Thursday, September 1, 2016

jimjustplaying

THE SOCRATIC METHOD?

As Socrates famously wrote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." One would well posit  that the unchallenged life is not worth living.  Or, if it is,  not as satisfying.

Most of my music-related activity since leaving the Air Force Band in late 1969 has been as an author and critic, my playing restricted solely to playing along with records at home.

Soloist Jim Szantor as lead alto David Bixler gives the cutoff on the final chord.

But that changed on Aug. 11 when I performed as a guest soloist on clarinet with the fabled Birch Creek Jazz Orchestra, a big band made up of some of the best jazz players in the country, comprising as they do the faculty that teaches the students who come to Egg Harbor in Door County for two-week sessions of intensive training and performance opportunities.  It's sort of a musical boot camp but with kindly but highly decorated instructors.  

My feature spot was "Ballad for Benny" a tune written by the late, great jazz composer and saxophonist Oliver Nelson, who was commissioned by Benny Goodman to write new material for the band's historic 1962 tour of the Soviet Union.   It was such a  significant cultural/political event back then that Walter Cronkite often led the CBS Nightly News with the band's latest exploits.

The 17-piece Birch Creek Jazz Orchestra prior to my introduction.


This tune was recorded by the Oliver Nelson Orchestra (with the great Phil Woods in a rare outing on clarinet instead of his usual lustrous alto sax) but never performed publicly in this country--till now.  If you do an internet search on some of the illustrious players in the band behind me --Dennis Mackrel, Clay Jenkins, Doug Stone, David Bixler, Tanya Darby, to name a few--you'll see why I'm so proud to have been selected to perform with them.


Part of the evening's program.
It was an oppressively muggy night (close to 100 percent humidity) in the un-air-conditioned hall, making intonation more of a challenge than usual. It took some months of chipping away at the rust that had accumulated over the years on my woodwind chops, but I was determined to have one last dance, so to speak, with the idiom that I have loved for a lifetime.  To paraphrase the late Karl Wallenda of the famed aerial troupe The Flying Wallendas, "Life is the bandstand.  The rest is just waiting."  

Luckily for me, the wait is over.



jimjustselling . . .


(Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are. And they're now offering FREE SHIPPING IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S. 
https://henschelhausbooks.com/product/lol-i-gags/


The book is also available at:

CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENTS

What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:
--"The one thing I didn't delete from my private server."--Hillary Clinton
--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump
--"Jim is obviously making a name for himself--Mr. Irrelevant!"--Don Rickles
--"Jimaschizzle!"--Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)
--"The one thing I DO read!"--Sarah Palin
--"The most fun you can have with your clothes on (but DO take a shower afterwards)."--Dick Cavett

