"I didn't even want to talk about chocolate-chip cookies, really. I shaved my beard and stopped wearing hats." Who said this about what?
Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday's Question (No. 269)--"Coaching Staff":
Sometime Thursday, Queen Elizabeth will take off her crown, put on a purple and green dress in a thistle pattern, and step into her carriage. Where's she going?
"Even farther back in time."--Larry Amoros
"To the guillotine."--Keith Kurtz
"Another one of those suspiciously long 'lunches' with Sean Connery."--Tim Carvell
"To kick off her bid for a New York Senate seat. 'In my family, we've always rooted for the Yankees,' said the queen. 'Well, except for George III.' "--Ben "We New Yorkers" Heller (Adam Martin and Seth Mnookin had similar answers.)
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Many responses pivoted on the amusing contrast between uptown swells and downtown schlubs, but this reliable device, the mighty comic engine that generated so many terrific Depression-era comedies and dimwitted Lampoon movies--Snobs vs. Slobs--is as false and anachronistic as the small town in a Capra movie. The two distinct worlds of upper-class and lower-class culture have merged into a single megaworld of pop culture. The millionaire's daughter doesn't yearn for the violin virtuoso; she wants the rocker. It was not Pavarotti who sang at Diana's funeral, it was Elton John. And even if it had been Pavarotti, he'd have brought along the other two tenors, assuming they could get time off from their PBS commitments and their stadium bookings. In the romantic comedies of the '30s--It Happened One Night, My Man Godfrey--the wan, indifferent upper-class beauty is humanized by her contact with ordinary working-class life, but those days are over. In modern romantic comedy--Working Girl to Pretty Woman--we're meant to applaud the heroine's rise from working-class to First Class, with the confidence that she can still listen to Garth Brooks. It's the new One World, and its pseudosophisticated anthem is "You're the Top. Forty."
Deeply Held Nationalist Yearnings Answer
Last week the queen went to the opening of the new Scottish Parliament, that nation's first in nearly 300 years.
Although the new Scots MPs took an oath of allegiance to the queen, there was no singing of "God Save the Queen," but they did sing Robert Burns' "A Man's a Man for A' That."
An old hand at this sort of thing, Queen Elizabeth opened the Welsh Assembly May 26. The opening of the West 94th St. Parliament will take place in my apartment as soon as the beer arrives. We won't sing "God Save the Queen," we will sing Gershwin favorites.
Jew du Jour Extra
One of the nicest things about Judaism--along with Uma Thurmond, knishes, and irony--is its traditional lack of proselytizing zeal. But the arrival in the mail of a flier from the Society for the Advancement of Judaism may force me to rethink my proselytizing position. Some highlights:
- Reassuring words on the cover: "Community," "Meaning," "Tradition"--each, as I recall, a particularly moving song in Fiddler on the Roof.
- Disconcerting words on the cover: "modern Jews," which, for my money, is the next Tina Brown magazine, and "Jewish journey," which generally meant stopping a lot so my Aunt Rose could reject another Esso station restroom for falling short our people's traditional standard of cleanliness. Also, fruit. A lot of fruit on a Jewish journey. You kids OK back there? You want another peach or maybe a nectarine?
- Disconcerting jargon inside: Adults can "enhance their relationships to Judaism in a dynamic community of learners." I'm no FBI agent, but they're talking about some kind of group sex swingers cult thing, right?
- The SAJ is run by Rabbi Julie Schonfeld who, we are told, graduated from Yale. Not just a rabbi, an Ivy League Rabbi--which, coincidentally, is next summer's big teen comedy for Adam Sandler. And Barbra Streisand. (Some mix-up over the rights.)
- Rabbi Schonfeld's most impressive credential: "taught playwriting with the New York Shakespeare Festival." It's a Wendy Wasserstein rewrite of The Jazz Singer. Which path will Julie Schonfeld choose--Broadway or God's way, Cats or Katz?
- "Conflict Resolution in the Bible." Sounds good. One factor in the decline of the labor movement is its unwillingness to use stoning as a bargaining technique. No stoning and very little smiting. Except the Teamsters.
- The "Experiential Hebrew School" offers various programs for children, so good that "Your kids won't want to leave!" OK, now I'm sure about that cult thing. And I like it!
- Also for der Kinder, "Jewish Ethics through Science Fiction." Ah, my people, and their rigorous traditions of scholarship. I smell Spielberg money.
- Recent SAJ projects include "Jewish Environmentalism." Please make up your own joke. (You send 'em, I'll run 'em.)
Barney the dinosaur goes to Wimbledon, hell.