Displaying articles for: April 2012

Enormous, Blonde, Herring-Scented, Nauseatingly Fair-Minded Nymphomaniacs in Clogs

 

Part I: "Respect the Cheese Form!"

 

If you're from Topeka, you can go to Kansas City. If you're from Kansas City, you can go to Chicago. If you're from Chicago, you can go to New York. But if you're from Manhattan, where can you go? By the time I was 40, I had to go to Sweden just to calm down. I've spent nearly half my time there ever since.

 

There's been some confusion. These are not the people who drill holes in cheese. They are not a fondue people, nor do they yodel. Their trains are sometimes late, their mountains are unimpressive, and their chocolate is adequate at best. No. These are the people who brought you The Nobel Prize, the Volvo, the smörgåsbord, free day care, suicide, and full frontal nudity. These are the blondes. Enormous blonde herring-scented nauseatingly fair-minded nymphomaniacs in clogs.

   

When I lived in Paris, nobody said, "Paris? Why Paris?" But now they ask, "Sweden? But why?" And I don't know how to answer. Sometimes I say, "Because nobody in Sweden has anything better to do than chat with me!"

 

I'm an artist. There, I said it. For the arts, New York is just so...obvious. New York is for exposition, but Gothenburg, Sweden, where I hang out, is an "arbetarstad", a worker's city. It's a good place to produce. Volvos, Hasselblads, and, in my case, oil paintings. Animations. Illustrations. Books. To work. In laughable obscurity.

   

How did I end up here? I'm a lifelong colony bum. Earlier, I'd been to Yaddo and an artists' residency in Vermont. So, in the sweltering summer of 1999, I wrote a brazen e-mail to fifty different artists' residencies, all over the world. Normally, they have mile-long waiting lists, but I dared ask them all for a residency starting "right now," adding that I did not expect to get a grant. "I am happy to pay," I informed them. The residency in Sweden, in my opinion, was so shocked to see the words "happy" and "pay" in the same sentence that they insisted I drop everything and rush right over. They didn't even want to see my slides. The place was called something that, to my ear, sounded like "constipated." I've been returning every Summer since then, but because the guest studio program is now kaput, this year will be my last residency.

 

Looking back, I reminisce about my first. I don't keep a diary, but humor me.

 

It's June of 1999. Dear Diary: This summer there have been approximately three days of sunshine since I arrived on June 6th. This has, officially, been the coldest, rainiest summer on record in seventy-five years. I won't complain, however. I prefer to complain about the stinky, fetid, rat-infested hell, the human gridlock that is my neighborhood back home: Broadway and Canal street. I choose this, my Northern Nowhere Land. In addition to my studio, I share the office where I do my illustration work with seven people, most of whom are called Lena. Most Swedish women are named Lena, and all Swedish men are named Stefan. The other day I was using the osthyvel (special slotted cheese slicer) on a hunk of "grevé" cheese, and Lena, Lina, Helena, and Lene started yelling at me. "We always know when you've been in the cheese! It looks like a ski-slope!" Apparently it is of great importance that every slice be an attempt to even out the cheese level. All Swedes are brought up with this habit. I call this enlightening episode: "Respect the Cheese Form!"

 

Some observations:

 

"Lagom" means "not too little, not too much. Just Right." The Middle Road. Social Democracy. Fairness. Even-ness. The classic metaphor for "lagom" is the stalk of wheat: if it grows taller than the others, it's mowed down. Show-offs are not to be tolerated. But apparently "lagom" can also be expressed in cheese.

 

I have learned some Swedish, although everyone over the age of six speaks English as well as I do. Although Swedish is a word-poor language, they have a few gems that we don't. They have a word for the crime of washing dishes in a sloppy, superficial way. "Fuskdiska!" Just what it sounds like, "hjärnsläpp", or "brain drop", describes the blank moment where we might complain of early Alzheimer's. There's an onomatopoetic word for a person who is "dreamy, rootless, undecided" with a hippie quality: "Flummig." You can call someone a dust bunny, or "torrboll." But only if they're really boring. And back in the day, there was an expression for a cell phone: "juppinalle", or "Yuppie Teddy Bear," which has fallen out of use because not only yuppies but also every eight-year old is hugging and cuddling a cell phone. Sweden is the most wireless nation on earth. I just made that up, but it's true.

