Thursday, December 1, 2022


                                                                  By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations

about the absurdities of contemporary life

  • jimjustsaying’s holly jolly jocular gift suggestion for that hard-to-shop-for person on your Christmas shopping list: A David Grube* Chia Pet.  “One gift, that’s all!”

(A Gag Gift for the Ages!  . . . "Ch-ch-ch-chia!")

  • Speaking of Christmas, I can’t wait to watch my favorite holiday special: “Christmas with the Gingriches.”  Comes on right before “Joey Buttafuoco’s First Incarcerated Christmas.” (That one falls into the “guilty pleasure” category.)
  • jimjustsaying’s “Just Shoot Me Now!” Headline of the Month: “Weed-infused seltzer catches on.”  Be the first person to give me a valid reason why the world needs this and win valuable prizes! 
  • jimjustsaying’s second “Just Shoot Me Now!” Headline of the Month: “Buzz over hemp-fed cows.”  Cows, too?  Is nothing sacred?
  • Remember when you had to go to a carnival sideshow and pay an extra quarter to see the tattooed lady?  Now? She’s your grandson’s 3rd Grade teacher!
  • Now that the baseball season is over, I’ll have more time to resume my other favorite pastime: Reading Homer in the original Greek. 
  • Remember our being told how so-called “modern conveniences” were going to simplify our lives?
  • Now it turns out that the so-called "toggling tax" is putting a damper on the benefits of remote work, Axios reports.  The smorgasbord of software needed to do any given task can make it feel as if people are working multiple jobs at once.
  • A Harvard Business Review study suggests workers are switching from app to app, website to website, nearly 1,200 times a day.
  • For example, a salesperson switches among as many as eight applications just to meet with a client: Email, calendar, enterprise chat software, a customer relationship management platform, a videoconference system, maybe a conference room system too, a note-taking application, and a presentation maker.
  • I queried my older daughter, an account executive at American Express, and she said she can attest to the accuracy of the foregoing because she is steeped in it daily. (Whew!  Makes one nostalgic for the bad old inconvenient days.)
  • I don’t know about you, but I tend to re-evaluate a person after I find out he (or she) has a pit bull, a Doberman, a python or a boa constrictor as a “pet.” 
  • Another perennial Christmas TV special I can’t wait to revisit: “Winnie the Pooh’s Holiday Pot Party.”  (And I try not to miss a somewhat darker holiday staple”: “Police Navidad.”)
  • Some have suggested that the poor performance of NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers is being blamed on his consumption of ayahuasca, some sort of psychedelic potion.  Rodgers, as you may know, plays for the Green Bay Packers.  You know, the team that represents the toilet-papermaking capital of the Free World. 
  • The team really should be renamed, seeing as how the Acme meatpacking company it was named for closed in—wait for it—1943.  Ditto for the Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee being as much a major-brand brewing capital these days as Riyadh!  Suggestion:  The Green Bay Cheeseheads (they could reshape their helmets!) and the Milwaukee Brats.  Much more appropriate factually and culturally.
  • Redundancy Patrol:  Postpone till later, written down, blend together.
  • Why our democracy is safe, despite all the MAGA-related rage and discontent now being observed and covered to a fare-thee-well by the media:  Too many distractions! 
  • The Original Colonists didn’t have 300 TV channels, DVDs, video games, You Tube, Facebook, Tik Tok and myriad other pastimes and diversions.  How can people get seriously involved in anything time-consuming and revolutionary when it might mean missing “Dancing with the Stars”?
  • jimjustsaying’s Law of Urban Survival:  All neighborhoods are safe at 6 o’clock in the morning.  (The late-night thugs have crashed, and the daytime hoodlums aren’t awake yet.  You could call it the sweet spot for safe walking--virtually anywhere.)
  • “She sounds like someone giving a book report on a book she hasn’t read!”—a critic of Kamala Harris on the vice president’s bizarre and meandering speech at an international conference--via George Will, Washington Post.
  • Speaking of politics, one strategist has quipped that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker would be an especially fascinating adversary for Donald Trump if he indeed did run again in 2024--“a real billionaire against a fake billionaire.”
  • Why do they keep naming hurricanes and tropical storms after perfectly innocent everyday people?  I knew a waitress in Door County named Katrina who had to use a fake name tag to put an end to the lame jokes in 2005.
  • Solution: Dip into our ample inventory of historical villains; there surely are enough to go around.  (“This just in: Tropical Storm Dracula is gathering steam in the North Atlantic; meanwhile, residents of the Louisiana Gulf Coast are still reeling from the ravages of last week’s Hurricane Hitler. And forecasters are keeping a close eye on Subtropical Storm Dahmer.”)
  • The New York Post has long been one of the most flamboyant/sensationalistic and irreverent tabloids, making absolutely no pretense of objectivity. 
  • So it was a major revelation when this right-leaning paper threw one of its sacred cows under the bus with this classic cover:

