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Illustration by Murat Yukselir/ The Globe and Mail

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.

—Warren Clements

Challenge #3

The challenge was to 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. As ever, the definition of “well-known” will vary from person to person. I have permitted a TV show or two.

  • 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)
  • The Rez Sisters: A tricky retelling of the story about the women who created the Open Table app. (Lou D’Souza)
  • The Edible Woman: This chilling dystopian novel predicts a future in which cannibalism is rampant. (Ginny Ratsoy)
  • Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: Sequel to the earlier Jacob Two-Two book. Here he buys fireworks. (Ian A.C. McCallum)
  • Julius Caesar: Inventive recipes from the famed chef, including his signature cocktail and salad. (Natalia Mayer)
  • Carmen: This sequel to Mad Men dramatizes the business of selling cars. (Yuko Imai)
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: An intimate retelling of The Devil Wears Prada. (Grace T.)
  • The Voyage of the Beagle: A story for the whole family, the most delightful book since Lassie Come Home. (Michael Derblich)
  • Patton: Elegant art book traces the history of Italian design, from mosaics to wallpaper. (David Stones)
  • Network: A Nova Scotia fisherman becomes so tired of working with nets he yells, “I’m as mad as halibut, and I’m not going to take fish any more.” (Charles Crockford)
  • Oedipus Rex: A thriller set in the age when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. (Cheryl Minuk)
  • Einstein’s Theory of Relativity: Einstein claims the universe is governed by his aunts, uncles and cousins. (David Roberts)
  • A Streetcar Named Desire: A fun-filled movie for children. Desire, the Streetcar, joins its friends, including Thomas the Train, on various adventures around town. (Nancy van der Poorten)
  • Little House on the Prairie: A historical account of the last affordable home in Canada in the 21st century. (Grace T.)
  • The Old Man and the Sea: The Pope shows off his neighbourhood. (Brian Yamashita)
  • Bye Bye Birdie: A Swedish version of Silent Spring, featuring a lament by Greta Thunberg. (Claire Meranda)
  • Casablanca: This documentary follows the first Spanish-speaking president of the United States as he sets about to renovate his new home. (Nancy van der Poorten)
  • Dances with Wolves: Learn safe ballroom dancing. (Lesley Hands Wilson)
  • The Wizard of Oz: Gandalf’s adventures in Australia. (Carla Hagstrom Bissada)
  • Pride and Prejudice: In this 19th-century novel, the authoress shows a profound sensitivity to social issues well ahead of her time. A handsome and rich aristocrat comes to the realization that he is gay. Mr. Darcy decides to reveal this to his family by marching in a Pride event in the English county of Derbyshire. He encounters deep disappointment and strong prejudice from a neighbouring family of sisters who had hoped he would marry one of them. (Patricia Morley-Forster)
  • The Rings of Power: A jaw-dropping exposé of cheating in Olympic men’s gymnastics. (Jason McLellan)
  • Million Dollar Baby: An infertile couple finds there are exorbitant costs in the course of treatment. (Claire Meranda)
  • A Raisin in the Sun: A much-awaited sequel to the earlier work of The Grapes of Wrath. (Cheryl Minuk)
  • The Crown: Apparently another in the series of dental instruction manuals, following the earlier The Root Canal. (Ian A.C. McCallum)
  • Pulp Fiction: Rips the lid off the myth and reality of the orange-juice industry. An excellent follow-up to A Clockwork Orange. (David Stones)
  • Ocean’s Eleven: This is clearly movie advertising hyperbole, designed to entrap uneducated customers looking for a travel picture. There are many seas, gulfs and bays, but there only four oceans! (Gerald McAleese)
  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover: Lady drives her lover crazy with her incessant talking. (Alexander Leggatt)
  • Hamlet: The events in this case history of a dysfunctional family could have been prevented by early intervention and counselling. (Natalia Mayer)
  • Waiting for Godot: A complete waste of time, as after reading the entire play Godot never arrived. (Marlene Brown)
  • The Grapes of Wrath: Oenophiles will sympathize with this wine columnist’s account of relocating his family after he’s fired for inappropriate reviews. (Robert Riendeau)
