Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Oct. 14 1998 3:30 AM


No. 122: "Vatican-Do!"

By Randy Cohen


"If the pope were on the jury, they wouldn't have given me anything." Who said this about what? by noon ET Tuesday to e-mail your answer (

Responses to Thursday's question (No. 121)--"Useless":
Fill in the blank. Speaking in Israel, James Rubin, a spokesman for Madeleine Albright, said, "Nobody is in a rush to use ___________."

"A bus with a bomb on board."--Marshall Efron

"Madeleine's sukkah."--Jack Hitt

"Falafel-flavored spermicidal foam."--David Rakoff

"Contraception. I think the world wants to see just what a Christiane Amanpour baby would look like."--Adam Bonin

"Alan Thicke in a Broadway musical. 'Box office death!' everyone screamed. Adrian Zmed, sure, but Alan Thicke? I was skeptical. But I gotta hand it to those crazy geniuses at Chicago: It works. I believed Alan Thicke. Alan Thicke moved me. And seeing Alan Thicke and Marilu Henner together ... I wept. Thank you, Broadway! Goddamn it, thank you!"--Dave Eggers

Click here for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up
The most common response to today's question pivots on the presumed ugliness of Madeleine Albright and Yasser Arafat. (Click here for cruel personal remarks.) While it's never made explicit what effect their putatively hideous faces and grotesquely malformed frames have on their job performance, supposedly the influence is beneficent. This is because back in high school, the Madeleines and Yassers had to develop a profound grasp of cultural and economic forces viewed in the broad sweep of history, when the good-looking kids got to smoke pot and have sex.
However, this cuteness/geopolitical-prodigy correlation proves false. Any all-cute team of world leaders would have to include Muammar Qaddafi, a very handsome man for whom things have not worked out well. The cuteness converse is equally unreliable; ugliness does not guarantee success. Henry Kissinger resembles a large and ill-tempered frog, but his diplomatic efforts were a blood-drenched catastrophe, sowing misery and death from Chile to Southeast Asia.
As for contemporary successes, well, it's hard to think of any now, as Kosovo suffers and the world stumbles into a depression to rival that of 1929. But that Ellen Barkin is very attractive. Where does she stand on International Monetary Fund intervention? And in what sort of shoes?

Surprisingly Serbian Answer
Although he was speaking in the Middle East, Rubin was assessing the chances of a NATO attack against Serbia.

Molly Ivins' Disease Extra
Can you deduce the topic of this Rick Lyman article from these actual corn-pone excerpts?

  • "A slice of mesquite-smoked brisket smothered in sauce."
  • "A big wet kiss."
  • "So where's the rumpus?"
  • "The juiciest."
  • "A little more sauce on that brisket, honey?"


Nut Graph Answer
Education policy.
Right-wing Christians have won many seats on the Texas State Board of Education and are promoting ideas that are scary even for Texas conservatives.


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Randy Cohen used to write Slate's "News Quiz." His most recent book—oh, like you don't know.