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Who wants to be a millionaire?

If it's you, then you're definitely in the wrong place. All we have here is our usual end-of-the-year quiz. A measure of how much smarter you are now than you were 365 days ago. We won't give you $1000 for knowing what large country is directly north of the United States. We won't give you a million for knowing who invented electric socks. No strobes, no music to bite your nails by. No lifelines, except whatever crib sheets you can hide on your person. But on the up side, no Regis. That's gotta count for something. Each of the questions below was discussed in some form during the year. And yes, I know the incessant ringing from all the cell phone ads sometimes makes it hard to concentrate, but that's no excuse.

1. We finally uncovered Victoria's Secret. It is:

(a) An underwire bra can set off a walk-through metal detector. (b) Wonder bras cause cancer in rats. (c) Wonder bras and Wonder bread are made of exactly the same substances, just in slightly different proportions. (d) Victoria herself hasn't worn underwear since the 70s.

2. Stock keeping units (SKUs) are:

(a) a boon to the modern retailer; (b) a way of reducing all of life to digits; (c) a pricing and inventory method, a subset of the Universal Product Code system, in which, say, guavas as a category are assigned a unique number associated with an inventory quantity and per-pound price. There are guys picking guavas and sticking on the stickers at the guava grove. Unless the store wants to put on its own SKU, in which case it takes off the other sticker and puts on its own. But anyway, this is so when you buy five guavas (yawn) and the checker enters the SKU assigned to guavas and weighs your purchase (yawn)-- sorry. Anyway, when you buy your guavas and (yawn) the checker -- (yawn) did I cover this part already? Anyway, (yawn) the SKU is the critical (yawn) thing that (yawn zzzzzzzz) (d) Huh? Wha? Whoa. Musta dozed off. Next question, please.

3. The Matthew Alice Committee for the Education of an Ungrateful Public received a large fake-gold trophy from some organization or other for revealing which bit of nutritional wisdom?

(a) Mom lied; chewing gum will not make your stomach stick together. (b) Juice that's labeled "100% juice" is mostly water, and that's legal. (c) It is an urban legend that every year the average person swallows four spiders in his sleep.

4. Which of the following is true about chilis?

(a) Whirl them in a blender, spray them on the wiring in your car, and it will keep rats away. (b) The Mexican habero chili, formerly the hottest known, has been replaced by the recently discovered Tezpur chili from India that is so hot it can be picked only with a long stick and must be beaten severely with clubs before it's cooked. (c) Tezpurs are now being tested as an ingredient for teargas grenades. (d) There is a waiting list of chiliheads who will pay up to $500 for an eightball of Tezpur.

5. In our months-long project to document all the "-berto's" taco joints, our final tally was:

(a) Nineteen different "-berto's" names with approximately 130 outlets countywide; (b) one big underground kitchen sending identical food, by pneumatic tube, to approximately 130 outlets countywide.

6. Which statement is correct?

(a) The Close Door buttons on all elevators never work. (b) The Close Door buttons on all elevators always work. (c) The Close Door buttons on all elevators always work when I'm running to catch one and never work when I'm late for a meeting. (d) The correct answer is (a), and I don't care what the Otis people say, I can prove it.

7. The research elves' favorite project this year was:

(a) Counting chads for Al Gore; (b) wagering on how much spam can accumulate in their Hotmail inbox before it blows up; (c) feng shui-ing the Alice offices and throwing out Pa Alice because he was blocking the chi and hogging the chips and dip.

8. Essay question: Once again this year we reminded the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce that they simply must face the fact that they could soon have two identical stars on the Walk of Fame for two entirely different movie actors named Harrison Ford. The silent-film actor's is already in place; contemporary Harrison has shown absolutely no interest in having his own star, but attitudes can change. They must be prepared. So our essay question this year will be your suggestions, to be forwarded to the Hollywood C of C, for resolving their two-Fords problem. This is an important contribution to the scholarly documentation of our popular culture. Thousands of tourists years from now will thank you.

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