But I did remember at least one contest whose results could overlap with this one. But even it was from almost a decade ago. So for inspiration — and so you won’t send in the same entries — here are the results of Week 851 (January 2010), complete with some entries that lacked funny descriptions. (I was going to say that you could use those titles if you had an absolutely fabulous description, but I don’t think any would count as an “opposite”; well, I guess I’d take “The Meh Santini.”)
Report from Week 851, in which we asked you to “shrink” the title of a book, play or movie and describe the new plot. We got lots of funny titles whose descriptions didn’t really enhance them, including “Less Miserables,” “Mildly Annoyed Max,” “Post-it Notes From the Underground,” “Physician Assistant Zhivago,” “The Discount of Monte Cristo,” “Intestine of Darkness,” “The Meh Santini,” “Lost Verizon,” “Policy Disagreement on the Bounty,” “Malcolm PG-13” and “Nicoderm Road.”
The winner of the Inker: The Fifth Sense: “I smell dead people.” (Adam and Russell Beland, Fairfax)
2. the winner of the unflattering Eleanor Roosevelt doll: The Mediocre Gatsby: The biography of Tareq Salahi. (Ira Allen, Bethesda) [Salahi’s 12 seconds of fame involved crashing a White House state dinner.]
3. Slaughterhouse $4.99: A family gets to choose among beef, chicken and pork with all the trimmings — only at Denny’s! (Greg Arnold, Herndon)
4. Three Days of the Condom: Love on a shoestring. (Edmund Conti, Raleigh)
Missed the Marquee: Honorable Mentions
Guess Who’s Coming To: A guy passes out. Then he wakes up. (Judy Blanchard, Novi, Mich.)
Casablank: Rick can’t really recall meeting Ilsa before, but he plays along because, what the heck, she looks like Ingrid Bergman. (Larry Yungk, Arlington)
The Least of the Mohicans: A young Indian in New York scalps his theater tickets. (Roy Ashley, Washington)
The Manchurian Media Darling Who Won't Say He's Running and Won't Say He Isn't: A Chinese plot to get Americans to give up on democracy once and for all. (Tom Kreitzberg, Silver Spring)
Perturbed Bull: “Did you read off-color poetry to my wife?” (Bruce Alter, Fairfax Station)
Halve-atar: See it in 1.5-D! (Jim Deutsch, Washington)
75 Days of Summer: A guy lives in Minnesota. (Josh Borken, Minneapolis)
One Hundred Minutes of Solitude: A teenager gets after-school detention. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)
Apollo 12: Three U.S. astronauts blast off for the moon, where they plant a flag, gather rocks and drink Tang, then return to Earth without incident. (Bob Dalton, Arlington)
20,000 Millimeters Under the Sea: The story of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. (Jon Graft, Centreville)
The Satanic Doggerel: The Koran in limerick form. “There once was a Prophet from Mecca …” (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
Oh. Calcutta: Teens are disappointed after sneaking into a play about … Calcutta. (Kyle Hendrickson, Frederick)
Eat, Pay, Love: Eliot Spitzer’s soul-stirring memoir of self-discovery on a brief business trip to Washington. (Gordon Barnes, Alexandria)
The Hitchhikers CliffsNotes to the Galaxy: 42. (Kyle Hendrickson)
Naked Breakfast: Embarrassing dad forgets to close his robe while cooking, finally learns lesson from bacon splatter. (Randy Lee, Burke)
The Pelican Briefs: Travelers with oversize underwear arouse suspicion at airport security checkpoints. (Jeff Loren, Manassas)
The Man Who Would Be Deputy Assistant Secretary: The stark truth about civil service. (John Shea, Lansdowne, Pa.)
Reasonable Expectations: Orphaned Pip realizes that his life in the mid-19th century is going to stink no matter what. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn)
Gone in 60 Minutes: Man starts the car while his wife finishes getting ready to leave. (David Friedman, Boston)
Gone in 30 Seconds: Fast-paced film about a mom who brings home pizza for three teenage boys. (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)
Around the Mall in 80 Minutes: NOBODY has those cute boots! (Jean Berard, Arnold, Md., a First Offender)
Mr. Smith Goes to Scaggsville: Near the end of his trip to the nation’s capital, a traffic jam on I-95 forces him off the road south of Baltimore. (Beverley Sharp, Washington)
Lightly Soiled Harry: “What you have to ask yourself is ‘Do I feel yucky?' " (Russell Beland)
The Hunchback of South Bend Community College: Walk-on lineman doesn’t let his disability deter him in the big game against Iowa Normal School. (Edmund Conti)
The Da Vinci Code Ring: Robert Langdon unearths a monstrous conspiracy hidden in a box of Cracker Jack. (Ben Frey, Frederick, a First Offender)
Droll call*: The Congressional Record ‘questions’ of Week 1349
*Submitted as a headline by five or six people
I’d predicted four weeks ago in this column that I wouldn’t get a whole lot of entrants to Week 1349, a version of our recurring Questionable Journalism contest in which people had to dig around the Congressional Record website and write funny questions that quotes from the Record could answer. “But I’m also confident that some people out there will see this challenge as lots of fun — and will send me lots of inkworthy questions.”
