Style Invitational Week 937: Staake it to Bob in a picture book caption contest


Picture 1: From ‘Mary Had a Little Lamp,’ text by Jack Lechner, 2008, Bloomsbury Children’s Books (Bob Staake)
September 16, 2011

In this week’s contest, Style Invitational illustrator Bob Staake was going to tweak the work of some famous New Yorker cartoonists, much as he did for us back in 1998. But now that Bob is now a New Yorker cover boy himself, not to mention a disturbingly successful, Cape Cod waterfront-residing children’s-book author and illustrator, we decided instead to make fun of Bob’s own oeuvre. This week: Write a caption for any of the five pages or details pictured above from some of Bob’s more than 50 picture books. (His name’s pronounced “stack,” by the way.)

Winner gets the Inker, the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place gets a prize custom-made for the Invite: a dress sewn from two classic Loser T-shirts by Loser Barbara Turner. It even has pockets. But you have to be fairly petite — it’s about a size 8. Before lunch. Modeled at a Loser brunch by “Loser groupie” Denise Sudell.

Other runners-up win their choice of a coveted Style Invitational Loser T-shirt or yearned-for Loser Mug. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders get a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to losers@washpost.com or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 26; results published Oct. 16 (Oct. 14 online). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 937” in your e-mail subject line, or it may be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational. The revised title for next week’s results is by Craig Dykstra; this week’s honorable-mentions name is by Tom Witte.

Report from Week 933

in which we asked, in “homage” to the 55 Fiction contest given by the California alternative weekly New Times, for 56-word humorous stories. We had a hunch that this one would be difficult. It clearly was. No Inker this week; we’re starting with second place. By the way, we’re counting two words joined by a hyphen as two words; a number written in numerals counts as one word.

2. Winner of the “Welcome to Loserville” sign:

“Frank, your mother is back from the dead and knocking on our front door.”
 “Are you sure?”
 Gillian invited him to peek through the peephole.
 “Well, let’s invite her in.”
 “Frank, I see fangs.”
 “So?”
 “She’s a vampire. If we invite her in, she’ll suck the life out of our family.”
 “And this is different how?” (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)

3. “There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Henry!”
“Oh, Liza. We’ll fix it. In the meantime, I’ll tell you a story:
Star-crossed sweethearts determine to spend
On each other, but – Heaven forfend –
Each one sells, for his deeds,
What the other’s gift needs.
Empty pockets, full hearts. That’s the end.”
“Oh, Henry, what a tale!” (Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.)

4. The president had a problem: His dark secret would be exposed in Woodward’s book. It was a youthful mistake. In Hawaii. But would it become a metaphor?
 Could he cover up the incident? No, Nixon had tried that. Best to confess: “It’s true: In a high school hoops game, I did blow an easy breakaway layup.” (Ron Shafer, Williamsburg, Va., a First Offender)

Succink: Honorable mentions

Autobiography of Love: Actor, actor, Paris in May, engineer in a heart -shaped bed, playboy, poet professor, virgin math professor, Chilean politician, draft dodger in Acapulco, engineer again, San Francisco in the ’70s, engineer again, Latin lover, physicist, future ex-husband, Latin lover again, bipolar psychologist, neighbor, one I resisted, professor, engineer, engineering professor. Alone. Wise? Content. (Zona Douthit, Pawtucket, R.I., a First Offender)

Irony-Poor Blood
When they discoveredI was vegetarian, my cowboy buddies teased me mercilessly. So one night when it was my turn to watch the herd, I lit out for new parts. Had no idea we were close to vampire country. All by my lonesome, I got picked off. A century later, I like meat, but hate stakes.(Randy Lee, Burke, Va.)

“I don’t want people looking at me in my coffin!” she had declared. And sure enough, when the time had come, our rosy-cheeked, pleasant-faced mother, age 93, lay scowling in her coffin, the corners of her mouth turned way down. Our hysterical crying turned into hysterical laughing. You win, Mom — we’ll close the coffin. (Susan Hertzler, Annandale, Va.)

“Yeah, Coach. Yeah, I struck out. So?”
 “Don’t give me that lip, Casey. You strike out too much. Tomorrow it’s a serious session with the hitting coach. Wait — just got a note here. Hey, you’ve been traded! For a guy named Ruth.”
 “What? That’s a girl’s name,” sneered Casey as he swaggered off into the sunset. (Nancy Israel, Bethesda, Md.)

God as My Witness, This Is a True Story
“I’ll need to see your ID,” said the cashier at the liquor store to the young woman ahead of me.
 She passed inspection, barely.
 I put my Scotch on the counter.
 The cashier looked up at me and silently took my money.
 “You didn’t check my age,” I said.
 “Sir,” he said, “there’s no upper limit.” (John Long, Mechanicsville, Va., a First Offender)

And last:
“I’ve got a protagonist – me,” he mused. “And a conflict, or at least a challenge­ to squeeze a story into exactly 56 words. Now I just need a climax and a resolution, and ideally some personal growth.”
 So he hit the Word Count button. When he saw the number, he knew he’d live happily ever after. (Dixon Wragg, Santa Rosa, Calif.)

Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, where the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at losers@washpost.com (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.

Would you like to meet a bunch of Losers in person? The Greater Loser Community — a.k.a. the Not Ready for the Algonquin Round Table Society — is having its own annual Flushies award “banquet” (picnic) on Saturday, Oct. 1, 1 to 5 p.m., at Granville Gude Park in Laurel, Md. Catered barbecue is on the menu; all are welcome. Tickets are $25 per person to cover costs. The 70th person to send in his check will get the last spot, so if you’d like to attend and you aren’t on the Invite’s weekly notification list (in which case you should have gotten an invitation), contact the Empress ASAP at myersp@washpost.com and put “Flushies” in the subject line, and she’ll send the details right out to you. This picnic is sponsored by the Losers themselves, not The Post, but the Empress promises to crash it.

Next week: Meet your match, or I’m likenin’ it

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