December 21, 2009


Slate & the Explainer

This is one of my favourite Slate features: The Explainer. You can ask questions and they answer them. I've sent in questions. They've never answered them. But that's okay. I ask dumb questions, like "How does propping a chair under a door handle in the movies prevent the door from being opened?". Yeah. I ask things like that.

Anyway, at the end of every year, they post the worst/lamest questions they got - stuff they didn't answer. And I answer them myself, just for you. I didn't do it last year. I think I was making tarts, and you all know that couldn't end well. I probably fell into a bottle of gin to get over it.

Without further ado...The Explainer Questions That Went Unexplained...the Lorraine Answers.

* Can sex offenders have children?
Only if they can catch them. (I know, sick, be quiet)

* Why have I never seen a female gas station attendant?
Everyone knows that gas station attendants always get held up at gunpoint - it happens in all the movies. Bad people rob gas station attendants because it's a short walk to the money. They're not gonna hold up, say a Sears, because you know how hard it is to find a checkout in a Sears. And since that means gas stations, they need to put men in them because when men say "is that gun real?" they have a deeper voice and might - might - be able to foil the robbery. Which is lame; a woman could just pull up her shirt and the robber would be dazzled and stop robbing.

* I was in a Cheesecake Factory restaurant in ATL over the weekend—jammed to the doors at 3 pm on a Saturday afternoon. What I want to know is, why???
And I want to know what the hell you were doing in a Cheesecake factory. Are you so into cheesecake you can't wait for them to be sold at your local bakery? Go do some cardio. All that cheesecake is not good for your cholesterol levels.

* How would the law punish Siamese twins if one of the twins committed murder without the other being involved? For instance, if the twins were walking down the street and one pulled out a knife and stabbed someone. It seems to me that you couldn't punish one without the other suffering the same punishment.
Forget that. I still want to know how those Chang and Eng guys fathered 21 kids between them. I mean, I don't even like to do it with the cat in the room.

* Which major global leader speaks the worst English? Thanks.
Any member of the American Republican party. What? I lie? Think about it. George W. Bush sounded like one of those poetry games you stick on your fridge. McCain could use the words 'corn pone' in every day speech. And Sarah Palin doesn't even speak English.

* How do flea/tick/mosquito collars work? Would it be possible to create a similar device for people? That would be a great weapon against insect-borne diseases.

What a fine idea! Come over and I'll put it on you myself. Be warned, however, that if it itches a little, you'll only be able to scratch it with your feet.

* I have always wondered who played the characters of the Wicked Witch of the West's monkey army in Wizard of Oz. Were they the same little people who played the munchkins or am I missing something here? It's no big deal, but I have always wondered.
Silly. the munchkins had a contract that they could only be ridiculed by wearing dumb hats and curly toed boots. They drew the line at bellhop hats and wings. Those were real flying monkeys. Though I understand there was some consternation when they were told they had to wear the bellhop hats.

* Can a state be kicked out of the union? I am thinking, of course, of Texas.

Of course you are. We all are.

* I don't care about NASA and the space station stuff any more. Am I the only one? Should I care?
Oh, I hear you. From now on, government projects like space stations, wars, national security and food stamps will only be renewed like TV shows. If we try something for, say, 4 weeks and the audience just isn't there, it will be cancelled. This should force them to really up the interesting bits, and get rid of the boring stuff.

* What could humanity possibly be like, or possibly have evolved into, if we as an entire species never discovered and/or harnessed the power of fire?

We would not the term 'pyromaniac' in our lexicon. And we would be eating a lot of steak tartare, which is unfortunate because steak tartare is really gross.

* I have a little goatee. Why do people in Arab countries—I've not noticed this in Paris or L.A., for example—insist on touching my beard, then taking the same hand and kissing their fingers in a sort of "Italian, it's delicious!" gesture? When I ask, they just laugh. This has happened to me literally dozens of times.
Do you know how weird you are? Shave, ferchristsakes.

* Why do auctioneers talk like that?
It's an affliction from birth. Only certain people can be auctioneers, like only certain people can be horse jockeys and basketball players. When you got it, you got it.

* Are there really special agents like Jack Bauer working for the U.S. government? Just total badass muthas who can basically do anything? Or are Navy Seals and Army Rangers the toughest we've got?
What are you talking about? Jack Bauer does work for the government! Those are just recordings of his day-to-day life you're watching on TV. He even has a special card in his wallet with Badass Mutha written on it, so he can get into harrowing situations and dangerous places. He has the right I.D.