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • "Nalt8st," "lan5kl," and "tiff3lr."  (Those were just the latest "verification words" I had to type in to e-mail news stories and columns to family and friends.  Do not adjust your computer. Thank you.)
  • Hey, Larry King:  Maybe marriage No. 8 will be the charm!  (Name all seven of Larry's wives and win valuable prizes!)
  • Morning in America: Larry is doing infomercials, Burt Reynolds is reportedly broke and wasting away and an Olympic Gold Medal swimmer makes up a cockamamie story about being robbed at gunpoint.  Donald Trump in the White House?  Fits right in!
  • I’m having trouble mastering the art of stir-frying.  I can talk the talk, but I can’t wok the wok.
  • More food for thought:
  • You know you've ordered some bad Chinese takeout when the fortune cookie contains a coupon for Pepto-Bismol!   (Best fortune cookie seen in quite some time:  "You always have the right answers; they just sometimes ask the wrong questions.")
  • There has been a lot in the news lately about the alleged discovery of Col. Sanders' secret "11 herbs and spices" recipe.   Which reminds me of my college days:  I was so poor, I used to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken to lick other people's fingers!"
  • I have no problem with Walmart greeters, but they should call them what they mostly resemble: Cardboard cutouts.  
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Richard NIxon played the lead role in a school producton of 'The Aeneid'?"
  • Best health-related news of the summer:  Flossing doesn't do much good, if any.   Dentists will now have to lecture us about--what?--earwax, perhaps.  (Don't worry--they'll find something.)
  • Rumors that Rush Limbaugh once played professional volleyball are just that--rumors.  
  • You can tell a lot about a person by his or her ringtone, their choice of socks and how they eat corn on the cob.
  • Some people love to point out that even the best baseball players--those who hit about .300--succeed only 3 times out of 10.  Meaning, they always love to add, that they fail 7 times out of 10.
  • A good thing, don't you think?  You think the games are long now? Think how long they'd last if they succeeded 7 times out of 10! 
  • (Wife:  "Jim, do you think we can go pretty soon--it's the 43rd inning!" Jim:  "Aw--let's stay just two more times through the batting order.  I wanna see if they can score 30 runs this inning. Could be a record!")
  • Speaking of baseball, I really had self-esteem problems growing up. I mean, I used to fantasize about striking out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning!
  • People who use a credit card for a $3 fastfood purchase are in need of counseling but probably can't afford it.
  • They've had poker tournaments on TV for some time now.  Chances of bridge, canasta and bid whist popping up on the airwaves?  Not good.
  • I wonder:  Do they have Casual Friday at the U.S. Supreme Court?   
  • Seventy-fifth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Rio Creek, Wis.. (R.I.P., Ronald B. Wendricks, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, April 1, 2016).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes, Krakow,  Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman,  Spruce, Armstrong Creek, Lake Gogebic, North Chase, Navarino, Pequot Lakes and Buchanan.
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month: Dancing Bob. As in Robert "Dancing Bob" Lehnert,, Green Bay Press-Gazette, June 25, 2016.  R.I.P., Mr. Lehnert.
  • jimjustsaying's Words That Don't Exist But Should of the Month (courtesy of "More Sniglets" by Rich Hall & Friends): 
  •  --Malibugaloo: n. A dance that affects barefoot beachgoers on hot summer days. 
  • --Magnagram: n. Any sign that takes on new meaning when a magnetic letter falls off.
  • --Kawashock. n. Pulling into the last remaining parking spot only to discover a motorcycle there
  • I'm firmly against the death penalty except for fraudulent users of handicapped parking spaces, wealthy defaulters on student loans and people who leave huge puddles of water in front of their gym lockers.
  • Is there some kind of rule that says every protest group's chant has to begin with "Hey-hey, ho-ho . . ."?  
  • Three words you commonly see in print but never hear anyone actually use: "Cavort,"  "nimble" and "splendid."
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Ego sententia nos erant in haud dico album! ("Hey, I thought we were on the no-call list!")

THE QUOTE RACK

Imagining a left-wing Trump
Republicans face an excruciating choice in 2016.  Get behind their own party’s mortifying nominee or cede the White House to a deeply despised rival.   What if Democrats were confronted with that same dilemma, and a left-wing wackadoo like, say, Sean Penn had managed to win the nomination with his fiery rhetoric and sympathy for the oppressed working class?

 Let’s further posit that his opponent was conservative ideologue Ted Cruz.  Would most Democrats willingly cede the White House to, say, Ted Cruz if it meant keeping Sean Penn away from the levers of power?  Or would they find a way to justify voting for Penn, even if he’s clearly unfit for the presidency by experience and temperament?

