News Quiz

No. 264: “The $156K Problem”

Overheard at Sotheby’s Tuesday: “My intention is to do whatever he indicates to me he wants done with them. He may want them returned. He may want me to destroy them. He may not care at all.” You make the prediction: Who will want whom to do what?


Send your answer by noon ET Thursday to

Tuesday’s Question (No. 263)–“Exchanging Glances”:

Despite a recent clash of gunboats, yesterday a South Korean freighter delivered something to the North Korean port of Nampo, the first part of a trade between the two nations. What is being swapped for what?

“Slaves for rum. And then the United States supplies the cane sugar, and … No, wait, hang on. I may have this wrong.”–Tim Carvell

“North Korea gives up its dreams of agrarian reform under collectivism; South Korea gives up a phantom economy built on cronyism and kickbacks; the International Monetary Fund just gives up.”–Mike Pesca

“The South generously agreed to trade the North its position in”–Bill Wasik


“Episodes of M*A*S*H for kimchi. Yes, that is all I know about Korea. What of it?”–Daniel Radosh

“I don’t know.  And neither does George W. Bush.”–Peter Lerangis

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

I’d just like to point out, in case you were planning a satirical musical comedy about the crisis in question, something you can do to a song from West Side Story: “Korea, I’ve just met a place called Korea!” This you cannot do with “Kosovo” without offending the rhythm and a sense of human decency. An early version of this sort of thing that I recall with particular pleasure was Mad magazine’s East Side Story–that being the location of the United Nations. Khrushchev, the leader of the Jets, sang, “When you’re a Red you’re a Red all the way from your first party purge to your last power play.” As a 12-year-old, that’s where I learned about party purges, and about Khrushchev for that matter. Back then–and is there a more demoralizing phrase?–Mad was prized as the only satirical voice reaching suburban adolescents. Now with plenty of smart comedy aimed at kids–The Simpsons and Letterman come to mind–Mad is as superfluous and weary as the grandfather we shunted into that nursing home. (Was that us? Certainly not. It was the neighbors. Bastards.) In fact, I’ve just renewed my daughter’s subscription. She seems to enjoy it, and I may yet be in the mood to read a movie parody called “Star Drech.”


Market Value Answer

In exchange for 200,000 tons of fertilizer from South Korea, North Korea will discuss family reunions.

Some conjecture that Sigmund Freud will rise from his grave to discuss the equating of fertilizer with family, of shit with mother, then take in a movie, perhaps that charming Notting Hill, then continue being dead. (And by “some” I, of course, mean “me.”)

The first round of talks, held in Beijing Tuesday, was largely devoted to trading accusations over last week’s naval skirmishes and complaining about the accommodations in the hotel, except for the part about the hotel.

Discontented Extra

All the following remarks could have been made by arrogant senior executives at Coca-Cola, drunk on their own power probably mixed with rum–and it’s kicky summer fun to think of them that way–but none was. Can you match each with its actual disappointed speaker?


The Disdain:

1. “We don’t like you; and that’s been my motto my whole life, growing up.”

2. “I was probably too nervous, not much believing what I can do.”

3. [It was] “grave and irregular.”

4. [She has] “a deep feeling of remorse.”

5. “I’m tired of the divisiveness up here.”


The Speakers:

A. A money-hungry Salon staffer wishes its IPO had yielded bigger bucks and that other online magazines would just die or something.

B. Grumpy Knicks forward Larry Johnson assesses non-Knicks, and–if I can go out on a limb here, and bear in mind I’m just speculating–Tina Brown.

C. Apologetic tennis great Martina Hingis seems to resent her absent mother, although I’ve not actually seen her in a clinical setting.


D. Crotchety Shimon Peres wishes Israeli police hadn’t shot his fellow MP Azmi Bishara, but he doesn’t wish it all that hard. “I didn’t come here to denounce,” he said at Lod City Hall. “I’m here to enjoy a lobster dinner, away from the prying eyes of certain pushy rabbis who … whoops!” he didn’t add.

E. Exasperated Jeb Bush is pretty sure his spendthrift wife, Columba, wishes either that she hadn’t bought “$19,000 worth of clothes and jewelry on her Paris shopping spree,” or wishes that she hadn’t tried to smuggle them through customs, or wishes that she hadn’t got caught. One of those.

F. Disdainful Coke executives sneer at the misfortunes of … Nah, of course they don’t. Responsible corporate citizens every one. (Although I’ve not actually seen them in a clinical setting.)


G. Cranky Orrin Hatch is annoyed that everyone doesn’t just agree with him, and he thinks the best remedy is to mount a futile run for the presidency.

The Answers:

1-B, 2-C, 3-D, 4-E, 5-G.

Greg Diamond’s Ongoing Extra

There’s still time to mock the AFI’s Greatest Legends List of movie stars by devising a brief plot summary of a movie in which any equally ranked pair–for instance Kirk Douglas and Lillian Gish are both rated No. 17–should have co-starred.

Inspirational example:

No. 18 Sunrise Boulevard–A young screenwriter (James Dean) falls under the spell of a disturbingly sexually precocious child movie star (Shirley Temple) who lives alone in her Hollywood mansion with a dead monkey and an ancient tap-dancing Negro butler.

Common Denominator

M*A*S*H was set in Korea.