No. 355: "Top 11 List"

No. 355: "Top 11 List"

No. 355: "Top 11 List"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Dec. 17 1999 3:30 AM

No. 355: "Top 11 List"

"It suspiciously tracks the Ten Commandments," says ACLU lawyer Kenneth Falk about the 11 rules the Scott County, Ind., School District intends to post in every classroom. Name one of these "Common Precepts to Promote a Virtuous and Civil School Community."

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Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to newsquiz@slate.com.

Wednesday's Question (No. 354) "You're a Dead Man, Charlie Brown"

After drawing Peanuts for nearly 50 years, Charles Schulz, 77 and ailing, is putting down his pen. Participants are invited to describe his final strip. (Question courtesy of Jon Delfin.)

"Both Schroeder and Peppermint Patty come out of the closet as Schulz admits his 'don't ask, don't tell' policy was a failure."--Ken Novak (Chris Kelly had a similar answer.)

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"A cavalcade of guest 'Farewell, Charlie Brown' appearances by Mike Doonesbury, Garfield, Dilbert, Beetle Bailey, Blondie and Dagwood, and the inevitable Regis Philbin."--Gary Frazier

"The whole Peanuts gang bands together and kicks Garfield's sorry ass."--Tim Carvell

"Charlie Brown is wheeled into surgery at Sloan-Kettering. Snoopy muses on what life will be like without the boy with the crooked smile. Back in the surgical unit, the doctors prepare to give Charlie Brown his first round of chemotherapy. Lucy comes running in, and kicks the needle out of the doctors' hands."--Larry Amoros

"Charlie Brown wakes up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette and discovers it's all been a horrible dream. Either that or the ASPCA euthanizes Snoopy."--Jon Hotchkiss (similarly, Tim Carvell)

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Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

I liked Peanuts. (It is difficult to be funny in praise of anything, so if you want your little laughs, leave off here and go peruse those newly released medical records with their vivid--a little too vivid--description of the polyps Al Gore doesn't have in his colon. I'll meet you there later. I'll bring the sandwiches.) For 50 years, with impressive economy of line and language, Schulz avoided the dimwitted rhythm of setup/lackluster punch line that defined comic strips and would soon dominate TV sitcoms. Unlike most strips, his was about adults, albeit adults depicted as children. And still more unusual, he was not concerned with the follies and foibles of everyday life, that least interesting comic subject, but something deeper, darker, and less ephemeral. Along with Mad magazine, he provided comedy to my suburban boyhood--Schulz the philosophical and Mad the topical--at just the right intellectual level for a suburban boy. And if he sometimes wandered into whimsy--that alluring comic swamp--and even farther, into mawkish sentimentality with "Happiness Is a Warm Puppy," he more often executed that most difficult comic turn, being simultaneously funny and sweet. Few can. Thurber, Woody Allen, and Mark O'Donnell come to mind. But not many more. I'll miss the strip.

Happiness Is a Warm Answer

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We can, of course, only speculate. Schulz works about six weeks ahead; the final daily installment will run Jan. 3; the last new Sunday strip will be published Feb. 13.

The first Peanuts appeared Oct., 2, 1950. It now runs in 2,600 newspapers, reaching about 355 million readers daily in 75 countries.

Fun With Subjects and Predicates Ongoing Extra

Simply by swapping subjects and objects from a pair of actual headlines, you can eliminate the bad news that fills our front pages, and create a happier world, as in these examples using headlines from Excite.com:

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Billy Crystal To Host Chechen Capital

Russian Troops Pound Oscars

U.S. Officials Warn of Saturday Night Live Skit

Protest Forces NBC To Shelve West Nile Virus Return

Polanski Bad for Elderly; Health-Study

Philadelphia Water Feted by French Academie

And, while it deviates entirely from the form, there is this holiday cheer:

Garth Brooks May Retire Next Year

Participants are invited to submit similar mix 'n' match pairs using headlines from any news source. Results to run Monday.

Common Denominator

Peppermint Patty, Marcie: gay.