News Quiz

No. 254: “Too True To Be Good”

I give the New York Times headline; you give a one-sentence summary of the story: “Presidential Hopeful Displays Humanity.”

(A tip of the Hatlo hat to Daniel Radosh.)

Send your answer by noon ET Tuesday to

Thursday’s Question (No. 253)–“Pesca Milagrosa”:

“It is terrible that something so frightening should be given the name of something so pure and beautiful,” says Luz Marlene Sierra Mayorga, a Bogotá engineer, referring to “miraculous fishing”–which is what?

“Wow, the pro-choice movement has topped itself in the euphemism department with this one!”–Matt Sullivan

“Changing lepers into loaves and fishes.”–Leigh Bardugo

“A winter’s day in New Hampshire for Dole and McCain.”–Dan Wolfe

“Reaching down the front of the pants of the guy standing next to you on the subway platform just for the hell of it.”–Ken Tucker

“The Makah tribe’s new strategy of whale hunting with plutonium-tipped harpoons.”–Peter Carlin

Click for more answers.

Quiz Regular M Pesca’s Nominal Torment Wrap-Up

I have noticed that nearly every one-syllable first name is a homonym for an actual word. (Jeff, Steve, and Clyde being exceptions–and therefore unfortunately discriminated against during Zoom casting calls.) If my name were the translation of Pesca (Fish) it would be punnable but would preclude my moving to Pittsburgh.

I have long maintained that in the ‘70s and early ‘80s the Yankees acquired and promoted players based on how their names worked in headlines. How else to explain the mysterious presence of Oscar Gamble and Mickey Rivers?

All the world’s Michael Jacksons (like the Indians’ reliever) now go by Mike, simply because of one androgynously desiccated freak. The exception is beer expert Michael Jackson, the explanation being 1) he had the name first; 2) he’s too drunk to realize; 3) no one would mistake a fat pretentious hop-head for the king of pop.

For the past few years I have gauged the popularity of hockey by the fact that no one has linked my name to Mike Peca, captain of the Buffalo Sabres. This may speak more to the popularity of all things Buffalo, but now that the Sabes are in the cup final, I still expect no one to mention it. But maybe I’ll catch a double take if I’m ever in the Niagara Falls region.

If this miraculous phrase to the Pesca people becomes ubiquitous, I will join the ranks of the punnable and will forever be able to step forth from the shadows of my maternal ancestors Philip and Sylvia Lipshitz.

Fishin’ Magician Answer

Random group kidnappings.

Here’s how Larry Rohter describes it in the New York Times: “A band of guerrillas appears out of nowhere, sets up a roadblock on a main highway, stops every car or bus that happens along, takes away all the passengers who seem likely to have a good job or a prominent name, and holds them captive until a hefty ransom is paid.”

The practice takes its name from a Colombian party game where kids reach into a barrel with a hook or with bare hands and pull out a surprise gift.

Since January 1996, at least 4,925 people have been abducted.

Bloated Indulgence Extra

Tim Carvell sought a published sentence exemplifying conspicuous consumption 1999, like this from the New York Times: “Today, the urinal has taken its stand alongside the bidet and the working fireplace as the latest must-have in the well-appointed bathroom suite.”

“When did you first notice you had become quietly wealthy?”

Bank of New York ad

New York Observer

–Tamara Glenny

” ‘There are all these people out there who have made all this money and don’t know what the best sheet is or what the best cufflinks are,’ said Ms. Gross, who intends to help them learn.”

New York Times

–Chris Hammett

“[H]er favorite item in the store is a pair of stone spaniels ($9,000). ‘They’re happy dogs–they look like dogs I’d like to own.’ “

The New Yorker

Heather Williams

“When, in the Course of Human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to rise up against such tyranny, we offer our own modest proposal: A Diners’ bill of rights, one designed to inspire a new dialogue between restaurant-goers and restaurateurs and to make the dining experience as pleasant as it always promises to be.”

Slate’s own Zagat diary June 3, 1999

–Liz Rounsavall

“The house that is for sale is located in the heart of Oregon’s burgeoning wine country, and this property could be converted into a small destination vineyard.”

–Alison “I Think Opening Up the Vineyard to Anyone Other Than the Servants Is Really Tasteless” Rogers

“Explaining why 23-year-old Stephania Lo Gatto paid $6,000 over new sticker for a used Mercedes CLK320 convertible, instead of getting on a one-year waiting list: ‘If I waited that long, I would be sick of it.’ Now, wherever she and her boyfriend drive around town, ‘Everybody looks at us, which is what we wanted to achieve.’ “

Wall Street Journal

–Barry Fischer

Mike Madden’s Headline Haiku

Doors at 2 school buildings
Face back-to-back crises:
Police trap rabid cat;
Business goes belly-up.

PhiladelphiaInquirer, June 3, 1999 (South Jersey Metro section only)

Common Denominator

Christians, cocaine, and dynamite–it’s going to be the best Burt Reynolds comeback movie ever.