No. 323: "Smooth Talker"

No. 323: "Smooth Talker"

No. 323: "Smooth Talker"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Oct. 20 1999 3:30 AM

No. 323: "Smooth Talker"

"We deal in the basics, and all those basics are necessary necessities," said a smiling CEO, patiently explaining to some CNNfn reporter that the company would thrive even in an economic downturn. Why was that CEO smiling?

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

Monday's Question (No. 322)--"We Deliver?":

According to Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., "Sometimes it's barbecue; sometimes it's fried chicken, sometimes it's pizza; frequently it's more than one of those things." What is?

"The shocking diet of talking animals."--Andrew Staples (Paul Frellick had similar answer.)

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"George W. Bush's favorite food, depending on where he's campaigning."--David Finkle

"Cigarette flavors Philip Morris tried while not targeting children."--Chris Kelly

"Dishes made out of euthanized babies at Peter Singer's new chain of animal-friendly fast-food restaurants."--Katha Pollitt

"Look. A martini should be gin and vermouth and a twist. That's it. There's no call for 'secret' ingredients."--Michael Manella

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Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

In News Quiz responses and in the wider culture (if there is one), food is used as a metaphor for ideology (bread and roses; let them eat cake) and for character: Their attitudes toward eating reveal something, well, distasteful about President Clinton and Calista Flockhart. It is also a metaphor for sex and never more delightfully so than in the fowl-eating scene in Tony Richardson's movie of Tom Jones. There is, however, only one place I can think of where the equation is reversed so that sex is a metaphor for food. In Tampopo, when the incredibly attractive couple in white are not actually in a gourmet frenzy, sex is simply food carried on by other means. And it really makes you hungry. If that's the appetite I mean.

Meals for Wheels Answer

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Rep. Doolittle is listing the free eats Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, serves up at his office to fellow Republicans during late-night sessions of the House, just one of the ways he has become, according to Marshall Whitmann of the Heritage Foundation, "the most powerful majority whip in the history of the House."

And he's handing out more than ribs. The basis of DeLay's power is ladling out cash to those who please him. The chief fund-raiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee, he raises more than half the group's money. And those who supply the funds are not neglected either. As Alison Mitchell and Marc Lacey report in the New York Times, "DeLay has long had a kitchen cabinet of lobbyists who meet with him regularly."

DeLay is now launching a $25 million fund-raising campaign to fight trade unions through the innovative method of establishing a nonprofit corporation that can raise unlimited cash without disclosing donors, a plan his fellow Republican congressman Chris Shays calls, "unbelievably sick."

In a rare case of bipartisan agreement, David Obey, D-Wash., notes, "To me, the worst thing in politics is anonymous, under-the-bedclothes money," he said. "Along with some of the things I've seen in the House shower room," he did not add.

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Interfaith Extra 2--Can I Hug the Dead Guy?

I guess we've all had one drink too many and embarrassed ourselves at a funeral. Or borrowed company funds that we had every intention of returning, so there was really no reason to call the police. But would you know how to treat the corpse at someone else's church, synagogue, or prayer thingy?

Name the Appropriate Behavior Upon Viewing the Body for each of these religious faiths:

The Religions

  1. Baptist
  2. Hindu
  3. Episcopalian
  4. Jehovah's Witnesses
  5. Lutheran
  6. Roman Catholic
  7. United Church of Canada

The Behavior

  1. Join the line of viewers and view the body silently and somberly. (No cutting ahead saying, "I just have this quart of milk.")
  2. Look reverently upon the body and do not touch it. (Especially not with cooking utensils.)
  3. A moment of silent prayer. (During which you can think about where to go for lunch. Like he'd mind. He's dead.)
  4. Look upon it somberly for a few moments. (Then look upon him with a big goofy grin on your face and sing him a medley of Cole Porter tunes. He would have wanted it that way.)
  5. Stand quietly and then move on. (Pretty much the way the mayor orders all New Yorkers to behave in every situation.)
  6. A kiss is appropriate, but no tongue unless you were close before death. OK, I just made that one up. But wouldn't that make the funeral weirdly exciting?
  7. This is optional, but if it is a memorial service, there will be no body to view. (With their excellent system of national health, Canadians never die.)

(All actual facts from How To Be a Perfect Stranger: a Guide to Etiquette in Other People's Religious Ceremonies, Vol. I and II.)

Signs That the '60s Are Finally Over Ongoing Extra

"We're both irreverent, hip and fun, but also trusted and respectable brands."--Robert Levitan, co-founder of some kind of online gift certificate thing, describes his company and Whoopi Goldberg.

Participants are invited to submit other actual news items that sound taps for that turbulent decade, if you'll accept the idea that his pairing of "hip" and "respectable brands" travesties the spirit of that era, which might be easier to accept if you thought that he was on acid when he said it, or if you were right now.

Results to run Thursday.

Common Denominator

The plebian tastes of our gluttonous president.