Sunday, October 22, 2006

Judy Baar Topinka: Apply Directly To the Forehead

I don't think I need to remind American readers of this blog (or Chicagoans) that there's an election coming up, but every year I'm always surprised at the number of my friends--intelligent, engaged, caring friends--who don't vote. Barack Obama was on Oprah last week and he referred to the famous quote by Justice Brandeis: "The most important political office is that of the private citizen." That's worth remembering now.

(Obama also mentioned that he turned down an offer from Oprah to travel with her to Africa on her private jet. He did this for sound ethical reasons but as a citizen of Illinois I'd like to suggest that the state legislature pass a law prohibiting Oprah and Senator Obama from flying together on the same plane. Seriously, now that Michael Jordan is basically gone, the celebrity pickings around here are pretty slim.)

Here's another idea. Pass a law that says if 75% of eligible voters don't go to the polls, the election is invalid and will have to be held again in one month. This will mean another 30 days of condescending, mind-eroding, profoundly annoying campaign ads. I suspect the conversations at the local tavern will then go something like this:

BILL: Hey, Pally. Who'd you vote for today?

PALLY: Oh I didn't vote. I had to drop off my--[Persmackety! Persmackety! Persmackety!]

(Where "persmackety" is the sound of Bill punching Pally repeatedly in the face.)

Anyway, I think it's time for a contest and because I'm lazy I'm going to adapt a quiz I devised years ago when, under another name, I was the puzzlemaster at McSweeney's.

On Friday, I received my ballot for the Mystery Writers of America and every single candidate is running unopposed. Now that is a neighborly organization. But let's imagine a competitive election with suspense writers and their running mates. And suppose, as part of their campaigns, the candidates had to make up colorful signs to display in the yards and windows of their supporters. Now if their names were long, they would have to be printed in very small letters. This would put those candidates at a disadvantage. It would be much better if the first name of the number two guy shared a few letters with the last name of the number one. We might, for example, have:

"J.A. KonraThomas Harris"


"Sara ParetsKyle Mills"

Below, you will find the first two letters of the first name of potential candidates, and the last two letters of the last names of their potential running mates. Fill in the blank to reveal the name of the complete ticket.

Rules in this edition of the contest require all candidates and their running mates to be published mystery or suspense or thriller authors. They do not require, however, that the candidates be living, or even for the candidates to have been on this earth at the same time. The names of candidates and their running mates must share at least two letters. In some cases there may be more than one correct answer. All verifiable answers will be considered.

Any time you have an original answer to any of the questions below (that is, one that hasn't been proposed by someone else), enter it in the comments along with your name. You will be entered in the drawing once for every legit answer you give. Anonymous entries will be disregarded. My answers do not include any obscure authors but yours might, so include book titles for verification.

The winner will receive a signed copy of A CHICAGO TAVERN, Rick Kogan's terrific history of the Billy Goat (discussed here last week), as well as a Sixteen Straight t-shirt (celebrating the Bears march to an undefeated season), and, since I have them lying around, a signed copy of my novel CAST OF SHADOWS.

All entries received before Midnight on Wednesday, October 25 will be eligible. The winner will be announced in these comments on Thursday.

Good luck. And please, please, please, don't forget to vote when it really counts.

1. Da_______________en
2. Su_______________an
3. Ja_______________ry
4. Jo_______________ut
5. Do_______________ow
6. St _______________en
7. Ph_______________in


Molly MacRae said...

2. (su-an) Sue GrafTony Hillerman
3. (ja-ry) J.A. KonraThomas Perry

Molly MacRae said...

6. (st-en) Steve HodElsie Hayden

Molly MacRae said...

1. (an-en) Dale Furutani FlanagAnna Katharine Green

Molly MacRae said...

oops that should have been: 1. da-en Dale Furutani FlanagAnna Katherine Green

And that's enough. My brain is going to explode now.

Kevin Guilfoile said...

Hmmm. Apparently the readers of this blog really want Molly Macrae to win a prize.

