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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Wed November 27, 2013
More Favorite Things
Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 5:50 am
CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. And here's your host, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thanks, Carl. Peter Sagal here in the studio this week engaging in nostalgia. Don't laugh. You'll be old too someday. We've been asking our panelists what they're most thankful for. Amy Dickinson's answer wasn't surprising at all. Well, not if you've ever seen her on a dance floor.
AMY DICKINSON: Well, I'll always be most grateful for twerking of course.
SAGAL: Well, who isn't?
SAGAL: The gift that never stops giving. We actually discussed twerking when that term became a national phenomenon after the - it was MTV awards and we discussed it while on stage at Tanglewood in Massachusetts in August.
SAGAL: All right. Here is your last quote.
KASELL: Oh Lord, have mercy. I was not expecting her to be putting her butt that close to my son.
SAGAL: That was the mother of singer Robin Thicke. She was talking about her son's duet on MTV's video music awards this week with whom?
CONTESTANT: Who's she talking about? Mylie Cyrus?
SAGAL: Mylie Cyrus. Yes, very good. Yes.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: For those of you who missed cable news this week, Mylie Cyrus was the once-innocent Disney child star who came out of the VMAs and twerked. This became the go-to stupid story of the summer.
SAGAL: Imagine shark attacks except the sharks attack people with their genitals.
SAGAL: So Mylie Cyrus twerked, the nation wept. Twerking, for all you public radio listeners...
SAGAL: ...is a kind of suggestive dance that's big in the clubs now, but it's the same sort of thing we've had for years. It's what our parents would've called a grand mal seizure.
SAGAL: What's going on here is Mylie Cyrus - she's now 20 - she wants to show the audience that she's grownup. Since when is dancing around in your underwear grown up?
UNKNOWN MAN: And the thing with the tongue, I mean she looked...
DICKINSON: ...and the teddy bear.
MAN: ...she looked like a bear who got honey on her face.
MAN: You know, she's trying to get it off.
SAGAL: If Mylie Cyrus really wants to convince America she's grown up, she should come out on stage, settle down for an evening watching Downton Abbey until she falls asleep on the couch. That's what...
DICKINSON: That's grownup.
SAGAL: That's what we grownups do.
DICKINSON: I agree.
SAGAL: Have you ever twerked, Amy?
DICKINSON: I'm doing it right now, of course.
SAGAL: If only our radio audience could see you.
MAN: If she gets hurt she's covered by twerkman's compensation.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SAGAL: The next one comes from the staff here at WAIT, WAIT. Not only are we all superhero geeks, but the discussion you're about to hear ends in a note of quite self reflection.
Tom, "Man of Steel" is the new Superman movie coming out soon. It hasn't been released. Fans are already up in arms. They claim that the director of the movie Zach Snyder has left out something essential. What?
TOM BODETT AUTHOR: The last Superman movie there was a complaint about his costume.
SAGAL: This is also a complaint about his costume.
AUTHOR: The costume. Does it have anything to do with the bulge thing?
MAN: You mean, super sized?
AUTHOR: Thank you, Bill.
SAGAL: They don't call him average man. No.
ROXANNE ROBERTS: No, no, he's - that's illegal in New York, isn't it?
SAGAL: Never mind. No.
SAGAL: You're sort of close but basically in this time apparently he's left off something from Superman's costume that is traditional to Superman's costume, has been for 80 years now.
AUTHOR: Well, it's not the - I saw the trailer, so it's not the S.
SAGAL: It's not the S.
AUTHOR: Got that. The belt.
SAGAL: Not the belt.
AUTHOR: The boots.
SAGAL: It's not the boots.
AUTHOR: That's all there is. What else is there?
SAGAL: No, there's...
AUTHOR: Oh, the hot pants?
SAGAL: The hot pants. The underwear.
(SOUNDBITE OF DISAPPOINTMENT)
AUTHOR: They left - oh, did you hear that? Oh, they left off...
MAN: Isn't that sort of an adult diaper thing?
SAGAL: Yeah, Superman - ever since he appeared...
ROBERTS: So was he just wearing tights?
