December 23, 2011

It's the most wonderful time, of the year!

If you read Slate, you'll know they have a regular feature called The Explainer. Readers can write in questions they have, questions about every day life, questions that they evidently can't - or can't be bothered - to dig around on the internet and figure out for themselves. At year end, Daniel Engber posts a list of the most ridiculous questions he has received. And I answer them.

And now, the 2011's best headscratchers from Slate's The Explainer.

  1. Why do people put their hands to their heads/faces when something goes wrong? People are instinctively quite happy when something goes wrong, especially to someone else. They have to hide the fact they’re laughing.
  2. It's not really topical, but it's been bugging me for a while: Why do comedy clubs have such unfunny names? Not just boring—it's hard to tell a joke in a three-word business name—but it's usually something inane like “The Laugh Factory” or “The Chuckle Hut.” Why don't they just name comedy clubs after comedians? They worry about people forgetting who older comics ever were. Plus, The Dice Clay Dinner Club was taken.
  3. Why does the outside of the base of most toilet tanks show the path of the waste pipe? (Obviously, the porcelain is molded this way—but why?) This seems unnecessarily explicit to me. Ah. You’re the guy who showers in his bathing suit.
  4. Are the blind sleepy all the time? I was under the impression that your brain signals it's time to sleep when it gets dark. I, for one, can't stay awake when I close my eyes and meditate! Meditating is supposed to clear your mind for higher purpose, not just clear your mind. Please stop.
  5. Whatever happened to dandruff? That's my question, basically. As a kid, there were so many commercials about it, and I remember seeing people who had dandruff. Neither ever seems to happen anymore. Dandruff is caused by having a dry scalp that flake off. Global warning has cured this scourge. So next time you see a dead polar bear, just tell yourself it was totally worth it to not have dandruff.
  6. Does anyone ever get a sex change back? They do take this into account. The bits they remove are kept in a fridge for storage. Please hang onto your bill, however, or you will only be given a gift card.
  7. Why do furniture stores rely so heavily on the advertising gimmick of “going out of business” sales? It seems obvious that they aren’t actually going out of business, but are just trying to drive traffic to their store. I can understand why they might do this, but the real question is, why is this so prevalent among furniture stores and no other industries? It seems the same principles that apply for furniture could apply elsewhere, but I only see these with furniture stores. I’m guessing the answer has to do with some furniture industry pioneer and his lasting legacy. They started this when IKEA moved into the market. They believed people would actually rather drive miles and miles to a store where they could then purchase furniture in bits and pieces, slug it home denting the roof of their car and spend three days trying to assemble it before realizing it had come with two left sides. Local retailers knew this was an awesome concept that would threaten their market of ready- made furniture delivered, in one piece, to your home on a truck by two men wearing little slippers over their shoes. They were right.
  8. Why don't roaches live in cars more often? There seems to be plenty of food in many cars to support them. Do they get motion-sickness? They do. That’s why they always get to sit in the front seat.
  9. When I fry bologna (for a fried bologna sandwich, of course) it always forms a big greasy bologna dome. None of the other meats I fry do this. What's going on in bologna to make that weird dome shape? Oh my god. Do not throw that out. It is totally shaped like the Capitol Building, and will fetch a pretty penny on eBay. If the burny parts look anything at all like Abe Lincoln’s beard, you can sell it for even more.
  10. Odd to say the least, but why do so many of our states end with the letter a? Way too many to be happenstance—there must be a reason. The only thing odd is someone using the word happenstance with a straight face. When Christopher Columbus christened it America, he decreed that all states should end with an ‘a’ also. Ohio didn’t get the memo, and Rhode Island was just all pissy because they only got a patch of land the size of a Fig Newton.
  11. I’m a tall guy. So when I pee, sometimes there’s a splash that exceeds the height of the bowl and lands on the floor. What is it that splashes? Is it water from the toilet or is it pee? I’m guessing it’s water from the toilet because the momentum of the pee takes it down and for it to splash out would defy the physics of liquids. Sit down when you pee, you pig.
  12. When you cut open a pumpkin, there is no whoosh so there must be a gas inside the pumpkin filling the "empty" space. What is it and how does it get inside? We suggest you throw the pumpkin from a first floor balcony. You’ll get all the woosh you want.
  13. When parking in a nearly full parking lot, is it quicker to a) park in the first open space you see and walk, or b) drive a few laps around the lot and grab the closest possible spot? In my experience the two ways are about even, since the extra time spent driving for "b)" means a quicker exit when you leave. Please settle this using statistics as my wife has refused to argue anymore regarding this issue. You’re a menace. Please turn the wheel over to your wife.
  14. Let's say that a meteor never hits the earth, and dinosaurs continue evolving over all the years human beings have grown into what we are today. What would they be like? Would they have a society? A language? iPods? My cat just told me they would still be working on the whole opposable thumb thing, so they could get the earbuds in.
  15. Why do dogs (and other animals, for that matter) like having their bellies rubbed? We just rubbed a porcupine’s belly. We can safely say your theory is blown to hell.
  16. I have a question in regards to rap. When did we start making those hand gestures as we rap? Is a cultural phenomenon only in America or is it international? How did this originate? First, ‘we’ don’t use those hand gestures. And ‘you’ should really stop: have you heard of Vanilla Ice? We’ll wait while you Google him. Click ‘images’.
