Friday, September 1, 2023


By Jim Szantor

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

I was a teenage taxidermist.

The Answer:  Once or possibly twice.  The Question:  How many times a week do folks 50 and over NOT get any mail from AARP?

I recently spotted an ad for Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper.  I guess the idea is to make it taste like anything but Dr. Pepper.

Overheard: “When women gossip, they’re called bitchy. But when men gossip, it’s called a podcast.”

Note to employers:  Before you hire someone, look inside the prospective employee's car (assuming he or she has one).  It will tell you more about the actual person than the dating-behavior charade that is the official interview process.

Why are fortune cookies found only in Oriental restaurants?   (Who would be the first to break the mold? It would be funny if you got one at, say, at Luigi’s Trattoria.  Or Lil and Lou’s BBQ Shack.  Or Hans’ House of Schnitzel.)  

Then there is the hybrid Chinese/Russian restaurant that just opened in Moscow.  The food reportedly is tasty, but 20 minutes later, you’re hungry for power.

Are pets always on vacation . . . or never on vacation?  And if you take your pet with you on vacation, is that a double vacation for the pet?  Or is it more of a vacation for Fido if you leave him home with a neighbor tending to him or have him put in a kennel?

(These are existential questions that Kierkegaard never got around to.  And wouldn’t this be a unique “Jeopardy” challenge?  “I’ll take Philosophers Who Weren’t Pet Owners for $5,000, Alex.”)

 jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist of the Month But Should:  AbrahamWashington. n. The unidentifiable "president" on the facsimile bill image seen on change machines.--From "Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall and Friends.  (Would that be a counterfeit image or a composite counterfeit?  Or was it the original deep fake?)

Refrigerator:  A device useful for storing leftovers until they’re old enough to throw out.

Memo to all companies:  Let me buy something online without making me create an account, a user name and a password and install a mobile app, and you've got a customer for life.  I just want to buy something, not join a club!  But you, of course, insist on getting your hooks into us for your own selfish interests.  Annoying!

Another in a series of jimjustsaying's Media Words (words you see in newspapers but rarely if ever hear used by normal people in everyday life):  "Bevy."  (See also "passel," "vaunted" and "embattled").

She said it: "Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine."--Whoopi Goldberg

He said it: “The history of civilization is largely the history of weapons.”—George Orwell

In one 2019 poll, almost a quarter of Americans said recycling is more complicated than filling out their taxes.

If Tampa Bay wasn't hot enough, spontaneously combusting garbage certainly doesn't help.

Tampa's solid waste department has seen a recent trend in "hot loads" during the spring and summer, aka spontaneous combustions and fires inside trash or recycling trucks, Axios reports.

These fires are caused by overheating lithium-ion batteries, chemicals, cleaning solutions, propane tanks or electronics improperly disposed of in bins.

Tampa Fire Rescue has responded to more than 1,200 trash or dumpster fires in the last year, the city announced.


Artwork courtesy of Quora

 Ah, yes . . . and yet we yearn for a simpler time!

There's no hope.   How are we going to fix the tax code, repair the crumbling infrastructure, deal with Putin, China or North Korea, not to mention reverse climate change when we can't even phase out the penny?   That would seem to be child's play in comparison, yet we can't even do something as simple as that!  And we've only been talking about it for about 30 years!

Pumpkin spice has already arrived everywhere from Dunkin' and Krispy Kreme to Bath & Body Works. (And don’t be surprised if oil companies hop on the bandwagon with a special blend: Pumpkin Spice Gasoline.  At a Premium price, of course.)

The national debt is much larger than Donald Trump’s legal bills . . . but the gap is narrowing by the day.

DRUDGING AROUND:  The college students who live in their cars . . . More Americans say they can NEVER retire . . . “Gray divorce:  More Boomers living alone . . . Calif:  Doctor-assisted suicides surge 63%! . . . Shoppers fed up with anti-theft devices . . . Ford CEO struggles to charge EV during road trip . . . Why college has become total ripoff . . . Today, nearly half of the students given government loans don’t graduate even after six years . . . Teens fall for online scams at faster rate than seniors . . . SF archbishop goes bankrupt to settle sex-abuse suits . . . States look to hire illegals to fatten struggling police depts. . . . (Thanks, as always, to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators.)

The cartoon mascots that appear on cereal boxes, such as Cap’n Crunch and the Trix rabbit, are routinely designed so that their eyes tilt down by 9.6 degrees—the perfect angle to make eye contact with a child standing in the supermarket aisle, according to a study by Cornell University.  Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it. (Hmm, how does that work if the boxes are stocked on the bottom shelf?)

Overheard:  "Which is worse:  People who will argue over anything . . . or people who will argue over nothing?"

I liked some of Jerry Seinfeld's "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" online series and am wondering what his next "You Can Never Have Enough Money" project will be.  Maybe . . . "Comedy Writers Doing Their Laundry in Other People's Basements”?

TV show that has absolutely no appeal for me: “Jay Leno’s Garage.”  (Jay, you were great, but your plane is now boarding!)

Redundancy patrol:  "Arson fire," "join together" and "end result."

Redundancy patrol, TV Meteorologist Division: “Rain event,” “Snow event,” “evening time,” “sunshine” and “drop down” (as in “temperatures will ’drop down’ into the 20s.”)

jimjustsaying's Coinage of the Month:  Shoulder of fortune:  A person who, when he or she is talking to you, is looking past you to see if there's someone more important he or she should be talking to. (A staple of cocktail parties everywhere.)

Dogs may be left without muzzles for 10 days after having been vaccinated against rabbis.”—from “Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel

You Can’t Make This Up Dept.: Think the biggest challenge in building a golf course in Dubai would be creating fairways and greens in a desert environment?  

Actually, a New Yorker article informs us that the hardest parts are the areas that are supposed to be sandy, because, it turns out, deserts make lousy sand traps.  

"The wind-blown grains are so rounded that golf balls sink into them, so the sand in the bunkers on Dubai's many golf courses is imported."  (Shades of “Carrying Coals to Newcastle”?)

Speaking of the Mideast: When in Abu Dhabi, do as the Abu Dhabi do! 

Good word, long overdue: Merriam-Webster has added “sheeple” to its official dictionary.  A combination of “sheep” and “people,” the derogatory term is used to describe "people who are docile, compliant, or easily influenced." (The MAGA crowd writ large?)

jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that researchers in the U.K. found that shouting expletives during physical exertion can boost strength, especially during tasks that require short, intense bursts of power like opening a tight-lidded jar?" 

(“We have yet to understand the power of swearing,” one researcher concluded.)  (*!#-*&%!($!@. Was that powerful enough?)

Dept. of the Wrongminded and Misguided:  When a tragedy occurs at a school, they always say that "counselors will be made available to all students."

I really have my doubts about the wisdom of this, how much it really helps.  Kids are resilient; they don't need any academics rubbing their nose in the pathos and peppering them with platitudes.  (Kid runs into the house crying, "I’m never going to play with Johnny again!"  Ten minutes later?  They're playing together like nothing ever happened!)

Puritanism: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”—H.L. Mencken

You're an old-timer if you remember when you had to take the anti-freeze out of the car in the spring and put new stuff in in the fall.

Today's Latin Lesson: Si haec subitis medicinae realis, pendet et dial 911. ("If this is a medical emergency, please hang up and dial 911.”)

Thanks to Sally Port, this month’s Popcorn intern.