All of this proved true, and despite the relatively small entry pool I still had to trim entries for this week’s results. Along with the sort of thing I was envisioning with this contest — reinterpretations of such Congress-speak as “morning business” and “yield the balance of my time” and of course “member” — enterprising Losers managed to turn up some classic inanities by our elected officials from both parties, whom I don’t at all feel bad about calling out by name, since the legislators are free to go back and fix up their quotes “for the record.” And the champ among these — Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney illustrating the gender wage gap by noting that half of the workers who earn the minimum wage are women — earned Sam Mertens a Lose Cannon.
I’m always delighted to see new Losers get ink — and thrilled when they dive right in and start inking up the joint. And rookie Sam certainly seems to Get It: Starting with his debut in Week 1323, the software engineer from Maryland’s outer suburbs had blotted up ink in 19 Invite contests, for 23 blots of ink including a runner-up. Now this week that ink total jumps to 26 — including first and second place. The stated rule of the Invitational is one prize per week, something Sam seemed to know, since he just wrote me to opt for the Lose Cannon rather than the second-prize Poop Hoop head-basketball game. But I’m not going to deprive Sam of the chance to get poop emoji balls thrown at his head; I’ll magnanimously send him both invaluable (i.e., not valuable) prizes. Though I hope he’ll send a photo of himself wearing the Poop Hoop.
Come to think of it, it’s an all-Montgomery County Losers’ Circle this week: Gary Crockett, of Chevy Chase, is there for the millionth time, but in fourth place it’s another rookie, Sarah Walsh of Rockville, who doubles her previous ink total with two blots today.
As is usually true for our contests that play on quoted matter, the humor works best when the reader grasps the context of what the quote’s actually about. And indeed, except for pointing out that “Empress” is a casino (in Joliet, Ill.), I didn’t feel a need to explain the original statements. But in the early part of the judging, I wasn’t sure about that, and was writing up explainers for appealing entries such as these, which ended up not getting ink:
A. “Mr. Speaker, I suggest that these Chinese berets be made into suppositories and be used on Pentagon brass.”
Q. We haven’t passed anything weird this morning — anyone got something? (Frank Osen) The quote was part of a 2001 rant by the colorful Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio), who was angry that the Defense Department had ordered 600,000 berets from China for U.S. service members. They were eventually shelved after such outcries.
A. Mr. Speaker, I rise, as doth the golden orb pulled across the sky each day by the chariot of Apollo, to decry an ignominy perpetuated on this Body by the captious Sunlight Foundation.
Q. What’s wrong with a foundation that advocates for plain-speaking in government? (Oh, it’s also Frank Osen — I’m just looking these up now.) Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), jokingly decrying the foundation’s 2012 report that the discourse in Congress had dropped by a full grade level in the past decade. Afterward, the foundation rated Quigley’s speech not that high either.
A. I am just looking for one that is particularly bad in violating the Constitution and his oath of office, yes.
Q. What did the president say about the search for his next Cabinet pick? (Sam Mertens) Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) in 1998, on compiling a list of “activist” judges who he thought should be impeached.
What Doug dug: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood is back from a three-week staycation (though we wish he’d sent a picture postcard from Hyattsville) and is back to offering his faves of the week. This time he agreed with me about the Lose Cannon winner and also singled out Frank Osen’s “morning business” (my favorite of several entries playing on that phrase) and also Frank’s ba-da-bing “bicameral” joke; Chris Doyle’s “words fail me,” and the play on the recurring line “The time of the gentleman has expired,” from both Jesse Frankovich and Jeff Contompasis.
What’s with the bare-bones Staake? A last-minute emergency prevented cartoonist Bob Staake from finishing this week’s cartoon. So we went with his pencil sketch instead.
It’s not too late to advance on Gettysburg: Loser brunch and battlefield tour
Just about every year, a contingent of Losers takes advantage of Loser Roger Dalrymple’s tour guide expertise, driving up to Gettysburg, Pa., for lunch in a local pub followed by a drive to various sites where the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg transpired, and perhaps a stroll around the historic town. I can’t make it this year, but it’s always fascinating and fun. (Except the time I got sick …) And Roger just got ink this week, so he should be in an extra-nice mood. Lunch is at Appalachian Brewing Co., a nice pub. Because Keeper of the Brunches Elden Carnahan is on vacation, it’s best to RSVP to Roger directly at rogerandpam [at] comcast [dot] net.
I will, however, be at the November 10 brunch at Paradiso on Franconia Road just outside the Beltway. And if you can make it downtown for lunch sometime between Monday and Wednesday, Nov. 18-20, we’re trying to have a Dorkness at Noon lunch so we can greet Nonstop Loser Jesse Frankovich, who’ll be in town from Michigan at a convention. (He doesn’t yet know his daily schedule, so stay tuned for the details.)