First off, for those who are staying in town (or coming to Washington) this Labor Day weekend: Come and heckle Style Invitational Designated Drawer Bob Staake on Saturday at the extravaganza that is the Library of Congress’s annual National Book Festival, this year moved downtown to the Convention Center (which is right on top of a Metrorail station).
Events at the free-admission festival run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but a contingent of Bobfans — one of them, Charles Young, dubbed them the Staake Pack — will be meeting at noon for lunch at the Anthem restaurant at the adjoining Marriott Marquis, and will then head over to see Bob, who’ll be making a presentation about picture books from 2:40 to 3:10, and will meet people and sign books — including his newest, “My Pet Book,” from 3:30 to 4:30.
(The Empress-analogue to the Staake Pack would be the Vengeful Mob.)
As the Empress sends off the Little Princess for her senior year of college, it seemed fitting to sending you all back to school as well for Week 1087, and to revist the Invite course catalogue nine years after our first effort, in Week 626. The results below cover a fair amount of ground — the core curriculum of humor tropes — but certainly there are new areas of study. This contest was run just after Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005, and features the Style Invitational debut of (Kevin Dopart, Washington), who got a runner-up plus an honorable mention his first time out. (We hadn’t started noting First Offenders yet). I’m glad that that ink seems to have inspired Kevin to pick up another 1,042 inks since then.
Third runner-up: Film 007: The James Bond Canon. Students will view all of the Bond films and write their term paper on which Bond is the best. Those choosing Sean Connery will get an A, Pierce Brosnan a B, Roger Moore a C, George Lazenby a D and Timothy Dalton an F. (Joseph Romm, Washington)
Second runners-up: Federal Disaster Relief 101. Students will build a decision support system using faith-based logic and a Ouija Board. Prerequisites include Getting Permission From the Mayor 101, Clearing Everything With the Lawyers 101, and Telling the FEMA Director to Turn on the %#@* Television 101. (Kevin Dopart, Washington; Steven J. Allen, Manassas)
First runner-up, the winner of the “prepared dry fish bone” food item: Anatomy 1 and 2, Posterior Survey: Through two semesters of intense classroom instruction and weekly labs, students will learn to locate their behinds using both hands. Textbook, flashlight and washable headbands required. (Phil Battey, Alexandria)
And the winner of the Inker: LANG 238: Ancient Voices. Who were the Ink Spots? Country Joe and the Fish? What does “nanu-nanu” mean? Intense immersion into the language and culture of 15 to 50 years ago will enable the student to understand and converse with older relatives and prospective employers. Prerequisite for all INTN (Internship) classes. (Douglas Frank, Crosby, Tex.)
Mass Communications 330: The Future of Reality TV. Students will compete to participate in a reality TV show about competing to be on a reality TV show. (Bill Spencer, Exeter, N.H.)
Mechanical Engineering 499: Intelligenter Design. Team project will recast the human body more sensibly, addressing ear hair, male nipples, the need to belch, things that flap when you run, lack of cup holders.(Elwood Fitzner, Valley City, N.D.)
Harvardese I: Recordings of George Plimpton, William F. Buckley and President Kennedy are used to develop speech and listening skills in an obscure northern dialect. Fulfills foreign-language requirement. (Russell Beland, Springfield)
Anthropology 570: Genealogy of the Daytime Serial. Documentation techniques will be utilized to trace the bloodlines in “All My Children” and “One Life to Live.” Team-taught by Erica Kane Martin Brent Cudahy Chandler Montgomery Montgomery Chandler Marick Marick Montgomery and Victoria Lord Riley Burke Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson. (Deborah Guy, Columbus, Ohio)
Philosophy 000: Elementary Nihilism. Students learn the philosophy of total self-negation. Those who bother to attend classes will be failed. (Joseph Romm)
Academic Communications 191: An information delivery module designed to disseminate linguistic interaction experience to assist Carbon Based Life Forms (CBLFs) in transactionalizing with other CBLFs, without utilizing affirmative/pejorative value judgments. (John Crowley, Annandale)
CHEM 180: Household Chemical Reactions Lab. Students spend the semester in the home of the course instructor, testing various cleaning compounds on a variety of surfaces. (Jeff Brechlin, Eagan, Minn.)
Math 420: Numerical Methods & Queuing Theory. Students learn to quantitatively assess aggregated items, compare their magnitudes to an arbitrary constant, and enter an appropriate queuing schema accordingly.Final exam held in the “12 Items or Less” checkout line. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)
American History 300: The Baby Boomers. Students will learn precisely why it is that their professor is so cool now, was so cool in his youth, and will ALWAYS be cool, and is therefore forever entitled to be self-indulgent and snotty. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)
Comp Sci 404: Magical Standing for Office IT Guys. Students learn how to stand behind people in such a manner that their computer suddenly works, even though it didn’t work the last 10 times they did that exact thing. (Seth Brown, North Adams, Mass.)
