December 15, 2010


The Explainer is Back!

THIS is my favourite blog entry of the year. Every year, Slate runs a piece on all the questions they didn't answer in Daniel Engber's Explainer column. But they only do half the job: they tell you the questions. Lucky for you, I provide the answers.


1. Do passive-aggressive people know they are passive-aggressive? Also, how can you tell if you are passive-aggressive?

You can tell if you're passive aggressive if your daughter-in-law gets hives when you tell her the turkey looks wonderful, it's a shame it came out dry. You can tell you're passive aggressive if you tell your best friend she must be so happy she's lost weight. You can tell you're passive aggressive if you wait until your neighbour has the family over for a BBQ to start your leaf blower.

But no. You probably don't think you're passive aggressive, especially if you are. You've just been put on this planet as a little evil pilot light.

2. If the entire U.S. was put up for sale, including privately- and publicly-owned land, homes, structures, et al., what would be the total asking price on the open market? I know it's not a boom time to sell, but there may be a buyer lurking somewhere!

This is an awesome question. But because I'm sure there would be more than one person bidding on such a great showcase, I would suggest you let the other guy bid first, then say "Bob, I will bid one dollar". I've seen this work, a lot.


3. Are all languages equally lip-readable?

You know, you would totally think that they should be. The problem starts when people with no respect for any language just start throwing stuff around like confetti. Like 'refudiate' and 'misunderestimate'. Oh wait. That's just Republicanish. Nevermind.

4. Why are large, extensive tattoos always Asian-themed?

Seriously? You still wonder? It's so you can get a really cool tat that you tell people says 'power like dragon, fierce like flames', but it really says 'this will teach this giant arsehole to think Jackie Chan is the best we have to offer cinematography'.

5. I've always pondered why boys like having sticks. Whether it be walking down a hiking trail with a stick they picked up or running a stick across a white picket fence, boys (including me when I was small) seem to have a knack for having a stick. Is there some kind of explanation for this behavior? I hope you can answer this question for me and thanks.

It's a shame you've given up something you had such a knack for. I think you should go outside and wrestle the first small boy you see to the ground and grab his stick.

6. Do they have special spam filters at Pfizer?

No, no, their pfilters are the same as yours.

7. Why aren't bathtubs bigger? I can never fully fit in mine.

True story: bathtubs used to be way bigger in the olden days, but people kept bathing their horses in them. All that horse hair clogged the sewer system, so they asked people - nicely - to stop bathing their horses in the tub. Well, as you can imagine, people being people, they refused. Therefore, place like Rona and Home Hardware were instructed to stop selling large horse-sized tubs.


8. When did the slang word ho first appear? I ask because I think I invented it around 1986-87 when I was in the fifth grade as a joke, but I continued to use it and it spread through my school and before long it was everywhere. It is possible that the term was coined earlier and I just hadn't heard it yet, but I can't seem to find any info to verify that.

First, it is totally unlikely that a word was coined earlier and you just hadn't heard it. Totally. Second, you need to call up Ross from Friends and ask him if he's got milk. Third, if you're going to lay claim to a word, is it really going to be 'ho'? Really? Are you insane?

9. Fall question: Is picking up leaves purely cosmetic?

Yes. It makes my ass smaller if I do yardwork.

10. Is it legal to booby trap my house?

Not only is it legal, it is recommended. You have no idea who is coming to get you in the night. Or the day. And even if you plug all the holes with steel wool and that spray in gloopy stuff that blocks leaks, you know that thought waves and unscented poison can still get in, right? So not only should you booby trap your home in all the usual ways, you should also be sure to string cheesecloth and no-pest strips everywhere, just to be safe.

11. Why do soup and other cans have ridges on the inside surface? The soup or other contents sticks to the ridges and prevents me from being as economical and environmentally virtuous as I would like to be.

I'm sorry. If you can't get every last bit of soup from the can, I will never sleep with you. I demand full virtue. Here. Have a spatula, you whiner.

12. Do real life experts of martial arts really have the capability of take on a dozen armed thugs and beat them black and blue—as seen in films?

Only if they have large, extensive Asian-themed tattoos.


13. My question was inspired by putting together prefab furniture. Phillips-head screws were invented in the 1930s, so why do people still use flat-head screws for anything? They suck, the screwdriver slips, I put a bunch of dents all over the place trying to use a drill, and I hate them. I can't find any reason why a company would still use them when we have something better.

Idiot. Robertson screws are the best. Phillips. Snort. But anyone who can't put together a POS from Ikea without denting it with a drill should just go to garage sales and buy someone else's already-assembled mistake.

14. If you watch the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show or any of the other ones, all the handlers (and most of the judges) are fat. Why?

Show dogs must be kept out of direct light at all times. And come on. Do you realize how stupid those people would look walking their little poofy dogs around carrying an umbrella?

15. Why is hearing about other people's dreams so boring?

I'm sorry. What was that?

16. I work in an office with a large saltwater aquarium and I've noticed that certain fish seem to have areas of the tank that they frequent more than others. Do fish in captivity develop routines?

