Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • Copbmwy, skizntrit and wazlstirn: (Just thought I'd share with you the latest Verification Words I had to type in to e-mail some articles to a friend.  I'm sure you enjoy doing that as much as I do here at SZSEZ.)
  • Regarding all the controversial umpire calls during the baseball playoffs:  People often talk about the dilution of player talent as baseball increased from 16 teams to 30 since 1961.  But they forget that those extra 14 teams mean an extra 7 games a day, and with four umps per game, that means there are 28 umpires in the major leagues who wouldn't be there if expansion hadn't occurred.  Some of those 28 are qualified--but are all of them?  It only takes one to turn a series around (see Denkinger, Don).
  • Is it just me, or are you also not getting as many free address labels in the mail these days?
  • Headline:  "Christmas Day 'underwear bomber' to represent himself in court."  Reaction:  Somebody better doublecheck his legal briefs!
  • This just in:  A Kenyan once again won the Chicago Marathon.  Shouldn't they call it the Kenya Marathon North?  Do they even allow Americans to compete in any Kenya marathons?  Do they even have them over there?
  • Suggestion:  To avoid any discrimination suits, keep the event open to everyone--but charge a non-resident fee of, say, $10,000, with the proceeds going to world hunger relief. Who could object to that? (And if they have a fee like that, raise it!)
  • People who say "ek cetera" instead of "et cetera" should be beaten with one of Don Imus' discarded string ties.
  • Quiz time:  Which is the only city to claim world championships in the NFL, NBA, MLB and the MLS? (Answer later in this column.)
  • When did car names go off the track and away from such stellar monikers as Thunderbird, Firebird, Cobra and Mustang? . . .   Now we're in the era of Aveo, Traverse, Flex, Element, Azera, Borrego, Sedona, Evora, Outlander, Cube, Murano, Kizashi, Yaris, Venza, Passat, along, of course, with the alpha-numeric soup of A6, RL, TL, Q5, STS, CR-V, LX, RX and MKS. 
  • How long before they run out of names . . . and start naming vehicles after body parts?  ("Hey, Ralph, still driving that Kia Kidney?"  "No, Bob, I got me a new Pontiac Pancreas.  It was between that and a Mitsubishi Mitral Valve.")
  • "The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop."--P.J. O'Rourke
  • Garry Wills says Jimmy Carter's new book, "White House Diary," is "an indictment of the man's pettiness."  Ouch!
  • Tenth entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in an Obituary sweepstakes: Brazeau, Wis. (r.i.p. Brody S. Champagne, Green Bay Press-Gazette, Oct. 15, 2010). Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo and Angelica. (For those of you who don't have a Brazeau, Wis., decal on any of your luggage, it's in Oconto County.)
  • Oxymoron of the Decade:  "Friendly fire."
  • Book Recommendation of the Week: "The Black Swan:  The Impact of the Highly Improbable," by (Nassim) Nicolas Taleb.
  • What is a "black swan"?  As author Taleb told The New York Times, it is an event with the following three attributes.
  • "First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. . . ."
  • An example of a black swan:  The Internet.
  • I always look askance at people born in this country who stubbornly cling to their "ethnic heritage"--beyond the point of familial pride but to the point where you wonder why they're here in the first place.
  • Furthermore, if you "consider yourself German" . . . but have never been to that country or can't speak more than five words of that language, how "German" are you?  And why are you reluctant to call yourself what you are--an American?  I'm just sayin'.
  • Speaking of which, did you know that the two predominant ethnic groups in Toronto are Italians and Chinese?  Surprised me, too. (Hey, would a tour bus driver lie to me?)
  • "How can two countries empathize with each other when in one, most of the adults are starving, and in the other, most of the adults are dieting?"--Sydney J. Harris
  • Quiz answer:  Chicago . . . of course!
  • Who is the only living person to have played against Babe Ruth?  Phil Cavarretta, former Cubs batting champion and National League MVP (both in 1945) and later the team's manager, who played against Ruth in 1935 when the Sultan of Swat was with the Boston Braves.  Cavarretta is also the only player to have played against Ruth and been in the majors when Hank Aaron debuted in 1954. (Of course, it helps when you come to the big leagues, as Cavarretta did, at age 17!)
  • "Every crowd has a silver lining."--P.T. Barnum
  • Book Title of the Week: "I Lick My Cheese . . . and Other Notes From the Roommate Frontlines," by Oonagh O'Hagan. 
  • Today's Latin Lesson: It's nostrum parum specialis.  ("It's our little secret!")


  •  Split Pea with Gristle
  •  Ghoulish Gumbo
  •  Beeswax Bisque
  •  Cowpie Chowder
  •  Chicken With Lice
  •  Tomato Roacharoni
  •  Mexican Jumping Bean Curd
  •  Bowery Barley
  •  Eel Coli
  •  Weasel Extract
  •   (and last but not least):
  •  Chunky Skunk and Lentil