  17. Why don't they ever use “presents” in advertisements? It’s always about “gift”-giving, and “gift” ideas, never a “they'll love these as presents.” Clerks everywhere were polled and agreed that doofus trying to return something without a receipt would probably not understand the concept of a present card.
  18. Why is it wrong to say things like, "I'm not a ___ (e.g. anti-Semite, racist, whatever); half my friends are ___ (e.g. Jewish, black, whatever)." It seems logical, if not said after an offensive remark, but it seems we learn quickly in life not to make that statement because it's quickly laughed at and discredited. No, it hasn't happened to me in 25 years, but I'm not sure I understand why it's taboo. I’m not anti-Stupid. Some of the best questions come from idiots.
  19. Why do all announcements from the National Weather Service come in capital letters? I assume back in the day when they were using the first primitive computers, that was all they had, but isn't there some way to morph them so it doesn't look like they're shouting? Even using the announcements are in all caps. And the ellipses in the middle of the sentences confuse me. In olden times, weather reports took place outside. It was often blustery, so they had to switch to upper case letters. The lower case ones were being blown away. Stay tuned for updates....after your local news.
  20. I've got a mosquito bite on my tattoo. Did the mosquito get a little dose of ink along with my blood? She did. Everyone should keep their eye out for a mosquito with a tattoo reading Corey Hart 4-Ever on its arse.
  21. You know how when you burp, you taste something that you ate recently, but it isn't always the thing you ate most recently? Or if you ate a bunch of things around the same time, your burp will taste like one of those things, but not all of them? What determines which food your burp will taste like? Your stomach is actually like those jellied salads your grandma makes. Each layer is suspended in stomach juice, which is not unlike Jell-O. The order of your burps depends on which layer you’re at. Sometimes you’ll get mini marshmallows, sometimes pineapple chunks, sometimes tinned mandarin slices.
  22. Do "scare quotes" exist in all written languages that have some punctuation for denoting quotes, or only in some? All written quotes have now been replaced by simply saying the words and holding up your hands. Using your Peter pointers and your up yours fingers, simply do bendy fingers and roll your eyes simultaneously. If it’s scary, you may say ‘boo’ at the end.
  23. Why does it take 45 minutes for the pharmacy to get your prescription ready—even when no one else is waiting? They’re filling your anti-anxiety meds. How do you think they stay in business?
  24. I am wondering why the tradition is to consider the 25th anniversary of just about anything to be a milestone: A wedding anniversary, a hit movie release, someone's death, a big event (e.g. LiveAid concert), etc.. Except we don't typically celebrate someone's 25th birthday in the same way. Why is that? Being married to the same person for 25 years is a big deal. It’s great if a movie, after 25 years, is still relevant. A death is interesting. A Live Aid concert has a purpose. If you’re just 25 years old, you are none of the above.
  25. Can you text 911? You can, but a Porsche will show up.
  26. We are taking my daughter to Disney World. I remember as a kid being a little scared and intimidated by the huge characters. Why are they so big? Is there a psychological study that finds this to be the appropriate size for fantasy characters; does it make them more fantastical? I think quite the opposite. It almost breaks the illusion and calls out the fakery. They’re fake?
  27. If I flush a live insect—think roach—down the toilet, can I expect it to die? Or am I giving it a sportsman’s chance of re-entering my life, and possibly seeking revenge? I’d always assumed it would drown, but someone told me I was mistaken and wasting both water and time. Better, people tell me, to make sure they’re fully squished before disposing. Do you even remotely understand the concept of ‘sportsman’s chance?’ Unless you give the thing a gun, you’re flushing a live creature that the guy from Number 11 probably just peed on.
  28. Whatever happened to nurses' caps and why all the different kinds? They sold the rights to the original little origami folded hats to Slutty Halloween Costumes, Inc. a few decades ago. Real nurses can no longer wear them without someone thinking they’re going to start stripping.
  29. When a friend laughs at their own joke, it usually kills the joke. However, when I'm watching SNL and the actors can't hold it together I laugh harder than I think I ever would have otherwise. The same thing happened to me watching this great piece recently on the Colbert Report about ice cream flavors. I almost died as Jon Stewart struggled to emit the word "Stewberry." Why do giggling comic actors seem to make sketches so much funnier? Am I a sympathetic laugher? Am I laughing at the actors or with them? (I'm leaning towards “with.”) I just called Stephen Cobert and Jon Stewart. Between them they make $19 million a year. They asked me to pass along their thanks for feeling sorry for them.
  30. Why aren’t there any topless casinos in Las Vegas? There are plenty of casinos and plenty of strip clubs in Vegas but there aren’t any combinations of the two. It seems like someone would create a casino where the dealers were topless. Due to union rules, dealers can work until age 70. Since only cards and chips are allowed on the dealer tables, this proved a problem for the only dealers willing to go topless.
  31. Why are smart people usually ugly? I get this isn't always the case, but there does seem to be a correlation. Attractiveness doesn't predict intelligence (not all ugly people are smart), but it seems like intelligence can be a good predictor for attractiveness (smart people are usually on the ugly side). Keep in mind, I have nothing against people who are really brilliant, I've just always wondered. You’re gorgeous, aren’t you?
Want more? Here's 2010 and 2009