SAGAL: Well, yeah, ever since Superman appeared in action comics back in the '30s he's always had these red sort of boxer briefs on over his tights. It's part of his look, right. But when pictures of the new Superman without the red briefs were released last year, many fans thought it was just because he flies so fast in the movie that he kind of left them behind.
MAN: Yeah, like diving in a pool, that happens, yeah.
SAGAL: Faster than his own undergarment, you know.
SAGAL: And then they realized it was intentional and millions of people who surf the internet in their underwear...
SAGAL: ...took to message boards to decry Superman's lack thereof. So the issue gained so much attraction that the filmmakers released a 13-minute behind-the-scenes video to address the controversy. In it Director Snyder explains, I probably looked at hundreds of versions of the costume with underwear. I couldn't make it consistent with the world we were creating. So for the record, the new Superman movie takes place in a world without underwear.
SAGAL: Everybody looks somewhat itchy all the time.
ROBERTS: So is he just wearing sort of a, like a unisuit or a spandex...
SAGAL: Yeah, he's sort of wearing a spandex armory kind of unitard with boots and the cape and the big S is what he's got.
MAN: Sounds lovely.
SAGAL: And he does look better without the underwear but he is going to have a hard time if he ever wants to return that suit.
SAGAL: They do look kind of ridiculous.
SAGAL: I mean, and they're distracting because you're like, there's a guy and he has immense strength and can fly faster than a speeding bullet and save the earth and his laser eyes and X-ray vision. Whenever you see him you're like, why are you wearing your underwear on the outside, dude?
SAGAL: Because I don't have any of those powers and I know to wear them under the pants.
ROBERTS: Oh, wait, wait, wait. This is - he's not wearing pants. He's wearing skintight tights.
MAN: Yeah, in looloo land perhaps.
AUTHOR: Well, no wonder he's got the underpants thing on because we all know what happens if you bend over in looloo land.
SAGAL: That's true.
ROBERTS: You know what I love about this conversation?
SAGAL: What Roxanne?
ROBERTS: We're talking as if this is a rational conversation.
AUTHOR: Isn't that the premise of this entire show?
SAGAL: At this point the only...
MAN: Besides, what do you talk about at your house, you know? Saustikovich?
SAGAL: At this point the only thing we're trying to do is give a good time to the guys listening in at the NSA. Hey guys.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SAGAL: We'll end this hour with one more of my favorite guests. I have loved Director Barry Sonnenfeld since he was doing the cinematography for the early Coen Brothers movies. But it wasn't until he was on our show in April of 2012 that I realized how much we had in common. Namely we both had very neurotic mothers.
BARRY SONNENFELD: I grew up in Washington Heights. I was an only child of Jewish persuasion.
SAGAL: Really. Now in the cultural stereotype, with which I am familiar...
SAGAL: ...that would mean that your parents doted on you somewhat. Was that true?
SONNENFELD: Well, let's just say we recently passed Earth Day and on April 22, 1969 at 2:20 in the morning during an Earth Day concert, while Jimmy Hendrix was warming up, the following announcement came over the speakers at Madison Square Garden. Barry Sonnenfeld, call your mother.
UNKNOWN WOMAN: No.
SAGAL: You are kidding me.
SONNENFELD: No, I'm not.
WOMAN: Oh, whoa.
SAGAL: And did you in fact call your mother?
SONNENFELD: Well, I was supposed to be at home at 2:00. It was 2:20.
SONNENFELD: So - and by the way, the perseverance of my mother to actually find someone at the garden and convince them this was an emergency was so amazing that by the time I got to the payphone - this is pre cell phones - I assumed someone had died. So I called my mother uncontrollably in tears and said, who died? And her response was, I assumed you did. Why aren't you at home?
SAGAL: And how many years of therapy have you had, sir?
SONNENFELD: You know, not enough as it turns out.
SAGAL: Apparently. Well, we have benefitted from that I guess. So you're a Jewish kid. You grew up in New York with a Jewish mother. Whenever I've seen a photo of you you're always wearing cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.
SONNENFELD: Yes. You see, the truth is I embrace all things cowboy. It's my way of trying to be manly. I often wear fake cowboy mustaches.
SONNENFELD: You know, when you're on the set and it gets really boring, you say to the hair and makeup people, hey you got any interesting mustaches today?