* In our culture when dealing with babies and little kids it's always funny to put something on your head as a pretend hat. Is this the case in every culture? What about where they always wear turbans?
Those children just laugh uncontrollably until they leave their native land and realize people aren't funny all the time.

* Why do we use the term chicken to imply that someone is scared, along with the standard bock-bock? Are chickens naturally skittish birds? And why cats? What's a scaredy-cat?
While the standard bock-bock is dreadfully overused, as you note, it is the standard. Yes, chickens are skittish. And delicious. But cats? Cats are only scared of morons with acess to the internet.

* Why do all people (it seems) cross their legs so much?

Nobody wanted to tell you, but I will. Every time you see someone cross their legs, they are sending out the universal code for "that guy with his legs not crossed has B.O." You are being told to shower more often.

* is it leagle to own a phone sex company in new york state****how do i protect my self what other things do i need to do i have girls lined up and ready to go ,,,,,,, just want to be leagle dan

Lined up and ready to go? Well, look at you, you little entrepreneur! Here's what you need to do: go down to your City Hall, and go the Information counter. Tell them you have girls all ready to go, but you want to keep in leagle. Ask for the forms to set up a Phone Sex Company - they have them. Don't be discouraged if the attendant can't find them right away. Insist she/he goes to look further, and demand to speak to their boss. Sometimes you have to yell a little, but that's okay. It's important to keep this all leagle, and you don't want to keep those girls waiting.


* Sometimes celebrity look-alikes are dead ringers for the celebrities. How does that happen? Mostly we take this phenomenon for granted, but how could it possibly be that someone more closely resembles Beyoncé than her own mother?

It is a little known fact that many, many celebrities were adopted or stolen by black marketers at birth. Many, many of them were twins, or even triplets, but to maximize their profit, the bad guys sell them off separately. So. The reason some random person looks more like Beyonce than her own mother, is because it's really her long-lost twin that she didn't know about. Watch Oprah for the reunion.


* How many human female eggs would it take to make an omelette?

It depends if they made it the way Julia Child did it, with the pan tipped up the whole time, or the way I do it, with the pan flat. I imagine you would need more eggs to help hold the pan up Julia's way, though you could do with fewer my way because they'd just have to fling the cheese in at the right time.

* Is this possible? You cause a horrible accident, the shock of seeing it causing you to go pale. But at the same time people looking at you for causing the accident make you blush with shame. And so the two forces cancel each other out, leaving your face's normal color intact. Or is the shock component more powerful than the blush component, or vice-versa? For what it's worth, my guess is the shock component is more powerful than the shame component. But the shame component might actually help retain some color in the face, thus preventing a ghostly white color. For non-tanned Caucasian individuals, that is.
Oh, thank god you qualified that at the very end. Up till that point, I was worried this wasn't going to make any sense at all.

* What would be the citizenship of a baby born to astronauts on the way to or from Mars (or on the Moon)? Let's make it extra-complicated and presume the parents are of different nationalities.
Oh. I was all set you give your answers based on the initial information you gave (Mars: Martian. Moon: Moonie), but that last curve ball changes everything. The baby would be Norwegian.

* No one knows you as well as your sibling whom you are closest to. Michael Jackson had many siblings. Which one was he closest to? That sibling is the one to listen to.
He was closest to Bubbles, but Bubbles is pissed that he was cut out the will and not allowed to sit in the front row at the funeral. So. Bubbles ain't talking.

* Suppose you're sitting at your desk and viewing a real-time beach scene on a Webcam set up 2,000 miles away. And you're watching somebody get assaulted. Do you call your own 911 number to report it, or what's the next best thing to do?

Where do you work?

* Please give me dimensions for a wooden box for a body whose ashes weigh 6 lbs.
The box your handcuffs, duct tape and gag came in should do nicely.

* Where can I buy wine that has the word frog in its label?

Right here. I have a bottle of wine, and a Sharpie. That'll be 47 dollars, please.

* I just started researching information on the subject regarding lack of sleep. I know a very good subject for research. Would there be an interest by any research groups that you are aware of?
Nobody has ever, ever investigated this before. But I know many places are always open to lay people coming in and setting up labs and just messing around with some cool ideas. I suggest you start with Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. They'll be thrilled to discover that sleep deprivation exists, and that you're willing to look into and bring your own test subjects with you.

