CHRIS CHRISTIE vs. AGATHA CHRISTIE

Christie Compare

CATEGORY: Bragging Rights
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Landslide re-election win
THE CRIME NOVELIST: Best-selling novelist of all time

CATEGORY: Recurring Motif
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Yelling at teachers
THE CRIME NOVELIST: Nursery rhymes

CATEGORY: Mysterious Disappearance
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Millions in Sandy relief funds
THE CRIME NOVELIST: Her personally, for 10 days in 1926

CATEGORY: Personal Obstacle
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Obesity
THE CRIME NOVELIST: Unfaithful husband

CATEGORY: Nefarious Scheme
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Bridgegate
THE CRIME NOVELIST: Murder by poison

CATEGORY: Love From British Royals
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Met Prince Harry
THE CRIME NOVELIST: Made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II

CATEGORY: Muse
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Bruce Springsteen
THE CRIME NOVELIST: Charles Dickens

CATEGORY: Plot twists
THE NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Maybe running for president, maybe not
THE CRIME NOVELIST: In most of her books

WINNER: Agatha Christie

LIZ CHENEY vs. LON CHANEY JR.

CATEGORY: Claim to Fame
THE VP DAUGHTER: Dick Cheney’s daughter
THE HORROR ACTOR: Played the Werewolf, Mummy, Frankenstein, Dracula

CATEGORY: Failed Ambition
THE VP DAUGHTER: Wyoming Senator
THE HORROR ACTOR: Quasimodo

CATEGORY: Cause Celebre
THE VP DAUGHTER: National security
THE HORROR ACTOR: Sympathetic monsters

CATEGORY: Political Achilles’ Heel
THE VP DAUGHTER: Same-sex marriage
THE HORROR ACTOR: Booze

CATEGORY: Media Cheerleader
THE VP DAUGHTER: Fox News
THE HORROR ACTOR: Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine

CATEGORY: Embarrassing in Hindsight
THE VP DAUGHTER: “W Stands for Women”
THE HORROR ACTOR: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

CATEGORY: Legacy
THE VP DAUGHTER: Dick Cheney’s daughter
THE HORROR ACTOR: Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.”

WINNER: Lon Chaney, Jr.

SHINZO ABE vs. ABE VIGODA

CATEGORY: Defining Characteristic
THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: Right-wing nationalism
THE CHARACTER ACTOR: Gigantic eyebrows

CATEGORY: Cultural Contribution
THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: Abenomics
THE CHARACTER ACTOR: Salvatore Tessio in Godfather

CATEGORY: Rewriting History
THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: No war crimes in school textbooks
THE CHARACTER ACTOR: Didn’t die in mid-80s, as reported

CATEGORY: Hilarious Fashion
THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: Radiation suit with misspelled name
THE CHARACTER ACTOR: Wombat suit at Phish show

CATEGORY: Unpopular Spin-Off
THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: “Restoration of Sovereignty Day”
THE CHARACTER ACTOR: “Fish”

CATEGORY: Controversy
THE JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER: Visited Yasukuni shrine
THE CHARACTER ACTOR: Continues to not be dead

WINNER: Abe Vigoda

THE N.S.A. VS. N.W.A.

CATEGORY: Hometown
THE SECURITY AGENCY: Fort Meade, Maryland
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: Straight outta Compton

CATEGORY: Arch Nemesis
THE SECURITY AGENCY: Edward Snowden
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: Da police

CATEGORY: Crimes
THE SECURITY AGENCY: Data mining, spying, etc
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: Misogynistic, violent lyrics

CATEGORY: Casualties
THE SECURITY AGENCY: Fourth Amendment
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: Eazy-E

CATEGORY: Relationship With FBI
THE SECURITY AGENCY: Friendly competitors
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: Sent a “warning letter”

CATEGORY: Perceived Threat That Probably Isn’t
THE SECURITY AGENCY: World of Warcraft video game
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: “Bitches”

CATEGORY: Code Names
THE SECURITY AGENCY: Whitetamale, Egotisticalgiraffe, Twistedpath
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: 8-Ball, Chin Check, Dopeman, Niggaz, Kamurshol

CATEGORY: Unfortunate Legacy
THE SECURITY AGENCY: Justified paranoia about government
THE HIP-HOP GROUP: Gangsta rap

WINNER: N.W.A.