 I’ve asked Democratic friends to put themselves in this scenario, and they make the exact same excuses that Republicans have been making for supporting Trump: Penn would at least surround himself with "good people," they say, and fill Supreme Court vacancies with justices who share their views.  If Penn were running, most Democrats and the Democratic National Committee would undoubtedly back him out of sheer partisanship.  So, my Democratic friends,  don’t be so contemptuous of Republicans who reluctantly support Donald Trump.
--Seth Stevenson, Slate.com

An opening for third-party candidates
Donald Trump is the best thing that ever happened to the Libertarian Party.  In destroying the Republican Party from within, Trump is showing that it’s possible for national candidates to defy the political establishment  and is blazing a new trail for third-party candidates like Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

In recent decades, the number of Americans who identify closely with either the Democratic or Republican party has continued to dwindle, with more than 40 percent now identifying as independents; the old coalitions on which the parties once depended--such as socially conservative Christians and Wall Street bankers--have crumbled.  Yet  the ideologies and policy platforms  of both parties remain stuck in the past, serving fewer and fewer people.

The incoherent, backward-looking Trump  is not the future of anything, but in expressing the frustration of millions of Americans, he has revealed the bankruptcy of the mainstream GOP.  Bernie Sanders came very close to doing the same to the Democratic Party.  The lesson of 2016 is that we need a new operating system for politics in the 21st Century.  Now it’s up to us Libertarians to put forth candidates who can actually win elections.
--Nick Gillespie, Reason.com

Putin’s next cyberattack on democracy
Warning: Russia isn’t done trying to influence our presidential election.  U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that hackers working for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government were behind the release of embarrassing emails from the Democratic National Committee, and have also broken into the computer systems of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Clearly, Putin intends to disrupt the very core of our democratic proces--and our election systems and our voting machines could be vulnerable to a similar attack.  Many states now use electronic voting machines connected to the internet; sophisticated hackers could gain entry to these machines and change vote tallies.

To sow chaos before or on Election Day, hackers could also delete electronic voter records and paralyze polling places.   "October surprises" of leaked emails or personal information may also be coming.  The federal government and the states had better take this threat seriously, ramp up their cyberdefenses, and back up all electronic records with paper audit trails.  We also have to make it clear to Putin that we will not tolerate this kind of interference.  The integrity of our presidential election may depend on it.
--Bruce Schneier, Washington Post

Why aren’t  . . .
Hillary Clinton just became the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party. So why is the response so oddly muted? Young women take Clinton for granted. For them, the struggle for women to be taken seriously in a male--dominated world, and to get elected to public office, is ancient history, like World War I.  They can’t appreciate what it took for Clinton to escape her husband’s shadow and--after he’d humiliated her--forge her own political career. Many older women also don’t like Hillary, viewing her as an entitled opportunist who cuts corners and gets away with it.  Maybe the transformative nature of Clinton’s achievement won’t sink in until Inauguration Day, when a woman "=will stand alone, her hand on the Bible, as the new leader of the Western world.
--Eleanor Clift, TheDailyBeast.com

. . . more women  . . . 
Eight years of the first black president has killed off hopes for transformative change. Barack Obama’s fervent supporters were certain his election would be a mark of racial healing, a sign of how far we have come as a country. Instead, we’ve seen the further rise of identity politics and tribalism, and the perception that race relations are worse than they have been in more than two decades.  No wonder Hillary’s nomination isn’t raising Obamian expectations about gender.  Besides, her nomination will have a negligible effect on the lives of American women. It’s not news that women can seek high office--see Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina--or run a major corporation like IBM, GM, or PepsiCo.  In 2016, it shouldn’t be necessary for a dreadful politician to take the next step in her dreadful career for little girls to realize they can live their dreams.
--BenDomenech, TheFederalist.com

 . . . excited about Hillary?
Every time I say, "Wow, this is meaningful," some sour Republican or Sanders supporter tells me not to get excited about Clinton’s nomination. These naysayers then complain about something Clinton did wrong in 1998, or call her a warmonger or complain about her emails for the 500th time. By no means do I approve of everything Hillary has ever done. But because of her grit, intelligence, and determination, a woman is now poised to step into a job held by men for more than two centuries. Regardless of how you feel about her, recognize the significance of this moment. It will not come again.
--Melissa Batchelor Warnke, Los Angeles Times

