News Quiz

The Lift to the Loo

It’s potassium-rich, like bananas sprinkled with potassium!

No. 113: “The Lift to the Loo” By Randy Cohen
The English call it “smacking.” What do we call it? Why is it news?

by 5 ET Sunday to e-mail your answer (

Responses to Wednesday’s question (No. 112)–“All Preachers Great and Small”:
Leading a street demonstration yesterday, the Rev. Benedict Groeschez said, “We want this terrible blasphemy to be removed from public life.” Name the blasphemy.
“New visibly hung over Statue of Liberty.”–Danny Spiegel“Dr. Laura Schlessinger.”–Merrill Markoe“Cinemax’s new series, Groped by an Angel.”–Tim Carvell“Hellbent sinners who pronounce my last name ‘gross cheese.’ “–Jack Hitt (Danny Franklin had a similar answer.)“Terrence McNally’s Corpulent Christi, which depicts a zaftig Jesus. ‘Everybody knows the Savior was quite svelte,’ ranted the rev.”–Beth Sherman Click here for more responses. Randy’s Wrap-Up
Leaving aside responses mocking the deeply held spiritual beliefs of a man of faith and those implying a knowledge of the correct answer, about half your replies sneer at television. Invited to list something detestable, few launched some Andy-Rooney-American-Twilight Rant (tasteless, so-called “tomatoes” sold at supermarkets), few denounced our official enemies (ludicrous hat worn by Iran’s President Mohammed Khatami), and none settled personal scores (that cheap bastard Uncle Milt). What you find execrable is television, and with a detailed knowledge of cast and schedule changes that implies frequent viewing. Hate it; watch it.
OK, one more TV anecdote, just because it’s premiere week. Along with a writer named Kevin Curran, I did an episode of Late Night called “The 360 Degree Rotation Show.” Over the hour, the picture slowly turned until it made one full rotation. This was right in the Late Night esthetic of the mock-celebration of pseudotechnological progress, i.e., television itself. For half the show the image was more or less upside down; for all the show the image was at a painful neck-straining angle. It was truly uncomfortable to watch, and NBC received a record number of complaining phone calls. When I saw the ratings, breaking down the number of viewers into five minute intervals, I learned that although the complaints about the show kept increasing, the number of viewers did not drop any more than usual. People called NBC to say we were giving them blinding headaches, but they kept watching.
This might explain the refined and nuanced loathing “News Quiz” participants bring to television. And it might explain why President Clinton’s ratings haven’t dropped much either.
(FYI: Friday, 9 p.m.; CBS–the premiere of Buddy Faro, a show employing a News Quiz regular.)
Blood, Body, Broadway Answer
Corpus Christi.
This new Terrence McNally play about a gay Christlike figure and his 12 disciples had its first preview performance last night. Produced by the Manhattan Theater Club, it was canceled, then reinstated, both decisions a result of public pressure. Groeschez, who is a Franciscan friar, and 200 protesters denounced the play outside New York’s City Center. Inside, theatergoers had to pass through metal detectors and put their bags through an X-ray machine. Several blocks away, the performance of Cats went on without objection.
Obloquy Extra
Match each expression of derision with its object:
1) “Knows no shame”;
2) “Ugly but fascinating”;
3) “What really matters is wit, and on that score, pockets are empty all around”;
4) “The thin wobbly voice of a tone-deaf teenager blissfully unaware of her own lack of talent.”
A) Brother’s Keeper, a new ABC sitcom;
B) Coelacanth, an ancient fish older than the dinosaurs;
C) Cybill Shepherd, 48;
D) Al D’Amato.

Answers 1-D, says election opponent Chuck Schumer; 2-B, says New York Times writer Malcolm Browne; 3-A, says Times critic William McDonald; 4-C, says Times critic Stephen Holden

Randy Cohen writes News Quiz for Slate.

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