Sunday, May 16, 2010

20 Questions: 2010

1. What happened to binaca?

2. Why are Village Voice movie reviews always negative?

3. Why do nightclub bouncers always have their ties in a Windsor knot?

4. If cancer was cured entirely, would the anti-smoking crusaders call it quits? Or would they press on like nothing had happened? Would taxes on cigarettes be lifted? Would they allow Marlboro ads on TV? I would love to see this play out.

5. TV Judge shows. Are these people actually judges? Are these, like, actual courts? Do they follow actual law with respect to procedure and evidence and all the rest? Are their verdicts binding? Or is it all some kind of charade? I have a feeling like there's some fine print I'm missing here. If it's not really a court of law, why would anyone take their case there? Why would you take your small claims problem to someone whose primary goal is to entertain a home audience? And finally, why not actually put real court cases on TV, instead of the Judge Judy show, so that people can actually learn a little bit about how the law works, instead of this cheez wiz version of law? Oh wait, I guess they do. Court TV. Kind of boring, that Court TV.

6. How come, on the highway, everyone turns their headlights on when the sunset has just barely started? You know, when there's still a good hour of daylight left? The minute the sky gets just a little orange, wham, all the lights come on. I can't speak for anyone else but until the actual moment of dusk, putting on my lights does not offer one iota of additional visibility.

7. How can they show TV advertisements for a better TV than the one you already have? If they try to impress you with the crispness of the image, doesn't that just prove that your own TV is good enough?

8. Every time I watch a boxing match on HBO I always see one bewildering statistic. The announcers will state what the weight class is, and what the weight limit is, and then casually announce the boxers' true weights, which are always 5 or 10 pounds heavier that the maximum weight permitted. "Shouldn't the boxers be, uh, disqualified then?" is what I'm always thinking. Boxing's practice of "weighing-in" days before a fight does not make sense to me. These boxers scientifically starve themselves down to goal weights for the specific hour of the weigh-in, and then spend the next day hurriedly putting the weight back on in time for the fight. How does it make sense to permit this? Just weigh them in 30 minutes before the fight! What's the argument against this? Plus, how can the boxing authorities implicitly condone the unhealthy rapid weight gain and loss, in a sport that's supposed to be about peak physical health? What other official sports governing body would allow tactical anorexia to be a legitimate strategy?

9. When you have to give your address on an internet form, and there's a drop-down list of countries, why the is Antarctica always on there?

10. Why does the supermarket constantly change all the aisles around? Just when I learn where the soda is and where the bread is, I show up and it's all different. What was wrong with the old configuration?

11. How do Civil War magazines find new headlines every month?

12. Why is nothing a doctor scribbles on a prescription slip ever remotely legible?

13. To the people who think all cell phone talking while driving is inherently dangerous, even if done on a hands-free headset: do you think talking to the other passengers in the car is similarly dangerous? If no, what exactly is the difference between talking on a heads-free handset and talking to the person in the backseat?

14. You know in movies or on TV when they show you a newspaper that has a front page headline that supposedly is part of the plot... like "Batman Saves City" or something. Do you ever look to see what the other headlines are on the newspaper? Do you try to read the actual text of the "Batman Saves City" article? I think sometimes the text is gibberish, but occasionally, JUST occasionally, they actually compose a whole article and put it in there just in case someone like me actually tries to read it. Does anyone know any examples of when the two-second shot of the newspaper actually contained a fully coherent, plot-appropriate story in the small print?

15. How come every other species of animal can just squat and give birth, but humans require drugs and specialists and training and hospitals and surgery? Are we really that weak and fragile compared to every other animal?

16. What would someone with Tourette's shout if they had never been taught any curse words?

17. Sometimes when I'm on the elliptical machine at the gym, I'm browsing channels on the built-in TV. And sometimes, because there's always a Star Trek episode airing somewhere, I'll stumble on a good Next Generation episode, like the one where the Enterprise blows up before every commercial. So for about 1 second, I say "Hey, I think I'll watch this." And then I realize - hmm, I'm at the gym. Do I really want to be watching Star Trek: The Next Generation at the gym? And, reluctantly, I change the channel and look for something manlier to watch. And it's not just Star Trek of course. What else have I been too ashamed to linger on? The Golden Girls? Antiques Roadshow? Has this ever happened to anyone else? Wanted to watch one thing on the gym TV but reluctantly felt it didn't reflect well on you? Maybe I should start my own gym, where the promise is that we offer a TV safe-zone, where's there no judgment.

18. I'm seriously weirded out by what I only recently discovered about Joe's Stone Crabs. This is the famous restaurant in Miami that serves the Stone Crab claws. You can read a brief synopsis here, but the basic idea is that the crab is caught, a single claw is severed, and then the crab is thrown back, where over the course of a year they can grow back their missing claw, at which point (gulp) they get dragged up in the net again.

I don't know, is that crossing some kind of a line? I've made my peace with being a carnivore. I've made my peace with eating live oysters or tossing lobsters in a boiling pot... but do I really want to eat a limb of something that is still swimming around in the ocean? How can I enjoy my meal when somewhere out there is the remainder of this crab? Probably a very angry crab.

19. When am I going to get "tapped" to join a secret society? I want it all: the secret greeting, the tattoo, a ring with a glyph on the inside. I'm ready dammit! Tap me!

20. Imagine Abraham Lincoln speaking. Imagine the whole scene: he's standing on a wooden stage, he's got the beard and the hat, he's got both hands on his coat, and here he goes: "Four score... and seven years ago..." Now hold it right there. That voice you imagined. The Lincoln voice. Kind of barrel chested. Kind of like Sean Connery but without the Scottishness. Where did you get that from? There are no recordings of Lincoln's voice. None. Never were. And yet, not only do you know Lincoln's voice, in a pinch you could probably do a good impression. What's that about? Do you think maybe we have some kind of collective national memory of Lincoln's voice, that's been passed down successfully for 150 years? That strikes me as odd. There's no Washington voice. No Jefferson voice. To me, the authoritative Lincoln voice was always the Lincoln from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. That's the Lincoln voice against which I judge others. But I have no idea if it's accurate, and who living today would know better? We're dealing with a hand-me-down impression that's had a century and a half to morph and mutate. For all we know the real Lincoln sounded like Pee Wee Herman.


Ian said...

I can't answer your other questions, but boxing weigh-ins being done a day before the fight are an attempt to keep fighters from completely dehydrating themselves before the bout, trying to make weight. A fighter might spend himself so throughly just getting off the extra pounds that he's too weak to fight. Of course, you can push yourself harder if you know you have a day to bounce back, which is why some fighters show extreme weight gain in that day after the weigh-in.

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