Friday, February 26, 2010


. . . Signs You Bought a Cheap Computer
10--Tech-support team is 100 percent Amish!
 9--Comes complete with a Dual Hamster Processor!
 8--Boasts an industry-first 30-minute warranty.
 7--Drop-down menu says No Substitutions.
 6--Web designer thinks DVD is a sexually transmitted disease.
 5--Only notebook choice is spiral-bound.
 4--“Gigabytes? We call ’em giggle bytes!”
 3--Comes complete with 10 megabytes of selective memory.
 2--Screen is 100 percent mesh.
 1--CEO thinks Blu-Ray is your weird cousin from Kentucky.
Copyright  2010 Jim Szantor

Monday, February 22, 2010



Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical musings on the absurdities of contemporary life.
  • I brought “a dish to pass” to the church potluck supper.  Nothing on it—just the dish. 
  • The worst part about a snowstorm is all the flakes you run into on the road--if you get my drift.
  • The Academy Awards will rise in my esteem when they emulate the Pulitzer Prizes in this respect:  Weak field in a given category?  The winner is:  No one.  Last time it happened?  There was no Pulitzer Drama winner in 1997, no History winner in 1994 and no Fiction winners in 1971, ’74 and ’77.  But somebody always wins in Tinsel Town, quality notwithstanding.
  • My nominee for Best Song ever written by an Oscar winner:  “Smile,” by Charlie Chaplin, written for his 1936 film “Modern Times.” Lyrics were added (by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons) in 1954, the year the best-known version, by Nat “King” Cole, made the charts. “Smile” has been recorded by singers ranging from Jerry Lewis to Eric Clapton.
  • The global village hits home:  The thumb drive I just bought came with instructions in—count ’em—18 languages.
  • Overheard:  “I have a friend who made a small fortune by investing a large fortune.”
  • Sad commentary No. 154 on contemporary society:  More people can name the members of the Packers Hall of Fame than can name more than two members of the current U.S. Supreme Court. That’s troubling.  Very troubling.
  • Where were all the “Idiot’s Guides” when I was only a young idiot?  When I was in my Idiot Infancy?
  • The trouble with the “Idiot’s Guides” is that the real idiots don’t think they need them.  They don’t think they need anything.  That’s why they’re idiots.
  • Closed-captioning Gaffe of the Week, seen on a Fox News Channel weather segment:  “Lag-effect snow.”
  • My favorite Ring Lardner line:  “Shut up,” he explained.
  • Memo to gossip columnists, features editors and TV tabloid people everywhere:  There’s no such person as “Brangelina,” so stop using it immediately.  And it wasn’t even clever the first 5,000 times you’ve used it.
  • Would anyone be surprised if PETA objected to the rating of engines in horsepower?  Who know, perhaps they already have!
  • How do we know that some (most?) of the jobs “created” by some of these government stimulus bills (high-speed rail, etc.) won’t be performed by people who are already “employed”  (construction work being the seasonal, sporadic beast that it is).  Thus I’m skeptical about how many of the really unemployed/unemployable people will benefit from these projects.
  • I’ve never worn a toupee, an ascot or spats, and I don’t care who knows it. 
  • Memo to guys 60-plus who don’t have a single gray hair showing:  We’re not fooled.
  • Why do people tailgate only at sports events?  Why not before PTA meetings?  Church services?  City council meetings? Is there a law against it?
  • Three words not likely to be heard in a commercial:  “No restrictions apply.”
  • Tipping makes absolutely no sense in some cases. Why tip a bartender for opening a bottle of beer or pouring a shot of whiskey?  I always feel sorry for the person who has the back-breaking, knuckle-bruising job of collecting the carts at the grocery store--a real joy, I’m sure, when there’s foot of slush on the ground. That’s someone who deserves a tip, not someone working in a heated or air-conditioned lounge while music is playing and fresh popcorn is an arm’s length away. 
  • Today‘s Latin lesson:  Noli me vocare, ego te vocabo.  (“Don‘t call me, I‘ll call you.”)
  • The first time I heard the words “hamburger helper,” I thought they were talking about McDonald’s employees!
