Wednesday, May 1, 2024


                                                              By Jim Szantor

Rhetorical questions, questionable rhetoric 

and whimsical observations about the absurdities of contemporary life 

--I was a teenage paleontologist.

--I’m trying to trace my family’s roots, but I’m a bit puzzled.  I mean, where is Caucasia anyway?

--Overheard: "People call Americans lazy. We're NOT lazy, We've only been in this country for 300 years, but we built nuclear weapons plants, malls, factories, fast food, the iPhone . . .  We're not lazy--we're done." 

--Politicians talk and talk and posture and promise, but when the smoke clears, the dirty dishes are still in the sink.

--Zadra's Law of Biomechanics:  The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the location.

--jimjustsaying's Term That Doesn't Exist But Should of the Month: “Sudsorian Calendar.”  n. The calendar used on soap operas that allows one day's events to be stretched over a three-week period.--"Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe," Rich Hall and Friends

--Morning in America:  Church attendance is way down, the prison population is way up  . . . and people are still sneaking into the Express Lane with more than 12 items. (Which of these problems is easiest to fix? Not so sure it would be the third one.)

--jimjustsaying's Product of the Month (from the Make Life Easier catalog):  Birdbath Protector, which uses "natural plant enzymes to break down organic contaminants. . . . Birds will love it . . . and so will you. So go green and keep your birdbath clean!"  (Just the thing for that hard-to-shop-for person on everyone's Christmas gift list.)

--Redundancy patrol: “Collaborate together,” "continue on,"

"see what happens in the future."

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

--What do butterflies get when they're nervous?  Gorillas?

--Why do we keep naming sports teams after the same animals--lions, tigers, wolves, eagles, bears . . . .? Show me a team that calls itself the Rhesus Monkeys or the Gaboon Vipers and they've got themselves a season ticketholder for life!

--If you've seen one nuclear war, you've seen them all."--College dorm graffito.

--"I'm sorry my karma ran over your dogma."--Pizza parlor graffito, Berkeley, Cal.

--Never trust a man with a pocket watch, an ascot or a manicure.  Especially if he's carrying a "man bag."

--So it turned out some of Subway's foot-longs aren't really a foot long.   I guess someone outed them to the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Sandwiches

--Art-ifacts:  In the early 20th Century, the "Mona Lisa" was receiving so much fan mail that it had its own mailbox at the Louvre.

--If a cow could laugh, would milk come out its nose?  (Probably not--unless it was a horse laugh.)

--Remember when you went to buy orange juice and didn’t have 37 choices confronting you?  Lots of Pulp, Some Pulp, No Pulp, From Concentrate, Not From Concentrate, Fortified with Calcium, Fortified with Vitamins D and E, Low Acid and more. (Not labeled just yet: Toxic and Non-Toxic!)

--Do they sell Quilted Southern toilet paper in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi . . .?

--"Wanting to meet an author because you like his books is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pate."--Margaret Atwood, quoted in

--Cultural note:  I did a double-take when I skimmed the concert listings in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and saw The Milwaukee Symphony was going to play the music of Led Zeppelin.  What's next: "The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Plays Rachmaninov . . . "?

--Musical note:  Tennessee has eight--count 'em--Official State Songs.  New Jersey?  None.  (Kind of hard to work into a conversation, but there you have it.)

--She said it: "I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin deep.  That's deep enough.  What do you want, an adorable pancreas?--Author Jean Kerr to the Columbia, Mo., Daily Tribune

--He said it: “It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear."--Dick Cavett

--“The motorcycle driver was transferred to Hartford Hospital because of the need for brain specialists. Authorities said he had a severed head injury.”—Hartford (Conn.) Courant via “Still More Press Boners,” by Earle Tempel

--Another sign of Profit First, Customers Last:  Parking lots that are about five years overdue for re-striping of boundary lines. 

--Faded Words: "riffraff," "skedaddle" and "shindig."

--Waiter: "Ground pepper on your salad?"  Me: "No, but I wouldn't mind a little more rata in my touille."