  • Piers Morgan, a Post columnist, even went as far as to say that Trump has “a toxic stranglehold on the GOP.”  The Post, oddly, did not endorse Trump in 2016 but did in 2020.
  • Fast-forwarding through commercials has always been one of the best features of the high-tech era, but never more so than now, when many TV ads leave one wondering what the actual product is as you try to decipher the cryptic off-the-wall dialogue, bizarre graphics and noxious background music.
  • Then there are others, like this wordless one, set in what appears to be a liquor or convenience store, where the product (a brand of low-cal beer) is patently obvious but the two actors and their actions (nods and seductive-looking winks) leave one to wonder:  Who exactly is the target audience here? Ex-cons on the proverbial down low?  If you watch any sports on TV, you probably have seen it—many times.
  • Advertisers seem to be like generals fighting the proverbial last war:  They appear to be gearing their commercials to the demographic that used to be the big spenders but no longer are--the generation that isn’t getting married, is having far fewer children, isn’t buying houses and furniture and second cars, etc.  They’re also cord-cutters who are streaming movies and such (and sharing them) that are devoid of commercials. 
  • Madison Avenue:  You’re out of touch.  Luckily, we older folks can fast-forward through the pitches that have little or no interest to us.
  • Whatever happened to Dennis Miller?
  • Perhaps Miller has done what most of the people who lost their TV shows have done:  Gotten a podcast. Wouldn’t be surprised if a prisoner or two at San Quentin has a podcast. 
  • If Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had never gotten married, and the Royal Family was a collection of model citizens, the National Enquirer would go out of business. (Especially now that Naomi Judd and Jerry Lee Lewis are dead.)
  • Headline: “Rush to cash fastest since pandemic.”
  • In my humble opinion, whatever rash actions “everybody” is rushing to do (sell holdings, buy crypto or hoard toilet paper, fill up gas tanks) in times of crisis is inevitably wrongminded and counterproductive.  As H.L. Mencken famously said, “For every problem there is a solution that is neat, simple . . . and wrong.”
  • jimjustsaying’s Word That Doesn’t Exist But Should of the Month: “Kawashock.” n. Starting to pull into a parking spot only to discover a motorcycle already there.—“More Sniglets,” Rich Hall and Friends.
  • He said it: “Every great cause starts as a movement, becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket.”--Eric Hoffer
  • She said it: “History is what people are trying to hide from you, not what they’re trying to show you.”--Molly Ivins
  • Heads up, nose-pickers! Researchers at an Australian university say nose-picking can cause bacteria to travel through the nose and into the brain, where it creates markers that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The study, published in the journal Scientific Report, found that bacteria could travel through the olfactory nerve, which joins the nasal cavity and the brain, and that damage to the nasal epithelium (the thin tissue along the roof of the nasal cavity), made nerve infections even worse. (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but it’s here if you need it!)
  • jimjustsaying's Media Word of the Week (a word you see only in print and never hear an actual person use in real life):  Plethora.  As in, "2022 has seen a plethora of mass shootings."
  • Each year, approximately 8,000 Americans are treated for toothpick-related injuries.  No figures yet on dental floss, Q-tips or collar stays.
  • jimjustsaying’s Favorite Edward Hopper Painting of the Month: 

  • “New York Movie” depicts a few scattered moviegoers and a pensive usherette lost in her thoughts. Praised for its brilliant portrayal of multiple light sources, “New York Movie” is one of Hopper's well-regarded works.  The moment, says Natasha Gural in Forbes, is both time-stamped and timeless, revealing the immortality of a certain kind of urban scene or experience.  We’re transported back to the grandeur and solitude of watching a film in plush red velvet seats in a nearly empty theater.

