Safer, cleaner, more fun--these are the attributes touted by an organization's new chairman. What organization?
by noon ET Wednesday to e-mail your answer to email@example.com.
Monday's question (No. 179)--"A Pair of Weasels":
Alluding to a verbal dyad, Lamar Alexander called them "Weasel words, cleverly and deliberately put together to confuse people by meaning nothing." What two words?
"Dot com."--Dan Simon
"Acceptable level."--Alfa-Betty Olsen
"Pottery Barn."--Colleen Werthmann
"Hilary and Jackie."--Susan Burton
"Dan Radosh."--Dan Radosh
"Kill chickens. (Of course, to a weasel, the meaning is quite clear.)"--Jennifer Miller
"I do."--Chris Thomas, Joydip Kundu, Carole Larsen, John Leary, and Charles Star
"Operating system (OK, Bill, where's my check?)"--Ananda Gupta
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Many responses listed deft and amusing oxymorons, but Lamar Alexander sought something more insidious than mere self-contradiction. He was invoking the vicious and sinister qualities that make weasels (along with stoats and ferrets) such satisfying villains in Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, and such pleasingly greasy stooges in David Letterman's epithet "record industry weasels." (Not half so much contempt could be squeezed from "record industry squirrels.") That toothy, ruthless carnivore shows up in this familiar exchange:
Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel
Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
A few lines later, Hamlet says, "They fool me to the top of my bent." Indeed they do, those weasels. It makes you wonder why anyone could name a product the "Garden Weasel" or why Lamar Alexander thinks he has a shot at the White House.
Republican presidential hopefuls and their myrmidons are carping about the George W. Bush catch phrase. Religious nut Gary Bauer took it out on Bush Sr.: "The last Bush talked about kinder and gentler, and that resulted in an election loss." Dan Quayle demurred typographically, writing "I have ordered my staff to never--EVER--utter the words 'compassionate conservative!' " Steve Forbes objected manfully, declaring: "Mealy-mouthed rhetoric and poll-tested clichés are no substitute for a muscular substantive agenda," then he took a swing at a poor person bequeathed to him in his father's will. Or maybe he didn't.
Nicole Seligman Extra
Pros and cons of trying to wangle a blind date with the impressive presidential attorney.
Uncanny ability to keep a straight face while saying "Mr. Manager Graham" means she'd have no trouble buttering up my relatives.
Her assertion--"Mere repetition no matter how dogged, cannot create a reality where there is none"--means no nagging.
No visible wedding ring could imply availability for dating or recklessness at the poker table or that it's time to break down and buy a decent television.
Mysterious white bauble on lapel could be pale and delicate cameo, membership pin in pernicious organization, or perhaps a dab of spilled food.
If things got seriously romantic, she might blurt out quotations from Sen. William Pitt Fessenden, breaking the mood.
Was on Oliver North's defense team. After a little tiff, she might get some guy to kill you. In the national interest.
Win: Lamar Alexander's self-deception.
Place: President Clinton's equivocating.
Show: News Quiz's ubiquity.
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