"People in the business are suspicious because The Times's formula is guarded like some kind of secret sauce," said one professional, alluding to a popular feature of the New York paper. And now Alan Nevins, one of Mike Ovitz's Myrmidons, may have cracked the code. To what nefarious purpose is he said to have put the Times' secret formula?
Send your answer by 6 p.m. ET Thursday to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday's Question (No. 469)—"Walk on the Smoke on the Water":
On Sunday, Pope John Paul II presided over the largest gathering of young people ever held in the West as 2 million kids assembled for World Youth Day, what some have dubbed "The Catholic Woodstock." What was the festival's most popular event?
"Standing around uncomfortably, trying not to think about sex."—Evan Brady
"Hillary! appeared in person to deny she had ever called anyone a 'fucking mackerel snapper.' "—Dan Dickinson
"That must be the big dinner at Spago's hosted by Jack Nicholson with the Gore daughters waitressing topless. Oh wait, that was the most popular event at the Democratic convention. My mistake."—Charlie Glassenberg
"Bachelor priest auction."—Will Vehrs
"Hey, I couldn't even get close enough to the stage to hear, man."—Greg Diamond
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Earlier in history, the largest religious gathering of young people ever held in the West was the Children's Crusade (if by "religious gathering" you mean "getting together to boot out the Muslims"). In the summer of 1212, thousands of children set out to conquer the Holy Land by love instead of by force. (Coincidentally, more than 700 years later, this love-not-force strategy was never considered by Gen. Eisenhower in his planning for D-day, so I guess it's not really much of a coincidence. Or, as it turned out, much of a strategy.)
One group of children was led by a French shepherd boy named Stephen, from Cloyes-sur-le-Loir. It's hard to imagine that thousands of children would follow a French shepherd boy, but the sheep did, so who knows? Stephen had a vision in which Jesus appeared disguised as a pilgrim, but it couldn't have been much of a disguise because Stephen saw right through it. (If I were Jesus, I'd have chosen something that was less of a give-away, like maybe a bear costume.) In this vision, inadequately costumed Jesus gave Stephen a letter for the French king. You'd think he could have delivered it himself, but maybe he was worried that the bear suit would scare people. On his way to deliver the letter, Stephen attracted thousands of followers, some of whom decided to go to the Holy Land. (Anything to get out of going back to school.) Eventually, 30,000 made their way to Marseilles, where disreputable merchants shipped them to slave markets in North Africa. So I guess the joke was on Jesus.
Nicholas, a 10-year-old from Cologne with no connection to sheep or sheep-related work, tried to drum up interest in a Children's Crusade in the Rhineland, attracting an estimated 20,000 children. They crossed the Alps into Italy and split into smaller groups. Some were dispersed among various Lombard towns; others continued on to Genoa, where they were refused transport across the Mediterranean, which may have been R-rated in those days. A few traveled to Rome, where Pope Innocent III took pity on them and released them from their crusade vows. Many of the rest were sold into slavery in the East, but at least they weren't spending their days sitting around watching MTV. The fate of their leader, Nicholas, is unknown, but if he ever turns up, I'll be a lot of people are going to be pretty darn mad.
Mass Hysteria Answer
For many attendants, the highlight came when the pope continued a Latin high Mass while Hell's Angels hired as security guards mercilessly beat a … no, no, no. For many, the highlight was the youth Mass and overnight vigil that closed the six-day festival. But there were other moments to cherish.
- The pope's opening greeting of 300,000 people in St. Peter's Square.
- The mass confessions at the Circus Maximus.
- The Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum.
- The 500,000-person candlelight march on the Via dei Fori Imperiali.
"There are as many churches here as there are gas stations in Los Angeles," said Lucy Kim of Gardena, Calif., "And a lot fewer Fox executives: Praise the Lord!" she did not add.
Matt Heimer's You-Be-the-Editor Ongoing Extra
We're still soliciting cover lines for the forthcoming magazine Hip-Hop Girl, described as a Cosmo-Martha Stewart Living hybrid aimed at the hip-hop set.
Traci Mosser's Inspiring Example
"From Pasties to Pressed Flowers—Lil' Kim's 27 Uses for Her HOT Glue Gun!"
Best replies run Friday.
Don't eat the brown wafers.