Friday, April 1, 2022


                                       By Jim Szantor 

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations

about the absurdities of contemporary life

  • Which is harder: Losing weight or getting off a mailing list? Discuss.
  • A question I’ll never be able to ask--even if I live to be 100: “Whatever happened to Kim Kardashian?”
  • I knew it was just a matter of time (minutes? hours?) before media hacks would slap (no pun intended) a “gate” suffix to the execrable Oscar incident involving Chris Rock and Will Smith. Slapgate! Oh, so clever, and one of the worst lingering effects of one of the worst political episodes in this country’s history is that any occurrence/misstep/gaffe or episode with a scintilla of scandal has to have a “gate” appended to it.
  • It will never end, “thanks” to the high crimes and misdemeanors of one Richard Milhous Nixon. First, a cancer on the presidency, followed by a cancer on the media.
  • Personal note: My former Chicago Tribune feature-writing colleague Bruce Vilanch went on to become a comedy-writing legend. He was a writer and celebrity participant for “The Hollywood Squares” for 20 years and a writer for the Academy Awards for 24 years, 14 of them as head writer. He has dozens of other illustrious credits as well and had a telling comment in an interview conducted before this year’s dog-and-pony show: “If you’re big enough to host the Oscars, you don’t need it!” (Chris Rock apparently didn’t get the memo.)
  • As for jokes made at other stars’ expense (a la Rock/Jada Pinkett Smith), Bruce recounts this incident:
  • “I remember calling Elizabeth Taylor because we had an Al Pacino [joke at her expense]. Al had lost seven times. Billy [Crystal] was going to say he’s “heard another man’s name cried out in the night more times than anyone except Elizabeth Taylor.” And so we had to go to Elizabeth to clear the joke. She cleared. She thought it was hilarious. She can’t walk back eight marriages.”
  •  "An intellectual says a simple thing in a hard way; an artist says a hard thing in a simple way."--Charles Bukowski
  •  Why are the clothes hooks so often missing inside the fitting rooms at stores and the "facilities" just about everywhere? Are they that fragile or poorly anchored? Or is there a sub rosa black market for public facility door hooks? (“Pssst! This door hook once hung in the ladies room at the Le Bistro Elegante! Make me an offer!”)
  • Redundancy patrol: "Arson fire," "end result” and "strangled to death."
  • Along with our crumbling roads and bridges comes another atrocity, the continuing butchering of our language. Latest example: “asks” as a noun! (Press secretary to reporters: “If there are no more asks, that’s it for today.”)
  • Good Lord! Generation X, meet Generation Subliterate. And there is also the jargonesque “get” as a noun, as in “Diane Sawyer’s interview with Toby Twoface was a good get.” Yeech.
  • jimjustsaying’s “You Gotta Be Kidding Me” Headline of the Month: “Lady Gaga to launch free mental health education course.” In other news: Kanye West has been named to the Vatican Youth Council.
  • Sobering but not all that startling statistic: America now has more self-storage facilities than McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger Kings, Starbucks and Walmart’s combined! About 50,000 storage complexes--places to store clothes we'll never wear, spare furniture, stuff we "might use.”
  • Headline: “Aaron Rodgers to return to Packers.”
  • Headline three days later: “Packers ticket prices to rise $4 to $7 per game.” Green and gold? Perfect combination!
  • Memo to all Packers’ fans: Be careful what you wish for, you may get it. You wanted that arrogant, condescending diva of a quarterback to return, and you got him. But since the prices of gas and everyday necessities are plummeting, no problem ponying up for those precious tickets. Lots of room in the typical Cheesehead budget for stuff like that.
  • I can see it now: After all that offseason soap opera drama, all that financial/budgetary/salary cap ju jitsu, don’t be surprised if No. 12 goes down with a season-ending injury in Game 2 or 3 (if not sooner).
  • Speaking of QBs, why are the cameras always focusing on them when they’re OFF the field, on the sidelines, swilling water or (in Rodgers’ case), scowling at an assistant coach or other lackey. It’s the starf*cker syndrome run amok.
  • jimjustsaying Exclusive: They’re still working on an Aaron Rodgers bobblehead, but without success. The head is too big, so the doll keeps toppling over. More on this story as it develops.
  • Which of the Seven Deadly Sins did Socrates consider the worst? Envy. “An ulcer of the soul,” the Greek philosopher called it. (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Some friendships, for no particular reason, fade to black. Some just fade to gray, or shades of gray, but fade away they do, alas. (And it’s not always their fault.)
  • Actual fortune cookie message (from Lucky Liu’s, Milwaukee, Feb. 27): “Your ideas are valuable. Share them with others.” (Consider it done, lucky Popcorn readers!)
  • Has anyone ever seen Nicole Kidman, Lisa Kudrow and Jennifer Aniston in the same room at the same time? Cameron Diaz and Christina Aguilera? Same person! (And other examples abound!)
  • From a Quora reader (re the apparent “mandate” that Diversity Shall Rule in All Television Commercials):
  • “If I were Black, I would be offended. Very rarely are we shown a successful Black couple in commercials. Very rarely are we shown a successful White couple. They have to be mixed to be happy and well adjusted. I know many successful Black couples and families. We need more all Black and all White; then I can accept all the mixed races and sexes as well. It’s just not well balanced.”
