News Quiz

Not Putz

No. 133: “Not Putz” By Randy Cohen

“I didn’t say it. I didn’t say it. I was there with a member of my campaign staff. We took copious notes.” Up for re-election, New York state Attorney General Dennis Vacco incensed a big group of voters with a remark he denies making. What group; what remark? by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to e-mail your answer (

Responses to Wednesday’s question (No. 132)–“Let ‘Em Write About, Sing to, Dance on, and Eat Cake”:
Philip Roth, Antoine (Fats) Domino, Miss Gwen Verdon, the Sara Lee Corp. What’s the connection?
“Damn Claire. Damn Elvis. Damn Yankees. Damn Snackwells.”–Meg Wolitzer“Looks like Charlie Rose has another blockbuster week lined up!”–Matt Strelecky“Each, in very different ways, encouraged Americans to deal more frankly with masturbation.”–Michael Gerber (Norman Oder had a similar answer.)“They’ve collaborated for a darkly disturbing jazz revival of Sweet Charity. This time the hooker has a heart of cake.”–Beth Sherman“Joyce Maynard had affairs with all three of those people in the ‘50s. Just like Sara Lee, back then nobody didn’t like Joyce Maynard!”–Adam Bonin (similarly, Barbara Lippert) Click here for more responses. Randy’s Wrap-Up
Judging by “News Quiz” responses, here is what we know–one Fats Domino song, two Sara Lee cakes (plus slogan), three Gwen Verdon musicals, and five Philip Roth books (plus his birthplace and details of his marital life). This is impressive knowledge of a serious literary writer, particularly in a country where only 15 percent of people can name even one of their U.S. senators without making a sort of demoralized whimpering noise, and fewer than 5 percent can find France on a map or even see a reason to try. Here’s sophistication unmatched at any rip-off quiz at any glossy newsweekly where they lack even the most rudimentary knowledge of Jon Hotchkiss’ movie preferences or Ananda Gupta’s romantic yearnings. Time Warner jerks.
Gold Medal Answer
They are winners of the 1998 National Medal of Arts, chosen by the president from a list prepared by the National Endowment for the Arts. Established by Congress in 1984, the medal honors individuals and organizations that have made “outstanding contributions to the growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”
This year’s other winners: Jacques d’Amboise, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Stationary Gregory Peck, Frank Gehry, Barbara Handman, Agnes Martin, Roberta Peters, and the Steppenwolf Theater Company.
Re-Contextualized Extra
(Accurate quotations, misleading objects. See below for proper context.)
False and Misleading Context
1. “It’s really a stupid and jerky thing to do, and it’s a very dangerous thing to do, not only for him but for the people below.”–New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani , denigrating that old fool John Glenn
2. “This was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It was something I felt I had to do.”–Olympic gold medal gymnast Dominique Moceanu , watching the entire Fox prime time lineup while holding hands with Sen. Lauch Faircloth on a couch made of rusty nails as a raccoon gnawed at her ankle on a planet with a gravitational field a hundred times that of Earth’s Proper Context
1. The mayor actually denigrated Thor Alex Kappfjell, who this week parachuted safely from both the Empire State and Chrysler buildings, harming no one.

2. The 17-year-old gymnast, granted adult status by a Houston judge, moved out of her parents’ house amid charges that they had squandered the million dollars she had won in prizes and endorsements.

Randy Cohen writes News Quiz for Slate.

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