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Panel Questions

BILL KURTIS: From NPR and Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We're playing this week with Helen Hunt, Roxanne Roberts and Alonzo Bodden and your host, the softest-working man in show business, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Bill. In just a minute, Bill slurps his ramen noodles in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. If you'd like to play, give us a call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT. That's 1-888-924-8924. Right now, panel, some more questions for you from the week's news.

Helen, New York City recently allowed its restaurants to seat up to 35% capacity and indoor dining, but one restaurant is filling the empty space by doing what?

HELEN HONG: Oh, jeez. Haven't we already gone through this?

SAGAL: (Laughter).

HONG: (Laughter) I need a hint, Peter.

SAGAL: Is that Abraham Lincoln over there at the corner table? And is he melting?

HONG: Melting. Oh, wax figures?



SAGAL: They are seating wax figurines of famous people from Madame Tussaud's.

HONG: What?

SAGAL: That's what they're doing. Sitting in an empty restaurant can feel lonely and awkward. So Peter Luger Steakhouse in New York is filling their empty chairs with giant wax dolls. Oh, great. Now I feel lonely, awkward and creeped out. You can see Jimmy Fallon...


SAGAL: ...Al Roker, Audrey Hepburn.

HONG: Wait. These are actual wax figures from Madame Tussaud's.

SAGAL: Yes. Apparently, it's so people can feel maybe that they're eating dinner with the glitterati, even though they're inanimate figures. I don't - I'm not quite sure.

HONG: And this is at a steakhouse, meaning there's open flame around.

ROXANNE ROBERTS: Yes, exactly.

HONG: But you literally could melt Jimmy Fallon down.

ROBERTS: Aren't all the wax figures standing figures? Do they have to, like, rejigger them?

SAGAL: I mean, that's kind of amazing. They had to, like, stand them next to the oven for a little while until they could bend them into the seats, I guess.

HONG: (Laughter).

ROBERTS: If you think about it, though, all they really need is the head. They just need the head.

SAGAL: Oh, I see what you mean. They just need the head, and they attach it to generic body.

ROBERTS: They just need the head. They could use mannequins dressed in clothes.

SAGAL: Yeah.

ROBERTS: And then just maybe, maybe creepy wax hands.

HONG: (Laughter).

ROBERTS: And the head.


HONG: That's not even more creepy. Let's get some mismatched mannequin body and stick somebody's random head on it and let's sit them next to you doing your amuse-bouche.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

HONG: No, thank you. No.

SAGAL: In case you care, they have Jon Hamm dressed in costume from "Mad Men" standing there.

HONG: Oh, you know what? I wasn't on board until now.


HONG: Now I'm on board.

SAGAL: Now, all right. Roxanne.


SAGAL: After Prince Harry destroyed his relationship with the Royal family, including his own father and brother, brought scandal to the palace and increased calls for the Royal family's abolition. He has announced what he will be doing next. What career is Prince Harry going to pursue?

ROBERTS: Oh, I love this so much. He's going to be a chief impact officer.

SAGAL: For what?

ROBERTS: For a health company.

SAGAL: I'll give it to you. Yes, he is going to be the chief impact officer of a life coaching company.


SAGAL: So he's going to be a life coach. Now, we know that Tyler Perry won't let them stay in his mansion forever. But really life coaching. As you say, Roxanne, technically, he will be the, quote, "chief impact officer of BetterUp, a life coaching and mental health firm." Chief impact officer, of course, sounds like what a fifth grader says he is right before punching you hard in the arm and laughing.

ROBERTS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: And we just - I mean, and Prince Harry is very serious about this. He's very serious about this.

HONG: He doesn't see the irony or the ridiculousness of being like, yeah, let me give you some advice. Just be born into a royal family.

SAGAL: Exactly. I mean, imagine the life coaching you'll get from Prince Harry. It's like you want have everything handed to you on a silver platter. Every now and then you'll have a picnic while foxhunting.

ROBERTS: (Laughter) He's a prince of a guy.

SAGAL: He really is. He'll be like, oh, it sounds like you're having a hard time. Have you thought about talking to Oprah about it?

ALONZO BODDEN: Maybe it's a reverse thing where you come see him and tell him what real life is like. And he's just like, wow, really? Wait a minute. You wait in lines? You pay for things?

ROBERTS: (Laughter).

SAGAL: Alonzo, artificial intelligence has rapidly improved over the last few years. But according to the programmer who created a particular field in AI, it really hasn't gotten a lot better at coming up with what?

BODDEN: I know it was something about emotions. They can't duplicate emotions.

SAGAL: Sort of. You know, there's no better way of giving you a hint than to give you an example of one of the things that these computers came up with.


KURTIS: Your eyes are like two rainbows and a rainbow of eyes. I can't help but stare.

BODDEN: Pickup lines.

SAGAL: Pickup lines. Yes.


SAGAL: Janelle Shane is an AI researcher who a couple of years ago trained a kind of artificial intelligence called a neural net to generate pick-up lines. And she has decided to try it again to see if the computers have gotten any better at it. And apparently the computers are still trudging home from bars alone. Here is a selection from the cutting edge of computer generated pickup lines.

KURTIS: I once worked with a guy that looked just like you. He was a normal human with a family. Are you a normal human with a family?


KURTIS: Hey, my name is John Smith. Will you sit on my bread box while I cook...


KURTIS: ...Or is there some kind of speed limit on that thing?

ROBERTS: (Laughter).

HONG: Can I just say, as someone who is single and who does online dating, some of those are actually better...


HONG: Than the DMs that I encounter in my...

SAGAL: Really? They're like...

HONG: Yeah, yeah. That's better than half of the DMs that I get now. So yeah.


HANK WILLIAMS: (Singing) Say hey, good lookin'. Whatcha got cookin'? How's about cookin' somethin' up with me? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.