News Quiz

No. 24: “Lizard King”

No. 24: “Lizard King”

By Randy Cohen

Fill in the blank.

Observing a monitor lizard in Botswana’s Mokolodi Nature Preserve, President Clinton said it made him think “of all the people I would like that lizard to ______.”

by noon ET Thursday to e-mail your answer (

Responses to Tuesday’s question (No. 23)–“Didn’t Work”:

Michael Bierly, a 64-year-old Los Angeles lawyer, told the New York Times: “It simply didn’t work. It was cumbersome and painful. I was clumsy–you have to mix things up, and that took me 10 or 15 minutes. By the time I get done, she’s asleep.” What didn’t work? What did Bierly do then?

“First-time dad trying to prepare a bottle of milk for infant daughter. Gave her a beer.”–Patty Marx

“It’s no treat dating wickedly talented Leni Riefenstahl. Especially when she likes doing it in a darkroom.”–Beth Sherman

“Michael Bierly was attempting to install Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 with Active Desktop.”–Dennis Doughty

“What do you mean ‘didn’t work’? In 1985 I was a flight attendant on a small Texarkana-based charter airline. I tried Mr. Bierly’s method with then-Gov. Clinton. Now I’m ambassador to Spain.”–Name Withheld

“What didn’t work was Paul Bocuse’s recipe for bouillabaisse with sea urchin, Atlantic shrimp, Provençal langoustines, North Sea mullet, and erect male human penises over the age of 55. A very difficult dish, indeed.”–David Rakoff

“Bierly is speaking of his erectile dysfunction (not to be confused with ‘sick building syndrome,’ though I guess if you want to confuse them, I can’t stop you), but despite all the potions and nostrums and elixirs he tried, his woody wouldn’t. So, his tail between his legs, he tried the new Chevy Viagra, which offers improved fuel injection and better pickup performance and comes with a manufacturers’ Renewed Sense of Manhood Warrantee. Now everybody’s happy: Mrs. Bierly refers to her husband as Woody Woodpecker, and Mr. Bierly’s now the one who’s asleep in 15 minutes.”–Nancy Franklin

Click for more responses.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

As delightful as it is wringing laughter out of an aging man’s medical problems, the “News Quiz” is not without poignancy. I’m frequently frustrated by the stories I must neglect, limited as I am to a single daily query. Just today I omitted questions about the (alleged) murderer-granny and the victim who took her to a Bee Gees concert (surely that’s justifiable homicide?); Minnesota Sen. Rod Grams’ use of the words “raw meat”; Justice Anthony Kennedy’s use of “wink wink nudge nudge”; and Dr. Dolores Krieger’s evocative “warm Jell-O or warm foam.”

Did I mention that the (alleged) murderer-granny said, “Good Lord, I love rock concerts.” (Surely that’s an open invitation to lynch-mob justice?) Such forbearance. (Grams also said, “pack of hungry dogs.” On the Senate floor.) Such saintly restraint. (And that she’s an 88-year-old [alleged] murderer-great-granny?) I’ve got to go lie down.

Cumbersome, Painful, and Embarrassing Answer

What didn’t work–injecting anti-impotence drugs directly into his penis. What Bierly did then–participated in clinical tests of Viagra, an anti-impotence pill made by Pfizer. “It is the most natural thing in the world,” he said.

Some other pre-Viagra options–surgery, prosthetic implants, inserting a suppository into the urethra with a tiny plunger. Some pre-Viagra side effects–pain, bleeding, fainting, leg-vein swelling, nausea, vomiting, yawning, and stretching.

Last Friday the Food and Drug Administration granted approval for Viagra. At $7 per pill wholesale, it may eventually bring Pfizer $4.5 billion per year, surpassing Eli Lilly’s Prozac, which earned $2.7 billion in 1997. Pfizer’s stock has risen 21 percent over the past two months.

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