Alcohol may cause cancer
A daily glass of red wine may lower heart disease risk, but new research presents stronger evidence that alcohol is a direct cause of at least seven forms of cancer.  Promotion of health benefits from drinking at moderate levels is seen increasingly as disingenuous or irrelevant in comparison to the increase in risk of a range of cancers.  An analysis of recent research found that alcohol might cause cancers of the mouth and throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, bowel, and breast.  The more people drink, the worse the odds, reports HuffingtonPost.com.  Even small amounts of alcohol aren’t risk-free, the analysis reveals.  Exactly how alcohol causes cancer remains unclear.  Researchers suspect a compound called acetaldehyde, which forms when alcohol is digested, might damage cellular DNA.  Alcohol could also increase the body’s vulnerability to carcinogens and raise estrogen levels in women, increasing their risk for breast cancer.
--Study author Jennie Connor, University of Otago (New Zealand)

A map of the human brain
Neuroscientists have been forced to rely on a relatively rough diagram of the human brain to perform delicate surgeries or research treatments for debilitating disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.  But a new map created at Washington University in St. Louis is being hailed as a milestone, providing the most detailed picture yet of the cerebral cortex--the brain’s outermost layer involved in language, consciousness, and problem solving.  The brilliantly colored image reveals 180 distinct areas within this wrinkled mass of gray matter, including 97 that were previously unknown, CNN.com reports.

The map was created using MRI scans of 210 healthy adult brains at rest and brains performing simple tasks.  Researchers drew lines around specific regions of the cerebral cortex based on their structure, function, and connectivity with other parts of the brain.  The map provides neuroscientists with a "typical" brain template that could shed light on how the mind is affected by disorders like dementia, autism, and epilepsy.  "You know what maps of the world looked like in 1500 and you know what they looked like in 1950?" asks National Institute of Mental Health’s Dr. Greg Farber. "I think, in terms of resolution and quality, we moved from 1500 to 1950."
--The Week

Why the millennials . . .
Sam Wei, a 26-year-old financial analyst in Chicago, has not had sex since her last relationship ended 18 months ago.  She now prefers cuddling to sex.  Noah Patterson, 18, is a virgin.  He likes watching porn, but isn’t interested in actual sex.  From what he’s seen, he says, "there isn’t really anything magical about it, right?" Wei and Patterson aren’t as unusual as they sound. A surprising new study published by the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that about 15 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds have not had sex since turning 18--way up from 6 percent in the early 1990s.  These younger Millennials also reported fewer sexual partners than any group since the 1960s--an average of eight, compared with 11 for the Baby Boomers.  It turns out Generation Hookup may not be hooking up as much as people thought.
--Tara Bahrampour, Washington Post

 . . . aren't  . . .
Blame the internet.  Many Millennials say they don’t want to compete in the "swipe right" culture of dating apps like Tinder, where potential sexual partners are pursued or dismissed on the basis of a single photo.  At the same time, young males have also allowed themselves to be virtually emasculated by porn and video games.  Many play video games for up to 30 hours a week, while ubiquitous porn has rewired their brains to respond only to kinky images they summon at will, so they’re intimidated or bored by real-life women.  A lot of Millennials are also too poor to hook up, said Samantha Allen in TheDailyBeast.com. Nearly one-third still live at home to save costs. While parents’ basements might be rent-free, they "do not make for great boom boom rooms."
--Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, TheWeek.com

 . . . having sex
Every new generation, it seems, is blamed for getting sex wrong.  In the 1960s, parents panicked over the "rowdy sexual revolution"; in the 1980s, there was legitimate alarm over AIDS.  Now we’re worried 20-somethings aren’t having enough sex.  But what’s wrong with resisting the social pressure to have sex if you don’t really want to?  Millennials also deserve credit for practicing safer sex than their predecessors, and having a much firmer grasp of the principle of consent.  If anything, we should spend less time worrying about Millennials’ sex lives and more time following the models they seem to be pioneering.
--Stephanie Coontz, Washington Post

