Saturday, March 26, 2011


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • Is it better to re-gift than to re-receive?
  • Thinking outside the box:  What if "they" ultimately discovered that radiation is good for us!  It took the so-called experts eons to reverse course on the egg and determine that it "isn't the cholesterol villain we once thought it was.  Eat all you want."  (To name but one example of FDA flip-flopping.)
  • I think the egg has been around much longer than nuclear radiation.  So there's still time.
  • Belated thanks to all my birthday well-wishers (March 17). Speaking of which, if St. Patrick were alive today, I think he'd be trying to drive all the snakes out of office!
  • Good news and bad news:  The good news: My blog got a huge plug on TV the other day.  The bad news?  It was on "Good Morning, Afghanistan"!
  • Aren't these police funeral "shows of solidarity" getting just a wee bit over the top?  I'm sure the sorrow is as sincere as it gets, but do we need hundreds of law-enforcement personnel saluting for the cameras while the pipes are piping?  The recent death of a Fond du Lac, Wis., officer saw this play out in funeral/memorial services in not one but two towns!
  • The obvious problem: Who's minding the store? Answer: Personnel from nearby towns--personnel not all that familiar with the territory they are temporarily "covering"--leaving several towns shorthanded and inadequately protected!  Wonderful.
  • If you look up news accounts of police/firemen fatalities from decades ago, I doubt you'll find evidence of what we're seeing today.   The deaths were just as tragic, but the aftermath much less grandiose.  (Similarly, did football  players of the pre-TV era do end-zone dances when they scored a touchdown?  Once again the media has become part of the event instead of the fly on the wall. )
  • I abhor these tragedies as much as the next guy, I'm strongly against gun ownership, and if I won the lottery, I'd buy a bullet-proof vest for every police officer who needed one.  I'm just put off by these mawkish, gratuitous public displays that put the public at risk.
  • Clerk: "Did you find everything you were looking for?"  Me:  "You mean you didn't recognize the Poster Boy for Impulse Shopping?"
  • You know a new product has "arrived" when chain-store versions of it start showing up.  Two years ago, nobody had heard of Mega-Krill Oil; now Walgreens/Wal-Mart/Target etc.  have their versions of it.
  • Do they have Family Dollar stores in Mexico?  (La Tiendas de Familia Peso?)
  • Who Knew? Department: After we learned that some friends had a Miniature Schnauzer, I jokingly mused whether there were Giant Schnauzers.
  • According to Wikipedia, there are!  Giant schnauzers (and "schnauzer" is German for "snout," which you surely knew) are about 2 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh 55-80 pounds. They also are working dogs. Historically, Giant Schnauzers helped herd cattle and were also guard dogs at breweries.
  • I wish someone would invent the TV Taser, a nifty remote-control-like device that would allow one to administer painful electric shocks to the likes of Arianna Huffington, Rosie O’Donnell, irritating commercial pitchmen like the ShamWow guy and anyone talking about his (or her) NCAA "brackets."
  • Speaking of those idiotic brackets (I prefer parentheses myself, but I digress), I remember when a woman in our office won the tournament pool by picking the teams on the basis of nicknames and the color of the team uniforms. 
  • Interesting debate the other day on "Chicago Tribune Live" (a sportswriters roundtable) about which is more exciting, the NBA Finals or the NCAA tournament.  The Chicago Bulls beat writer told a colleague (a college basketball writer) that the NCAA tournament is played largely by "a bunch of juniors and seniors who weren't good enough to jump to the pros." Touché! 
  • Related pet peeve:  "Hoops," as a substitute for "basketball."  Sportscasters,  are those two extra syllables too taxing for you?  You don't call baseball "diamonds" or "bases."  You don't refer to hockey as "goals" or "sticks." And it always seems to be "college hoops"; you never hear them say "professional hoops."
  • Redundancy patrol: "Enter in," "barred out of . . .," "for free."
  • Jim's Book of the Week:  "The Art Detective/Fakes, Frauds and Finds and the Search for Lost Treasures," by Philip Mould (Viking, $26.95)
  • Where the visual arts and music diverge:  Nobody leaves a Broadway musical humming the scenery (or a gallery humming the paintings).   People ask to have their favorite tunes played at their funerals or memorial services; never heard of anyone having a favorite painting on display.  (Or a favorite book, for that matter.)  Music rules!
  • Jim's Law of Educational Attainment:  The lower the educational level (or the lower the IQ), the more likely the person is to say "Ya got that right!" in response to virtually any utterance.  ("Nice to see the sun today."  "Ya got that right!")  Somehow I can't picture, say, Charlie Rose or Henry Kissinger barking "Ya got that right," can you? 
  • (You almost want to say in reply: "Wow, I got something right?  Do I get a reward or something?  Who anointed you as the exalted arbiter of and bestower of such approbation?")
  • Memo to managers of grocery (and other) stores with shopping carts:  How about taking them aside and doing a little wheel maintenance once in a while?  Turn them upside down and give 'em the once-over. A little bolt tightening and a little lubrication (WD-40?) would probably do wonders for those oh-so-wobbly wheels.  Replace as needed.  Rinse/lather/repeat.
  • Wobbly, sticking wheels just irritate the customer, so you would think more attention would be paid in this area.  Yet another example of corporate blind spots or indifference; if they think of this at all, they don't see such maintenance as contributing to the bottom line, therefore why bother? (And they wonder why "profit margins" are down.  It's the little things,  folks.)
  • Insult of the Week:  "Let's go somewhere where we can each be alone."--The Book of Great Funny One-Liners.
  • Nineteenth entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Obituary  sweepstakes:  Greenleaf.  (R.I.P.  Alfred E. Pflueger , Green Bay Press-Gazette, Feb. 15, 2011.)  Previous entries: Athelstane, Walhain, Duck Creek, Breed, Anston, Sobieski, Amberg, Osseo, Angelica, Brazeau, Waukechon, Sugar Camp, Kossuth, Lessor, Kunesh, Pulcifer, Cato and Florence.
  • George W. Bush Quote of the Week: "Poor George.  He was born with a silver foot in his mouth."--Ann Richards, former Texas governor
  • There will never be a Bill Maher Lookalike Contest
  • Today's Japanese lesson: あなたのかっこはどのようにしていますか? ("How are your brackets doing?")
  • As always, please remember that I don't always agree with everything I say!