Compare and Contrast (part five)

GANDALF vs. GANGNAM STYLE

CATEGORY: Name origin
FICTIONAL WIZARD: “Wand elf” in Old Norse
NOVELTY SONG: A wealthy Seoul neighborhood

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CATEGORY: Amazing Feat
FICTIONAL WIZARD: Survived battle with Balrog
NOVELTY SONG: Most “liked” YouTube video of all time

CATEGORY: Signature Move
FICTIONAL WIZARD: Shooting lightning from his staff
NOVELTY SONG: The pony-riding dance

CATEGORY: Fan base
FICTIONAL WIZARD: Hobbits
NOVELTY SONG: Most of the world, except Japan

CATEGORY: Altruism
FICTIONAL WIZARD: Saved Middle Earth from destruction
NOVELTY SONG: “A force for world peace,” says UN Secretary-General

CATEGORY: Health issues
FICTIONAL WIZARD: Resurrected
NOVELTY SONG: Singer has noticeable paunch

CATEGORY: Imitators
FICTIONAL WIZARD: Dumbledore
NOVELTY SONG: Philippine convicts

WINNER: “Gangnam Style”

* * *

RAY LEWIS vs. DANIEL DAY-LEWIS

CATEGORY: Favorite Activity
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Weeping
BRITISH THESPIAN: Suffering for his art

CATEGORY: Career High
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Super Bowl MVP
BRITISH THESPIAN: Lincoln

CATEGORY: Career Low
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Indicted in double homicide
BRITISH THESPIAN: Nine

CATEGORY: Cultural Legacy
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Squirrel Dance
BRITISH THESPIAN: “I drink your milkshake!”

CATEGORY: Daddy Issues
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Dad left when he was 6
BRITISH THESPIAN: Thought dead father watched him perform Hamlet

CATEGORY: On The Job Injuries
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Torn triceps
BRITISH THESPIAN: Nose broken by Leonardo DiCaprio

CATEGORY: Parenting
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Six kids by four women
BRITISH THESPIAN: Told kids he was construction worker

CATEGORY: Scary Accessory
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Darth Vader-esque face mask
BRITISH THESPIAN: Hoop earrings

CATEGORY: Retirement Plans
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Job offers at ESPN and CBS
BRITISH THESPIAN: Trained as a cobbler

CATEGORY: Alleged Drug Use
BALTIMORE LINEBACKER: Deer-antler spray
BRITISH THESPIAN: Antibiotics from self-inflicted pneumonia

WINNER: A tie!

* * *

FISCAL CLIFF vs. HEATHCLIFF

CATEGORY: What Is It?
FINANCIAL CONUNDRUM: Billions in taxes and spending cuts
FICTIONAL CAT: Feline with eating disorder

CATEGORY: Blame It On George
FINANCIAL CONUNDRUM: Purportedly caused by George W. Bush-era tax cuts
FICTIONAL CAT: Created by cartoonist George Gately

CATEGORY: Potential Damage
FINANCIAL CONUNDRUM: Another recession
FICTIONAL CAT: Overturned trash cans

CATEGORY: Industries Affected
FINANCIAL CONUNDRUM: Defense, social programs
FICTIONAL CAT: Fishmongers, sanitation

CATEGORY: Seniors Affected
FINANCIAL CONUNDRUM: Any on Medicare
FICTIONAL CAT: Mr. Schultz

CATEGORY: Unfair Comparisons
FINANCIAL CONUNDRUM: Europe’s Financial Crisis
FICTIONAL CAT: Garfield

WINNER: Heathcliff

* * *

LEONARD COHEN vs. STEVE COHEN

CATEGORY: Demeanor
SINGER: Brooding
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Tempestuous

CATEGORY: Fashion Sense
SINGER: Italian suits
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Sweaters with zippers

CATEGORY: Financial Stability
SINGER: Toured in 2008 because he was broke
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Net worth estimated at $8.8 billion

CATEGORY: Nickname
SINGER: The Poet Laureate of Pessimism
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Stevie

CATEGORY: Famous Nuisance
SINGER: A gun-wielding Phil Spector
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: F.B.I. wiretaps

CATEGORY: Love Life Travails
SINGER: Flings with Janis Joplin, etc.
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Sued by ex-wife for racketeering

CATEGORY: WTF Factor
SINGER: Was a guest star on Miami Vice
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Head made of frozen blood in office lobby

CATEGORY: Extracurricular Activities
SINGER: Became a monk
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Paid $8 million for dead tiger shark in formaldehyde

CATEGORY: Indirectly Responsible For
SINGER: Dozens of crappy “Hallelujah” covers
HEDGE FUND BILLIONAIRE: Dozens of insider trading indictments

WINNER: Leonard Cohen

* * *

TIM McGRAW & FAITH HILL vs. McGRAW-HILL

CATEGORY: History
COUNTRY SINGERS: Met on tour, fell in love
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Publishers met, then merged

CATEGORY: Fan Base
COUNTRY SINGERS: Rednecks
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Public schools

CATEGORY: Bling Factor
COUNTRY SINGERS: Combined net worth $135 Million
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Sold BusinessWeek for $1

CATEGORY: Bush Family Relations
COUNTRY SINGERS: Barbara Bush on advisory board
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Criticized “humiliating” Katrina cleanup

CATEGORY: Hats
COUNTRY SINGERS: One, black
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Divisions in construction, broadcasting, education and financial services

CATEGORY: Family First
COUNTRY SINGERS: Reconciled with Hall of Fame dad
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Family owned for eight decades

CATEGORY: Wild Behavior
COUNTRY SINGERS: Admitted to sex on kitchen counter
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Sued Google

