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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're playing this week with Alonzo Bodden, Tom Papa and Faith Salie. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill.


SAGAL: Thanks, everybody. If you are listening on the radio, and you're kind of sad that you'll never be able to cherish this moment again, well, then just download this show as a podcast and listen to it again and again. You'll get all the questions right eventually. But 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 are on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

RICH KLEINMAN: Hi. This is Rich Kleinman from Norwich, N.Y.

SAGAL: Norwich N.Y. - now, I don't know where Norwich is. Can you tell me?

KLEINMAN: We're in the middle of nowhere.



SAGAL: And what do you do there in the middle of nowhere?

KLEINMAN: I make baby quilts for the neonatal unit at the local hospital.



FAITH SALIE: Oh, that's so nice.

SAGAL: Do your quilts have, like, a particular design so they can be recognized?

KLEINMAN: Actually, no. They're just 3-inch squares of cloth just sewn together. And, I mean, the babies aren't going to care.

SAGAL: Yeah.


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

KURTIS: Don't let the bedbugs bite.

SAGAL: Nothing's worse than when you can't sleep and even medication or PBS can't help.


SAGAL: This week, we read of someone being kept up for a surprising reason. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, you'll win our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?


SAGAL: All right. First, let's hear from Tom Papa.

TOM PAPA: A sleepless couple in the historic southern city of Granada in Andalusia had been troubled by a strange, incessant buzzing noise in their house. They called the police, who found nothing. They called firefighters - still nothing. On a whim, they called their beekeeper friend, Guerrero, who entered the house and discovered that it was filled with bees. Of course, what else was a beekeeper going to find?


PAPA: One can only imagine the carnage if they had called their lion tamer friend.


PAPA: The beekeeper found a hive with around 80,000 bees behind the bedroom wall. Guerrero said he was surprised the human inhabitants had been able to share a house with such noisy neighbors, especially as the hive was so big it must have been there for years. But as is common with a lot of married couples, there's a good chance they both thought the other one had left the bathroom fan on and refused to turn it off out of spite.


PAPA: With the bees removed, the couple can now look forward to even more sleepless nights as they return to listening to each other snore and getting up to use the bathroom.


SAGAL: A couple in Spain find 80,000 bees in the wall. That's from Tom Papa. Your next insomnia story comes from Faith Salie.

SALIE: New parents will try everything to get their babies to sleep. Nina Bacon (ph) from Swansea, Wales, gave all the mums in her co-sleeping support group a gift of a Sleep Sheep - a fuzzy stuffed animal made with real local lamb fur that has a white noise machine embedded in it. Turn it on, count sheep, and you'll drift right off. But as soon as Nina started using it, she started waking up in the middle of the night screaming in a cold sweat alongside her partner, Nigel Smyth (ph), who'd likewise be clutching her and hyperventilating - all this while their daughter, Mercury Bacon-Smyth (ph), kept sleeping like - well, like a baby. Her mum friends and their partners were having the same problem - nighttime terrors. No one knew why.

One night, after baby Mercury was extra fussy, Nina tried to lull herself back to sleep and turned the Sleep Sheep up to 11. As she sat listening to the swishy, uterus-y (ph) sounds, she heard a deep male voice - or did she? As she listened super-duper closely, she could barely make out the sheep singing in a baritone. The tune was like a soothing nursery rhyme with horrifying lyrics about devouring a baby.


SALIE: It was sung in this really creepy voice, Nina says. When he'd get to the part about the baby's toes and earlobes tasting like Welsh rabbit, that's when I gasped, and Nigel sat bolt upright. An investigation revealed that while a worker on the late shift was making the white noise recordings, the microphone picked him up while he was rehearsing an acoustic love song to his girlfriend.


SALIE: Relieved to learn this but still shaken, Nina says, I guess he means well, but he really needs to work on his metaphors.


SAGAL: A Sleep Sheep turns out to be a wolf in Sleep Sheep's clothing because of a hidden recording of an original song. Your last story of sleeplessness comes from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Shannon (ph) and Arthur Murray (ph) thought they had found the perfect retirement in the town of Ravello off the coast of Italy. And they had until the third night. It started at midnight - crying, weeping, screaming in Italian, as if somebody was being tortured, whimpers, grunts and even deep thumps like bodies were being dropped on the ground. What was it? Did they live below a serial killer? Couldn't be - at that rate, the town would be depopulated in a month.


BODDEN: After a whole sleepless month of staring in terror at the ceiling, they called the police and found someone who spoke enough English to understand their complaints. There's a crazy person living above us, and I think he needs help, said Shannon. Oh, no. That's not a crazy person. That's just Vlad Carero (ph). He's the most famous Italian painter since Michelangelo. Mr. Carero, known as the painter of joy, has sold millions of prints and posters of his favorite subject - big-eyed, adorable kittens - kittens playing, kittens hunting, kittens cuddling - everything but kittens sleeping because then you couldn't see their wonderful, big eyes.


BODDEN: Signore Carero, whose studio was on the top floor of the building, heard about the complaint and came to apologize. He explained that he was only able to paint the happy kittens after he first expelled all his own rage and anger so that the only thing he had left to put on the canvas was inner peace. It's a loud process, he said through the police translator. But it's made me really, really rich.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: These are your choices. Something kept somebody up for a while until it was discovered. Was it, from Tom Papa, bees in a house in Spain; from Faith Salie, a bad original song secretly recorded onto a Sleep Sheep in Wales; or, from Alonzo, a screaming artist upstairs in Italy? Which of these was the real story of unintentional insomnia?

KLEINMAN: Well, I'm going to have to go with A.

SAGAL: So you're going to pick A, Tom's story. Well, to bring you the correct answer, we spoke to someone familiar with it.

KELLY MCLAUGHLIN: A guy came in to evaluate the house and found 80,000 bees in their bedroom wall.


SAGAL: That was Kelly McLaughlin, a senior reporter at Business Insider, talking about, of course, the discovery of this enormous number of bees inside the house. Congratulations, Richard. You got it right. Well done.


SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing. You earned a point for Tom just for being honest. You've won our prize - the voice of anyone you might choose on your voicemail.


SAGAL: Thank you so much for playing this week. Bye-bye.


MUDDY WATERS: (Singing) I'm a king bee, buzzing all night long. I'm a king bee, buzzing all night long. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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