Thursday, January 5, 2012


Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life: 
  • Someone asked me about 2 p.m. on Jan. 1 "how my New Year was going."  I said: "Great, so far, but, you know . . . relatively small sample size . . . ."
  • Let's see if I've got this right:  Rick Santorum campaigns in all 99 Iowa counties, shoots to the top and comes within 8 votes of  favorite Mitt Romney, raising all sorts of hopes--then we're told he doesn't have the money or the "campaign infrastructure" to finish the job?  Something wrong here--either with Santorum's ambitions or with the system that requires  mega resources. 
  • News report:  "An area man who shot a convenience store clerk is behind bars tonight . . . ."
  • SZSEZ correction:  No, he's not!  He's behind a large, thick steel door with a small Plexiglas slit of a window in it.   (Apparently news writers haven't seen a jail or prison documentary---they're all over the television landscape--in about 35 years.  Aside from the odd Mayberry-type county lockup, they don't HAVE bars anymore.)
  • Christmas is finally behind us, meaning that we can put Brenda Lee, Burl Ives and Andy Williams away for another year.   (And, while we're at it, the Little Drummer Boy, too.  Glad he surfaces only once a year.)
  • The annual Pissing and Moaning Festival has already begun as snowmobile dealers and ski resort operators wail and kvetch about the mild winter weather the rest of us are enjoying (at least here in the Midwest).
  • I guess I find it hard to muster sympathy for people who make money off the kind of weather that makes me (and most of the populace) miserable.   I think with the economy the way it is, lower heating bills fall under the category of Greatest Good for the Greatest Number.  And strained civic budgets will welcome the savings in salt outlays and snowplow operator overtime.  So mild winters are a win for all but a few.
  • I wonder if anyone has (or ever had) the initials FYI.  As in, for example, Frederick Youngfellow Ingleside. (Perhaps someone who did  predated the common connotation of . . . FYI.)
  • Know Your Retailer:  Everyone has heard of and many have ordered from L.L. Bean.  But how many know what L.L. stands for?  That would be Leon Leonwood.   (Just think of the bar bets you can win with that one!)
  • Has anyone ever seen a phone "ringing off the hook"?  Seen a "smithereen"?   Actually seen it "raining cats and dogs"?  Seen anyone selling "hotcakes"?  SZSEZ is declaring war on these tired rhetorical overstatements.
  • Another Stupid Warning Seen on an Actual Product: On a blanket made in Taiwan: "Not to be used as protection from a tornado."
  • Do people still go on hay rides?  Other than farmers, that is?
  • Jim's Book Plug of the Week (if not Year):  "Thinking , Fast and Slow," by Daniel Kahneman.
  • Newspapers haven't been the same since the ink stopped coming off on your fingers.
  • Jim's Fashion Prediction for 2012:  Spats will not be making a comeback.  (But, hey, I've been wrong before?  I mean, who saw nose rings coming?)
  • I notice that there are no 'B' batteries. I think that's to avoid confusion. Because if there were, you wouldn't know when someone was stuttering.--Demetri Martin
  • Jim's Media Word of the Week (a word you see in print but never hear any real person actually use):  Chortle.
  • "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children."--Native American leader Chief Seattle, quoted in the Montreal Gazette
  • Amusing note from a Wall St. Journal story on art: "Some observers would note that Renaissance painters often seemed to have trouble depicting children, commonly rendering them as shrunken adults." 
  • Headline in Dec. 1 Kenosha (Wis.) News:  "Intoxicated driving tickets issued in three crashes."  (The sober driving tickets remain unissued.)
  • Thirty-first entry in the Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw it Mentioned in a Newspaper Obituary sweepstakes: Goodman, Wis. (R.I.P., Gary Carl Klatt, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Dec. 1, 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, Hilbert, Hollandtown, Beaufort, Glennie, Harshaw, Bessemer, Crooked Lake and Tigerton.
  • Newspaper Obituary Nickname of the Week:  Potchy.  As in,  Warren J. "Potchy" Lindeman, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Dec. 19, 2011.  (R.I.P., Mr. Lindeman.)
  • You can always tell who was raised in New York by how they take a compliment when they're an adult.  'Nice haircut.' 'Screw you. What's wrong with it?'--Comic Colin Quinn.
  • Energy expert Daniel Yergin, author of "The Quest," on whether he's worried about our running out of oil:
  • "This is actually the fifth time people have declared that the world will run out of oil.  The first was in the 1880s, when it was said that there was no oil west of the Mississippi--and then they discovered a few wells in Oklahoma and Texas."  (I feel better already--I think.)
  • Overused Media Word of the Week:  Guru.  (Memo to media:  The Maharishi was a guru; John Madden is a football analyst.  He doesn't advise people on religious matters and doesn't wear a flowing white robe.  At least not in public.)
  • Today's Latin Lesson: Quis could umquam vado nefas? ("What could possibly go wrong?")­­­­­