  • The Private Life of Henry VIII: The behind-the-scenes story of England’s most famous king, like you’ve never seen him before – pious, patient, thoughtful and so filled with love and compassion that he just had to share his magnificence with more than one woman. (Jane Cunningham)
  • The Razor’s Edge: “Not the best book on men’s grooming I’ve read.” (Claire Meranda)
  • The Iceman Cometh: Nothing could be more Canadian than this autobiography of a Zamboni driver. (Natalia Mayer)
  • The Catcher in the Rye: I like a good sports story, but reading about an alcoholic baseball player was just way too depressing. (Preston)
  • War and Peace: A treatise on why the family sedan should not be used on family road trips when the family has young children. (Grace T.)
  • Cast Away. Islander relieves boredom by knitting. (Lesley Hands Wilson)
  • Lost Horizon: There is so much pollution that a pilot can’t locate the runway. (Carol Victor)
  • Hello Dolly: A frolicking musical set in a cloning lab. (Cheryl Minuk)
  • Eugene Onegin: Pushkin has his devotees, but I do wonder why he chose to attempt a biography of an obscure Irish gadabout. (John Agnew)
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps: An alternative at Alcoholics Anonymous for those who prefer to go slowly. (Marlene Brown)
  • Roots: The chronicle of a brave woman’s journey to stop colouring her hair. (John Rankin)
  • The Catcher in the Rye: The Pied Piper attempts to rid the fields of rats. (Anna Leggatt)
  • Lord of the Flies: Michael Flatley relives his early days doing summer performances in Muskoka. (Meredith Briglio)
  • Gone with the Wind: I really enjoyed this follow-up to the novel The Kite Runner. (Stephen Sturgeon)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray: This unusual guide for painters shows how much can be achieved using monochrome. (Natalia Mayer)
  • Long Day’s Journey into Night: A senior visits the Emergency Department in an Ontario hospital. (Cheryl Minuk)
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea: Twenty thousand leagues? I read the book until I became seasick, and it didn’t mention any sports leagues at all. (Charles Crockford)
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: This book really helped me work the seven deadly sins into a successful and fulfilling career. Greed, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth (e.g. odd game of golf), wrath, pride – I mean, these are all absolute musts if you hope to emerge as the next benevolent billionaire or dictator. (Jane Cunningham)
  • Lord of the Rings: Although the hardline wrestling fan might grapple with this drawn-out saga, even the magical moves of the wizard of the ring will not draw in the regular reader. A wrestling tale at over 1,000 pages – what were you thinking, J.R.R.? (John Agnew)
  • L.O.T.R.: I hardly think this mind-numbing marathon about the workings of the Land Owner Transparency Registry, running in excess of 1,000 pages, can be of any interest to many (if any) outside the orbit of lawmakers, lawyers and real-estate agents. (John Agnew)
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A useful manual on using your new Samsung cellphone while on the road. (Ian A.C. McCallum)
  • The Full Monty: A field marshal enjoys a five-course meal before Second World War Battle of El Alamein. (Janet Fisher)
  • The Silence of the Lambs: A gripping eco-documentary on how, due to extreme temperatures brought on by global warming, newborn lambs no longer baaa. (Doug Maloney)
  • For a Few Dollars More: A treatise on inflation. (Anya Orzechowska)
  • The Name of the Rose: The ultimate guide for the beginning gardener. Learn to distinguish between Climbing, Floribunda, Hybrid Tea and Polyantha with helpful hints on pruning. (Jennifer Mogridge)
  • Saturday Night Fever: A woman has to cancel a date after realizing she has tested positive for COVID. (Bernard Feder)
  • Of Mice and Men: A group of lonely men bond over their common interest in pet mice. (Bernard Feder)
  • The Catcher in the Rye: In the long-awaited sequel to Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella continues his tradition when he replants his farm after a disastrous corn crop failure. (Mark Arbique)
  • The Seventh Seal: This timely film documents ecologists’ efforts to enumerate sea wildlife. (Natalia Mayer)
  • A Gentleman in Moscow and A Woman in Berlin: These tourist guides are a must for the single traveller. Recommendations for accommodation, tours and restaurants. Free maps included. (Jennifer Mogridge)