Tuesday, December 5, 2017


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Those of a certain age know the "dollar stores" have replaced the "dime stores" of our youth. But have they?  Still looking for the first dollar store with a lunch counter or soda fountain.  (No grilled cheese at the Dollar Tree!)
  • Speaking of grilled cheese, during the worst days of winter and the cold and flu season, you hear about people craving "comfort food."  As opposed to--what?--torture food?   Shouldn't all food be comfort food?  If it's not, why are you eating it?  (Even if you don't like broccoli, eating it should give you great comfort in knowing that it is helping extend your life span.)
  • ("Ready to order, sir?"   "Um, I’m torn between two items in the Torture Food section--the Turkey with Turpentine Glaze or the Chicken Breast with Cyanide Sauce!")
  • Speaking of edibles:  "Metaphysics is like a restaurant where they give you a 30,000-page menu and no food."--Robert M. Pirsig (author of one of my favorite books, "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance").
  • Someone used the term "crocodile tears" the other day.   I watch a lot of nature programs (mostly on the National Geographic channel), but I've never seen a crocodile crying.   Baring its teeth, yes.  Pouncing on some unwary prey, yes.   But in tears?   No--not even misty-eyed!  Same goes for alligators, iguanas and monitor lizards.   Where do these terms come from?  Just another illogical oddity of English language idioms.  
  • (If we want to denote a copious amount of tears, aren't elephants a lot bigger than crocodiles?  Wouldn't "elephant tears" get the idea across more accurately--or more hyperbollicaly)?
  • Pop-up ads on the internet are getting not only more numerous but more annoying, especially those where the "X" boxed exit spot is either very difficult to find (they keep moving it around) or even, lately, nonexistent.   One of the worst violators: the Chicago Tribune, my former employer of 27 years.   And then there are those advertising videos that don't allow you to fast-forward them.   Make it a point to boycott those products.
  • Recent headline: NYC rats have evolved into "Uptown" and "Downtown" breeds. (No word on "Park Avenue" or "The Hamptons" breeds.)
  • Hard to know which word has appeared most in news stories these last few months, but I think "groped," "harassment" and " inappropriate" are probably near the top.
  • jimjustsaying's Pun of the Month, Congressional division:  I keep puzzling about Franken's sense and Moore.
  • Sometimes politicians just can’t win—no pun intended.  If they change their position on an issue, not so much for political expediency but because of changing conditions or after conscientious study or soul-searching, they’re branded as "flip-floppers." 
  • But if they stick to a position and never waver, they’re "rigid" or "ideologues."   And if that’s not enough, pols of all stripes have their statements "taken out of context"--either by opponents or some media--a frightening amount of the time, out of context being polspeak for "You caught me saying what I actually said or really think but I'll deny it to the death."
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Month: "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Buddy Hackett was asked to join the Three Stooges after Curly Howard suffered a stroke?  He declined due to family commitments."
  • More Stooge stuff (and don't you think the world needs more of it in these troubled times?):  The Three Stooges, according to Trendchasers, our standby, go-to source of everything Stoogey,  actually received an Oscar nomination for one of their 220 films. Their 1934 short film "Men In Black" gained a nomination for Best Short Subject--Comedy.  It lost to the film "La Cucaracha."  (Too bad; a Stooges acceptance speech probably would have been one for the ages.)
  • I keep getting Ivanka and Melania Trump mixed up.  One is the First Daughter and the other is the First Arm Candy, but I can't remember which is which.
  • Someone recently posed an interesting question, and I regret I somehow lost track of the source.  The question:  Movies that take place in ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt often have music that sounds authentic.  Is this music based on any actual manuscripts from those time periods?
  • It turns out, it is not.  We do have some knowledge of ancient instruments from written descriptions and depictions on works of art, which may help modern composers for films produce music that seems fitting.  But we know little about the style in which these instruments were played and even less about what kinds of compositions might have been common or popular.  Only a handful of melodies have been preserved, along with fragments of musical notations.
  • Eightieth Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary: Lark, Wis.. (R.I.P., Ramond C. "Chuck" Schmitt, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Nov. 1, 2017).  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, Ellisville, Pickett, Flintville,  Forest Junction, Thiry Daems, Black Creek,  Mountain, Ledgeview, Lunds, Suring, Lakewood, Beaver, Cloverleaf Lakes, Krakow, Pella, Townsend, Vandenbroek, Coleman, Spruce, Armstrong Creek, Lake Gogebic, North Chase, Navarino, Pequot Lakes, Buchanan,  Rio Creek, Humboldt, Mill Center, Carlton and White Potato Lake.
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should of the Month: ReYulerate.  v. To reposition Christmas tree lights so no two of the same color are beside each other.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall & Friends.
  • One problem with home schooling:  No yearbook!
  • What's in a Name/Nomenclature Disconnect Dept.: There are few if any commercial entities that label themselves what they actually are and what people actually call them.  
  • Therefore, there are no "grocery stores," "gas stations," "convenience stores" or "pool halls"  but rather "SuperCenters," "Markets," "Centers," "Marts" "Depots" or "Parlors."  (Kudos to Ace Hardware, which apparently never got or chose to ignore the memo.)
  • And who started this business of stores asking for charitable donations at the checkout counter?  Do they get a tax break by doing this?  Hard to  consider something "good PR" when it irritates the customers!   I guess this is an "upgrade" from having the traditional cannister near the register and probably preys more on customer guilt.
  • "A woman offered $10 to kiss George Jessel at a fundraising rally.   Jessel then killed 152 women  and raised $1,520.--Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer via "Still More Press Boners" by Earle Tempel.
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Non est actu iens ad induendum, es?  ("You're not actually going to wear that, are you?")

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