   

Swedish invective is adorably tame. You can tell someone off by saying, "Dra dit pepparn växer -- i sydamerika!" This means, "Go grow peppers in South America!"

   

To round out our Swedish lesson, let me correct a misconception. Contrary to a cruel international myth, the word "IKEA" does not mean "wobbly" in Swedish. Wobbly is "ostadig." "IKEA" is an acronym for Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd. Aren't you glad you asked? Ingvar Kamprad, Ikea's billionaire founder, says in his 1999 book, Leading By Design: The IKEA Story, that his youthful affiliation with the Nazi Movement in Sweden was "the greatest mistake of my life," but in my opinion that honor should go to the ineluctably hideous "Byholma Marieberg" armchair.

 

When the catalogue comes, if I am in the right mood, I am proud to say that I now have the language chops to translate your "Bestå Burs" desk, your "Klaviatur" lamp, and your extremely wobbly "Ekby Järpen" shelving. Unfortunately, I am never, ever in the mood, because I've decided it's better for you not to know.

 

Incidentally, back in the '80's, I was briefly married to a Swedish illustrator whom I'd met in New York, where we lived together. We divorced so amicably (in 1986) that we still travel together, and he corrects my Swedish spelling and grammar for certain stories I write. Also, he is handsome, brilliant, and perfect. One day, I came back from Tokyo -- where I'd had an art exhibition -- and remarked how meaningful it was that "clean" and "beautiful' were the same word in Japanese: kirae. "So what?" he said. "In Swedish, we use the same word, "ren", for both "clean" and "reindeer."

 

I love Sweden. It's boring, but in a good way.

 

Rosenwald draws for The New Yorker, wrote All the Wrong People have Self Esteem, and holds workshops called "How to Make Mistakes on Purpose." Visit www.rosenworld.com.

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Prizeless

 

On April 16th, the Pulitzer Prize committee announced there will be no winner in the fiction category for the 2012 award after the committee failed to select the best novel of the year from three books nominated by Pulitzer jurors. What went wrong?

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Thank you all for coming. I'll keep this short. We need to decide which of these three novels is the best of the year. The winning novel must receive a majority of the votes. Understood? First we have…um, yes?

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: I'm a bit hungry. Is it okay if we order first?

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Of course.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Brilliant!

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Agreed. Waiter? We'd like one large pizza please.

 

WAITER: What would you like on it?

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Pepperoni, of course.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Oh. Hmm…

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: What? You don't like pepperoni?

 

BOARD MEMEBR 2: A bit obvious, isn't it? I mean, I know the point isn't to be cunning, but still…pepperoni? That topping has been played out since the '70s. I want something new. Something…fresh. Give me a topping that transcends topping. Perhaps a topping that is not only a parody of other toppings, but also a fine example of the very thing it is mocking. Do you understand?

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: A topping that both defines and redefines toppings? Interesting. Like celery…

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Yes! Or eggs. Waiter, do you have egg pizza?

 

WAITER: Um…no.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Celery then.

 

WAITER: We don't really have that either. I mean, I could put some lettuce on it from the salad bar.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: And there's the problem, isn't it? He's now being different simply for the sake of being different. Pepperoni is fine. Pepperoni will do just fine.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: If only the pizza were not a pizza at all, but more of a pancake. [sigh]

 

WAITER: We don't have pancakes. This is a pizza shop.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Right. And we came here to eat pizza, not pine for pancakes. So do we want pizza?

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Well, since they don't have pancakes, I'm just going to have some Diet Sprite.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Agreed. I'll eat later.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: So no pizza? Fine. Whatever. On to the business at hand. Of the books brought before us, we shall select…what is it?

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Stop right there. I'm already voting for David Foster Wallace's The Pale King.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: But you haven't heard the other nominees?

