Monday, April 1, 2024


What they're saying about Jim's provocative blog:

--“If you like stuff written by a man who has to read the instructions on a toothpaste tube, go right ahead!”—Stephen Colbert

--"The only column that should come with a warning label.”Steve Martin

--"I love it when he says he doesn’t always agree with everything he says.”Joe Biden

--"He's from this country, Mexicans don't read him, so that's good enough for me."--Donald Trump

--"The one thing I didn't delete from my private server."--Hillary Clinton

--I swear, he’s the real deal!”—George Santos

--"Jimaschizzle!"--Calvin Broadus, Jr. (aka Snoop Dogg)

--“Acerbic comedy without the annoying aftertaste!”—Jimmy Kimmel

jimjustselling . . .

Actually, I'm not, but the good folks at HenschelHAUS are.

The book is also available at:


 By Jim Szantor

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

--I was a teenage Notary Public.

--I wonder if Donald Trump’s hotels have bibles in all of their rooms? If they didn’t before, they probably do now!  (Check your statement CAREFULLY before you check out.)

--You're an old-timer if you can remember having to wait one week instead of one second to see how your pictures turned out.

--Attention, True Crime buffs:  There three more entries into this proliferating genre: “Bail Jumpers,” “Good Cop Bad Cop” (both self-explanatory) and “Evil Eye,” devoted to nogoodniks who owe their capture to those all-seeing, all-knowing surveillance cameras. Look for the ID Discovery Channel on your TV channel grid and laugh along and gasp along with the losers and the lawmen (and lawwomen) who populate these gripping, formularized dramas.

And this just in--yet another entry!  “Lethally Blonde,” which, according to the promo, “explores the power and the perils of being a beauty in our society.”

--He said it: "Show business is not so much a 'dog eat dog' world as it is a 'Your dog won't return my dog's phone calls' world. "--Woody Allen


--Some people love to point out that even the best baseball players--those who hit about .300--succeed only 3 times out of 10.  Meaning, they always love to add, that they fail 7 times out of 10.  (As if that makes the fandom’s failures in life more acceptable, apparently.)

--A good thing, don't you think?  YOU THINK THE GAMES ARE LONG NOW? Think how long they'd last if they succeeded 7 times out of 10! 

--(Wife:  "Jim, do you think we can go pretty soon--it's the 43rd inning!" Jim:  "Aw--let's stay just two more times through the batting order.  I wanna see if they can score 30 runs this inning. Could be a record!")

--Speaking of baseball, I really had self-esteem problems growing up.  Serious problems. I mean, I used to fantasize about striking out with the bases loaded.  In the ninth inning.  Of the seventh game.  Of the World Series.

--Do they have Casual Friday at the U.S. Supreme Court?  Well, they eventually moved on from the powdered wigs so . . . why not?  (“Hey, Sonia, gonna wear that T-shirt and cutoffs again next week!”) 

--Maybe we should start looking at people's names with an environmentalist's eyes, as in:  "Hey, there goes Clarence.  Not many of those left, you know.  Two in the U.S. and four in England, at last count."   (Not to mention Bruno, Hortense and Mortimer. . . .)

--jimjustsaying’s Party Ice-Breaker of the Month: “Say [actual partygoer’s name here], did you know that the president of Indonesia is a former cabinet maker named Joko Widodo?  His friends call him Jokowi."  (Extremely difficult to work into a conversation, but that’s what I’m here for!)

--Why do people tailgate only at sports events?  Why not a bratwurst and a beer in the school parking lot before the PTA meeting?  A cheeseburger after church services on Sunday?  Just might boost attendance at both! ( Your New Home for Outside-The-Box Thinking.)

--You're not a celebrity until you've been on the cover of People magazine, been a clue or an answer in the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle or been mentioned in at least one edition of Popcorn.

--Doesn't it strike you as a bit odd, if not off-putting, that people who are running for political office have to have three days of intense "debate prep" before the so-called "debates" (a.k.a. extended stump speeches with opponents present)?

The issues are known, the problems are known, and the opponents’ "talking points" and criticisms are known, so shouldn't these people be able to speak extemporaneously and knowledgeably about all this without having to cram like frat boys who have loafed away the semester?  Downright demoralizing to this voter.

