Tuesday, January 3, 2023


                                                                          By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric and whimsical observations

about the absurdities of contemporary life

  • The most challenging by far of my New Year’s Resolutions:  To stop ordering Chinese food . . . using a Chinese accent. 
  • Turning the tables: If I ever have robotic surgery, the bill may get paid . . . or it may not.  ("Hey, I programmed my robot to write you a check. It’s out of my hands.") 
  • Embarrassing Popcorn Pratfall:  I brashly predicted recently that Liz Cheney would be Time magazine’s Person of the Year, so my apologies to Ukraine’s valiant president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy (yes, 2 y’s by his recent edict), Weak-kneed disclosure: I thought he had won it last year, but that honor went to—wait for it—Elon Musk! (A pratfall for Time?)
  • Elon Musk and Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Now, there’s a pair it takes a full house to beat! 
  • Santa Claus was good to me and answered my prayers:  I got a David Gruber Chia Pet!  For my March birthday, I’ve got my bid in for a David Gruber Bobblehead. (What, you were thinking a Hupy & Abraham?) 
  • Spendthrift: Anyone who actually buys matches, calendars and self-address labels.
  • Language Rant Alert! In the pantheon of loathsome, bordering-on-vulgar phrases, I have a special distain for any one containing the word “sucks.”  As in, “You suck!”  “That sucks.”
  • Origin?  One theory ascribes it to a frequent utterance of one Bart Simpson, central character in an “edgy”--and in my view imbecilic and inexplicably popular--cartoon show. 
  • Memo to inarticulate barbarians (please forgive the redundancy . . . and not you, Popcorn fans):  If it weren’t for the sucking reflex, you never would have survived infancy, so please find a less unsavory/cringeworthy way to express your displeasure with a person, place of thing. 
  • Cold-wave note:  I see that the media is now referring to the homeless seeking refuge in warming shelters as the “unhoused.”  I’m sure this PC/woke-ish promotion makes them feel so much better.  (It doesn’t warm their hearts . . . or anything else, either!)
  • jimjustsaying’s contribution to the meteorological lexicon:  Slint:  You know, when it’s “snowing” but it looks more like airborne lint than snowflakes, “slint” is a more accurate description, and it’s not a rare phenomenon. (“Tonight, slint developing, with slightly more slint before daybreak, turning to snowflakes before the evening rush. Chance of slint: 60 percent.”)
  • jimjustsaying’s Favorite Shakespearean character:  Hippolyta, of “A Midsummer Night's Dream.”  (If only we’d known about her when we named our first daughter!)
  • Role model for feminists? Hippolyta belonged to a skilled group of warriors called the Amazons. And because Ancient Greece was not as male-focused as many modern societies, strong women like Hippolyta were the perfect example that they were not living in a man’s world.  (Obviously, this was an outlier and not a trend that took hold in all societies.)
  • NY Post Page One of the Month (for December)