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Doesn't matter. The other two won't be as good.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: How can you know?

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: OMG! Have you read David Foster Wallace? He's, like, soooo good! He's my favorite. DFW all the way. Easy decision.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: That seems a tad presumptuous. The other two books are Denis Johnson's Train Dreams and…

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: I'm picking Denis Johnson's Train Dreams.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Why?

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: I dunno. To be ornery. You should pick it, too.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: No! Pick Wallace! That dude is a word ninja! For reals.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: We shouldn't be fighting about this. The last book, and my personal favorite is Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Lame.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: It's not lame! It's wonderful! And if you read more than just Infinite Jest you would know…

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Wait. OK. OK. I change my vote. I'll vote for Swamp Land--

 

BOARD MEMEMBER 1: It's Swamplandia!

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Whatever. I'll vote for Swampmania, but you have to--

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Uh-oh. I know where this is going…

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: You have to officially say that the Pulitzer Board officially says that there's no way in hell Superman could beat Luke Skywalker. Officially. And none of this, "I said so on Twitter" crap. I want a signed, notarized, Pulitzer document with that foil stamp…and a ceremony.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: But that argument makes no sense. Superman is powerful all the time. Luke has to focus his Jedi mind. By the time Luke stretches and gets in his yoga position, Superman would be using his light saber as a toothpick! And if Superman's powers come from Earth's yellow sun, on Luke's home world of Tatooine, with its two yellow suns, Superman's powers would…

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Then I'm not voting for Swampman.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: You're being a jerk about this.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Guys! Guys! I'm dressing up as my favorite Infinite Jest character for Comic-Con this year. I'm going as Orin Incandenza! Dude! You should go as Hal! OMG! You have to! We could all dress up as the Incandenzas! This is going to be so crazy-awesome!  

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: No. I won't do that because none of you would dress up as the Lamberts from The Corrections for Halloween last year and I was the only one, and because of that, no one understood that I was Gary Lambert. It was so embarrassing having to explain my costume all night. 

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Ugh. You're such a baby.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Am not!

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Are too!

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: You know what the best part of a David Foster Wallace book is? The words and the story. And the characters. Guys! It's so good! It's like reading a hug!

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Maybe I will vote for Wallace…

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: If you vote for David Foster Wallace, then I'm not letting you stay over tonight.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Guys, I don't like you when you're like this.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: You're right. We're acting immature. Maybe we just won't have a winner this year.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Fine.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Good.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: I'm glad.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Let's just pick the book with the most verbs.

 

BOARD MEMEMBER 2: You counted the verbs in The Pale King, didn't you?

 

BOARD MEMEMBER 1: We could choose the book that takes the longest to read…

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Or we bury the books and see which one last the longest.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Let's tie each book to an ostrich, put the ostriches in the ocean, and the first ostrich that flies wins? Some say ostriches can't fly. The water will be the motivating factor; the only thing that's keeping the ostrich on the ground right now is the lack of motivation.

 

BOARD MEMBERS 1: We're not getting anywhere. I say we give up.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: I say we don't give up.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: I say we don't give up, but we should also open this award up to not just books, but other forms of fiction. This is a fiction award? We should include lies. And dreams.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Interesting.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: And carols! We should include carols. Not just Christmas carols, either. Everyday carols.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: For far too long carols have gone unrecognized by this prestigious establishment.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Right. So the fiction award shall go to the best novel, or lie, or dream, or carol. But then that opens the door for other forms of fiction, like incorrect signs and all religions that I don't believe in.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Duh.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: And we mustn't forget about Puppet Theater and…my dear God. What time is it?

 

BOARD MEBER 2: April.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: Well, this year is a wash. But at least things will go smoother next spring. Thank you for coming. We did some wonderful work here.

 

BOARD MEMBER 3: Gosh. It looks like rain.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: No it doesn't. It's just overcast.

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Really? You think it's overcast? Clearly that's not a cloud.

 

BOARD MEMBER 1: What is it then?

 

BOARD MEMBER 2: Dinosaur ghost. Or maybe a whale ghost. Hard to say.

