BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis, filling in for Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Bobcat Goldthwait, Faith Salie, and Luke Burbank.
KURTIS: And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Bill. 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 air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
RANDY GRANGER: Hey, Peter, this is Randy Granger calling you from Durham, North Carolina, though I live in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
SAGAL: Las Cruces.
SAGAL: So what are you doing in North Carolina then?
GRANGER: Well, I'm learning the various ways that the body can sweat.
SAGAL: I understand, yes.
GRANGER: No, truthfully, I'm a musician, and I'm doing some touring down here in the south.
SAGAL: That's awesome. Oh, wow, a musician on the road. What do you play?
GRANGER: I guess the best way to describe it is I'm a Native American world music meets steampunk with a dose of Leonard Cohen.
LUKE BURBANK: Another one of those bands?
SAGAL: Oh God.
SAGAL: Randy, 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 Randy's topic?
GRANGER: What's wrong with that cat?
BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: Just to be clear, that was Bill, that wasn't an actual cat.
SAGAL: I know. Cats are mysterious animals. While purring and licking your face, they're probably plotting your murder. Our panelists are going to read you three stories revealing the secret lives of cats. Guess the true story that we found in this week's news and you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?
GRANGER: Awesome, I'm ready.
SAGAL: All right, let's hear first from Bobcat Goldthwait.
GOLDTHWAIT: International Space Station is plagued with a rodent problem. To be more specific, a small group of escaped rats that were being used onboard in lab tests have begun chewing through important electronics equipment and, being rats, are reproducing baby rats at an alarming rate. NASA's solution? To train a ragtag team of tabbies on how to hunt and kill rats in zero gravity and send the bloodthirsty felines up into the space station on a killing spree.
GOLDTHWAIT: The cats, who are all rescues, have been spending as much as two to three hours a day on NASA's zero-gravity jet, also known as the Vomit Comet.
GOLDTHWAIT: The cats spend their time chasing laser pointers and catnip-filled rat doppelgangers while floating around in weightlessness.
GOLDTHWAIT: NASA officials say that the experiment has so far been a success and expect to launch the cats into space soon. No explanation on how an anti-gravity litter box works.
SAGAL: Cats in space. Cats being trained to go up to the space station to take care of the mouse problem. Your next story of what cats are really up to comes from Faith Salie.
FAITH SALIE: A furtive feline named Freya(ph), who belongs to England's Chancellor George Osbourne(ph), has been causing some caterwauling at Downing Street. Because the kitty has been pussyfooting around the most secure area of the Foreign Office, inside the Cabinet Room and has even tried to break into the Treasury, she's accused of being a spy.
SALIE: Perhaps the spy who licked me?
SALIE: Freya's stealth ubiquity is rubbing some government officials the wrong way. The reason? Freya vanished two years ago and then mysteriously walked back into the chancellor's life, thanks to a microchip under her skin carrying Mrs. Osbourne's phone number. What else could be hiding under her skin?
Quote, "Some of us think the Chinese got her," said one Tory source. "You'd only have to bug her, and you could find out half the government's secrets." And in a move worthy of Pussy Galore, Freya fearlessly crosses four lanes of traffic to get to a Westminster watering hole called The Red Lion Pub. Barmaids regularly escort her home to 11 Downing Street at closing time.
Presumably, she likes her shaken, not purred.
SAGAL: A cat accused of espionage in the corridors of power in England. Your last story of a moonlighting feline comes from Luke Burbank.
BURBANK: Jillian Rafftery(ph) of Coral Springs, Florida, thought it was just one of those weird, inexplicable things. For about two years when she'd put photos up on her refrigerator or on her bulletin board, they'd eventually go missing. But it wasn't every photo, just the ones where she was doing something unintentionally weird or kind of funny: a picture of her peeking out of a giant IKEA box looking confused.
That disappeared, as did the one where she'd gotten drunk and was wearing a pair of Crocs on her hands as if they were feet.
BURBANK: Anyway, the whole thing might have stayed a mystery if not for a remodeling project in her condo that involved opening up a wall, a wall that her cats, Theo(ph) and Professor Bananas(ph), long story, had been using as their personal hangout for years, sneaking in through an air duct. You see, there in the wall were all these dumb pictures of Jillian.
And even more strange was that you could tell that the cats had been moving the photos back and forth between Theo's part of the inside of the wall and Professor Bananas'.
BURBANK: We see this occasionally in our studies, says Michael Oustadge(ph), dean of veterinary medicine at the University of Idaho: simple, unsophisticated animals entertaining themselves for hours and even days by staring at humorous photos of humans.
BURBANK: Thank God we've evolved past this sort of simplistic visual stimulation. For Jillian's part, she's just happy to have the photos back. I mean, what kind of an animal even does that? Those are just pictures of me living my life, doing my thing. Who gave them the right to make some sort of giant joke out of them?
SAGAL: All right, then, here are your choices. From Bobcat Goldthwait, cats being trained to hunt mice in space on the International Space Station; from Faith Salie, a high-placed cat in England being accused of espionage because of its mysterious absence; and from Luke Burbank, cats discovered swapping pictures of us doing amusing and foolish things. Which of these is the real story of a cat with a secret this week?
GRANGER: You know, cats are capable of anything, but between the space kitties and the spy kitty, I think I'm going to have to go with Professor Bananas, those little - stealing the photos.
SAGAL: You're going to choose...
SAGAL: So you're going to choose Luke's story of the cats taking pictures or stealing and trading pictures of their human owners doing silly things like peering out of boxes for their own amusement?
GRANGER: I just can't see cats in space. There's just too many wires and cords around. So...
SAGAL: All right. Well, we spoke to someone familiar with the real story.
EMILY ANTHES: Cats are not known for being especially trainable. I might suggest that if the British really want spying animals, they invest in cyber beetle technology.
SAGAL: That was Emily Anthes. She's the author of "Frankenstein's Cat," and she was talking of course about the spy case involving the chancellor of the exchequer's cat in the United Kingdom. That of course was Faith's story, which was the real one this week.
SAGAL: Yeah, although there was something sweetly just, I will say, about Luke's story. I wanted to believe it was true, too. So I can't blame you.
GRANGER: I really did.
SAGAL: You've earned a point for Luke by lying so effectively. Thank you so much for playing, Randy.
GRANGER: You're very welcome.
(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.