Wednesday, August 2, 2023


 By Jim Szantor

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

Bad timing, very bad timing: Due to my recent hospitalization, I had to cancel my debut appearance on “Naked & Afraid.”  (Maybe next year?)

“Skinfolk ain’t always kinfolk!”—Florida State Sen. Dwight Bullard expressing dismay on MSNBC over the number of Black parents who DON’T want Black History taught in Florida schools!

Everything in moderation—including moderation.

Bozo the Clown?  Why those two extraneous words? Even an aborigine can tell what he is.  As opposed to . . . whom?  Bozo the Secretary General of the United Nations?  Bozo the Pope? 

Speaking of clowns:  Pee-wee Herman, we hardly knew ye! R.I.P.

You know it’s love when even the silences are comfortable.

If Joe Biden could talk, imagine the stories he could tell!

More Joe: How refreshing totally brutal candor would be in a political campaign slogan!  If, say, Biden was his party’s candidate in 2024, and his slogan was, “Hold your nose and vote for me!” He might get votes that he normally might not have gotten. (Mr. Popcorn as political strategist.)

Politicians:  They talk and talk and posture and promise, but at the end of the day, the dirty dishes are still in the sink.

Wouldn’t it be weird if a dairy cow was lactose intolerant?

(And sad, too. How do you fix that?  And somewhere there may even be an eagle that is afraid of heights! Not good, either.)

My career was spent in journalism, but it wasn’t my first choice. I wanted to be a tree surgeon, but I couldn’t stand the sight of sap!

Exercise physiologists often refer to “muscle memory.”  I’m beginning to think I have muscle Alzheimer’s.

He said it: “Dolly Parton? She’s a female female impersonator!”—Filmmaker John Waters (“Hairspray,” “Pink Flamingoes,” “Female Trouble,” and many more.).

More Waters: “I like minorities who don’t even fit in with their own minorities.  That’s who I get along with best.”

She said it: “Places move into people as much as people move into places.”—Novelist Nicola Dinan

People would laugh if you fretted about gaining a third of a pound a week. But if continued, that would add up to 17.3 pounds per year.  At that rate, a woman who weighed 100 pounds in 2013 would weigh 273 pounds today! (Miss America and parts of Canada!)

Three things I’ve never done: Cleaned a fish, flushed out a water heater or piloted the Goodyear Blimp. (Or any other blimp for that matter.)

Boaters have a saying: “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he or she buys it and the day he or she sells it.”

How, one wonders, did boaters get caught holding the bag for buyer’s remorse?  Isn’t that also true for many car owners, home owners, motorcycle owners, horse owners . . . ?

Web site to check out: Its database includes many places that are no longer populated communities.  These may include rural crossroads, hamlets, ghost towns or settlements that have been absorbed by nearby cities or towns.

Idea—have some fun with this.  When a checkout   clerk asks for your zip code, tell them it’s 92357.  That’s Siberia!

No, not that Siberia--Siberia, Cal., which, according to Wikipedia, is a town in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County--a town that has disappeared. Siberia was a water stop and a rail siding for the Santa Fe Railroad. Since 2001, all traces of the town have been removed.  Giving the clerk that zip code should give the store's marketing department pause when they're trying to parse their customer-base demographics!

Redundancy Patrol: “Skip over,” “leave behind,” “fade away.”

To get a handle on one cause of global warming, stand barefoot on the grass on a hot day.  Then stand barefoot on the sidewalk or your driveway.  Will your feet tell you something?

On the fates of megastars:

“There seems to be a Law of Negative Compensation that the Fates visit upon the outrageously famous—one of those deaths Yeats had in mind when he wrote of a friend’s lost son: “Whatever made us dream that he would one day comb gray hair?”—Dwight Macdonald on the death of Michael Jackson.

Cigarette sales must be way down--you don’t see as many dumped ashtrays in parking lots or gutters anymore.  And how many cars even have ashtrays—or cigarette lighters—these days? In fact, some of them don’t even have drivers! (Finally, a driver not on his phone or with a dog in his lap!)

Beef jerky is to adults what jawbreakers are for kids. Hard to chew and not worth the effort.

