Compare and Contrast (part four)

JEREMY LIN vs. RON JEREMY

CATEGORY: Signature Achievement
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: $30 million deal with NBA
THE PORN KING: Fat guy paid to have sex

CATEGORY: Special Talents
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: 109 assists and 64 turnovers
THE PORN KING: Autofellatio

CATEGORY: Measurements
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: 6’4″
THE PORN KING: 9 and 3/4 inches

CATEGORY: Position(s)
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: Point Guard
THE PORN KING: Reverse cowgirl, piledriver, et al

CATEGORY: Useless Degree
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: Economics (Harvard)
THE PORN KING: Special Ed (Queens College)

CATEGORY: Celebrity Fan
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: Spike Lee
THE PORN KING: Kid Rock

CATEGORY: Moral Conviction
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: Evangelical Christian
THE PORN KING: Campaigned against condoms in porn

CATEGORY: Humility
THE BASKETBALL SENSATION: Slept on brother’s couch
THE PORN KING: Autofellatio

WINNER: Jeremy Lin

* * *

PETRAEUS vs. PROMETHEUS

CATEGORY: Bragging Rights
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: Oversaw military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
THE GREEK GOD: Created man from clay

CATEGORY: Woman Trouble
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: May have several mistresses
THE GREEK GOD: Responsible for Pandora, the first woman

CATEGORY: Nemesis
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: FBI
THE GREEK GOD: Zeus

CATEGORY: Hobbies
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: Physical fitness
THE GREEK GOD: Inventing mathematics

CATEGORY: Teaching Experience
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: Taught international relations at West Point
THE GREEK GOD: Inspired civilization

CATEGORY: Major Career Misstep
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: Alleged affair with biographer
THE GREEK GOD: Stealing fire and giving to humans

CATEGORY: Punishment
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: Resigned from CIA, possible military prosecution
THE GREEK GOD: An eagle feeding on his liver for eternity

CATEGORY: Book Title That Could Be Confused For Sexual Pun
THE EX-CIA DIRECTOR: All In: The Education of General David Petraeus
THE GREEK GOD: Prometheus Rising

WINNER: Prometheus

* * *

FLO RIDA vs. FLORIDA

CATEGORY: Name Origin
THE RAPPER: Home state of Florida
THE SWING STATE: Spanish for “Flowery Easter”

CATEGORY: Math Skills
THE RAPPER: Hit single “Turn Around (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)”
THE SWING STATE: Easily confused by hanging chads

CATEGORY: Inspiring Young People
THE RAPPER: Launched Youth Football League
THE SWING STATE: Two universities on Princeton Review’s 2012 top party schools list

CATEGORY: Bush Connection
THE RAPPER: Interviewed by Billy Bush
THE SWING STATE: May have gotten George W. Bush elected (twice)

CATEGORY: Disney Connection
THE RAPPER: Rumored to date Disney singer Brenda Song
THE SWING STATE: Contains Disney World

CATEGORY: Gun Enthusiasm
THE RAPPER: Songs (and personal life) mostly gun-free
THE SWING STATE: “Stand your ground” law

CATEGORY: Sacred Religious Documents Almost Burned In Protest
THE RAPPER: None
THE SWING STATE: One, the Qur’an

CATEGORY: Voted For Obama?
THE RAPPER: It’s a “private matter.”
THE SWING STATE: Maybe. Still counting.

