Saturday, March 2, 2024


                                                                 By Jim Szantor

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

  --I was the first teenage member of The Hair Club for Men.

--If St. Patrick were around today, I think he’d be trying to drive all the snakes out of office!

--March madness. You’ll be hearing those words on TV ads a lot this month. Me, I'm mad 12 months a year--and twice on Sunday. (And the person who wins the NCAA Basketball Tournament office pool is usually a woman who picks the teams by their nicknames or uniforms.  Never fails.)

--Who made the decision that all TV anchors and commentators should pronounce "candiDATE as “candiDIT”?  (What dit is the election?  Do you have a dit for Saturday night?  What’s the dit today?)

--Speaking of politics, -what was your favorite moment of the Vivek Ramaswamy candidacy?

--Pro NO! Customers who forked out $3,500 for the Apple Vision Pro headset are already returning the devices, claiming they cause eye strain, headaches and motion sickness.

“More than 200,000 pairs of the groundbreaking goggles were sold during pre-order before being released to the public on Feb. 2,” news reports told us.

(There’s that idiotic term again—“pre-order.” You mean that’s the order I place before I place the actual order?  And the ridiculous verbiage never ends! A crisp $100 bill to anyone who can explain what “point” adds (in the vogue phrase “price point”) that “price” doesn’t already say.  Bring back the stocks in the public square for the people who invent or perpetuate these things!

--I’m having trouble mastering the art of stir-frying.  You might say I can talk the talk, but--wait for it--I can’t wok the wok.

--Line never spoken on “The Sopranos”: “You ain’t got the money? Hey, no problem—have a nice day!”

--Miguel Rodencito.  That, if you haven't already guessed, is "Mickey Mouse" in Spanish.  (Literally, "Michael Little Rodent.")

(Sponge Bob Square Pants?  That would be Esponja Menearse Plaza Pantalones! Who else would tell you these things? (That’s a foolproof Party Ice-Breaker, my friends.)

--Winter musings:

Note to TV stations: Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just list the schools that are OPEN instead of showing the names of innumerable schools (and/or companies, event names) on the marathon-length "crawl" at the bottom of the screen?  

I don't understand all these school-closing "snow days." Why?  Because you go to the gym, mall or fast-food joint, and what do you see?  Wall to wall kids!  It's not like the school closing kept them safely at home, so aren't they better off on the school bus and at school instead of individually heading out into the very same elements they're supposedly being "protected" from?  And forget the stay-at-home moms—they don’t exist.

The teachers?  Well, other adult employees find a way to get to work on snowy days, so what's the problem here?  What is this, another quote-unquote liability issue?  Ridiculous.

Ice fishermen are to winter what Civil War re-enactors are to summer.  

(What's the point of freezing your butt off/risking your life/investing in all kinds of gear in trying to catch $6 worth of fish?  Fish that you can buy in many stores! About as pointless as wearing scratchy heavy wool uniforms in August while running around pretending to shoot a guy from your bowling team who's dressed as the "enemy.”)

Winter driving hazard no one ever mentions:  Wet snow that clings to highway signs, making them all but unreadable.  How many missed exits or wrong turns result, not to mention accidents? If we can put a man on the Moon, there should be a way to fix this.  Yet . . . everybody sees this, and nothing is ever done.  Maybe we could put some of those chemicals that are already killing us to good use for a change?

Why do people say, "It’s too cold to snow”?  (Right; those 18-foot snow drifts at the South Pole where it’s 80 below zero are strictly an optical illusion!  Obviously an outlier! Or in these dark days, maybe even a deep fake!)

Electric vehicles are quickly becoming the laughingstock of the century: Few reliable charging stations in safe, well-lit areas, and said vehicles are almost useless in cold weather.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention those pesky exploding batteries.

But the planet is better off, right? Good—we’re on the right track . . .  in a dysfunctional world in which we can’t even do something as simple as phasing out the penny, which has been on the agenda for at least 30 years. 

--Which would be better: To have the hottest thing on the market . . .  or the coolest thing on the market?  Can one thing be both?  Discuss!

--Overheard: “I know a guy who is afraid to Google himself for fear he’ll go blind!”

--jimjustsaying’s Word That Doesn’t Exist But Should of the Month: “Profanitype.” n.  The special symbols used by cartoonists to replace swear words (*&%#!, etc.).  No agreement yet established as to which symbol represents which expletive.—“Sniglets,” Rich Hall & Friends.

--Endangered species, language division: “Shindig.” (And you’re an old-timer if you can remember the days when underwear was referred to as “unmentionables.”)

