Sunday, February 2, 2014


By Jim Szantor
Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric, and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life.
  • Which would be better: To have the hottest thing on the market . . .  or the coolest thing on the market?  Can one thing be both?  Discuss!
  • This just in:  A new Olympic event has been added at Sochi--the Vacuum Cleaner Bag-Changing Challenge.  Several weight divisions, including the Dirt Devil Decathlon. 
  • The evidence is clear:  If planning to take an ocean cruise, bring your own food!  
  • Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just list the schools that aren't closed/closing instead of showing innumerable school names on the "crawl" at the bottom of the screen?  
  • Ice fishermen are to winter what Civil War re-enactors are to summer.   What's the point of freezing your butt off/risking your life/investing in all kinds of gear in trying to catch $6 worth of fish?   About as pointless as wearing heavy wool uniforms in August while running around pretending to shoot a guy from your bowling team who's dressed as the "enemy."
  • "Travel magazines are just one cupcake after another.  They're not about travel.  The travel magazine is in fact about the opposite of travel.  It's about having a nice time on a honeymoon, or whatever."--Paul Theroux
  • Winter driving hazard no one ever mentions:  Wet snow that clings to highway signs, making them all but unreadable.  How many missed exits or wrong turns result?  If we can put a man on the Moon, there should be a way to fix this.  Yet . . . everybody sees this and nothing is ever done.  Morning in America . . . .
  • "Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire."--Author Wendell Berry
  • All-time-great howler from the Indianapolis Star (courtesy of the Columbia Journalism Review):  "Jazz tunes, including 'Modern Leaves . . . and 'The Girl With Emphysema,' ended at 8:30 p.m. when the jazz trio packed up." 
  • This being the seed-catalog-in-the-mail season, a word of encouragement for all you gardeners out there.  Please don't be discouraged if your stuff doesn't come up looking like the gardens in those colorful catalogs.  Remember, those pictures were posed by professional vegetables!
  • Speaking of vegetables, whatever happened to the Garden Weasel?  Do they still make it?  Will they double my order if I act now (and just pay extra postage and handling)?
  • The latest trend in the automotive world is cars that drive themselves.  Do  they come with a computerized backseat driver? 
  • Jargoneering:  An iKnife, we learn from Jonathon Keats of Wired.Com, is an intelligent electrosurgical kife, capable of identifying cancerous tissue as a doctor cuts out a tumor.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Maybe we should start looking at people's names with an environmentalist's eyes, as in:  "Hey, there goes Clarence.  Not many of those left, you know.  Two in the U.S. and four in England, at last count."   (Not to mention Bruno, Shirley and Mortimer . . .)
  • Drudge Report Headline of the Month (my choice) for January:  "Thieves try to steal Sigmund Freud's ashes in London."
  • No new is good news?  Starting in the 1880s and lasting at least 50 years, U.S. government agencies were forbidden from forecasting tornadoes or even using the word, the Chicago Tribune reports.  Officials were leery of inaccurate predictions and panicking the public. The result was that hundreds of people were killed or injured even when forecasters had been confident a violent storm was imminent.
  • Headline:  "Arsenio Hall returning after 20-year absence."  (All due respect, but . . .. I never missed him before he went missing!) Nobody can be that upbeat all the time.
  • Why do they call them "polo shirts"?   The polo match I saw, no one was wearing anything of the sort.
  • Another Media Word (a word you see or hear only in news reports and never hear a normal person use in real life):  "Inveigle."
  • Statement: "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession.  I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."--Ronald Reagan  Comment:  Well, he should know.
  • Does the world really need these new jet-powered hand dryers?  It's not too far-fetched to envision one of them blowing an infant's head off?  
  • At what temperature are the Fahrenheit and Centigrade readings the same?  If somebody tells you it’s 40 below zero, the Chicago Tribune informs us, you don’t need to ask if they’re talking Fahrenheit or Celsius. At that temperature--and only at that temperature--the two are the same.
  • Redundancy of the Week (from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news story):  "verbal argument."  As opposed to what?  All arguments are verbal; if they escalate to the physical, they're fights, not arguments.
  • Fifty-first Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Pickett.  (R.I.P. , Sue Belter,  Green Bay Press-Gazette  obituary, Dec. 26, 2013).  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, Tigerton, Goodman, Readstown, Dousman, Butternut, Montpelier, Cecil, Red River, Gillet, King, Laona, Kelly Lake, Glenmore, Tonet, Stiles, Morrison, Dunbar, Askeaton, Wild Rose. Neopit and Ellisville.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Ut rectus ex os of equus! ("That's straight from the horse's mouth!")