Molly MacRae said...

The best prize I could possibly win is for for everyone to get out and vote. Especially if it's a vote to turn things around before we've marched too far along the current path. If it isn't, in fact, already too late. Read Sara Paretsky's post for a sobering view of where we are and where we're headed.

The first year I was eligible to vote was the first year 18 year olds were allowed to vote in a presidential election. I turned 18 on that election day and stood outside the polling place before it opened, so that I could be one of the youngest voters in U.S. history. And because it was my birthday, and I was young and naive, I really thought my fondest wish might come true. Nope. Nixon won anyway. There have been a number of political disappointments since then, but the last two election cycles have been by far the worst.

Election day this year is on my birthday again. Please do something good for this country. For the world. Vote.

Cathy said...

2. Su_______________an


Susan DunlapJo Grossman

About Dunlap

This is something a bit cool that Grossman did, but she is a mystery autor in her own right -'Alibi on Ice'

B.G. Ritts said...

E-mail sent with entries, too many to post.

KimW said...

Go Bears! What a great season they are having. ooh, and what a great prize. I want to win! So here's my entries. It looked easier than it was. lol

1. Dan BrownHarlan Coben

3. Ja LanceFay Zachary

6. Stan JonesCarl Hiaasen

Kevin Guilfoile said...

Okay, I'm going to extend the deadline until midnight tomorrow, and not because I don't want Molly Macrae to win. In fact we all win if you heed her advice and vote on her birthday.

Kim W., yes! Go Bears. But there needs to be some overlap in the letters of the authors' names. Look one more time at the examples, there.

BG Ritts, holy crap. Apparently you had written some sort of program to solve this problem even before I asked it. I have no idea who most of these people are, but I will sort that out before tomorrow night.

The rest of you please enter away.

B.G. Ritts said...

No, I went to Books 'n' Bytes yesterday evening, made one whole list of the mystery authors listed, and then compared the ones that matched the appropriate letters. Excel did the sorting, I did the matching by hand. Yes, I spent about five hours at it -- I have no life.

KimW said... I feel dumb. I thought what I did was difficult...this was really tough. This is what I came up with.

Susan McBriDennisJ McGowan

Phillip MargoLinda Fairstein

and if I did it wrong again..I don't want to know. (hanging head in shame) lol

Molly MacRae said...

Can't resist four more:

Sue GrafTony Bradman (children's author Bradman: Mystery at Musket Bay)

Phillip PullmAnn M. Martin (besides Babysitter Club she writes mysteries like Mallory and the Mystery Diary)

Stan BerenstaIngrid Ostheeren (Berenstain: Berenstain Bears and the Tic-Tac-Toe Mystery; Ostheeren: Jonathan Mouse, Detective)

And the one everyone else has probably already gotten: John le CarRex Stout

Okay, one more, because Jan Berenstain deserves credit, too: Jan BerenstaIngrid Ostheeren (sort of a cheat, though)

Kevin Guilfoile said...

Okay. Well for the record, here are the ones I had:

1. DavidMorrEllery Queen
2. Sue GrafTony Hillerman
3. Janet EvanoviCharles McCarry
4. John LeCarRex Stout
5. Donald WestlaKeith Ablow
6. Stephen WhiTess Gerritsen
7. Phillip MargoLinda Fairstein

I think maybe the only one that wasn't got by anyone was the first.

Anyway, thanks to all who entered but with only three of you I can't in good conscience pick one to win so I'm going to declare a tie and send each of you a prize of some sort. Molly, Cathy, BG, and Kim, email me at with your address and I'll get it in the mail soon.

Joshilyn said...

DUDE! You should have run this LONGER.

Joshilyn said...

GAH I somehow posted before finishing, as I was saying, you should have run this longer. ALSO, is there an ANSWER KEY on the McSweeney's puzzles???? The Old TIme Blurby Romp thing is driving me batcrap.

Can you tell I have a deadline? Yes you can. How? because I am doing ancient puzzles on McSweeney's. That's how.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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