SAGAL: Have you ever actually spent time with or around actual cowboys doing cowboy things, riding and roping and stuff like that?
SONNENFELD: I forgot to mention that I direct while sitting on a saddle.
SAGAL: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. What?
SONNENFELD: I'm on a saddle that sits on what's called an apple box that has wheels. And recently the grips had to add additional wheels because the saddle kept throwing me.
SAGAL: Wait a minute. It's like, cut everybody. The director's chair just threw him to the ground.
SAGAL: I had always understood that a movie director needs to be a dictator, needs to exude absolute authority to get everybody to get together and move in the same direction, all these egos, actors and technicians and artists. Does the saddle help with that, and the cowboy hat?
SONNENFELD: Well, you know, my - one of the things that I learned from my mother I call strength through weakness.
SONNENFELD: And I find that if you look like you're in need because, you know, the saddle is throwing you and stuff...
SONNENFELD: ...others will really come and sort of take up the slack.
SAGAL: So instead of, like, striking fear into their hearts or demanding their loyalty with your authority, you're sort of relying on their pity. They're like, oh, let's not misbehave. Barry might crack.
SONNENFELD: Oh god, yes. And it's worked for me quite well.
WOMAN: Barry, didn't you direct "Wild, Wild West?" Was that you?
SONNENFELD: Yes. And that was very difficult because of the actual horses involved in that movie.
WOMAN: I know.
SAGAL: Yeah, so "Wild, Wild West" this is the reboot of the famous TV series. It had will Smith and Kevin Cline. And it was an actual western. There you were, horses. Did you actually get to ride a horse around?
SONNENFELD: I personally avoided the horses. You don't want to go anywhere near a horse. It's kind of really scary to me.
SAGAL: Wait a minute. So you are - so you dress like a cowboy, you sit on a saddle when you're directing your movies but you are scared of horses.
SAGAL: You're saying that you approach these topics, these westerns, these big movies out of a sense of fear and anxiety?
SONNENFELD: It's funny you say that because my motto in life is live in fear.
SAGAL: Well, how does that work out?
SONNENFELD: It's great because you're never disappointed.
SAGAL: I want to ask you about Men in Black 3. It's coming out next month. And it's weird because a lot of guys, particularly in Hollywood, end up making sequels to their films these days I mean. But this is 15 years after the first one came out. Is it weird to go back to the same characters in the story in the same look so many years after you did it the first time?
SONNENFELD: You know, it's been great because Will Smith is the same sort of overly energetic guy. I described him as if he's an eight-month old Great Dane puppy.
SONNENFELD: You know, on various shows he's harmed me. On "Wild, Wild West" he broke my fifth metacarpal in five places.
SAGAL: How did he do that?
SONNENFELD: I hit his shoulder.
SAGAL: Why did you hit his shoulder?
SONNENFELD: Peter, you can't believe how boring making movies can be.
SAGAL: All right.
SONNENFELD: So Will and I got into a habit of trading punches. And he would hit me as hard as he could and I would collapse in pain in my shoulder.
SONNENFELD: And then I would hit him as hard as I could and he would laugh uncontrollably.
SONNENFELD: And one day I decided I want to hurt Will Smith.
SAGAL: Well, who would've thought that? But go on.
SONNENFELD: Well, I punched him so hard and his shoulder is like hitting, you know, like a brick wall. So I...
SAGAL: He's a fit individual.
SONNENFELD: ...collapsed in pain, had to go to the hospital. Couldn't say why this happened because, you know, we're responsible adults here.
WOMAN: Couldn't you just say that you fell off your fake horsey?
SONNENFELD: You know, I could've. Instead I said I walked into a door.
SAGAL: With your fist.
SONNENFELD: And then - well, with my fist. It can happen. And when the doctor rolled up my sleeves to take my blood pressure, he saw that my shoulder was covered in red, orange, purple, green and yellow welts from Will hitting me.
SONNENFELD: And he said, what's that? And I said, I have no idea.
SONNENFELD: So basically I was just (unintelligible).
SAGAL: Oh, I understand. So what I love is that you said this - you introduced the story by saying that Will Smith broke your hand. And it turns out he broke your hand by standing there while you attempted to hit him.
