NPR Christmas Carols

Dec 18, 2020
Originally published on December 18, 2020 10:40 am

Three out of six women who work at NPR named Carol make their Ask Me Another debut as they lend their vocals in a music parody game that changes the lyrics to Paul McCartney's polarizing song Wonderful Christmastime to be about other things that rhyme with time.

Heard on Andrew Bird: Mandatory Fun Office Holiday Party

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and seeing how long you can talk to a co-worker before they realize you forgot their name. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


(Laughter) Thanks, (unintelligible).

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Today, we're having a virtual office holiday party and inviting our friends and family to play games with us. And what's a holiday without some Carols? And by that, I mean three of our actual co-workers named Carol. That's right. We cracked open the NPR company directory, and now we have three Carols on the line - first, Carol Ritchie. Hello.


EISENBERG: Hi, Carol. What do you do at NPR? We've never met. What have you - what do you do?

RITCHIE: I do the homepage and...

EISENBERG: Thank you.

RITCHIE: ...And breaking news alerts.

EISENBERG: That sounds ideal. How did you find that?

COULTON: It's been a very slow news period as well.

RITCHIE: It's been pretty dull.

COULTON: Very relaxing.

RITCHIE: (Laughter) Yeah.

EISENBERG: How do you like your name, Carol? How's it been for you?

RITCHIE: Well, actually, if you want to know the truth, my first name is Lynn (ph)...


RITCHIE: ...And my middle name is Carol. I know - so I'm sneaking on here.

EISENBERG: Wow, Carol Ritchie, wow.

COULTON: (Laughter).

RITCHIE: The truth comes out.

EISENBERG: But your best friend in the world would call you Carol?

RITCHIE: Oh, yeah. Everyone calls me Carol, yeah.

EISENBERG: All right, fine. And we also have Carol Malinowski. So what do you do at NPR?

CAROL MALINOWSKI, BYLINE: Research and archives - and I am a data researcher.

EISENBERG: What kind of data are we talking?

MALINOWSKI: Well, I am doing a longitudinal study of the sources that we use on air, so I guess I'm going to have to source myself.

COULTON: Is that even allowed? I don't even know if that's allowed.

EISENBERG: To self-source?

MALINOWSKI: I'll leave it to one of the other Carols to help with that.


EISENBERG: How do you feel about your name?

MALINOWSKI: Well, I'm born in December a week before Christmas.


MALINOWSKI: We know when that comes. And my father designed Christmas lights at General Electric. I wouldn't say I'm Christmas royalty or anything. But it's kind of like...

EISENBERG: Close enough.

MALINOWSKI: ...All wrapped up into one package, I guess.

COULTON: You're definitely Christmas royalty adjacent.

MALINOWSKI: The Christmas Carol (laughter).



COULTON: That's right.

EISENBERG: And finally, Carol Anne Clark Kelly - so what do you do at this fine place?

CAROL ANNE CLARK-KELLY, BYLINE: I am a senior producer with the NPR newscast unit. And actually, I helped Lakshmi Singh make magic with words every day.

COULTON: That's fantastic.

EISENBERG: Fantastic. Carol Kelly, how are you - how do you embrace the name Carol? Are you happy with it?

CLARK-KELLY: Oh, I love the name Carol. I actually have four names - Carol Anne Clark Kelly. I answer to all four.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: You answer to all four. You must be answering a lot. There's - you know, that's a - just in a crowd. Remember crowds? What am I saying, in a crowd?

CLARK-KELLY: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: What are we talking about? All right. Well, we have a wonderful game for you. In this game, you're going to take turns answering questions. Your game is called Holiday Carols. So for simplicity's sake going forward, we will refer to you as Carol R., Carol M., and Carol Anne. Or would you prefer it if it was Lin, Carol M. and Carol Anne?


RITCHIE: No. No, Lin, please.


EISENBERG: OK. Very good.

COULTON: She's already explained. No, Lin.


COULTON: So what we've done is we have changed the lyrics to the Paul McCartney song, "Wonderful Christmastime," to be about other things that rhyme with the word time. I'm going to sing the clues, and you are going to sing the answers.


COULTON: Ah, yes. Now I know this is everybody's favorite Christmas song. I just want to say we don't have time to do all 50 verses. Are you guys nervous about singing?



EISENBERG: Perfect. That's how we like it.

COULTON: All right. Carol R., this one is for you.

(Singing) His makeup's white. He never talks. He acts his plight trapped in a box.

RITCHIE: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas mime.

COULTON: Yes. Correct.


RITCHIE: Oh, gosh.


COULTON: All right. This next one is for you, Carol Anne.

(Singing) This hanging thing will catch the air and clang and ding so sleep is rare.

CLARK-KELLY: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas chime.

COULTON: Yes, that's correct.

EISENBERG: Yes (laughter).


(Singing) This SoCal spot may be the crux if your favorite teams are Angels and Ducks.

(Whispering) It's a city in California.

CLARK-KELLY: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas Anaheim.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: (Laughter) That was good. Carol Anne, you took Carol M's answer, but she appreciates.

MALINOWSKI: I am so relieved. And I knew the first two. This is...

CLARK-KELLY: Feel free to jump in on mine.

EISENBERG: That thing where the answer gets stolen is very typical to Carols.


EISENBERG: This is what I've heard.

COULTON: All right. Carol R. This one is for you.

(Singing) Your kid won't sleep. Put songs to use. Just try Bo Peep from Mother Goose.

RITCHIE: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas rhyme.

COULTON: Rhyme or nursery rhyme. Yes.

RITCHIE: Carol Anne, do you want to add something?


COULTON: All right. Carol Anne, this one is for you for real.

(Singing) A gallery that spirals round. Great art you'll see if New York bound.

CLARK-KELLY: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Guggenheim.

COULTON: Yeah. That is correct.


COULTON: All right. Carol M., this is for you. Carol Anne, don't you dare.

(Singing) A friend close knit with whom you flee if you commit a robbery.

MALINOWSKI: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas crime.


COULTON: (Laughter) Yes. Or partner in crime, but I will give it to you. Carol Anne, you're up.

(Singing) For Broadway he wrote songs that awed for "Company" and "Sweeney Todd."

CLARK-KELLY: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Sondheim.

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Carol M., this is your last clue.

(Singing) It means archetype or epitome. But here's my gripe - there's a silent G.

This is hard.

MALINOWSKI: Oh. Can this be an all-Carol?

EISENBERG: (Laughter).


COULTON: Sure. Let's call it - let's call this an all-Carol.

EISENBERG: Let's call this an all-Carol.

COULTON: Which ever Carol wants can jump in.

CLARK-KELLY: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas paradigm.

COULTON: Yeah. That's right.


COULTON: I don't even know which Carol that was, but fantastic job, Carol. All right. Carol R., this is your last clue. And the last clue in the game.

(Singing) This bot is on the side of right. To Megatron he takes the fight.

RITCHIE: (Singing) Simply having a wonderful Christmas Optimus Prime.

COULTON: Yes, that's exactly right.

EISENBERG: Yeah. That's right.

Oh, that was amazing.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: And I don't know if you noticed - thank you so much for joining us - because we all work at the same place, we managed to do something special. Reach under your chair and you will find your very own Optimus Prime.


EISENBERG: We got you each a Transformer. Amazing. Carol R., Carol M., Carol Anne, thank you so much.

COULTON: Thank you, guys.


EISENBERG: You made the holidays come alive for us.

COULTON: What a blast.

RITCHIE: That was really fun. Thank you.

MALINOWSKI: Very fun. Very fun. Thank you.

CLARK-KELLY: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHAD CROUCH'S "STARDAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.