Style Conversational: Whole lotta fulminatin’ going on


Bob Staake’s sketch to illustrate Frank Osen’s fourth-place poem. The design of this week’s print page required the cartoon to refer to the winner instead.
March 27

I just returned this afternoon from a bris. I have to say that the baby boy being thus honored didn’t object more than a few seconds before dozing back off. But did the mohel have to instruct the uncle, as the father placed the 8-day-old on the special pillow for the procedure, to “sit facing the table as if you’re about to eat lunch”? What’s the bill of fare, cold cuts?

Not surprisingly for many reasons, bris jokes have been a continual source of ink in the Invitational over the years: Looking at the word bank compiled by Superloser Elden Carnahan at the Losers’ website, nrars.org, I see that the word “mohel” (usually pronounced “moyle”) and variants have been used in entries well over 30 times, including these:
Take a word and change it by one letter three different ways:
Maohel: A famous Chinese circumciser, discredited for his disastrous Great Lop Forward.
Ohel: What you don’t want to hear the rabbi say during the procedure.
Aohel: An Internet provider notorious for its painful service cutoffs. (Brendan Beary)

Names for how-to guides: A manual for mohels: “Eight Days, a Whack” (Tom Witte)

Redefine words:
Juniper: A mohel. (Laurie Brink)/
Brisket: a straw container for a mohel’s instruments. (T.J. Murphy)
Hu”bris”: The belief that one is a cut above everyone else. (Chris Doyle) . Chris has made so many bris jokes in the Invite that I once credited him as Chris Dohel.

Okay, chop-chop, let’s get back to this week’s results.

Headine muse:* The current-events poems of Week 1062

(*Submitted by Dave Prevar and possibly others as an alternative headline)

The submission period for Week 1062 coincided with the disconcerting — or outright scary — blitz by Russia into Crimea, and the mood may have pervaded the Loser community as well. When I was reading the results of this contest out loud to the Royal Consort last night, I realized that a few of the winners — while cleverly worded and well crafted — were darker and more bitter than the joke-poems that usually get ink. But the strong rhyme and sharp meter emphasize their wit and keep them from being simply screedy; I think of such humor as analogous to darkly witty editorial cartoons. So if they’re not so hahhaha-funny, they’re still touché-funny.

In any case, the more serious entries are balanced merrily with a bulletin on the Canadian government demanding more local porn; a musing on John Travolta’s introduction of “Adele Dazeem”; and even an ode to this week’s second prize, the tie with little Viagras all over it.

When I announce the results of a poetry contest, I usually supplement the list of winners in the print Invitational with a bunch of extra honorable mentions online. But for Week 1062, I’m saving the additional worthies for four weeks from now, when there won’t be results of a new contest.

Once again, I had no idea who’d written the inking entries until I’d chosen the final winners and then looked them up to fill in the parentheses handily pre-supplied by a layout template. But it turned out that all four of this week’s top winners got multiple ink this week even among the relatively few entries published, and there weren’t any First Offenders — Ray Gallucci, who got his FirStink just last weekend, was the closest. That’s not to say, of course, that there wasn’t good work from many of the close to 200 other entrants; it’s just that I thought these verses were just better than other, often similar poems on a certain topic — maybe by just a little, maybe by a lot.

And those four top winners — as well as almost all this week’s honorable mentions — have amassed considerable anthologies of verse in previous Invite poetry contests as well. It’s the second Inkin’ Memorial for the phenom Danielle Nowlin, who is very close to the 100-ink mark since her debut near the end of 2012. Meanwhile, Chris Doyle probably has more ink than that just from poetry contests; while Chris has been been declining the prizes he’s earned almost every week since 2000, I hope he’ll accept — and find an occasion to wear — this week’s first-runner-up prize, the Pfizer tie. And between them, Gary Crockett and Frank Osen — both relative newbies, in Invite years (Week 871 for Gary, 938 for Frank), have blotted up more than 250 spatters of assorted wins, runners-up and honorable mentions.