Can 'Obamacare'  . . . 
 Obamacare does have real problems,  but nothing that couldn’t be fairly easily fixed with a bit of bipartisan cooperation.  Raising subsidies, for instance, would entice more customers onto the exchanges.  So would raising the penalties for going without insurance. Republicans, however, want the program to fail.  Perhaps it’s time for Democrats to bring back the public option,  which was dropped during the Obamacare negotiations to appease purple-state Democrats and insurers. If insurers are going to abandon the exchanges anyway, why not let the government step in?
--Paul Krugman, New York Times

 . . . be fixed?
That possibility is just one of the reasons Republicans shouldn’t be gloating over Obamacare’s struggles.  Another is that  they offer no replacement plan that comes anywhere close  to the 20 million people who’ve gained coverage through Obamacare, including its Medicaid expansion provision.  After this presidential election, Republicans need to stop seizing on every minor setback to declare Obamacare doomed. Meanwhile, Democrats have to  stop pretending everything’s fine and offer some very concrete fixes--or watch their  signature legislative achievement fall apart.
--Jim Newell, Slate​.com

The dilemma  . . .
The world finds itself transfixed by the haunting image of a Syrian child brutalized by war.  After an airstrike [recently] leveled his home in rebel-held Aleppo, Omran Daqneesh, 5, was pulled from the rubble, caked in blood and dust, gazing at the camera with the numbness of a combat veteran.   He instantly became the face of a five-year civil war that has killed 500,000 Syrians--and a symbol of America’s paralysis in the face of evil.  Three years ago, President Obama failed to honor a vow to punish Syria’s war criminal president, Bashar al-Assad, for gassing civilians.  Since then, the nightmares have multiplied: ISIS established a caliphate in Syria that has exported terrorism worldwide; millions of Syrian refugees have shattered European unity; and Assad, backed by Russian warplanes, barrel-bombs Aleppo with horrifying regularity.  Now we shed empty tears for Omran while the Obama administration and the rest of the West do nothing to stem  the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st Century.
--Noah Rothman, Commentary​Magazine.com

