Ask Me Another
3:38 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Just Add Nada

Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 1:27 pm

A word that literally means nothing takes on a whole new meaning in this game led by house musician Jonathan Coulton. Contestants must identify words that, when the letter "O" is added to their end, become different words. For example, adding nada to what the "D" stands for in CD-ROM — "disc" — produces a music genre — "disco."

UPDATE: Since this episode originally aired, we learned that Lamb Chop, Shari Lewis' sock puppet sheep, also testified before Congress, in 1993, in support of quality children's television. So while Elmo was not actually the only non-human to testify before Congress, he is in very fine company.

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Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

If you're just tuning in, you're in the middle of ASK ME ANOTHER. And let's say hello to our next two contestants, JoAnn Whetsell and Cody Lee.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Cody, you are visiting us.

CODY LEE: Yes.

EISENBERG: On vacation from Acton, MA, Massachusetts. That's where you live. What do you do in Acton?

LEE: So recently I went on a motorcycle trip and I needed saddlebags so I built some brackets so they can attach to my bike.

EISENBERG: Oh, so you're building - you're building actual practical items.

LEE: Some days.

EISENBERG: Some days?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I like your laugh, by the way. You're like bah, ha, ha, evil inventor.

(LAUGHTER)

LEE: Muah ha ha ha ha.

EISENBERG: JoAnn, you are visiting all the way from New Jersey.

JOANN WHETSELL: Indeed.

EISENBERG: Now, you are a lover of accordion and bagpipe music. You are that one person.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So I don't know anything about it. Who is the leading accordionist that I should listen to?

WHETSELL: Oh. I would say Maria Kalaniemi. She's from Finland. I don't know if that's how you say her name; that's how I say her name.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

WHETSELL: And there's also Karen Tweed. She's from Scotland.

EISENBERG: OK.

WHETSELL: And she is also awesome.

EISENBERG: You know your stuff. Excellent.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Jonathan Coulton, what are these fine contestants playing?

JONATHAN COULTON: Well, this game is called Just Add Nada. We're going to give you a clue to a word. If you add the letter O to the end of the word you'll get a new word that answers the second part of the clue. So, John, can you give us an example?

JOHN CHANESKI, PUZZLE GURU: If we said add nada to what the D stands for in CD Rom and you get a music genre, you'd say disc and disco.

COULTON: Whoa.

EISENBERG: Mm-hmm.

COULTON: Ouch.

GURU: So ring in when you know the answer and we are looking for both words.

COULTON: Although obviously one is easy to derive from the other. Add nada to a small child and you get an '80s rock band.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Cody.

LEE: Dev, Devo?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: No.

EISENBERG: I like a small child being Dev.

COULTON: Dev. You know my son, Dev, of course. JoAnn, do you have a guess here?

WHETSELL: Tot and Toto?

COULTON: That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Add nada to a tree in the title of a Wes Craven horror film and you get the only non-human to testify before Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: JoAnn.

WHETSELL: Elm and Elmo.

COULTON: Elm and Elmo, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Add nada to an Internet search engine and you get a game played with balls.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: JoAnn.

WHETSELL: Bing, Bingo?

COULTON: Bing and Bingo, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Slight misdirect by saying that that is a game played with balls. That is not primarily the...

EISENBERG: Yeah. If you put game played with balls in Bing, you're not going to get Bingo.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: You will but it'll be very far down on the list.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: Add nada to an arm or a leg and you get a dance that originated in Trinidad and Tobago.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Cody.

LEE: Limb, Limbo?

COULTON: Limb and Limbo. That's exactly right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Add nada to a crime dramedy on the USA Network and you get an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

LEE: "Psych" and "Psycho"?

COULTON: Cody. "Psych" and "Psycho." You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This is your last clue. Add nada to a word meaning on fire and you get a common plastic lawn ornament.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

LEE: Flaming, flamingo.

COULTON: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Flaming Flamingo, I believe, is John Chanesky's drag name.

(LAUGHTER)

GURU: That's me. Come see me next week.

LEE: Where?

GURU: The Slipper Room.

EISENBERG: Where. Cody wants to know where.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: John, tell us what happened in that game.

GURU: We have a tie-o.

COULTON: Oh, my gosh.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: OK. Cody and JoAnn, I'm going to give you a tiebreaker question. Here it is. Add nada to a space age drink mix and you get a South American dance.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Cody.

LEE: Tang becomes Tango.

COULTON: That's correct. You are the winner, Cody.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Nice work, both of you. What a close game. Thank you, JoAnn. Cody, you will be moving on to our final round at the end of the show. Congratulations.

(APPLAUSE)

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

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