My apologies to those of you whose ears are not besieged 24 hours a day with a insectile drone and had no critter or critter parts to work with; in 2038 I will magnanimously let you substitute cockroaches.
Clever, clever — and even pretty cute (sorta) — stuff this week, from the detailed dioramas like Lani and Eleanor Jacobson’s re-creation of the furniture-barricade scene in “Les Miz” to Lee Graham’s bug and a Photoshopped boot in front of a photo of a castle for “Inigo Cicada” — “You squished my father.” And the so, so Invitey gross-out humor of Kevin Dopart’s “Creeps” snack, perhaps the only thing less appetizing than the crusted-over tennis-ball-yellow confection whose name it spoofs.
The four entries scored this week by Kevin, sometimes with his wife, Deborah Hensley, are but perhaps a fourth of the dioramas and other photos he submitted. I’ll invite Kevin — and the rest of you — to post your “noinks” in the Style Invitational Devotees Facebook group, so that at least 2,000 people on your humor wavelength can get a look. Use the hashtag #cicada in your post so that other members can find it easily. (If you’re not yet a member, just answer the application questions, so we know you understand what the Invite is, and the Devotees will anagram your name so ridiculously that you’ll wish the Witness Protection Program had given you a different one.)
Oh, goodness, I just realized that while this is the THIRTY-THIRD time that Kevin has won a Style Invitational contest, it’s his first Clowning Achievement: He’s scored the 21st of our 100 Clowners. Since Deborah gets joint credit for the “Et tu, BroodX” stabbing scene, they’ll have to fight it out for ownership of the Disembodied Clown Head on a Stick.
Meanwhile, second-place Lee Graham will be receiving a brand-new can of Korean silkworm pupae in a brownish sauce. I bought a can for myself as well at the Lotte supermarket in Northern Virginia, and — after unusual hesitation for me — tried them. They were truly bad. I will eat almost anything (exception: Peeps), but these I finally threw out. Maybe Lee will like them.
I apologize for the 15-second ad you had to watch to see the online photo gallery; if it’s any consolation, I have seen that ad about 25 times today as we worked out a series of technical tweaks this morning.
This week I had to suspend my usual rigorous practice of hiding the names of the entrants until I was finished judging; a bug in the entry form required most people to email me their photos directly, and I also had to contact some Losers about technical or other tweaks. So this week only, if you didn’t get ink, it is indeed because I’m prejudiced against your gender and/or religion. Try again next week.
Some of the entries were the product of painstaking craftsmanship — with the emphasis on “pain,” if other entrants agree with 334-time Loser Craig Dykstra, who told me: “Working with them is more disgusting than eating them. [He’d gone to a restaurant that was offering them.] Eating them in a taco, you don’t have to touch them, or pry their little wings apart, or separate their little legs, or look into their little red eyes, or see their butts fall off (that happens), etc. Ick. I feel like I need a Pulp Fiction-style hose-down.” Craig also was a devoted entrant of The Post’s Peeps diorama contest, and was featured twice (and really robbed of ink one year with a truly amazing Escher-like tower); and his Invite “die-orama” this year featured a flock of hapless Peep-chicks being devoured, starting with the face, by a swarm of cicadas.
Others were more, oh, cerebral. One person sent a photo of just a cicada on a leaf with the line “I just caught the redeye from L.A. to D.C.”
What Doug Dug: “All of them were really inspired,” Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood told me; this time Doug saw the whole gallery rather than just the entries for the print page (eight this week). His very favorites were Kevin Dopart’s “Creeps” package, Todd DeLap’s “Metamorphosis” parody and Sara and Ziva Walsh’s Zoom classroom.
Limping down the homestretch
If your grandfoal got ink last week but you haven’t received your magnet yet, it wouldn’t be right to blame Louis DeJoy this time: I’m still working on the Week 1434 letters; I vow to finish them and get them into the mail tonight. Then you can blame DeJoy.
Har replacement*: Week 1439, our new Vowel Movement contest
*2016 headline for the first round of this contest, by Beverley Sharp
Sometimes, people suggest contests to me that are more like word puzzles than humor fodder, sort of the challenges that Will Shortz serves up on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday.” It might be a fun little problem to solve — but will Washington Post readers be entertained when they look at half a page of results?
