Monday, June 6, 2011


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life:
  • People will agree to do just about anything--as long as its far enough in the future.
  • ("Hey, Ralph:  Help me paint the garage on Saturday?"  "Um, gee, Jim--I think we've got something planned."  "OK, how about Aug. 21, 2023?" "Sure, Jim--no problem. . . . . . .What time?")
  • 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!"
  • All those who are rooting for a fall and winter without pro football, raise your hands.
  • "Most NFL fans have never been to a game; more than 90 percent never or rarely go. They watch at home on wide-screen televisions, with super-slow-motion replays and close-ups of linebackers’ collisions and cheerleaders’ cleavages."--George F. Will in the Washington Post.
  • Speaking of "sports" and collisions, whenever I learn that someone is a NASCAR fan, my estimation of that person  . . . does not escalate.  (Watching cars go around in circles while secretly hoping for a crash--now that's a real worthwhile pastime.)
  • Those who crow about NASCAR's allegedly enormous audience never say how much of that audience lives in trailers, smokes two packs a day and has DUIs on their record. (I'm just sayin'.)
  • Actual Stupid Message on an Actual Product: On some Swan frozen dinners: "Serving suggestion: Defrost. "
  • "It is not enough for a politician to be innocent; he also must appear to be innocent. In fact, it is often better to appear innocent than to actually be innocent."--Columnist Roger Simon on the Rep. Anthony Wiener brouhaha in Politico.
  • Speaking of politics, who made the decision that all TV anchors and TV-radio commentators should say “candiDIT” instead of "candiDATE?  (What's the "dit" of the next election?)
  • "Water cannot be destroyed. In fact, every molecule of water on the planet has been here since the beginning, or about 4.4 billion years. The water you drink from a Dasani bottle very likely passed through the kidney of a dinosaur."--Charles Fishman in his new book, "The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water."
  • Actual Stupid Message on an Actual Product: On a hotel-provided shower cap in a box: "Fits one head."
  • Redundancy patrol: "Separate out," "blend together," "Sahara desert."
  • The U.S. vs. China:  "Americans . . . have found most problems solvable.  . . . That's in part because our history has been short and very successful.  Chinese history goes back thousands of years, and in their mind, no problem has a final solution; every solution is an admission ticket to another  problem."--Henry Kissinger in Time magazine, June 6, 2011.
  • Go Figure Department: Products that are discontinued . . . even though they are apparently good sellers (always snapped up quickly as soon as stocked on store shelves).   Another reason the American economy is in the toilet?
  • "Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing."--Robert Benchley
  • Speaking of command of the language, a common sportswriter gaffe is using "reactionary" in the sense of a lightning-fast reflex (i.e. reaction) play.
  • Memo to press boxes everywhere: "Reactionary" means conservative, if not ultra-conservative, in a political/ideological sense.  Period.  It has nothing to do with diving for line drives or deflecting "comebackers"!
  • But literacy and sportswriting/sportscasting  have never been joined at the hip; for one thing, broadcasters commonly say "on the season" rather than the correct "for the season" when informing us how many home runs, whatever, a player has recorded.  These guys think all prepositions are interchangeable!
  • Actual Stupid Message on an Actual Product: On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom of the box): "Do not turn upside down."
  • Jim's Science Lesson of the Week:  The components of tear gas are charcoal, potassium nitrate, silicon, sucrose, potassium chlorate, magnesium carbonate, o-chloro-benzal-malono-nitrile and nitro-cellulose.  (Thank you, Wired magazine, for that helpful information.)
  • Obituary Headline Nickname of the Week:  "Runto."  As in Robert L. "Runto" McDermid Sr., late of Oconto Falls, Wis.  (Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, May 18, 2011).  R.I.P., Mr. McDermind Sr.
  • Twenty-fourth entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Obituary  sweepstakes: Hollandtown, Wis. (R.I.P.  Leroy G. VandeWettering, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, April 2, 2011.)  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 and Hilbert.
  • Today's Latin lesson:  Propinquus occulto pro offensio. ("Close cover before striking.")