No. 267: "You Be the Playwright"

No. 267: "You Be the Playwright"

No. 267: "You Be the Playwright"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
June 30 1999 3:00 AM

No. 267: "You Be the Playwright"

I set the stage for a script based on an actual current event.

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Setting: The courtyard of a monastery in Florence.

Prop: A briefcase containing $50 million.

Female Lead: Kaethe, a young Russian woman wearing hot pants and a bikini top.

Male Lead: Father Christopher, a priest wearing something priestly.

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Question: What is the opening line of dialogue?

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

Monday's Question (No. 266)--"Booed and Hooted":
Fill in the blank as Jimmy Riordan, an organizer of yesterday's Gay Pride parade in New York City, explains why Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was heckled the length of the march. "Nobody is barred from being in the parade. It's completely open to all people. He's just not ______________."

"Completely open to all people."--Daniel Radosh

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"Irish, dammit."--Herb Terns and Matthew Singer

"Al D'Amato."--Shany Mor (Dennis Cass had a similar answer.)

"Supposed to goose step."--J. Nolan

"Anyone's type."--Adam Bonin

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Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

The problem with parades is the wrong thing moves--the entertainment, not the audience. That's why the piano is used so seldom in parade music, and it's why we're a nation of fatties--all that standing around waiting for some baton twirler to arrive. When the Vatican finally brought the Pietà over to the United States, they didn't put it on a float and trundle it down Main Street; they displayed it in the reverential hush of the World's Fair. The statue sat; the audience moved, gliding past it on conveyor belts the way Michelangelo intended.

The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade--and isn't a holiday so much more festive when it has a sponsor?--does both. On Thanksgiving Eve, crowds stroll past the balloons while they're being inflated. The next morning, there's a traditional parade, with Huge Pneumatic Licensed Characters dragged past cold, immobile spectators, lined up 10-deep at the curb, unable to see much beyond the frost-covered head of the person in front of them, and the occasional chunk of plummeting debris.

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So next year, let's switch from the Gay Pride Parade to the Gay Pride Street Fair--good exercise, a cultural celebration, and a chance to buy inexpensive socks. Viva!

They're Not Laughing At You, They're Laughing Near You Answer

"He's just not popular."

The mayor himself sees the jeers not as political protest but as psychological distress. "You should be able to march as the mayor of New York City anyplace you want, and if people can't deal with their own anger over that, that's really something emerging from inside them," he said. "And the Boston Tea Party? Some kind of oedipal thing," he did not add.

The mayor's surprise at being booed was not entirely disingenuous. His policies toward the gay community have been sufficiently benign to cost him some right-wing support in the Senate race. Anti-Giuliani sentiment was particularly vigorous among Hispanic and African-American gays. "Couldn't they be forced into some separate Minority Gay Pride Parade?" he did not ask.

Gay and straight New Yorkers can now come together to boo the mayor following yesterday's announcement of yet another giveaway to Time Warner--this time a $28 million subsidy to the publishing division. The Giuliani administration has dispensed more than $2 billion in tax breaks and electrical subsidies to 50 large corporations, squandering public money and shifting the tax burden to smaller companies.

Basement Workshop Extra

America's Hobby Center (America's favorite hobby headquarters since 1931) just mailed out its terrific new catalog of radio-controlled planes, cars, and accessories. A few highlights:

  • MEGATECH B2 STEALTH $319 "the most recognizable aircraft in the world."--Thanks to that new "recognizable stealth" technology. And I believe this one comes with a tiny, unreliable map of Belgrade embassies.
  • M1A1 Desert Storm R/C Mega Tank "offers the thrills and excitement of commanding your own battle tank group. Simple enough for youngsters to operate (yet sophisticated enough for an 'expert' to enjoy)."--Which, coincidentally, is also Sharon Stone's motto.
  • GRAF ZEPPELIN DIRIGIBLE KIT $29.95 "Plans for this model were originally penned over 30 years ago."--Pretty much like real Pentagon procurement schedules.
  • AEROMAX 2000 HAND-THROWN PARACHUTE W/MAN $9.99 "hours of fun for young & old alike."--Man goes up; man comes down. Man goes up; man comes down. Man goes up; man comes down. Man goes ...
  • COX FREE FLIGHT HELICOPTER, ATTACK COBRA $29.99--Believed to be particularly effective when parked near the combat zone.

Single-Entendre Bonus

Q: The list includes Prowler, Wizard, Mongoose, Venus Probe, Fire Streak, Zinger, Corkscrew, Astrocam 110, Big Bertha, Big Dawg, and Exo-Skel.

List of what?

A: All are the names of Beta Rocket Kits, selling for $3.49 to $31.99 in the AHC catalog.

Rocks, Paper Extra

Andrew Silow-Carroll invites participants to devise a sequentially trumping trio, like this one: NATO, Milosevic, Albanian refugees. (NATO planes crush Milosevic, Milosevic drives out refugees, refugees give NATO fits.) Replies due by Thursday morning.

Headline Haiku

"A Classic Rock Fan's Lament"

I Was
Seldom Taken
To Listen
To America.

New York Times, June 27 1999 ("Arts & Leisure" only)

--Francis Heaney

Chance for the gold
elusive as the cure
for trials of heart.
Quick action eases sting.

New York Times, June 29. 1999 ("Science Times" only)

--Lois C. Ambash

Common Denominator

Clothes make the man--or any permutation of these words.