No. 435: "Fish vs. Meat"

No. 435: "Fish vs. Meat"

No. 435: "Fish vs. Meat"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
May 26 2000 11:30 PM

No. 435: "Fish vs. Meat"

In a decision that could force a return to the old poke-and-sniff system, Joe Fish, a federal judge in Texas, struck down the U. S. Department of Agriculture's inspection standards for meat plants. On what grounds?


Send your answer by 10 a.m. ET Wednesday to

Wednesday's Question (No. 434)—"Horn In":

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.)


"Just when you thought Tampax couldn't come up with a worse slogan ..."—Tim Carvell

"Mel Tormé, as described by his mortician who then added, 'Enclosed in the finest maple and brass and then entombed in cement.' "—Mark Wade

"The Manchester Guardian, on Barbara Cartland's talent for self-promotion."—Carrie Rickey

"Sixty-one-year-old Ted Turner is describing the mellifluous voice of his latest ladylove, 28-year-old Karen Rosenfeld, who is not a gold-digger at all."—Francis Heaney


"Please, now that Newt's divorced, what that young aide does with him is really none of our business."—Greg Diamond

Click for more answers.

Randy's Wrap-Up

The reference to the trumpet no doubt caused many (some? no?) participants to wonder about the trumpeter swan, Cygnus buccinator, a majestic bird with snowy white feathers, jet-black bill, feet, and legs1, and an 8-foot wingspan. At up to 40 pounds, it is the heaviest flying bird in North America.2 The trumpeter is often confused with the tundra swan.3 The major differences between the two are their size, call, and migratory habits4: The trumpeter swan is roughly twice the size of the tundra swan; has a deep, sonorous call; and migrates relatively short distances. The tundra swan weighs approximately 15 pounds, has a high whistling call, and migrates long distances.5 Trumpeter swans establish lifelong mates6 at approximately 3 years of age7 and nest the following year, choosing locations close to the water—on shore or small islands or muskrat and beaver lodges.8 The male (called a cob) gathers nest material, uprooting marsh plants such as cattails, sedges, bulrushes, and horsetails, and brings them to the female (called a pen) for placement.9 The trumpeter swan is vulnerable to illegal shooting, collisions with power lines, and predators such as snapping turtles, great horned owls, raccoons, and minks, all which steal the eggs and attack the young.10



  1. All swans have legs, but not all swans have black legs. See what I'm getting at?
  2. It is often portrayed by ballerinas of about the same weight.
  3. And the snow goose, a portly eagle, and a well-plumped sofa cushion.
  4. Diet, leg coloring, mating habits, and general attitude.
  5. So if you've confused the two, you're probably just not trying.
  6. Hence the deep sonorous, almost mournful, perhaps despairing, even suicidal call.
  7. And who's to say they do any worse than we do with our freshmen mixers?
  8. Few ballerinas portray muskrats or beavers.
  9. Just like all those cartoons in Family Circus where they rearrange the furniture.
  10. It's just one thing after another for the trumpeter swan.

O'erstep Not the Modesty of This Answer:

Sir Alec Guinness is describing the voice of Sir John Gielgud, who died Sunday at the age of 96 at his home near Ayelsbury, England.


Gielgud was much praised for his acting in Shakespeare and was also admired for his way with the plays of Wilde, Chekhov, Shaw, and Pinter, particularly for his vocal command. The critic Kenneth Tynan called him "the finest actor on earth from the neck up."

Simply Selena Extra

Knicks-Pacers Game 2 summary:

"… their supply of pixie dust ran out when a struggling Latrell Sprewell missed a turnaround jumper. … Latrell Sprewell's jumper has the electric sizzle and glow of a neon sign."

It's like being there.

Schedule Note

There will be no quiz on Monday while I'm hitching back from working in Al Unser Jr.'s pit crew at the Indianapolis 500. Regular irony resumes Wednesday after the debris has been cleared away, the injured carted off, and the tobacco spit mopped up from the bleachers.

Expanding the Brand for the Lord Ongoing Extra

The Oriental Trading Company of Omaha, Neb. ("Pearl of the Orient," the Chamber of Commerce does not call it), sells inexpensive novelties of the party favor variety—neon shoelaces, smiley face rubber stamps, small plush toys. Among its merchandise categories is "religious," which mostly means printing WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) on lots of tchotchkes—yo-yos, bracelets, key chains.

Appearing for the first time in the religion section are two new sets of initials, TYG and FROG. For extra credit, and to amuse yourself while I'm at the Brickyard, what do—or should—these initials stand for?

Best responses to run when the quiz resumes Wednesday.

Common Denominator

The gas we pass.