While I didn’t specifically invite song parodies for this contest, I didn’t rule them out, and I was pleased that I could include two very fine ones this week (another is planned for Part 2 in April). While Chris O’Carroll is a well-known light-verse poet in general, Barbara Sarshik is a parody specialist, and in addition to her politically themed work for the Invite, she produces — for free! — a giant collection of really excellent “Seder Songs,” parodies of all sorts of tunes, especially Broadway and Disney scores, that aren’t too irreverent for the singing portion of most Passover dinners. Download the booklet at barbarasarshik.com.
Here’s a sample, sung to “Music of the Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera”:
Bordeaux, Merlot, they are so delicious
But they do not go with Pesach dishes.
Now it’s time to savor
A sweet, nostalgic flavor
So when we drink, there’s just one bottom line:
Tonight we drink the Manischewitz wine.

I don’t have any poems that were amazingly great but just too risque this week. But here’s a nice poem from Gordon Cobb of Atlanta, who had once written to the Empress declaring that he just couldn’t enter anymore because he never won anything. Whatever my response was, Gordon did buckle down and try again, and in short order he snarfed up three inks — two of them runners-up. But I see he’s back with the hmmphing.
A Verse in “Honor” of Kevin Dopart’s Thousandth Ink?
‘Twas the night before Thursday and the mood was sensational,
Awaiting results of the Style Invitational.
But the Losers with ink are the same six or seven,
Including a thou for some fellow named Kevin.
So it’s Dudzik and Beary, Doyle, Sharp and Reiner,
No Loser’s humor is as punny or finer.
While I might seem a whiner and a little bit bitter,
E knows that I’m also an occasional quitter.

With Malitz toward . . . The favorite this week of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz was Danielle’s Kimye poem.

The April 6 Loser brunch — New: At 11 !

I hope to see some new Losers, would-be Losers, etc., along with the Oh It’s You Agains on Sunday, April 6, at Grevey’s pub on Route 50 in Northern Virginia right off the Beltway exit. Brunchmeister Elden has changed the starting time from noon to 11 a.m. so that we don’t get drowned out by sports fans watching games on the many TV screens. Grevey’s used to have a brunch buffet, but ordering is now just off the menu of typical light fare (there doesn’t seem to be a brunch menu on the website, but there’s a picture of something with eggs, so there must be something beyond the regular pub menu). Please RSVP to Elden here or at the brunch link at nrars.org, so we can get a close count.

And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the always entertaining Flushies, the Losers’ own awards luncheon, Saturday, May 10, around noon to 4, at the Holiday Inn right at the College Park (Route 1) Beltway exit, right near I-95 in Maryland. If you get e-mail notifications about the Invite and Conversational every Thursday, you’ll get the invitation. If you’re not on that list, write to me at pat.myers@washpost.com for an invitation and I’ll send you one by special delivery from my own personal fingertips.

Next week: The new section, pretty much the old us

The Invitational has taken several forms and has had several addresses over the years: It started on Page F2 of the original Sunday Style section (hence an honorable-mention bumper sticker at the time, “F2 2 U2”), going top to bottom of the left half of the page. Then Sunday Style became Section D, so we didn’t move but our address changed. In 2007, we had perhaps our most radical move: to the Saturday paper, where we took up the top half of Page C2. And with the advent of the tabloid-size Sunday Style section in 2011, we moved back to Sundays, spread out across the section’s back page, eventually taking the whole page.

Now we’ll be back — sort of — to the old format, going top to bottom on the left side of a full “broadsheet” page, in the new Arts & Style section. We’ll be next to the challenging crossword that currently appears in Sunday Style (there’s a separate one in the Post Magazine). We once again become “The” Style Invitational, having lost our article when the logos for Sunday Style were made. But there will be some differences as well: As currently planned (this could change in the next week, but probably won’t) the four “above-the-fold” winners will be placed across the top of the page; the week’s new contest will be nestled below. them. More props for y’all. But we should have just about the same amount of space for entries as we do in the current format. And I’m relieved to hear that we should be able to accommodate the whole 100-horse list (or close) of the year’s Triple Crown nominees right on the page. Lots of people enter this contest who see it only in the paper.

Enjoy your spring break!

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read