DRUDGING AROUND:  Scientists accidentally created a six-legged mouse with no genitals . . . Futuristic car where drivers SLEEP while driving . . . Farmers dump sheep killed by wolves in front of Swiss government building . . . Chipotle worker shot in guacamole dispute . . . New Yorkers turn to self-defense classes as punching attacks continue . . . Six-legged gazelle spotted in Holy Land . . . Teen girls confront deepfake nudes in schools . . . Man commits suicide by snake after having his deadly cobra bite him . . . Apple Vision users suffer black eyes, headaches and neck pain . . . Priest jailed after man collapses after too many erectile drugs at cleric’s sex party . . . Flight diverted after dog poops in first-class aisle . . . With pets becoming family, bereavement leave gains steam . . . Why Ozempic could change whole personality:  “May warp brain” . . . Woman calls 911 over buying bad batch of meth . . . Feminism has left middle-aged women single, childless and  depressed . . . Why lesbians women die younger than straight women.  (Thanks as always to Matt Drudge and his merry band of aggregators.)

--Is it just me or are magazines getting more and more impossible to read?  You've seen it--microscopic, light-shaded type--often on pale/pastel backgrounds, surrounded by oceans of white space that could be better utilized to enlarge the type and enhance readability.  And who needs full-page head shots of people we've seen dozens of times?  Why not use that space to make the words you're so proud of actually readable?

--Adage updated: It's the gift that counts.

--Three fruits most people have never eaten:  Persimmons, guavas and kumquats.

--Is there low-fructose corn syrup?  If not, the world is waiting.

--The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write.  It will be those who cannot learn, unlearn and re-learn.”--Alvin Toffler in “Future Shock.”

--It’s a tossup as to who gets lied to the most—doctors or policemen.  (“Yeah, doc, I have a drink once in a while before dinner, but that’s about it.” “No, officer, there’s nothing in the car you need to be concerned about.”)

--Nature can be cruel (or Life Isn't Fair, Exhibit No. 292):  People can eat dog food and live to tell about it; chocolate can be fatal to dogs. 

--Speaking of Man’s Best Friend:: TV news reporter gaffe (Lifetime Achievement Award):  "At that point, police decided to bring in canine dogs to help locate the suspect . . . ."

--Health term of the week: We’ve all heard of GERD, but now there’s NERD (Non-erosive reflux disease): Chronic heartburn with no evidence of acid damage in the esophagus.

--Snack food product that doesn't exist but some day probably will:  Dorachos.


I thought I would try to exorcise all of the demonic cliches, vogue phrases and shopworn metaphors, etc., that somehow lie deep within me or are virtually unavoidable on- or offline or wherever and get them out of my system with the following three paragraphs in hopes that my literary house will be blessedly in order for the rest of the year.

Let’s talk turkey and get down to brass tacks--it’s a jungle out there, and it’s time to grab the bull by the horns. We’ve got a lot on our plates because the movers and shakers keep moving the goal posts instead of leveling the playing field, while the rest of us are forced to employ a multitasking mind-set while fighting a never-ending learning curve, no matter how much we ramp things up to the next level. So all we can do going forward is hit the ground running, play hardball when we have to step up to the plate, and at the end of the day, pick all the low-hanging fruit—even if it isn’t apples to apples.

Before we try reinventing the wheel, we’ve got to eyeball our optics to see where the rubber meets the road, no matter what the price point is—assuming we’re all on the same page. We’ve got to build a better mousetrap, or we’ll be behind the 8-ball. If we think Plan A is actionable, we can run it up the flagpole and see if the target demographic salutes—if it really moves the needle. If it does, we can put a pin in it. It could be a paradigm shift, and it’s definitelyin our wheelhouse.

Let's face it, the fat cats have us on a market-driven roller-coaster, no matter how much they try to downsize the elephant in the room. So let’s cut to the chase, push the envelope, peel back the layers of the onion, and before the whole ball of wax reaches critical mass, take stock of all the benchmarks, the Big Picture, the whole enchilada and come to the realization that we might have to go back to the drawing board, get granular and think outside the box. But if we play our cards right, burn our candles at both ends and avoid drinking the Kool-Aid, we can get all our ducks in a row. The bottom line? It is what it is!

There, I feel better already. I promise I’ll do my best to keep my prose nose clean, which is not easy, because--after all--the devil is in the details.

--Today's Latin lesson:  Is dico may exsisto recorded pro palaestra voluntas.  ("This call may be recorded for training purposes.")

Special thanks to Joy DeVive, this month’s Popcorn intern.