DANTE ALIGHIERI VS. DANTE de BLASIO

CATEGORY: Defining Work
THE 13-CENTURY POET: The Divine Comedy
THE NEW MAYOR’S SON: Campaign ad for Dad

CATEGORY: Muse
THE 13-CENTURY POET: Beatrice Portinari
THE NEW MAYOR’S SON: His spectacular afro

CATEGORY: Cultural Influence
THE 13-CENTURY POET: Father of the Italian language
THE NEW MAYOR’S SON: Time Magazine “Influential Teen” 2013

CATEGORY: Famous Fan
THE 13-CENTURY POET: Fictional symbologist Robert Langdon
THE NEW MAYOR’S SON: President Obama

CATEGORY: Political Nemesis
THE 13-CENTURY POET: Pope Boniface VIII
THE NEW MAYOR’S SON: Mayor Bloomberg

CATEGORY: Geographical Challenges
THE 13-CENTURY POET: Exiled from Florence
THE NEW MAYOR’S SON: Long commute to high school

WINNER: Dante de Blasio

IRAN VS. RAND PAUL

CATEGORY: Controversy
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Nuclear deal with West
THE U.S. SENATOR: Plagiarism

CATEGORY: Self-Promotion
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Taking hostages
THE U.S. SENATOR: Blimp over Disney World

CATEGORY: Willingness to Compromise
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Nuclear deal with the West
THE U.S. SENATOR: GOP has “compromised enough”

CATEGORY: Holocaust
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Denies
THE U.S. SENATOR: Uses as abortion simile

CATEGORY: Internet
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: All social media banned
THE U.S. SENATOR: No government regulation

CATEGORY: Embarrassing Former Employee
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
THE U.S. SENATOR: “Southern Avenger”

CATEGORY: Same-sex Marriage
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Only if you get sex change
THE U.S. SENATOR: Might lead to bestiality

CATEGORY: Nemesis
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Salman Rushdie
THE U.S. SENATOR: The U.S. Supreme Court

CATEGORY: Future Plans
THE WEST ASIAN COUNTRY: Send another monkey into space
THE U.S. SENATOR: Run for president

WINNER: Draw

J.R.R. TOLKIEN VS. J.R. SMITH

CATEGORY: Special Skills
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: Inventing languages
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: Jump shots

CATEGORY: Awards
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: 1973 Gandalf Award
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: Sixth Man of the Year

CATEGORY: Hobbies
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: Christian orthodoxy
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: Twitter trash-talking

CATEGORY: Drinking Buddy
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: C.S. Lewis
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: Rihanna

CATEGORY: Financial Weirdness
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: Grandkids suing for $80 mill over slot machines
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: Sent $60 by a fan

CATEGORY: Health Woes
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: Trench fever
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: Torn meniscus

CATEGORY: Song Inspirations
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: “So Right”
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”

CATEGORY: What’s Next?
THE “HOBBIT” AUTHOR: Second of three Hobbit movies
THE NY KNICKS SHOOTER: “I’m panicking”

WINNER: J.R.R. Tolkien

BUSTER POSEY VS. BLOCKBUSTER

CATEGORY: Disappointing 2013
THE BASEBALL CATCHER: Didn’t make MVP
THE VIDEO STORE CHAIN: Went out of business

CATEGORY: Defining Characteristics
THE BASEBALL CATCHER: Polite, handsome
THE VIDEO STORE CHAIN: Multiple copies of Die Hard on VHS

CATEGORY: Family Values
THE BASEBALL CATCHER: Married high school sweetheart
THE VIDEO STORE CHAIN: No porn

CATEGORY: Public Service
THE BASEBALL CATCHER: Video game rating PSA
THE VIDEO STORE CHAIN: “Please Be Kind, Rewind”

CATEGORY: Notable Victories
THE BASEBALL CATCHER: 2010, 2012 World Series
THE VIDEO STORE CHAIN: 1987 court case against Nintendo

