Saturday, October 1, 2022


                                                          By Jim Szantor

    Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric 
    and whimsical observations 
    about the absurdities of contemporary life

  • I like to think of myself as couth, kempt and ept.
  • R.I.P., Queen Elizabeth II.  (Unfortunately, my wife and I couldn’t attend the funeral, so we sent our regrets. It seemed like the right thing to do.)
  • Her Royal Highness was, by all accounts, a great monarch. (And I really hated losing a faithful blog follower, but whaddya gonna do?)
  • Believe it or not, I did have the pleasure and honor of exchanging texts with King Charles, which I will take the liberty of sharing:
  • Me:  Your Majesty, you know the great American comedian and filmmaker Mel Brooks famously said, “It’s good to be king.”  Is it?
  • King Charles:  Well, Jim, so far, so good . . . but, you know, small sample size LOL
  • It’s uncanny, but whenever people point during a conversation (“The hardware store over there . . . ), they almost always point in the wrong direction.  
  • Milwaukee is a great choice for the 2024 GOP convention.  For one thing, the sound of constant gunfire, squealing tires and wailing sirens will keep delegates from nodding off during the boring campaign speeches. 
  • Beehive of activity: I understand Donald Trump was adding on to his Mar-a-Lago estate while all the document searching was going on:  Another tennis court, another putting green and--oh, yes--a holding cell.
  • I suspect that Trump really wouldn’t mind going to prison--as long as they name it after him!
  • I haven’t read or heard a word about this yet (“this” being Time magazine’s annual Person of the Year award), but my pick would be Liz Cheney.  You read it here first.
  • It turns out that Haagen-Dazs is actually the Norwegian term for “pudgy thighs.” (Who knew?)
  • There are two types of people in Office America:  Those who display photos of their children and those who don’t (even if they have children).
  • Anybody who still says “jeepers” probably has a three-digit Social Security Number.
  • Speaking of old folks, it’s high time to start an Endangered Names List:  We’re running out of Clarences and Waldos, and we would do well to treasure our remaining Wandas and Gertrudes. Time is running out.
  • Quiz time:  Which is the only city with world championships in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS? (Answer later in this column.)
  • 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 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.” If that’s not enough, pols of all stripes have their statements “taken out of context”—either by opponents/detractors or some media outlets.  (Allegedly.)  You have to have a strong stomach and a thick skin to run for any meaningful office.  (Or a screw loose!)
  • The problem with politics is that the parts that really hurt us--the backroom deals, the lobbying, the arm-twisting, the payoffs--those we never get to see. All we get are the speeches, the photo-ops and the campaign commercials. C-SPAN notwithstanding, we never really get to see the sausage being made. (Do we have the stomach for it?)
  • More politics: We all know the credo of the so-called compassionate conservative, don’t we?  “I feel your pain; I’m just not going to do anything about it.”
  • Does anyone remember where they were when Saddam Hussein was executed?  Me neither.
  • Redundancy Patrol:  At this point in time, component parts, hazardous toxins.
  • Our cat used to get one piece of mail addressed to him each year--a reminder from the veterinarian for his annual checkup.  But that’s it.  Apparently, pets have built-in immunity to the junk mail plague.  (They get fleas, but no unwanted credit-card offers, charity appeals or schlocky catalogs--and they probably couldn’t care less about privacy notices. Good trade-off?)
  • Three of my restaurant ideas that never got off the ground:  Jim’s House of Hummus, Jim’s Casa Kielbasa and Jim’s Big Screen/Smart TV Dinners.  (Still on my drawing board: Hamburger Schlemmer.)
  • What’s the difference between an epoch and an era?
  • I wonder how often a car dealer has actually given someone “triple the difference in cash” if they found a better deal somewhere else?
  • Anyone who can make any sense out of the dialogue in the “Flo from Progressive” commercials, raise your hand.  (Flo, your plane is boarding.)
  • Speaking of dialogue, one reason I never get hooked on “Law and Order” is that every time someone says something, it’s very scripted-sounding--a snappy, super-succinct, clever comment or rejoinder.  People just don’t talk like that--even erudite legal or law-enforcement professionals. 
  • Wouldn’t society have been better served if Martha Stewart had been sentenced to community service and a multimillion-dollar donation to a women’s shelter or a food pantry . . .  instead of making her twiddle her thumbs in a prison cell? What kind of debt to society was that?
