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Call it a cherished tradition, call it an annoying habit, but here we are again with our year-end assessment of how much smarter you are now than you were 12 months ago. Every December the elves begin fretting about whether you Alicelanders truly appreciate their efforts. Where else, they whine, can someone go every week to get tips on how to break into the exciting field of gender illusion and drag entertainment? To get a first-hand report from someone who frequently dies in his dreams? Get recipes for cooking disgusting garden pests? Enter a stimulating debate on the origin of saggy pants? Learn the secret for zapping your phone number out of telemarketers' data bases, so you don't have to buy that $50 gadget they advertise on TV? In those few questions alone we've given you recessionproof career advice, saved you money, and broadened your definition of "cuisine." We're as close to all-things-to-all-people as you're likely to find. So while the elves practice making change in euros, grab a #2 Ticonderoga and take this test.

1. So one day OJ finally yells at the news cameras, "Okay, yes, I did it! Are you happy now? I killed them! Now leave me alone!" What happens next?

A. An undercover cop emerges from a nearby foursome, slams the cuffs on him, throws him in the back of a golf cart, and drives him to jail to the sound of general rejoicing and the peal of church bells.

B. OJ tees off, shanks the ball into a palm grove, and the news people wander off. The law can't touch him, even if he admits it. But on the way home he flips the bird to another motorist, who immediately sues him. The news vampires converge once again. The American public groans with boredom and swears off TV until its over.

2. Australia is notable because:

A. It has more deadly amphibians, reptiles, and mammals than any other country.

B. It's very proud of this fact.

3. The U.S. Mint once again tries to get us to learn to love the dollar coin. At a press conference defending the "golden" Sacajawea dollar, the director of the Mint revealed the secret of his department's success. Which of the following are true:

A. It costs 12 cents to make the golden dollar.

B. The Mint sells the coins to the Federal Reserve at face value, realizing an 88-cent profit on each one

C. That profit is called "seigniorage."

D. Matthew Alice misspelled "seigniorage" and was immediately pelted with rude comments from smug Alicelanders.

4. Many people think Alicelanders is Ann's sister. To put an end to this, we are considering a name change to:

A. Aliceites;

B. Alicians;

C. Aliceburghers; or


5. In 2001 we learned which of these facts about White House plumbing?

A. During Washington's administration, you could go from the White House to the outhouse in a matter of seconds.

B. Truman's new tub, installed in 1948, was seven feet long. Truman himself was only 5'8" long, necessitating a Secret Service lifeguard at bath time.

C. You'd better go before you leave home if you visit George and Laura, because none of the White House's 32 bathrooms is open to the public.

6. What will be the next great revolution in Slurpee technology?

A. Diet Slurpees

B. Slurpees large enough to feed a family of four for a week.

C. Malt liquor Slurpees.

D. Nothing. We are living in the Golden Age of the Slurpee, where no improvement is possible.

7. It's been 4000 years since human beans domesticated it's last animal for commercial purposes. The final critter to be corralled was the _____.

(Hint: If you dissect it, you will find anatomical structures called nuggets; and though it has no hands, it apparently does have fingers. Another hint: It's not Kentucky Fried Hamsters.)

8. Essay question: Programming for oldies radio stations is done by studying the responses of focus groups. Movie endings are often written by studying focus groups. Advertising campaigns are designed by discussing them with focus groups. TV pilots rise or fall on the reactions of focus groups. News anchors are often torn to shreds by catty focus groups, which dis their hair styles, speech patterns, and wardrobes. All of American life is run by focus groups. Therefore, the current state of the economy can be blamed entirely on focus groups. If I were king of the world, I would solve this problem by____.

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