 . . . regarding Syria
But what can we do?  Many critics of U.S. policy insist that we should back  moderate, secular rebels and attempt to overthrow Assad.  But that premise is based on an illusion.  In reality, the major anti-Assad forces are all anti-American Islamists.  Al Qaida runs Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest); Fatah Halab (Aleppo Conquest) is riddled with jihadists; and the Free Syrian Army has been co-opted by the Muslim Brotherhood, which advocates a totalitarian sharia government.  I am far from an isolationist  but intervening to put Islamists in power would be foolish.
--Andrew McCarthy, NationalReview.com. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Who keeps sneaking into my desk drawer and hooking all the paper clips together?   (Probably the same guy who makes sure there's at least one green potato chip in every bag!)
  • Planned obsolescence will never go out of style.
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Month:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that researchers at MIT revealed that virtually every story in human literature—from King Lear to "The Hangover"—is based on one of just six core plots that form the building blocks of complex narratives?"  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but I'm confident you'll find a way.)
  • Morning in America.  Does anyone really miss Newsweek (which folded its print edition at the end of 2012)?  It's weird--not to mention sad--when a pretty good, long-standing magazine disappears and no one seems to care.  Or even notice.  (If a magazine fails in a forest . . . .)
  • Something tells me that the increase in the minimum wage has The Law of Unintended Consequences written all over it.   
  • "One starts to get young at 60, and then it’s too late."-- Pablo Picasso
  • Why are veterinarians so-called?  Shouldn't we call them peterinarians?
  • "You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you. If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s."--Writer and mythologist Joseph Campbell, quoted in ABCNews.com
  • We hear about political upheaval all the time.  Downheaval?  Not so much.
  • What is your favorite Labor of Hercules?  For me, it's hard to beat Number Seven (of the Twelve): "Capture the Cretan Bull."
  • This savage bull, kept by King Minos of Crete, was said to be insane and breathe fire. Hercules wrestled the mad beast to the ground and brought it back to King Eurystheus. Unfortunately, the king set it free, and it roamed Greece, causing terror wherever it went.
  • (Any free-associative thoughts you may have had of Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un are purely uncoincidental.)
  • This being an election year, that means you'll be hearing the word "candidate" pronounced "candidit" about 11,00 times.
  • Best way to speed up the baseball games that many people say are "too long":  No more unlimited foul balls.  After the second strike is established (no matter if by swinging strike, called strike or foul ball), the batter would be allowed two foul balls.  The third?  You're outta there.  No more 15-pitch at-bats!
  • Why aren't "Going out of business" sales called Grand Closings?
  • It's weird, the food-related names that are part of our computer universe:  Spam, hash (as in hashtag), menu . . . .  But where did the ubiquitous "glitch" come from?   (Not sure I'd eat it even if it existed.)
  • I have only some of my computer files stored in the cloud, so you could say I'm only partly cloudy.
  • "I'm sure wherever my dad is, he's looking down on us.  He's not dead.  Just very condescending."--Jack Whitehall
  • Memo to media (print, especially):  Just say "bar" or "tavern." "Watering hole" wasn't all that clever to begin with and has been overused to a nauseating extent.  And not that many people order a round of water!  
  • "It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."--Lewis Carroll, "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland"
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  Speedy.  As in David L. "Speedy" Gapen,  Kenosha (Wis.) News,, May 13, 2016.  R.I.P., Mr. Gapen.
  • Seventy-fourth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Buchanan, Wis.. (R.I.P., Anna Marie Hoes, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, April 1, 2016).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes, Krakow,  Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman,  Spruce, Armstrong Creek, Lake Gogebic, North Chase, Navarino and Pequot Lakes.
  • Danish Philospher Quote o' the Week:  "Life must be lived forwards but can only be understood backwards."-- Soren Kierkegaard
  • Do sheep shrink when it rains?  (They probably smell bad all the time, so the rain is largely irrelevant.)
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should of the Month:  "Tatercrater":  The hole dug in mashed potatoes to keep the gravy in.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe" (Rich Hall & Friends)
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Operor illa pardus planto meus tergum terminus vultus pinguis? ("Do these pants make my rear end look fat?")

