No. 199: "Thirds"

No. 199: "Thirds"

No. 199: "Thirds"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
March 3 1999 3:30 AM

No. 199: "Thirds"

He's done it twice, and he announced on the radio that if it were legal to do it again he would. Opponents say this desire indicates "a strange psychological state." Who wants to do what?


by noon ET Tuesday to e-mail your answer to

Thursday's Question (No. 198)--"Chat and Argue Choo Choo":

Next month, hoping to re-establish cordial relations, more than 140 congressmen will board a chartered Amtrak train bound for Hershey, Pa. What will they do when they get there?

"The same thing everyone does after getting off an Amtrak train: attempt to wash that vague uriney smell out of their clothes."--Tim Carvell

"Let Mary Bono out of the bathroom."--Michael Gerber

"I'm not sure, but if Bob Barr is going, I'll bet he doesn't touch any 'Special Dark' chocolate."--Rich Harrington (Alex Balk had a similar answer.)

"Hershey? Train? Congressmen? Is it just me, or is it a little homoerotic in here?"--Larry Schnur

"Bang on drums and try to get the talking stick away from a weepy Tom DeLay."--Molly Gabel

Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up


Beyond a preschool visit to a local dairy, my first assembly line was at the Hershey's chocolate factory, and it was perfect--incredibly loud and with a cocoa aroma as thick as a fist. There were ordinary items--candy bars and Kisses--in infinite multiples, and ordinary objects in gigantic versions--mixing bowls, ladles, boxes. But you'll never see it.

Hershey no longer runs a factory tour. Instead it has a visitors center--Candytown or The Chocolate Work Shoppe or Fattyland, something like that--pathetic, fake, Disneyfied. It's the same at most factories. Fear of lawsuits has superseded pride in the product.

One delightful exception, should you like your kids to see something made, and an easy drive from Hershey, is Mack Truck in Macungie, Pa. While it's an assembly plant, not a manufacturing plant, they do start with a pile of parts in the morning and roll 50 of those big boys out the door by the end of the day. You get to see people building something that's not idiotic, a great treat for one who's worked in television.

It's interesting that the Dem-Rep safari is at the site of a pseudoexperience rather than the real thing. But if you're trying to inspire artificial amity, that's not such a bad choice.


Randy's Recantation

Several of you chided me for calling the travelers "congressmen," omitting the women representatives. Quite right. My mistake.

Touchy Feely Answer

They're going to pretend that Sam Waterston is Lincoln.


As they did in 1997, the representatives are attending a retreat. Leaders of both parties are expected, including Dennis Hastert and Richard Gephardt. Among the speakers will be historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and John Hume who, along with David Trimble, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his work in Northern Ireland. Waterston, supported by a troupe of actors and historians, will present selections from the Great Emancipator.

The Pew Charitable Trust is providing $700,000 to underwrite the event.

Month of Junk Extra

I received 35 unsolicited e-mails in February, not a huge number, but it's a short month, and I use a local Internet service provider. Most of this trash, 19 pieces, proffered business opportunities--dubious investments, credit card schemes, home employment. Eleven involved retail sales (dental care, computers, divorce lawyers, online auctions); four announced some sort of performance; one was an ancient chain letter scam.


Each investment scheme began with a lie. Ask to be removed from the list, and you learn that the return address is bogus. I suppose I'll never get my money back. Or earn enough to buy that solid gold hat.

A few highlights:

Subject: CBSNews:1st Aphrodisac Drug Apr

"The announcement of this scientific breakthrough has set off a media fire-storm."

If this is an investment opportunity, it's unconvincing. If it's a personal suggestion, it's impertinent--like I'm not doing fine with Nyquil and Kahlúa cocktails.


"PDCID has announced priority production of their proprietary Hypo-Sterile 2000 which render medical contaminants harmless."

Tempting. But my money's tied up with Rumplestiltskin's process, which renders straw into gold.

Subject: Earn 2-4k Per Week from Home!!

"What have you done with your dreams?"

My dreams rarely involve becoming a travel agent, but they frequently include an enormous cartoon swan.

Subject: Next Networking Events@Cheetah,Limelight

"After work Networking Events For Young Professionals."

It's difficult to decide which word in the above phrase is the least attractive.

Subject: A Bit About Your Family's History

"Do you know WHO your ancestors are and WHAT they did?"

I already employ a system for addressing these questions; it's called psychotherapy.

Common Denominators

The dangers of an underfunded rail system.

The joys of erotically applied chocolate.

Disclaimer: All submissions willbecome the property ofSlateand will be published atSlate's discretion.Slatemay publish your name on its site in connection with your submission.