Studio Art 327: Hotel Room Picture Painting. Curriculum covers techniques in sunsets, crashing waves and various autumn things. Prerequisite to Crying Clowns I. (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)
Early Childhood Education 001: Students will learn all they ever really needed to know. Prof. R. Fulghum. (Kyle Hendrickson, Frederick)
Campus Activism: Practicum in which students earn credit through a real-life social project. This semester, the class will attempt to resolve egregiously discriminatory, arbitrary denials of tenure. Asst. Prof. Whistlebottom. (Peter Metrinko, Chantilly)
Literature 421: “Gilligan’s Island” as a Metaphor for the Iraq War. What starts out as a three-hour tour turns into a trip to uncharted territory with no clear exit strategy. (Chuck Smith)
Humanities 414: Waiting Through History. Students will investigate the social and cultural impact on society of waiting, and will actually wait for Godot, Lefty, the Robert E. Lee, Guffman, the Sun, and God. Meeting time TBA. (Andrew Hoenig, Rockville)
Theatre Arts 243: Contemporary Barroom Dance. Students learn to stand and wiggle their butts while drinking beer from a long-neck bottle. (Roy Ashley, Washington)
BIO 101: Comparative Anatomy. Curriculum includes determining whether eyes or stomachs are bigger and distinguishing rears from elbows. (Kevin Dopart)
American Literature 411: “For Dummies” Books, 2000-2005. In this survey course, students will skim brief excerpts from this genre, and submit short reports. (Tom Witte)
ANTH 100: Distinguishing Old People. Undergraduate seminar dispels the popular notion that old people all look alike. Identifying characteristics will be underscored (e.g., gender).(Martin Bancroft, Ann Arbor, Mich.)
ENGL 615: Yoda I. To Yoda’s grammatical structure you will be introduced. (Evan Golub, College Park)
Phys Ed 349: Disaster Response Gymnastics. Coaches teach students how to put their heads up their butts in preparation for government service. Prerequisite: Arabian Horse Judging 101. Required text: “My Pet Goat.” (Phyllis Reinhard, East Fallowfield, Pa.)
English Comp 121: Great American Text Messages Under 250 Characters. ezy cls ne1 cn tak. Several short papers. (Jane Auerbach, Los Angeles)
SRP 101: Basics of Sub-Aquatic Reed Plaiting. Introduction to the most maligned of college majors. (Russell Beland)
WORK 1601: McJob Practicum. Prerequisite for LIFE. Perform mindless, pointless and degrading tasks all day while taking guff from perfect strangers and feckless idiots. Try to find meaning and maintain your basic human dignity, especially after you get your first paycheck. Imagine doing this the rest of your life and suddenly finals week seems like Club Med. NOW are you ready to pick a major? (Douglas Frank)
Our contest to come up with either a humorously useful phone/tablet app or a humorously unproductive one drew a lot of stock peeve/observational humor along with the ones that spoofed the app industry. Some people are so bitter: One person suggested “the Hack-Shock app, which, when entered into your computer, detects hackers and sends a powerful current to the hacker’s computer, destroying the hard drive and electrocuting the hacker.” Handy tip: Wishing death or torture on people doesn’t get ink. I’m just (un)funny that way.
It’s an amazing third Inkin’ Memorial for Robert Falk — amazing not because Robert isn’t usually all that funny, but because Robert hardly ever plays the Invite. Robert’s total ink since his debut in Week 1026: Four honorable mentions. And three Inkin’ Memorials. His first win, in Week 1034: “I like my girlfriends the way I like Apple customers: flush with cash, stylish and unaware they can do better.” His second, just three weeks later, for taking offense to a name that most people haven’t thought (yet) to be offended by: “The members of the American Association of Lobby Builders and Decorators (AALBD) create and decorate the warm, inviting, beautiful spaces that greet you as you enter many a building. But the name of our creations has been besmirched by the vile, underhanded and corrupt practice of influence peddling. We’ve asked our foyerist in Washington to . . .” :
In second place is a veteran Loser who’s started entering again: John Kammer blotted up some 160 inks in the first decade of the Invite, then vanished for another decade until just a few weeks ago. With two inks this week, he seems not to have skipped a beat upon his return. By the way, this is the tagline on all John’s e-mail: “Pain is a dish best served hot. Really hot. And with jagged edges.”
It’s a First Offender in third place this week, but his name wasn’t brand-new to me, and it won’t be to a number of Losers: Danny Gallagher, of the Dallas area, is a humor blogger and the moderator of the Top 5 List, now under the aegis of HumorLabs.com. Top 5 is a sort of smaller-scale, quicker-turnaround Invite contest with a regular roster of joke contributors, including, over the years, top Losers Chuck Smith and Sandra Hull. So it’s great to have him on our roster as well. Danny will get the FirStink for his first ink along with his choice of Loser Mug or Grossery Bag — let me know, Mr. G.
The last “above the fold” spot goes to Extremely Dedicated Loser Jeff Contompasis, who recently passed 400 blots of ink (eww — hope it cleaned up all right) and is a mortal lock for the Hall of Fame in the next couple of years. It’s Jeff’s 35th ink above the fold, so he might opt for one of the vintage Loser T-shirts won by Elden Carnahan before Jeff started Inviting in 2004.
Another party heard from: The Invite was read this week on the multiplatform desk (formerly the copy desk) by editor Arielle Retting. I asked Arielle if she had a favorite entry, and she shocked me by saying that she liked the top four winners the most, as usual. As longtime Style Conversational readers know, the previous editors who’d weighed in with faves chose honorable mentions almost every time. Arielle added that she also especially liked the last HM, Mark Raffman’s sure-fire romance preventer.
Now it’s time for me to buckle down with the limericks of Week 1084, which look extremely good. Many, many of you will be utterly robbed. The Vengeful Mob group will be sending you an invitation soon.