Random Shots: Great World Leaders on Parade

— R.F. Kampfer

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BORIS Yeltsin made the controversial decision to attend the ceremonial disposal of the Romanov remains. Let's hope he took notice of what happens to incompetent rulers who hang around too long.

Yeltsin, like Peter the Great before him, wanted to have it both ways—to be recognized as the head of a civilized European nation, while retaining the privilege of beheading anyone who annoyed him.

President Clinton, asked to provide a saliva sample for a DNA comparison to Monica Lewinsky's semen-stained dress, promptly spit on Kenneth Starr, saying he'd never had a better excuse.

A good phrase for the superfluous, as in “bringing coals to Newcastle” or “we need more zucchini,” would be “like Clinton needs Viagra.”

There is so little demand for Clinton's impeachment because everyone assumes that he is being skinned alive and rolled in salt by Hillary.

Weird Cinema Stuff

IT WAS A bizarre moment in “Artemisia,” as the heroine was being tortured to force her to testify in her rape trial, when the torturer covered her with a smock to protect her clothing.

After seeing “Madeline,” I'm not convinced that her parents died. I suspect they just escaped.

The late Roy Rogers once said that he wanted to be stuffed after he died and set on top of Trigger. Dale Evans said not to get any ideas about her.

Most of this summer's movies were pretty bad, but it was hot enough for people to go just for the air conditioning.

Hot and Cold

THEY SAY THAT drinking alcohol in summertime just makes you feel hotter. So how come the same people tell us that alcohol makes you feel colder in the winter?

How many people remember that the extra pocket on a pair of jeans, which seems perfectly designed to hold a Zippo lighter, was originally intended to carry a pocket watch?

Alternate Generals, edited by Harry Turtledove, is the latest in a series of books to speculate how history might have been changed by seemingly minor alternatives at key points in time. It contains more contributions from female authors than is common for military science fiction. Be warned that the writers expect the readers to already be familiar with details of Boudica's revolt, or Queen Eleanor's role in the siege of Damascus.

While Viagra has gotten far more attention than it deserves, the birth-control pill had a much greater cultural and social impact. The Pill inspired not only countless jokes, but several country-western songs (e.g. Loretta Lynn's “Mama's Got the Pill”) and at least one movie, “Prudence and the Pill.” The significant difference is that most health care plans, quick to cover Viagra, still won't pay for contraception.

How about a “Name-the-Spice-Babies” contest? If one of them turns out to be a boy, they could call it Herb.

Plain Talk

ONE WAY TO avoid being drafted for a subbotnik in the garden is to look sincere and ask: “Which ones are the weeds?”

V.I. Lenin, in a message to the early U.S. Communist Party, stressed the importance of speaking English—a lesson that might still be taken to heart by the left.

At least the Starr Report motivated a lot of people to learn how to use their computers.

Who would have guessed that Monica Lewinsky would go down in history? (We doubt, however, that either Bill or Monica will appear on the cover of Cigar magazine.)

ATC 77, November-December 1998

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