JENNY McCARTHY VS. JOSEPH McCARTHY

CATEGORY: First Job
THE VIEW HOST: MTV’s Singled Out
THE SENATOR: Chicken farmer

JoeandJenny

CATEGORY: Controversial Belief
THE VIEW HOST: Vaccines cause autism
THE SENATOR: Commies are everywhere

CATEGORY: Success Rate
THE VIEW HOST: 0 autism diagnoses prevented
THE SENATOR: 0 communists convicted

CATEGORY: Vices
THE VIEW HOST: Vicodin
THE SENATOR: Booze

CATEGORY: Sense of Decency?
THE VIEW HOST: 1994 Playboy Playmate of the Year
THE SENATOR: Not according to Joseph Welch

CATEGORY: Unlikely Ally
THE VIEW HOST: Barbara Walters
THE SENATOR: Roy Cohn

CATEGORY: Retractions
THE VIEW HOST: Removed her breast implants
THE SENATOR: None

CATEGORY: Parenthood
THE VIEW HOST: Four books about motherhood
THE SENATOR: “I don’t know much about babies.”

CATEGORY: Legacy
THE VIEW HOST: Measles
THE SENATOR: McCarthyism

WINNER: Tie

HARRY REID VS. HARRY CARAY

CATEGORY: Catchphrase
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: “That’s a clown question, bro.”
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: “Holy cow!”

CATEGORY: Teams
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Democrats
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs

CATEGORY: Distinctive Eyewear
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Thin frames
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Thick frames

CATEGORY: Religion
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Mormon
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Budweiser

CATEGORY: Regular Pastime
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Negotiating debt ceiling with G.O.P.
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Seventh inning stretch singalong

CATEGORY: Father
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Hard-rock miner
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Orphaned

CATEGORY: Food Enthusiasm
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Loves grocery shopping
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Eponymous steakhouse

CATEGORY: Racism
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Obama “light-skinned” comment
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Asians and their “slanty” eyes

CATEGORY: Notable Injuries
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Black eye from jogging mishap
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Statue vandalized with dead goat carcass

CATEGORY: Saturday Night Live Impersonator
THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Paul somebody
THE BASEBALL BROADCASTER: Will Ferrell

WINNER: Harry Caray

TED CRUZ VS. TOM CRUISE

CATEGORY: Heroic achievement
THE TEXAS SENATOR: 21-hour speech
THE MOVIE STAR: Scientology cured dyslexia

CATEGORY: Career-Defining Fashion
THE TEXAS SENATOR: “Argument boots”
THE MOVIE STAR: Tighty whities for dancing

CATEGORY: Ally Turned Nemesis
THE TEXAS SENATOR: G.O.P.
THE MOVIE STAR: Leah Remini

CATEGORY: Jingoism
THE TEXAS SENATOR: “Come and Take It” flag pin
THE MOVIE STAR: Top Gun

CATEGORY: No Fan Of…
THE TEXAS SENATOR: Obamacare
THE MOVIE STAR: Anti-depressants, glib daytime hosts

CATEGORY: Bird Connection
THE TEXAS SENATOR: John McCain called him a “wacko bird”
THE MOVIE STAR: Admits getting bird-poop facials

CATEGORY: Blamed For
THE TEXAS SENATOR: Shutting Down Government
THE MOVIE STAR: Four Mission Impossible films

CATEGORY: Party Affiliation
THE TEXAS SENATOR: Tea Party
THE MOVIE STAR: Masked sex party, Eyes Wide Shut

WINNER: Draw

NORTH WEST VS. NORTH BY NORTHWEST

CATEGORY: Public Debut
THE KIMYE BABY: Kris Jenner’s talk show
THE HITCHCOCK MOVIE: San Sebastián International Film Festival

CATEGORY: Daddy issues
THE KIMYE BABY: Dad is brilliant, douchey
THE HITCHCOCK MOVIE: Director was brilliant, douchey

CATEGORY: Themes
THE KIMYE BABY: Chubby cheeks, camera ready
THE HITCHCOCK MOVIE: Cold War moral relativism

CATEGORY: Pursued by
THE KIMYE BABY: Paparazzi
THE HITCHCOCK MOVIE: Crop dusters

CATEGORY: What Almost Was
THE KIMYE BABY: Kris Humphries
THE HITCHCOCK MOVIE: MGM wanted to cut 15 minutes

CATEGORY: Inspiration
THE KIMYE BABY: Inevitable cheesy hip-hop ballads
THE HITCHCOCK MOVIE: James Bond

