It is "a silver trumpet muffled in silk." Who is describing what? (Question courtesy of Jack Shafer)
(The penis-free zone is invoked on a voluntary basis, without meddlesome government regulation, much as other institutions so effectively police themselves.—Ed.)
Send your answer by 6 p.m. ET Thursday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's Question (No. 433)—"Photo Op":
Photographs taken last week, show Culann Patera doing something violent yet strangely beautiful, probably brought on by the cumulative effects of stress. Scientists attributed the particularly vibrant colors on display to some unusual chemical reactions, but nobody was about to get close enough to check. What was Culann Patera doing? (Question courtesy of Greg Diamond.)
"Della Reese's hair."—Larry Amoros
"A darn good imitation of Donna Hanover."—Dawn Shurmaitis (Barry Johnson had a similar answer.)
"Slicing the throat of the Lucky Charms leprechaun."—Daniel Maurice Donoso
"The Miss Universe talent competition gets weirder every year."—Steven Davis
"Choking to death. My God, why won't somebody help her?"—Tom Tegtmeyer
Click for more answers.
Because so many responses refer to vomiting, let's take a moment to learn a little more about this much maligned bodily function, courtesy of the 1960 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia, the only reference book you'll ever need (if you are as shallow as I). "Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of the stomach and intestines through the mouth. A person usually has a feeling of nausea before he vomits. [And after he watches old FBI surveillance film of Ernest Borgnine soul-kissing Ethel Merman.] The medulla of the brain controls vomiting. [And also swallowing, breathing, heartbeat, blood flow, muscle tone, posture, and movement of the stomach and intestine—so maybe you should quit griping about your job. Unless it involves movement of the intestines.] Retching is an attempt to vomit. The diaphragm, or flat muscle between the stomach and lungs, contracts in spasms. This action alone does not move the stomach contents and only makes the person more uncomfortable. [Which sounds like mere rudeness to me.] But, if a person has eaten too much and then empties his stomach by vomiting, he generally feels better. [This, coincidentally, is dogma at the Elite Modeling Agency.]
"Vortigern was the British king who invited the Jutes to come to Britain to help him fight the Picts about A.D. 449. Later he fought with Hengist, leader of the Jutes. [Isn't that always the way? And whilenot strictly related to vomiting, it is on the same page and teaches a valuable lesson, although apparently not to Vortigern who went ahead and married Rowena, Hengist's daughter. It could make you retch.]"
The Galileo spacecraft photographed Culann Patera, a volcano on Jupiter's moon, Io, erupting. Fueled by stress driven by gravitational tides, it spewed red and yellow sulfur, streaked with green, over the nearby plains.
"There are an awfully lot of 'quakes going on," said John R. Spencer of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz. "If you were on Io, everything around you would be rising up and down by at least 30 meters (about 90 feet) every day. It would be like being on a boat out in the ocean."
"The dimensions of Io are constantly being squeezed and expanded," said Alfred S. McEwen, a planetary geologist at the University of Arizona. "That's like bending a piece of metal back and forth—it heats up." Lava lakes sizzle as hot as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,650 Celsius). Away from the volcanic pools, temperatures plummet to minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit (-160 Celsius). "This is the greatest temperature range of anything in the solar system," he said.
See the pretty picture here.
Katha Pollitt's Supreme Court Casebook Extra
Clarence Thomas' joining the majority in United States vs. Playboy Entertainment Group is the first time I know of that he has voted differently from Scalia. And it's on improved access to pornography! My irony meter is off the chart!
One Touch of Selena Extra
"The Knicks wiped the sleep from their eyes and rubbed salve on their wounds …"—"Goodnight, Moon," she did not add.
The May catalog just arrived from Paladin Press, "publishers of the Action Library," to my knowledge the only publishing house to include this notice with its spring list: "Paladin Press does not intend that any of the information contained in its books or videos be used for criminal purposes. In specific cases involving such misuses, Paladin will cooperate with law enforcement investigations." You don't get that sort of straight talk from Knopf. Below, some notable new books from the spring list.
- Be Your Own Undertaker: How To Dispose of a Dead Body, by A.R. Bowman. "Being forced to kill somebody in justifiable self-defense is a sad reality of today's society."—If this doesn't make Oprah's book club, someone's not doing her job.
- "Jim Grover has had years of experience in ultraspooky military special ops, counterterrorism and executive protection, and he has prevailed in more violent encounters than anyone you are ever likely to meet."—Sounds like the worst personal ad ever, but as I understand it (i.e., not at all), this is how he met Liza Minnelli. (Ad copy for Jim Grover's Combative Series: "In-your-face hand-to-hand combat from the ultimate instructor.")
- "Law-abiding citizens looking for a new personal defense weapon in the face of increasingly restrictive gun control measures have discovered the ideal weapon of compromise: the knife."—And it's just that spirit of compromise that makes civilization possible. (Blurb for Street Steel: Choosing and carrying self-defense knives, by Michael D. Janich.)
- "With the help of reverse angles and slow motion, you will learn how to do a number of basic, reverse-grip and intermediate openings and closings. Then you will progress to such visually impressive moves as the helicopter spin, finger roll, finger snap and grip, and hand changes, as well as the spectacular aerial techniques."—This is either an overly ambitious book of sex tips or Mastering the Balisong Knife With Michael D. Janich.
- Put 'Em Down, Take 'Em Out!: Knife Fighting Techniques From Folsom Prison, by Don Pentecost. "You may think you know knife fighting theory through books, magazines and martial arts training, but unless you've actually been assaulted with a knife, it's all theory."—I suppose the good news is that at least one prison still offers education and training.
- Dragon's Touch: Weaknesses of the Human Anatomy, by Master Hei Long. "Learn how you can immobilize or destroy your foe with high-impact blows to his most vulnerable areas."—You know who mastered this? My mother-in-law! Thank you. Good night. You're a marvelous audience.
- "Get the perfect training partner by building him yourself." The Mook Jong Construction Manual: Building Modern and Traditional Wooden Dummies on a Budget, by Michael D. Janich.—Then he comes to life, and sexy high jinks ensue. Didn't the WB network just announce this as part of its new fall schedule?
- Pool Cues, Beer Bottles, and Baseball Bats: Animal's Guide to Improvised Weapons for Self-Defense and Survival, by Marc "Animal" MacYoung. "This book will broaden your definition of what constitutes a weapon to include rope, beer bottles, pens, pool cues, cats, tables and chairs, keys, gin and tonics, and more."—Cats? Cats? Now I don't know your view of the Second Amendment ...
Read more about it at www.paladin-press.com.
Odd bodily functions.