Yesterday in New York, Nelson Mandela did something he says he'll never do again. What?
by noon ET Wednesday to e-mail your answer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Responses to Monday's question (No. 110)--"Japantastic":
Fill in the blank in this comment by Kaoru Yosano, Japan's minister for international trade and industry, as he prepares Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi for Tuesday's summit with President Clinton: "Japan is not __________. It would be an interesting yarn if it were true, but it's not."
"Where a guy and a girl get together and have sexual relations."--Alfa-Betty Olsen
"The land of bluebonnets, beer, and big-eyed cocker spaniels."--Jim O'Grady
"Hellbent on the destruction of socialite Nan Kempner."--David Rakoff
"Pinning its hopes for financial recovery on the upcoming release of DKY2K: Donkey Kong 2000."--Daniel Radosh
"A wool sweater."--Randy Heath (Arthur Stock, Cliff Schoenberg, and Marshall Efron had similarly punning answers.)
"A cramped bizarro-island populated by Korean-fearing, xenophobic, corporacratic automatons who relieve the paranoiac fury of suspecting that nonexistent Jews have ruined their economy by filing out to the public square in order to sing hymns to the improved ratio-to-earnings quotient of Mitsubishi when they are not lecturing American manufacturers about the menacing effect of negritude on productivity and getting soused on enhanced dandelion wine while reading comic books depicting frightened school girls getting gang raped by extraterrestrial trolls."--Jack Hitt
"Mr. Moisture kissy-cat Soda!"--Colleen Werthmann
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A dozen or so years ago when I wrote for David Letterman, the show was planning to travel for the first time. Staff suggestions were solicited for where we might go--someplace surprising, someplace where Dave would be at his most Davelike. I lobbied hard for Tokyo. Apparently under the misconception that no other TV programs were produced there, Los Angeles was chosen, and we taped a fine week of shows there.
When we returned, I still wanted to do a Tokyo show. But what I'd learned on our travels was that we don't travel from city to city but from TV studio to TV studio. It would be easier and cheaper to do the Tokyo show in New York. And the best part, no jet lag.
Taped in our regular Rockefeller Center studio before an all Japanese-American audience, the show opened with a montage of Tokyo by night. Dave did his opening monologue aided by a Japanese translator. In the window behind his desk was the Tokyo skyline. One guest was Randy Bass, a ballplayer who was having a great year for the Hanshin Tigers; he had his own candy bar. The lead guest, for reasons too complicated to explain, was Kenny Rogers. We adapted every overly familiar element of our show to Tokyo; we traded on every lame cliché about Japan. It went great.
We did the show on a Friday; the following Monday, I was accosted by several sullen stagehands. They were off Friday and had watched the show at home, and they were mad: Why didn't they get to go on our first great trip?
I didn't expect that reaction. It seemed to me the essential joke, elegantly executed by Dave, was that we were doing the Tokyo show in New York, that sweeps month TV travel is shuck and jive, that all television is shuck and jive. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe there was some powerful telesincerity at work. And maybe that's why President Clinton looked so good in yesterday's grand jury tapes.
Or maybe it was the big glass of Mr. Moisture kissy-cat Soda he drank just before his testimony.
Yosano described many steps Japan has taken to deal with its economic malaise and noted that his nation has contributed $43 billion to rescue packages for Asia while the United States has ponied up only $12 billion.
Another sign of Japanese financial vitality--it is now the United Nations' largest contributor, while the United States, once No. 1, is so far behind in dues payments that it may lose its vote in the General Assembly.
In Tuesday's New York Times, Caryn James reviewed NBC's new Nathan Lane sitcom Encore! Encore! and the videotape of President Clinton's grand jury testimony. Can you sort out which of her observations refer to a) Encore! Encore! and which to b) the president's testimony.
3) "played as farce";
4) "self-dramatizing tone";
5) "broke many of the rules of film and television";
6) "logic is sometimes addled";
7) "an unlikely resemblance to My Dinner With Andre";
8) "demanding, impatient, and petty";
9) "a fiercely confident personality with a torso full of tattoos, a religious conversion, and numerous car accidents";
10) "seems endearingly needy";
11) "a common third-act letdown";
12) "already too predictable."
Answers (1-a; 2-b; 3-a; 4-a; 5-b; 6-a; 7-b; 8-trick question--it's Michiko Kakutani on how V.S. Naipaul comes across in Paul Theroux's book; 9-another trick--it's New York Times sports reporter Richard Sandomir on World Boxing Union super featherweight champ Angel Manfredy; 10-a; 11-b; 12-a)
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