You give the lead; I give the headline from a BBC story: “Prince Hairnet Prompts Cheese Checks.” (Question courtesy of Jill Pope.)
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Tuesday’s Question (No. 403)—”Field Work”:
According to a report in the New York Times, the behavior included “sudden hand clappings, semaphoric arm wavings and occasional gatherings in circles.” What’s going on here?
“Versace-proofing your dress before the Oscars.”—Colleen Werthmann
“Due to funding cutbacks, the scientists at SETI were forced to explore new, low-tech alternatives to contact alien life forms.”—Paul Hayes
“Bangladeshi children following around the president’s press corps to check out if they had actually made any of the reporters’ sneakers.”—Anthony Wright
“That ridiculous McCaughey woman is giving birth, again.”—Larry Amoros
“Add ‘shoving office supplies down their pants’ and you’ve got the outgoing staff at Details.”—Chris Kelly (Jon Zerolnick had a similar answer.)
“Who said there wasn’t a humorous side to mass cult suicide-murders?”—Greg Diamond
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Taken out of context, even the most visually powerful gestures become ambiguous. Waving or drowning? Laughing or crying? Making love or teaching the cat to cha-cha? (But enough about me.) Turn down the sound, and it can be even harder to understand what you’re watching. And when you turn it back up, it is unsettling to discover that the lip-licking, eyebrow-waggling performance that Willow Bay just gave was not an attempt to seduce you personally, but was instead a report on an explosion in a Belgian fertilizer factory. (Benelux nations: Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.) Kids say the darnedest things about decontextualizing. One 12-year-old noted that it would be easier to watch terrifying movies on television if the remote control had a button that muted not the sound, but the soundtrack, that removed the music. And she’s right: Without it, even Jaws doesn’t look so tough. Now, if there were also a button that removed Billy Crystal—or had a big shark eat him—movies on television would be bliss.
Celtic Thunder Answer
Critic Jack Anderson was reviewing a performance of Irish step dancing.
He saw the Trinity Irish Dance Company, a Chicago troupe, at New York’s New Victory Theater. This style of dancing, made popular (or terrifying, depending on your taste) by Riverdance, features fast-stepping colleens whose bodies remain rigid, their arms hanging motionless at their sides, while their feet clatter out the intricate steps and the audience makes crude jokes about the effect of Roman Catholicism on the erotic life of Ireland.
Ann Gavaghan’s Taiwanese Election Extra
Last Saturday, pro-independence candidate Chen Shui-bian was narrowly elected president of Taiwan, sparking days of protests in the capital and more heated rhetoric from Beijing. The election marked the downfall of the Kuomintang, the political party that had ruled Taiwan with an iron grip for 50 years. Pundits are now scrambling to analyze every speech, ad, and opinion poll in order to determine the factors behind Chen’s win. Which of the following events took place during this hard-fought campaign?
1. Chen’s campaign releases an ad featuring a pinup photo of his cute, college-aged son doing a one-armed pushup, saying “Chen Shui-bian is the candidate of squealing, pre-teen girls!”
2. Independent candidate James Soong deflects rumors of his wealth by claiming that he is so poor he can’t afford to buy a bathroom door for his mother’s house.
3. Lien Chan shakes up his image as a wooden, boring KMT hack by inserting the Taiwanese phrase for “semen” into a campaign speech.
4. Soong again downplays rumors of his wealth by claiming that his five houses in the San Francisco Bay area aren’t worth much money, since they’re in a “black” neighborhood.
5. During a rally in Kaohsiung, Chen supporters chant “Zhu Rong-ji, Kiss My Ass” in the Taiwanese dialect.
6. Independent candidate Hsu Hsin-liang tries to gain support from the gay community by officiating as minister during a mock lesbian wedding between his running mate and his campaign spokeswoman.
7. President Lee Teng-hui openly advocates Chen during the last week of the campaign by waving at KMT crowds displaying all five fingers at once, clearly showing support for the fifth candidate on the ballot, Chen.
8. In order to prove he’s competent as a surgeon, if not a politician, Soong’s running mate performs live heart surgery on Soong himself, conveying the subtle message, “I’ll make sure he won’t die in office.”
9. During a campaign rally, Lien bites the head off a live chicken to prove he’s tough enough to stand up to China.
10. Hsu holds a press conference to reveal that he’ll wear designer-name suits for the duration of his campaign.
Everything is true except for 5, 8, and 9. Oh yeah, and the second half of 1. And 7 is only true if you listen to protesters hanging around KMT headquarters, but if you don’t listen to them, they’ll break your car windows and throw eggs at you.
Things African-Americans can do to avoid getting shot by the NYPD, none of which will work.