Thursday, January 20, 2011


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • Even if I wanted to get on the Green Bay Packers bandwagon--which I don't--I couldn't.  There's no room!  It's like clowns in a Volkswagen--every square inch of space is taken!!! (Prediction:  Bears 23, Packers 20.)
  • Has anyone ever seen Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow in the same room?
  • I don't care what anyone says:  We never had weather like this when Mr. Wizard was alive!
  • Ever notice that a lot British singers don't sing with a British accent--you hear it only when they speak? I guess music really is the universal language.
  • Actually, according to, there is a reason: Because singing forces the singer to pronounce "true" vowel sounds. "English vowels are the same, no matter where you're from. Speaking employs gliding vowels--transitions from one to the next. Singing is phrased such that vowels are held longer (to the note), which more or less erases regional accents."
  • I'm so old, I knew Captain Kangaroo when he was a civilian.
  • Headline:  15 dead--14 headless--found outside Acapulco shopping center; 27 dead in city since Friday.
  • Comment/Memo to Tourists:  What is the fascination with Mexico?  Aren't the beaches and the sun just as delightful in San Diego?  In the Bahamas?  In San Juan?
  • If you want to rub shoulders with Spanish-speaking people, there seems to be an adequate supply of those wonderful folks already here.  If you want a cheap, gaudy blanket, go to Family Dollar.  If you want to get Montezuma's Revenge, eat something that has been in the back of your refrigerator three months.  But don't spend your hard-earned U.S. dollars in a country that won't extradite murders and rapists and seems to be getting more and more violent by the minute, thanks to their drug cartel wars.  The drug-related death toll in Mexico climbed to 15,273 in 2010.
  • When was the last time you saw a woman getting a shoeshine?
  • Product that doesn't exist but should:  Dark chocolate hard candy. 
  • (NOT, I must emphasize, with "mint," or with "caramel center," or with "jalapeno jelly" or whatever another adulteration--those you can find.  Is 100 percent dark chocolate hard candy too difficult or expensive to make--one wouldn't think so--or just that no one has thought of it? That would seem unlikely too.  I'm sure a market would exist. So . . . where is it?
  • Favorite all-time album title (and cover):  "Weasels Ripped My Flesh!"  (Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, 1970.)
  • Favorite all-time song title: "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?"  (from Zappa's "Joe's Garage, Act I" album.)
  • Jim's Book Pick of the Week:  "The Invisible Gorilla--and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us," by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.
  • Snippet from "Gorilla":  A common problem in Britain arises when truck drivers follow their GPS commands onto streets too narrow for their trucks. One driver wedged his truck so firmly into a country lane that he couldn't move forward, backward or even open his door.  He had to sleep in his truck for three days before being towed out by a tractor.
  • Jim's Book Title of the Week:  "A Grouse Hunter's Almanac. The Other Kind of Hunting," by Mark Parman.
  • Why is it that the four or five snow brushes or ice scrapers I own are hardly ever actually in the car?  (If I ever get a blizzard or an ice storm inside my garage, I'm in very good shape!)
  • More slices of Florida life, 2010 Oddities Division:
  • A Melbourne street was shut down for three hours, the time it took the bomb squad to figure out the flashing object in the middle of the street was a restaurant pager.
  • A Hernando County man was run over by his own pickup truck after his dog jumped into the running vehicle and put it in gear.
  • A man was walking his Jack Russell terrier in Tampa when an alligator snatched it. He pulled out his handgun and started shooting at the gator. It let go of the dog, but the pet wasn't breathing until the man performed CPR and revived it.
  • Manufacturers who want me to fill out their marketing research cards and pay the postage yet are living in a dream world.
  • Fifteenth entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Obituary sweepstakes:  Kunesh.  (R.I.P. Hazel Blohowiak,  Green Bay Press-Gazette, Jan. 6, 2010.) Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth and Lessor.
  • Jim's Web site Discovery of the Year:
  • Obituary Headline "Nickname of the Week":  Chub.  As in "Chub" (Orrie) Magnin, 86, Oconto Falls. (R.I.P. Mr. Magnin, Green-Bay Press Gazette obituary,  Jan. 4, 2011).
  • I'm at the grocery checkout, and an item won't scan.  The clerk asked me if I recalled the price.  I said, "Sure: Thick line, thin line, thin line, thin line--um--thick line, thick line, thin line, thick line--smudge--thin line and one last thin line."
  • Redundancy patrol:  "Component parts," "bouquet of flowers," "eradicate completely."
  • Recent fortune cookie message:  "A short stranger will soon enter your life with blessings to share." (I'll keep you posted.)
  • "I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."--Lily Tomlin
  • Jim's Book Pick of The Week II: "Euphemania: Our Love Affair With Euphemisms" (Little, Brown, 2010).
  • (Author Ralph Keyes traces the evolution of these terms, starting with early humans who developed substitute names for predators for fear of summoning them.  Using indirect terms, Keyes writes, is a sign of complex thought:  Saying what we don't mean requires higher-order intelligence than saying what we do.)
  • Restaurant/fast-food outlet managers:  What's the point of having your ceiling fans going full blast in the dead of winter in your underheated dining rooms?  We don't really need the draft!
  • "When in doubt, attribute all quotations to George Bernard Shaw."--Nigel Rees, British writer.
  • Today's Latin lesson: Qua ut alio perceptum quam urgeo? ("Where'd that guy learn how to drive?")

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