  • News reports: Bankman-Fried faces up to 115 years if convicted of all fraud-related charges.
  • POPCORN’S sentence: At least 20 years for the hair!
  • True confessions: I made the mistake of starting to smoke e-cigarettes. Now I'm addicted to batteries!
  • Overheard: "Next fall my 4-year-old Johnny will be starting preschool."
  • No! He! Won’t! He'll be in SCHOOL; there's nothing "pre" about it. He will be in a room with a teacher, desks, other kids, a blackboard and won't be able to leave until the bell rings. That's SCHOOL in my book, whether it's Totland, the Sorbonne or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The only "pre" part of it is when the kid rolls out of bed, wolfs down the Pop-Tart and clambers into the minivan.
  • Madonna, your plane is boarding. Your popularity ended about five re-inventions ago.
  • DRUDGING AROUND: Fatherhood changes men’s brains . . . Buddhist temple left without monks as all test positive for meth . . . Reckless driver turns out to be dog . . . Hospital patient switched off neighbor’s “noisy” oxygen machine . . . Philly gas station hires heavily armed guards . . . Bodybuilders dying as coaches, judges encourage extreme measures . . . Suit: TGI Friday’s “mozzarella sticks” don’t contain mozzarella . . . Ohio couple married 79 years die hours apart . . . For many, mourning pets harder than grieving people . . . Recruited for Navy Seals, many sailors wind up scraping paint . . . More than half of Christians believe we’re living in End Times . . . Man who posed in bathtub full of cash to plead guilty in bitcoin theft . . . Illegals crawl out of sewer manholes, sneak into TX . . . Parents using baby monitors to track older children—even teens . . . Man with explosives stored in rectum sparks bomb scare. (Thanks as always to Matt Drudge and his intrepid band of aggregators.)
  • jimjustsaying’s Party Ice-Breaker of the Month: “Say [actual partygoer’s name here], did you know that ‘Mickey Mouse’ in Spanish is ‘El Raton Miguelito’?” (I’ve also seen it as “Miguel Rodencito”--in other words, Michael Little Rodent!--on a comic book a former colleague purchased while on a media-exchange program trip to Havana.)
  • All-Overrated Club: The G Team--Greg Gutfeld, Geraldo Rivera and Gisele Bündchen.
  • Fame is Fleeting Dept.: Looks like the day of the “Rodgers’ Rate” has disappeared from State Farm ads. Replacing the GB QB is the new glamor boy, Patrick Mahomes. Could be it’s because the KC Chiefs are a division-leading team and the woebegone Pack probably won’t make the playoffs? Nahhh . . . .
  • Demographic dystopia: A number of trends are coming together to give rise to "kinless seniors," the New York Times reports.
  • There are nearly a million Americans over 55 living without a spouse or a partner, any children or siblings because boomers have lower marriage rates than their parents and more have remained childless. Also, the divorce rate among couples who have crossed age 50 has risen. Rates of “kinlessness” are projected to grow as generations younger than boomers are even likelier to be aging alone.
  • It’s mind-boggling to think that Taylor Swift sold more tickets in 10 minutes than Ella Fitzgerald or Peggy Lee probably did in a lifetime. Still trying to get my head around that.
  • Guys who go up on power poles to fix outages during storms should make much more money than they probably do. Much more. But in our warped society we pay star quarterbacks $50 million a year to play about 20 games. Thus Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers make about $650,000 per quarter—or 15 game minutes—which is about 10 times what schoolteachers make in an entire year—if they’re lucky! God Bless America, land of equal opportunity and the level playing field. (And don’t get me started on college coaches making from $15 to $20 million a year. That’s why we have classes taught by teaching assistants (grad students) or “adjunct professors” (translation: poorly paid part-timers). There’s no money left in the budget to foster the kind of quality education that justifies the astronomical tuition.
  • Whatever happened to Martin Mull?
  • jimjustsaying’s Police Euphemism of the Century: "baton." I guess it sounds better than billy club! (Or whuppin' stick!)
  • He said it: "She looks like she was poured into her clothes and forgot to say 'when.' "--P.G. Wodehouse
  • She said it: “Never marry a man you wouldn't want to be divorced from."--Nora Ephron
  • If life-saving penicillin comes from mold, wouldn't it be great if they found a way to harness flesh-eating bacteria to make the miracle diet drug that millions are praying for? We all know there's a lot of flesh out there that needs to be eaten. (I'm just sayin'. . . ) More than a few great things have been discovered by accident.
  • One nice thing about being a busboy: Not a high-paying job, absolutely no status--but not one you're likely to take home with you, either!
  • I recently ridiculed the practice of newspapers reporting what the defendant was wearing. I’m also amused by the fetish of the media for photographing a defendant on his/her (usually his) daily walk to and from the courtroom. They never say anything except “No comment”; nothing ever happens. But there they are--the phalanx of shabbily dressed lensmen (cargo pants seem to be de rigueur) and lenswomen, shooting away without letup as if they're recording the Second Coming. It's the "In case something happens" rationale, lame though it is.