 

Dan Bergstein writes often for Grin & Tonic.

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I Can Explain

 

Dear Marian, Todd, Stacey, Dora, Qing, Boomer, and Hyacinth,

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to read this month's book club pick. I've been swamped with work lately, and as much as I wanted to be able to come to the meeting and participate in the discussion, I wasn't able to knock enough items off my to-do list to ever get around to reading Time Management for Dummies. Between the book club and my daily naps and avoiding calls from creditors and my faltering life coaching business, it's a challenge to find enough hours in the day. But I'm committed to joining you next time -- and I'll even bring brownies!


Dear Fellow Book Clubbers,

 

I deeply regret I didn't bring brownies to last night's meeting -- or show up at all, aside from driving by and honking a few times while I was on my way to the dentist appointment I inadvertently scheduled at the same time as the meeting. It wouldn't have mattered -- I forgot to read the book. I intended to finish it -- or at least start it -- but that would have meant buying it, and by the time I remembered I was in a book club, the bookstore, if there even is one around here, was probably closed, and I couldn't find my library card, let alone recall where the library might be, and, anyway, don't they have those rolling schedules or something like that? And work -- well, I should say the search for a new job -- is taking up more time than even exists. It's obviously not your fault, but perhaps if we could schedule these get-togethers in a more convenient location for me, it would be easier for me to join. Even though the meeting has passed, I'm still planning to check out The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, although I suppose my energy would best be spent on reading next month's selection. Or the month after's, to be absolutely safe. Has it been decided yet? I'll get back to you with some suggestions, as soon as I take my computer out of the freezer.

 


Dear Comrades-in-Reading,

 

I am filled with remorse for missing this month's meeting, especially after you rescheduled it to take place at my house. I know -- the address I gave you turned out to not actually be my house, but I was embarrassed about the mess in my living room, and so I figured we'd meet at my neighbor's house, but I forgot to tell him, and I forgot that he likes to shoot at intruders -- and I meant to show up and smooth over the whole misunderstanding, but I fell into a hole in the ground that I may have accidentally dug myself. This isn't just an excuse for forgetting and, like, scheduling a massage for the same time as the meeting. I really did fall, and it ruined the tray of brownies I had prepared in the shape of bookmarks -- if bookmarks were square, like brownies-- and also made me forget all about the meeting. It wasn't until I crawled out and stumbled home, in the wee hours of the morning, that I even remembered the name of the book -- To Tell the Truth, of course -- and all the wonderfully incisive comments I would have made if not for the terrible and absolutely verifiable (if only I'd paid the bill to keep my security camera turned on) accident. I hope you'll forgive me and I look forward to putting this awful night behind me, filling in the hole, and joining you next month. 

 


Hey Guys,

 

I know, I know -- another woe-is-me story, but, really, I have an explanation. This is hard for me to admit, but I have a problem with alcohol -- drinking it, brewing it, bottling it, everything -- and that's the real reason I haven't been able to make most of these meetings, read the books, or remember anything about them if I did read them, which I don't remember doing. But it is coming back to me now that I not only don't remember any of these things, but I also don't even remember not remembering them. My addiction may also explain why some of you saw me sneak in through the window last night, steal the rum cake that Carol had brought, and make a citizen's arrest of the golden retriever in her yard, who was only trying to be friendly and did not want more than a small slice of rum cake. I now remember this month's book, at least -- Breaking Addiction -- and I even read a few words before I passed out in the waiting room of the veterinary hospital where I brought Carol's dog after I accidentally bit her instead of the rum cake. I have no idea where the book itself came from. I might have stolen it when I was in the kitchen stealing the cake -- and Carol's car keys, which I should be passing in the next day or two. I'm seeking treatment -- it's a wonderful facility, I will have plenty of time to read, and I absolutely can't wait to come to next month's meeting clean and sober, fully informed, and bearing delicious brownies, which I plan to make in the shape of olive branches, if olive branches were square. I truly appreciate your understanding.

