No. 174: "Odd Lott"

No. 174: "Odd Lott"

No. 174: "Odd Lott"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Jan. 16 1999 3:30 AM

No. 174: "Odd Lott"

You be the decorator.

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In a 1992 keynote speech, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said: "The people in this room stand for the right principles and the right philosophy. Let's take it in the right direction and our children will be the beneficiaries." Describe the room.

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by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to e-mail your answer to newsquiz@slate.com.

Wednesday's question (No. 173)--"Woon River":

When the Woonasquatucket River near Providence, R.I., moved into the No. 2 slot, behind New Jersey's Passaic River, signs went up along its banks reading: "Peligro! Los Peces De Este Rio No Se Deben Comer."

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Loosely translated, what would that be in idiomatic English?

"Ice Cube! Get back on the boat because a giant, man-eating snake lurks in these waters."--Tim Rogers

"Danger! Vaguely racist jokes based on a limited knowledge of high-school Spanish ahead."--Dennis Cass

"Pellegrino! The Pescis and Esther Williams won't come unless they get some!"--Tim Carvell

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"Migrating birds! You're going the wrong way."--Matthew Singer

"Pelicans! The feces in this river are not safe to eat."--Steven Levy

"Danger! Fish are not working up to their full potential."--Beth Sherman

"Attention! If you can read this, you're too Hispanic. Paid for by Pat Buchanan."--Matthew Singer (Larry Amaros had a similar answer.)

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"Welcome! The INS invites you to enjoy fishing and swimming here!"--Karen Bitterman

"Alas! The fish in this river are impotent."--Steve Smith

"Drink this water, but we can't promise that John Travolta will represent you in court."--Jon Garfunkel

Click for more responses.

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Randy's Wrap-Up

When someone makes a movie about the Woonasquatucket (Adam Sandler, call my people), he'll have a rich riverine tradition to draw on. Heart of Darkness, The African Queen, Deliverance--each is a kind of flooded road movie. There are hundreds of them, if memory serves, and I can assure you that it doesn't. In The River, Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek struggle to save their farm from flooding caused by Jewish bankers. In Wild River, Elia Kazan rats out his hillbilly co-workers to the Tennessee Valley Authority. River of No Return is the one where Robert Mitchum escapes savage cartoon Indians by floating down a river on Marilyn Monroe. There are Rivers of Death, Grass, Tears, Stone, and No Return. There are Rios Bravo, Conchos, Grande, Lobo, and Rita--this last featuring Abbott, Costello, and singing cowboy Nazis. That's a memory I'm sure of. What I'm less sure of is this: When John Travolta turned down the $20 million that his clients clearly wanted, why would Meryl Streep risk her life to row him through the rapids?

Aquatic Answer

"Danger! River Fish Are Not Safe To Eat!"

The Woonasquatucket trails only the Passaic for dioxin in its sediment. Informed of the problem, Robert Vanderslice, head of the Rhode Island Department of Health, swiftly ordered an interagency urban rivers team to post the bilingual signs, put on a slide show, and hand out brochures. The source of the dioxin is unclear. Legal action is pending. Swimming is discouraged.

Cell Division Extra

A few more thoughts on why we hate what we hate.

The Problem

"I detect two things. First, a mild feeling of envy along with irritation, as if someone had noticed something one can get away with that I hadn't thought of. Second, cellulites seem to be waving some part of their good fortune in my face.

"Add these two impressions together and you find the missing element that explains my own irritation: the public display of advantage. Maybe that's why listening to a cellulite strikes me as identical to watching the beautiful people in commercials as they breeze through the world in their SUVs, or endlessly amuse each other in the back seat of a convertible on their way to THE LIFE YOU WILL NEVER HAVE. All this shall pass when there are so many cell phones that no one is remotely likely to confuse their use with a ticket to heaven. Veblen remains a prophet, no?"--Jason Potter

The Solution

For nature's Darwinian response to the mobile phone blight, try www.smn.co.jp/keyword/0158k01e.html, courtesy of Kate Wing.

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