You have a job?

17. Avatar came out in 3-D at a lot of theaters. I saw an ad about the giant cats on TV with my cat on my lap and was wondering, do 3-D glasses work on cats?

This is a valid question. I think you should wait until your cat needs her nails clipped, don't feed her for a day or two, give her a bath then try to put the 3-D glasses on her. We'll wait.

18. Re: Will I die. Hi my name is [redacted] and I was sucking some helium today and I'm really nervous I did it at about 5:00 today and it's 12:00 I just prayed to god to keep me safe I felt my pulse on my wrist and it was normal I just was wondering if it will hurt my older life I am about 10 to 14 years of age.

The bad news is that first sign of Heliocide is forgetting how old you are. I'm so sorry. By the time you wake up tomorrow, you head will be swelled to three times its normal size, and your body will be 4 feet long be very skinny. Wait a few days and you will wake up on the floor.

19. Could mankind actually blow up the moon? Blast it with nuclear missiles until it was just rubble? What would happen to the Earth?

We have wars on all continents, people in latex gloves jamming their fingers up your butt in the name of airline safety, half the world starving to death while the other half is ordering their pre-fab meals from Jenny Craig to lose weight, and a Wal-Mart on every corner. And you're wondering how this is the upside to something?

20. I've heard that the color orange was named after the Dutch royal family (the House of Orange), who were named after the city of Orange in southern France. If this is true, then what was orange originally called?

I'm sorry. This is seriously the most stupid question, ever. And it's not even fun.

21. I can't recall ever seeing an athlete sneeze during competition, and neither can anyone I've asked. YouTube also offers no help. Is there any reason for this? I have trouble with the idea that people don't sneeze if they're intensely focused, given that for some athletes (even on the pro level) this isn't always the case.

Wow. Sometimes I waste hours on Youtube watching cat videos, but even I have never watched everything on Youtube. But let us ponder your question, by posing another question: while I once saw a power weightlifter pee (you can Youtube that yourself, Youtube Master), I don't think I've ever seen one fart. So, perhaps elite athletes really have conquered the spontaneous, combustible acts the rest of us can't even suppress in an elevator, let alone an Olympics.

22. How long can someone hang upside down without having serious medical problems?

Oh, wow. Batman has contacted the Explainer! But I were you, I'd seriously have used my one question to ask about Robin's sexual orientation.

23. Why don't airplane bathrooms have windows? I've always thought it would be nice to gaze off into the wild blue yonder while relieving myself at 30,000 feet. It wouldn't be a privacy risk, because there are no peeping toms to catch a glimpse of you at that height. Besides, if a lavatory window made bathroom-goers uncomfortable, it could include a movable window shade, just like all other airplane windows have.

You don't travel much, do you? Are you aware how ridiculous men already are in airplane washrooms? Have you ever been in a washroom after some guy was, and the announcement 'sorry about that turbulence, folks' came on? The only thing I can think of that would be worse than magazines in an airplane washroom would be a window. I suggest you concentrate. Better yet, I suggest you sit the hell down.

24. Are children naturally better spellers than adults? Or, is it that there's simply a lack of spelling bees for adults? In an all-ages spelling bee, would kids win?

It's actually a logistical problem. More adults have already learned to tell their overbearing, stage managing parents to go to hell. And without someone coercing you into reading dictionaries and wearing cardigans, who, I mean, really, who, would choose that on their own?

25. Can you tell me why old movies are so terribly inaccurate and when (if ever) did that change?

I know! I was sooooooooo happy when Avatar and Lord of the Rings came out. Finally some excellent films based on fact.

26. My question is, do blind people with seeing-eye dogs have to curb their dogs? To date, I have never seen a service dog doing his "business" in public. Are blind people allowed to have their animal defecate on public sidewalks with no penalty?

Actually, service dogs don't poop. They are like Santa Claus, Glinda the Good Witch and women on first dates.

27. I don't want to sound like I want to see this, but why are there no male "beauty pageants" like the Miss America pageant, and if so, why not on a large-scale basis like that pageant?

Oh, I'm sorry. You've been missing it! There are indeed male beauty pageant events held every year in nearly every town across the world. It's called the Fire Department. Hubba.

28. Is it true, as is often rumored, that intoxicated people are less likely to suffer serious injury from a fall or other accident because they are less likely to "tense up"?

Yes, this is true. It's why we encourage people to drink and drive. If you are drunk, you can safely deactivate your airbags and drive at night without your headlights on. You are surrounded by something called the Martini Miracle, and it will keep you safe from harm. 'Being tense' is for all those fools who worry about drunks on the road. Merry Christmas!

29. I was on the subway today and this question struck me: Why are old people always coughing?

They received word in their AARP newsletter that apparently, old people who were just falling asleep - just falling asleep! - were being carted away because people thought they were dead. So, AARP suggested they cough every once in awhile to let people know they were still alive.

