News Quiz

No. 494: “Get Carter?’

In a letter sent to 75,000 people, Jimmy Carter announced that he has given up something he’s been doing since he was 11 years old. What?

(The wanking-free zone is invoked, or whatever zone you kids need to protect you from the temptations of hackery.)

Send your answer by 10 a.m. ET Wednesday to

Friday’s Question (No. 493)—”Opposites (and Topless Showgirls) Attract”:

This spring something atypical will happen in Las Vegas. “It is an important step forward in the evolution of the city,” says Robert Goldstein, president of the Venetian Hotel. “It will be a monumental attraction. If it isn’t, then something is wrong.” What is this new attraction?

” ‘And I suggest you don’t look back as you flee the city,’ he did not add, ‘or you might turn into a pillar of salt!’ “—John Tyrrell

“Haley Joel Osment will devise an ingenious, pyramid-scheme-like system of charity, then be stabbed to death.”—Tim “… and If I Ruined the Ending for Anyone, I’m Not the Least Bit Sorry” Carvell

“The city of Las Vegas itself. But on fire.”—Francis Heaney

“Sen. Harry Reid will explain the intricacies of health-care reform to the audience at a Siegfried and Roy show, and everyone will disappear. Because who cares about that stuff when we can have leaders with warm, engaging personalities?”—Greg Diamond

“Monumental? That’s a Washington term.”—Charlie Glassenberg

Click for more answers.

Randy’s Wrap-Up

The trouble with Vegas is not architecture that glorifies the pseudo over the real, not breasts that glorify the pseudo over the real, not the town’s loopy pride in family entertainment and restaurants, not even Wayne Newton. The problem is in the gambling itself. With the exception of sports gambling, a fine American activity, Vegas concentrates its wagering on games no one cares about. Who plays Keno for fun? Who plays the slots at home? Roulette? Can you imagine anything duller? Why not let folks bet on games they actually enjoy playing? Bring on the big money Monopoly, the high-stakes Scrabble, the no-limit Super Mario Brothers!

And while sports betting is a fine start, Vegas shuns many other equally absorbing public events. I look forward to the day when I can walk into a casino, be handed a complimentary cocktail by a 6-foot dancer in an ostrich feather headdress (that is, I wear the feathers), and bet 20 bucks on the Academy Awards, the Miss America contest, the annual total of Texas executions, the success or failure of Vera Wang’s spring line.

Part of the fun of sports betting is to have money riding on an event you can see unfold live on the casino’s giant screens. A similar treatment would add a new kick to even the most inane nightly news show if we could bet on, say, the cliché count. Looked at more broadly, if horse-race gambling grew out of an equine culture that relied on the horse for transportation and work, surely America deserves Prime-Time Neilsen Ratings gambling.

Odds On Answer

Russia’s Hermitage Museum is teaming up with New York’s Guggenheim to bring great art to Vegas in a minimusem in the lobby of the Venetian Hotel.

The two museums will show about 20 paintings from each of their collections in a 7,660-square-foot space designed by architect Rem Koolhaas, in an exhibit that will change twice a year.

Directors of both galleries were eager to accept the casino’s money and pretty handy with rationalizations about why they were right to do so. “Las Vegas is America; it is a place where a lot of people go,” said Dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky of the Hermitage.

Thomas Krens, director of the Guggenheim, initially rejected the proposal as “too tacky” but was won over by a visit to the Bellagio Hotel and the most astonishing hooker he’d ever seen, except for the hooker. It was the magnetic Steve Wynn that broke down the resistance of the Guggenheim’s finicky director. “Everyone was on the audio machines, listening to Steve Wynn’s tour, which was intelligent and accessible. And I thought to myself, ‘what is wrong with this picture except my own attitude?’ ” It was a rhetorical question.

Tragic Consequence of Mixing Art and Vegas Extra

Lauren Hutton was hospitalized Sunday with multiple leg fractures suffered in a motorcycle crash during a celebrity ride in Nevada.

The 100-mile ride, which included actors Dennis Hopper and Jeremy Irons, was held to promote the Hermitage-Guggenheim’s Vegas plan. The inaugural exhibition will be “The Art of the Motorcycle.”

Before the ride, Hutton told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “I love the feeling of being a naked egg atop that throbbing steel,” she said. “You feel vulnerable but so alive.” During the ride, Hutton was wearing clothes and a helmet.

Matt Heimer’s Vegas Tip-Sheet Extra

Did you know, by the way, that Siegfried performs using his last name (Fischbacher), while Roy (né Roy Uwe Horn) appears only as “Roy”? What’s he trying to hide? Or is Roy actually one of the tigers? In which case, why the last name? Is it lunch time yet?

Monday’s Question No. 493A, Survey Results Extra

Participants were invited to submit the name of the presidential candidate they thought would win the election—not who should win, but who will win. (Question courtesy of Katha Pollitt.)

The Commentary

I meant this as a straightforward question, thinking it would be interesting to see who participants predicted. But after 493 quizzes that discouraged uninflected replies—as I recall, in the early days of the quiz we’d dish out a sound thrashing to anyone who insisted he knew the “right” answer—it was foolish of me to think you would suddenly react as if you were responding to some tedious CNN survey (i.e., by making rude remarks about Bernard Shaw). I’ve seldom felt more thwarted. Or more proud.

For what it’s worth, here’s the tally of those who seemed to be offering a good-faith opinion:

GORE: 16

BUSH: 12

Click for sarcky comments in lieu of actual answers.

Common Denominator

Siegfried and Roy and Trudeau.