No. 145: “Standard Features”

No. 145: “Standard Features”

No. 145: “Standard Features”

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Nov. 21 1998 3:30 AM

No. 145: “Standard Features”

No. 145: "Standard Features"

By Randy Cohen


I give the headline, you give the story. From Thursday's London Evening Standard: "Blow to Singer With No Sideways"


by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to e-mail your answer to

Responses to Wednesday's question (No. 144)--"Best Dais of Your Life":

A major U.S. corporation will spend three years and $200 million to install customer-friendly equipment, including small, mobile, battery-powered podiums. What are the podiums for?


" will deliver author readings directly to your home, rendering bookstores yet more obsolete. Most of the $200 million is being spent not on the podiums themselves but rather on the small, mobile, battery-powered Frank and Malachy McCourts who will stand behind them."--Daniel Radosh

"Disney World's new 'presidential debates' bumper cars."--Matthew Singer (James Urbaniak had a similar answer referencing poetry at Barnes & Noble.)

"Who cares? It's an Internet company. BUY!"--Doug Ingram (similarly, Ellen Scordato)

"If you're saying they're not urinals, I'm really embarrassed."--Steven Miller


"Mice. It's the cutest darn thing you've ever seen."--Tim Carvell (similarly, with a Ross Perot chaser, Carl Spratt and Russ Evansen)

Click for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Small, mobile, battery-powered--is there anything more modern than that? Is there anything cuter than that? Is there anything more redolent of vulgar erotic possibilities? If "News Quiz" were not a quiz but rather a pornographic Japanese comic book, dense with misogyny and conveniently available in omnipresent vending machines on the platforms of swift, efficient commuter railways, those would be the attributes of the sexed-up superhero whose adventures we chronicled, even if it made many of our fellow passengers really uncomfortable. But here in America, to be creeped out by unwanted mass transit eroticism shoved at you from every direction, you must make do with loudmouthed cell phone sex on the Long Island Railroad. I'm no economist, but I believe this is the point President Clinton intends to make in Tokyo tomorrow.


On-Time Answer

As Alfa-Betty Olsen and Marshall Efron know (click), United Airlines will be rolling out porta-podia when there are long lines at check-in counters.

This space age table with a radio link to the airline's database is currently being field-tested in San Francisco and will soon be deployed at LAX, O'Hare, and La Guardia airports.

Dick Armey's Metaphor Madness Extra


Read this allegorical passage by the newly re-elected House majority leader, then answer the questions below.

"Think about the poor bass; put yourself in his place. You go into Denny's and you sit down and somebody puts your hamburger in front of you, and you pick it up and take a bite. All of a sudden, somebody grabs you by the mouth, drags you around the store, drags you outside, pulls the hook out of your mouth, and throws you back into Denny's. That is what the poor fish goes through."

1. What does Denny's symbolize?

2. What does the fish symbolize?

3. Where is "out back"?

4. What is the hamburger?

5. What is the hook?

6. What's the fish doing at Denny's?

7. Suppose the fish were really rich, should it pay the same income tax as a poor fish, maybe like a shad who works at Denny's?

8. A champion of family values, how many children does the fish have from previous marriages?

9. How does the fish know when something is wrong?

10. What do some other fish think of this fish?


1. A lake, and also the U.S. House of Representatives.

2. An incumbent majority leader.

3. A riverbank where it looks like you won't get re-elected?

4. I'm a little hazy here. Opposition to gun control, maybe?

5. Look, I don't know. Quit badgering me.

6. Having lunch, I guess, but maybe they were all out of worms or something? Do they eat worms?

7. Yes. Both should pay 17 percent.

8. Five.

9. "When the Ten Commandments can't be placed in courtrooms (even though a relief of Moses adorns the House chamber), and schoolchildren are harassed by school officials for privately practicing their faith, something is wrong."

10. "It was time to get rid of him," said a fish who did not want to be identified, "but in the end the moderates just couldn't go with Largent. It was more like going with the old devil we know."

Funniness Enhancer

Reread the passage, only this time pronounce "bass" with a long a, and picture opera great Samuel Ramey.

Read More About It

At the speaker's Web site,

And if you check, you'll probably find a lot of bass fishing sites.

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