Poker has become so popular, the player demographic is getting younger and younger.  What’s next—the Little League World Series of Poker?  (Don’t bet against it.)

Whatever happened to Arsenio Hall?

I wonder what would have happened to some of the “classic” TV shows of the past if remote controls had been around (or in more common use) and there had been several hundred channel options?  (“ ‘Gilligan’s What’?  Never heard of it.”)

We all have to cope with postal holidays.  Unfortunately, there are no email holidays . . . and never will be.  (It’s probably just as well--we would just get twice as much the next day, just as we do with the postal variety.)

You’re an old-timer if your house’s phone was once a party line. (Every time someone picked up our phone to use it, neighbor Mrs. Finkler was usually on it, yammering away as only she could. We wondered if she ever ate or slept.)

DRUDGING AROUND: Phoenix brings in refrigerated morgues to prep for heat-related deaths . . . Record temps killing off cactuses . . . 30 days and counting of days over 110 degrees . . . Anchorage mayor proposes sending homeless to LA . . . Bra insert detects breast cancer . . NYC Avenue overrun by brazen brothels operating in broad daylight . . . Antibiotic resistance poses existential threat to modern medicine . . . Leprosy case mystery in Texas . . . Why EVs, laptops catching fire. (Thanks as always to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators.)

***Top Five things overheard at Death Valley when people went hiking there recently on its hottest day ever recorded

Number 5: “How stupid are we for doing this?”
Number 4: “Let’s take a selfie with the dead guy lying next to us.”
Number 3: “You know, dry heat isn’t less hot.”
Number 2: “How about after this we go to Yosemite and
take a selfie with a bison?”
Number 1: “Is this the opposite of climbing Mt. Everest?”

--(via podcaster and radio Hall of Famer Garry Meier)

“One day a week, let the housework wait while you give yourself a shampoo, a manicure, a pedicure and a luxurious bash.”—McKeesport (Pa.) News, via “Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel.

Popcorn’s Newspaper Obituary Headline Nickname of the Week: “Uncle Buck.” As in, Jeffrey J. “Uncle Buck” Buschke. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 28, 2023. R.I.P., Uncle Buck.

Overheard: "My dentist told me my teeth are OK, but my gums are going to have to come out!”

The most frustrating part of being “on hold” isn’t so much the wait but the music stopping for a voice to give you false hope and tell you “how important” you are and to thank you for holding.  If you are on hold for 10 minutes, you get that false hope that your number is up about 20 times.  (If we’re so important, hiring more people would seem to be the appropriate course of action.)

Casey Stengel, legendary New York Yankees manager, said something that probably applies to all sports: “Teams rarely win games; other teams lose them.”

Closed-captioning Gaffe of the Week (seen on CNN): “irony” was displayed as “iron knee.”  Sometimes the funniest things on TV do not emanate from comedy monologuesl

Sign spotting: “Live your live as if it were a book that would be banned in Florida schools!”—(thanks to my eagle-eyed friend Gary Aubry)

Sign Spotting II (from “Wititudes”): “My ability to remember song lyrics from the ‘60s far exceeds my ability to remember why I just walked into the kitchen!”  (We’ve all been there . . . and that applies to most any room.)

Mr. Popcorn’s Social Interaction Tip:  Always answer the door wearing a coat or a jacket.  That way, if it’s someone you like, you can say you just got home.  If it’s not someone you want to see, you can say you were just leaving.  Foolproof.

All-Overrated Club, Way Back Division: Don Imus, Regis Philbin and Larry King.

There will never be an Ozzy Osbourne Lookalike Contest.

Faded phrases: Bury the hatchet, put on the feedbag, sent

 to the hoosegow.

What’s the difference between a proverb, an axiom and an adage?

Hip-hop is to music what pesticides are to fruits and vegetables.

All locusts are grasshoppers, but not all grasshoppers are locusts. (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but it’s here if you need it.)

Today’s Latin Lesson: Quis pessimus ut could venio? ("What's the worst that could happen?")

Special thanks to Al Dente, this month’s Popcorn intern.

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