By the E, Pat Myers
Hello, everyone. It was great not being with you last week while I was kind-of-sort-of on vacation.
This week’s contest was the idea of Bob Staake Himself. Mr. Himself constantly shares with his thousands of devoted, fawning followers on Facebook various samples of his prodigious artistic output, everything from before-and-after sketches from a children’s-book project to a ceramic mosaic he created. And he’ll even occasionally share the cartoon he made for the week’s Invitational — what the rich-’n’-famous Bob has told me is the closest thing he’s had to an actual steady job since he sold shoes in college. (Bob also shares lots of fascinating stuff by other people, too, old and new — you should really add him as a Facebook friend unless you cannot abide the occasional crudity.)
But as readers of the Invite know — and non-readers of the Invite would really know — Bob’s cartoons illustrating particular Invitational contests are sometimes a bit inscrutable. And that’s when the reader can see the accompanying text. For example, Week 983 featured a cartoon of a gray-haired lady pecking away happily on a manual typewriter while straddling a huge deli sausage. Bob posted it on Facebook with the following edification: “Today’s illustration for The Washington Post of a woman typing poetry atop a giant baloney. Don’t ask.” This prompted the usual Bob-commenter adulation, and for the Empress of The Style Invitational, right after someone’s comment “Superb,” to link to the Invite and explain patiently: “It is to illustrate this limerick by Gene Weingarten, focusing on the word ‘erroneous.’ It’s an example for this week’s limerick contest in The Washington Post’s Style Invitational humor/wordplay contest, which Bob has illustrated every week for the past 18-plus years.
If something you do is erroneous,
It’s wrong, or unwise, or baloneyous.
In this poem you’ll find
Two examples in kind:
I am using two words that are phonyous.”
But of course!
Anyway, I think that was the cartoon that prompted Bob to suggest a contest in which we give you the cartoons, and you supply the contest. Obviously, this is a contest ABOUT the Invitational; its humor (if you can dredge it up) may well come as much from making fun of the Invite itself and the variety of contests it runs as from particular examples of those contests. Yes, you may make up both the contest and the example. No, you can’t use an actual published entry from the past that might end up fitting this contest, though that would be pretty cool and I could mention it here in the Conversational. I don’t know what I’m going to get for this contest, but I really hope people are more imaginative than to say “The cartoon is for a cartoon-caption contest.”
Yes, you may use two or more cartoons as multiple examples for a particular contest. Just trying to anticipate questions; I don’t know how this would actually work.
This contest is naturally more likely to appeal to dyed-in-the-polyester Losers; I don’t like to do inside-baseball contests very often, but there’s certainly precedent for them, as far back as Week 53, when the Czar asked for ideas on “How the Invitational has changed America.”
That pause for reflection turned out to be a bit premature, however. When it came time to post the results, the Czar posted a Q&A with himself, including Question 3: Why are we reading this? Why aren’t you awarding prizes for “How the Style Invitational Has Changed America,” like you promised three weeks ago? A. Because your entries sucked. The only good ones were: “Offers a forum for the odd and the offbeat to meet, chat and fall in love, and yet provides an excellent barrier to reproduction” (Paul Kondis, Alexandria). Paul wins the autographed, out-of-focus Bill Clinton photo. Winning T-shirts were: “By comparison, Ernest Borgnine seems like a more attractive man” (Dan Riley, Woodbridge); and, “Increased volunteerism for Biosphere III” (Mike Thring, Leesburg). And of course, these: “Started a fad for wearing T-shirts inside out” (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge); and, “The Style Invitational T-shirt worn by Shane Stant helped finger him to authorities” (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge). And: “It has allowed the triumphant return to The Post of Janet Cooke, writing under the pseudonym Linda K. Malcolm” (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge). But that’s about it.).”
I trust that 932 weeks later, y’all will have a bit more to go on.
A HIRE FORM OF HUMOR: THE RESULTS OF WEEK 981
As I mention in the introduction to this week’s results, this contest for questions and/or answers (bad, good, whatever, but funny) on a test for job applicants expanded slightly to include interview questions such as “What are our salary requirements?” For those who have an issue with that, I hereby note that an article in Inc. magazine was brought to my attention today by Loser Gary Crockett, who shared it with the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook: “... being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity ... actually peels away neurons in the brain’s hippocampus. ‘That’s the part of your brain you need for problem solving,’ he says. ‘Basically, it turns your brain to mush.’”
So if you want me to be smart enough to recognize the brilliance of your entries, griping might not be the best tack to take.
Today’s winner of the Inkin’ Memorial is of the bad-answer genre. It’s the first Bob-o-Linc but fifth top prize for Barry Koch of the Virginia exurbs, and his 107th blot of ink. I was surprised to discover that a joke about suicidal people was by Barry, whose humor tends to be sunnier. His favorite Invite contests are the song parodies, so I’m looking forward to see what he’s come up for next week as well.
The fantastically tacky shell-motorcycling-cat sculpture goes to a relative Invite irregular, Ellen Ryan of the Maryland suburbs. And by relative, I mean two things: One is that seven published entries, including two runners-up, certainly form a significant puddle of ink; the other is that Ellen happens to be — and she didn’t mention this when she attended the July 29 Loser brunch — the sister-in-law of Totally Obsessed Loser Jeff Contompasis.
Three regulars snarf up even more shirts/bags/mugs in the other two runner-up places: David Genser, Martin Bancroft and Tom Witte have 1,516 blots of ink among them; it’s not that evenly distributed but they’re all regulars in the “above-the-fold” blah-blah of the Conversational.
THANK YOU FOR COMING IN; HERE’S THE DOOR: THE UNPRINTABLE
The esteemed Mr. Witte is also a regular in the unprintable-entries section of the Conversational. Here’s this week’s bit of loveliness:
For a kennel custodian: Q. Do you have a lot of experience handling dogs? A. Well, I HAVE slapped a lot of bitches.
THE WORLD WILL LITTLE NOTE ...
Which is just as well, but a few historic Losers are meeting up in Gettysburg this Sunday for this month’s official Loser Brunch at the Appalachian Brewing Company, followed by a battlefield tour given by the Invite’s Gettysburger Bureau, Marty McCullen and Roger Dalrymple. I’m not able to go — I had a great time last year — but I’m sure you can join the militia by e-mailing Elden Carnahan soon from the Loser Brunch Page.
And next month, we’ll be brunching at the Front Page buffet in the Ballston section of Arlington, Va, and welcoming back former Arlingtonian David Genser, who’ll be in town from San Diego. RSVP at the same page as above.
Now out of her meeting, Style Invitational Editor Lynn Medford is free to HAW at her fave of the week: It’s Ellen Ryan’s dig at the Metro repair people.