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The Alices took a vote last week, and the majority favored canceling Christmas. Or Holiday, or whatever it's called now. But of course the elves didn't fill in the bubbles, and in the recount, Grandma's 12 votes won in a landslide. So we've been scrambling to stuff everybody's stockings at the last minute. Grandma wants a copy of The Fear Factor Cookbook. For Ma Alice, we want one of those house-invading, space-trading, room-makeover TV shows to come and build an armoire around Pa Alice and his TV and lounge chair and paint it up in some nice coordinated color. That way, we can just shut the doors on him if we have company. Grandma did some fancy calculations based on number of TV hours available to fill versus the latest figures for new-housing starts, and she figures they're bound to get around to our house pretty soon, just through the sheer statistics of the situation. So when they're finished at your place, would you send them over here? As usual, the elves want SUVs.

Anyway, we haven't had much time to assemble our usual thought-provoking year-end quiz; and if Grandma gets her cookbook, we might not be around to grade them anyway. So this year the quiz will be open-book. I can't think of a book you could open that would help you, but that's not my problem. And instead of grading them ourselves, we'll be complying with recent requests from the FBI to send them any random information we think they might be able to misconstrue as actionable by the Department of Homeland Security. They'll take it from there. Don't worry. It's our government. I'm sure they're on our side, as long as we don�t ask Rumsfeld any tricky questions too early in the morning.

1. In groundbreaking pigeon research, Canadian scientists used a neck brace and a treadmill to finally prove:

A. Pigeons can walk without bobbing their heads back and forth

B. If you want a neck brace to fit a pigeon, you'll have to make one yourself.

C. There are no limits to the scientific imagination when it comes to designing a research study to answer pointless questions

2. In Louisiana you can get 40 years in the slam for:

A. Finally admitting you hate gumbo

B. Theft of Mardi Gras beads

C. Calling your brother from your cell to ask him to contact the housekeeper of the judge that put you there to ask her to get some of the judge's hair so you can make a voodoo doll and put a curse on him. Your attorney will recommend that you cop a plea.

3. In a question about the scientific basis for déjávu, we established that:

A. We had answered the question before

B. We think maybe we had answered the question before

C. We had this vague, eerie feeling that we had answered the question before

4. The ugliest revelation about the Alice family this year was:

A. Cousin Alice Alice's shocking appearance on Maury Povich's show, which we detailed in our rundown on lunatics who populate daytime TV trashfests

B. Ma Alice's rap sheet, which came up during a discussion of the history of skyjacking

C. Pa Alice's cholesterol level, offered into evidence in an answer to a question about extracting and recycling industrial fats

5. Once again this year, Matthew Alice didn�t answer my question because:

A. Matthew Alice is a very busy person with many, many other things to deal with.

B. Matthew Alice is a very busy person with many, many other things to deal with than my stupid question, which I knew was stupid when I sent it in, but I figured if it's stupid Matthew Alice is actually more likely to answer it; but as usual, I was wrong.

C. Answer B is correct

6. Essay: Select one of the following facts and use it to illustrate how Matthew Alice, year after year, continues to make your life richer and more fulfilled. (a) All car taillights are the same shade of red because of a series of very complicated federal government regulations. (b) It's legal to sell opium poppy seeds but not legal to grow opium poppies. (c) Farting has been considered rude since at least the first century B.C.

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