SONNENFELD: Listen, he also tore my rotator cuff and I recently had to have surgery because he tackled me and shoved his chin into my shoulder. And when I sent him the post-op photo of me with tubes, you know, coming out of my nose and stuff, he emailed me back saying, and I quote, "That's hilarious."
SAGAL: So I guess we understand why it took ten years between the "Men in Black" movies. You had to recover from your injuries.
PAULA POUNDSTONE: It sounds like the only solace you have is your fake horse.
SONNENFELD: You know, the fake horse has been - it's just fantastic. In fact, the last couple of days of shooting the prop people, they actually put a tail on the horse, which is great.
SONNENFELD: I swear to you, it's something that you're making fun of but you would be jealous and wish you had one.
WOMAN: Oh, I am.
SAGAL: ...as soon as this show is over I am demanding of my producers that I get a little saddle...
SAGAL: ...on some crates. And I want to wear boots and chaps and have a hat.
SONNENFELD: I will send you photos.
SAGAL: I believe it. Well, Barry Sonnenfeld, what a pleasure to talk to you.
SONNENFELD: You too.
SAGAL: We've invited you here to play a game we're calling...
KASELL: Men in White.
SAGAL: Your heroes wear black in your "Men in Black" movies, but cricketers - that would be those who play cricket...
SAGAL: ...they wear white.
SAGAL: We don't know why they wear white. We don't know anything about cricket...
SAGAL: ...but the question is, do you, sir? Answer three questions correctly about the game that probably has a charming old nick name and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their voicemail. Carl, who is Director Barry Sonnenfeld playing for?
KASELL: Barry is playing for Tim Shean of Sandwich, Massachusetts.
SAGAL: Ready to play?
SAGAL: All right. Here's your first question. Which of these is a real rule of cricket? A. Any player can appeal an umpire's ruling by shouting, how's that.
SAGAL: B. Your team is docked one run if you are seen to step on or otherwise harass an insect on the field, or C. I don't know what this means but quote "the wicked crease cannot be popped during an innings."
SONNENFELD: I like anything involving yelling.
SAGAL: So you're going to go with how's that?
SONNENFELD: I'm going with how's that?
SAGAL: You're right, how's that. That's the rule.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
POUNDSTONE: Oh, geez.
SAGAL: The rule in cricket is, you can appeal the umpire's ruling and they shout, how's that or it's become informally how, and the umpire says, out. All right. Next - you're doing great - which of these - is the next question - which of these is legal under the rules of cricket? A. insulting the other players during play, B. the pitcher or bowler can spit on the ball all he wants or C. if he wants to the batsman can just pick up the ball and throw it.
SONNENFELD: Well, I don't think it would be spitting because that seems uncivilized. I'm going to go with picking up the ball and throwing it.
SAGAL: So in other words, if you get frustrated trying to hit it you can just pick it up, throw it as far as you can.
SONNENFELD: I'm going to go that way.
SAGAL: Actually it's spitting. Believe it or not spitballs are legal in cricket. You can spit on the ball and you can polish the ball to try to make it spin. However, one Pakistani bowler in a big cricket match went too far and caused a scandal a while ago when he was caught doing what? Was it A, subbing in a Magic Eight ball for the cricket ball...
SAGAL: ...B, attaching a string to the ball so he could pull it back or C, biting the ball like an apple.
SONNENFELD: Well, I'm going biting.
SAGAL: And you're right, sir.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: That's right. The rules are you can spit on the ball but you can't deface it, cut it or put on a foreign substance. Biting was going too far. He was banned for two games. Carl, how did...
SONNENFELD: Now, I have to admit that I once had a landlord who was a famous Jewish crick player from South Africa.
SAGAL: So you know a little bit about cricket.
SONNENFELD: Nothing, I just had a landlord who was a...
SAGAL: Wherever he is now he's very proud of you. Carl, how did Barry Sonnenfeld do on our quiz?
KASELL: Well, Barry, you had two correct answers so that's enough to win for Tim Shean of Sandwich, Massachusetts. Congratulations.
SAGAL: Well done.
SAGAL: Barry Sonnenfeld. Thank you so much. (Unintelligible).
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.