--Overheard: "My, my!  Next fall my 4-year-old grandson 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, other kids, a blackboard (or maybe now an iPad?) and won't be able to leave until the bell rings.  That's SCHOOL, whether it's Playland, Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

--I don’t care what anyone says:  Olympic figure skaters or “ice dancers” are performers, not athletes.

--Memo to producers of newspaper advertising inserts: “WOW! doesn’t work for me anymore next to a loss-leader price tag.  I think us jaded consumers are all pretty much "WOWed out" by now.  (A recent insert for Walgreen’s had 36 WOW! items.  Enough already!)

Tell you what, advertisers:  Just tell me the product and the price, and I’LL decide whether it's a WOW! for me or not. Your opinion doesn’t count.

(Better yet, why not come up with some more novel wording, something more attention-getting, such as:  HOLY SHIT!  Duracell AA's, 4 pack, 99 cents!!!" . . . Or, "JESUS H. CHRIST!  Snickers 2-pack, 89 cents!!! Now we're talkin' "grabbers," are we not, folks?!)

--There will never be a Richard Belzer Lookalike Contest.  (I loved "The Belz”—my nominee for the Best Comic/Serious Actor Combo Platter.)

--In response to a query from a Popcorn regular in Singapore: Q-tips, according to the company, are so-called because the "Q" stands for Quality.

Q-tips started in the 1920s when the founder noticed his wife applying wads of cotton to toothpicks. The original name for the cotton stick was "Baby Gays," but switched to “Q-tips” in 1926. (“I’ll take the Original Name for Common Household Products for $5,000, Alex.”)

jimjustsaying's Party Ice-Breaker of the Week:  "Say [actual partygoer's name here], did you know that Richard NIxon played the lead role in a school production of 'The Aeneid'?"  (Who said there are no second acts in American life?)

--Is there some kind of rule that says every protest group's chant has to begin with "Hey-hey, ho-ho . . ."?  

--Three words you commonly see in print but never hear anyone actually use: "Cavort," "nimble" and "splendid."

DRUDGING AROUND: Surprising, alarming reasons behind “out of control” STD epidemic: Starts with dating apps . . . Cops: Dealer handed out business cards with cocaine sample attached . . .  Surgical robot burned woman’s intestines and caused her to die: lawsuit . . . Contestants will lose virginity in reality show set on tropical island . . .  “Better than real man”: Young Chinese women turn to AI boyfriends . . . World’s tallest man meets world’s shortest woman . . . Why skipping your dog’s walk is a bigger deal than you think . . . Red Lobster ditches “all-you-can-eat” after huge losses . . .  Six-pack abs six times worse for the heart? (Thanks, as always, to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators.)

--"My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them."--Mitch Hedberg

--If I ever have robotic surgery, I can’t wait to get the bill. (“Hey, I programmed MY robot to send you a check! Don’t blame me—it’s out of my hands—literally!)

Speaking of robots: Carving a chicken seems simple enough to people who have done it in the kitchen. But the eye-hand coordination, or reflexive sizing up that the human brain makes as it decides where and how deep to cut has been incredibly difficult to replicate in a robot, says Gary McMurray, who leads a team of robot builders at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Let’s see if I’ve got this right:  A robot can do delicate brain surgery . . . but can’t cut up a chicken?  I guess we’re not as advanced as we thought we were. (Slap forehead here!)

--He said it: “Learn your lines and don't trip over the furniture."--Spencer Tracy on his advice about acting.

--She said it: "If I had my life to live over again, I'd make the same mistakes--only sooner."--Tallulah Bankhead

--Talking back to the TV:  When CNN flashed "Coming up next: Are you smarter than the average computer?" I said: "No!  But I've got a chip on my shoulder if that helps!"

--Ryan Seacrest, your flight is now boarding.

--Speaking of flights, a Finnish airline is asking passengers to weigh themselves at departure gates. 


Why? The Finnair program is part of an effort to improve airplane balance calculations. Passengers will step on the scales at Helsinki Airport with their carry-on luggage.

More airlines are using this strategy to ensure a plane’s total weight is accurate. Finnair said its program, which began last week, is “voluntary and anonymous.”

--Never order salmon “served on a cedar plank." Why pay $5 more for something you can't eat?

Bank on it: Spaghetti always costs more at a "trattoria."

More dining: jimjustsaying's Eat-Out Tip O' the Week:  At a Mexican restaurant, always
ask to be seated in the No Guitarist section. (“Me gustaría una mesa en la sección
sin guitarrista!”)
--TODAY'S LATIN LESSON: Sicut bonus vicinus, res publica firma est. (“Like a 
good neighbor, State Farm is there”)

Thanks to Al Buckerkie, this month’s Popcorn intern.

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