(*A song, of course.)
Hello, everyone, and I hope you’re all enjoying National Paralysis of Democracy Week. The Royal Consort himself is grounded here at Mount Vermin, and at least the weather is beautiful this week in Washington, so I hope to go enjoy it with him for a while, and hope you can do the same with your designated consort, henchman or imaginary friend.
This week’s contest could be a lot of fun; unlike most song-theme contests, it's not necessary for a reader to know the song being used, though familiarity would probably enhance the humor. The challenge will be not only in finding interesting and varied questions, but also in writing a funny answer rather than:
Q. “Listen, do you want to know a secret?”
A. “Not really.”
Do remember to tell me what song you’re using, and also to make sure you’re correctly quoting the song (or title, if that’s the only place the question appears).
And federal employees, even I hope that you don’t have all day, day after day, to work on this.
Well, I was dragged. My aged little Nokia 6350 Dumbphone — you really couldn’t even text on it — refused to take a charge one more time, and I am now the rather awed owner of an iPhone 5c, in the splashy color of We Have It in Stock Right Now White. Despite my fears that I wouldn’t be able to set it up, I actually have figured out to use about 0.001 percent of its functions, including calling up The Washington Post’s mobile Web site (m.washingtonpost.com) and its special app (free download). What I couldn’t find on the mobile site was, anywhere, the Style Invitational. Not only is there no link to it, no matter what other links you click on to look for it (Style, lifestyle, entertainment, etc.), but I can’t even find a search function. (Am I just missing it?) Perhaps the Invite shows up on the Style page for a little while after the contest is posted — a few hours or maybe a day; I’ll look once it all goes up today. But clearly not all week.
The app, which is more concise, also has no link to the Invite, but it does have a search bar at the top, and typing “Style Invitational” did bring it up on a list of stories, although it’s the sixth or so in the list (screen grab that I figured out how to make here).
If you don’t have the app and you do have Internet on your phone or other portable coolness, the easiest thing is to type in washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational and bookmark it, though on my phone the index on my page came up in 1-millimeter type that had to be wildly expanded. In any case, be sure you’re signed up to get my weekly e-mail notifications, in which there’s always a link to that week’s Invite and Conversational.
But also: Not to sound pathetic here, but if you have some friends, enemies, etc., who you think would enjoy the Invite and might not know about it, tell them! Forward the e-mail or a link to the contest. Suggest they sign up for the notifications. Because they’re never going to see it from idly browsing The Post online.
Some things haven’t changed much, alas (though perhaps they will now that Mr. Ultimate Delivery has bought us): Just this week I spent a delightful hour snacking with 56-time Loser J. Larry Schott and his wife, Connie, who were here for a convention. I thought that J. Larry (who might actually go by John), who got 22 of his inks back in the pre-Internet Year 6, used to live in the D.C. area, but no, he’s a lifelong Floridian. So how, then, did he hear about the Invitational back in the 1990s? It turns out that a good friend of his, the late Ralph Scott — a 30-time Loser himself — regularly clipped them from the paper and mailed them to Larry or John or whoever, and both would enter the contest. And the year that Johnlarry got his 22, Ralph got 23. So maybe that compensated for the postage.
Anyway, please spread the word. Still.
Our Week 1037 contest, to be offended by some name that wasn’t offensive, brought out lots of faux-ranters, though not in the numbers that enter short-form contests like neologisms, horse names, etc.; contests that require creative writing always result in fewer entries. That’s okay, though, since not as many will fit on the page anyway.
Despite the fewer entrants (under 200 this week, and probably fewer than 1,000 entries total), you can see from the results that many of the best were either First Offenders or new or occasional Losers (so the word is still getting out somehow). A disproportionate number of entries were complaints about team names, playing off the “peg” of this contest: the name of the Washington NFL team that a lot of people now refuse to say (though they don’t seem to have any compunction about using the word “suck”). But as you can see, we ended up with a variety of names to find outrageous.
I believe I said “Whoa!” out loud upon discovering that my choice for this week’s Inkin’ Memorial was Robert Falk of Takoma Park, Md., just outside the District, who had just gotten his first Invite win — and second ink ever — only three weeks ago, with his “I like my” joke: “I like my girlfriends the way I like Apple customers: flush with cash, stylish and unaware they can do better.”
I shot him an e-mail asking, “Did you just find out about the Invitational; were you a longtime reader who just got around to entering; or did you just suddenly become funny? “ Bob, who works at NIH when the government isn’t totally abdicating its responsibility, responded that he’s “a long-time reader who just never entered (or maybe once - don’t remember exactly). Whether I’m funny or not of course is in the eye of the beholder but in any case it is not part of my job (software) so I never thought of myself as a comic writer - just someone with the occasional one-liner.”
I’m hoping that those occasions become more and more frequent, Invite-wise. And I’m glad that this five-inch tall piece of fake stone will totally make up for a missing paycheck.
Second place goes to an actual First Offender, Alex Heppenheimer of Brooklyn, who clearly grasped the Invitational’s attraction to the lower intestinal tract. William Joyner got his first ink in Week 413, back in the Czarist era, and his second this year in Week 1019. It’s his first Cup Punneth Over or Grossery Bag, though. That’s true also for Washingtonian Frank Mann, who gets his fourth ink since his debut in Week 996.
With Malitz toward ... The pick of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz this week was Bird Waring’s nuff-said entry about Spic and Span.
This month is a big one for several of our more theatrical Losers in the D.C. area:
— “Silk Purse Project,” a new political comedy by 47-time Loser Ward Kay, will run for four performances this month at Vienna Baptist Church in Northern Virginia. I read an earlier version of Ward’s play and am eager to see it — especially since it also features 59-time Loser Ann Martin, who’s now back in the States after several years in England. Details here.
— Invite legend (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge), author of a number of plays, will have the first secne of his “Lifetime Contract” included in a night of staged readings on Oct. 24 by Baltimore Playwrights Festival, as part of Free Fall Baltimore, a free month-long arts festival. (Details here. )
— And 146-time Loser Nan Reiner has a supporting role in “Quartet,” the play about opera singers in an English retirement home that was recently made into a movie by Dustin Hoffman and starring all those famous old British actors. It opens tomorrow with the Tantallon Community Players in Fort Washington, Md. (Details here from the Gazette.)