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Sunday, June 2, 2002

06/02/02 - Bernie Yudian

Descriptions of events have a familiar ring

Welcome to the initial program of "Smart Talk." We're pleased to have as our guest Dr. Manfred Q. Finster, noted cliché expert. Welcome, doctor.

A. Proud as punch to be here with you. Happy as a clam.

Q. Could you tell us how you got into this unusual specialty?

A. Yes indeedy. Growing up I was fascinated by stories appearing in the New Yorker magazine by a brilliant humorist named Frank Sullivan, who wrote these interviews with a Mr. Arbuthnot, cliché expert.

Q. So you were inspired to follow suit. Have you enjoyed it?

A. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (ha ha). I've made out like a bandit.

Q. I see. You look well.

A. Fit as a fiddle.

Q. Let's talk about the Skakel case. Any views?

A. The case was problematic from the start. The prosecution did a bang-up job.

Q. And the defense?

A. They had a tiger by the tail.

Q. What was the turning point?

A. That private investigation into the murder that put the spotlight on Michael. That let the genie out of the bottle.

Q. It's that serious?

A. Hey, once you squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube �

Q. Right, I get it. What about the defense trying to pin the rap on the teacher, Ken Singleton? Do you think he was involved?

A. You believe that and I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Q. How do you think the

jury was persuaded?

A. The prosecution connected the dots.

Q. That seems to be the Cliché du Jour, doesn't it?

A. That it is.

Q. You think there's more to come in this Skakel case?

A. Looks like a done deal to me.

Q. Remarkable, the decision, since the testimony was all circumstantial.

A. Yes. No smoking gun.

Q. I understand the courtroom was stunned when the verdict came in. How was the tension?

A. You could cut it with a knife.

Q. What kind of a gasp was there?

Q. An audible gasp, of course.

Q. On another subject, what's your take on the president's spectacular government reorganization plan?

A. Just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Q. You don't sound like a fan of our government people. Why?

A. Politicians feed at the public trough while talking out both sides of their mouth.

Q. A neat trick, that.

A. And they spend money like a drunken sailor.

Q. Have you ever been in

public service?

A. Been there; done that.

Q. You have had quite a career.

A. Yes, a well-rounded one. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Q. You sound off in public quite a lot?

A. Of course. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Q. Have any trouble getting to the studio today?

A. I-95 was a parking lot.

Q. We've got a transportation problem in this area, haven't we?

A. It's a can of worms.

Q. Our officials can't seem to figure out how to improve it.

A. They run around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Q. You listen to weather-givers on radio and TV. Any comment?

A. I'll say so. I heard one goofy guy say where he was, the hail was as big as ping-pong balls!

Q. What's wrong with that?

A. That's a no-no. Any idiot knows hail stones are always as big as golf balls!

Q. What about floods?

A. That's easy. Rivers are always rampaging.

Q. Do you pay attention to the lighter things in society?

A. Oh yes, I'm no stick-in-the-mud nerd. I like to watch these older wealthy guys bustling around with young chicks.

Q. Those women are called ...?

A. Arm candy. And if they snare the rich geezer, they become trophy wives.

Q. I can see you're up on what's going on these days.

A. You can bet your bottom dollar on that. Keeping your eyes peeled -- that's the bottom line.

Q. Your business must be stressful.

A. It is, but at the end of the day, I sleep like a log.

Q. That's great.

A. Yes, at this point in time, clichés abound.

Q. And that's good for your science?

A. Bet your bippy. For me, it's a win-win situation.

Q. To get back to the trial, what did it bring?

A. Closure.

Q. That's a real faddish word and relatively new in the lingo, isn't it?

A. Search me.

Q. How did you feel when that verdict came in?

A. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Q. And what's your prediction on the ultimate outcome of this matter?

A. That remains to be seen.

Q. Well, time's up. It sure went by a fast.

A. Like a bat out of hell.

Q. Thanks for coming doctor. I hope we can do this again some day and talk about some Greenwich clichés.

A. That would be peachy. Have a nice day.
Bernie Yudain, whose column appears Wednesdays and Sundays, is a public affairs consultant and a former managing editor of Greenwich Time.

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