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Warren Clements’ The Challenge is back, and our readers are sharp as ever

For 10 years, The Globe Challenge, helmed by Warren Clements, tested readers’ wit and creativity. Each week, The Challenge pitched the ball to an unknown number of batters, and every week they returned it with an unpredictable force and spin.

This year, The Challenge returned as a special part of the The Globe and Mail’s holiday Diversions section.

In the fall, Clements posed four challenges to readers, and you responded in droves, sharing funny, brainy, surreal and silly responses.

“There were a satisfyingly large number of entries to these challenges. Thank you to all who entered. I stripped off the names, did the judging, and reattached the names – all covered by the provincial health plan. As you will see, some readers have more than one entry, and entries in more than one category. Where there were two similar entries, I flipped a coin – a well-known surgical procedure,” says Warren Clements.

Explore some answers to each challenge below, and click though to enjoy all the selected responses.

The Challenges️Challenge #1Challenge #2Challenge #3Challenge #4

Illustration by Murat Yukselir/The Globe and Mail

Challenge #1

You know you need a new doctor or hospital when …

  • You tell the doctor you need a support dog and he says a cane would be more useful. (Marlene Brown)
  • You hear the nurses and doctors arguing about whether that silly germ theory means they need to wash their hands. (Natalia Mayer)
  • The hospital is closed to patients during the holiday season since it’s also an Airbnb. (Charles Crockford)
  • Their outpatient clinic is lawn chairs in the parking lot. And it’s winter. (Meredith Briglio)
  • Not only is the doctor unmasked, but he is also coughing. He explains, “Allergies, etc.” (Ginny Ratsoy)
  • The surgeon is okay with removing your liver because everyone has two. (David Roberts)
  • She says, “Scrub in, partner, may need you to lend me a hand on this one.” (Meredith Briglio)
  • She says, “Wow! When I post about this my Instagram is going to blow up!” (Meredith Briglio)
  • The hematologist has a pail of leeches and a salt shaker in the examination room. (Lou D’Souza)
Read the full list of responses to Challenge #1

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Illustration by Murat Yukselir/The Globe and Mail

Challenge #2

Amend any familiar phrase or expression, and define the result

  • A mare usque ad mare: Scholarly cowboy talk roughly translating to “From horse to horse.” (John Smeeton)
  • Good things come to those who mate: Canada Child Benefit public service announcement. (Shirley Shikaze)
  • Throw in the trowel: Gardening is not your forte. (Donald Bell)
  • Time heals mall wounds: Recover in time to compete for next year’s Christmas toy fad. (David Roberts)
  • There’s no place like genome: Nothing’s more comforting than knowing your ancestry. (Cheryl Minuk)
  • One good return deserves another: Investors’ wishful thinking. (Lesley Hands Wilson)
  • Tim’s waits for no man: Let’s keep that drive-thru line moving! (Brian Yamashita)
  • No harm, no fowl: The bird lives. No turkey dinner for you! (Shirley Shikaze)
  • I like the cut of his rib: When you want the same thing the other person got. (Grace T.)
  • Start the bull rolling: Chit-chat in the men’s locker room. (Susan Henry)
  • A friend in knead is a friend indeed: Someone in your pandemic bubble shared half their yeast with you. (David Roberts)
Read the full list of responses to Challenge #2

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Illustration by Murat Yukselir/The Globe and Mail

Challenge #3

Write a brief synopsis of a well-known movie, play, book or opera that indicates you either haven’t seen/read it or have entirely missed the point

  • Around the World in 80 Days: Airline baggage handlers go for a new world record. (David Roberts)
  • Goodfellas: The politically correct sequel to Bad Boys. (Claire Meranda)
  • The 39 Steps: This easy exercise program requires only a little walking every day. (Natalia Mayer)
  • The Scarlet Letter: A children’s alphabet colouring book. (Anna Leggatt)
  • Ben Hur: An early but sensitive film treatment of transgenderism. (David Stones)
  • Public Speaking for Dummies: How to improve your ventriloquist’s elocution. (Les Jones)
  • Aida: Excellent depiction of Ancient Egypt. However, it is constantly interrupted by people singing loudly in Italian. (Natalia Mayer)
  • Antigone: Ancient Greek play about the benefits of staying. (Andrew Moore)
  • Barbarians at the Gate: A first-hand account of working in retail during Black Friday sales. (Grace T.)
  • Fifty Shades of Grey: This indispensable guide should be in the library of every interior decorator. (John Edmond)
Read the full list of responses to Challenge #3

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Illustration by Murat Yukselir/The Globe and Mail

Challenge #4

“How can you tell when you need a new bank?”

  • All the tellers have their hands up. (Diane Bethune)
  • Your crypto account is housed under a church. (Jean-François Belanger)
  • Your line of credit has a shark on the other end. (Elsie Wollaston)
  • The bank’s policy manual defines a “run on the bank” as “more than 10 withdrawals in excess of $100 over a 24-hour period.” (David Stones)
  • For the sake of efficiency all e-transfers have the same security question and answer. (Cheryl Minuk)
  • The Quarterly Report focuses only on coins. (Claire Meranda)
  • You ask the teller for a bank draft and they say they never open the windows. (Shirley Holmes)
  • You say it’s time to draw on your nest egg and your adviser gives you a box of crayons. (Shirley Shikaze)
  • You ask to be connected with customer service. The person who answers says, “Thank you for calling the Consolidated Bank of Cook Islands, Cayman Islands, Lichtenstein, and Mattel Toys.” (Eric Mendelsohn)
Read the full list of responses to Challenge #4

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More diversions

Short story: Goldfinches Are Brown

The Globe and Mail’s 2022 giant holiday crossword puzzle