O.K., students. Put down that remote control. Push away those Chinese takeout cartons. Stop staring at Greta Van Susteren, trying to figure out exactly how much work she had done and the impact this will have on women’s-magazine cover stories over the next few months.
It’s time again for a pop-culture quiz–a compilation of fun, frivolity and pure bile.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, take it with a loved one. Lacking this, try a spouse, parent or semi-frequent bedmate whose recent political shift to the right is driving you crazy these days.
Remember: There are no wrong answers here.
1) The real lesson of Enron is: a) It’s possible to run a multibillion-dollar corporation and be absolutely clueless about what’s going on; b) If you’re going to pay off politicians, above all else be bipartisan; c) Make sure you spread some cash around to op-ed columnists; d) Naming quasi-legal offshore partnerships after Star Wars characters probably ain’t such a great idea; e) Close those brokerage accounts–stock-market analysts really don’t know what they’re talking about.
2) The fastest way to earn tens of millions of dollars in America is: a) Play golf with Global Crossing’s Gary Winnick; b) Star in the movie Glitter and settle your recording contract with EMI; c) Advise Dick Cheney about energy policy; d) Go the Jesse Jackson shakedown route–accuse major corporations of racism and get your kids beer distributorships.
3) In their ever-continuing fight for media mind-share, who do you think is most likely to reveal some dreadful new episode from their childhood or enter a form of rehab during the upcoming year, in order to stay in the public eye: a) Madonna; b) Rosie; c) Winona; d) Mariah; e) Gary Condit; f) Tina Brown.
4) Please name at least one celebrity who seems to be capitalizing on the events of 9/11 just a wee bit too much. (Extra credit if it’s someone other than Bono.)
5) If we really want to find Osama bin Laden, we should: a) Position C.I.A. agents at a Verizon phone bank; sooner or later, they’re bound to get him during dinner; b) Tap the phone lines at the new Connie Chung show, where they’re no doubt dialing like mad trying to offer him the opportunity to rehabilitate himself; c) Make him a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and assume that either DreamWorks, Miramax or Disney will hunt him down and send him Academy Award screening tapes, in order to influence his vote for best picture at the Oscars.
6) Speaking of the Oscars, which will be highest: a) The number of flag-themed red, white and blue dresses; b) The number of times the phrase “God Bless America” will be uttered within 25 words of “And I’d like to thank my agent”; c) The number of minutes into the show before someone says, “We’re not heroes; we only play heroes. The real heroes are …. “
7) The $64 “I’ll Take Donald Trump’s Manhattan Island” Question: Mayor Bloomberg has announced a plan to sell naming rights to municipal parks, stadiums and other civic sites. Which of the following, then, is most likely: a) The Torneau No. 6 Line: Always On Time; b) Waste Management’s Borough of Staten Island; c) ABC-MTV-Condé Nast-Toys “R” Us-New York Times.Com Square; d) J&R Music World’s Brooklyn Bridge; e) The Johnnie Cochran/Boss Tweed Courthouse; f) TriPrada.
8) The next big Internet story is: a) Al Qaeda operatives being possibly the only people on earth who find Microsoft Hotmail accounts a reliable way to communicate; b) The rise of sole-pundit Web sites (a.k.a. “Blogs”) like Mickey Kaus’ influential Kausfiles.com and the addictive AndrewSullivan.com, wherein Mr. Sullivan launched an online book club last week and managed to sell out the first reading assignment at Amazon.com in just three days; c) Erotic Donald Rumsfeld fan pages.
9) Which of the following best sums up your current thinking: a) I voted for Al Gore, but lately I wake up wondering if I’ve turned into a Republican; b) I bet John Ashcroft’s first draft of the anti-terrorism bill sounded a hell of a lot more compassionate before it was translated from the original German; c) Clinton-Gore in ’04–Hillary and Karenna, that is; d) I’ve got a crush on Condoleezza Rice; e) I used to fault the military for always fighting the last war; now it’s the far left that’s still protesting the last war; f) When Dick Morris worked for the Clinton administration, he bragged about how much influence he had. Now he writes that no one listened to him. Am I missing something here?; g) Roger Ailes is a genius; h) Strange that I haven’t heard anything about Harvey Weinstein in at least 15 minutes; i) All things considered, it’s probably best for all of us that George Bush has never seen an episode of Sex and the City .
10) It’s Fashion Week in New York City. Please estimate: a) The number of designers who will introduce clothing “inspired” by firefighters, cargo pants and camouflage gear; and b) The number of times Donna Summers’ I Will Survive will be used as theme music.
11) Writing in The New York Times , John Tierney recently observed that patriotism has “just become officially overexposed.” In your opinion, what’s been the most egregious use of patriotism in the service of commerce: a) The genuflecting Clydesdales; b) Convicted tax cheat Steve Madden’s shoes; c) The Westminster Kennel Club’s eight-page insert in The New Yorker (co-sponsored by Pedigree dog food and the USA Network) featuring celebrities posing with 9/11 search-and-rescue dogs; d) I don’t know–I haven’t seen what Benetton is doing yet.
12) Bonus question: Enron reconsidered. Given all of the above–along with 9/11-inspired albums, museum symposiums, books, DVD’s, logo-wear and commemorative medallions forged from salvaged World Trade Center steel–could it be that the founders of Enron were correct in their original conception of the company, namely that it’s possible to commodify anything? a) Yes; or b) I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that it may tend to incriminate me.
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