CATEGORY: Religious Views
COUNTRY SINGERS: Baptist
TEXTBOOK CONGLOMERATE: Christian (but only in Texas social study books)

WINNER: McGraw-Hill

* * *

GOLDEN GLOBES vs. GOLDEN GIRLS

CATEGORY: Premise
AWARDS CEREMONY: Poor man’s Oscars
OLD LADY SITCOM: Old ladies have sex too

CATEGORY: Reason To Watch
AWARDS CEREMONY: The celebrities get drunk
OLD LADY SITCOM: Lead-in to Empty Nest

CATEGORY: Fashion Faux Pas
AWARDS CEREMONY: Lara Flynn Boyle in a tutu
OLD LADY SITCOM: Bea Arther’s shoulder pads

CATEGORY: Recurring Jokes
AWARDS CEREMONY: The Hollywood Foreign Press
OLD LADY SITCOM: Strokes, divorces

CATEGORY: Offscreen Relationships
AWARDS CEREMONY: 2013 co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are actual friends
OLD LADY SITCOM: Bea Arthur called Betty White a “cunt.”

CATEGORY: British Invasions
AWARDS CEREMONY: Ricky Gervais hosted three times
OLD LADY SITCOM: U.K. spin-off Brighton Belles

CATEGORY: Rat Pack Influence
AWARDS CEREMONY: Frank, Dean and Sammy hijacked the show in 1958
OLD LADY SITCOM: Sophia calls her pillow “Dino”

CATEGORY: Weird Protests
AWARDS CEREMONY: Picketed by Westboro Baptist Church
OLD LADY SITCOM: Off-Broadway drag show shut down

WINNER: Golden Girls

* * *

THE S.E.C. vs. THE S.E.C.

CATEGORY: Purpose
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: An excuse for tail-gating
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: Regulate the markets

CATEGORY: Track Record
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: Past six national football champs
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: Ignored warnings about Madoff

CATEGORY: Top-dog Salaries
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: $5.3 million for Alabama head coach
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: $163,000 for chairman

CATEGORY: Popular Mascot
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: Uga the bulldog
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: Joe Kennedy

CATEGORY: Feminism
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: Antebellum attire for lady fans
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: First female chairman appointed in 2009

CATEGORY: Bald Eagles
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: Flying around stadium before every Auburn game
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: On logo

CATEGORY: Boring Paperwork
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: Fantasy drafts
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: Dodd-Frank regulations

CATEGORY: Toughest Opponent
THE COLLEGE SPORTS CONFERENCE: Notre Dame
THE FEDERAL AGENCY: Citigroup

WINNER: The football conference

* * *

JEAN VALIJEAN vs. JEAN-CLAUDE VAN DAMME

CATEGORY: Nemesis
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: Police Inspector Javert
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Bipolar disorder

CATEGORY: Criminal History
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: 19 years for stealing bread
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Sued for blinding stuntman

CATEGORY: Self Improvement
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: Inspired by bishop to become better man
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Learned English from Flintstones

CATEGORY: Spending Spree Focus
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: The poor
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Cocaine

CATEGORY: Secret Love
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: Cosette
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Kylie Minogue

CATEGORY: Fatherhood
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: Adopted prostitute
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Accused of not paying child support for 7 years

CATEGORY: Self Defense
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: Changing his identity
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Kickboxing, marital arts

CATEGORY: Sensitive Side
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: Spared Javert’s life
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Studied ballet

CATEGORY: Rocky Comeback
LES MIZ PROTAGONIST: 2012 tent-pole adaptation
ACTION MOVIE STAR: Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

WINNER: Jean Valjean

* * *

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER vs. RUDY GIULIANI

CATEGORY: Distinguishing Feature
FICTIONAL REINDEER: Luminous red nose
FORMER NYC MAYOR: Nasal lisp, comb-over

CATEGORY: Defining Disaster
FICTIONAL REINDEER: Blizzard
FORMER NYC MAYOR: 9/11

CATEGORY: Philanthropy
FICTIONAL REINDEER: Liberated Island of Misfit Toys
FORMER NYC MAYOR: Had homeless people arrested

CATEGORY: Outsourcing
FICTIONAL REINDEER: Eponymous TV special animated in Japan
FORMER NYC MAYOR: Encouraged illegal immigrants to come take New York jobs

CATEGORY: Powerful Buddy
FICTIONAL REINDEER: Santa Claus
FORMER NYC MAYOR: George W. Bush

CATEGORY: Romance History
FICTIONAL REINDEER: Saved Christmas, impressed Clarice
FORMER NYC MAYOR: Impressed Judi at a cigar bar

CATEGORY: Career Ambitions
FICTIONAL REINDEER: Join reindeer games
FORMER NYC MAYOR: U.S. Presidency

WINNER: The reindeer

* * *

MANATEE NEBULA vs. MANTI TE’O’S FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND

CATEGORY: Purpose
NEBULA: Cannibalizing gas from nearby star
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: Conning Notre Dame’s star linebacker

CATEGORY: Resembles
NEBULA: Manatee floating on its back
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: Marketing executive from LA

CATEGORY: Real Name
NEBULA: W50
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: Ronaiah Tuiasosopo

CATEGORY: Dramatic Death
NEBULA: Supernova explosion
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: “Leukemia”

CATEGORY: Home
NEBULA: Aquila constellation
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: Los Angeles

CATEGORY: Deception
NEBULA: Black hole at its core
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: Actually a dude

CATEGORY: Discovered By
NEBULA: Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: Deadspin.com

CATEGORY: Official Unveiling
NEBULA: Florida Manatee Festival
FICTIONAL GIRLFRIEND: Katie Couric interview

WINNER: The nebula

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