Depressing Place Names

Aug 25, 2017

The United States is full of places that may be lovely, but have depressing names. Contestants guess which of three locations with a less-than-exciting name is real.

Heard On Rita Dove: Set Phasers To Poem

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit


Our next game is about real geographic locations with depressing names, like Washington, D.C.


EISENBERG: But first, let's check in with our contestants. Ashleigh, OK, so you work in information warfare. So what - rough idea of what your job entails.

ASHLEIGH MARTZ: We work, primarily, among different disciplines to have the informational advantage over our adversaries, to know more, to be smarter than the bad guy.

EISENBERG: So when you're here...


MARTZ: Like, right here...

EISENBERG: Right now.

MARTZ: They're winning right now, apparently.

EISENBERG: OK, got it, got it.


EISENBERG: ...But not at trivia, so that's good. Anthony, you're a tall man.

ANTHONY NOBLES: Yeah, I'm 6'4", yeah.

EISENBERG: 6'4" yet you have won not one, not two, but three limbo competitions.


NOBLES: Yeah, one of my good friends from high school, her parents throw an annual luau so that they can get smashed, and then I can crush them at the limbo.


EISENBERG: Same thing every year.

NOBLES: Yeah, I don't know. My spine performs better than I expect it to.


EISENBERG: Has anyone ever called you Anthony Supple-spine? Has that ever been a nickname?

MARTZ: Now they will.

EISENBERG: Well, yeah, now they will. OK, we have a guessing game for you inspired by the Instagram account @sadtopographies. The United States is full of places that may be lovely, but they actually have very depressing names. For example, there is a real place right near here called Mount Trashmore.


EISENBERG: In this game, I'm going to give you three locations. One is real. Two are fake. You just have to identify the real place. And we're going alternate back and forth, so no need to buzz in. Ashleigh, you won the last game, so you win this, and you go to the final round. Anthony, you need to win this, or you have to stand outside of your own house with a frown on your face until a Google Street View car drives by and takes your picture. Here we go. Ashleigh, in Oregon - Dubious Reservoir, Uncertainty Pass, Uncanny Valley.

MARTZ: Uncanny Valley.

EISENBERG: I'm sorry, that is incorrect. Anthony, can you steal?

NOBLES: Dubious Reservoir.

EISENBERG: Dubious Reservoir is a real place. That is correct.


EISENBERG: Begs the question - is it a reservoir?



EISENBERG: Anthony, in Pennsylvania - Pack It In Trail, This Is It Boulevard, Shades of Death Road.

NOBLES: I'm going to go with Shades of Death Road.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that is correct. That's a real place.


EISENBERG: ...And hopefully, the inevitable conclusion in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" books.


EISENBERG: Ashleigh, in New York - Roadkill City, Dead Horse Bay, Extinction Village.

MARTZ: Dead Horse Bay.

EISENBERG: It is a real place, yes.


EISENBERG: It's actually located in Brooklyn. I've never been to it. Dead Horse Bay got its name from the factories that would turn dead horses into glue, fertilizer and other stuff. If you go to Dead Horse Bay twice, you're really beating a dead horse. Anthony, in Louisiana - Cut Off, Road Rage, T-Bone.


EISENBERG: No, that is incorrect. Ashleigh, can you steal?

MARTZ: Cut Off.

EISENBERG: Cut Off is the real place. Yeah, that's right.


EISENBERG: These are your last clues. Ashleigh, in Tennessee - John's Wart, Jacob's Rash, Charlies Bunion.

MARTZ: John's Wart.



EISENBERG: Anthony, can you steal?

NOBLES: Charlies Bunion.

EISENBERG: Yeah. It's a real place.


EISENBERG: It's an outcropping in the Smoky Mountains named for hiker Charlie Conner's sore, swollen feet.


EISENBERG: Aw. He complained all about in Whine Valley. I mean, who is this guy?


EISENBERG: Anthony, in Virginia - Down There Square, Keester Village, Butts Corner.

NOBLES: Butts Corner sounds right.

EISENBERG: You like Butts Corner, and you cannot lie. That is correct.


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

ART CHUNG: Anthony won that game, so we're going to a quick game three.

EISENBERG: All right.


CHUNG: All right, we're tied one game apiece. So I'm going to give you a category, and you'll go back and forth naming things that fall in that category. The first contestant to mess up will be eliminated. You got to buzz in to answer first. Here's your category. Name the 10 popular music acts who performed during the halftime shows at Super Bowls 47 through 51.


CHUNG: Anthony, you're first.

NOBLES: Bruno Mars.

CHUNG: That is correct. He performed twice.

MARTZ: Janet Jackson.

CHUNG: I'm sorry, Janet Jackson performed in Super Bowl 38. The other acts were Beyonce, Coldplay, Destiny's Child, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz, Mark Ronson, Missy Elliott and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ashleigh, we're sorry to see you go. Anthony, you're headed to the final round. Congratulations.


COULTON: (Playing piano).

EISENBERG: Coming up, we'll find out who will face off against Anthony in our final round at the end of the show. And our special guest is former poet laureate Rita Dove. We'd love to write a poem for her, but no words rhyme with Dove. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.