WINNER: Flo Rida

* * *

BEASTIE BOYS vs. ROMNEY BOYS

CATEGORY: Hard Knock Beginnings
RAP TRIO: Streets of New York City
MITT OFFSPRING: $100 million trust fund

CATEGORY: Violence
RAP TRIO: Fighting for your right to party
MITT OFFSPRING: Tagg wants to “take a swing” at Obama

CATEGORY: Sexual Hyjinks
RAP TRIO: 20-foot inflatable penis at 1986 tour
MITT OFFSPRING: Spawned 15 grandchildren for Mitt

CATEGORY: Religious Activism
RAP TRIO: Opened for Madonna
MITT OFFSPRING: Mormon missionary work

CATEGORY: Charity Work
RAP TRIO: Tibetan Freedom Concert
MITT OFFSPRING: Father’s presidential campaign

CATEGORY: Subsidized Industry
RAP TRIO: Gold chains
MITT OFFSPRING: Surrogate mothers

CATEGORY: Pacifism
RAP TRIO: Protested Iraq War with “In A World Gone Mad”
MITT OFFSPRING: Avoided Iraq War by not enlisting

CATEGORY: Nemesis
RAP TRIO: Salivary gland cancer
MITT OFFSPRING: Whoopi Goldberg

WINNER: Beastie Boys

* * *

LEAN CUSINE vs. LENA DUNHAM
by Eric Spitznagel

CATEGORY: Nutritional Value
FROZEN DINNER: 300 calories or less
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Eats cupcakes in the bathtub

CATEGORY: Thriftiness
FROZEN DINNER: Most meals under $3
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Lived with parents until last June

CATEGORY: Bad Press
FROZEN DINNER: Recall for meals filled with plastic
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Accused of “casual racism”

CATEGORY: Nemesis
FROZEN DINNER: Healthy Choice
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Gawker

CATEGORY: Fashion Statement
FROZEN DINNER: Sells insulated tote bags
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Dressed as Louis CK for Halloween

CATEGORY: Literary Works
FROZEN DINNER: “Book of Truth” commercials feature non-existent book
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Rumored $3.5 million book advance

CATEGORY: Social Media
FROZEN DINNER: 684 followers on Twitter
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Tweets about napping

CATEGORY: Animal Tributes
FROZEN DINNER: Namesake dog on Jersey Shore
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Gerbil named for Gilda Radner

CATEGORY: Gratuitous Ingredient
FROZEN DINNER: Sodium
HOLLYWOOD IT GIRL: Nude scenes

WINNER: Lena Dunham

* * *

STONEHENGE vs. THE ROLLING STONES

CATEGORY: Admission
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: £7.80 (about $12.56 USD)
ROCK DINOSAURS: $600,000 online for one reunion show

CATEGORY: Age
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: Between 5000 and 6500 years old
ROCK DINOSAURS: Just turned 50

CATEGORY: Hubris
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: Supposedly built or inspired by extraterrestrials
ROCK DINOSAURS: Self-described “Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band in the World”

CATEGORY: History
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: No written records
ROCK DINOSAURS: Dozens of biographies, authorized and otherwise

CATEGORY: Creepy Factor
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: May’ve been burial ground
ROCK DINOSAURS: Keith Richards somehow not dead

CATEGORY: Sex Appeal
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: Rumored to be fertility symbol
ROCK DINOSAURS: Biographer claims Mick Jagger had 4000 lovers

CATEGORY: Embarrassing Moment
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: Spinal Tap tribute
ROCK DINOSAURS: 1986′s Dirty Work

CATEGORY: Three Dimensions
NEOLITHIC MONUMENT: Recent 3D laser scanning uncovers art carvings
ROCK DINOSAURS: 2008 Martin Scorsese 3D concert doc

WINNER: The Stones

* * *

NASA vs. NASCAR

CATEGORY: Origins
SPACE CENTER: Competitiveness with Russians
STOCK CAR RACERS: Prohibition moonshine runners

CATEGORY: Speeding Record
SPACE CENTER: New Horizons could get to Pluto in 9 and 1/2 years
STOCK CAR RACERS: Bill Elliot hit 212 mph at Talladega

CATEGORY: Littering Record
SPACE CENTER: Dozens of dead animals still floating in space
STOCK CAR RACERS: 600 burnt out tires per race

CATEGORY: Distinguishing Feature of Fans
SPACE CENTER: Good at math
STOCK CAR RACERS: Farmer tans

