No. 497: "Does Paper Work?"

No. 497: "Does Paper Work?"

No. 497: "Does Paper Work?"

Testing your knowledge of what happened this week
Oct. 31 2000 3:00 AM

No. 497: "Does Paper Work?"

The documents Alan Geller of Sea Cliff, N.Y., submitted to the federal government include the assertion, "It is desirable to produce bleeding body parts aside from the face." What did Geller hope to accomplish by filing these papers?


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

Friday's Question (No. 496)—"3 1/2":

The Bush campaign has been asked to excise a 3 1/2 second sequence from a new TV commercial. What does that sequence show? Why should it be cut?

"Suffice to say that while that may be Al Gore's face, that is definitely not his body."—Greg Diamond


"Joe Lieberman is shown wearing a yarmulke while a voice gravely intones that 'America needs a seven-day-a-week president who doesn't drain Christian children of their blood to make his ritual bread.' That is misleading, since everyone knows that Joe Lieberman is from Connecticut and the blood for the Connecticut matzos is drained from kids in New Jersey and shipped up to New Haven by the Elders of Zion Office in New York and ... well, maybe I've said too much."—Charlie Glassenberg

"The part where Bush uncrosses and then recrosses his legs, revealing that he's not wearing panties."—Tim Carvell

"As it turns out, voters' attention spans are only 2.65 seconds long."—Francis Heaney

"It shows George W. Bush morphing into Angelina Jolie. If they think that's enough to get my vote, they're probably wrong!"—Michael Mannella


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Randy's Wrap-Up

Who wouldn't want to excise 3 1/2 seconds from his life? There's the basis for your wacky comedy. Hello, high jinks! Maybe it's the moment you said "I do" and married the wrong guy. (I see this as a great vehicle for Ellen Barkin. Or Nadezhda Alliluyeva Stalin.) Or when you left the screen door unlatched and your dog dashed out and bit someone on the ass—Oh, no! Alan Dershowitz! He's so litigious! You'd want to take back those 3 1/2 seconds when you decided not to send your dog to law school. Basically, the movie is about the gap between the moment you bump into the priceless antique vase and the moment it shatters on the floor. Only instead of a vase, it's a priceless antique Alan Dershowitz. And he's surprisingly resilient. And vengeful.

It would be a three-wishes story only in reverse, which is perfect for an age of remorse. We might not have grand aspirations, but we do have monumental regrets. (I guess you're all thinking of the voting booth right about now. And how you shouldn't have had sex in there. Or if you did, it shouldn't have been so brief.) Maybe the way you get the excising power is by making a deal with the devil as played by Elizabeth Hurley. Or maybe you are Elizabeth Hurley and want to undo having accepted the part.


If you could make this movie really fast, you could release it on the morning after Election Day, when it may have particular resonance for those who insisted on voting Ralph Nader in a battleground state. Especially those who, while driving to the polls in Michigan or Washington, took their eyes off the road for a few seconds (3 1/2), and ran over a dog. With a degree from Harvard Law.

Fleeting Glimpse of the Answer

The Bush ad includes a 3 1/2 second image of a Boy Scout raising a flag. The Scouts want it cut because the Scout is gay. No, no, no, of course not. If he were gay (and a troop leader), he'd have been beaten senseless and booted out of the Scouts. The real reason the Scouts want it cut, says spokesman Gregg Shields, is because "it would be inappropriate to imply any endorsement by the Boy Scouts of America."

Shields did not say if he himself is gay, but he's probably not, because he would have been kicked out, too. Which isn't to say that Bush is gay either. He's not actually a Boy Scout, so what does it matter? I'm not going to date the guy, I'm just going to not vote for him.


That flag-raising kid who's not a gay troop leader? They wouldn't really beat him senseless. They'd just give him the old heave-ho.

Media Watch Extra

Number of times the word "saucily" appears in a front-page headline in today's New York Times: one.

Common Denominator

W.'s jaunty insouciance about executions.