Friday, January 19, 2024


 By Jim Szantor

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

  • I was a teenage cobra-venom extractor.
  • Headline: “‘Barbie’ leads Golden Globes with nine nominations.” (Slap forehead here.)
  • I’m thinking if “Citizen Kane” came out today, it would probably be roundly ignored.  Such is the zeitgeist—the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of the era.
  • If a doll (Barbie) could become a movie, what about a column?  Yes, “Popcorn, the Movie,” starring Jim Szantor as himself and Anderson Cooper as one of his nerdy interns.  (I hope “Popcorn, The Movie” wouldn’t get a bad review in Rotten Tomatoes!)’
  • Green olives, bottles; black olives, cans. Discuss!
  • Finally, my favorite day of the year is imminent: Jan. 2!  Because from Black Friday on, for about six weeks, the default excuse for everything being delayed, mixed up or essentially in a stranglehold is  . . . “because of the holidays.” 
  • Thank God, this Bermuda Triangle-like period will be behind us.  It’s amazing how “the holidays” (which are in actuality just two days . . . and the first one a religious holiday with, alas, little if any religious activity or participation for most) can throw the world into a tizzy for about 30-40 days, depending on when Thanksgiving falls.  But we in America seemingly have an uncanny knack for bending and distorting everything out of shape—going over the top over one-day events like the Super Bowl and performers like Taylor Swift, the Poster Girl for Overrated Talent.
  • News item: “To help alleviate urgent scarcity in the drought-prone state, California will allow sewage waste to be recycled into drinking water.” (Looks like “The Hotel California” has become a flophouse!)
  • One of the best things you can say about a restaurant is: “Even their off days are pretty damned good!” (Kind of a lefthanded compliment, but, hey, in a day when fast-food workers are shot over a cold order of french fries, such a compliment would be lovingly embraced.)
  • All this talk about 2024 and straw polls! What do straws have to do with politics? Are people throwing straw hats into the ring now?  When did that start?
  • I'm nostalgic for the days when the magazines I subscribed to didn't come in plastic bags.
  • I’ve never seen a service animal that wasn’t doing an exemplary job. People? Not so much. But their devices are always working overtime.
  • There are no slacker service animals. They’re so skilled, gentle and dedicated that it can move you to tears. 
  • Headline: “UNLV gunman was a professor who had repeatedly applied for a job.”
  • Reaction: I think I’d be extremely nervous if I were in a position to hire or fire someone these days. It doesn’t have to be a “disgruntled ex-employee” who comes gunning for you, it could be the ne’er-do-well you chose not to hire who puts you in the grave.  An increasingly perilous position, for sure.
  • One of jimjustsaying’s favorite media euphemisms: “Indecent liberties.”  Favorite noun?  Debauchery.
  • Speaking of euphemisms: Prostitutes have now apparently been elevated to the ranks of “sex workers.”  (I doubt that the new nomenclature makes the VD and the omnipresent dangers disappear.) 
  • I’ve never been to Bangladesh, but my pants have.  And some of my shirts have been to Taiwan!  I’m a walking sartorial man of the world!
  • Memo to medical/dental receptionists: We don't need to be told "You can have a seat in the waiting room" after we've announced our presence and given you that most vital “date of birth and insurance card.” 
  • I think we know to do that!  What else are we going to do?  Glare down at you until our name is called?  Stand on our heads in the parking lot?  Twiddle our thumbs in the basement next to the water heater?  We know what those chairs are there for, so save your breath and stop insulting our intelligence! (And get some better magazines.)
  • jimjustsaying's Word That Doesn't Exist But Should of the Month—“Inelvitable.” n. The uncanny ability of a band in an old Elvis Presley movie to materialize out of nowhere whenever Elvis starts to sing.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall and Friends.
  • Does the White House have a West Room?  We're always hearing about the East Room, the Oval Office and the Rose Garden, so maybe the West Room is the . . . restroom? Which would explain why it doesn't get much press . . . and, I hope, never will.
  • I was born in Kenosha, Wis.  For those who don’t know, it’s in the far southeast corner of the state, on the Illinois border.  Or, as I call it, Baja Wisconsin.
  • Has anyone ever seen a sterling silver spork? I haven’t.  If they’re such a great idea, why do they only come in plastic? 
  • Any nutritionist will tell you that brown rice is far better for you than white rice, but try getting it in a Chinese restaurant!  They think you mean fried rice, which, of course, is simply white rice made even less nutritious with oil, soy sauce and whatever else. 
  • I’m also amazed that the number of restaurants that don’t have low-cal salad dressings.  How much would it cost them to have a bottle or two on hand?  (And they wonder why business isn’t very good. Hey, folks, it’s 2024.)
  • Hard to believe, but there are 38 ingredients in the salad croutons at McDonald’s.  And they’re just little pieces of toast!
  • Guys are lucky in many ways.  For one thing, we don’t have to have pap smears, probably because, through the grace of God, we don’t have any paps!
