Why One Does Not Ask Rhetorical Questions in the Scalzi Household

This just happened.

ENTER ATHENA, amused with herself.


Hey daddy!


Yes, sweetheart?



How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?


You know, I actually wrote an article about that.

(goes to bookshelf, pulls down the book for which I wrote the article, goes to the page the article is on)


Says here that woodchucks do chuck wood, if you give them wood to chuck, which researchers at Cornell have in fact done. Also, naturalist Richard Thomas estimated that if woodchucks chucked as much wood as they chuck dirt while making their homes, it would be 35 cubic meters, or about 700 pounds. So there you are.

(silent for a moment, then)

You’re really no fun, daddy.

(stomps out)

28 Comments on “Why One Does Not Ask Rhetorical Questions in the Scalzi Household”

  1. Now you’ve done it. She’s sure to find out from her friends now how many pickled peppers Peter Piper picked. And who knows what sort of number they might give her?

  2. Eh. It’s an indeterminate number anyway — peppers are far too variable in size for an accurate count, and there is no internationally agreed-upon “standard pickled pepper” for peck estimation.

    A peck, incidentally, is two gallons (eight quarts, or one quarter of a bushel).

  3. “But you can’t pick *pickled* peppers, can you?”

    I don’t know what fairy tale world you’re living in, but in mine, pickled peppers grow on every tree.

  4. Of course the answer is already is the lesser known second stanze of the verse.

    A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck woood.
    Which covers a wider range of woodchucks in various states of talent, physical condition and energy/fatigue.

  5. Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota monax materiam possit materiari?

  6. Zzedar: For shame. “Materietur” lacks onomatopoeia. Tsk tsk. You will simply have to find a better alternative.

  7. No Shakespeare for you, buddy.

    ‘Sides, last thing I need is you remind me that what’s in my name is my least favorite season of the year.

    (I know. Why don’t I move to Florida?)

  8. Yes, but what’s the difference between a duck?

    One of his feet are both the same.

    But if it takes one and a half chickens one and a half days to lay one and a half eggs, how long would it take a monkey with wooden leg to kick all the seeds out of a dill pickle?
    (Answer Yes or No.)

    – Captain Button

  9. heh. sometime I should try to remember to sing you the jazzy song version of those verses a friend of mine wrote the music for in junior high, though it just isn’t the same without the four part harmony and a campfire to sing it around…

  10. When my brother does stuff like that to my nephews, he simply states “Buzz-kill. It’s my JOB as a Dad.”

    I agree Sue, John should have got the t-shirt while he had the chance.

  11. Well done Scalzi. That’s the kind of answer I would give, that is, if I knew the answer. I’m not well educated in woodchucks.

  12. I use, “I’m your mother. I’m *supposed* to take all the fun out of life,” probably more than I should.

    (Second favorite: “It’ll give you something to talk to your therapist about when you move out.”)

  13. Okay, I’ll bite. So where’s this article you wrote about woodchucks and assorted miscellaney?

  14. A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck, if his dentures were any good… Or something like that

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