So it would be a shame if we didn’t show up and Commune, you know?
It’s not too late to RSVP to Elden Carnahan at NRARS.org, the Losers’ website; click on “Our Social Engorgements.” You’ll also see a roughed-in calendar for the next 12 months. And if you’re coming, flip me an email as well at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Play it again … Tips for the Week 1357 parody contest
They take a long time, but song parody contests are my favorite of all the Invitationals to judge — primarily because I’m always blown away by the wit and craft and humor of the best entries. And so I’m eagerly awaiting what the Loser Community sends me for Week 1357.
I had considered limiting the contest, as I sometimes do, to a certain genre of music (e.g., Beatles songs, holiday songs) or to particular subject matter (food, school, animals, advice). But this time I’m giving you free rein — just keep the subject matter to current events. And it’s fun to share a variety of musical genres and time periods.
We had our last parody contest just four months ago, in Week 1339′s contest for songs about “modern woes,” but I like to run two a year, and the remaining weeks of 2019 are spoken for. And Lord knows there should be enough inspiration in the daily headlines. What follows are the same Handy-Dandy Guidelines I posted in the Week 1339 Conversational — which in turn were lifted from the previous parody contest.
● As with all Style Invitational song parody contests, we value flawless rhyming, even if the original rhymes loosely. And we’re a humor contest; witty wordplay (including, but not requiring, clever playing off the words of the original), a zingy ending and the avoidance of bitter anger — our word for this is “screediness” — are the paths to Invite ink.
● Because the Invitational is a contest that is read rather than listened to — especially, duh, in the print version — a reader has to easily figure out how your lyrics match the tune. The best way to know this is to show someone the lyrics and see if the person — without your help or cues — can figure out how to sing them.
For the print page (which includes the four top winners), I’ll be choosing what I hope are very well known songs among at least a couple of generations. Online, I’ll include links to video or audio versions to the originals, and so less well known songs are welcome there. In either case, feel free to include the URL of a clip on YouTube or elsewhere whose music matches your lyrics. (Handy hint: To make a YouTube clip start playing at a certain point: Play it, pause it at your starting point, then add to the end of the URL, with no spaces: #T=0m25s, or how many minutes and seconds it really is. If this task proves confusing, don’t worry about it.)
● In our Golden Era of Political Parody Videos, I’d love it if I could share your fabulously inkworthy parody as a performance, particularly if the lyrics are right there on the video — like this one by Sandy Riccardi in our Week 1287 parody contest (results here). But it’s your lyrics, not the performance, that I’m judging. If you send a link to a video, please also send the text of the lyrics.
● Our general rule with the Invitational is to run humor that hasn’t been published elsewhere. But I’ve made exceptions in cases where it hasn’t yet been distributed widely, or by another publication. Write me at email@example.com. about specific cases and I’ll make a ruling.
● Also, while I normally consider the Invite not to be a team sport, I don’t mind crediting two people for a single parody.
● Note that once again, I’m extending the usual deadline by a week — so you’ll have till Nov. 25 to submit your parodies. If you’ve done a video and it’s ready for me to see earlier, drop me a line and I’ll have a look at it, in case I’d like you to tweak your lyrics. (My normally strict blind judging, in which I don’t see the writers’ names until I’ve chosen the winners, has to involve a little peeking in cases like this; don’t worry — even if I know and adore you personally, I won’t have any trouble at all denying you ink.)
Opposite attractions: The movies of Week 1353
Contests that play on movie titles have been very good to The Style Invitational over the years — there’s an enormous pool of titles to work with, and it’s usually not necessary for the reader to know the movie well to appreciate the joke. And the results of Week 1353 — a contest to change a word in a title to its “opposite” — hold their own.
More than 250 people entered this contest, with at least 2,000 entries in all. At first I was troubled because a lot of the entries were too obvious — lots of stuff like “The Slow and the Furious: Rush hour on the Beltway” — but once I threshed out the wheat of the shortlist from the chaff of “The Worst Years of Our Lives: The Trump administration,” I had more than enough clever ideas, including imaginative interpretations of “opposite.”
It’s the first Lose Cannon for Jesse Rifkin, who was still inkless when he performed a song parody at the Loser party in January, but in recent months has been blotting more weeks than not. This week his “Lion Queen” gets him Ink No. 13, and he also gets an honorable mention for my pick among numerous “Mission: Possible” entries.
