No. 215: "Here's the Pitch"

No. 215: "Here's the Pitch"

No. 215: "Here's the Pitch"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
March 31 1999 3:30 AM

No. 215: "Here's the Pitch"

Fill in the blank. After creating the highest-rated movie ever made for Showtime, Warren Weideman is about to make four sequels, but the project was a tough sale. "Most producers eyes would glaze over as soon as I said the words, '____________.' "

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

Thursday's Question (No. 214)--"Nutkin":

You give the brief lead; I give the headline from London's Independent: "Letter Reveals Nutkin Was a Savage Squirrel"

"My God! Mad Cow disease has mutated! Run for the hills!"--Tim "Why, Yes, I'd Love Some Wasabi Polenta" Carvell

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"Despite revelations, Pat Buchanan still stands by his campaign manager."--S. Bell

"Ha! That got your attention. Now, back to the tariff implications of EMU membership."--Jennifer Miller

"Fergie wins Royal Anagram contest for her positively bitchy entry: 'Queen wears rags at rave; rants like evil slut.' "--Brooke Saucier

"Squirrel Nutkin was a bitter, resentful recluse who secretly despised Twinkleberry and goaded Old Mr. Brown into violence, according to a collection of correspondence published by former lover Joyce Maynard."--Chris Thomas

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Randy's Wrap-Up

The daily coverage of Kosovo, Microsoft, and Rudolph Giuliani teaches this lesson: It's futile to read the newspaper. Salient details are always concealed, key decisions are always made in private, and the ink gets all over your hands. Review the dailies from 1942 or 1929 or 1863, and you'll come away with a similar impressively false sense of the great events of the day. So why persist in newspaper reading? For one thing, it lets you participate in the ongoing conversation that is a nation's culture. One doesn't wish to stand silently by while others merrily exchange misinformation about Albania, the NYPD, and computer viruses. (That's why millions of decent Americans watch Just Shoot Me: It'll be the talk of the schoolyard tomorrow. Surely not because it is, in any meaningful sense, good.) For another thing, the news provides a myth system for a secular age, giving us figures of good and evil, around whom we can construct tales of ... well, OK, figures of evil and more evil. But perhaps the utility of newspapers--their ability to provide truth and understanding--is beside the point. One buys them for other reasons: for powerful photographs, now often in color, of underwear models; for a chance encounter with an embarrassing detail about Ron Perelman; and perhaps most of all, for that lovable Marmaduke cartoon. At 60 cents, it's a bargain!

Squirrelicious Answer

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"A letter in which Beatrix Potter reveals that one of her best-loved fictional creations, Squirrel Nutkin, was based on a pet squirrel with behavioural problems is expected to fetch up to £15,000 at auction," reports Kathy Marks.

Writing in 1903, six months before the publication of The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, Potter notes: "I bought two squirrels, but the one called Nutkin--who was much the handsomest--was so very savage I was obliged to take him back to the shop. So I have only one now, called Twinkleberry."

Rosemary Franklin, the letter's owner, learned its value when she took it to BBC Television's Antiques Roadshow.

Scrupulous Extra

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Some corrections from today's New York Times:

  • It was Anna, not Alice.
  • He is a Republican, not a Democrat.
  • He was a captain, not a lieutenant.
  • It is Silbury Hill, not Avebury.
  • The group's name is Ninos Con Bombas, not Todos los Manos.

Common Denominator

Rocky and Bullwinkle and Margaret Thatcher.

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