Games + Leisure

Games + Leisure

Some childhood symbols straddle the line between adorable and terrifying. Like clowns. Or Furbys.

Some dolls fit the category, too, with spooky eyes that seem to move or a porcelain pallor. They're not all Chucky, but some of them just don't seem quite right.

Listener Anne McLaughlin grew up with a cabinet full of dolls — including a pretty dancer doll and a set of wooden nesting dolls. But one, she says, stood out.

People across the world are eating pies and celebrating the circle this Saturday — and this year's Pi Day is particularly special. The full date, 3/14/15, is pi to the first four places. At 9:26 a.m. and 53 seconds, you can even celebrate pi to nine places: 3.141592653.

Fasten your seat belts, true believers. If you haven't flipped through a comic book in a while, you might be in for quite a surprise come May. The entire Marvel multiverse is collapsing.

Forget about seeing the Wolverine we knew any time soon. And the current Ghost Rider? Before long, his current story line will be gone like, well, a ghost. In the new Marvel universe, coming in May, characters and continuities will be reimagined.

On-air challenge: Every answer today is the name of an Academy Award winner or nominee for best picture. Using the given anagram, decipher the title of the film. The films will go from oldest to newest. Example: OUTWORN (1940) (2 words). Answer: OUR TOWN

Last week's challenge: Name a major U.S. city in two syllables. Reverse the syllables phonetically to get the cost of attending a certain NBA game. What is it?

Answer: Phoenix, Knicks fee

Updated at 11:24 a.m.

Chicago's Jackie Robinson West team, the first all-African-American team to win the U.S. championship, has been stripped of its title after Little League International said today that the team had violated residency rules.

Patrick Smith from member station WBEZ tells our Newscast unit that Little League International says the team illegally used players from outside its geographic area.

On Friday, I explained what's "cringeworthy" about Sixteen Candles' Long Duk Dong, whose broken English and social ineptitude left a painful stamp on many Asian-American children of the '80s.

On-air challenge: Every answer is a made-up two-word phrase, where the second and third letters of the first word are switched to get the second word. Example: Serene bivalve would be calm clam

Last week's challenge: This challenge came from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. Name someone who welcomes you in. Insert the letter U somewhere inside this, and you'll name something that warns you to stay away. Who is this person, and what is this thing?

Answer: Bell boy, bell buoy.

Low-Key, Real-Life Heroism In 'March: Book Two'

Jan 29, 2015

Some media are custom-made for heroes. Ava DuVernay's gripping film Selma gains much of its drama from the beauty — physical and metaphysical — of David Oyelowo's portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Oyelowo's incredible voice gives practically everything King says the compelling force of a sermon, and his physical presence — strangely small and economical of motion — is as unique as it is potent.

Cartoonist and theorist Scott McCloud is sometimes called the "Aristotle of Comics" because of his three landmark nonfiction works: Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics and Making Comics. He's a man who's spent a lot of time thinking about making art — and that's reflected in The Sculptor, his first full-length graphic novel.

Sunday Puzzle: S.V. You

Jan 18, 2015

On-air challenge: Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the initials S.V. For example, given "noted Idaho ski resort," you would say "Sun Valley."

Last week's challenge: From listener Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass. Think of a U.S. city whose name has nine letters. Remove three letters from the start of the name and three letters from the end. Only two will remain. How is this possible, and what city is it?

Flinging birds at pigs and moving jelly beans around a little screen are not human instincts. Game designers create the urge to do those things for hours at a time.

"From the way the games are designed to help us start playing the game, to the way they keep us coming back to the game, to how they involve our friends in the game — all of these things have underpinnings in consumer psychology," says game consultant Nir Eyal.

There is no shortage of diet programs available to those that seek to lose weight. But for many, taking those initial steps into a weight loss and exercise program can be an intimidating leap.

A new study from the University of Kansas Medical Center, however, shows that the online game Second Life helped some people lose weight — and keep it off — in real life.

My Nintendo Wii character, my Mii, looks a lot like me. She has the same haircut, the same skin tone and even the same eyebrow shape. And while my Mii plays tennis slightly better than I do, I designed her to be a real, virtual me (albeit with balls for hands).

But it turns out I might not have needed to mimic my appearance to let people know what I'm like.

Editor's Note: In a previous version of this page we posted the wrong on-air challenge. The correct on-air challenge for the week is posted below.

On-air challenge: Given a clue, each response is a two-word answer with the first word starting with B-R and the second word starting with R.

Last week's challenge: Take the following 5-word sentence: "THOSE BARBARIANS AMBUSH HEAVIER FIANCEES." These 5 words have something very unusual in common. What is it?

Jenny Slate is a standup comedian, actor and writer who has rocketed to fame with her online film series Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and the movie Obvious Child.

But there are some other famous Jennifers out there; we've invited Slate to play a game called "You're Jenny from the Block" — three questions about J. Lo.

Marvel Comics has provided some of Hollywood's biggest box-office characters ever: The Avengers, the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Spider-Man, all starring in gargantuan special effects blockbusters.

And like every superhero, Marvel Comics has an origin story. It begins in New York City, in 1939.

Two years ago this day, a 23-year-old woman was brutally gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi. Three days later she died from her injuries. The incident pushed millions in the city and all over India to protest the widespread violence against women. The protests led to tougher laws and empowered women to stand up against sexual violence.

And one man was inspired to create a comic book superhero.

Ram Devineni, a New York-based filmmaker, gave life to Priya, a survivor of gang rape who seeks to stop violence against women.

Tristan Walker is successful by anyone's standards: He went to a top-notch prep school, graduated as valedictorian at college, went on to become a trader on Wall Street, earned an MBA at Stanford, and then helped to launch the location app Foursquare.

But what makes Walker so remarkable is that he is one of the few African-Americans to rise up the ranks in Silicon Valley.

Wait Wait is in Austin, Texas this week, and so we've invited country singer Dale Watson to play our quiz. Watson has that true Austin sound — not to mention his own honky-tonk bar.

We've invited Watson to play a game called, "Elementary, my dear Dale!" Three questions about the immortal detective, Sherlock Holmes.

The man behind the most popular female comic book hero of all time, Wonder Woman, had a secret past: Creator William Moulton Marston had a wife — and a mistress. He fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in Rye, N.Y. And the best part? Marston was also the creator of the lie detector.

Harvard professor and New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore reveals this and other surprising details about Marston in the new book The Secret History of Wonder Woman.