No. 146: “Funny as a German Banker”

No. 146: “Funny as a German Banker”

No. 146: “Funny as a German Banker”

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Nov. 25 1998 3:30 AM

No. 146: “Funny as a German Banker”

No. 146: "Funny as a German Banker"

By Randy Cohen

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Fill in the blank. Rolf-Ernst Breuer, chairman of Germany's Deutsche Bank, may acquire America's Bankers Trust for $9 billion despite declaring, "Our motto is '__________ first.' "

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by noon ET Tuesday to e-mail your answer to newsquiz@slate.com.

Responses to Thursday's question (No. 145)--"Standard Features"--

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

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"Cocaine delivery to rock stars has become so urgent that couriers are being given terse, even breathless, instructions to make no detours."--John Shade

"Seamstress Trudie Newell-Poit of Wainscotting, disgusted at her sewing machine's poor cross-stitching, smashed it with a sledgehammer in Piccadilly Circus."--Andrew "Page 3 Girl" Solovay (Jonathan Snow, Martin Willett, Steve Smith, and Karla Nedel had similarly stitcherific answers.)

"A West End hooker who once had noted novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer as a client offers reminiscences of her technique."--Tim Carvell (similarly literary, Dan Simon)

"English translations of Welsh town names."--Doug Ingram

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"Don't they know Karen Carpenter is dead?"--Wendy Casey

Click for more responses.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Most responses played with pop star excesses. Listed like that, it's clear that our rock 'n' rollers have compiled a sadly unimaginative roster of debauchery, largely relying on sex and drugs--those two tired horses of the dissolution troika. How square. How disappointing. Even the president, that drab national dad, has been accused of similarly unsurprising antics. Where's the youthful Byronic madness, the heedless Lucullan feast of endangered bald eagles slow roasted over flaming da Vinci drawings? Where's the Caligulan blood frolic? How uninspired is the surgical selfishness of leaner noses and plumper bosoms. Where is the face sleekened by cheek bones transplanted from a high-school cheerleader kidnapped off the streets of Wichita, Kan.?

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I embrace my middle-aged, middlebrow destiny, regularly dozing off around 9:30 in front of a Merchant-Ivory movie on public television. Would that our rockers were as accomplished at embodying their own philosophy. You'd think they'd have some pride in workmanship.

Opera Ration Answer

Opera diva Jessye Norman lost her bid to sue for libel over a "vulgar and undignified" quip about her size.

A story in Classic CD magazine said that when the 53-year-old singer became trapped in swinging doors on the way to a concert and was advised to turn sideways to release herself, she replied, "Honey, I ain't got no sideways."

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Miss Norman said the remark, which she insists she never made, held her up to ridicule, mockery, and contempt, and conformed to a "degrading racist stereotype of a person of African-American heritage."

Lord Justice Peter Gibson ruled that these words could never convey that defamatory meaning: "I could have wished Miss Norman had told the hoary old joke contained in the subject of this libel action as it would have shown that, in addition to possessing the remarkable vocal and dramatic talents which have made her world-famous as a distinguished opera singer, she had an engaging sense of humour. Unhappily, she has taken offence at the false attribution to her of the six words."

Season's Greetings Extra

It's not too soon to order those holiday cards, and there's a colorful, inexpensive, and sinister assortment available from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, "America's most aggressive defender of firearms ownership."

The Brasco greeting cards ($11.95 a dozen) feature various pictures of Brasco (TM) the Liberty Bear, first seen in the coloring book ($5.95) designed by 11-year-old Erik Zelman, the young son (?) of Aaron Zelman, executive director of JPFO. " 'Inoculate' your children from the anti-gun lies being taught as education in our schools and in Mass Media."

If you think about it, it's nice that Aaron has taken his son into the family gun nuttery business. If you don't think about it too hard.

Among the Brasco greeting cards:

"Some Laws Are Bad": Brasco the firearm ownership preservation bear wears a yellow cowboy suit and carries a rifle. This could refer to the kosher laws that put pork chops out of bounds, but I doubt it.

"Firearms Can Be Fun": Brasco proudly shows his target to dad. Both have rifles; both wear ear protectors. They may be gun nuts, but they're still health conscious.

"Dialing 911 Can Be Useless": A nervous looking Brasco holds the phone; his bathrobe-wearing dad holds a gun. Outside the window lurks a bad bear with an eye patch. Apparently the bad bear didn't show as much concern for eye/ear protection as do Brasco and his dad.

"The Japanese Want Your Guns": A sadistic Japanese prison guard bear deliberately spills a cup of water just out of reach of a very thirsty Brasco on the floor of his cell. I don't begin to understand the ideological assumptions behind this one, but if I had any connection to those Berenstein Bears, I'd be talking to a lawyer.

This Milwaukee organization also does an odd and scary line of Jewish gun nut T-shirts. Order or get more information at www.jpfo.org.

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