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Letters: Leonard Stern And 'Mad Libs'


It's time now for your letters.

And today, one letter in particular. Yesterday, we remembered Leonard Stern, a TV writer who died this week. We focused on one achievement of his outside of TV. He was the co-creator of "Mad Libs." And my colleague Michele Norris and I told the story of the game, with some "Mad Libs" of our own, like this.


"Mad Libs" was very popular with young - and in this case I need a noun.

BLOCK: Crocodiles.

NORRIS: Okay, very popular with crocodiles.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NORRIS: And it sold millions of - another noun, please.

BLOCK: Baseballs.

You get the picture. Well, Karen Uptain(ph), of Birmingham, Alabama, liked our remembrance of Leonard Stern, but she writes: You did it wrong. You're supposed to get the other person to give you the various parts-of-speech answers first, and then you fill in the blanks, which is what makes "Mad Libs" so funny; because without having known the context, the other player's choices end up sounding silly.

So we decided to invite Karen Uptain to join me to play a new round of "Mad Lib." Karen, go ahead. Fire away.

Ms. KAREN UPTAIN: Okay. I need a noun.

BLOCK: Suspenders.

Ms. UPTAIN: Okay, and an adjective.

BLOCK: Fuzzy.

Ms. UPTAIN: A verb.

BLOCK: Schmooze.

Ms. UPTAIN: An adverb.

BLOCK: Smoothly.

Ms. UPTAIN: Another noun.

BLOCK: Paradox.

Ms. UPTAIN: An adjective.

BLOCK: Sweet.

Ms. UPTAIN: A plural noun.

BLOCK: Eyebrows.

Ms. UPTAIN: And another one.

BLOCK: Light bulbs.

Ms. UPTAIN: Okay.

BLOCK: Okay, now our producer is going to bring me in the filled in "Mad Lib" with those words that I just came up with. Here, you ready?

Ms. UPTAIN: Ready.

BLOCK: The subject is talk like a pirate. Here we go.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Ye can always pretend to be a bloodthirsty suspenders, threatening everyone by waving your fuzzy sword in the air. But until you learn to schmooze like a pirate, you'll never be smoothly accepted as an authentic paradox. So here's what you do, cleverly work into your daily conversations sweet pirate phrases such as, Ahoy there, eyebrows. And shiver me light bulbs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: What do you think?

Ms. UPTAIN: Fabulous.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Karen Uptain of Birmingham, Alabama, thanks for playing along with us.

Ms. UPTAIN: You're quite welcome, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.