News Quiz

No. 182: “Reign Delay”

Out of deference to the pope, the state of Missouri postponed something until after he left St. Louis and returned to Rome. What?

by 5 p.m. ET Sunday to e-mail your answer to

Wednesday’s question (No. 181)–“Sit Up and Cheer”:

“This is great news for the millions of Americans who are not getting enough physical activity,” says Dr. Claude Lenfant. What is?

“Self-loathing burns as many calories as running.”–Beth Sherman

“Hammocks on sale at IKEA.”–Ellen Macleay

“Meals on Wheels now delivering not just to the elderly and infirm but also to the merely indolent.”–Tim Carvell

“Advance word from the pope’s St. Louis speech: Heaven’s dropped the chin-up entrance requirement!”–Andrew Milner

“Global warming. ‘It’s like a giant sauna.’ “–Kate Wing

“President Clinton is rehiring Joycelyn Elders.–Greg Diamond (Jay D. Majors and Peter Carlin had similar answers.)

“New Hostess cupcakes come when you call them.”–Susan Vance

Click for more responses.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

While many of you made fat jokes, sedentary is not synonymous with portly. It can also mean frail, although it is tougher to mock the weak and physically ineffectual, unless you’re Leni Riefenstahl or an old-school gym teacher. In 1968, all sports were square and right-wing, unless you considered Frisbee a sport instead of its traditional designation, “nuisance.” There were exceptions: Dr. Harry Edwards inspired U.S. track stars to raise the black power fist at the Mexico City Olympics. But the contemporary meaning of athletics was reiterated on every Bob Hope TV special, when he trotted out a herd of college football stars to boost the war in Vietnam.

Now there are hip athletes–snowboarders, sullen teen skateboarders, Rollerbladers, dirt bikers–fighting for public space across barriers of age, class, and hairstyle. This is not merely the triumph of individual over team sports. Figure skating and gymnastics remain square; just listen to the music, if you dare.

It’s easy to overstate the new athletics as a force for social change, but don’t count on surfers opposing the president’s ludicrous, Reagan-revival anti-missile plan. And while mountain bikes and rock climbing are terrific, they’ve already been appropriated by MTV as mass market rather than mass movement.

If sports hasn’t turned into progressive politics, at least it has been demilitarized, rejecting the boot camp model of recreation, and that means more fun for more people. Not so bad. So if you want me, I’ll be on my bike, pedaling past Leni Riefenstahl’s house, tossing rocks. See if Clinton’s Star Wars system can block that.

Take It Easy Answer

Lenfant, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, was enjoying Wednesday’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. Two newly published studies suggest that performing “lifestyle” exercise–raking leaves, climbing stairs–can improve heart and lung fitness as much as a vigorous workout. The studies (noncontroversial, nonpolitical, and in no way intended to affect the impeachment process) found that while moderate exercise does not burn many calories, it is beneficial to the one in four Americans who spend most of their time sitting.

What Is “It” Extra

Fun with pronouns. Match each ambiguous “it” with its antecedent.

1. “If Ford buys it, so what, and if Ford doesn’t buy it, so what?”–Maryann Keller, easygoing analyst at ING Baring

A. The farm

B. ING Baring, the Prozac and bourbon brokerage

C. Volvo

2. “If it can prevent children or other New Yorkers from being maimed, disfigured, or killed, it will serve its purpose.”–Colleen Roche, press secretary for Rudolph Giuliani

A. Hiring more police

B. Hiring even more police

C. A proposed “dangerous dog” law

3. “It’s perky, it’s active, it’s eating.”–Dr. Dan Wharton

A. Maryann Keller

B. Insert your own sex joke here

C. A female, thick-billed parrot, the only animal ever stolen (and just recovered) from the Central Park Zoo


1-C, 2-C, 3-C.

Race Results

Top target: Remote control.

For Your Dancing Pleasure

On Monday, Feb. 1, Randy Cohen Week begins at the online site of the humor magazine McSweeney’s, featuring pieces from the out of print Diary of a Flying Man.

Open fires prohibited without proper permit.

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