  • It would be interesting if a sports sideline reporter sought out a guy who didn't even play in the game and say:  "How did it feel to sit there and contribute exactly nothing today? Do you think you're going to be released?" How refreshing that would be instead of those gushy, cliched “interviews”!  (In bad taste but refreshing--sort of like the Popcorn column.  😊)
  • Who invents all those "As seen on TV" products," the majority of which get panned regularly in Consumer Reports and on many Internet sites?
  • Imagine seeing a headstone with your name on it saying, "Here lies the man who invented the RoboStir and the Ped Egg."
  • Speaking of inventors, George Devol was the inventor of the mechanical arm used as a prototype for assembly-line robots. Sounds fairly impressive. But he also invented a hot-dog cooker called the Speedy Weeny, which--I’m thinking—may well disqualify him for induction into the Inventors Hall of Fame.
  • When was the last time you saw a new funeral home being built?   With the population increase over the last decades, you'd think you would see a new construction occasionally.  Are the existing ones just busier or . . . . What am I missing here?
  • More cremations?  The funeral home process is still required in many if not most states. People living longer?  They still die eventually . . . and then there is the off-setting phenomenon of the growing number of young people dying of gang violence, drive-by shootings, drug overdoses and Covid. I’m sure fentanyl is probably becoming more and more of a major factor by the day.
  • DRUDGING AROUND: Sugar shortfall leaves candy-makers scrounging . . . 70-year-old woman gives birth to twins . . . Study: Bowl of yogurt a day keeps mood disorders away . . . Italy’s “most handsome man” quits modeling to become priest . . . Handcuffed and sent to ER for bad behavior:  Schools sending more students to hospital . . . With human brain, size isn’t everything . . . Cops putting trackers in packages to catch porch pirates . . . Woman shouts “Happy Holidays” while bear-spraying store employees . . . Self-checkout reversal growing . . . Plastic surgeons say more MEN requesting butt implants . . . Private members’ club for DOGS opens in LA . . . Half-male, half-female bird spotted by scientist . . . Baby “sucked up” in tornado miraculously found alive in a tree . . . Texas family awakens to find drunk driver passed out in bedroom  . . . and mangled SUV in front yard with dead passenger inside . . . Santa falls to his death during stunt gone wrong . . . Man assaulted for burping . . . Florida woman arrested after 309 animals seized from mobile home! . . . Season’s Beatings: Woman arrested for attacking man with Christmas tree.  (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 ‘rizz’ (n.) is the Oxford University Word of the Year?  It means charm, attractiveness, the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)
  • Where does “rizz” come from? It’s Gen Z slang that’s probably short for “charisma.”  It won out—thank God—over “Swiftie” and two other words: “situationship” (an informal romantic or sexual relationship) and “prompt” (an instruction given to an artificial intelligence program).
  • Key Notes, Vehicle Division (from Quora):
  •  -­-"My cousin went to pick up family members at the airport. He gives the key to one of the younger cousins he was picking up and tells him, “It's the blue Datsun in such and such lane”. The kid goes down to the parking lot and finds two identical cars parked next to each other. He figures the key would only fit the correct one. First try, it worked. He drives up to the baggage claim, and when the guy who sent him sees the car, he exclaims, “That's not my car.”
  • --“I had a ‘61 Pontiac, and my trunk key would start my father-in-law’s ‘62 Pontiac!”
  • --"In the early ‘80s I had a ‘74 Maverick. I had a locking gas cap. That key fit my brother-in-law’s locking gas cap on his ‘77 Ford pickup.”
  • --"I recall many years ago that one company in particular had all trucks keyed the same. That way, if one driver locked his key in the truck, he only had to find another company driver to unlock it for him.”
  • --“Many municipalities have vehicles keyed alike. In the days of the Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers, all of our cruisers were keyed alike. We replaced a certain percentage of cruisers each year, and even the new ones were keyed the same as the old ones so, any Crown Vic in the fleet could be opened by the same key.”
  • Montana State of Mind: “In Montana, fame only counts for the first few minutes, then after that, you have to hold your own; Montanans don’t judge you on whether or not you’re famous, but on who you actually are.”--Longtime resident  (Probably not the Hollywood State of Mind.)
  • “The medical study will employ 10,000 mice as guinea pigs.”—“Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel
  • jimjustsaying’s Media Word of the Month (a word no normal person ever uses but is often encountered in newspaper headlines and stories): Travails.
  • Shouldn't public-service ads (or those tag lines at the end of beer commercials) say, "Please drive responsibly" instead of "Please drink responsibly"? If you're home alone, I don't much care if you drink irresponsibly (as long as you don't "drunk dial" me!).
  • Overheard: “The best way to truly surprise someone at a surprise party is to hold it a week late.”
  • Today's Latin Lesson:  Is est ferreus reor callidus editio ut reddo sulum mensis.  ("It's hard to think of a clever statement to translate every month.")

Special thanks to Al Jazeera, this month’s Popcorn intern

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