Homophones To Phone Home About

Jan 9, 2014
Originally published on May 21, 2015 10:33 am

What would you call a type of neck-wear worn while participating in a form of exercise founded by Billy Blanks? A "Tae Bo-bow tie"! In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg offers clues to phrases or compound words that change meaning when the words are reversed.

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Guess what?


EISENBERG: Right now we have our next contestant on the line. Hello, you're on ASK ME ANOTHER.

JENNIFER EUBANKS: Hi, this is Jennifer Eubanks in Santa Barbara, California.

EISENBERG: Well, hello, Jennifer Eubanks. Where exactly is your landline located that you are speaking on?

EUBANKS: I am hiding away in my office at work.


EISENBERG: And what is your job?

EUBANKS: I'm a web developer for a tech company.

EISENBERG: Mm, vague. I like it.


EISENBERG: Jennifer, are you a big Michael Jackson fan?

EUBANKS: I know quite a few of his older songs, not so much of the really recent stuff before he stopped making albums.



EISENBERG: That is the nicest way to say that.

COULTON: That's the greatest euphemism I've ever heard.


EUBANKS: Very diplomatic.

EISENBERG: That's perfect because this game is called Jacko All Trades, and it's about Michael Jackson - sort of. Turns out all of the answers in this game are also titles the Michael Jackson songs, which includes duets and songs he co-wrote with other people. So our puzzle guru, Art Chung, is going to give you an example.

ART CHUNG: So Jennifer, if we said, according to experts, you can't make a scrambled egg of doing this first. The answer would be, beat it, or (Singing) beat it.


COULTON: Nice job, Art.

CHUNG: Thank you.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that was beautiful, yeah.

CHUNG: I've been practicing.

EISENBERG: It was like he was still making albums for a second there.


EISENBERG: All right. Ready to play?


EISENBERG: Here we go. According to the AMC Network, "Psycho," "Fatal Attraction" and "Marathon Man" are some of the greatest movies in which film genre?

EUBANKS: Hmm. Thriller.



EISENBERG: Remember back when zombies just wanted to dance.


COULTON: Simpler times.

EISENBERG: It was a simpler time. Before Apple introduced the iPhone 5C in 2013, you could only get an iPhone in what two colors?

EUBANKS: Black and white.

EISENBERG: Exactly. Yeah.


EISENBERG: I really wonder how that question will sound like a few years from now. People will be like what?

COULTON: What's an iPhone?

EISENBERG: What's an iPhone?

EUBANKS: It will be like the landline.

EISENBERG: Yeah, exactly, they're like, oh my god. We have these landlines, they're super clear.


EISENBERG: What slasher movies and its sequels have grossed over 600 million worldwide since the first installment in 1996?

EUBANKS: Is that "Scream," I assume?

EISENBERG: It is "Scream." Yeah. Exactly.

EUBANKS: Like, I didn't know that was a Michael Jackson song.



EISENBERG: Yeah. It's him and Janet Jackson in the spaceship and they're both wearing like spiky sweaters.


CHUNG: They're playing like space racquetball or something.

EISENBERG: Space racquetball and running around.

COULTON: And they get really frustrated and they yell about it.

EISENBERG: Yeah, and then they just scream a lot.

ERIC BROWNELL: Makes you want to scream?

EISENBERG: All we're saying is you got it right.


EUBANKS: Awesome.


EISENBERG: Sneaker maker Vans began adding this three-word phase to its labels in 1976. Do you own Vans?

EUBANKS: I do but I haven't looked at them in a really long time, apparently.


COULTON: You're not allowed to look down at them right now. That's cheating.

EUBANKS: If only I had known to wear that footwear today.


CHUNG: It was an early Michael Jackson album.

EISENBERG: Ooh, a little hint from our puzzle guru. He must like you, Jennifer.

EUBANKS: I don't know that one.

EISENBERG: Don't know? All right. Off the wall is what we were looking for.


EISENBERG: Yeah. I know, Vans were very edgy in 1976.


EISENBERG: All right. This is your last question. Every time Jonathan Coulton looks into the reflective front of his medicine cabinet, what does he see?


COULTON: Be careful.

EUBANKS: He says, I'm looking at the man in the mirror.

COULTON: That's right.

EISENBERG: That's right.


EISENBERG: Smooth Criminal would have also been accepted.

COULTON: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.


EISENBERG: Jennifer, congratulations. Just because we love you so much, you're going to get an ASK ME ANOTHER prize.




EISENBERG: You want to go on a scavenger hunt and compete on ASK ME ANOTHER? Of course, you do. So here's the thing, just go out there and find the landline, and then you can be on our show. Send us an email to ASK ME ANOTHER at npr.org and we'll be talking.


MICHAEL JACKSON: (Singing) I wanna, wanna be where you are, oh. Any, any, anywhere you are, oh-oh-oh. I wanna, wanna be where you are, oh. Any, any, anywhere you are, oh-oh.

EISENBERG: Coming up, we're going to chat with our very important puzzler, comedian W. Kamau Bell about political humor and what life is like after hosting your own talk show, so stick around. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and this is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER.



JACKSON: (Singing) I wanna, wanna be where you are, oh-oh. Any, any, anywhere you are, oh-oh-oh. I wanna, wanna be where you are, oh-oh. I gotta, gotta be... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.