  • And then there are all those little gnome-like creatures you see scurrying around on their hands and knees at press conferences or presidential debates to get those precious and oh-so-rare photos of preening, overexposed politicians standing at a podium.
  • Make no mistake; I was a media member for 30 years and know the value of a free press in a free society. But some of profession’s practices need revision or scuttling--such as the misguided and wrongminded “tradition” of doing Year in Review stories in early December! That sweeps about 25 days of December news under the rug, whether it’s a major scandal, a killer storm (such as the historic pre-Christmas Snowmageddon) or an assassination. As if there is no space to fill after Jan. 1! My hat will be off to the first media outlet that breaks that mold and employs rational thought. Not optimistic.)
  • jimjustsaying’s Dine-out Tip o’ the Week: Never order "Salmon served on a Cedar Plank." Why pay $6 more for something you can't eat? Can I get a doggy bag for the plank . . . or order, say, Catfish on a Cedar Plank? Does the plank do that much?
  • What do Telly Savalas, Dyan Cannon, Peter Falk, Cloris Leachman, James Caan, Robert Redford and Rip Torn have in common--besides being actors? Answer: All of them played supporting roles in their salad days in various episodes of TV’s "The Untouchables" (1959-1963). (My, ahem, Robert Stack-as-Eliot Ness impression is impeccable, and I will do it on demand!)
  • jimjustsaying’s Faded Word of the Week: Reprobate.
  • News item:  "An Army investigation has found that potentially hundreds of remains at Arlington National Cemetery have been misidentified or misplaced."
  • Sweet Jesus, meek and mild! First, we send people overseas to die in wars of questionable justification, then we botch the burials of the hapless but valiant victims. Amazing and appalling. (The Tomb of the Unknown Unknown?)
  • Businesses or landlords that don’t clear away snow and ice should have their property taxes doubled. Make that quadrupled!
  • jimjustsaying’s Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Month: “Disco Debbie.” As in, Deborah Lynn “Disco Debbie” Steffen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Dec. 4, 2022. R.I.P., Disco Debbie.
  • The Law of Unintended Consequences strikes again: Potheads everywhere saluted progressive Oregon for legalizing “weed” in 2014.
  • Upshot: The indoor and outdoor growing uses massive amounts of water in drought-stricken areas, contaminates the environment and employs migrant laborers who live in squalid conditions.
  • But there’s more! Police say foreign criminal gangs have become involved, from Mexico, Russia, China and other countries. Oh, what a joy it must be to live in such an enlightened state!
  • Has anyone ever seen Beyonce, Rihanna, Mariah Carey and Cardi B in the same room? It’s the same woman, I submit, rotating four different names. (Could anyone over 40 pick any of those women out of a police lineup if their life depended on it? Or name even one of their hit songs?)
  • Speaking of show business, you may have seen that Gallagher, the watermelon-smashing “comedian,” died recently, leading me to instantly recall what acid-tongued Gore Vidal said when informed that archrival and former best friend Truman Capote, had died: “Good career move.” As Capote himself often said, “Oh, that Gore!”
  • Redundancy Patrol, P Division: Price point, preplan, postpone until later.
  • “Eight candidates, including all four incompetents, are seeking the four City Council positions this year.”--Cheney (Wash.) Free Press."--“Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel.
  • jimjustsaying’s Word That Doesn’t Exist But Should of the Month: Carpetpetuation. n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.—"More Sniglets,” Rich Hall and Friends
  • Memo to people who are always kicking off their shoes at every opportunity (even at the office): Umm, you’ve got some bad shoes there, my friend. (I don’t take mine off until bedtime most days. Good shoes pay you back—and you don’t even know you have them on.)
  • How maddening it is—and it happens often—when you go online for a computer fix of some sort, find what you’re looking for, and you’re directed to links or tabs that no longer exist. These technocrat “geekgurus” never keep up with nomenclature changes you would think would be of utmost importance and not overlooked (and why they keep making seemingly arbitrary and unnecessary changes is a mystery to me, unless the goal of these geeks is to confuse us and elevate their importance, which I suspect is the case.).
  • Same with commercial locations. We once decided to visit a store that, according to the internet, was open and thriving. When we couldn’t find it, a clerk at a nearby establishment informed us, “Oh, that place closed years ago.” Similarly, a MapQuest guide was out of date and didn’t know about a road closure outside of Madison, the state capital, making the recommended route impossible to follow. Moral: The internet is often helpful but far from infallible--very far. I now call first or check multiple sources! (Once something gets onto the ‘net, it’s apparently there forever.)
  • Today’s Latin Lesson: Est is melior ut redonum quam ut resuscipio? ("Is it better to re-gift than to re-receive?")
Special thanks to Sue Falls, this month’s Popcorn intern.

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