Welcome to another installment of Frequently Asked Questions, a new feature on East Village Idiot, where I answer people’s frequently asked questions from web sites other than mine.
Today’s question comes from the customer service section of the New York Times’ web site:
So, dear reader, you’re wondering what TimesSelect really is? Well, we’ve kept it under wraps long enough. Plus, at $49.95 a year, you should probably know what you’re getting.
When you sign up for TimesSelect, you will receive a welcome kit in the mail. The kit will contain a small projector and virtual reality glasses, so you can receive the full TimesSelect experience. Along with each day’s top stories, you will receive special daily services only available to TimesSelect subscribers. As with the paper, you will be equally bored with 85% of the TimesSelect content. However, through the avenues of new technology made available exclusively to the New York Times Company, we will provide a unique experience to accompany the news of the day.
- On Mondays, Paul Krugman will personally come to your home to host a home version of his new game show, “Haves and Have-Nots.” He will put your knowledge of Kaynesian economic theory to the test. You could be rewarded with fabulous luxury prizes that will send you from being just plain rich to being super-rich! If you lose, your entire family will be moved into a two-bedroom, 1,100 square-foot ranch in an inner-ring suburb, equipped only with a copy of Krugman’s latest college-level economics textbook. If you study hard, you can work your way back up as you engage in class warfare!
- On Tuesdays, your mini-projector will display a virtual Frank Bruni on your kitchen wall. As you slave over a hot stove to make a home-cooked meal for your family, Virtual Bruni will carefully watch your every move as you painstakingly prepare your breaded porkchops, peas and carrots, and mashed potatoes. He will call the porkchops “tough,” the peas and carrots “amateurish,” the mashed potatoes “not garlicky enough,” the decor “brutal on the eyes,” and the noise level “much like a grade-school cafeteria.”
- On Wednesdays, Thomas Friedman will be piped onto every television in your home to 24 hours to talk about globalization, the environment, and the Middle East. You cannot avoid it. You cannot change the channel. There is nothing you can do about it. At the end of the day, you will be asked to submit a summary of his position on the stated issue of the day in one sentence via e-mail. If you fail to do so, you will be forced to re-read his books, The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat, by the following Wednesday as part of a process Friedman calls “fri-education.”
- On Thursdays, Bob Herbert will whisk you away in a Greyhound bus to the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. He will leave you there for the entire day and force you to think about what you have done: spending $49.95 on this instead of using it to defeat American poverty.
- On Fridays, a virtual Alex Kuczynski will take you shopping. She will always shop outside your price range for outrageously expensive luxury clothing items. She will never dare let you enter the standard discount department stores, out of fear that you will be eaten alive by the plebes. You will spend $2,594.79, but that’s marked down from $6,402.33!
- On Saturdays, through your virtual-reality glasses, Maureen Dowd will visit your house and provide a separate and unique experience for men and women. For men, Maureen will give you a blowjob. Actually, no, she won’t. She will constantly tease you will her liberal ranting, soft hands, and kind smile. Then, after you unbuckle your pants, she will give you a slap across the face and tell you that you are unnecessary. For women, Maureen will take your top off, then remove your bra and burn it, whether you like it or not. Sorry, men, you can’t watch.
- On Sundays, Randy Cohen (aka “The Ethicist”) will come to your home and scold you and your family for all of the unethical things you did during the week. Your punishment will be a cover-to-cover reading of a hard copy of the Sunday New York Times.
These services cannot be cancelled once you have paid for the full year. If you break any of the accompanying technological equipment, David Pogue will come to your home for an additional charge and give you new, more complicated equipment to use for the remainder of the term of your membership.
I hope that answers your question. The New York Times requests that you swipe your credit card now so they may charge you $9.95 for reading this answer.