No. 139: “Notions”

No. 139: “Notions”

No. 139: “Notions”

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Nov. 12 1998 3:30 AM

No. 139: “Notions”

No. 139: "Notions"

By Randy Cohen


Toys, comic books, nail polish, and jewelry. What's the connection?


by noon ET Wednesday to e-mail your answer to

Responses to Monday's question (No. 138)--"Scaly":

This winter the U.S. government is testing a new 1-to-5 rating system in Nebraska and Wyoming. Rating what?


"Homosexuality. 'Individuals rated 1 through 3 will be issued an identity card protecting them from violence,' said a spokesman. 'Fours and 5s? Well they're just asking for it.' "--Beth Sherman

"Adorableness of plains states' Jews."--Jim O'Grady (Katha Pollitt and Paul Tullis had similar answers.)

"Suitability as an unmarked grave site for Linda Tripp. Whoops! We mean, um, suitability as, um, landfills."--Tim Carvell

"Number of times per hour it would be appropriate to refer to Jack London's 'To Build a Fire.' "--Doug Ingram


"Fondness for unicameralism. Nebraska, of course, gets a '5.' "--Adam Bonin

Click for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Judging by your responses, here's what we know about Nebraska and Wyoming--bad sex, bad food, bad teeth, bad weather. No, wait, that's what we knew yesterday about England, although it's not far off. The big difference seems to be that everyone in England is gay, and everyone in Nebraska or Wyoming is eager to beat the stuffing out of them. You would, however, receive an affectionate reception if you were a domestic animal--sorry again, the term preferred by animal lovers is "date." Is bestiality, that perpetual urban smirk at rural life, actually prevalent in Nebraska and Wyoming? Or, to put it another way, in the sense of asking an entirely different question: Is it really a requirement of sophistication that a place provides good bookstores, movies, plays, museums, music, cuisines, and an opportunity for erotic and intellectual freedom? As it turns out, yes. But be wary of feeling too proud of yourself simply for not living in Nebraska. The same boast can be made by anyone in Kansas.


Precipitate Answer

Winter storms.

According to CNN Headline News (the brisk alternative for those who find CNN's regular news too prolix), the rating system is analogous to that used for hurricanes, with 1 a "minor inconvenience" and 5 "life threatening." The National Weather Service will evaluate the system in spring.

Life Under Livingston--Augmented Quotations Extra


(Each final sentence added by "News Quiz.")

"It's a different driver at the same steering wheel with the same gas in the same car. He's a committed conservative. Any poor folk get in the road, he's gonna run 'em over."--Rep. David Obey, D-Wis.

"Livingston is about running the train on the tracks. Poor folk wander onto those tracks: Boom!"--Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind.

"You will still have a pro-big business, very much pro-oil industry party, and it is still very much a Southern party. This place will become much less cannibalistic and much less of a snake pit. But the snake, though limbless, can drive a car or a train or maybe a private jet or something right over any damn poor people who get in its way."--David Obey

Format Change

As of today, News Quiz converts to the Top 40 format so popular with the kids. Page 1 will continue to run five responses, but Page 2 will be capped at 35, thus increasing its comic density. I'm only grateful that we're not switching over to adult contemporary. Media consultant bastards.

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