No. 22: “Old Acquaintance”

No. 22: “Old Acquaintance”

No. 22: “Old Acquaintance”

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
April 1 1998 3:30 AM

No. 22: “Old Acquaintance”

No. 22: "Old Acquaintance"

By Randy Cohen


Dead Friday at 88, Ferdinand Porsche--creator of the car that bears his name, and son of the designer of the Volkswagen Beetle--described someone as "simpatico if you knew him personally." Knew whom?


by noon ET Tuesday to e-mail your answer (

Responses to Thursday's question (No. 21)--"Bugsplosion":

I give the headline from Alabama's Birmingham News; you give a brief summary of the story: "Explosion of Bugs."


"Listening devices installed by White House security detected eavesdropping devices planted by Kenneth Starr to monitor surveillance equipment linked to Linda Tripp. Self-destruct circuits were activated. No one was hurt in the fire."--Henry Kaminer (Thomas Reynolds, Casey Trauer, Mike Bohan, and Gloria Howard had a similar recording device angle.)

"Warner Bros. releases an action adventure cartoon starring Bruce Willis as Elmer Fudd."--Dan Simon (eerily parallel Lepusian approach: Ted Corley, Calvin Ross, Barbara Lippert, Beth Sherman)

"Bill Gates announces that Windows 98 will be released ahead of schedule."--Tom Davis (suspiciously twinned bite-the-hand take: Ashby Shoop)

"Carpenter ants, water bugs, earwigs, and weevils, equipped with minuscule pipe bombs fashioned from toothpicks and party sprinkles, have been exploding throughout the country. A white separatist group has claimed responsibility, saying that these acts are in protest of the re-release of the book Archy and Mehitabel, which, with its mixed-insect plot, is no more than 'a study in miscegenation.' "--Meg Wolitzer (on the same insect-with-bomblets wavelength: Wade White)


"Chancing upon two young Mormon men proselytizing to an uncomprehending audience in a remote African village, President Clinton apologized on behalf of the U.S. government for the explosion of bugs that plagued Salt Lake City during the last century. 'If only we had ratcheted up our efforts to develop CFCs sooner. I can only begin to imagine what your ancestors must have gone through. Of course, no one knows better than I what an impact bugs can have.' "--Julia Oskarsdottir

Click for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Our amazingly ambiguous language, where one word can mean a dozen different things and "have sex with" can mean--actually, it would be inappropriate for me to comment while this matter is still potentially inconvenient. "Inappropriate"--there's another ambiguous word. It seems to mean "I have no coherent reason to oppose you, but will instead rely on my position of power to bully you into submission." Or it could mean oral sex with your hat on.


Which, via an anecdote I'm saving for my memoirs, brings me to "Tighten Up," by Archie Bell and the Drells. They're from Houston, more evidence of the hammerlock the South has on American culture but not, perhaps, on "News Quiz." And couldn't we all?

Six Legged Egg Laying Answer

Timber owners in eight southwestern Alabama counties face big losses from Southern pine beetles that proliferated rapidly during El Niño's mild winter. (Despite the warm temperature, the timber owners themselves proliferated at normal rates.) A mature tree cut for lumber brings about $250; an infested tree, good only for pulp, is worth around $24.

Also in that day's Birmingham News, a story headlined "On a Rampage" that was not about guns, one titled "Alabama's Black Belt" that was not about martial arts, and one bannered "The White House in Crisis" that was not about Monica Lewinsky; oh, wait, sorry--it was about Monica Lewinsky.

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