We’ve been busier than usual in Inviteland, getting things in gear for our 20th-anniversary package next week (it’s sure to irritate every Loser who gets no/not enough/the wrong mention). On top of that, our big-shot cartoonist Bob Staake had to go out of town. So when I reminded him that we hadn’t done a regular, straight-up caption contest in almost two years, and asked if he’d send me some ideas for the five cartoons we wanted to use, within 24 hours Bob sent me twenty-four sketches of his trademark bizarro, deformed-nosed people and animals doing ambiguous things. One day later, he sent the five finished cartoons we show this week, and turned his nutty little pen and early-generation Photoshop to his 97 other simultaneous projects.
And that is why Bob gets to gaze out his backyard studio window upon Nantucket Sound.
This is just a classic Picture This contest — say something funny to describe the picture, or quote something that the person in the picture is saying. Please identify each caption with the number accompanying the cartoon. Now that we have a full (tabloid-size) page in the print Post each week, we were able to offer five pictures rather than four. I don’t think we’ve ever had weak results in a Picture This contest; if the entries for one cartoon aren’t thrilling, I just run more great ones from the other cartoons.
In fact, the Invite caption contests are way funnier and even cleverer than the better-known New Yorker caption contests — and I think I’d even get votes of agreement from Losers Gary Crockett, who won the New Yorker contest recently, and Jay Shuck, who’s won it twice.
Reader (but not yet a Loser) Earl Hughes sent me an e-mail a few days ago to alert me that one of our winning superheroes (and not-so-super-heroes) exists: Christopher Larsen got an honorable mention for “Eneman: Fleet of, well, ’tain’t feet,” but as the above photo shows, the Fleet company itself had promoted its most famous product with its own little stuffed Eneman, complete with an applicator head. Earl rubbed it in further (wait, I should reword that ... nah, it’s the Conversational) by saying he was going to send it to the Invitational as a prize donation, but had decided to give it away instead. Oh, poop.
It’s really heartening to see such good results to our Clue Us In backward crossword; I was a bit worried that the contest was beginning to be played out, as it were, with pretty much the same jokes every year. But we had more entries and entrants than last year (look at all those First Offenders!), and just about everyone seemed to know what I had in mind by “creative, funny clues”; very few people sent a list of totally straight definitions, something that’s happened every year. Almost each of the 72 terms in Bob Klahn’s grid generated at least a couple of good ones. I’m sorry that I couldn’t credit everyone who sent in inkworthy clues (I think I’ve actually run too many, especially online).
(Bob’s actual clues for this Sunday crossword — it ran only online in The Post — were very creative in themselves, though he was of course limited by space, not to mention that his clues actually had to be reasonably solvable, while we didn’t care about that in the Invite. Among my Klahn favorites for this contest: Boa: Stole from a stripper; Expenses: What comes after them may come back to you; Lent: Quitting time.)
I hope that none of this week’s results aren’t totally mystifying. Obviously, I figured them out myself, but then again, I’m looking at literally thousands of these clues at a time, and so I can slip into the mindset that allows you to see the letters in the word in several ways; and also, I do the New York Times’s Saturday crosswords, which are full of wordplay clues. If you don’t get a certain clue, ask here in the comments field below or, better, on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook, and I or someone else will explain it without mocking you.
One tricky clue was, amazingly, sent by at least four Losers, in various wording: It was for DLO: What you get if you fail to produce ID when buying a dildo (Andy Bassett); l33t speak for marital aid (Greg Caires); the unprintable “police lingo for a prick with no ID”; What nymphomaniacs need an ID for (David Garratt). I wouldn’t have been able to use the word “dildo” in the clue, but without it, I’m not sure I would have figured it out (I’d read Andy’s clue first, so I easily understood the rest. I replaced “dildo” with “marital aid” in Andy’s entry and shared it with a regular crossword-solver, and he had no idea what the entry was getting at. (By the way, to those mystified for another reason, DLO stands for the Postal Service’s dead-letter office.)
It’s the third winner, but the first Inkin’ Memorial for longtime Loser Barbara Turner. In addition to her donated prizes of two dresses that she made herself out of Loser T-shirts (here she is posing in one of them at a Flushies award luncheon), I see from the Loses Stats that Barbara is closing in on her 100th blot of ink, including 15 “above the fold” — hey, those were her own T-shirts.
I was relieved to see that the first-runner-up prize — a jar of Turkish “aprodsaique” — had been won by someone over 18. In fact, Edmund Conti is a full 66 years over, so I’m sure he’ll put it to good use. I’d meant to share a photo of the jar here on the Conversational, because I didn’t feel that I could even link to it from the Invite, but I think the photo is only on my work computer. Suffice it to say that it pictures the silhouette of what looks like a male toddler, except that a baseball bat seems to be springing from his nether regions. It’s also the third win (and 68th ink) for Edmund, who’s also a well-known poet in light-verse circles and who’s a busy commenter among the Style Invitational Devotees.
On the other hand, a FirStink for first ink will be going out along with his choice the Loser Mug or Grossery Bag to Craig Whitaker, who first entered Loserdom by showing up in January as a total stranger (one of several) at the Losers’ Post-Holiday Party at my house. Craig had a number of good entries in Week 1007, so I’m excited about seeing more in the future. And a pair of veterans, Barry Koch (117 inks) and Gary Crockett (134), each came up with the cute name for an ear-hair plucker.
The HAW -- the week’s favorite from Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford — wasn’t available by press time; I’ll add it later here on Facebook. See the last section of this column for the unprintable entries.
Fifteen longtime and newer members of the Greater Loser Community chatted for the record last weeken d in historic Annapolis, Md., as they welcomed Washington Post reporter David Montgomery, who’s doing a article on the Losers for the Sunday Style section in conjunction with the Invitational’s 20th-anniversary retrospective next week (the March 3 paper; online, I hope, on Feb. 28).
I am so greatly impressed at, not to mention grateful for, the amount of work that David is doing for a story that’s budgeted at only about 1,000 words (about two-thirds the length of this Conversational column). He talked to me for hours to learn about how the Invite works, and for background on the phenomenon of Losers as a social group; he contacted and re-contacted a number of contestants, seeking anecdotes, information and perspective; and he drove out to Annapolis on a Sunday morning to meet the Losers in person. At least he got to eat a little. Here’s a photo from the brunch; David is at the left of the redheaded Nan Reiner. (Everyone else is identified where the photo is posted on the Devotees page, along with other pictures; I’m lurking at the table in the background.)
The next brunch, by the way, is another buffet, this one at Paradiso on Franconia Road between Alexandria and Springfield, Va., not far from the Beltway. March 10 (moved from the 17th), either 10 or 11. information will be updated soon on the RSVP page, bit.ly/loserbrunches . I plan to go.
In addition to Bird Waring’s aforementioned entry for DLO, I also didn’t think I should run these crossword clues:
ACROSS: Where Jesus used to hang out (Konrad Schwoerke)
ACROSS: What keeps Jesus up all night? (Greg Caires)
SHATNER: What John Edwards did to Elizabeth (Steve Glomb)
SHATNER + BOA: Soiled her scarf (David Komornik)
HELLHOLE: Nickname given by ex-boyfriends to Lindsay Lohan. (Jeff Contompasis)