>>> Text-Heavy
By staff writer E.E. Southerby
Volume 87 – June 27, 2004

“See In-Column for Details”

Now Playing: “Beyond the Sun” by Country Time Synergy

Everybody loves contests. Except maybe Jehovah's Witnesses. I'm pretty sure they're not allowed to participate in contests, under Witness code 450(b): “Thou shalt not partake in programs of a contestual nature, nor shall thou accept gifts of gold, frankincense, myrrh or big-screen TVs from others who have participated in said contestual programs.” But everybody else loves contests, particularly if they involve little to no skill on the part of the participant. Many of you are probably overwhelmed by the many possibilities of FABULOUS PRIZES afforded to you in our capitalist economy, and would like a guide to simplify your choices. Here's what happened:

-A few weeks ago the lottery system over here changed. It used to be that you paid a dollar, picked 6 numbers, and if you got them all right you'd win about 8 million dollars. Terrible odds, huge payoff. Now, they've raised the price to TWO dollars, but they've also raised the jackpot to like 20 million. Is this not the ultimate in human greed? I can't believe that there was someone out there who was writing complaint letters to the lottery people like “8 million dollars is… pretty good. But I'd gladly pay 2 dollars if only you could make it worth my while.”

-Of course, the thrill of playing the lottery pales in comparison to the amazement and wonder of scratch and win tickets. Man, those are AWESOME. You ever see the commercials for these things, where a woman is playing scratch and win bingo in line at the bank, and then she wins and screams “BINGO!” loud enough that everyone drops to the floor? That could be you. Except instead of being in line at the bank you'll be in line at the welfare office, and instead of a bingo ticket you'll be holding a bottle of Jack Daniels you stole from your more attractive and more successful sister while she was out “for a midnight stroll,” whatever that means. But don't let that stop you from causing a scene.

-It's been a long time since I've gotten an official-looking letter in the mail claiming I may have already won an amount of money greater than the GNP of one of those bullshit countries nobody cares about like Estonia or Christmas Island. It's too bad. Those things were like getting court settlements delivered right to your door. I wonder who finally sued the pants off those scammers' backs, not that I'm implying they wore pants on their backs or anything. I bet it was the same guy who made the lottery cost 2 dollars.

-You ever see a contest or a prize that says “no purchase necessary”? Why the hell would I buy their shit, then? Heck, I may have already won.

-Everybody knows the gambler's Mecca is Las Vegas. Problem is, for you to do any gambling you have to put up with Las Vegas' themed casinos. For example, they have a Paris-themed casino, containing a 2/3-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, and a New York-themed casino containing a 2/3-scale replica of Ed Koch. I don't understand why they keep coming up with themes of places you can go to that aren't Las Vegas. Why make a Paris themed casino when you can just go to Paris? They should make themes you can't get anywhere else, like a Moon-themed casino, or Heaven. Those would be awesome.

-I think we're getting to the point where there will soon be a market for a Las Vegas-themed casino in Las Vegas. It will be a miniaturized version of everything you see in Las Vegas, including a 2/3-scale replica of a 2/3-scale replica of Ed Koch (you can use him as a Monopoly piece.) The feature show will be an Elvis Impersonator Impersonator. Then my Heaven-themed casino won't look so stupid by comparison.

-Quote of the Moment: A guy sitting at the blackjack table beside me: “It's a good thing the Mafia don't [sic] run the casinos here anymore, or I'd have had my thumbs broken by now.” The thing is, the guy had maybe $25 in chips in front of him, which means either (a) he was illegally counting cards and still losing or (b) he seriously thought the Mafia would care about someone cheating at three dollar blackjack. I should have broken his thumbs for being such a goddamned idiot, but I hear that's bad luck.

-I have never, ever, EVER won a door prize. You know when you attend an event or catered function and they give you these little raffle tickets as you go in and then while you're lining up for cold cuts the Emcee yells out “TICKET 002587725 WINS A FABULOUS $25 GIFT CERTIFICATE TO ARBY'S!” and everybody cheers like he just won the Nobel Peace Prize, and the douchebag stands up and screams “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD I CAN'T BELIEVE I WON I NEVER WIN ANYTHING!!!” and you're afraid he might go apoplectic (assuming you bother to look that word up)? That's never me. It really pisses me off and I don't even LIKE Arby's.

-Radio call-in contests are even worse. Whenever the DJ says he'll take caller 15 I always wonder if there's anybody out there who actually waits to dial in (“13 mississippi 14 mississippi 15…”). What's the point of taking the 15th caller, or the 9th caller, or the 187th caller. Why not take the first caller who, through a complex combination of good timing and powerful call-blocking technology, manages to actually not get a busy signal? How much would it suck if the one time you called in to a radio contest and DIDN'T get a busy signal (the call-blocking technology must have been in the shop) the DJ picked up and said “Congratulations on getting through, but unfortunately you're caller 14.” That might be enough to make me look up the word apoplexy again.

-I don't think there's an area of the law that could use more fine-tuning than the “skill-testing question.” The next president will be the one who finally addresses this issue. If you win any sort of prize, even if the total value of the prize is equivalent to 50 cents off a McDonald's small fries, you are required by law to complete a test of skill before your glorious Freedom Fries™ can be claimed. This question will surely be a hum-dinger, which is a term you don't hear often enough these days. You may have to consult your old college textbooks and spend months creating a detailed report before you can answer this challenging test of skill. When all is said and done, you'll feel less like a contest winner than a man or woman who's EARNED those fries. And if you ever get stuck just guess “15.” The answer's almost always 15. God bless America! Bush/Cheney '04!