Friday, July 1, 2016

POPCORN

By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations 
about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • I don't wish her any ill, but if Cher doesn't die fairly soon, the National Enquirer's credibility is going to be completely shot!
  • Think about it:  How is our ineffectual grid-locked government going to mend our infrastructure, manage climate change, reform gun laws and handle all the other monumental challenges facing us when they can't even phase out the penny--something many people agree should have been done at least 10 years ago?  That's a walk in the park compared to the other stuff, yet we can't even get to first base with that!   Not encouraging.
  • TV talker of the past I miss the most:  Tom Snyder 
  • Terror talk.  Why terrorists  seem to encounter little or no resistance when they attack in airports, nightclubs, etc.:  Ever seen a security guard who looks like a super-fit Navy SEALs type whose presence made you feel safe and ultra-secure?  I doubt it.  Most of them look like bored, out-of--shape clockwatchers who probably aren't well paid and don't enjoy their work.  I'mjustsayin' . . . .
  • Benghazi hearing takeaway:  There will never be a (U.S. Rep.) Trey Gowdy Lookalike Contest.
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that a computer at the University of Central Michigan discovered the largest prime number: 274,207,281 – 1.  It consists of more than 22 million digits and is only divisible by 1 and itself and that writing the number by hand would take three months and require 7,000 sheets of paper?"
  • You're an old-timer if you can remember taking film canisters to the drug or photo store to get your pictures developed.
  • Best reader comment on a Wall St. Journal story on the Texas Rangers wanting to replace the stadium they built in the early 1990s with a new one:  "Professional sports [are] games played by millionaires on teams owned by billionaires in stadiums financed by taxpayers."
  • Speaking of sports, how is it that sportswriters with two years on the job can vote for the baseball Hall of Fame but Vin Scully can't?  He's only been broadcasting Dodgers games for 67 years and is widely considered the gold standard of baseball announcers!  Time to tweak the old parchment about HOF voting qualifications?
  • You know you’ve had too much to drink when you twist the cap off that last bottle of beer . . . and discover it wasn’t a twist-off-cap bottle of beer!  
  • I'm trying to get rid of most of the superfluous, "bloatware" apps on my iPhone.   In other words, I've got app-oplexy.
  • "The GOP would love to drop Trump now because it prefers a candidate in the party’s more subtle racist traditions."--Maureen Dowd, New York Times
  • Who invented podcasts?  You know something is of marginal value when no one has ever taken credit for it.
  • Why do people always badmouth neighboring states?  Are the people in them really that different?  Don't people make exceptions for friends or relatives living there?  You'd think there were ambushes, bombings and beheadings at the state lines the way some people talk.  (Wait, that's probably not as far-fetched as I thought it was when I first wrote it.)
  • Faded phrases:  When was the last time you put on your best bib and tucker, cut a mean rug and then peeled out in your jalopy?  
  • You've probably heard about a dating service called It's Just Lunch. Well, in today's hyperactive, short-attention-span world, even lunch is too long an encounter or commitment for some people.  So herewith jimjustsaying's new dating service:  It's Just Water Cooler. Because, let's face it, you can usually tell in the first minute or two if you want to spend a third minute with that person.
  • I have no idea what a "meme" is and have an inkling that it's a faddish word 99 percent of the population can do without.  
  • "For decades, entertainers have been able to maintain custody of their image, regardless of their conduct.  Many had entire crews of dust busters who came behind them and cleaned up their messes. Those days are history.  It doesn’t really matter now what the courts or the press do or decide.  When enough evidence and pushback rears into view, a new apparatus takes over, one that is viral, relentless and not going to forgive or forget."--David Carr, New York Times ,on the Bill Cosby controversy.
  • Well said.  Anyone who has become enmeshed in a high-profile sex scandal is going to have their obituary lead with that, even if that person had brokered a lasting peace in the Middle East and invented a low-cost, foolproof cure for cancer and the common cold.
  • jimjustsaying's Click Bait Topic of the Month: "22 celebrities with a body part you don't know about."
  • The Brave New World of Cheating, Thai division:  A top medical school voided the results of an entrance exam after prospective students were caught cheating with hidden cameras and smartwatches, The Week reported. 
  • The rector of Rangsit University said three students used glasses with cameras embedded in the frames to send test questions to people outside the exam room, who then transmitted answers to the students’ smartwatches. 
  • The reaction?  On social media, some Thais expressed admiration for the cheaters’ ingenuity. “Like Hollywood or Mission Impossible,” wrote one.   
  • Is anyone surprised by that reaction, given that the cheating is pretty tame compared to the sex slavery that Thailand is synonyous with?
  • "It's not what they say about you, it's what they whisper."--Errol Flynn
  • Seventy-third Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Navarino. (R.I.P., Betty Marie Tischler, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, March 16, 2016).  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato, Florence, Greenleaf, Eaton, Poygan, Hofa Park, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes, Krakow,  Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman,  Spruce, Armstrong Creek, Lake Gogebic, North Chase and Pequot Lakes.
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month: Tubby.  As in Everett Lee "Tubby"Hall,  Kenosha (Wis.) News,, May 13, 2016. R.I.P., Mr. Hall.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Haud, muneris, illic nusquam in vehiculum vos postulo ut fatigo super. ("No, officer, there's nothing in the car you need to be concerned about.")