It’s been a pretty exciting week here at The Post. Incredibly, Jeff Bezos has not yet sent me a message suggesting we do a contest about how the paper will change under the owner of Amazon.com . Everyone else has, though. My hunch is that The Post’s editors — who are still continuing to recover from the shock of Monday’s announcement — probably won’t elect right away to make fun of the new boss’s main business as a way to introduce themselves.
Those among you who sigh with annoyed exasperation every time we do another limerick contest, go ahead and exhale noisily. Roll those eyes. It’s August , for Pete’s sake — go ahead and take the week off. I’m sure I’ll find a couple hundred people to fill in for you.
For the past few years we’ve been supplementing the annual Limerixicon contest with a variety of other limerick challenges, usually in the winter. Most recently were verses about current events (results here; won’t count toward the paywall limit) But it’s been our annual contest tied in with the ongoing project at OEDILF.com that’s tended to draw the most entrants, especially those who rarely if ever enter the Invite otherwise.
Over the past decade — our first Limerixicon ran just a few months after Chris Strolin started what soon became renamed, for copy right reasons, the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form — I’ve seen the limericks from the Oedilfers, and on the site itself, become much more what we’re looking for in the Invite: a funny limerick that uses the dictionary word or name prominently, preferably in a way that demonstrates what it means, but isn’t necessarily a definition. Or it does define the word, but still makes a joke out of it, with a strong ending and with funny writing, clever wordplay and/or wry observations punch line at the end.
I remember how back in 2004, I received hundreds of mechanically correct limericks that defined words beginning with “ai-” through “ar-,” but had no joke; their cleverness rested entirely in managing to include a definition in the lines, meter and rhyme of a limerick. Not to disparage that accomplishment — I’ll be the first to tell you that a lot of people, including people who enter limerick contests, just don’t grasp the mechanics of the form. But the Style Invitational is a humor contest, and so, as always, we’re looking for the funny as well as the craft (I happened to face a similar problem with a number of the Week 1029 song parodies; more on this below.)
Now, though, you can browse the endless trove of limericks at OEDILF and will be hard-pressed to find one with just a straight definition. Perhaps the change in orientation came from the Invitational Losers, chief among them Chris Doyle, who found the site through the Invite and has contributed literally thousands of limericks, as well as served as a coach and “workshop” consultant for many other limericists.
Anyway, congratulations to Chris Strolin and his metrical minions, and we wish them lots of happy trudging through the next few letters in the alphabet in another successful decade. Meanwhile, to quote from the home page: “Current estimated date of completion of The OEDILF is 12 Dec 2043.”
So many wonderful words start with “fa-.” The pool starts now on the number of “fart” limericks I get.
If you’d like to enter Week 1033 — and I hope you do — please read wapo.st/limrules if you’re not totally sure what I’m looking for in terms of rhyme and meter.; our rules are stricter than some, less strict than others. And here’s another, more concise guide from the Charlotte Observer, which sponsors a political-limerick contest with a somewhat local angle.
As always — and that’s been a lot of contests by now — my “short” list of clever, well-crafted song parodies about particular movies extends far beyond what any sane person could appreciate in one sitting. For one thing, many of the parodies are multi-verse affairs, spelling out a movie’s plot in an arc that can’t be sampled in snippets. For another, they’re based on music from a wide variety of genres, from classical to rap; chances are you’d have to click on the links to listen to the melodies of at least some of the entries.
Still, I found myself adding just one more ... and just one more ... and oh, this one ... to the dozen entries that will run in the print Post this weekend (yes, we still have a print Post). I think we have 24 in this week’s online results., ending with Robert Schechter’s spot-on but lawnng take on “Hamlet” set to what must be the most parodied song of all time, the already funny “Major-General’s Song” from “The Pirates of Penzance.”
But still. I still couldn’t share Alan Hochbaum’s epic set to Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”: “Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller ...” Or Beverley Sharp’s “Jaws” precis, to the tune from “Oliver!” (“Food, glorious, food; this swimmer or that one? I’m ravenous, dude; let’s go for the fat one!”) Or any of several parodies setting “Titanic” to “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid.”
So this is what I’ll do: Every day or so through August, I’ll showcase a parody — one at a time — on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook. For the people who obsess about the Loser Stats kept by Elden Carnahan, no, it doesn’t count as Invite ink. But you do get an audience of more than 500 people (plus unenrolled peekers) who are more likely to appreciate a good parody than Ordinary People are. I’ll make the first parody post there tomorrow. The way the page works is that every time someone comments on a particular post (something that goes on approximately 24 hours a day), that post goes to the top of the page. So you might have to scroll down a bit on the page to see if I failed to recognize your masterpiece yet again.
When I introduced the Week 1029 contest, I said, “the tune doesn’t have to have anything to do with the movie (though it’s welcome to).” While many of today’s inking entries don’t particularly relate to the tunes used, but some people found especially fitting material for the movies they chose. For “The King’s Speech,” for example, Frank Osen used the Who’s “My Generation,” complete with its famous stuttering lines, and, for “Tootsie,” Kevin Dopart set his song to Billy Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman to Me.” And for the movie “Nell” — a film about a young woman who has spent herself isolated in a cabin, and thus has bizarre, almost indecipherable speech — Brendan Beary used the famously fuzzy-worded “Louie, Louie.” (Those entries were all a bit more interesting as ideas rather than in execution, though; sorry, guys.)
It’s the third win, the fifth ink “above the fold” and the 59th (and 60th) blot of Invite ink for Mark Raffman , who started entering the Invitational in only Week 979. Mark sent a terrific set of 11 varied parodies with tunes ranging from “Auld Lang Syne” to Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”; I’ll be sharing at least one more of them this month.
I’ll be sending that little bottle of scorpion liquor to Beverley Sharp, who sent even more songs than Mark did, each one of them containing great laugh lines. Her rhyme “My pointy teeth will soon be probin’/ Your tasty hemoglobin,” set to “Tonight,” is totally worthy of the song’s original lyricist, Stephen Sondheim. Beverley gets her umpty-umpth ink; I’m not bothering to check. A whole lot.
It’s a newcomer to parody ink, though, who grabs the third-place spot and his choice of bag or mug: This is the first above-the-fold ink for Jeff Shirley. and just his ninth overall. But he’s been consistently funny since getting his first ink in Week 1005, and I loved the juxtaposition of the marching zombies of the recent flick “World War Z” with that ominous chant of “Zip-e-Dee-Doo-Dah.”
And it’s another great effort from parody specialist Kathy Hardis Fraeman, whose “Despicable Me”/ “Embraceable You” was just as clever and funny as her runner-up “Lincoln”/ “Mame.” I hope our print readers know the song!
While I invited people to send in video versions of their songs, I didn’t get a lot of reponse. I did get a few audio clips, ranging from the 100 percent tone-deaf to the not-100-percent Neal Starkman’s “Return of the King” parody on “Michelle.”
The Royal Consort and I are planning to meet up again with Marty McCullen and Roger Dalrymple of the Losers’ Gettysburg Bureau, along with anyone else who’d like to join us for brunch and a battlefield tour (Roger is a veteran tour guide). It’s a goodly drive from Washington, so if you’d like to carpool, let me know. RSVP to Elden Carnahan on the brunch page at nrars.org.