CATEGORY: Future Plans
THE BASEBALL CATCHER:  9-year contract with SF Giants for $167 million
THE VIDEO STORE CHAIN: Fire about 2,800 employees

WINNER: Buster Posey

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS VS. KATHY BATES

CATEGORY: Featured Villain In
THE CABINET SECRETARY: Obamacare
THE ACTRESS: American Horror Story: Coven

CATEGORY: Capital Punishment
THE CABINET SECRETARY: Opposes
THE ACTRESS: With a sledgehammer

CATEGORY: Denied
THE CABINET SECRETARY: Lung transplant for 10-year-old
THE ACTRESS: Role on Three’s Company

CATEGORY: Participation In Sinking Ship
THE CABINET SECRETARY: HealthCare.gov
THE ACTRESS: Titanic

CATEGORY: Technical Glitches
THE CABINET SECRETARY: HealthCare.gov
THE ACTRESS: Billed as “Bobo Bates” on first film

CATEGORY: Whiteness
THE CABINET SECRETARY: From Kansas
THE ACTRESS: First white actress in a Tyler Perry movie

CATEGORY: Common Misconception
THE CABINET SECRETARY: Never rode a tricycle in Kansas
THE ACTRESS: Not Roseanne Barr

CATEGORY: Woman’s Right to Choose
THE CABINET SECRETARY: Pro-choice
THE ACTRESS: First nude scene at 43

WINNER: Kathy Bates

FORD FOCUS VS. ROB FORD

CATEGORY: 2013 Scandal
THE COMPACT CAR: Limited back-seat legroom
THE TORONTO MAYOR: Booze, drugs, prostitutes, etc.

CATEGORY: Available Colors
THE COMPACT CAR: Blue Candy, Ingot Silver, etc.
THE TORONTO MAYOR: Pinkish white

CATEGORY: Sense of Humor
THE COMPACT CAR: Orange puppet spokesthing
THE TORONTO MAYOR: Oral sex jokes

CATEGORY: Environmental Record
THE COMPACT CAR: All-electric by 2011
THE TORONTO MAYOR: Anti-bike, pro-plastic bags

CATEGORY: Drug Mishaps
THE COMPACT CAR: Owners made unsuspecting drug mules
THE TORONTO MAYOR: Allegedly smoked crack cocaine

CATEGORY: Safety
THE COMPACT CAR: Developing collision-avoidance technology
THE TORONTO MAYOR: Knocked over city councilwoman

CATEGORY: Cameo
THE COMPACT CAR: “Twilight”
THE TORONTO MAYOR: National Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

CATEGORY: Marketing Synergies
THE COMPACT CAR: Hot Wheels
THE TORONTO MAYOR: “Rob Ford Crack Dog”

CATEGORY: Future Plans
THE COMPACT CAR: Self-parking technology
THE TORONTO MAYOR: Get re-elected, no more crack

WINNER: Ford Focus

WARREN BUFFETT VS. JIMMY BUFFETT

CATEGORY: Nickname
THE INVESTOR: Oracle of Omaha
THE SINGER: Marvin Gardens

CATEGORY: Fans
THE INVESTOR: Berkshire Hathaway stock holders
THE SINGER: Parrotheads

CATEGORY: Instrument of Choice
THE INVESTOR: Ukulele
THE SINGER: Guitar

CATEGORY: Defining Aesthetic
THE INVESTOR: Corporate transparency
THE SINGER: Extreme lethargy

CATEGORY: Cameos
THE INVESTOR: “The Office”
THE SINGER: “Hook”

CATEGORY: Favorite Beverage
THE INVESTOR: Coca-Cola
THE SINGER: Margaritas

CATEGORY: Financial Strategy
THE INVESTOR: Value investing
THE SINGER: Restaurant chains

CATEGORY: Idea of Paradise
THE INVESTOR: Shareholder meetings
THE SINGER: Cheeseburgers

WINNER: Warren Buffett

(These stories originally appeared, in slightly different forms, in various issues of the New York Times Magazine between November 2013 and January 2014.)