WINNER: North By Northwest

ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA VS. BRITNEY SPEARS

CATEGORY: Recent Newsworthiness
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Ceased publishing after 244 years
THE POP SINGER: Signed two-year deal to play Vegas

CATEGORY: Inspirations
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Scottish Enlightenment
THE POP SINGER: Madonna

CATEGORY: Special Interests
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Geography, biography, literature, astronomy
THE POP SINGER: Pythons, going commando

CATEGORY: Marketing Strategy
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: “The Sum of Human Knowledge”
THE POP SINGER: Softcore porn set to music

CATEGORY: Availability
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Once sold door-to-door
THE POP SINGER: Songs easily downloaded to cellphone

CATEGORY: Unique Appearance
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Gold lettering
THE POP SINGER: Shaved head

CATEGORY: Perceived Low Point
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Deleting entry on the poet Joachim du Bellay
THE POP SINGER: The Kevin Federline era

CATEGORY: Publishing history
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Fifteen editions
THE POP SINGER: Wrote two books with mom

CATEGORY: Mortal Enemy
THE ENCYCLOPEDIA: Wikipedia
THE POP SINGER: X-tina

WINNER: Encyclopedia Britannica

“MEAN” JOE GREENE VS. CEE LO GREEN

CATEGORY: Teams
THE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Pittsburgh Steelers
THE SINGER/ VOICE HOST: Goodie Mob, Gnarls Barkley

CATEGORY: Uniform
THE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: No. 75 jersey
THE SINGER/ VOICE HOST: Peacock feathers, silver breastplate

CATEGORY: Defense
THE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: “Steel Curtain”
THE SINGER/ VOICE HOST: Twitter apologies

CATEGORY: Signature Catchphrase
THE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: “One for the Thumb”
THE SINGER/ VOICE HOST: “Fuck you!”

CATEGORY: Sidekick
THE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Terry Bradshaw
THE SINGER/ VOICE HOST: Purrfect the cat

CATEGORY: Controversy
THE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Kicked prostrate player in groin
THE SINGER/ VOICE HOST: Accused of drugging girl with ecstasy

CATEGORY: Generosity
THE DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: Throwing jersey to kid in Coke commercial
THE SINGER/ VOICE HOST: Rewriting John Lennon’s “Imagine”

WINNER: Mean Joe Greene

CONAN THE BARBARIAN VS. CONAN O’BRIEN

CATEGORY: Milestone
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Upcoming reboot with Arnie
THE TALK SHOW HOST: On the air for 20 years

CATEGORY: Origins
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Weird Tales magazine
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Simpsons writing staff

CATEGORY: Defining Features
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Chiseled chest
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Wavy red hair

CATEGORY: Sidekick
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: His biceps
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Andy Richter

CATEGORY: Emotional Scars
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Village, parents killed by wizard
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Lost Tonight Show

CATEGORY: Education
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Self-educated
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Harvard

CATEGORY: Archnemesis
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Thulsa Doom
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Jay Leno

CATEGORY: Arnold Schwarzenegger Connection
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Played him in 1982 movie
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Mocked his “girlie breasts”

CATEGORY: Animal Friends
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Needle the Phoenix
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

CATEGORY: Career Highlights
THE SWORD-AND-SORCERY CHARACTER: Avenged dead parents
THE TALK SHOW HOST: Took Mr. T apple-picking

WINNER: Conan O’Brien

JOHNNY FOOTBALL VS. JOHNNY ROTTEN

CATEGORY: Real Name
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Johnny Manziel
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Johnny Lydon

CATEGORY: Name Origins
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: He’s good at football
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Green teeth

CATEGORY: Rival
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Alabama
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Queen Elizabeth

CATEGORY: Team
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Texas A&M Aggies
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Sex Pistols

CATEGORY: Drug of Choice
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Skittles
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Tried heroin once

CATEGORY: Antiestablishmentarianism
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Investigated by N.C.A.A. For autograph signing
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Called Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame a “piss stain”

CATEGORY: Stabbing Injuries
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: None
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Repeatedly stabbed in legs, arms, hands by fans

CATEGORY: Pedigree
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Wealthy oil family
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Working class Irish immigrants

CATEGORY: Drinking Issue
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Allegedly drunk-tweeted
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Allegedly drank Joey Ramone’s urine

CATEGORY: Religious Beliefs
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Christian-ish
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Named his cat Satan

CATEGORY: Favorite Obscene Gesture
THE TEXAS A&M QUARTERBACK: Signing an autograph
THE BRITISH PUNK ROCKER: Middle finger

WINNER: Johnny Rotten

CYRANO de BERGERAC VS. MILEY CYRUS

CATEGORY: Distinguishing Feature
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: Large nose
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: Stripper clothes

CATEGORY: Magnum Opus
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: “States and Empire” books
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: “Party in the U.S.A.”

