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.
6. St _______________en