I think this week’s contest, Week 1439, serves both purposes: There’s the nerdy challenge of removing all the vowels from a name — this time, song titles — then adding in different vowels to make a different title, perhaps wittily related to the first one. But also the opportunity to be really funny and current. It certainly was in its initial airing in 2016, when the subject was movie or TV titles.
Here are the results from the Week 1155 contest to change movie titles (January 2016, so we’re already deep into Trump). Note how many, though not all, of the altered titles reflect the originals in some way.
“The Art of the Deal” → take out the vowels and get THRTFTHDL → add vowels and get “I, the Rat Fathead, Lie”: Confessions of a demagogue. (George-Ann Rosenberg, Washington)
“Annie Hall” → “Ennui Hill”: While sitting through endless congressional debates, two staffers make eye contact and find love. (Howard Walderman, Columbia, Md.)
2nd place and the jaunty shell sculpture of a conga player:
“The Interview” → “The Nature View”: Satire about two wildlife photographers who sneak across the DMZ to shoot an elusive North Korean cuckoo. (Christopher Lamora, Arlington, Va.)
And the winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:
“Much Ado About Nothing” → “A Much-Eyed Booty in a Thong”: Kim and Kanye play Beatrice and Benedick on Broadway. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)
E: IOUA Magnet: honorable mentions
“Alice’s Restaurant” → “Alec’s Restraint”: Baldwin orders the diet plate, doesn’t get everything he wants. (George-Ann Rosenberg)
“Emma” → “Ammo”: At the next theater over, an alternative for guys who’ve been dragged to see a chick flick. (Nancy Della Rovere, Silver Spring, Md.)
“The Hangover” → “The Hung Oeuvre”: A documentary exploring the male nude in statuary. (Steve Honley, Washington)
“Chinatown” → “Chin Twin”: Jay Leno meets a brother he never knew existed. (Paul Comstock, Lancaster, Pa., a First Offender)
“Amadeus” → “Mad U.S.”: It’s subtitled “The Making of the President 2016.” (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)
“Big” → “Bag”: At a carnival, a 12-year-old girl makes a wish to be older. (Deb Stewart, Damascus, Md.)
“Blazing Saddles” → “Blue Ozone Gas Doodles”: Estranged scientists come together as Earth’s stratosphere comes apart. (David Friedman, Arlington, Va.)
“Bonanza” → “Bunnz”: A hunky father and his three hunky sons maintain excellent gluteal muscle tone through endless hours of horseback riding. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)
“Candide” → “Cyanided”: Voltaire’s story of an eternal optimist, updated: “If this is the best of all possible worlds, then …” (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)
“Chasing Amy” → “Aches Nag Me”: A going-of-age story. (David Friedman)
“Love Story” → “Elvis Eatery”: Oliver orders Jenny a peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwich, and boy is he sorry. (Chris Doyle)
“Masters of the Universe” → “Mis-tiaras of the Universe”: Starring Steve Harvey as Emcee-Man. (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)
“Eat Pray Love” → “Tip or Leave”: A woman learns two things the world wants most from Americans. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)
“Taxi Driver” → “Tuxed Rover”: Story of an embittered, nihilistic, wandering penguin. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
“The Honeymooners” → “The Hiney Miners”: Adventures of a hospital colonoscopy team. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)
“The Vagina Monologues” → “The Vegan Menu Logs”: A play in which A-list actresses rant for 2½ hours about their struggles to find tofu burgers. (Christopher Lamora)
“Titanic” → “Ta-ta on Ice”: Same movie. (Jesse Frankovich)
“8mm” → “8 Muumuu”: Detective Nicolas Cage is hired by a woman to hunt for a medium-size housedress that doesn’t make her look fat. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
“High Noon” → “HGH! No! No!”: A missive from the Peyton Manning Fan Club. (Matt Monitto, Bristol, Conn.; Tom Witte)
“Bambi” → “Bambo”: This stag is out for revenge. (Barbara Turner, Takoma Park, Md.)