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, #11 and # 21 made me laugh out loud, although the thought of burping up pineapple chunks made me a little queasy.

My word is woorpro, which I think has something to do with Charlie Sheen and hookers.

December 23, 2011 11:19 AM  
Anonymous jmd said...

Didn't mean to be anonymous, I forgot my name. Literally.

December 23, 2011 11:20 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

My personal favourites were 8 and 23.

But you'd have to know the inside story on Roz's car sickness to get one, and my crazy to get the other.

Oh, there. Now you do.

December 23, 2011 11:23 AM  
Blogger DJW said...

#25, 30 & 31 made me spit my coffee!

Happy Festivus!


December 23, 2011 1:29 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

I think you spend more time on your answers than Slate does.

oh, and on #2 there was a missed opportunity to use the name Dick Van Dyke in a funny way.

December 23, 2011 1:34 PM  
Anonymous Padraig said...

I liked No 26, although it did shatter my illusions.

December 23, 2011 1:39 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

When Roz sees you've called her a roach you're going to catch so much doo doo.

Hope you like Garlic Ice Cream for Christmas.

"mooknoro". This is what the coxswain on the cow rowing team yelled down the final stretch of the big race.

Moo! Kno... RO!!! (silent k)

December 23, 2011 2:45 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

Chris, that was a stretch even for me!

I have been out stretch by the ninja master

December 23, 2011 10:48 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

No comment, just that my word is 'roche'

What Lorraine calls her sister after too much of the plonk

December 23, 2011 10:51 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Well I know everyone's really busy right now but I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone here. I don't have a lot of time to spend on the computer but this is the one place I always find the time to come and read. Lorraine, your blogs always give me food for thought, or make me laugh. Hysterically.

And, to everyone who takes the time to comment, it somehow puts a ray of sunshine in my life to read the banter that ensues.

I hope everyone's Holiday is bright, merry, and (semi) sober.

December 24, 2011 2:18 PM  
Anonymous jmd said...

Thank you Chris, and I wish a Merry Christmas to you and yours, and to all the gang here. Your comments have given me many smiles this year.

December 24, 2011 2:26 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I'm sure Roz would chime in with love and kisses for everyone, but she's busy making stuffing. She's already done the coleslaw. And all the Christmas baking.

I bought a turkey. That she will cook tomorrow.

So, she's busy. But I have time to chat.

December 24, 2011 2:32 PM  
Anonymous jmd said...

Doesn't she trust you to stir, or chop, or something? And my word is "spasio". (hee hee)

December 24, 2011 3:45 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

She trusts me to buy the turkey.

And, no comment on the spasio.

December 24, 2011 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Roz said...

Yo. I'm half dead.

Merry Xmas all.

December 24, 2011 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Zena said...

Merry Christmas, everyone! Chris, your comment speaks for many of us, I believe.

I'd write more (and maybe a bit more eloquently) but two of my lovely offspring gave me an early present...So after spending the day mixing and measuring and icing and chopping and simmering and baking and organising, I'm off to bed to cough and sniffle and sneeze and shiver and toss and turn and ache.

Here's to a hasty return of the taste buds - there's nothing worse than not being able to taste Christmas dinner...

December 24, 2011 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Padraig said...

Well, I was at my daughter's for the very first Christmas and, in spite of my doubts, she didn't cook the turkey with the stuff still inside in those little paper bags.
It was the first without my wife, but still managed to be blessed.
So, a Merry Boxing Day to you all, and especially to Lorraine.
My word is 'ulamerse', as in 'ulamerse yourself in Christmas spirit - especially the single malt one that was under the tree'.

December 26, 2011 1:20 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...


Tonight the Brown household will raise a glass to your wife. A very tough time indeed. I know we still miss my Dad horribly after 17 years. I can't imagine what it would be like to not have your spouse at this time of year.

Bless us every one....

December 26, 2011 6:19 PM  
Anonymous nimrod said...

Keep your eyes tuned to future copies of Globe and Mail.

December 29, 2011 11:28 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

are they going to publish the Caramilk Secret?

December 30, 2011 9:41 AM  
Anonymous nimrod said...

No, some Lorraine articles.

December 30, 2011 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Globe and Mail? Really? Could be worse...could be The Sun.

December 30, 2011 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Halloween Costumes said...

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September 22, 2012 4:26 AM  

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