30. If a person is allergic to cats (common housecat allergies) would he also be allergic to a lion?

The only way to test this is to do what I do with my cats, which is to let them nuzzle me under my chin when I'm in a good mood. You need to go to the biggest zoo in your area, and find the lion park. We have one near here that you drive through, which I recommend. They say not to put your windows down, but that's like telling people to pay attention when the airplane people tell you where your lifejacket is. Crank down the window, and yell 'here, kitty, kitty'. If you don't sneeze, you're not allergic. Or, a world class athlete.

31. mY MOM is 93, just diag.with pneumonia..day 2 of antibiotic by injection, they say they may have to asperate She right now, is unresponsive to me stares in space and appears yellow, in skin color If no improvement in few days hospitalize???

Is she coughing?

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16 Comments:

Anonymous Roz said...

Nos. 17, 21, 30 and 31 have made me laughing so hard I'm having trouble breathing and it hurts.

good one.

December 15, 2010 1:51 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

It's not even Friday yet. Very nice entry, Lorraine.I always wondered why show dog handlers and owners are XXXXplus sized. I made the mistake of asking one of them that. Her answer wasn't coherent nor convincing.Needless to say, my hobby in Irish Setter trials ended prematurely.( yes, it really happened, no I'm not proud of it.)

December 15, 2010 3:06 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Oh man. I miss the days on OS when these would show up courtesy of that Cat Woman. You have made my day.

Thank you.

By the way... there's a male beauty pageant in my bathroom every morning. One day... I will win.

Hubba hubba, indeed.

December 15, 2010 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Arlene said...

My gawd you're funny! Not at all like you in real life. How come?

December 15, 2010 7:50 PM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

If I get fired from my job for laughing aloud while reading your posts and articles instead of actually working, can I move in with you and your cats?

December 16, 2010 5:07 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Can you cook?

December 16, 2010 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

I'm an excellent cook - and I'm not just saying that. I make almost everything from scratch.

December 16, 2010 8:22 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Cornflakes from scratch? I'd pay to see that! Please, save me a seat. I'd welcome having someone cook for me for a change.

So, Joanne... who else will vouch for your culinary abilities... and if you like cats so much, let's talk; we have five to Lorraine's two.

December 16, 2010 8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah, but Lorraine's funny.

December 16, 2010 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

Proof of my cooking skills can be found on my site (click on my name here in the comments).

I don't make cornflakes from scratch, but I have had to make my own sour cream (long story).

So does this mean that I now have two housing offers if I get fired??

And will there be wine?

December 16, 2010 10:21 AM  
Anonymous R. L. Parker said...

Oh, you can bet your fagioli there will be wine at the Sommerfeld house.

December 16, 2010 11:03 AM  
Blogger djc said...

Move over Lorraine. Joanne has 3 housing offers now. I just read your site and it is saved (right beside Lorraine's).

I am going to test drive the Sausage & Risotto this weekend.

For Joanne, Canada, 2 cats, 96 bottle wine rack.

onuchin. Is that an Italian dish, cuz that is the "word".

December 16, 2010 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in the same boat as Joanne...the laughing out loud at my desk doesn't look like I'm doing much work. Maybe I can blame on a sugar high from the cake this morning and they won't know I'm reading this instead. I was quiet until 'women on first dates' and then 'Is she coughing' pushed me over the edge!

December 16, 2010 12:43 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Yeah, 31 was my favourite.

Joanne, I've told the kids you're on your way. They seem relieved.

December 16, 2010 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

You know I come to Canada often enough that you may all regret these offers to shelter me. For the record: I don't smoke, am not cranky in the morning, pick up after myself and play nicely with others!

December 17, 2010 4:14 AM  
Blogger djc said...

OR... we could have a dinner party. Based on these 31 items:
1) In the spring so my P/A neighbour doesn't run his leaf blower.
2)Discuss cheap prperty in Florida.
3)Joanne could speak softly in Italian and we could try to lip read.
4)Show off any tattoo's.
5)Have shrimp on a stick.
6)Use Pfizer pfilters for the coffee machine.
7)Gotta think about the bathtub thing.
8)Try to come up with the next big word.
9)It will be spring.
10)Ladies should wear booby traps.
11)Fresh food only. No cans.
12)Watch a Jackie Chan movie.
13)Eat off of an Ikea table set.
14)Leave the table the size of a Dog Show judge.
15)Discuss our dreams during Pfizer pfiltered coffee time.
16)We could get aquarium apps for our phones.
17)2 cats. Good Luck trying.
18)Helium ballons will be available to discuss dreams.
19)It will be a full moon, just in case.
20)Wear orange.
21)Farting CAN be funny. (if you still play with sticks)
22)Don't. I am not insured for that.
23)There is a window in the bathroom.
24)Spell the words that you lip read.
25)Watch Gone With the Wind. That should be accurate.
26)It will be a first date.
27)I'll invite some firemen for the ladies.
28)Be careful on the stairs, or we wil find out when you leave.
29)If you are over 65, cough.
30)2 cats. No lions. Bring your meds.
31)Hmmm.....

My word suggests "phamb" for dinner.

December 17, 2010 7:34 AM  

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