It's become a big problem, reports the Environmental News Network, "generally caused by a combination of low water levels, high temperatures, and maggot-infested carcasses." What has?
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Responses to Thursday's question (No. 117)--"Dino Rider":
I give the headline, you give the story:
"I'm Afraid I'm Riding a Dinosaur" (Freedom Forum Online, Sept. 30, 1998)
"Buoyed yet defiant, Joyce Maynard announced the title of her next book, a collection of aphorisms subtitled Things Not To Say to J. D. Salinger Even as a Joke."--Peter Lerangis
"Steven Spielberg fretted that nobody really likes his 'important' films and that he'd probably be drummed out of town if people weren't eagerly awaiting the next four installments of Jurassic Park."--Daniel Radosh
"Applying top-secret forensic techniques, scholars at Bob Jones University have attributed this remark to Moses, thus confirming the truth of creationism."--Jim O'Grady
"Six little words. Fred Flintstone slips into a phone booth, whispers them to his hedge fund manager, and all hellstone breaks looserock. Yabba Dadda Dow!"--Chris Kelly
"Mike McCurry's reason for leaving."--Laura Mitler
Click here for more responses.
"Riding a dinosaur," of course, invites responses about the comical coupling of youth with age. It's a joke about the ludicrous denial of death. And it's a joke about vanity: Do you really believe this young woman lusts for you, granddad, you old fool? Curiously, for "News Quiz" respondents, the old fool is always a man, never a woman. (And yet, the Foxy Grandma was once a stock comic character--viz., those cartoons in Playboy magazine, Waylon Flowers and Madam, any living Gabor, any dead Gabor.) For the record, the man most mocked by quiz players for his geriatric concupiscence: 96-year-old former segregationist Strom Thurmond.
When Willard Scott drags out another centenarian to cavort for our pleasure, we're meant to applaud the old-timer's vitality, not his virility. So then, what is an appropriate late life pleasure? I intend to use my first Social Security check to buy LSD. It is an interior bliss, with little risk of breaking a hip. It invokes and restores a lifetime of memories. It reinvigorates fading senses. It can be enjoyed indoors and inexpensively. And it was good enough for Aldous Huxley. In a decent society, the government would provide free hallucinogenic drugs to retirees. It is bewildering to me that the American Association of Retired Persons isn't vigorously lobbying for legalization.
There is another kind of joke about old age. This past weekend Bob Hope was put on display at a San Diego air show. He didn't actually get off the ground; he was driven around in the back seat of a red Lincoln convertible, like some grotesque Rose Bowl float. It was scary, but it was pretty funny. And I'm pretty sure the joke was this: Bob Hope will never die, but you will.
The dinosaur is network news, and the rider is ABC's Ann Compton, who fears that cable TV is pushing the networks toward unmediated live coverage and away from their traditional role--"looking at the world, condensing it and putting it in understandable size, and presenting it in a network newscast."
Compton believes it's OK for cable to air hours of unedited presidential grand jury testimony, but the networks should provide a deeper analysis. (Compton also believes that the networks have been providing a deeper analysis.) And this mission is in peril. "Ninety percent of what I do for ABC News is now live--standing on the White House lawn, covering something live. ... We open a window on the world, and you see it at the same time journalists do."
Compton spoke at a symposium on women in politics and journalism sponsored by Mount Vernon College, George Washington University, and the Freedom Forum. Established in 1991 under the direction of founder Allen H. Neuharth as successor to the Gannett Foundation, the Freedom Forum operates the Newseum and other programs.
Stage Struck Extra
1. Dueling banjos:
"Pure theatrical Viagra."--London's Daily Telegraph on David Hare's adaptation of La Ronde
"Gives off about as much Welschmerz as the lurid neon lighting in which it is bathed."--New York Times' Ben Brantley on David Hare's adaptation of La Ronde
2. Ben Brantley, after seeing 12 plays in three days:
"A gaudy nonstop roundelay of earthy erotic entanglements."--on Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan
Not Rigby's Peter Pan. The Globe Theater's A Mad World, My Masters.
It was maybe only around 10 plays in 10 days, but they were all about sex and there was a long jet flight involved, leading him to write things like "a stinging portrait of a woman whose loins are directly at odds with her fine mind."
And that Robin Williams thing is not Wet Dreams May Come. It's What Dreams. And it's not even a play; it's a movie. And as far as I know, Ben Brantley hasn't even seen it.
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