"They're taking something that's about as likely to happen as a meteorite falling on your head and telling everybody that it could happen any time," said Dr. Merlin D. Tuttle, about those worry warts at the New York State Health Department. Name that exaggerated (or not) danger.
Send your answer by noon ET Wednesday to email@example.com.
Monday's Question (No. 314)--"A Chaucer, Not an Echo":
Fill in the blank as David Mixner, a gay rights advocate, praises President Clinton at a black-tie fund-raising dinner in Los Angeles: "Ever since The Canterbury Tales--strange crew that was--people have been judged by their ____________. And we picked a good one in 1992."
"Grete horses buttokes."--Daniel Radosh (Ellen Macleay and Floyd Elliott had similar answers, but in modern English.)
"Ability to accept specious Pardoner's Tales."--Adam Bonin
"Sely instrument. Hey, look, I made a dirty joke in Middle English! My college English professors would be so proud of me, if they weren't all dead or senile."--Floyd "Loving the Tavern Better Than the Shop" Elliot
"Pandering. No, wait, that's Troilus and Cressida. Hey, somebody call Vernon Jordan and find out where the hell that girl is with the pizza."--Alison Rogers
"Ability to say one thing while doing the exact opposite. (HELLO?? Gay people?? He signed the Preservation of Marriage Act! Christ on a crutch, what does he have to do to lose your support, stab David Geffen with a kitchen knife??)"--Eric Berlin (similarly, Chris Thomas)
Click for more answers.
It is astonishing to see a public figure at a political event refer to any work of literature written before 1985 or, in the case of George W., written. In her best column in years, in which she reverts to actual reporting, Maureen Dowd had a fascinating talk with G.W. about his cultural tastes. It turns out he has none. He is a man of unflappable ignorance who, despite the round-the-clock presence of his librarian wife, remains all but illiterate. " 'I've always liked John La Care, Le Carrier, or however you pronounce his name. I'm mainly a history person.' He's just finished Isaac's Storm, a history of the Galveston hurricane of 1900, and reads Robert Parker's detective-for-hire stories." It's one thing to be a deeply ignorant man with a satin-skinned complacency, a cheek unwrinkled by self-doubt. But when you declare that you'd like to be president, shouldn't everyone just mock you with a lot of snooty literary references that you don't get?
"Classical quotation is the parole of literary men all over the world," said Dr. Johnson, I note, quoting Dr. Johnson, who, while not actually classical, was not all over the world either, although he once took a very nice tour of the Hebrides. He found it to be a lot like Galveston or Galvoostoon or however you pronounce it.
"Ever since The Canterbury Tales people have been judged by their traveling companions."
Mixner, a Clinton friend for 30 years, paid tribute to the political gains the president has made for gay and lesbian Americans and encouraged their continued support of the president.
In 1992, gays and lesbians raised $4 million for Clinton-Gore, and the Democratic ticket received 80 percent of their vote. Or, to put it more weirdly, 20 percent of lesbians and gays voted Republican.
While acknowledging his disappointments--Mixner was jailed in 1993 while protesting the president's position on gays in the military--he applauded Clinton's many victories.
As John Broder describes it in the New York Times, the president responded with appropriate modesty and--if I can read between the lines or simply make things up, important things, things that should have happened--brushed away a tear, " 'I wish I could have done better,' Mr. Clinton said wistfully. 'But we've done pretty well, and we're a long way from where we were.' "
JoyNolan's Fun With Canterbury Tales Extra
"Ever since The Canterbury Tales, people have been judged by their stunning ability to have their careers summed up by the A, B, and C entries in the glossary for The Canterbury Tales.
Check this out--a "coverchief" is a head-dress. (Think it over.) Fuck's sake, Randy, flyppe through these! It's like Chaucer was in, like, pre-cahoots with Ken Starr or somethynge.
Plus, you toss in a little punctuation, and some consecutive entries read like excerpts from Starr's Ouija board, or last year's Times:
- "Aleyes alkamystre, al speke he, 'Amor vincit omnia,' angwissous ape aperteneth areste." (Translation: Garden-paths alchemist, although he may speak, 'Love conquers all,' anxious fool befits stop.)
- "Asterted, astoned, aswowne avowtier, bauderye." (Translation: Escaped, astonished, aswooned adulterer, pandering.)
- "Bigileres biknowe, bille bitook, biwreyed blent, bleynte, boghte." (Translation: Liars confess, formal charge, entrusted betrayed, turned pale, redeemed.)
- "Clerk clippeth cokkow." (Translation: University student embraces cuckoo.)
So anyway, here are selected A, B, and C words from the CT glossary. I'm telling you, though: coverchief = head-dress is the best. (Get it? Head dress? Coverchief?) That David Mixner clearly has his planchette on the pulse.
aleyes: garden paths
ape: 1. fool, dupe; 2. monkey
asterte, asterted: escaped
astoned: amazed, astonished
aswowne: in a swoon, aswooned
bauderye, bawderye: pandering
bigileres: liars, deceivers
biknowe: reveal, confess
bille: petition, formal charge
biwreyed: 1. revealed, exposed; 2. betrayed
blent: deceived, blinded
bleynte: turned pale
bord bigonne: sat in the place of honor
bour: bedroom, private room for lord and lady
briberyes: ways of stealing money
brike: trap, plight
brotelnesse, brotilnesse: insecurity, instability, fickleness
chastitee: chastity, abstinence from sexual intercourse
cokewold: cuckold, husband of an adulteress
conseil kepe: keep secret
contricioun: the state of being contrite, affected by guilt, feeling
remorse or penitence
corage: 1. heart, feeling; 2. (sexual) desire, ardor
costlewe: very expensive
coveitise, coveityse: avarice, greed, covetousness
cure: charge, jurisdiction
ChrisKelly's Ongoing Amour-Propre Extra
"My novels ... explore the mysteries behind love and hate, the darkly amusing, deeply disturbing and ultimately unanswerable questions that they inspire."--writer Warren Adler takes a long hard look at his work, including Random Hearts, and likes what he sees.
Participants are invited to submit similar authentic examples of rigorous self-assessment. Replies to run Thursday.
Penises and noses, which, incidentally, scans beautifully when substituted for the refrain in "Lollipops and Roses," the 1962 Grammy-winning Jack Jones hit written by Tony Velona. Let's sing it together right now! Everybody!