News Quiz

No. 352: “Pro and Context”

Some key words in a story in Sunday’s New York Times were: jumping jack; youngest; “Dream Catchers;” dreamy, romantic, and elegant; a flip, a toe loop, and a salchow. What was the story about?

Send your answer by noon ET Tuesday to

Thursday’s Question (No. 351)–”$$$”:

“I wonder if she understands how much her life has changed this day. Mr. Itchy Pants has the potential to make her a millionaire.” Who said this about what?

“This is the endless tape-loop running in Donald Trump’s brain.”–Evan Cornog

“Patricia Duff, upon hearing that Ellen Barkin had signed a prenup with Ron Perelman.”–Callie Joseph (David L. Duncan had a similar answer.)

“At last! A cure for jock itch–and wouldn’t you know, it was a female scientist who came up with it. (Great product name, by the way.)”–Ann Gavaghan

“Howard Stern, about the guttersnipe he picked up selling flowers in Covent Garden, whom he intends to turn into the Playmate of the Year. Said the guttersnipe: ’ ‘oward, me himplants ‘urt!’ “–Laura Miller

“Helen Gurley Brown, about the many plus sides to sexual harassment.”–Matt Sullivan

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

The popular portrayal of bloated plutocrats has changed enormously in the last 150 years, devolving from the 19th century’s ferocious robber barons, to that guy on the Monopoly box who was always chasing his secretary around his desk in New Yorker cartoons, to the addled and ineffectual potbellies of Depression-era screwball comedy. And now, judging by News Quiz responses, these wan titans are barely portrayed at all. Unless he makes his money in show business, today’s billionaire is a sexless and unattractive sap who lacks the vigor and vanity to crush his rivals and build towering monuments to his ego, although he may have a nice house. He is a tedious corporate drone, as innocuous as the lackluster buildings erected by Donald Trump. The fabulously wealthy are failing us as a social type; indeed, they are not fabulous–not excessively decadent, not imaginatively Sybaritic. They are, at most, dull on the grand scale. We live in tepid times.

Inventive Answer

Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker water gun, said this about 11-year-old Nadia Smith, inventor of the Mr. Itchy Pants doll, the winning entry in a toy invention contest for children.

The contest was sponsored by, and company founder Jeff Bezos was one of the judges along with Johnson; skater Katerina Witt; Richard Levey, a developer of the Furby; and Thomas Edison Sloane Jr., a toy-industry pro.

Nadia will receive a $10,000 college savings bond. Mr. Itchy Pants will be manufactured and sold online at Amazon, and a 7 percent royalty will be paid into Nadia Smith’s college fund.

Larry Amoros’ Broadway Bulletin Extra

Liza Minnelli’s new show, a tribute to her father called Minnelli on Minnelli, has been panned–New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley didn’t even like her chorus boys–so the odds of a long run seem limited. But my “backdoor sources” tell me that Liza is already planning another show, an homage to her past called Minnelli on Methadone.

Least Believable Assertions Extra

Participants were invited to submit actual or invented credulity-straining claims.

  • George Bush: “I am reading a book on Dean Acheson.”–Jack Hitt
  • Pat Buchanan: “I plan to have that swastika tattoo on my ass removed.”–(But what a photo-op it would be, huh?) Francis Heaney
  • eBay shopper: “You know, I’ve gotten so much use out of my fruit dehydrator.”–Colleen Werthmann
  • Bill Clinton: “No, really! I swear!”–Mary Fee
    Donald Trump: “I care about … something.”–Francis Heaney
  • Tipper Gore: “So I say to Naomi, you weren’t kidding about what those cowboy boots would do!”–William Vehrs

Ken Tucker’s Rolling Stone “Millennium” Issue Corner

  • Barry Diller, in the Rolling Stone “Millennium” issue: “Thinking that being in your 50s would be this much great good fun.”
  • David Geffen, in the Rolling Stone “Millennium” issue: “Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young records will be listened to for many years.”
  • Bill Maher, in the Rolling Stone “Millennium” issue: “Twenty-five years ago I was 18 and I couldn’t get a college girl to go out with me, and today I can.”

In fact, everything everyone asserts in the Rolling Stone “Millennium” issue, except Princess Mononoke director Hayao Miyazaki’s assertion that his biggest influence is Bruce Springsteen.

Common Denominator

Philbin, Trump, Clinton.