News Quiz

No. 452: “Empower to the People!’

Her eyes ablaze with freedom’s fire, corporate spokesperson Deb Magness assesses the importance to America’s children of an imminent development: “It’s empowered them in a way that they have always desired but haven’t had an opportunity, until now.” Which corporation is about to do what?

Send your answer by 10 a.m. ET Wednesday to

Thursday’s Question (No. 451)—”Smiley Phase”:

Starting this week, the words “We love to see you smile!” will be heard much more often. Why?

“Serena Williams begins counseling.”—Beth Sherman

“George W. Bush has now added unlimited trips to the salad bar for all last meals on death row.”—Bill Scheft (Larry Amoros had a similar answer.)

“Because it’s engraved on the rim of the Goblet of Fire.”—Greg Diamond

“Is it the new slogan for the Gap? Is the Gap selling smiles? ‘Everyone in smiles.’ Works for me! I think I’ll go get me one right now!”—Jennifer Weiner

“McProstitutes!”—Peter G. Eipers (similarly, Tim Carvell, Chris Troutt)

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

Teeth. The essential element in any smile, are hard, resistant structures on the jaws and in or around the mouth and pharynx areas of vertebrates—or perhaps what you’ve got is a really old petrified piece of Doublemint in your mouth or pharynx area, and you should probably spit it out already. Teeth are used for catching and masticating food, for defense, and for other specialized purposes, perhaps as a component of an overpriced, ineffectual, and destabilizing anti-missile system that would bite a Korean missile out of the sky, if there were a Korean missile in the sky, and if the teeth weren’t confused by a giant Snickers decoy. The teeth of vertebrates represent the modified descendants of bony dermal plates that armored ancestral fishes. (The Kennedy cousins represent the modified descendants of a once powerful political dynasty, many of whose members resembled ancient fishes.) A tooth consists of a crown and one or more roots. The crown is the functional part that is visible above the gum. The root is the unseen portion that supports and fastens the tooth in the jawbone. Roots was the most popular miniseries ever, at the time it was broadcast, and yet these days, no one pays much attention to it, and it just sits around the house in its underwear mumbling to itself: “I’m Roots! I used to be a popular miniseries.” It’s sad, really. And that’s why you should brush every day and see your dentist twice a year, if only socially.

Ad Hoc Answer

“We love to see you smile!” is the new McDonald’s slogan.

After three years of “Did somebody say McDonald’s?”—only three? It seems so much longer—this is the best the folks at DDB Worldwide could come up with.

By the way, in French junk food is “malbouffe.” Their word for cat is “chat,” which is like cat, but with an h. Hardly seems worth the trouble of changing all the signs. I’m not implying that cats are an ingredient in McDonald’s burgers or that they contain any meat at all. (And as many of you now, it’s not pronounced “chat” as in converse, but “shat” as in, well you know. I’m not implying anything remotely fecal about McDonald’s burgers.)

In other advertising news, the Guatemalan army, its image damaged by the 36 years of atrocities it committed against its own people, has hired a new agency.

“We were very surprised and drawn by the challenge,” Rodrigo Mendoza, creative director of Vice-Versa, a small Guatemala City firm, told Reuters this week.

The ad campaign superimposes peace slogans over images of doves bearing olive branches perched on camouflage-painted combat helmets. The slogan: “We used to love to see you tortured and killed, but now we love to see you not tortured and killed!” Or maybe it’s not.

The Experts Speak, and Cautiously, Extra

“If even a few rockets make it through a defensive shield—leading to a nuclear disaster that takes thousands of lives—the shield may well be considered a failure.”—David Sanger, New York Times

Jon Delfin’s Quite a Coincidence Extra

Participants were invited to submit historical errors in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot. A suspiciously similar comic premise is up at Modern Humorist.

Randy’s Why Do I Feel Guilty Even Though I’m Innocent Extra

I’d not seen this until Jon mentioned it, and very funny it is. I hope that participants have confidence if not in my integrity, then in my ignorance. I think I’ve earned that.

Jon Delfin’s Logical Explanation Extra

You couldn’t have seen it. It just went up today. Ti……..ming. (July 7)

Randy’s Gracious and Understanding Extra

Such a coincidence could easily occur. We are not the first to do anachronism gags. And surely their piece was written, if not posted, long before this week. The thievin’ bastards.

Historically Accurate and Seasonably Apt Ongoing Extra

Participants were invited to submit historical errors in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot that that slipped past the gimlet eye of that stickler for accuracy Brandeis professor David Hackett Fischer.

“Ethan Allen was never befriended by a talking monkey.”—Francis Heaney

“The name of the cruelest, most inhuman member of the British military was not, in fact, Gen. David Hackett Fischer.”—Tim Carvell

“Cell phone used by Paul Revere to announce the British arrival was clearly a Southwestern Bell product … in the NORTHEAST! Ha!”—Whitney Pastorek

“The product placements bothered me a bit. Maybe they did have Little Debbie Snack Cakes back then, but I don’t think John Deere riding mowers were in common use on plantations. I may be wrong.”—Fred Gormley

“The British did not lose the Battle of New York by being voted off the island.”—Adam Bonin

“Benjamin Franklin had nothing to do with the Randy Quaid-Meg Ryan breakup.”—Michael Mannella

“Heath Ledger’s ass not visible enough. More! We want more! Er … I mean, in colonial times the men showed their asses almost constantly. Ahem.”—Whitney Pastorek

“Colonial wonder bras were made of wool, not lycra.—Will Vehrs

“Ten-year-old Strom Thurmond did not sell lemonade to British troops at a discount during the occupation of Charleston.”—Tom Tegtmeyer

“Benjamin Franklin did not open the Continental Congress by declaring it a ‘penis-free zone.’ “—Charlie Glassenberg (Adam Bonin had a similar answer.)

Click for more revolutionary laffs.

Picnic Reminder

Please join us Wednesday, July 12, from 6:00 p.m., in Central Park on the shore of the Turtle Pond. (That’s at the south end of the Great Lawn, just east of the Delacorte Theater, in the shadow of Belvedere Castle, right in the middle of the park at about 81st Street, easily reached from East or West Side.) BYOE—Bring Your Own Everything.

Common Denominator

Gore flounders on.