Frank Osen, who doesn’t have a cat but has a boatload of Loser prizes, has already passed on his Twinkle Tush “jewel”; perhaps I’ll offer it up once again in a future contest, or perhaps it’ll be a door prize at a future Loser event.
After a period of appearing only in the Unprintables section of the Conversational, current Rookie of the Year Jon Ketzner has figured out how to be inkably edgy — as in his runner-up “Moby Niceguy.”
After I posted this week’s results this morning, 256-time Loser Mike Gips wrote me with this note: “My entries for the movie contest were in honor of my father. He designed the poster for each of my entries.” Which meant that Philip Gips, who died last month, was the creator of the famous posters for: “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Altered States,” “Catch-22,” “Rosemary’s Baby” — perhaps his most famous image — “Downhill Racer,” “No Way Out” and “Fatal Attraction.” Not to mention “Alien” and the ESPN logo, which has never been changed. There’s a great obit in the New York Times.
What Doug Dug: The numerous faves this week of Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood all came from the honorable mentions: “White Hawk Down” as the John Bolton story (Tom Witte and David Kleinbard); “Hygienic Harry” — Go ahead, make my bed (Lee Graham); “Death of Pi” (rookie Stuart Anderson); “The Dropout” — with the “plastics” guy telling cashier Ben his preference in grocery bags (great debut by First Offender Marco Di Pietro, who also wrote the headline, “Box Office Flips”); “Small,” a dig at Trump by Deb Stewart; “The Godmother,” Cinderella ordering a hit on her stepsisters; and the best of many for “One Flew Into the Cuckoo’s Nest,” another White House dig by Howard Walderman. And a Laura Laurel: Laura Michalski, who gave the Invite yet another pair of eyes last night, most enjoyed Jeff Shirley’s “20,000 Leagues Over the Sea,” a large program of starting bowling teams on Navy ships.
Bob-Bob-Bobbin’ along: A Staake update
Last week I was delighted to welcome back Bob Staake as our Forever Illustrator just two weeks after he underwent emergency surgery to replace a heart valve. Since the operation, Bob developed a problem in the nerves leading to his drawing hand — but as you can see in both his pencil sketch above and the final cartoon in this week’s Invitational, he’s coping with it magnificently. Here’s an excerpt of what Bob has posted on Facebook in the past days about his condition:
“It’ll take 12 to 18 months for your drawing hand to fully recover.”
“That’s what the neurologist told me yesterday. Seems that one of the surprisingly common side effects of open heart surgery is brachial plexopathy. … When the patient undergoes anesthesia and their arms are opened wide … this causes the nerves extending from the neck to the fingers to be stretched to the point that they can become damaged. During my rehabilitation in the hospital I noticed that both the pinkie and ring finger on my right hand were numb. …
“ I thought this was something that would go away, but when I returned to the studio and tried to draw with either a pencil or pen, it was almost impossible. With those two fingers on the drawing board, my line was shaky, tentative, and lacked any spontaneous confidence whatsoever. Sometimes I would lose a grip on the pencil, sometimes it completely slipped out of my grasp. Yesterday I went through a number of nerve stimulation tests and was diagnosed with brachial plexopathy. It will heal, I was told — in 12 to 18 months — and worse yet, the healing begins at the neck and ENDS at the fingers.
“I discussed with my neurologist ways to compensate for what will clearly be a (temporary) decline in the quality of my line drawings, but I’ve always been pretty good at faking it with graphic “smoke and mirrors” (it helps that I ultimately digitize my hand drawings). So, while I now have a new aortic heart valve, I also have a new challenge — one that for most people would be nothing more than an annoying numbness in a couple for rarely used fingers, but for an artist who makes his living with his hands, the stakes are a little more complicated …”
Today: “Today’s illustration for The Washington Post [is] my first after being diagnosed with brachial plexopathy in my drawing hand. … My pinkie and ring finger continue to remain numb (amazing how important those two stupid fingers are when drawing) but I’m doing my best to compensate for my lack of tactile control, a less than ideal pen line and a decidedly shaky stroke. Neurologist projects a 12-18 month recovery, but I’m committed to cutting that time in half.”
So those gracefully zany pencil lines in the sketch above of You Know Who and the ambassador to Ukraine? Those were done with a half-numb hand. Ditto the pen work in the final. And so while of course we’re wishing Bob the speediest of recoveries, it’s abundantly clear that his artwork will continue to be of world-class quality — even if he still draws cartoon horses with their leg joints backward. We’re so freaking lucky to have him.