CATEGORY: Special Skills
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: Improvising poetry while dueling
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: Twerking

CATEGORY: Fictional Alter-Ego
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: Gerard Depardieu
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: Hannah Montana

CATEGORY: Inappropriate Love Interest
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: Cousin Roxane
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: A foam finger

CATEGORY: Religious Views
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: Atheist
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: Tweeted “‘forget Jesus”

CATEGORY: Mentor
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: The French philosopher Pierre Gassendi
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: Billy Ray Cyrus, the muletted country star

CATEGORY: Favorite Literary Topics
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: Space travel
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: Doing ecstasy

CATEGORY: Reviews
THE 17th CENTURY WRITER: “A madman” – Voltaire
THE 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER: “Twerk-tastic” – Perez Hilton

WINNER: Cyrano de Bergerac (by a nose)

KATY PERRY VS. PERRY MASON

CATEGORY: Portrayed By
THE POP SINGER: Elizabeth Hudson
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Raymond Burr

CATEGORY: Life’s Work
THE POP SINGER: Flirting, dancing, blue wigs
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Championing the underdog

CATEGORY: Natural Environment
THE POP SINGER: Teen Choice Awards
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Courtroom

CATEGORY: Media Format
THE POP SINGER: YouTube, Twitter, Cellphone rings
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Radio, TV, books

CATEGORY: Mode of Transportation
THE POP SINGER: 18-wheeler truck made of gold
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Ford Skyliner

CATEGORY: Romantic Exploits
THE POP SINGER: Russell Brand, John Mayer, et al
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Once kissed his secretary

CATEGORY: Nemesis
THE POP SINGER: Teen rapper Chief Keef
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Hamilton Burger, D.A.

CATEGORY: Guilty Pleasure
THE POP SINGER: Kissing girls and liking it
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Steak

CATEGORY: Animal Love
THE POP SINGER: Named cat “Kitty Purry”
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Represented the “Perjured Parrot”

CATEGORY: Favorite Adjectives
THE POP SINGER: Cherry, Cosmic, Wild
THE FICTIONAL LAWYER: Deadly, Golden, Fickle

WINNER: Perry Mason

A-ROD VS. “ROWDY” RODDY PIPER

CATEGORY: Familiar Position
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: Third base
THE WRESTLER: Sleeper hold

CATEGORY: Famously Bad Behavior
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: Taking performance-enhancing drugs
THE WRESTLER: Eye pokes

CATEGORY: Romance Hijinks
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: Dated Madonna, Kate Hudson, Cameron Diaz
THE WRESTLER: Appeared on “Celebrity Wife Swap”

CATEGORY: Career Hits
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: 2,900+
THE WRESTLER: ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka’s head, with a coconut

CATEGORY: Famous Feuds
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: New York Yankees
THE WRESTLER: Mr. T

CATEGORY: Kid Friendly
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: Wrote a children’s book
THE WRESTLER: Played bad guy in Hulk Hogan cartoon

CATEGORY: Extracurricular Activities
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: Dating strippers
THE WRESTLER: Black belt in Judo

CATEGORY: Misguided Fashion Statement
THE EMBATTLED BASEBALL PLAYER: Kissing mirror in tank top
THE WRESTLER: Kilt in the ring

WINNER: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

FEBREZE VS. FABRICE TOURRE

CATEGORY: Defining Compound
THE AIR FRESHENER: Hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin
THE FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EXEC: Abacus 2007-AC1

CATEGORY: Provenance
THE AIR FRESHENER: Cincinnati
THE FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EXEC: France

CATEGORY: Adjective Used Most Often to Describe
THE AIR FRESHENER: Fresh
THE FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EXEC: Arrogant

CATEGORY: Culprits
THE AIR FRESHENER: Smokers, dogs
THE FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EXEC: “Widows and orphans”

CATEGORY: Embarrassing Moniker
THE AIR FRESHENER: “Wandering Barefoot on the Shore”
THE GOLDMAN SACHS EXEC: “Fabulous Fab”

CATEGORY: Reviews
THE AIR FRESHENER: “Any effect was temporary” (Consumer Reports)
THE GOLDMAN SACHS EXEC: “A weenie” (NY Daily News)

CATEGORY: Bottom Line
THE AIR FRESHENER: $1 billion in sales for non-stinky couches
THE FORMER GOLDMAN SACHS EXEC: 100 percent of bonds selected were downgraded

WINNER: Febreze

(These stories originally appeared, in slightly different forms, in various issues of the New York Times Magazine between August and October 2013.)