News Quiz

No. 85: “Gilt by Association”

No. 85: “Gilt by Association”

By Randy Cohen

During his official travels last week, a prominent American refused to visit someplace because he might “glamorize” it. Who? Where?

by noon ET Tuesday to e-mail your answer (

Responses to Thursday’s question (No. 84)–“May Be So”:

This Sunday, Bill May will become the first of his kind to do something. What kind? What thing?

“Bill May is that guy in the tabloids who got breast implants a few weeks ago on a bet. This Sunday he loses his patience and becomes the first man enraged by another man not looking him in the eyes while he’s talking.”–Chris Kelly

“May, a 15-year-old high-school student, will sit quietly and enjoy the rebroadcast of Scarlett.”–Beth Sherman

“The first transsexual to change his/her name and gender identification simultaneously by reversing first and last names.”–Norman Oder

“He’s the first priest to hear confession while dressed as Patsy Cline. (Actually, he’ll be the first U.S. male to compete in synchronized swimming; bet he’s a homo.)”–Larry Amaros

“The first TV consumer reporter to narrate a piece on scam artists without closing with the sentence ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ “–Andrew Milner

“Whoever Bill May is and whatever he is doing, I pray to God it does not involve losing his virginity on the Internet, or truly it will be”–Stephen Murray (Michael Jenkinson had a similar answer.)

“May will become America’s first topless synchronized swimmer.”–John Solomon

Click for more responses.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

Many players (click) employ the comic conceit “first to [insert some vulgar and embarrassing activity] on the Web.” This is good news for the Guinness Book of Records, which lately has endorsed sillier and sillier performances, often involving enormous fat men with inconveniently long fingernails. Sound barrier: broken. Everest: climbed. Four minute mile: run. Really big doughnut: fried and eaten. But now, thanks to new technology, we can reset all the old records online. Something similar was anticipated 30 years ago by My Weekly Reader, whose editors encouraged youthful nonathletes of my generation to imagine themselves breaking the current high-jump mark on the surface of the moon. Something more sardonic was anticipated 100 years ago by Oscar Wilde, who wrote, “Men always want to be a woman’s first love. That is their clumsy vanity. We women have a more subtle instinct about these things. What we like is to be a man’s last romance on the World Wide Web.”

Aquatic Answer

Bill May is the first man on the U.S. synchronized swimming team. The 5’9” 150 pounder from Cicero, N.Y., competes in the team and duet competitions. “Some people don’t think it’s a real sport,” May says, “but it is. It takes hard work.”

After Sunday, May and his female partner, Kristina Lum, were in second place in the duet competition. The United States was in second place in the team event.

Men are banned from synchronized swimming in the Olympics but welcomed in the Goodwill Games.

Leadership Leftovers

Strategic Planning, United States

“Something’s going to happen at some point.”–Warren Littlefield, president of NBC Entertainment, on how the network will cope with the post-Seinfeld ratings slump

“We are conducting a very thorough investigation, which will go wherever it leads.”–Marilyn Mode, spokeswoman for New York’s police commissioner, on precisely how the department will respond to evidence that for 15 years, scores of officers in the Midtown South precinct have routinely spent duty hours having sex with prostitutes

Strategic Planning, Japan

Goofus: “When we went in to brief him, he was argumentative and said thing like ‘I think you’re wrong.’ “–a senior official on former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto

Gallant: “When we saw Takeshita, he would say: ‘Thank you very much, that’s so helpful.’ “–same official on previous prime minister, Noboru Takeshita

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