News Quiz

No. 165: “Old Whine, New Bottle”

FBI Special Agent Frank Scafidi says, “Everybody gets freaked. You shut down the operation. The perp got his kick. This is just the 1998 version.”

What new thing is the 1998 version of what old thing?

by noon ET Wednesday to e-mail your answer to

Monday’s question (No. 164)–“Joy!”:

“My joy is that we’re still in business and we’re alive.”

Who said this about what?

“A bus driver, about the New York to Atlantic City run.”–Daniel Radosh (Beth Sherman had a similar answer.)

“The owner of a Baghdad pharmacy first identified as a ‘missile silo.’ “–Charles Star (similarly, David Ballard)

“Rebbe Schneerson said it last week, two days before Christmas, because he was feeling so goooooood.”–Marshall Efron

“Phil Knight, CEO of Nike, forced by inclement weather to abandon his attempt to become the first man to circumnavigate the globe riding on the back of an 11-year-old Indonesian girl.”–James Poniewozik

“Oh, so many people have said this, giving too little thought to how their families would survive without them should fate intervene. And that’s why I wanted to talk to you today about life insurance.”–Greg Diamond

Click for more responses.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

Just to see someone with a capacity for joy is my own personal joy. It’s a word that seldom appears in public unaccompanied by the Procter & Gamble logo. My immediate cause for seasonal joy: “Year in Review” stories, particularly that classic slab of reheated journalistic hash, the list of “Top News Stories of 1998.” There’s perspective to be gained perusing Yahoo’s list, which slots in at No. 9, “Phil Hartman Killed.” I’m sure that thousands of dead refugees in Central Africa would mourn Hartman’s death, were they not distracted by the deaths of Frank Sinatra (No. 11) or themselves. I’m also filled with joy to learn that more and more people get their news from the Internet. Wait, sorry: Someone’s filled with something, but it’s not me and it’s not joy.

Of course, the interesting detail–interesting in the sense of causing shrieking head pain–is not the trivial poop that’s included (the deaths of Linda McCartney, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa due to an overdose of Viagra, if I read correctly–and I don’t) but what’s excluded. Make up your own list; find your own bottle of Tylenol; I’ll be in the kitchen swilling down a bottle of Joy.

Why Her Service? Answer

Reporter Helen Thomas reflects on her employer, United Press International.

The once powerful news organization, whose principal owner is Sheik Walkid al-Ibrahim, a brother-in-law of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, has just named its sixth president since 1992, Arnaud de Borchgrave. Formerly of Newsweek and Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times, he plans to take the floundering UPI “upscale.” He’ll have to, suggests James Adams, a predecessor, who calls UPI a “sclerotic, corrupted organization” staffed by “tired hacks.”

UPI currently employs 150 journalists, about one-tenth of its 1982 staff, plus 120 stringers. It has lost $120 million over the last five years.

Last Minute Shopping Extra

In much of the Christian world there are indeed 12 days of Christmas. And if, like mine, your list of imaginative gifts fades around Day 3, you might consider Charlton Heston Presents the Bible, four videocassettes filmed on location at the actual sites of all the Old and New Testament action, as advertised on television.

Tell me more about this holiday delight, you’d probably reply if online technology were not in its infancy. I’m happy to, in convenient Q & A form, with all A’s taken verbatim from Heston’s infomercial.

News Quiz: Are they pretty good stories?

Heston: There simply are no greater stories to tell.

NQ: How does it feel to watch these tapes?

Photogenic blond woman: I actually felt like I was in the River Jordan.

NQ: What about younger viewers? Did they find the experience similarly disorienting?

Some other woman: The kids, they seemed to be enthralled!

NQ: Was it possible the kids were–how can I put it?–smelly, lethargic, and incoherent?

Heston: Let’s do it!

NQ: And the cost?

Announcer: Just two payments of $29.99, plus $7.99 for shipping and handling, which to the slow witted sounds remarkably like $29.99, but it’s not!

But wait, there’s more. Order now, or at any other time, and receive Charlton Heston Presents the Word, a video reading of many psalms–moving, profound, and in the public domain. [I paraphrase ever so slightly.]

Operators are standing by, presumably poking one another in the ribs and smirking. (800) 537-7887.

Heston: Let’s do it!

Last Minute Shopping Extra No. 2, Courtesy of Kate Wing

Why not download the Ready Rooster coloring book, and learn that sometimes it’s good to be a chicken.

“When I get too jaded by living in the city, I always find it refreshing to visit John Deere, where I realize I can’t identify half the implements featured on the page.”–K.W.

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