Why Not Read This Column?

(and other rhetorical questions)

Published January 26, 2024

Eric Keihl is the managing editor for Questionist’s parent company, Geeks Who Drink. Each week, he will accept a reader challenge to write a entire, quiz-ready trivia round on some tricky or obscure subject. You can challenge Eric here.

This week’s theme is “rhetorical questions,” suggested by “The Shipleys,” who withheld any further information. Wherever you are, thanks!

I’ve always thought that a rhetorical question in the title adds a nice soupçon of whimsical mystery to a film, viz. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? or Is Paris Burning? or Casual Sex? 

Speaking of which, have you ever heard of the 1969 film The Love God? I sure hadn’t, somehow. Andy Griffith sidekick Don Knotts plays Abner Audubon Peacock IV, pencil-necked geek and owner of a failing bird-watching magazine. A new financial partner immediately converts his innocent periodical into a porno mag that shockingly proves more popular than the ornithological version, rocketing Abner to free-love icon and, eventually, crusader for free speech. Featuring lots of Don Knotts “dancing,” yay! But not so much Don Knotts nudity, boo!

Not your cup of tea? You might perchance enjoy 2007’s Who’s Your Caddy?, wherein Outkast also-ran Big Boi gets into a snooty country club by buying up land around the 17th hole and getting into farty hijinks with Terry Crews. Apparently it’s one of Bill Clinton’s favorite comedies, which sounds about right.

Anyway, shall we get to the round? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question.)

1. The “Got Milk?” campaign began in 1993, but it somehow took them four years to make a poster with what Sesame Street puppet? Cookie Monster

Those posters could be real tiny-text blizzards, but the Cookie Monster was blessed with this rather elegant affair. “M” is for minimalism, that’s good enough for me!

2. According to the etiquette podcast Were You Raised by Wolves?, it’s fine to sit facing either direction when you’re using what exotic bathroom fixture? Bidet

Bidets are slowly but surely becoming popular in the U.S.: A 2022 study by the toiletmaker Bemis found that 36% of Americans aged 14 through 44 have used one. If you’re in a room with two other people and you can’t spot the bidet user, it’s probably you!

3. “B.J. [Novak] and I are soup snakes.” So says what Office alum in Why Not Me?, the follow-up to her memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling

For non-Office fans, she just means they’re soul mates. More Office kismet: Mindy’s mother, a practicing OB/GYN, worked with John Kransinki’s internist dad at St. Elizabeth’s in Boston.  

4. O Brother, Where Art Thou? featured three sweet-singing women luring the heroes into water, a nod to what baddies from The Odyssey? Sirens

The Sirens’ singing voices were country rock legends Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Gillian Welch, who sport a combined 42(!!!) Grammy Awards. I’d take a drowning for that.

5. Sojourner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech: Was that delivered 10 years before the Civil War, or 10 years after? Before

Truth was a warrior of justice long before that famous speech: In 1828 she became the first Black American woman to successfully sue a white person, winning her young son’s freedom in People v. Solomon Gedney.

6. Richard Burton played a passive-aggressive husband in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, two years into his actual turbulent marriage with what purple-eyed co-star? Elizabeth Taylor

Liz’s uncanny eyes were partly down to a rare genetic mutation that gave her a double set of lashes, a condition known as distichiasis. And while it makes you look very striking, it also causes the constant feeling like there’s something in your cornea, and sometimes scratches too. Gaahhh!

7. A perfect soundtrack for trampoline parties and throwing people out of clubs, Drake’s “Nice for What” was inspired by what break-shouting New Orleans hip hop genre? Bounce

So follow along with this if you can: “Nice for What” samples Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” which samples Wu-Tang’s “Can It Be All So Simple” (another rhetorical question!) which samples  Gladys Knight & the Pips’ “The Way We Were,” which is a cover of Barbra Streisand. Finally, an answer to the old riddle, “How is an Ol’ Dirty Bastard like a Marvin Hamlisch”? 

8. Alan Cumming grew up thinking that his grandfather died cleaning his gun, but the show Who Do You Think You Are? proved that grandpa actually lost what deadly game of chance? Russian Roulette

Here’s the clip. Long story short, his grandfather was a war hero who suffered some PTSD-like symptoms and wound up playing Russian Roulette in then-British Malaysia. The almost-as-sad follow-up was that his poor grandma couldn’t afford the £4 (about $47 today) to have his possessions shipped back home. 

Bonus: Maybe taking their ad slogan a bit too seriously, in 2010 an Idaho man broke into a courthouse to swipe what un-bear-ably bland ice cream treat? Klondike bar

The courthouse happened to contain the office for the local sheriff, who walked in on the dude and arrested him on the spot. The building also happened to contain the county jail, so… convenient!