Not so incredibly, among our previous 1,452 contests are some entries that could fit right in this week, had we not already given them ink. Until I was reminded this morning by Loser Ann Martin, who got ink in Week 971 (2012), I’d forgotten about a contest that asked people to pair a real book title with either another real title or a made-up one, to create a two-sided “flip book.” Some of the second titles could work as subtitles this week, so don’t make any of these already spoken-for zingers:
“The Golden Apples of the Sun”/ “The World’s Best Nude Beaches and Resorts” (Dion Black) Washington)
“The Book of Senior Moments”/ “The Book of Senior Moments” (Jayne Osborn)
“What to Expect When You’re Expecting”/ “Pain” (Drew Bennett)
“Pork Chop Hill”/ “Congressional Procedures and the Policy Process” (Brad Alexander)
“The Lovely Bones”/ “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Becoming a Model” (Joe Neff)
“The Fellowship of the Ring”/ “The Essential Guide to Gay Weddings” (Chris Williams)
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”/ “Code of Federal Regulations Title 41, 301-74: Conference Planning” (Kevin Dopart)
“The House at Pooh Corner”/ “Plumbing: 22 Easy Fix-It Repairs” (Ann Martin)
“The Naked and the Dead”/ “Great Parties: The Best of Martha Stewart Living” (John Shea)
“The Hunger Games”/ “Mastering Pac-Man” (Jeff Contompasis)
“History of Ancient Civilization” / “MS-DOS for Dummies” (Paul Burnham)
“A Wrinkle in Time”/ “Linen Clocks: The Downside” (Diego Pedulla-Smith)
“The Naked Ape”/ “Honey, Hand Me a Towel” (Drew Bennett)
“Sh*t My Dad Says”/ “Shut Up My Mom Tells Him” (A.B. Gibson)
“Peter Pan”/ “The Big Book of Cooking Utensils for Exotic Foods” (Tom Witte) [Yup, that one ran only online]
But even just a few months ago, we redid Week 625, which “asked you to come up with an alternative plot for an actual movie title.” The results aren’t written as subtitles but the jokes are there in general. And this is for movies, not books, though of course many classic movies are based on books. Here’s some ink from Week 1436 (full results at wapo.st/invite1440) that might overlap:
Portnoy’s Complaint: Karen Portnoy wanders aimlessly through life … until the day a waiter serves her a regular Coke instead of Diet. (Lee Graham, Rockville, Md.)
12 Angry Men: Soon after Christmas, a young man rounds up a dozen pipers against their will and gives them to his true love. (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)
A Raisin in the Sun: Undocumented Mar-a-Lago workers enjoy their daily snack. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Or “How I lost my job with the Secret Service.” (Pam Sweeney, Burlington, Mass.)
Life of Pi: Mathematician parents celebrate their child’s 3.14159265359th birthday. (Duncan Stevens)
Pride and Prejudice: Quietly but assertively defying Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s homophobia, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley marry and settle down together at Pemberley. (Sarah Walsh, Rockville, Md.)
The Remains of the Day: “So, Igor, did you bring me anything interesting this evening?” (Mark Richardson, Takoma Park, Md.)
Psycho: A hotel owner can’t understand why no one wants to stay at his fancy establishment in downtown Washington. (James Bershon, Leonardtown, Md., a First Offender)
Raging Bull: Ferdinand has finally had enough with the flowers. (Kara Laughlin, Leesburg, Va., a First Offender)
Sons and Lovers: Oedipus and Jocasta meet cute. (Michael Doyle, Arlington, Va.)
Stripes: Rep. Matt Gaetz models a potential new wardrobe. (Joel Cockrell, Damascus, Md.)
The 39 Steps: A woman begins her Fitbit regimen slowly but with great resolve. (Daniel Galef, Tallahassee)
The 39 Steps: Documentary peeks in on AA’s new “premium plan.” (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
The Lovely Bones: Does Kirk have a thing for McCoy? (John McCooey, Rehoboth Beach, Del.)
The moniker mash*: The portmanteau names of Week 1449
*This headline, by Tom Witte, was the one I first went with for this week’s results — until two Losers pointed out this morning that I’d used the same headline for the Week 963 portmanteau results, in 2012. It was also by Tom Witte. One mind thinks alike, I guess.