  • I love how TV news people (and talk show hosts) plan my evenings for me, as in:  “Good night, we’ll see you tomorrow.”  Excuse me?  How about, “Thanks for watching; please tune us in tomorrow.”
  • These presumptions are often followed by a an announcer’s voice inviting us to “Stay tuned for an all-new Tonight Show with Jay Leno . .. .”  Are there any partially new “Tonight Shows”!
  • I'm so old, when I was born the Dead Sea was still on life support!
  • Redundancy patrol:  “Focus in,” “continue on,” “past experience.”
  • I’ve lost so much weight, my stomach moved and left no forwarding address!  I know where it used  be . . . but I have no idea where it is now!
  • Parting shot: There’s a world of difference between being called “an interesting person” and being called “a person of interest.”
As always, please remember that I don't always agree with everything I say.



Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of modern life:
  • Why don’t doctors and dentists ever have sales?  Everyone else does, from department stores to auto-repair places.
  • So how about a little March Madness at the cardiologist’s?  “For a limited time only, bypass three ventricles, get the fourth ventricle ABSOLUTELY FREE!  And no payments till 2014!  But you must call now . . . .”
  • Got your President’s Day activities all planned yet?  (If there’s ever a Vice President’s Day, you’ll still have to go to work . . . but you wouldn’t have to do anything.)
  • What‘s unique about “It’s All in the Game,” a 1958 hit record for Tommy Edwards?  It’s the only No. 1 pop single co-written by a U.S. vice president. Lyricist Carl Sigman put words to “Melody in A Major,” composed in 1911 by Charles Dawes, who in addition to being Calvin Coolidge’s VP was also an amateur pianist and flutist (and a Chicago banker before his political career).  Who else would tell you these things?
  • Two “media words,” words you see/hear only on TV or read in newspapers but never hear any real person use:  “embattled” and “embroiled.”
  • It’s hard to pick the most annoying TV commercial ever, but near the top are the ones in which the pitchman (or pitchwoman) knocks on the ‘inside” of the TV screen to get your attention.  I make it a point not to buy products featured in those commercials.
  • I think I could stand it if I never ever heard another commercial touting Free Credit Report Dot Com. (Whose credit report, by the way, isn’t exactly free!  But “Not Exactly Free Credit Report Dot Com” isn’t as tuneful, I guess.)
  • Today’s Latin lesson:  Die dulci fruere.  (Have a nice day.)
  • Cultural priorities run amok:  Seeing TV sports anchors not only interviewing but hanging on the every word of high school (or even younger) athletes.  It has come to this!  I don’t think the New York Times even covers prep sports, which is as it should be.  Name a newspaper that reviews high school plays or band concerts.  And which is harder, playing the oboe or kicking a soccer ball?
  • The Brewers have signed Doug Davis, a lefty starter, giving them three southpaw starters for next season.  Wow. That leaves only two northpaws!
  •  According to a recent news report, a high percentage of Americans can’t find Afghanistan on a map.  Well, now . . . although this does not inspire pride or confidence, I’m more concerned about our government’s inability to find Osama Bin-Laden than I am appalled about the map-reading deficiencies of our citizenry.  Bring the 9-11 shot-caller to justice; then we can start thinking about remedial geography lessons for our long-suffering, taxed-to-the-max electorate.
  • Speaking of fugitives: Why are there no Wanted posters on display at the post office anymore?  Has the FBI caught everyone?  Do any criminals feel positively unwanted?  Is there a support group for them?
  • How many times have we heard someone say, “It’s too cold to snow”?  (Right; those blizzards at the South Pole when it’s 80 below zero are strictly an optical illusion!)
  • Grammy Awards Pop Quiz: Quick now, who is the latest winner in the Polka category?  (If anyone should know that, it should be a Wisconsin resident.) This just in:  The Polka category was eliminated from the Grammys entirely.  That should rile the geriatric demographic, no?  Where are the Grey Panthers when we really need them!  (Answer: Probably worrying about more urgent matters--such as cuts in Social Security and Medicare!)
