects reported that they kept warm by vaping, although multiple tests proved this isn't a thing.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

KLEIN: The only remaining theory the team has been able to put forth is that this demographic might actually be descendants of a distinct ancestor capable of ignoring common sense known as Frat Bro-Magnon Man.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Unsolved mystery...


SAGAL: ...Why do those bros wear shorts in the winter all the time? Your next story of a head-scratcher comes from Negin Farsad.

FARSAD: The world has witnessed a lot of suffering, but none more carb-and-cheese-based than the delivery of unwanted pizzas to a man in Belgium. Delivery of pizza as a prank is a tale as old as pizza delivery. But this bizarre case has taken it to harrowing new heights, as Jean Van Landeghem has been receiving pizzas at all hours of the day and night for nearly a decade. The pizza blitzkrieg came to a head one day when he received 10 separate orders. One order even came with 14 pizzas - 14 pizzas and not one order of Crazy Bread. For Jean...

KLEIN: (Laughter).

FARSAD: ...The sound of a scooter coming down the road is triggering. The timbre of the Velcro on the pizza delivery bags is a torture that even extra cheese cannot help.

GONDELMAN: (Laughter).

FARSAD: What's more, Mr. Van Landeghem has no idea why he's the victim of this prank. Is he a teenager who runs with a crowd of ne'er-do-wells? Is he a vegan? Does he ostentatiously drink kombucha? Does he have a man bun? No. He's a 65-year-old who, when asked what he would do when he finds the culprit, said, (imitating Belgian accent) it will not be their best day.

Whoa, Belgian buddy - them's fighting words.

KLEIN: (Laughter).

SAGAL: A man getting hundreds and hundreds of pizzas delivered to him for over a decade with no idea who's sending them. Your last story of a clueless case comes from Josh Gondelman.

GONDELMAN: What exactly is the story of Anatoly the bone-stealer? That's what Peter Volkov of Wishek, N.D., has been trying to find out. As a child, my grandfather would read to me from this big book of Russian folk tales, Volkov said in an interview with the Bismarck Tribune.

All the stories involve this 2-foot-tall man with the feet of a goat and the teeth of a snake. When children would misbehave, he'd sneak into their bedrooms at night and steal one of their bones and use it to build an addition to his treehouse. Eventually, a persistently disobedient boy or girl would have no bones left and would become what's known in Russian as a wobblov (ph) boy, or gelatin child, which Anatoly would consume whole by unhinging his serpentine jaws.

Unfortunately, Volkov believes his childhood copy of the tome of stories to have burned up in a fire. And his grandfather was lost in a second, unrelated fire. Now the fire is in Volkov's heart, which burns to learn more of the monster man from the stories of his youth. He even traveled to the village his ancestors lived in 300 miles outside St. Petersburg for answers. But no one in the hamlet of Wolf Buffet - a rough English translation...

FARSAD: (Laughter).

GONDELMAN: ...Knew what he was talking about either. Everyone looked at me like I had three heads, which is so weird because Anatoly's best friend, Tatiana the baby paralyzer, actually has three heads, all of which can turn an infant to stone with their gaze.

All this research has left Volkov discouraged but not defeated. I can't understand why this book is so hard to find. I just want to find a copy so I can teach my children important moral lessons, like why not to wake a sleeping grandfather or why you should never borrow a grandfather's slippers without asking or - you know what? I think I figured it out.


SAGAL: OK. There is an unsolved mystery, which I will present to you in the form of a question. Is it, from Jessi Klein, why do bros wear shorts in the winter? From Negin Farsad, why is this man in Belgium getting pizzas all the time delivered and from whom? Or from Josh Goldman, why can't a guy find anywhere a copy of the storybook about Anatoly the bone-stealer that his grandfather read to him from as a child?

JEFF: Oh, well, being from North Carolina, I really wish it was the first story because we do wear shorts in the wintertime.

FARSAD: (Laughter).

JEFF: But I have to say I'm going to go with the Belgian pizza pranks.

SAGAL: You're going to go with the Belgian pizza pranks - so somebody getting mysterious pizzas delivered to them for over a decade with not knowing anybody who might be sending him pizzas.

JEFF: Yes, it sounds amazing.

SAGAL: All right. Well, we spoke to somebody who is actually trying to solve this mystery.


JEF VAN NOOTEN: But the cops can't find who is responsible for this. The pizzas are ordered through a different IP address each time.


SAGAL: That was Jef Van Nooten, a reporter in Belgium on the case of the mysterious pizza source and why they can't figure out who's ordering them. Congratulations, Jeffrey. You got it right. You earned a point for Negin, and you've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Congratulations.

JEFF: Thank you very much.

SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing, Jeffrey. Bye-bye.

JEFF: Bye.

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