* How long does an elderly person with pneumonia and respiratory problems have to live?
Indefinitely, unless you 'trip' over the plug. But double check you're actually in the will; that could be a lot of bad karma for no gain. I highly suggest you run around asking everyone, however. People love to see how much family members care, especially the ones who haven't visited or called until now.

* I have some questions about washing the following vegetables for use in a fast-paced delicatessen: (1) If I wash red onions, they become soggy to put on bread for a sandwich. Do I need to wash onions? (2) If I wash mushrooms, they are soggy for our salads. Do I need to wash mushrooms? (3) If I wash lettuce, it becomes soggy for placing on bread for a sandwich. Do I need to wash kale? And can I get by without washing iceberg lettuce if I remove a few outer layers?
Onions are self-washing - germs get all teary around them, so they leave. Mushrooms are grown in poop. Take them off the menu, or warn people that they're grown in poop. Don't worry about washing the lettuce. If people say the sandwich has a gritty texture, tell them that's the artisan bread you charged them 4 bucks extra for. If Kale needs a shower, by all means wash him. Maybe you should open a dollar store instead.

* My son plays drums in a band, they play 6 hours, he wears a black derby, his face is blood-red, heat escapes from the scalp, is he loosing his hair because of this? He is 33.

He's losing his hair because his maternal grandfather was bald. But if you'd prefer to make him grow up, get a real job and move out of your basement, tell him it's the hat.

* I have always thought yawning is contagious—you see someone yawn and you find yourself yawning. I've read articles that confirm this is true. So when I had my first child and was desperate to get him to go to sleep, I would yawn while he was looking at me in hopes of making him yawn, realize how tired he was, and go to sleep. Instead, he would just stare at me. He was immune to my yawning. With my second child, I notice the same thing. But now my first boy is three-and-a-half and he will yawn when I yawn. So when does yawning become contagious?

Well, obviously at three-and-a-half. But this is groundbreaking scientific investigative news. Please call Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. They are currently working on sleep deprivation studies, I hear, and would be fascinated with this new information.

* It's 30 minutes till my bedtime and I want ice cream. I had a big dinner and a big glass of water and I'm not hungry. I thought to myself that it might be a waste to eat it now if I'm full. Then I wondered How about if I put some in my mouth, swirled it around to taste it, then spit it out? Then I will get to taste it but I won't get uncomfortably full. But I instantly knew that would never work. I wouldn't enjoy it at all if I couldn't swallow it. Is that just me? Do you have to swallow food to enjoy it?
Nah. I brush my teeth with broccoli.

* Why do film posters and DVD cases all use the same vertically-stretched, unreadable font near the bottom that shows the full credits for the film?
Because nobody reads this stuff. In descending order, this is what is important about a film: How big her breasts are, do you really see the arm get ripped off?, how many cars do you think they wrecked to get that one shot?, how big the other chick's breasts are, do you think that guy really fell out of that window, or did they use CGI?, how did they get the chickens to act all calm?


* Why do they clap at the opening and closing of the stock market each day? And who are those people up there every day who are clapping? How are they chosen? They all look so stupid standing up there clapping about an economy that's gone down the toilet big-time!!!

You know that ticker-tapey thing that runs around the top of that big room? With all the prices and numbers on it? It's actually a giant Clapper. Those people have to clap to turn it on, and then to turn it off at night. Clap On, Clap Off, The Clapper.

* Re: chess, how do you play chess?
You go to Johns Hopkins or the Mayo clinic. They are currently thinking up ways to get people to sleep, and I understand they are trying to teach chess to people instead of using hard drugs. Actually, they've divided the subject into two groups: those learning to play chess, and those looking under beds and in closets for Bobby Fischer.

3 Comments:

Anonymous jmd said...

That made me laugh out loud four times. Maybe you could have a column where you answer housekeeping questions. Do you remember Hints from Heloise? Or am I just really old?

December 22, 2009 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK. I've finally decided which is my favourite. The washing vegetables one. (and also the first one where you channel Paul Lynde)

Roz

December 22, 2009 10:00 AM  
Blogger Rob Crotty said...

Lorraine this is great! Thanks!

December 22, 2009 1:25 PM  

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