Things I like recently: fall, pumpkins, eggnog (even if the store is starting eggnog season early), chili, medical care (which I have had far too many opportunities to rely on recently)…

And Says You!. Says You! is a quasi-game show on NPR (meaning the points are almost randomly assigned and don’t mean anything). Instead of recent events (like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me) or general trivia and comedy (like the now sadly defunct Ask Me Another), Says You! focuses on language. Not that there isn’t general trivia — such as occasional questions about movies or music — but mostly around words, words, and more words. Two rounds each game are devoted to “bluffing words” — one person on one side is given the actual definition of an unusual word, and the others on their team have to make up fake definitions. The other team has to figure out which definition is the real one.

I started to listen to this program precisely because of this round. I was hauling stuff to the recycling center, randomly listening to whatever was on KQED, when a word was used which had been submitted by someone I knew. It turns out that she and her husband are frequent contributors (including one week when they wrote the entire week’s game).

I used to listen every Sunday. Then, for some reason, I stopped. By that time I had signed up to get the podcast, so I collected many weeks of programs. There they sat until this week.

Says You! has been getting me through the past week. I am struggling with depression caused by the death of my mother-in-law, the fallout (including an ER visit to make sure that the pain in my leg was a pulled muscle and not a blood clot) from a stupid trip on a sidewalk in Georgia, upcoming very expensive oral surgery (and the fear that it might be the first of many), and general under – the -weatherness.

Listening to back episodes has helped me stretch my brain in the same way that weekly trivia does. It also helps my ego, when I get the answer before the panelists. They’re smart, but not impossibly so. The same people show up every week, so they feel almost like friends. And I learn things. And given that several of the panelists are brilliant punsters, I almost always smile.

I don’t know what I am going to do when I run out of episodes. Maybe by then I’ll feel better.

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