No. 236: "Tragedy Plus Time Minus Taste"

No. 236: "Tragedy Plus Time Minus Taste"

No. 236: "Tragedy Plus Time Minus Taste"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
May 5 1999 2:53 AM

No. 236: "Tragedy Plus Time Minus Taste"


Columbine students resumed classes Monday at nearby Chatfield High School. Many wore white T-shirts imprinted on the front with "We Are ..." and on the back ... what?
Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to


Monday's Question (No. 235) "Pork Quoi?": A big half-page ad running in many papers today features a photo of four piglets vigorously suckling a sow's teats. An ad for what?

"A law firm specializing in medical malpractice suits (photo is of Pamela Anderson)."--Ellen Macleay

"The Montreal Expos' all-new, low-budget 'farm' system."--Neal Pollack

"I don't know, but Michael Medved's CONVINCED that this ad directly leads to school shootings."--Andrew Milner


"Bob Barr's 'Open Letter' tribute to the NRA."--Richard Nikonovich-Kahn (Barry Johnson had a similar answer.)

"Got Pig? The other white milk."--Steve Joynt (similarly, Bruce Oberg, James Poniewozik, Bjorn, and Steven Davis)

Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up


To most participants, the pig symbolizes greed. None associated the pig with its traditional attributes, dirty or foul smelling. None exploited "pig" as an epithet for policeman. There were no pigs in pokes, no when pigs fly, no in a pig's ear, no Pigmeat Markham, no pork salad Annie, no Gadarene swine, no Piggly Wiggly, no E. B. White's Wilbur, no there in the wood the piggy-wig stood. No three littles. No pearls before. No turning men into. How did we lose our rich tradition of porcine references? Did it all go wrong when we left the farm? Many's the happy hour we spent by the sty, a volume of Greek mythology in our trotters, contemplating the particularly rank aroma of our enemies. Well, we're city folk now, and our foes wear deodorant. And carry Prada bags. Made of ... oh, my lord! No!

Perhaps the pig has always been a comical animal because it's so much like us--a college graduate with 2.3 children, yacking away on a cell phone while it's stuck in traffic in its rotten SUV. OK, bad example. But pigs can pretty much eat everything we do. An ecological theory of the kosher laws suggests that they're meant to proscribe animals who'd compete with us for the foods we need. This theory is a little hazy about lobsters. Who, by the way, can also be made into a durable and attractive handbag. If you eat a whole lot of lobster, people will call you a pig. But not the other way around. Lobsters: not funny. Pigs: funny. A pig dancing with a monkey: hysterical.

Porcine on the Dotted Line Answer

The copy reads: "After all she's done for you, doesn't mom deserve flowers for Mother's Day, and to be compared to a barnyard animal?" except for the final phrase, which is merely implicit. It's an ad for an online flower service. In a curious bit of marketing, the offer of $10 off on Mother's Day flowers doesn't expire until July 31. So, buy your mom something nice, eventually, when you get around to it.


Tim Carvell's American Highways Extra

Since moving to Los Angeles, I've noticed that about every tenth car has a vanity plate. People want the world to know their names (HERMAN), their tastes (BLU MNMS), their dreams (KRE8 IT). And sometimes it seems they just want to confuse you. (I've puzzled over SHAKYPL for long stretches of freeway. Why pay $40 so your car can say SHAKYPL?)

At the California Department of Motor Vehicles' vanity-plate-availability site, you can input a plate, and see if it's already taken. Hence the following quiz: Which of the following plates have been spoken for, and which are still up for grabs?







6. 4SKIN







13. YUGO


15. UGLY

16. GOYZ



19. LIAR



Both UNIQUE and UNIQUE2 have been claimed, which is just sad ("I'd like my plate to read UNIQUE. Oh, it's taken. Well, then how about UNIQUE2?"). MANLY is available for at least as long as it takes me to get to the DMV. BIGOT is taken, RACIST is not. Go figure. 4SKIN is taken; HERPES, oddly, remains available. MARILU H, SATAN, and BOBDOLE have all been claimed, although the site doesn't specify by whom. MANSON and KINSLEY are both still available. YUGO is taken, NEWSQIZ is still up for grabs, as is UGLY. GOYZ and BEDWETR are both taken, which means that somewhere out there there's a car being driven by an unashamed incontinent person. And, finally, depsite what you might expect for a state that's home to the entertainment industry, DIANETX, LIAR, and ANORXIC remain unclaimed.

Common Denominator

Kosher and its discontents, Babe, "Got Milk?"