Saturday, February 3, 2018


By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life
  • Olympian observation:  Curling is a pastime in search of a nation. For what it's worth, Wikipedia says "Curling was one of the first sports that were popular with women and girls," so there's that. (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it!)
  • Olympian observation II:  Many of the "sports" featured in the Games aren't.   Figure skating?  That's not a sport, that's an activity . . . as are the luge, the hammer throw, bobsledding, ski jumping, snowboarding, the canoe sprint, gymnastics, the trampoline and weight lifting.   A sport is played with a ball (or a facsimile of, as in hockey), involves teams, organized leagues, beer sponsors, mascots and, for many years, Chris Berman.  Some of these events are as sportslike as the annual July 4th hot-dog eating contest.
  • You're an old-timer when you can remember when coal was delivered to your house, when electric trolleys showered the air with sparks, and when no one ever dreamed there'd be something called a Geek Squad.  (There was no need; who needed a techno-nerd to plug your radio or TV into an outlet?  And the rabbit ears weren't all that difficult to install either.)
  • Memo to those roboted out of a job:  Start your own business, one that will fulfill a need in today's Amazonian world, such as: A Package-Opening Service.  "Bring your thick-cardboarded, thick blister-packed, heavily Syrofoamed or heavily packaging-peanuted overly wrapped box to us, and we will open in for you and dispose of all the overpackaging material."  (Void where prohibited.)
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Uma Thurman's father, Robert, is a Buddhist professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University who thinks Uma is a reincarnated goddess?"  (Thanks to Maureen Dowd for this priceless tidbit.)
  • negu8im scy4lw9z.  (Those  were the most recent CAPTCHA "words" I had to type to access a site I was about to enter.  No need to adjust your computer or your eyeglass prescription.)
  • Untruth in Advertising dept.:  Things you never see (or saw):  A beer gut in a beer commercial, someone coughing in a cigarette commercial or someone constipated in a pain pill commercial.
  • Shouting at the TV Dept.:  I'm certainly no fan of Donald Trump's immigration views, but I want to talk back every time I hear a Democratic politician or southpaw TV commentator intone, "We're a nation of immigrants."   Yes--but initially, at least--a nation of LEGAL immigrants.  My grandparents didn't sail from Eastern Europe to Mexico and sneak in over the border.  They sailed to New York, went through Ellis Island, and didn't apply for entitlement programs as soon as they unpacked.  And yes, they were fleeing terrible conditions too.
  • Memo to so-called "Dreamers":  I sympathize, but the American government didn't put you in your current plight--your parents did.  Blame the dysfunctional government that made your "homeland" a living hell.  Better yet, why not go to your homeland and help fix that?  But when do you hear that?  Or see that sentiment expressed on protest march signs?  In other words, let the guy who spilled his water glass at the next table clean it up himself.  Why did that become my job?  
  • Made all of your President’s Day plans yet?  There’s still time.
  • Maybe we should have a Vice President’s Day too.  You’d still have to show up at work, but you wouldn’t have to do anything.
  • President’s Day is nice and all, but who really looks forward to it--aside from government workers?  I propose a holiday that would hold more satisfaction for the rest of us: Turnabout Day, based on "turnabout's fair play."  A way to correct a power imbalance we all endure.
  • On Turnabout Day--and you’d get to pick your own date each year--your doctor would have to get naked in front of you, and your accountant or financial adviser would have to show you his or her tax return!
  • "A book read by a thousand different people is a thousand different books."--Director Andrei Tarkovsky, quoted in
  • Why is a shoehorn so-called?  It doesn't look like a horn.  Why not call it a shoe-in?  I'mjustsayin'.
  • I love when the pill directions say to "best taken after a meal."  Which meal?  It's always "after" a meal--unless you've never eaten before.  So if I ate lunch at noon, can I take the pill at 3 and still be in "after a meal" mode.  What's the cutoff?  Two minutes?  Twenty? Two hours?  Down with unnecessarily vague product instructions.
  • New feature: Honoring the Comedian.  Today:  The late Mitch Hedberg.  Here is one of his best:
  • "I bought a doughnut, and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut.  I don't need a receipt for the doughnut, man, I'll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut--end of transaction.  We don't need to bring ink and paper into this.  I just can't imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut.  Some skeptical friend:  "Don't even act like I didn't get that doughnut! I got the doc-u-men-tation right here.  Oh, wait it's at home . . . in the file . . . under 'D' . . . for doughnut."
  • Three of the most unused items in any kitchen:  Pasta makers, fondue pots and any one of those items that's supposed to make peeling an egg easier but doesn't.
  • WD-40 Safety Tips:  Never use WD-40 to clean your contact lenses . . . as a nasal decongestant . . . or to clean your ear canal."--"The WD-40 Book," by Jim and Tim--the Duct Tape Guys.
  • Just wondering:  What happened to WD-1 through 39?  And I've always wondered how Vicks Formula One tasted.
  • Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month:  "Ding."  As in Robert G. "Ding" Miller, Kenosha (Wis.) News obituary, Jan. 15, 2017.
  • Eighty-second Wisconsin Town I Didn't Know Existed Until I Saw It Mentioned in a Green Bay Press-Gazette Obituary:  Newald, Wis.. (R.I.P., Joan J. Cleereman, Green Bay Press-Gazette obituary, Jan. 10, 2018).  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, White Potato Lake, Lark and Scott.
  • "I got the bill for my surgery  Now I know why those doctors were wearing masks."--James H. Boren
  • Today's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should:  "Gapiana."  The unclaimed strip of land between "You Are Leaving . . ." and "Welcome To" signs seen when crossing state lines.--"More Sniglets," Rich Hall and Friends.
  • "Sheep from Mrs. Madison Sayles' farm will be part of the scent at Wilton's Christmas Carol Sing."--"Still More Press Boners," Earle Tempel
  • Today's Latin lesson:  Ut Volo vestri sententia I'll quaeso is.  ("When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it!")