Can Festival

Aug 25, 2017

The great Andy Warhol demonstrated that anything can be art if you give it the right price. So in this game, Ophira and Jonathan pretend to be hoity-toity art critics describing everyday beverage cans as if they're works of art.

Heard On Rita Dove: Set Phasers To Poem

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Hey, Jonathan.

JONATHAN COULTON: Yes?

EISENBERG: We're in Virginia Beach - speed round.

COULTON: OK.

EISENBERG: True or false - Virginia Beach hosts the annual East Coast surfing championships.

COULTON: That is true.

EISENBERG: That is true. True or false - this area is known as America's first region.

COULTON: I do not know what that means, but it is true.

EISENBERG: That it is true. True or false - Virginia Beach holds the Guinness World Record for largest pleasure beach.

COULTON: That is true and also yuck.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from the Virginia Arts Festival, it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Wow. Thank you, Jonathan. We are so happy to be here at the Virginia Arts Festival. And four brilliant contestants are waiting backstage, debating whether this show qualifies as art.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And our special guest is former poet laureate Rita Dove.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I love that Virginia Beach holds the Guinness World Record for world's largest pleasure beach. Thank you for specifying that. I really hate those business beaches.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I used to work at a business beach, you know? I got paid in sand dollars. I was a real fish out of water. I coasted for a while, but then I was drowning in work. It almost krilled me.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Then I got a pink slip in a bottle.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: What can I say? Life's a beach (laughter).

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Can a lifetime of drinking soda pay off? We're about to find out. Let's meet our first two contestants. First up - Ashleigh Martz on buzzer number one.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: You work in information warfare for the Navy.

ASHLEIGH MARTZ: I do.

EISENBERG: OK. We'll get back to that. Welcome.

MARTZ: Thank you.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Anthony Nobles on buzzer number two.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: You're an eighth-grade government teacher.

ANTHONY NOBLES: That's right, yeah.

EISENBERG: Wow, welcome.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Well, the first of you who wins two of our games will move on to the final round at the end of the show. So let's start with a game called Can Festival. The great Andy Warhol demonstrated that anything can be art if you give it the right price. So in this game, Jonathan and I will pretend to be hoity-toity art critics, but we'll be describing beverage cans as if they were works of art. You just have to buzz in and tell us the name of the beverage. OK, here we go.

This soda's claim of 23 flavors is made to look like the imprint of a red wax seal. The beverage's name claims a false honorific, forcing us to examine our implicit trust in medical authority.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Anthony.

NOBLES: Dr Pepper.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's correct, yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: It's better than Bachelor of Arts and Pepper.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: But are you a fan of Dr Pepper? Do you drink it, Anthony?

NOBLES: I do not drink Dr Pepper.

(LAUGHTER)

NOBLES: There's too much going on there, too many layers for me I think.

EISENBERG: All right. Are you more like one flavor kind of guy?

NOBLES: If that flavor is Coke.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Emerald shards evoke the color of the intensely sweet liquid contained within this can and create a sense of motion. At first, its name seems to evoke a vista of serene water droplets atop a mighty peak. This belies the beverage's true namesake, a term for bootlegged alcohol.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Ashleigh.

MARTZ: Mountain Dew.

COULTON: You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: The bounty of virile carrots, beets, plump tomatoes and celery evokes vitality. This delicious juice just like life, as symbolized by these ripe vegetables, will end.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Ashleigh?

MARTZ: V8.

EISENBERG: That is correct, yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This can acts as a simulacra of a frosty, overflowing stein for which the beverage is named. Curiously, on top of this design is a bulldog holding yet another stein. This upsets a stable viewing of the root beer can. You look confused. That means it's art.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Speaking of art, puzzle guru Art Chung, can you give them a hint?

ART CHUNG: Well, the hint is that there's a bulldog holding a cup on it.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Another word for a stein would be what?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Ashleigh?

MARTZ: Mug Root Beer?

COULTON: Mug is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: A product of its time, this 1963 diet soda's design is rootly formed in pop-art style. Its saccharine, diagonal pink stripes nod back to art nouveau while the futuristic font gestures forward to a space-age aesthetic.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Ashleigh?

MARTZ: TaB.

EISENBERG: That's right, TaB.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And why was it called TaB - because it was - you're keeping a tab on your weight. Yeah, I know. Bud Light doesn't quite have that same thing going on with it.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I guess maybe it does. You want your buddy to be lighter.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: This is your last clue. A minimalist globe serves as the focal point of this can divided into sweeping segments in red, white and blue according to the golden ratio, perhaps serving as a cutting satire of America's partisan politics.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Ashleigh?

MARTZ: That would be Pepsi.

EISENBERG: That would be Pepsi, yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Puzzle guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: Ashleigh, well done. You know your cans, and you're one step closer to our final round.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.