By the E, Pat Myers
It’s the old Two Items from a List game, with the invitation to pair — yes! another pairing contest! — any two items on the list of random items we give you, and come up with some joke about how they’re alike or different. This time, for Week 972, my hope is that they’re random enough, or at least varied enough, given that they all came from the “trending topics” lists on washingtonpost.com, and so they’re not weirdly silly like, for example, “a tattoo of Joe Biden.”
The last contest we did in this genre was from nine months ago, in Week 934, according to the Losers’ own Master Contest List, That was time I made the list from random suggestions e-mailed to me by members of the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook. Winner: The difference between a toilet brush and a tattoo of Joe Biden: One’s a bristly Number Two tool; the other’s merely the depiction of one. (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.) For new Losers, that and the other results (scroll down past the new contest) should give you an idea of how this contest works. It’s not really important whether the two things are alike or different, and notice that I didn’t stick to one particular format for the sentences. Whatever’s funniest for your particular joke.
A QUICK STUDY: THE RESULTS OF WEEK 968
The Greater Loser Community had a hard time with this contest, I think, and I had a hard time judging it, even though there weren’t all that many entries, compared with the pools I get for the usual wordplay, joke and light-verse contests. It could well have been that the format of the contest led to heavy-handed joke-telling, or somehow steered people to the hoariest topics of observational humor. And it’s not surprising, really, that right-on-the-button imitations of obtuse, overwritten and boring writing don’t make a reader say, “Hah — can’t wait to read 20 more of THOSE.”
Also, those of you who see the Invite in print, on the back of the Sunday Style section, will see that paragraph-form blocks of type aren’t very, er, inviting in the format that the Invitational uses (which is a light-face sans serif type designed to maximize the number of entries I can run). I edited down some of these entries into the roughly 30 to 50 words of their current form.
The entries that got ink this week managed to evade those pitfalls with originality and a fair amount of zing. It’s the first winning entry — but by no means the first ink — for rookie phenom Robert Schechter, who’s blotted up 40 inks, including this seventh “above-the-fold” entry, since his debut in the limerick contest of Week 931. While limericks and other poems are what brought him to the Invite — he’s been published many times in light-verse journals — Robert has since plunged into all aspects of the Invitational and the Devotees page, often sending the maximum 25 entries in a week (not this time, though — nobody sent that many, not even Mad Maxers Kevin Dopart and Jeff Contompasis). I hope that by winning the Inkin’ Memorial, Robert isn’t too disappointed that he’s now out of the running for the Losers’ Cantinkerous award, the plaque that goes to the highest-scoring Loser who’s never finished in first place. (For several years now, that honor has rested with 76-time Loser Kyle Hendrickson, according to Elden Carnahan’s all-time stats.)
Second-place Martin Bancroft, of upstate New York, has been back with us since he went off to get a life for a while (really, I don’t hold it against such people when they try those silly little diversions) and gets his 65th ink today, and also his seventh above the fold. And a shirt, mug or bag — his choice, if he lets me know — goes for the first time to Luke Currano, who first popped up in the Invite in the obit poem contest of 2005 (for Yasir Arafat) and has gotten ink four times since. Time for Luke to marshal the Force a bit more, I think. As well as yet another one for Ink Machine David Genser.
Luke’s grant proposal to study the weight-loss potential of an ice cream diet earns the weekly HAW! from Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford, who deemed it her fave. Lynn and I rarely choose the same winner, but at least this time she found one in my top four.
A BUILDUP OF PLAQUES IN ANNAPOLIS: FLUSHIES 2012
Speaking of Lynn, she did deliver on her threat that she might show up on Saturday afternoon at the Flushies, the 17th annual Losers’ own awards luncheon. She even came with her husband, Jeff Leen, who’s in charge of investigative journalism at The Post and who arrived wearing his official uniform of a Loser T-shirt. (Loser Nan Reiner led the assembled in a spontaneous and hearty “HAW.”)
A (for them) well-behaved crowd of about 50 veteran and newbie Losers, family members, court-ordered guards, etc., snarfed up the lunch buffet, schmoozed, drank, schmoozed, drank, and then enjoyed the typically Loserly program organized by Elden Carnahan and Dave Prevar, and emceed by Kyle Hendrickson.
After I showed off some of our new prizes — not only the Inkin’ Memorial, but the knitted “she-cozy” I told about in last week’s Style Conversational — the “awards” presentation kicked in. The traditional personally inscribed rolls of toilet paper were tossed to those in attendance who’d had their best Loser year ever, as well as to those who’d reached various ink milestones, from 50 for a half-dozen Losers to the ridiculous 1,500 to Russell Beland (his TP, like those for other milestoners who couldn’t be there, was snagged by a designated roll-catcher who wore two name tags the whole afternoon).
Plaques were awarded to Rookie of the Year (Nan Reiner); Most Imporved [sic] (Mike Gips); and Least Imporved (Craig Dykstra, who wasn’t there but neither was the plaque; Elden seems to have misplaced it.); and finally Loser of the Year, whose award — as it has been in recent years — was introduced with a custom-written song parody.
As Mae Scanlan accompanied on keyboard and Dave Prevar chimed in with More Cowbell, Nan Reiner led the singing of her (evidently factually correct) biographical ballad, which started thus:
Born on a river bank in I-o-wee,
Unaware of his Loser life to be.
Cleverest tyke that you ever did see:
Wrote him a pun when he was only three.
Gary, Gary Crockett: He’s Loser of the Year. (Full version on the Devotees page.)
Upon accepting the coveted plaque (which he has to give back next year), the 6-foot-7 Gary crouched down to the microphone and noted that only a true Loser could win something like this for finishing in sixth place for the year — since Kevin Dopart, Chris Doyle, Jeff Contompasis, Beverley Sharp and Craig Dykstra had already had a chance to snuggle in bed with the plaque in previous years. (If the highest scorer were still allowed to repeat as Loser of the Year, Kevin would have it for six years running.)
And after the distribution of many, many door prizes — a number of which consisted of a very odd Japanese toilet toy with pink, yellow or blue rubbery poo inside — the events were brought to a close with an encore performance of Dion Black’s “Printability” duet, which was such a big hit at the Losers’ Holiday Party (here, Nan stood in for Dion’s wife, Jen) and finally, Nan’s show-stopping farewell to someone who’d been a big part of The Style Invitational for 427 straight weeks:
(to the tune of “Goldfinger”)
Naked man, the man whom we craved so much,
Our favorite touch.
Truth be told, Inker…
It’s bizarre how swiftly you stole our hearts,
When you have no… parts.
All we poets and punsters and geeks
Toiled for four hundred twenty-seven weeks.
How to win your love? Oh, how it stumped us!
Never guessed that you’d have dumped us,
Little man who shattered our big romance.
Put on your pants!
Thought you’d leave us behind and bereft,
And we’d still bear your torch? Well, you’re effed!
Doesn’t matter how sexy you may be;
You have been replaced by Abie,
Take a hike; go jump in the lake and sink
Into the drink!
Begone in a blink!
When we ink!