Note to protesters and politicians:  "You cannot shake hands with a closed fist."--Indira Gandhi (1917-1984).

--Best health-related news of the year:  Flossing doesn't do much good, if any.  I’m thinking that entists will now have to lecture us about--what?--earwax, perhaps.  Nose hair? Bad breath? (Don't worry--they'll find something.)

--I'm firmly against the death penalty . . . with these exceptions:  fraudulent users of handicapped parking spaces, wealthy defaulters on student loans and people who leave huge puddles of water in front of their gym lockers.

--jimjustsaying’s Fun Fact of the Month:  Winnie the Pooh was named after Winnipeg, a female black bear cub that lived at London Zoo from 1915 until her death in 1934. 
Mark my words, someday "Winnie the Pooh" will be on Broadway.  (They've done just about everything else, from "Peter Pan" to "Spiderman.")

--Why do they call them "polo shirts"?  At the one polo match I attended (at the Chicago Avenue Armory), no one was wearing anything of the sort.

--Another of jimjustsaying’s Media Words (a word you see or hear only in news reports and never hear a normal person use in real life):  "Inveigle."

--Redundancy of the Week (from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel news story):  "verbal argument."  As opposed to what?  All arguments are verbal; if a disagreement gets physical, it’s a fight, not an argument.

More Journal Sentinel, and a Newspaper Correction for the Ages candidate (from the Jan. 19, 2016, edition of the paper):

"A caption accompanying a photo Sunday in Travel about reservations to make for the summer and fall incorrectly stated the HMS Bounty ship will appear at the Tall Ships Festival in Green Bay. The ship will not appear at the festival as it sank during Hurricane Sandy in 2012."

--Faded phrases: “Hang up the phone, “roll down the window” and “flip through the channels.”

--Home decorator’s white palette, gleaned from a recent piece of junk mail: Simply white, all white, pure white, Chantilly lace, white dove and the ever-popular alabaster!  (I guess off-white didn’t make the cut.  Or are they all off-white?)

--I have no problem with Walmart greeters, but they should call them what they mostly resemble: Cardboard cutouts.  

--Hundreds of police officers have been accused of sexually abusing children. (Slap forehead here!) We serve and protect . . . and do whatever we can get away with?  

One disturbing case: In 2020, a New Orleans officer took a 14-year-old girl to get a rape kit after she reported a sexual assault. Then the officer assaulted her, too. (Slap forehead again!)

--jimjustsaying’s Word That Doesn’t Exist But Should of the Month: “XIIDIGITATION.” n. The practice of trying to determine the year a movie was made by deciphering the Roman numerals at the end of the credits.--"Sniglets," Rich Hall and Friends

--Thinking outside the box:  What if "they" ultimately discovered that radiation is good for us!  It took the so-called experts eons to reverse course on the egg and determine that it "isn't the cholesterol villain we once thought it was.  Eat all you want."  (To name but one example of FDA flip-flopping.)

I think the egg has been around much longer than nuclear radiation, so there's still time.

--Along with our crumbling roads and bridges comes another atrocity, the continuing butchering of our language. Latest example: “asks” as a noun! (Press secretary to reporters: “If there are no more asks, that’s it for today.”)

Good Lord! Generation X, meet Generation S—as in Subliterate. And there is also the jargon-esque “get” as a noun, as in, “Diane Sawyer’s interview with Toby Twoface was a good get.” Yeech.

--Books that didn't quite make it: "A Farewell to Weapons," "For Whom the Bell Rings," "To Kill a Hummingbird," "The Catcher in the Wheat” and "Nurse Zhivago."

DRUDGING AROUND: Study: Female psychopaths surprisingly common . . . Women turning to robot manicurists so they don’t have to tip . . . Shock report:  EVs release more toxic emissions than gas cars . . . Cops:  Women propped up dead man in car, withdrew his money at drive-through teller . . . Let them eat snake:  Python farmers could offer one of the most sustainable sources of meat . . . Experts claim leprosy NOT ancient history as cases surge in USA (especially Florida) . . . Sophisticated “burglary tourists” fly from South America to rob wealthy, LA police say . . . They came to Florida for sun and sand.  They got soaring costs and culture war . . . “Yoga burglar” seen stretching before break-in. (Thanks, as always, to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators.)