  • Web site you probably haven't heard of:
  • jimjustsaying’s Insider Movie Line Info of the Month: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”-- Roy Scheider in "Jaws," 1975.
  • Scheider’s famously improvised line was actually an inside joke among the crew, who had been given a tugboat too small for the shoot and used the line among themselves, totally unaware that it would become part of cinematic history. (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but again, it’s here if you need it.)
  • Why don't bottlecaps have that little piece of cork inside them anymore?
  • Interesting that newspaper astrology columnists will tell you that the day is unfavorable for travel but never unfavorable for reading about astrology or buying astrology-related books or merchandise. 
  • Is there German fast food in our future?  It would be perfect for Milwaukee. Suggestions: Schnitzel Hut.  Best Wurst. Special Spaetzle. Das Dumpling Den.
  • jimjustsaying’s Sign of the Year (seen in a Chicago store window on Irving Park Road): ''Smell coming from garbage. Garbage not from this store.''
  • Nov. 12 Headline: “Planes collide over Wings Over Dallas air show as spectators watch in horror.” 
  • Popcorn followers may remember my recent item about the idiocy of these displays and the many deaths they have caused (21 Little Leaguers in a celebrated Minnesota tragedy).  But these bravado exercises continue. Oh, and at least six were killed in the latest incident. 
  • jimjustsaying’s Second in a Series of Excerpts from Mad Magazine’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” book:
  • Woman entering coffee shop: “Is this a Starbucks?”
  • Worker: “You mean there’s more than one?”
  • T-shirt message spotted: “I don’t need Google; my wife knows everything!”
  • DRUDGING AROUND: King Charles says he was related to real-life Dracula . . . Doughnut shop hit with Molotov cocktail after drag-queen art show . . . Russian troops eat zoo animals to stay alive . . . Average person hits peak health at 34 . . . Feral chickens taking over Honolulu . . . “I’m selling my blood!”  Millions can’t make ends meet . . . Traveler tries to smuggle gun onto plane inside raw chicken .  . . Study: Rats move to musical beats like humans . . . Air Force to train new pilots without planes . . . Lab-grown meat cleared for human consumption . . . Man guilty of tattooing minor in McDonald’s dining room . . . Target blames shoplifting for lost profits; locks up toothpaste . . . Amazon driver steals previously delivered packages.  (Thanks as always to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators.) 
  • jimjustsaying’s Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month: “Big Boy.”  As in, Mark A. “Big Boy” Koch, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 27, 2022.  R.I.P., Big Boy.
  • Our modern world: Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post writes of the jobs that the offspring of Boomers hold that mystify their parents as to what they really mean. Such as: Chief Inspiration Officer.  Executive Vice President for Executive Visibility.  Change Manager.   
  • As one woman put it, “[My son] is very busy and he works long hours, but I can’t tell you what he does.”
  • What do Irpin (Ukraine), Galway (Ireland), Zadar (Croatia), Daegu (South Korea), Tarime District (Tanzania) and Bomet County (Kenya) have in common?  All of them are “sister cities” of Milwaukee.
  • (What?  No sister city in Germany?  That honor goes to nearby Oconomowoc, which claims sisterhood with Dietzenbach, don’t-cha-know.)
  • A sister city (and as long as we’ve gone this far, I might as well tell you!) is a form of legal or social agreement between two geographically and politically distinct localities for the purpose of promoting cultural and commercial ties. Watch this space next month for a list of Milwaukee’s brother cities--if such a relationship can be found. 
  • Today’s Latin Lesson: I wreszcie, parafrazując nieżyjącego już Karla Wallendę ze słynnej trupy powietrznej The Flying Wallendas: "Życie jst kolumną popcornu.  Reszta tylko czeka". (And finally, to paraphrase the late Karl Wallenda of the famed aerial troupe The Flying Wallendas, "Life is the Popcorn column.  The rest is just waiting."­)

    A quick shout-out to Myrtle Beach, this month’s Popcorn intern.

    *For the benefit of non-Milwaukee-area residents: David Gruber heads a local law firm that advertises heavily (very heavily) on local television with the slogan, "One call, that's all!"  

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