I found dozens and dozens of clever, funny mash-ups of names, or a name and something else, in our Week 1449 contest, one that we’d done a few times before. My shortlist ran to perhaps twice the 44 inking entries in this week’s results. On the other hand, those dozens and dozens lay buried deep within a mass of 1,300 entries, of which a large majority were, to put it charitably, uninspired. Some of that uninspiration included, for numerous Losers, a failure to read the instructions beginning “Start with a real name”; I skipped over a disturbing number of entries that had no names at all. Others lacked either wordplay or any sort of pointed joke: e.g., “Edmund Hillary Clinton: The first person to climb Mount Everest in a pantsuit”; Elmore Leonard Nimoy: The author of “Get Spock” (whole joke as far as I can tell: Elmore Leonard wrote “Get Shorty”); or their point would be entirely: “well, that’s a funny combination” (The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Tubman: The sitcom underwent a daring casting move after ratings slumped.)
But this is why I make the small bucks — I pare all that dross away so you can enjoy these twinkly little gems. Today’s inking entries are full of ingenious links between the two elements, funny mental pictures, zingy puns, political digs, subtle and (online) less subtle bawdiness. And even some impressive parodies.
As in this week’s Crowning Achievement winner — already the fourth for Jesse Frankovich for this trophy that’s only a few months old. Jesse tells me that his parody of “The Raven” for “Giannis Antetokounm-Poe,” an ode to the NBA’s superstar “Greek Freak,” got him thinking of “humbly dubbing myself ‘The Croatian Sensation’ ” (though his family has been on these shores for at least three generations). What’s more, he points out, it’s his third “Raven” parody to get Invite ink over the years.
The rest of the Losers’ Circle is similarly populated with ink-soaked Invite veterans: Mark Raffman sent up the proverbially klutzy President Ford with the famed “Great Gatsby” quote for F. Scott FitzGerald Ford: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the … oops, man overboard!”; Pam Sweeney with “Roald Dolly Parton: Beloved author of “James and the Giant Melons”; and Gary Crockett punning on the Rock with Dwayne Johnson’s Wax: Quite impressive when buffed.” Classic Invite humor, all of it.
What Doug Dug: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood told me that Pam’s “James and the Giant Melons” “cracked me up.” Doug was also partial to, in the honorable mentions, Duncan Stevens’s Lin-Manuel Miranda Warning, one of two “Hamilton” parodies today; newbie phenom Mark Turco’s dig at George Washington Football Team (“First in … no, uh … hmm … never mind.”); even more phenomenal phenom Coleman Glenn’s Scooby-Doobie Brothers; and the “And Last,” Craig Dykstra’s Pat Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: “No matter how you take the test, you lose.” Craig’s entry was my clear favorite among a half-dozen Pat Myers-Briggs entries. (There were also a Pat Myers Dark Rum, Pat Myerskine Caldwell and Pat Myers-ula Andress. I blush.)
Invite name drop!
Our First Offender this week, Henry J. Aaron, is a notable one. No, duh, he is not a dead baseball legend. But at least in D.C., he’s an octogenarian wonk legend: Dr. Aaron has been one of the biggest-shot economists at the Brookings Institution think tank since 1968, and is especially well known for his analysis of health care policies. In 2014 President Obama appointed him chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board, and he’s written widely — including in op-eds in The Post — on the ins and outs of the Affordable Care Act.
But obviously, his list of accomplishments contained a gaping blank spot.
Now that has been filled with a Fir Stink for his first ink, which enshrines him in Style Invitational Loserdom with this honorable mention: Cuomodo dragon: A nearly extinct lizard that makes a lot of noise and whose touch is repellent.
Well, he could get the Nobel Prize in economics, I guess, but wouldn’t it be a bit anticlimactic after a Fir Stink?
20 years ago: What The Style Invitational did after Sept. 11
Right here, I’m just going to link to a piece written Sept. 18, 2001, by Gene Weingarten, who at that time was Czar of The Style Invitational.
And on Gene’s brief reference to it this week in a 20th-anniversary retrospective in The Post, How 9/11 changed humor.
See you in two weeks — or in a week and a half
Next week’s Invitational comes out online Thursday morning, Sept. 16, which happens to be during the 24-hour Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. So we won’t be having a Style Conversational next week. If you do something incredibly notable, I’ll catch up with you the week after that. Meanwhile, may you get a nice write-up in the Book of Life.
But I’ll see you in person on Sunday, Sept. 19, if you’re coming to the Flushies, the Loser Community’s annual awards/potluck/songfest/excuse-to-gab-in-person, in the backyard of Loser (Steve Leifer, Potomac, Md.). YOU — yes, even you — are invited, by “virtue” of having read this far in this column. If you’d like to come and get the specific details (street address, parking instructions, etc.), click on THIS LINK to the Evite and RSVP to us soon.