No. 360: "Our Epic"

No. 360: "Our Epic"

No. 360: "Our Epic"

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

No. 360: "Our Epic"

The '50s begat Happy Days; the '60s, The Wonder Years; the '70s, That '70s Show; and the '80s, Freaks and Geeks. In 20 years, the 1990s will be distilled into a set of reductive clichés and processed into a TV sitcom. Give the one-sentence pitch for that show. (Question courtesy of Tim Carvell.)


Send your answer by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to

Tuesday's Question (No. 359)--"Peril? Us?":

Government officials and industry experts have begun to caution Americans about "speed creep"--meaning?

"That goddamn Ralph Nader and his shifty eyes."--Francis Heaney


"Antonyms. Watch out for antonyms."--Tim Carvell (Floyd Elliot had a similar answer.)

"Internet pharmacist."--William Vehrs

"I knew that Jim Carrey liked to run around nude, but I didn't realize he had become such a menace to our highways."--Barbara Lippert (similarly, Tim Annett)

"The Einsteinian possibility that the third millennium will arrive sometime next month."--David Finkle


Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

Paying little attention to the preparations for various grand public ceremonials, I've only just noticed that this is the final News Quiz before the Earth plunges into the sun and is destroyed. (Although why that should lead Seattle to cancel its all-nude fertility ritual is unclear.) It's been a great planet. I particularly enjoyed your colored sky; a nice choice, blue, popular, everybody likes that blue. Also evolution, very entertaining. That was some fun watching how the giant two-headed lizard's constant bickering among itself eventually led to its extinction, a lesson for us all and especially for my Uncle Morty and Aunt Bernice. And so when I gather up my soil samples and Ms. Judy Davis and return to my home planet, I'll particularly miss those things and the News Quiz participants. Happy New Year, everybody.

So Where's the Problem Answer


Transportation engineers fearfully refer to gradually going faster and faster on the highway, flouting the speed limit, as "speed creep," and it is, well, accelerating.

In 1980, 4.9 percent of interstate drivers exceeded the 65-mph limit; in 1992, that number rose to 23 percent. On much of I-80 and I-280 in New Jersey, fewer than 10 percent of drivers obey the 55-mph limit. In Utah, people routinely drive 10 to 20 miles an hour faster than a decade ago.

Curiously, as speeds have increased, the highway death rate has decreased, declining by 11 percent since 1995, when the federal government abandoned the national 55-mph speed limit. So one wonders why "speed creep" is reported as a problem rather than good news: Safer faster driving saves time and lives?

Metaphors of War Extra


Which of the following are from recent New York Times articles and which are a clever ruse, like those cardboard tanks the English built in World War II to trick Germans looking for plywood tanks?

1. "Buchanan Starts Push Through Reform Party Hedgerows."--Pat Buchanan is engaged in the state by state, meeting by meeting political organizing required for a losing presidential bid.

2. "A 15-Month Labor Dispute Turns Into a War of Attrition"--Charles Hurwitz, who controls a Spokane aluminum factory, locked out his workers. Although he has been implicated in cutting California redwoods and in the collapse of a huge Texas S&L, Hurwitz was not involved in the siege of Stalingrad but probably wishes he had been.

3. "Tobacco Company Turns Big Guns on Foes"--Phillip Morris has acquired Russian surplus artillery and intends to shell the Justice Department. "We sell a legal product and believe in the Second Amendment. And several of the Ten Commandments," declared a company lawyer.

4. "If retail is war, then the students of Providence Place Academy are the first cadets in the country to have their boot camp on the field of battle."--Kids attend school in a mall, work at crappy stores for no pay, because … well, I'm not sure why.

5. "In Outpouring of Venom, Mexico Lawmakers Battle Over Budget"--If I understand economics--and I don't--our southern neighbor is governed by some kind of poisonous snakes who aren't getting along.

6. "Giuliani Proposes Martial Law"--"And I'm not speaking metaphorically," he declared from his bunker beneath City Hall. Something to do with the search for yet another new schools chancellor.


1, 2, 4, and 5 are authentic journalistic clichés.

Common Denominator

Creepingest garment: underwear. Creepiest person: Donald Trump.