By Randy Cohen
Thanks to a deal with Future TV, Disney characters will do something they've never done before. What?
by noon ET Wednesday to e-mail your answer (NewsQuiz@slate.com).
Responses to Thursday's question (No. 54)--"Gas of '98":
"Those who walk slowly and timidly through life for fear of taking the wrong step might very well achieve their goal of not taking the wrong step, but what have they achieved?"
Above, idiotic drivel from New York Gov. George Pataki's commencement address at Siena College last Sunday. You are invited to devise a brief sample of equally fatuous pap some other public figure might ladle out to graduates this weekend.
"However, those who walk across streets at points other than fully designated crosswalks or those who walk against the signal? Well, we're just going to have to get medieval on their asses.--Rudy Giuliani" (Doug Strauss)
"I see before me a sea of shining faces. Easily remedied with an unscented astringent such as witch hazel followed by a light moisturizer.--Estée Lauder at Boricua Business College" (David Rakoff)
"As you go through life, you will realize you are not merely an individual but an integral part of a greater community. Similarly, Internet Explorer is not just a browser but a fully integrated and essential component of the Windows 98 operating system.--Bill Gates" (Jon Marks)
"Ask not for whom the bell tolls ... bells don't toll, they ring, or maybe chime if they're really big. Tolls are what you pay on the Meadowbrook Parkway, the improvements on which I must take full credit for.--Sen. Al D'Amato" (Larry Amaros)
"Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."--Stephen Glass, addressing the class of '98 at Columbia Journalism School." (Leslie Goodman-Malamuth)
"Good afternoon, graduates. Before I lead you in prayer, I'd like to make a brief announcement. Would the owner of the black BMW with Pennsylvania license plate YPR-385 please give it to me?--Minister Farrakhan" (Patty Marx)
"You stand upon the threshold of the future, and as you step across, some of you will realize that the threshold to the past lies behind you. The rest of you will, in 100 years, be dead. So it goes. Wear asbestos.--Kurt Vonnegut" (Chuck Lawhorn)
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Giving a speech is said to be what Americans most fear; listening to one may be what we most dread. What's become of our aptitude and appetite for oratory? We mock the four hour perorations of communist heads of state as a residue of a failed ideology--if not a cause of its collapse. We prefer our bombast snack-sized, in convenient 20 second sound bites, introduced at 7 by someone with fluffy hair.
Presenting an inspirational speech to the young is a particularly tough oratorical task, foreclosing as it does any recourse to easy irony. It would be unfair to ask George Pataki to reach the level of the St. Crispin's Day speech in Henry V, but is inane twaddle his only alternative? Couldn't he just shut up, declining the task as beyond his ability?
The speaker at my own graduation was Steve Allen. I little note nor long remember what he said there, but I can never forget what was played there, his own "This Could Be the Start of Something Big." Inspiring!
"I believe in the First Amendment, but we stand for what is right. This is a scriptural issue, not a constitutional issue."--The Rev. Todd Pendergrass, on why he and 46 other ministers pressured Gannett not to print the Southern Voice, a 10-year-old Georgia gay weekly
"He uses his power and his police department to scare people."--Jeffrey Cicio, president of the Big Apple Food Vendors Association, on why his members will not hold a public protest against Mayor Giuliani's plan to force hot dog carts off hundreds of Manhattan streets
"Coca-Cola does a great service because it encourages people to take in more and more liquids."--Douglas Ivester, Coca-Cola CEO, on the health benefits of his corporation's aggressive expansion throughout Africa
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