No. 262: "Wonder Bread?"

No. 262: "Wonder Bread?"

No. 262: "Wonder Bread?"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
June 22 1999 3:00 AM

No. 262: "Wonder Bread?"

Michigan Gov. John Engler says it "strengthens families, stabilizes neighborhoods, builds communities, enhances self-sufficiency, and promotes personal well-being." What does?

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(Question courtesy of Herb Terns.)

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Send your answer by noon ET Tuesday to newsquiz@slate.com.

Thursday's Question (No. 261)--"The Rules":

Among the four pages of rules are these: women must smile and wear makeup at all times, any woman caught chewing gum gets an $80 fine, and then there's the draconian Rule 29--"if any girl gets three complaints, she must immediately resign." Rules governing what?

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"Poker night at the Citadel."--Ellen Macleay (Norman Oder and Bill Thomason had similar answers.)

"The utopian society described on the back of the Brave New Barbie box."--Peter Carlin

"And Singapore wonders why its women's World Cup soccer team never does well."--Jay D. Majors (similarly, Aaron Schatz)

"This sucks. I thought working on Liddy's campaign would be better than working on Bob's. I quit."--Molly Shearer Gabel (similarly, Eugene Bryton, Angela Wilkes, Dee Lacey, Jay Framson, and Cebra Graves)

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"Oh man, I've got that list. I can't remember if it came from the tenure committee or the gentleman's club where I used to lap dance."--Julie "TA" Anderson

Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Comical misogyny, like that underpinning today's question, comes in a variety of forms, none more impressive than The Man Show, a beer-fueled, bikini-clad exercise in frat-boy reassurance that debuts this week on Comedy Central.

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With a self-congratulatory smirk, the show presents the most bullying reactionary ideas as if they were progressive. It's the naughtiness of the privileged that runs something like this: Everyone says it's wrong to club kittens with cinder blocks. Well, I'm no slave to convention, I just beat the hell out of them. I'm a rebel, and only a prude would complain. This bit of logical high jinks can justify anything from racism to the flat tax.

Offering up loutish claptrap used to require a different sort of justification. The old method was to insist that it was "satire." Applied today, the line would run that The Man Show is not the thing but is a parody of the thing. (The thing being the social ideas of Frank Sinatra around the time he was eating eggs off the belly of the hooker and slapping around his girlfriends. Still a lively topic in philosophical circles, apparently.) But satire requires a critical stance, while The Man Show requires jokes about women drivers and farting monkeys.

This justification devolved into the light irony defense: Our show may be rubbish, but we know it's rubbish. Through a process of Hollywood alchemy, self-awareness transforms rubbish into lucrative nonrubbish.

The most modern and least demanding defense relies on the personal virtue of the producer. I'm a good person, therefore anything that I do is, by definition, good. Thus, The Man Show, produced by a good guy (and I know him, he's a nice fellow) is OK, but if, say, Donald Trump had produced it, it would be vile. It's Borges logic. It's Calvinism, with enormous breasts, bouncing on a trampoline.

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Orientation Week Answer

These are the rules for prostitutes working for one Taiwanese bar owner in Tokyo's Kabukicho, or "entertainment zone." Rule 37, incidentally, states, "When a customer sings karaoke, please, everyone clap."

Lately, Japanese gangsters are finding it hard to compete with vibrant immigrant entrepreneurs. "The Chinese gangs are taking business from us in every area--in prostitution, in gambling, in fencing, in stolen goods," said one yakuza to New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof. "The difference between us is that Japanese yakuza think of long-term business relationships, but the Chinese mafia thinks just of the short term. Their only goal is money, money, money."

Greg Diamond's "What Becalms a Legend Most?" Extra

In yet another spasm of millennial list making, the American Film Institute ranks the century's stars as "50 Legends." If only the No. 1 actor and the No. 1 actress had made movies together! Well, actually Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn did co-star in The African Queen, but few other equally ranked pairs ever worked together. Participants are invited to rectify that.

From the list, available on the AFI's Web site, choose a pair other than No. 1 (or No. 11--Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck often appeared together) and come up with a TV Guide-style plot summary of a movie in which they might have co-starred. Entries are due by 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 27; results will run Monday. Some samples: 

  • No. 5 C'mon Get Happy--A happy-go-lucky bachelor (Fred Astaire) tries to cheer up a neurasthenic cancer patient (Greta Garbo) by teaching her the cha-cha.
  • No. 6 Green Acres--A taciturn banker (Henry Fonda) forces his beautiful but leery young wife (Marilyn Monroe) to live a simple life on a farm. Later remade for television, but as a comedy.
  • No. 9 Guess Who's Coming to Seder?--A World War II soldier (Spencer Tracy) brings his German bride (Marlene Dietrich) home from Berlin to meet his Jewish family.
  • No. 10 The Great Dominatrix--The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) sneaks into the house of a wealthy young widow (Joan Crawford) for shelter, plays whimsically with her silver serving set, and is beaten nearly to death with a fireplace poker when she discovers him. Later remade as Boudou Saved From Spanking.
  • No. 14 Old York, Old York--A brooding English writer (Laurence Olivier) is fascinated, against his better judgment, by a wisecracking American girl (Ginger Rogers) who scoots around his Yorkshire hotel lobby backward on heels humming to herself with her arms splayed.

Click here for the AFI's list of Greatest American Screen Legends.

Common Denominator

Elizabeth Dole, displacing Tom DeLay for Most Sexist Public Figure; Singapore, displacing Saudi Arabia for Most Sexist Nation.