  • Endangered species, language division: “Hooligans,” “riff raff,” “hoosegow.”
  • Remember when you went to buy orange juice and didn’t have 37 choices confronting you?  Lots of Pulp, Some Pulp, No Pulp, From Concentrate, Not From Concentrate, Fortified with Calcium, Fortified with Vitamins D and E.  (Not labeled just yet:  Toxic and Non-Toxic!)
  •  And how about the seemingly endless variety of Hershey bars and Hershey’s Kisses. (I wonder if they make a special one for the Hollywood market: the Hershey Air Kiss!)
  • Pssst.  I once had a secret crush in grade school, but now I’m so old, I can’t even remember her name. (Boy, it’s really a secret now, isn’t it?  I mean, the secret’s even safe with me!)
  • Euphemism of the Decade: "Detainee."  You’re still locked up, deprived, maybe even tortured/water-boarded on a daily basis.  But you’re not a prisoner, see?  You’re just being detained.  What a comfort that must be.
  • Why does the stapler seem to choose your busiest moments to run out of staples?  (By the way, the last box I bought contained enough staples for at least 10 lifetimes, should anyone need to borrow some.)
  • Closed-caption Gaffe of the Week:  “Criminal-mistress charges” instead of “criminal-mischief charges.”  (Once again, thank you, Fox News Channel, still the leader in the clubhouse in the Closed-Captioning Gaffe Open.)
  • What’s the difference between a geezer, an old coot and an old codger?  Between a spinster and an old biddy?
  • If Buddha was so wise and all-knowing, why was he so obese?  I guess he forgot to meditate about cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and why people in his time were only living into their 30s!
  • Question for the apparently super-powerful Wisconsin Tavern League: If your establishments are so wonderful and such a stellar staple of our culture, why are they designed so no one can see into them?  What are you ashamed of?  What are you hiding?  Why do your patrons apparently prefer not to be seen indulging in the products you so ardently promote?  Just asking.
  • Finally, the Associated Press reports a great advance that will gladden the heart of french-fry eaters everywhere--an upgrade to those measly, un-user-friendly ketchup packets. Now, thanks to a redesign by Heinz, fast food diners have a choice.  Their brainchild is a shallow cuplike affair whose top can be peeled back for dipping or its end torn off for squeezing.  And it holds three times as much as ketchup as a traditional packet!  Is this a great country or what?
  • No animals were harmed in the creation of this column.  At least, none that I know of.
Please note the standard SZSEZ disclaimer: I don't always agree with everything I say!



Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations on the absurdities of contemporary life: 
  • I was a teenage herpetologist!
  • How long it took my parents to start a subscription to the Saturday Evening Post in the 1950s--4 to 6 weeks.  How long it’s going to take my subscription to ESPN the Magazine to start--8 weeks!  (How sweet it is to being living in the Age of Instantaneous Satellite Transmission cum Worldwide Web communication cum Twitterland and Textsville!  “Can you hear me now?")
  • Speaking of subscriptions: If there really is reincarnation, will we get AfterLife Magazine?
  • All those who know how to read a sundial, raise your hands.  
  •  It has come to this:  I gave a young store clerk a 50-cent piece, and she told me, “We don’t accept foreign coins." 
  • Is it just me, or isn’t it weird to see football players wearing baseball caps on the sidelines?  You don’t see baseball players wearing football helmets in the dugout, do you?!
  •  If Burma is now Myanmar, is the Burmese python now the Myanmarese python?  I’m just askin’.
  • You’re an adult when you haven’t had a graham cracker in 10 years!
  •  I looked in the mirror the other day and saw I had bags under my eyes. But no big deal--they're just carry-ons!
  • Today’s Latin lesson:  Si hoc signum legere potes, operis boni in rebus Latinus alacribus.  (If you can read this, you can get a good job in the fast-paced, high-paying world of Latin!)
  • If ever a catastrophic international news story cried out for network pool coverage, the Haiti earthquake disaster is it. Do we really need dozens if not hundreds of media people traipsing all over, using up valuable resources such as gasoline and getting in the way of rescue personnel? Shouldn't that bottle of water Diane Sawyer just drank or that sandwich that Brian Williams just ate have gone to a victim or a rescuer?
