By Randy Cohen
Fill in the blank as Chase Untermeyer, President Bush's former appointments secretary, assesses the new Republican dynasty led by victorious Jeb and George W.:
"It's a competitive family. I don't think it's competitive with a hard edge to it, but if you ever see the Bushes playing ________________, it can be pretty frightening."
by noon ET Thursday to e-mail your answer (email@example.com).
Responses to Tuesday's question (No. 135)--"What's the Catch Phrase?":
"Are you ready to make real noise?" This slogan is part of a new multimillion-dollar campaign--to persuade whom to do what?
"To persuade the mute to, like, get over it."--Bill Franzen
"To persuade the new Mrs. Larry King to moan during sex."--Jon Hotchkiss (Chris Thomas had a similar answer, with self-revelation worthy of Daphne Merkin.)
"It's part of an internal Kellogg's campaign to motivate shy Rice Crispies."--Jon Schwarz
"To persuade the United States to resume nuclear testing ... NOW!"--Michael Brookes
"To persuade Jews to participate more heavily in Purim."--Norman Oder
Click for more responses.
Real noise appeals to the young and appalls the old. Babies bang wooden spoons on overturned saucepans; grannies rock so silently you can hear the creak of floorboards and hip bones. Rock 'n' roll is loud and young and rebellious; chamber music is soft and geriatric and bourgeois complacent. Movies, that youthful medium, are Dolby loud; books are library quiet. Playgrounds are tumultuous, youthful, and physical; churches are hushed, elderly, and spiritual. (Well, white churches; the black church is always shown as a scene of joyful noise. Such is our racial ideology that African-Americans are always presented as loud and physical.) Silence is passive acquiescence; noise is open rebellion. Except in the relentlessly entertaining marketplace, where the television is always on, the radio always plays, and good consumers undergo a constant acoustic bombardment, lest they have five minutes to quietly think their own thoughts. It has been widely observed that prison is noisy, filled with the constant battering of everybody's radio. And so like some M.C. Escher bird-into-fish print, the cultural meaning of noise is reversed. Noise is status quo; silence is subversive.
So if grannies are so touchy about noise, why are they always depicted as hard of hearing?
To persuade everyone to join the Army.
"It's still 'Be all that you can be,' but we took the experience the Army can offer and packaged it in a more contemporary fashion," said Lt. Col. James Sullivan, the Army's chief of marketing and advertising.
Both the Army and Navy failed to reach their enlistment goals this year, the first time for the Navy since the draft ended in 1973. The $1.1 billion defense bill passed last month included $113 million to aid recruiting.
A thriving economy and higher military standards have shrunk the pool of potential volunteers. "Most of the people who walk into the office have something wrong with them," said Petty Officer Benny Granillo, a Navy recruiter.
There are 1.4 million people on active duty in the uniformed services.
Augmented Rationalizations Extra
The Republican leadership responds to yesterday's disappointing returns. (Final sentences added by "News Quiz.")
"I think this was sort of a status quo election. Slavery is still legal, right?"--Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.
"It's too early to be disappointed. Now, imagine a humorous, self-deprecating remark about what I'll do later in my hotel room, were I but secure enough in my sexuality to make such a jibe."--House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas
"I'd say it's disappointing. Whatever it is that Dick Armey gets up to in his hotel room."--Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles, R-Okla.
"You would think to do something for the first time in 70 years would be a big deal, but not among Washington pundits. But enough about Dick Armey's hotel room shenanigans; how about that Illinois Senate race!"--House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.
"We've got to go after the minority vote--the Hispanic, African-American, Asian, and every other minority. And if any of them ever show up in Utah, I'm going to, like, not hurt them."--Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
"The Democrats demagogued, and we failed to get our agenda out there. And by 'failed get our agenda out there,' I of course allude to Dick Armey's perverse but disappointing hotel room antics."--former Vice President Dan Quayle
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