CATEGORY: Approximate Distance to Disney World
SPACE CENTER: 60 miles
STOCK CAR RACERS: 75 miles

CATEGORY: Ugly Rumor
SPACE CENTER: Faked moon landing
STOCK CAR RACERS: Discourages African American drivers

CATEGORY: Political Embarrassments
SPACE CENTER: Newt Gingrich predicts moon colony
STOCK CAR RACERS: Fans choose Obama over Romney in polls

CATEGORY: Employee Urine Antics
SPACE CENTER: Cross-country trip in adult diaper
STOCK CAR RACERS: Son of NASCAR legend pees on woman

CATEGORY: On the Job Tragedies
SPACE CENTER: Challenger shuttle explosion
STOCK CAR RACERS: Dale Earnhardt Sr. crash

CATEGORY: Less Than Flattering Movies
SPACE CENTER: Apollo 13
STOCK CAR RACERS: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

CATEGORY: Victory Meal
SPACE CENTER: Peanuts
STOCK CAR RACERS: Milk

CATEGORY: Outsourcing
SPACE CENTER: Mars rover Curiosity
STOCK CAR RACERS: Juan Pablo Montoya

WINNER: NASA

* * *

BARCLAYS CENTER vs. CHARLES BARKLEY

CATEGORY: Absurd Statistic
CONCERT ARENA: 18,000 seats, just 500 parking spots
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Career record 20,000 points, 1 DUI arrest

CATEGORY: Epic P.R. Crisis
CONCERT ARENA: Downscaled development plans
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Said 20% of NBA fans should be shot

CATEGORY: Innovations
CONCERT ARENA: 3,000-foot LED marquee
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Pronounces “terrible” as “turrible”

CATEGORY: Jay-Z connection
CONCERT ARENA: Gave premiere concert
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Called and begged him to be in “NBA 2K12″ video game

CATEGORY: Basketball Greatness
CONCERT ARENA: Hosted the Harlem Globetrotters
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Played with the 1992 Olympic Dream Team

CATEGORY: Food Issues
CONCERT ARENA: Caviar for high-rollers
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Weight Watchers “lose weight like a man” campaign

CATEGORY: Over-rated Technology
CONCERT ARENA: Free Wi-Fi
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Admits his shoes “won’t make you handsome like me.”

CATEGORY: Attempt to Court Gay Demo
CONCERT ARENA: Two Barbra Streisand concerts
RETIRED BASKETBALL STAR: Said he’d welcome “a gay guy who can play” as teammate.

WINNER:
Barcays Center

* * *

ANGELA MERKEL vs. ANGELA LANSBURY

CATEGORY: Popularity
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: 70% approval rating
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: 18 Emmy nominations, no wins

CATEGORY: School of Hard Knocks
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Grew up in communist East Germany
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: Married a bisexual at 19

CATEGORY: Rock Cred
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Used Rolling Stones song “Angie” in 2005 campaign
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: Played Elvis Presley’s mother in Blue Hawaii

CATEGORY: Communist Conspiracy
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Rumors she was a communist spy
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: Creepy role in Manchurian Candidate

CATEGORY: Mormon Friendly
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Declined chance to meet Mitt Romney
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: Performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

CATEGORY: Enthusiasm For Fictional Murder
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Fan of British detective drama Midsomer Murders
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: 12 seasons starring in Murder, She Wrote

CATEGORY: Career Plan B
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: Doctorate in quantum chemistry
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: 1988 exercise video

CATEGORY: Family Drama
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: “Party of the family” leader, no children
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: Daughter was Charles Manson follower

CATEGORY: Lasting Impression
GERMAN CHANCELLOR: (Maybe) saving the Eurozone
BRITISH CHARACTER ACTRESS: Hand prints at EuroDisney

WINNER: A tie!

(These stories originally appeared, in slightly different forms, in various issues of the New York Times Magazine between September and November, 2012.)