The Washington Post

‘It’s a holiday weekend — I won’t keep you,’ she said forthcomingly

Sorry, the Week 1077 Tom Swifty contest is on my brain, even though I’m not ready to judge it yet. But I’ll be going out of town for the holiday, and I can’t imagine that more than a handful of you have showed up to peek at this column to see if I’ve included any unprintable entries. (You lucked out.) And so I’m not going into my planned lengthy exegesis on what a rhyme is and isn’t, for this week’s contest, Week 1079 .

Wikipedia’s entry on “perfect rhyme” is, for once, blessedly pithy, boiling the definition down to this:

Perfect rhyme — also called full rhyme, exact rhyme, or true rhyme — is a form of rhyme between two words or phrases, satisfying the following conditions:
The stressed vowel sound in both words must be identical, as well as any subsequent sounds. For example “sky” and “high”; “skylight” and “highlight”.
The articulation that precedes the vowel sound must differ. For example, “green” and “spleen” is a perfect rhyme, while “leave” and “believe” is not.

Word pairs that satisfy the first condition but not the second (such as the aforementioned “leave” and “believe”) are technically identities (also known as identical rhymes or identicals).

That pretty much sums it up. The one exception — clarification, actually — I’d make is in a case like the one for this week’s first example, “cyclops eyedrops.” There’s no doubt that in each word, the first syllable is stressed more than the second — and so some purists would say that “cyclops eyedrops” violates the second clause of the first condition above: that “any subsequent sounds” after the stressed vowel sounds must be identical, not rhyming with each other. Under this view, “cyclops” would rhyme only with, say, “biclops” (were there such a word). In fact, The Czar Himself has firmly expressed this very view to me, presumably forgetting that it was he who gave ink to “cyclops eyedrops” in Week 365.

The reason I’d accept “cyclops eyedrops” — and surely why the Czar did as well — is that while “cy” and “eye” are accented syllables, “clops” and “drops” are not un-accented; they have some stress as well, just less of it. Cyclops/eyedrops is different enough from the unacceptable, say, “pokey”/ “oak tree” that I tend not to be bothered by rhyming both the primary and secondary accents of two words. Especially in a contest like this one, which otherwise couldn’t be more straightforward.

Keeping it wheel: The results of Week 1075

The topic for the Week 1075 “fictoids” contest — motor vehicles, roads, etc. — might have been a wee bit narrow in scope, but we got a bunch of good jokes out of it, many of which might well be original. (It’s the Fourth of July, people; don’t write me in outrage that you’d heard some entry before.)

Former Loser of the Year and Rookie of the Year Robert Schechter (official Loser Anagram: Sober Retch Retch) is back after a bit of a hiatus with three-count-’em-three blots of ink, including his sixth top prize, bringing his total to 140. I wonder if there could be (or if there is) a throat-clearing app for phones, if not cars. And it’s been a few months since we’ve had a chance to spatter some ink on this week’s second-place Loser, Martin Bancroft, formerly of our Rochester Loser Bureau (which may be down to one member) and now of our more populous Seattle Outpost. This is Martin’s 10th ink “above the fold” since his debut back in Week 597, for 75 inks in all.

Two similar entries from Edward Gordon (52 inks) and Jeff Shirley (37, including three today) earn each a half a Loser Mug or a half a Grossery Bag. Please let me know if you’d like the left or right half, or the top or bottom half. And the not at all absent Mark Raffman finds himself in the Losers’ circle yet again, for No. 138, 139, 140 and 141. (Sheez.)

The parody never stops in Loserland: How they do it

If you haven’t been visiting the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook over the past week, you have missed some really terrific song parodies that I robbed of ink last week in the results of Week 1074, our contest in which you had to write a song about a stage or screen musical, set to the tune of a song from a different musical. (They’re all still there; you just have to scroll patiently down the page, since the posts don’t stay in chronological order.) One day, for example, I ran four excellent songs about “The Producers,” each set to a different song. I’ll keep sharing them for a while (maybe until I start sharing double dactyls).

Yesterday on the page, I asked something I’d been wondering about all week: How did they match up the song with the show to write about? Here are some of their responses:
From Mark Raffman, who had two parodies get ink and deserved more: “Usually inspiration started with the song — then a permutation on a fragment of the song — then a different musical for which the parody would fit. ‘When you’re a pet’ [a parody of “Jet Song” from “West Side Story”] led to a search for a musical about a pet, which led to ‘Lady and the Tramp.’ ‘Shoot me, I’ve been fleeced’ [a la “Beauty and the Beast”] led to trying to find a failed play and thus to ‘Spider-Man.’ [The problem here was that “Spider-Man” ended up playing for years rather than “closed after two weeks,” as Mark’s non-inking song had it.] ‘Pimp-pimpany pimp-pimpany pimp-pimp-peree’ [as in “Chim-chim-cheree”] led immediately to the only musical I knew that featured a whorehouse. And so on. And man oh man it was fun. Kept my wife in stitches all week.”

Kathy Hardis Fraeman, longtime Loser parodist: “My first step in the process was to try to figure out something snarky and/or humorous to say about a musical, and the second step was to try to figure out a humorous juxtaposition of that humor on the song from another musical. This juxtaposition was usually based on wordplay of lyrics from the second song. I have no idea how this entry was written, but my absolute favorite inking entry was [Rob Cohen’s] ‘Everyone Dies’ sung to the tune of ‘Anything Goes.’ It identified the absurdity of ‘Les Miz’ (only musical in existence where everyone dies), and humorously played off of the lyrics (and perkiness) of the parody song. I wish I had more time that week to spend on the entries, but all of the winners were brilliant.”

Chris Doyle, who used a song from “A Chorus Line” to mock the ballet in “West Side Story”: “I saw Mark’s ‘My Favorite Things’ on Losernet [the Losers’ e-mail group, on which contestants share some of their entries after the submission deadline] and thought, wow, that’s gonna ink. [It didn’t. Shoot me.] I had real trouble thinking of songs to use since I’m more a rock ’n’ roll guy than a musical aficionado.... the “Dance, Ten; Fists, Three” parody of “West Side Story” came from an old friend of mine (an ex-Chicago-born tough guy) telling me back in 1974 that when he saw the movie, he was pissed because the Jets and Sharks weren’t fighting -- they were dancing! I sent in only three entries, and the “Getting to Know You” parody played off a pun -- “Getting to Gnaw You,” akin to Mark’s terrific idea of punning on song tiles, then finding musicals that fit. [Chris used it to write about “Little Shop of Horrors.”]

Matt Monitto, who was also horribly robbed last week: “I tend to build my parodies around one particular line, and it probably helped me that my go-to Pandora station is Broadway Showstoppers. For my one inking parody (”Chicago” to “Do You Want to Build a Snowman”), as soon as I thought of ‘Do you want to kill your husband?’ I worked from there. One of my own favorites that didn’t ink came from the moment I realized that “Moses” rhymes with “Roses,” and I had a topic and a song” — a parody of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” for “Prince of Egypt.”

Just about every song mentioned above — and more! — are featured somewhere on the Devotees page. Scroll away! And there will be some more next week.

Provisional License: An unprintable car fictoid

Just one that I saved:
While most people know that in Italian, Lamborghini translates as “small penis,” few are aware that in Swedish, Volvo means “hairy vagina.” (Drew Knoblauch, which is German for “leaking knob”)

Have a happy Fourth, everyone — I’ll be judging entries during a long road trip.


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