 


Dear "Book Club",

Okay, okay, okay -- why didn't you tell me? If only I'd known the "book club" meetings were just an excuse to eat cake and gossip (and drink!), I would have been there months ago! If one of you had just admitted that no one reads the books -- if you'd even hinted at it -- I would have been your most loyal member. I had such a wonderful time last night with all of you, spreading rumors, trading medications, pillow fighting, and dressing up the dog to look like a Jain priest that I don't see why we should wait a whole month to do it again. I'm reading War and Peace right now -- and we all know that "reading War and Peace" means "watching a marathon of Jersey Shore while laughing at people who read books and pay their bills on time." Come on over -- I'll even make my brownies again, this time in the shape of Snooki, or at least Snooki's square friend -- and this time I might remember to turn on the oven. See you soon!

 

Jeremy Blachman was, until recently, a member of a book club.

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Eau de Yankees

 

"The fragrance market is awash with celebrity fragrances, but nothing has yet come out fronted by a Major League Baseball team. That's changing with the launch of a New York Yankees fragrance." -- Ad Age 

 

When you enter the party, they look away. You hear the muttering, feel the heat of their scorn. They resent your prosperity. They reject your success. They glower at the interlocking "NY" on your cap and your blue and white face-paint. You are the Yankee fan -- the fat cat who loves to buy pennants, the one-percenter of baseball, the scourge of underdogs everywhere. In many ways, they hate you even more than they hate the Yankees, whom they hate more than life itself.

 

This summer, let's bring something new to their party:   

 

The pungent aroma of 27 world championships.

 

This year, let's fill the bases…with Eau de Yankees, the perfume that blends the rustic charm of the farm system with the boldness of the Bronx.

 

It's a little bit Goose, a little bit Catfish. It's the mustard spice of Mister October with a Mister Coffee jolt of Joltin' Joe -- and it's just for you: The gluttonous, never-satisfied Yankee fan, who wants every free agent, every championship -- every year. With Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter, you should consider yourself the luckiest fan on the face of the earth. Instead, you always demand more, and you deserve the kind of fragrance that can stop a rally.

 

Eau de Yankees comes in five Hall of Fame scents:

MIDNIGHT YOGI. Ninety percent oil of sage, the other half mental. So strong that nobody smells it anymore. Go ahead, layer it on: It ain't odor 'til it's odor!

 

YOU GO, BOSS. This blustery blend of race horse, assorted barks, seed of bombast, nitrous oxide, and police-grade pepper spray will clear out any front office underlings. It's the smell of a bad trade. Wear it to a signing, or a firing -- or both!

 

LOVE, A-ROD. Tempt, tantalize and enthrall yourself with this surprisingly delicate, five-tool mix of rosehip, goldenrod, crushed gopher balls, natural diuretics, and Starlet o' Hollywood. Now, with every successive whiff, detect a growing tinge of lemon!

 

JEET 3000. This smooth, long-lasting blend of leather, vanilla, gold, frankincense, and myrrh will capture the heart of any lady -- without coughing up a ring! Become the Captain of all noses!

 

MARIANO, MON AMOUR. Close their rally, close their game, and close their nostrils with this bat-cracking blend of baby oil, smoke, gas, and bullpen. They'll smell your stuff from 60 feet!

 

Choose the scent that defines your style. Or better yet, wear them all at once. Because the Yankees aren't just your team: They're the way you roll -- in your star-studded, Empire State of mind. No one will ever accuse you of smelling like a Marlin fan. You'll wear the fragrance of Donald Trump, Jay-Z, and Jack Nicholson. You'll share an overpowering cloud with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Richard Gere, the lady who played The Nanny, practically the entire cast of The Sopranos, and that guy in Libya who shot Muammar Gaddafi. You'll be part of a Bleacher Creature wave that fills the House that Ruth Built with the cheese that Ruth dealt.

 

Remember, Yankee fans: They hate us anyway, so let's earn their enmity. Rage about our failure to sign Albert Pujols. Whine about the lack of a seventh starting pitcher. Ask Rangers fans when Josh Hamilton becomes a free agent. Complain about luxury taxes. Grow a beard. Wear an eye-patch. Cackle. They can dismiss our taunts. But they can't hold their breaths forever.