  • jimjustsaying’s Consumer Tip of the Week:  Check those receipts!  Scanners are getting better, but errors are still too commonplace, i.e., charging you regular price rather than the sale price, double scanning of a single item, etc.  I still see them.
  • Sure, the store will rectify the error if you’re diligent enough to catch it.  But . . . there’s another price to be paid in the process--standing in line waiting for the Customer Service person to handle all the folks in front of you who are buying lottery tickets, stamps, cigarettes, money orders or renting the carpet-cleaning machine.
  •  jimjustsaying’s Media Word of the Week (a word you see only in headlines but never hear any normal person use in everyday life):  Quell.  (As in, “NATO forces quell uprising in Latvia.”)
  • Favorite song title: “When the phone don’t ring, you’ll know it’s me!”--Gordon Cormier, lyricist
  • jimjustsaying’s Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month: “Fudd.”  As in David “Fudd” Wiegand, Door County Daily News.  R.I.P., Mr. Wiegand
  • Let's kill all the lawyers?  Well, we don't have to--the robots will.
  • According to news reports, law firms are using artificial intelligence (AI) to do contract analysis, hunt for client conflicts and even craft litigation strategy. (But I'm already up to speed on this:  I've got a robot on a retainer.)
  • jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Month:  "Say [actual party-goer's name here], did you know that the first bomb dropped on Berlin by the Allies during World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo?”
  • Trade war trivia: KFC reportedly sells more chicken in China than in the U.S.  ("Let's get some American food tonight.”)  And General Motors sells more cars there than in the U.S.  (Hard to think of a Chevy Cruze as a foreign car, but in Shanghai . . .  it is.)
  • Airwave nostalgia: How glorious it was when you could channel-switch and find Steve Allen, Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, Jack Benny and Sid Caesar without too much trouble.  We're not even close to equaling any one of those comedy giants much less all five--and we have a couple of hundred more channels. This is NOT the Golden Age of Television. 
  • Quiz answer:  Chicago (supposedly “the city of lovable losers”).
  •  jimjustsaying’s Word That Doesn’t Exist But Should of the Month: “Inelvitable.” n. The uncanny ability of the backup band in Elvis Presley movies to materialize from out of nowhere whenever Elvis decides to break into song--“Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe,” Rich Hall and Friends
  • No Smoking Section: HBO Max has digitally airbrushed cigarettes out of posters for its classic movies, The Week magazine reports, which left stars such as Warren Beatty and Paul Newman gesturing strangely at their mouths with empty fingers. 
  • Tipsters tell me that Woody Allen is working on a film about a female marathon runner.  Working title: “Hannah and Her Blisters.”
  • Drudging Around: Did Nostradamus predict Queen’s death 40 years ago? . . . Soon electric cars could charge faster than iPhone . . . Half cows, entire pigs: Families buying in bulk . . . Woman touted as “Mother Theresa” ran $196 million Ponzi scheme . . . Nightmare of abuse at Christian “troubled teen ranches” in Texas; branded with a cross and tied to a goat as punishment . . . Utah named worst state for road rage . . . Another Cal. exodus: Dairy cows leave for greener pastures in Tex., Ariz. . . . Bronx mob leader survived five attacks in one year before rubbed out on son’s orders, prosecutors say . . . Denver giving homeless $12,000 no-strings-attached cash . . .   Salt Lake City sewers emit mysterious music in homes . . . Human remains can literally be used as compost . . . McDonald’s has new Happy Meals--for adults. (Thanks as always to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators.) 
  •  “In the parade will be several hundred school children carrying flags and city officials.”--Worcester (Mass.)  Telegram via “Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel
  • He said it: “New York has always been going to hell, but somehow it never gets there.”--Robert M. Pirsig, author of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”
  • She said it: “Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.”--Dorothy Parker
  •  jimjustsaying’s Fortune Cookie Facts:  About 30 calories and 7 grams of carbohydrates--including 3 grams of sugar, although some are sugarless.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • ·Choice explosion run amok:  Thirty years ago, Colgate had two varieties of toothpaste. Today, it has 32, excluding the four they make for children.  You could use one kind a day for a month and still have one or two left over.
  • Today’s Latin Lesson: Amen dico tibi nudus natat, qui egreditur, dum Caesar in aridum.  (“You can’t tell who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.”)--Warren Buffett)

    Special thanks to Cary Oakey, this month’s Popcorn intern.