  • Believe it or not, one commercial put a White grandmother with all Black grandchildren. Discuss.
  • Companies, it seems, are paranoid about being accused of racism, so they purposely make commercials that show nothing but racially mixed families. In reality, about 10 percent of all marriages are interracial. In commercials its about 90 percent. And it’s always a White couple with Black children, but never the other way around.
  • “My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.”--Mitch Hedberg
  • Now that the cultural abomination of "gender reveal" parties is proliferating, why not go one step further and start holding "demise reveal" parties. Such as:
  • “Dear friends: Will Orville Wockenfuss decide to be buried or be cremated? Join us for the Big Reveal at 4 p.m., Sunday Aug. 13 at the Riverside Theater. Regrets only.”
  • I’m having car trouble: Something’s wrong with one of the bells and two of the whistles!
  • "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you."--Pericles
  • jimjustsaying’s Media Words of the Month (words no normal person ever uses but are encountered frequently in news reports or commentaries): Inveigle, imbroglio and presumptive.
  • "Be yourself; everyone else is taken."--Oscar Wilde
  • Actual Consumer Warning on an Actual Product: On a package of Fisherman's Friend throat lozenges: “Not meant as substitute for human companionship.”
  • All-Overrated Club: Steve Harvey, Steven Seagal and Stephen Colbert.
  • Overheard: “A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it.”
  • jimjustsaying’s Party Ice-Breaker of the Month: “Say [actual partygoer’s name here], did you know that the vertical groove extending from the bottom of your nose down to the top of your upper lip is called the "philtrum”? (Its depth, length and width can be used in facial readings to derive certain characteristics; supposedly, a wide philtrum indicates luck.)
  •  "Surviving at the punch bowls were Mrs. Ferguson and Mrs. Pritchard."--The Roanoke (Va.) Times, via “Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel.
  •  jimjustsaying’s “Hollywood Has No Shame” Revelation of the Month: Filmmakers are churning out so many sequels that they aren’t even bothering to change the names anymore, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” released last month, is a sequel to 1974’s “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and shouldn’t be confused with the 2003 remake “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Last year’s “Suicide Squad” is a sequel to 2016’s “Suicide Squad.” The 2019 “Shaft” is a sequel to the “Shaft” released in 2000. (I guess when you treat the public with contempt and are creatively bankrupt, any old name will do. Why change the name when the plot and the outcome are basically the same?)
  • jimjustsaying’s Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month: “Half-Pint.” As in, Richard J. “Half-Pint” Sweeney, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 20, 2022.
  • Drudging Around: Harvey Weinstein busted for smuggling MILK DUDS into jail . . . Bronx bishop uses rap to draw faithful . . . Human heads stolen in Denver . . . Inside world’s first human composting facility . . . Road to table: Wyoming’s new app for claiming roadkill . . . Woman shot to death in fight over bowling ball . . . 70 degrees warmer than normal in Antarctica; scientists are flabbergasted . . . Teacher fired after outburst caught on video. “Done playing with you idiots.” . . . Deer leaping to their deaths off bridge . . . Scientists slam door on “heath benefits” of alcohol . . . Paralyzed man’s first words using brain transplant: “I want beer.” . . . Study: Length of fingers predicts how sick you’ll get with Covid . . . Positive drug tests of workers at two-decade high . . . Army leader led child porn ring, risked U.S. security . . . “Love hormone” turns fierce lions into kittens . . . Robot dog barks Covid safety instructions in China . . . STUDY: You eat a credit card’s worth of plastic each week, and it’s altering your gut. (Thanks as always to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators for this month’s “truth is stranger than fiction” collection.)
  • Did you know that there's no free lunch (or breakfast, brunch, or dinner) for the First Family? All presidents and their families have to pay for their own food, dry cleaning, toothpaste, and other incidentals while in office; they're billed at the end of the month. There's no charge, however, for food served at White House state functions--the taxpayers take care of this. (Think of what Donald Trump’s Big Mac bill would have been?)
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should: “Flirr”: n. A photograph that features the camera operator's finger in the corner.--"Sniglets," Rich Hall and Friends.
  • Book titles that don't quite make it (via Salman Rushdie's essay on Christopher Hitchens in "Vanity Fair's Writers on Writers," a book I highly recommend):
  • "A Farewell to Weapons," "For Whom the Bell Rings," "To Kill a Hummingbird," "The Catcher in the Wheat" and "Nurse Zhivago."
  • That inspired jimjustsaying's Song Titles That Don't Quite Make It," such as: "The Lady is a Bum," "All the Items You Are," "How Deep is the Cesspool?," "On the Cul de Sac Where You Live," "Back Home Again in South Dakota," “Moon Lake” and "Here’s That Sunny Day."
  • Today’s Latin Lesson: Commodo exspecto populus futurus sessio. ("Please wait for hostess to be seated.")

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