 

This summer, let's punch Boston in the nose!

 

Eau de Yankees…when the pennant just isn't enough. (In spray or gel! Now with Anabolic HGH and musk!)

 

Hart Seely's new book, The Juju Rules: Or, How to Win Ballgames from Your Couchwill be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this month.

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Rabe Against the Machine

 

"Everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food. Therefore, everybody is in the market. Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli." -- Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court during the Court's hearings on the health care reform law.


FBBI AGENT (outside a Manhattan supermarket): Federal Bureau of Broccoli Investigation, Ma'am. I need to inspect your groceries.

 

SHOPPER: Oh, honestly! You people always stop me for these random searches.

 

AGENT: Sorry, Ma'am -- I'm just doing my job. 

 

SHOPPER (pointing at another shopper leaving the store): Why don't you pick on him -- that guy who's practically running down the block? He only has that one little plastic bag, and I'm carrying these three huge reusable totes. And I just missed the bus, thank you very much. 

 

AGENT: Ma'am, if you would just put down those bags for a minute, so that I can…

 

SHOPPER: You know that guy is a lurker.

 

AGENT: A lurker?

 

SHOPPER: What is this -- your first day? They wait inside the store until the FBBI agent stops someone else and then they make a run for it. 

 

AGENT: If you'll just put those bags down, we can…

 

SHOPPER: I have broccoli -- just take my word for it. And I have to pick up my kid from school in fifteen minutes.

 

AGENT: Please put the bags down.   

 

SHOPPER (putting bags down): There go three more lurkers! You can tell by the regular shape of their bags that there couldn't be any broccoli in there. It's all Honey Nut Cheerios and Texmati and V-8 and juice-boxes and Cracker Barrel and…

 

AGENT (leaning over and poking through bags): Did you say V-8?

 

SHOPPER: Yeah. What of it?

 

AGENT: I believe V-8 has broccoli as one of its ingredients.

 

SHOPPER: This must be your first day.

 

AGENT: It is. But that doesn't mean…

 

SHOPPER: Tomatoes, beets, celery, carrots, spinach, lettuce, watercress, parsley, and that's it. You think we don't know from ingredients with this law? You've got a lot to learn out here, buddy. You've got your tokeners, we call them -- they pinch off a floret in the produce aisle, jam it under the plastic wrap of a ground-chuck package, and you can't do anything about it. You've got your bringers -- they take old, spoiled broccoli with them to the store and then put it in their bags when they leave. Then there are the fakers -- they walk around with rubber broccoli toys and ornaments in their purses and stick them in their grocery bags after they leave the checkout line and hope you FBBI guys just look and don't smell. And the Direct dodgers -- they order online and get around the law…

 

AGENT (still searching): Ma'am, I don't see…

 

SHOPPER: Speaking of smells, did all of Congress buy Gas-X stock before they passed this law, I'm wondering. I tried to get some when it went into effect, but the price was already through the roof. And how are you going to settle the Rabe Question? R.A.B.E. is planning demonstrations outside your offices, you know.

 

AGENT: R.A.B.E.? Ma'am, I'm afraid I don't see any…

 

SHOPPER: Rabe Against Broccoli Exclusivity.

 

AGENT: Well, maybe you're right -- I do have a lot to learn -- but that won't put broccoli in these bags. I'm afraid I have to write you up.

 

SHOPPER (takes out a head of cauliflower from one of the bags): What do you think this is?

 

AGENT: Cauliflower. Don't tell me you're going to try to pull…

 

SHOPPER: You bet I am. Brassica oleracea -- the exact same species as what you federal vegetablists call broccoli.

 

AGENT: I don't want to arrest you, but you're making this unnecessarily…

 

SHOPPER: Cauliflower United v. United States Senate. The case is pending. Go ahead and take me in. I say it's broccoli, and I say the hell with it. 

 

Daniel Menaker is the editor of Grin & Tonic.

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July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.

Landline

What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.