By Randy Cohen
Declining to let his location be used as the setting for a Hollywood project, Richard Bing said: "The script presented a kind of context, environment, that was not appropriate. The negatives kind of outweighed the positives."
What location? What project?
by noon ET Thursday to e-mail your answer (email@example.com).
Responses to Tuesday's question (No. 104)--"For Meta, for Worse":
As he received a ceremonial welcome gift in Moscow Tuesday morning, President Clinton said to Boris Yeltsin: "It's amazing. Just like you." What was the gift?
"A disoriented, heart-attack-prone Pillsbury Doughboy key chain."--Danny Spiegel
"Chechnya."--Marshall Efron (Douglas Wolk had a similar, but Siberian, answer.)
"A drunken puppy."--Fritz Strohmeyer
"A giant ball of vodka-soaked fat."--Floyd Elliot
"Genital herpes."--Tim Carvell
Click for more responses.
The perfect gift is not merely something the recipient likes but something he'd never have got himself, opening him to an entire new area of pleasure and demonstrating your insight into his heart.
Or a bottle of Scotch.
A cat will give you a dead vole, which is really something it wants more than something it thinks you want, like a cute li'l kid giving his mom a baseball mitt. (With a tiny vole sleeping inside it, infested with ticks.)
A premature gift is impertinent: lingerie, for instance. Although Yeltsin would look darling in the Duma in something froufrou. It's not cute for the li'l kid to buy his mom lingerie. His dad--even less cute.
Gifts flow from rich to poor, from the more to the less powerful. Parents give gifts to kids; lords give gifts to vassals. When the flow is reversed, more cuteness. No one expects a young child to buy his parents something really good, just adorably crayoned. Or it involves compulsion. From vassal to lord, it's not a gift; it's extortion--taxation in tissue paper.
A compliment is a kind of verbal gift flowing from the more to the less powerful--teacher to student, boss to worker. That's why Clinton and Yeltsin couldn't exchange lavish and insincere praise: It would generate a status battle. And what could they say? Great sex scandal! Love the economic collapse!
One Christmas, when I worked in television, I received a brass candy dish bought from Candy (wife of Aaron) Spelling's gift service. They came in various sizes corresponding to your status on the show. The production crew got nothing. The talent bookers got small, plain ones. The writers got medium-sized ones engraved with their initials, filled with hard candy. Producers and directors received great huge ones with their entire name engraved, filled with excellent chocolate.
I was hoping for a vole.
As John Snell and Jeff Guinn knew (click), a loaf of heavy Russian bread. Clinton admired its ability, when squeezed, to spring back into shape.
Feeling sassy, Reuters described Yeltsin: "The 67-year-old Kremlin chief looked relatively alert although at times confused about protocol." So where were all the snippy comments when Reagan was in power?
Voice of the Opposition Extra
"Clinton, you are an idiot."--Vladimir Zhirinovsky, on the intelligence of an American visitor
"Your dollar is dirt."--Vladimir Zhirinovsky, on the value of an American visitor's currency
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