  • Recent headline: “Ford adding Twitter to in-dash tech packages." In 2008, 6,000 highway deaths were caused by distracted driving. (“I'm sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Jones--your daughter is dead. But she died knowing that her friend Amber had just washed her hair.”)
  • Why do people keep saying 2010 is the first year of a new decade? It’s not; it’s the last year of the “aughts” decade, just as the year 2000 was the last year of the 1900s, not the beginning of The New Millennium. Remedial history: There was no Year 0.
  • New weather word: When snow flurries are so light that they’re barely visible, they almost look like airborne lint. I call it “slint.” Tomorrow’s forecast: Most sunny, turning partly slinty by afternoon. Chance of slint: 60 percent
  • It seems to me that the war on terror is like being at war with the wind. A wind storm, like a terrorist attack, eventually calms down. But as we all know, the wind is never calm for very long. But when will it kick up again? And from which direction? And for how long? And how strong?
  • Annoying broadcast saying: “The bottom of the hour” (meaning the half-hour mark). Wouldn’t the “bottom of the hour” be at 59:59? I’m just sayin’.
  • Annoying grocery checker habit: The scan-and-fling syndrome. Hey, I just paid $16 for that salmon; don’t fling it down the belt like it was something off the bottom of your shoe!

  • That syncing feeling: I hate it when the lips of the speakers in the TV news clips are moving a half-beat or so behind the video image. Distracting.
  • Sign on door of Target in Sturgeon Bay: “Only service animals permitted." (What it should say: "Guide Dogs permitted; no other animals allowed." That would take us humans out of the trespasser category.)
  • I hate to admit it, but my Christmas ornaments are still up. Not the tree—just the ornaments!
  • Having trouble following one of those impossible-to-read instruction manuals for your TV or DVD player? One time, just out of exasperation if not desperation, I tried the Spanish version. No problemo! I was good to go! (Or, Yo era bueno para ir!)
  • Anyone who has ever read more than 10 words of one of those Privacy Notices we’re always being sent is either (a) a lawyer or law-school student or (b) a layman with an extreme amount of free time. How many trees have died in the name of unread Privacy Notices?
  • Does anyone really believe those restaurant ad claims such as “Voted best (pizza/fish boil/whatever) in Door County”? I know I don’t. Who did the voting? Can I see the ballots? Has anyone asked for a recount?
  • (“Hon, don’t forget; we gotta vote on Tuesday. You know, the Pizza Election. And next week is the Primary for Chicken and Ribs.")
  • Redundancy patrol: "Pick and choose," "join together," "women’s panties."
  • Some products are imported, some products are exported, then there are products that should be deported.
  • Every convenience store has a large stock of so-called "energy drinks." As opposed to what—lethargy drinks? ("I think I'll have a Gray Sloth instead of a Red Bull tonight, whaddya think?")
  • I’m going "green" with my new wardrobe. My new suit is 100 percent recycled lint.
  • I love it when the news programs air footage of a robbery caught on video surveillance cameras. Wow, those things are really high definition, aren’t they? The TV set in my uncle’s tavern got a better picture than that in 1952.
  • And why this penchant for airing the audio of 911 calls from people in extreme distress? That's modern broadcasting as its sensationalistic, voyeuristic, exploitative worst!
  • More Media Madness: Now that the flood of Year in Review stories has ended: Why do they start so early (in mid-December or earlier)? If a president was assassinated on Dec. 19, and the history books were culled from Year in Review archives, the assassination never happened, because the next Review compilers would start working from Jan. 1. What’s wrong with waiting until the year is over? Isn’t there space to fill in January? Why is the run-with-the-herd mentality so strong in the media?
  • I’m trying to be more laid back in 2010. When something upsets me, I go into low dudgeon.
  • I’ve basically lived my life bass ackwards, as they say--totally against the grain. For example, I quit drinking when I turned 21!
Please note the standard SZSEZ disclaimer: I don't always agree with everything I say!