“Hook” → “Ahoy, Okay?” Peter Pan makes nice with a notorious pirate. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
“Hoosiers” → “He’s Ours”: A basketball coach in rural Indiana employs ringers to help his team. “Shaquille? Oh, he just moved here in August … Mikey Jordan? Yeah, him too” (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
“Gypsy” → “GPS”: A stripper and her stage mother struggle to find themselves. (Brendan Beary)
“It Happened One Night” → “The Pope: Nude ’n’ Naughty”: The film the Vatican wants to suppress. (Chris Doyle)
“Left Behind” → “Left by Honda”: As the Apocalypse nears, a group of believers miss the last ride to the Rapture when their Civic hatchback makes a wrong turn. (Roy Ashley, Washington)
“Network” → “Not War, OK?” “I know we’re mad as hell, but let’s all just chill out.” (Mike Gips, Bethesda, Md.)
“Pulp Fiction” → “Plop of Caution”: This time, John Travolta’s character doesn’t leave his rifle outside the door while he does his business. (Mike Gips)
“Roger and Me” → “Our Ego Ruined ’Em”: A doc about Roger Smith and his city — and Michael Moore and his films. (Ellen Ryan, Rockville, Md.)
“Scorpion” → “Is Crap, No?”: French hosts review all things American. (William Verkuilen, Brooklyn Park, Minn.)
“Smokey and the Bandit” → “Smokey and the Bond-It”: A heap o’ hoot’n trouble rollicks through the county when someone glues the sheriff’s wheels to the pavement. (Barbara Turner)
“Stand by Me” → “Satan Aide Obama”: Rush Limbaugh’s book on how the president does the Devil’s bidding. (Jesse Frankovich)
“Star Trek” → “Astro Trike”: No one wants to be the test pilot for the Enterprise’s new “right-sized” shuttle craft. (Bill Lieberman, Ellicott City, Md.)
“The King and I” → “The Kong and I”: In this legal drama, the Supreme Court upholds marriage between primates. (Howard Walderman)
“Toy Story” → “Toaster”: In this heartwarming tale of a bagel’s risky adventures with an English muffin, Pixar finds yet another way to make a lot of bread. (Melissa Balmain, Rochester, N.Y.)
“The Exorcist” → “The Exercist”: “Okay, give me 10 more head spins …” (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)
“Concussion” → “Concession”: The sequel the NFL will never make. (William Verkuilen)
“The Apartment” → “The Part Monty”: A rom-com dodges an X-rating. (Chris Doyle)
Take note: Just from writing the examples, I saw how easy it was to drop or add consonants accidentally from even a short title. I won’t be including the list of consonants in the results, except for the first entry or two to make it clear to the reader what we’re doing. But YOU should do it yourself, to make sure your entry is kosher.
Note that there’s no rule that says you can’t drop one single vowel and put that same vowel back one letter over. But unless the product is incredibly funny and brilliant, it’s not as likely to get ink; it would be so much like our regular neologism contest, and not in the spirit of this one.
A note about vowels: Technically, a vowel, by most definitions, is a sound that comes out of your mouth “without audible friction”; “ah” is a vowel sound, while the letter beginning “la” or “ba” or “yah” is a consonant. But if you hewed strictly to that definition, the “u” in “unicorn” — pronounced “you” — would be a consonant. And what if it’s silent and next to another vowel? So for this contest — which of course is an arbitrary game and not a linguistic study — A, E, I, O and U will always be vowels. You may add as many as you like into your new title, regardless of how they’re pronounced.
But for Y and W, which are so often used as consonants, we will make a distinction: Those two letters are consonants in the many instances where they’re followed by another vowel in a syllable — “yes” or “want,” for example. And in that case, don’t take them out of the original. But when they’re not used that way — as in the Y in “Mary” or teamed with another vowel, either voiced or silently, as in “pay” or “why” or “few” or “snow,” then add them to your set of vowels to drop — AND don’t add them back in to use as a consonant. (I had to cut my original example of LAYLA to OL’ YELA because the Y in YELA is a consonant; I properly dropped the Y in LAYLA, but couldn’t add a consonant back.) It may be a worm-can-opening mistake for me to make this distinction, but it really does reflect the point of the contest. (Hair-tearing to commence in two weeks.)
‘X-hibition’ in the headline is from a non-inking headline by Tom Witte for this week’s Invitational.