Dolly's Dolls

Nov 20, 2020

Jonathan Coulton plays songs by Dolly Parton re-written to be about actual dolls. Orange is the New Black's Alysia Reiner and Beth Dover prove they know their dolls and Dollys.

Heard on Rachel Bloom: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Sane Current Guest.

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: This is ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and sweater weather. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Thanks, Jonathan. We're playing games with "Orange Is The New Black" stars Alysia Reiner and Beth Dover. OK. Are you ready for your next challenge?

BETH DOVER: Oh, I'm ready. I'm ready.

ALYSIA REINER: Yeah. I'm ready.

EISENBERG: It's a music game called Dolly's Dolls.

COULTON: Yes. We have rewritten Dolly Parton songs to be about famous dolls.

DOVER: OK.

COULTON: So just tell us the doll, the song or whether your mom threw away all of your beloved dolls when you were in middle school.

DOVER: (Laughter) OK.

COULTON: Beth, this is for you.

COULTON: (Singing) Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, I've got some major doubts about your man. Barbie, Barbie, Barbie, Barbie. There's nothing in his pants, so what's his plan?

DOVER: (Laughter) Well, that song is "Jolene."

COULTON: That's correct.

DOVER: And it's the Ken doll.

COULTON: The Ken doll.

EISENBERG: Yes.

DOVER: Woohoo.

EISENBERG: I had 24 Barbies and one Ken. And we were always like, why is Ken even here?

COULTON: (Laughter).

DOVER: Yeah, it's true. It's true.

COULTON: All right, Alysia. Here's one for you.

REINER: OK.

COULTON: (Singing) Here's another one. It's inside another one inside another. These wooden ladies stand strong as the motherland, designed to look like little matron.

REINER: (Singing) Here I go again.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

EISENBERG: Yeah, what a nice voice.

REINER: Thanks. And it's Russian dolls, which I'm obsessed with Russian dolls. I love...

COULTON: Are you really?

REINER: I have Russian doll measuring cups. And they're so cute.

EISENBERG: Oh, yes.

REINER: They're so cute.

COULTON: All right, Beth, this is for you.

(Singing) My hair is made of red yarn and my nose is triangley (ph). I look like I'm homemade, but I am mass-produced, you see. Collectors of nostalgia have a strong interest in me. Oh, I have a brother, Andy, and we both look creepy.

REINER: (Laughter).

DOVER: OK, first of all, Alysia's dog is so cute. Is that your dog barking?

REINER: Yeah.

DOVER: I love it.

REINER: He has a thing for - he has a thing for that doll.

COULTON: He likes Dolly.

DOVER: He has a thing for Dolly Parton. Who doesn't? I love Dolly Parton - obsessed.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

DOVER: That is "Coat Of Many Colors." And those are the...

REINER: Oh.

COULTON: That's correct.

DOVER: Those are the Raggedy Ann dolls.

COULTON: That's right. Yeah.

DOVER: Raggedy Ann and Andy.

REINER: Raggedy Ann and Andy.

COULTON: All right, Alysia, this is for you.

(Singing) It was an '80s craze. It even had some cartoon capers with a close-set gaze and some fake adoption papers. So you wait in line because your kid wants you to buy it, till an angry crowd of parents starts a toy store riot.

REINER: "9 To 5."

COULTON: "9 To 5."

REINER: We'll start there because...

COULTON: That's correct.

REINER: ...Like, a seminal film of my childhood.

COULTON: Me too.

REINER: And Cabbage Patch dolls, which I was not allowed to have one.

DOVER: You weren't? Aw.

REINER: No.

EISENBERG: Me neither. Yeah, why weren't you allowed one? I know I wasn't.

REINER: I wasn't allowed so many things. I wasn't allowed an Easy Bake Oven, which my husband bought me about five years ago...

COULTON: (Laughter).

REINER: ...Because he was like, you should have one, honey. You keep on telling that story about how you weren't allowed one. I'm getting you one.

EISENBERG: And then you realized, your whole life, you did have lightbulbs.

REINER: Exactly.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: And you could've...

REINER: It was so disappointing.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: All right, Beth. Here's one for you.

DOVER: All right.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

COULTON: (Singing) It's a big hot dog, comes inside a shell. What is underneath, that's a true appeal. All the packaging, the unboxing part - and we can watch it on YouTube, uh-huh.

DOVER: OK, it's "Islands In The Stream." That I know.

COULTON: It is.

DOVER: And they're some unboxing videos?

COULTON: That's right, they are. Unboxing videos are very popular with this doll.

DOVER: I don't know. Shelly shell. Shelly shell shells.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Shelly shell shells is correct.

DOVER: Woo-hoo (ph).

COULTON: No, it is not. It is not. It is not correct. No, this doll is called L.O.L. Surprise.

DOVER: Never heard of it.

REINER: Yeah, that's a new one for me.

EISENBERG: I think they appeal to, like, 5-year-olds because I have friends with little girls who are obsessed with these toys.

DOVER: OK.

COULTON: Oh, you - so you have them in your life. You have seen these dolls.

EISENBERG: I've seen them. I've seen them.

COULTON: All right, Alysia, last one. It's for you.

REINER: OK.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

COULTON: (Singing) On you, I will pray. You can't keep my - my spirit at bay. Hair is red. Want you dead. And for me, it's just like child's play. And I am going to kill you.

REINER: "I'll Always Love You."

COULTON: Correct.

REINER: Chucky.

COULTON: Chucky - that's absolutely right.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

DOVER: Chucky.

REINER: Chucky. And I've never even seen the movie. But I still had nightmares about it.

COULTON: Nor have I, but I feel as though I don't need to.

REINER: Yeah, yeah.

COULTON: Feel like I've got a...

REINER: Clearly, it's in my lexicon. That's all I need to know.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Yeah, me too.

COULTON: I'm already afraid of a doll that comes alive and tries to kill me.

REINER: Exactly. I've had many...

COULTON: So I don't need to watch further.

REINER: (Laughter) I've had many nightmares, and I've never even seen it. Yeah.

COULTON: (Laughter) Exactly right.

DOVER: It's very meta.

EISENBERG: Again, we found out that you know basically all your toys. Definitely all your Dolly Parton, though.

DOVER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

EISENBERG: The best.

DOVER: The best, yes.

EISENBERG: You did amazing. Alysia Reiner, Beth Dover - thank you so much for joining us.

REINER: Thank you.

DOVER: Thank you for having us. This was so fun.

REINER: So fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: Alysia and Beth both starred in "Orange Is The New Black" on Netflix, and Alysia is a member of the Resistance Revival Chorus. Their album "This Joy" is available now.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.