Vinpocetine, oscillococcinum and bladderswack leaves. Three nutritional (?) supplements I didn't know existed until I opened a Swanson Health Products catalog.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)

--I had a dream that the Family Dollar company started a budget burger franchise:  One Guy!

--jimjustsaying's Snack Food Find of the Month:  Buffalo wing-flavored sunflower seeds.  Who knew?

--Three things I've never done:  Put something in mothballs, put all my eggs in one basket, put on the dog.

--Redundancy Patrol: "Close proximity," "join together," "serious crisis."  

--A true friend is one who likes you despite your accomplishments.—Novelist Arnold Bennett

Today’s Latin Lesson: Pila ludere. (“Play ball!”) 

Special thanks to Ann Arbor, this month’s Popcorn intern.



As Socrates famously wrote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." One would well posit  that the unchallenged life is not worth living.  Or, if it is,  not as satisfying.

Most of my music-related activity since leaving the Air Force Band in late 1969 has been as an author and critic, my playing restricted solely to playing along with records at home.

Soloist Jim Szantor as lead alto David Bixler gives the cutoff on the final chord.

But that changed on Aug. 11 when I performed as a guest soloist on clarinet with the fabled Birch Creek Jazz Orchestra, a big band made up of some of the best jazz players in the country, comprising as they do the faculty that teaches the students who come to Egg Harbor in Door County for two-week sessions of intensive training and performance opportunities.  It's sort of a musical boot camp but with kindly but highly decorated instructors.  

My feature spot was "Ballad for Benny" a tune written by the late, great jazz composer and saxophonist Oliver Nelson, who was commissioned by Benny Goodman to write new material for the band's historic 1962 tour of the Soviet Union.   It was such a  significant cultural/political event back then that Walter Cronkite often led the CBS Nightly News with the band's latest exploits.

The 17-piece Birch Creek Jazz Orchestra prior to my introduction.

This tune was recorded by the Oliver Nelson Orchestra (with the great Phil Woods in a rare outing on clarinet instead of his usual lustrous alto sax) but never performed publicly in this country--till now.  If you do an internet search on some of the illustrious players in the band behind me --Dennis Mackrel, Clay Jenkins, Doug Stone, David Bixler, Tanya Darby, to name a few--you'll see why I'm so proud to have been selected to perform with them.

Part of the evening's program.
It was an oppressively muggy night (close to 100 percent humidity) in the un-air-conditioned hall, making intonation more of a challenge than usual. It took some months of chipping away at the rust that had accumulated over the years on my woodwind chops, but I was determined to have one last dance, so to speak, with the idiom that I have loved for a lifetime.  To paraphrase the late Karl Wallenda of the famed aerial troupe The Flying Wallendas, "Life is the bandstand.  The rest is just waiting."  

Luckily for me, the wait is over.


From the Summer/Fall issue of THE NOTE, a celebrated quarterly publication devoted to jazz.  I knew they were running my interview with Willie Maiden, a genius of a composer/arranger/saxophonist and longtime confidant of Maynard Ferguson, but I didn't expect this!  (They said they would add "a little blurb" about me.)

Scroll down to Page 7 (and also enjoy the interviews with two of my all-time favorites, alto sax legend Phil Woods and clarinet virtuoso Eddie Daniels).!&&p=6966ff0ee36d89b9JmltdHM9MTY4Njk2MDAwMCZpZ3VpZD0wNzAwMmUxNS1kNjE1LTYwOTctMTVmYi0zY2FlZDc4NjYxMGMmaW5zaWQ9NTE3MA&ptn=3&hsh=3&fclid=07002e15-d615-6097-15fb-3caed786610c&psq=The+Multi-faceted+Jim+Szantor&u=a1aHR0cHM6Ly9pbWcxLndzaW1nLmNvbS9ibG9iYnkvZ28vMzM5NjYyZmEtNzJkMi00ODI5LWE3MmItMzU0YWJmZjNkNWYwL1RIRSUyME5PVEUlMjBTVU1NRVIlMjBGQUxMJTIwMjAyMiUyMHdlYi1lMzJiOGM4LnBkZg&ntb=1