Predict the future! Win big!

Last year, in a desperate effort to woo readers back from Isadora, I kicked off my first-ever annual predict-the-future column. (Check out the answers on our Web site.) Truth is, I expected to ace it, though I denied this with proper false modesty.

After all, it was my own quiz, and I am such a bright, pudgy, little middle-aged fellow, an expert news anal-ist, as my sniggering students would say. Unfortunately, I lapsed into my now-discarded mainstream origins. I ought to have remembered that a powerful dose of alternative reality, or peyote, is needed to make sense of the present.

Actually, I did know better. The night before I wrote the test, I discarded my owlish glasses and Leonid Brezhnev tailored suit for Spandex and my semiannual romp with Niagara, dark queen of revealed wisdom. I was sipping Drano out of her slipper when I paused to ask, "What will really happen next year, goddess?"

Her whip swung, and she blew smoke toward my fundament. "The world will learn a fat, neurotic valley girl has been giving Clinton blow jobs right off the Oval Office, and everything will come apart before they can get her a job at Revlon.

"The people will rally to him, but he will be impeached, even after he starts a war. Eight living babies the size of small rats will be born to one mother in Houston. A pro wrestler will be elected governor of Minnesota, and Jack Kevorkian will tape himself killing someone and show it to the world on ‘60 Minutes.’"

Hesitatingly, I asked, "Will — will Sinatra die?"

"Yes," she said tenderly.

I knew then it was only a nightmare. The Chairman of the Board was immortal.

So I forgot the goddess’ teachings, and got only 6.5 right out of 15 on my own quiz.

The mistress of pain and I both hope to do better this year. So sharpen your mouse, pour some Perrier on the keyboard for luck, and let prophecy begin!

Second Annual Future Shock Quiz

1) What will happen, pray tell, with the Greatest Trial of the Century? A) Mr. Bill resigns on the point of conviction. B) They work out a deal for censure. C) Mr. Bill toughs it out, is acquitted. D) New revelations lead to his actual conviction.

2) Moving along from tragedy to farce, or vice versa: What will happen in the new Kevorkian trial? A) Dr. Jack goes down, is sent to prison, starves, dies. B) The Big Dripper gets convicted of something; goes to jail; is force-fed. C) Geoffrey Fieger comes back and he gets off. D) Fieger doesn’t come back, but he is acquitted anyway. E) Kevo dies before the trial ends.

3) Speaking of coffins: which of these worthies will hit the embalmer’s table first? A) The Queen Mother (England) B) Boris Yeltsin C) Ronald Reagan D) All are still expelling carbon dioxide at year’s end.

4) On Dec. 31, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is A) Texas Gov. George W. Bush B) U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz C) Steve Forbes, millionaire D) Liz Dole, wife of Viagra salesman E) Someone else.

5) On Dec. 31, the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination is A) Vice President Al "Chinese cash" Gore B) House Minority Leader Dick "Boring"Gephardt C) Rhymin’ Jesse Jackson D) Former U.S. Sen. Bill "Hoops" Bradley. E) Someone else.

6) At year’s end, the Dow-Jones averages will be closest to A) 9,000 B) 10,000 C) 8,000 D) 6,500 E) Abolished by new Khmer Rouge government.

7) True or false: Experts will agree Detroit’s population is under the magic 1 million figure.

8) Which of these children of God will be under indictment by year’s end? A) L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County executive B) State Sen. David Jaye, R- Munich C) Geoffrey Fieger D) Don Barden E) All will walk unblemished in the sun.

9) The number of casinos open, up and running in Detroit by next Christmas will be A) zero, thank god B) one C) two D) three.

10) The Detroit Red Wings will A) bring home a Stanley Cup once again B) be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs C) be eliminated in a later round of the playoffs D) be renamed the Comerica Cavorters.

11) Scotty Bowman will be A) behind the Detroit bench when the 1999-2000 season opens B) long gone.

12) The Detroit Tigers will A) announce Comerica Park won’t be ready for Opening Day 2000 after all B) improve slightly this year C) be as bad or worse as last year. D) ask newly restored radio play-by-play man Ernie Harwell, age 81, to pitch the three innings he is not on the air.

Brain fully engaged? Steam coming out of your ears? Ganz gut, as the Menschen say over at what used to be Chrysler. Put your completed test in the strongbox, after having it notarized by four witnesses. Unless a sudden chunk of arterial fat clogs my aorta before the pseudomillennium begins, we will be back with more predictions and terribly expensive prizes a year from now.

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