No. 399: "Dilatory Story"

No. 399: "Dilatory Story"

No. 399: "Dilatory Story"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
March 15 2000 3:00 AM

No. 399: "Dilatory Story"

A new government study reveals that these are now the slowest in the nation. What? 


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Monday's Question (No. 398)—"Mad for Maddie":

"I personally would consider it excellent because into this rather stale provincial environment, this would bring an international spirit," said Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel about something he wants U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to do. What?

"Explain to unemployed Czechs one more time about how bad communism was."—Greg Diamond


"Move to Prague, smoke cigarettes, work on novel, proclaim, with sigh, 'I'll move back to the States when they have beer like this for 75 cents.' "—Jefferson Decker

"Collaborate on a screenplay. It's kind of a 'sixth sense' thing only, in the end, you don't find out you're dead; you find out you're Jewish."—Chris Kelly

"Oh, for crying out loud, how many times does she have to explain it, Vaclav? If 'N Sync doesn't want to visit Czechoslovakia, there's nothing Madeleine can do to force them. End of story. Jeez."—Tim Carvell

"Why pretend anymore? Instead of just running other countries from behind the scenes, Americans should simply take them over outright, Albright!"—Anthony Wright


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Randy's Wrap-Up

What an appealing and unexpected phrase for a head of state to use—"stale provincial environment." It's Chekov. It's a denunciation of the idiocy of rural life. And it's unimaginable that an American leader would say such a thing. Around Washington, they love the "stale provincial environment," confusing boredom with virtue. The D.C. Chamber of Commerce emblazons the phrase on its brochures. You can have it embroidered on a hat at Union Station. American presidents champion the "stale provincial environment"; albeit under its stage name, "family values" or as part of the ongoing idealization of small town America—white, straight, Protestant, its streets lined with big, old elm trees that haven't been destroyed by the fatal embrace of something Dutch. (Interesting sidebar: In France, they call it "English Elm Disease," while in England they say, "Shut your stupid cheese hole, you fat-faced froggy bastard!") And so where are we? Our past is "Ford to City: Drop Dead." Our present is declining ratings for basketball, the city game, and the increasing popularity of NASCAR. And our future is Tennessee or Texas—the bland leading the bland. Some day, damn it, my sisters and I are moving to Moscow.

Divided Loyalties Answer


He wants her to become the next Czech Republic president.

Born in what is now known as the Czech Republic, Secretary of State Albright is eligible to run for its presidency and, should she win, succeed Havel. She is not expected to accept his invitation. But then again, no one expected her to wear that saucy hat to Prague. Or to take a swing at Vladimir Putin, which she did not do.

Attractive Nuisances Extra

These household items, taken from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (And, boy, does that sound sinister!) for 1992 (the most current data available last night, although I'd had several glasses of wine, so who knows?) injured people badly enough to send them to emergency rooms for treatment. Can you place them in order, from least to most menacing?


The Nuisances

Lawn Mowers (All Types)

Washers and Dryers

Glass Doors and Window Panels

Mischievous Little Monkeys

Sewing Equipment

Small Kitchen Appliances


Exercise Equipment

Close Relatives

BBQ Grills and Related Equipment

Pastry and Related Snacks

Television Sets and Stands

Workshop Manual Tools

Sarah Jessica Parker

Answers and Number of Injuries

  1. BBQ Grills and Related Equipment: 16,087 (One of the few items on the list not linked to a rumor about Richard Gere.)
  2. Fans: 17,050 (You just know this has to involve some goofball putting his tongue where he shouldn't have. And he still has the right to vote.)
  3. Washers and Dryers: 22,590 (Someone crawled into someplace he shouldn't have, which, coincidentally, is also the third leading cause of divorce.)
  4. Sewing Equipment: 29,814 (With this much human tragedy, it's baffling that more movies of the week aren't built around embroidery.)
  5. Television Sets and Stands: 42,000 (Make up your own joke about the Fox network.)
  6. Small Kitchen Appliances: 43,453 (I believe McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog is doing a spot urging us all to "take a bite out of one of those low fat grill things.")
  7. Lawn Mowers (All Types): 85,202 (I'm not sure what they mean by "all types," but I guess that must include the really aggressive ones. But of course it takes all types of lawn mowers to make up a hideously maimed world.)
  8. Exercise Equipment: 95,127 (And yet Suzanne Sommers continues to cheat death. Damn.)
  9. Workshop Manual Tools: 125,780 (Once again topping Workshop Power Tools: You can't beat old-fashioned hand crafting for horrible mutilating injuries.)
  10. Glass Doors & Window Panels: 216,193 (OK, now this one definitely has something to do with that Richard Gere.)

(None of the other items made the list.)

Common Denominator

A U.S. secretary of state does a comical dance.