We all have things we wonder about. Here is another admittedly arbitrary and disjointed list of some of my lingering questions:

Why is Boston cream pie called that, when it clearly amounts to a cake?

Why did the Federal Communications Commission, or whoever it was, ever drop the rules against lawyers advertising on TV? I know, I know. There was some kind of court ruling. But I’m sorry.

Anytime I hear an ad in which some sleazy attorney offers to help you sue your employer or whomever, it is impossible to keep one time-honored term from leaping to mind: ambulance chaser!

The same goes for prescription drug commercials. Weren’t they also once illegal? I mean, let’s face it: Anytime you hear someone advising you, “Ask your doctor if such-and-such a pill is right for you,” what he’s really saying is, “Bug him about it until he prescribes it for you to get you off his back, whether you really need it or not.”

Why do so many sandwich places go ahead and slather on the mayonnaise, unless I remember to ask them not to? Yuck.

How could a president think he could get away with claiming that several of his key national security advisers were “misquoted” as disagreeing with many of his policy statements, when anyone could watch them sitting there before a congressional committee and publicly doing exactly that?

What is an “eminent actuary,” anyway?

You mean only nine or 10 overly ambitious Democrats have announced their candidacy for president so far as of this writing? Surely there must be a few dozen more waiting out there to dilute the waters ever further.

Speaking of Democrats: Why do folks like Rush Limbaugh and those on Fox News persist in referring to the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party”? That’s simply not its name. Look it up. But you consistently hear it all the time. Weird.

While I’m on the subject: Why do so many people write the name of Fox News as FOX News, when it’s not an acronym of anything?

Speaking of such style issues: Why does The Associated Press Stylebook, the American journalism world’s foremost authority on arcane matters of punctuation, capitalization and abbreviation, insist that “backyard” is to be written as one word? I mean, it’s simply a noun preceded by an adjective, or two words. “Backyard” looks like it might be pronounced “BACKyerd” or something. And to top it off, the book expresses no opinion on the term “front yard,” leading to the assumption that it is, indeed, two words. Can you imagine “frontyard”? Again, weird.

Why do so many drivers seem to view turn signals as strictly optional?

Why are movie snacks always so outrageously expensive? (As if I didn’t know: You’re a captive audience.)

Weren’t we all a whole lot better off when North Carolinians would mostly go down to the store and buy furniture made by other North Carolinians, instead of going online and ordering their tables and couches and beds from China?

How much of the stuff we put in recycling bins actually ends up getting recycled?

Wouldn’t the average millennial be pretty much stymied if ever confronted with the need to make a call from an actual dial telephone?

Why are most restaurant portion sizes so obscenely big? It makes no sense in terms of either restaurant kitchen expenses or customer health.

And finally: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? (OK, so that’s not original with me. But it’s still a compellingly profound inquiry, don’t you think?)

Steve Bouser is the retired editor and Opinion editor of The Pilot. Contact him at bouser@email.unc.edu.

(1) comment

Jim Tomashoff

As a former owner of an independent movie theatre, that is not part of a huge chain, that like the Sunrise, focused on playing movies with an adult well educated customer in mind, I can tell you why movie concession prices are so high. It's less about having a captive audience, it's that movie theatres often lose money playing the movie. The film's distributor, especially if the film is forecast to generate a large audience, will charge the theatre-owner 70% of the box office take the first, and sometimes the second week. Then the percentage will generally go down 10% per week. If the movie is a big flop, the distributor may still require the theatre to play it for three or four weeks, each week the owner is losing thousands of dollars. Over the course of an entire year, film rental costs average out at somewhere between 50% and 60% of box office. That's why you see advertising before the movie and pay $10 for a box of pop corn and $6 for a soda and $5 for a candy bar. To paraphrase the great Groucho, if I had to go into the movie theatre business today I wouldn't go into the movie theatre business today.

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