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Mr. Wrong

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 7/25/2001

All you readers out there are going about your business, living your lives, blissfully unaware that it's coming up on that time for everyone here at Baltimore's Best Weekly Alternative Newspaper. And I'm not making a menstruation joke about people being grouchy and PMS-y. I'm talking about that time of year: Best of Baltimore. Uuuuuh-ooorghhh!

Sorry, it makes me heave just thinking about it. Bleearrgh! Rrruulph! Best of Fucking Baltimore. Uuurrrgh. The BoB does that to me and many others here at Baltimore's Best Excuse for a Weekly Made Out of Paper. And hey, you don't gotta take my word for it; the Angry Poll-Sifter in charge of sifting through the annual Readers Poll returns is already bitching about you Readers, Pollwise. Always thinking of others, I offered this irritated scrutinizer of polls a platform upon which to inform and advise all you Readers who haven't Polled yet. Plus it means I got someone else to fill about a third of my column. Yeah! Man, I love the fucking Readers Poll. You Readers are the Best! If you haven't filled one out yet, go get it and fill it out right this time, for chrissakes. Especially the "Best Newspaper Columnist" question. You might win a T-shirt or something if you answer that one right.

So. The Angry Readers Poll-Sifter's Helpful Hints for Not Fucking Up the City Paper Readers Poll:

"1) Read the directions! If you don't fill out 15 categories and give complete information, including your daytime telephone number, I'm going to throw your entry in the trash and probably cackle evilly while I do it.

"2) One answer per category, goddamn it. It's fill-in-the-blanks, not multiple choice.

"3) Don't use vague descriptions. I'm not going to spend 15 minutes trying to figure out what someone means by 'that building in that neighborhood next to that other building.'

"4) Don't be sarcastic. Sarcasm just doesn't work in ballots. Look at what happened with the presidential election.

"5) Never answer with, 'Not ______.' We're asking what people like, not what they don't like. Leave the latter to us.

"6) 'My place' is not the the best place for a date. Nor is 'my car.' We asked around.

"7) Do not write in your own categories. We only care what you think in 95 categories.

"8) The Senator Theatre is in the city.

"9) The Walters and the American Visionary art museums are not little museums.

"10) City Paper is not a zine. It's a newspaper. And frankly, as much as we love zines, we're a little insulted. Baltimore magazine is also not a zine, but that one kind of makes us giggle.

"11) 'Columnist' is not a synonym for someone whose name you see in print. Not all writers are columnists, just like not all columnists are writers.

"12) In the 'Best Scandal' category, we're going for local and recent. 'Spiro Agnew' is not a valid answer.

"13) Cut the ballot in half only if you are faxing it.

"14) Research has shown that nine out of 10 people who send the Readers Poll in with the other page attached fill out the Readers Poll wrong.

"15) If you're going to ballot-stuff, you're going to have to start being sneakier.

"16) Write in a reasonably legible manner.

"17) Feel free to spell things correctly once in a while."

At this point the Poll-Sifter stopped typing and just started staring at The Box. That's where we keep the Readers Polls when they come in. I love to walk into the Angry Poll-Sifter's workspace, open up The Box, and start reading Readers Polls out loud for my own amusement. "'Best Place for a Date: the Inner Harbor.' 'Best Hamburger: McDonald's.' Bwahahahahaa!"

This does not amuse the Poll-Sifter. In fact, it angers the Poll-Sifter, which in turn amuses me further. (Did I mention that I love the Readers Poll? We wouldn't have a Readers Poll if it weren't for you Readers, so don't forget to fill one out, especially the "Best Newspaper Columnist" question.) Anyway, the Angry Poll-Sifter started staring at The Box, kinda like the way Pvt. Pyle stared at Pvt. Joker and Gunnery Sgt. Hartman about halfway through the fine major motion picture Full Metal Jacket.

The Angry Poll-Sifter is indeed in a World of Shit--trying to read bad handwriting, weed out attempted ballot-stuffers, and decipher crude and unsuccessful tries at humor, so I am proud to have taken this opportunity to supply you with informative pointers on how to make this the Best Readers Poll ever and to in return help the Angry Poll-Sifter, which in return will help you, the Reader, to help the Angry Poll-Sifter. Huh? Look, you are going to be a much better Readers Poll filler-outer if you have managed to read and at least partially absorb the helpful hints supplied by the Angry Poll-Sifter (who is still at this very moment staring at The Box), especially in reference to Helpful Tip No. 11. It's True: Not all writers are columnists, and vice-versa. You don't want to fuck up on the all-important "Best Newspaper Columnist" question, especially when you just got done reading a column by a columnist who cares so deeply for you Readers that he gave up a large portion of his biweekly column to present an educational and informative Readers Poll Helper for the betterment of the Readers, our Poll, and Baltimore, the Best City in Town. The correct answer for "Best Newspaper Columnist" can be found at the top of this column under the "Mr. Wrong" part. Don't fuck it up--I'm still trying to go weekly.

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