Oh, let’s not talk about the weather, since there’s not that much to say about this week’s contest and I do want to tell about the Losers’ Post-Holiday Party. Week 1056 is a typical Style Invitational challenge, looking for jokes on a wide variety of subjects but framed in something or other relating to the weather or climate. As a genre, I’d group this contest with Week 774, to name a restaurant dish named after a particular person, or Week 923, to come up with a new chemical element. The entries that get ink in such contests often — though not always — are twists on existing words, but that method works as humor only if the term is familiar to readers; if you find some obscure term in a meteorology glossary, making a play on it won’t make the entry funnier.
Our ninth reverse crossword brought forth, as the Clue Us In contests have since 2006, lots of clever “definitions” of the words in a filled-in grid. And as in most of the past years, I didn’t try to provide one clue for each of the possible words; instead, I ran two or more entries for some of the words, and skipped others entirely. Once again, of the thousands of entries I received in total — a large fraction of the entrants sent the maximum of 25 clues — many more were for words in the “across” half of the grid, plus some of the higher-up Downs.
In past years, some of the entries have proved confusing to readers; I added “two words” and “hyphenated” to some of the clues to make them more gettable to those who don’t have the practice that I do. Remember, I’m seeing 79 clues for ESPN all at once (I search through one big list of entries and then compare all of them for each term on the list), and several made a play on “he is pee-in”; so a particular entry is likely to be clearer to me than to a normal person. If you still aren’t getting one or more of the clues, feel free to ask about them on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook, where I promised that you won’t be mocked (not for asking about the clue, anyway).
In general, short-form contests like crossword clues and horse names tend to be more “democratic”; that is, casual Invite readers who sit down and think up a few ideas (and then, we hope, remember to flush) have a better chance than usual against the Obsessives, who will work all week crafting elaborate song parodies or, as we got to share last week, anagrams on the entire Preamble to the Constitution or the opening of the Declaration of Independence. Still, after I made all my picks and then looked up the names of their writers, it turned out that all four of the entries “above the fold” were by Invite veterans, with 1,153 blots of ink among them — the lion’s share by Brendan Beary, who now has gotten to sit atop that miasmic Loser heap 31 times.
Just freakishly, Barry Koch has finished in exactly second place three times in the last nine weeks. Barry, who perhaps likes a tidy home, has been requesting mere honorable-mention magnets in lieu of the second-place swag such as the Christmas Pickle; we’ll see, however, if he can resist the allure of a bottle containing both a preserved cobra and a preserved scorpion. Third- and fourth-placers Mark Richardson (who previously won scorpion wine) and Rob Huffman get their choice of one of our last few My Cup Punneth Over coffee mugs (new design in the works) or our new Whole Fools Grossery Bag. They will let me know so that I don’t have to track them down to ask.
With Malitz toward .... The fave this week of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz — who happens to be a pop-music writer — is Steve McClemons’s clue for STONEAGE: Count the rings on Keith Richards to get this .
It might give you a slightly wrong idea about the annual Losers’ party — hosted last Saturday evening by Stephen Dudzik and his incredibly good sport of a wife, Lequan, out in Olney, Md. — to say that two guests went home wearing some of each other’s clothing. But it’s true. On Sunday morning, Kevin Dopart posted on the Devotees page that he’d finally noticed that the size 9.5 Bass Weejuns he’d worn home were black — and that the ones he’d worn to the party were brown. Though I regretted that Kevin’s two degrees from MIT evidently did not require a course in Figuring Out Which Shoes Are Yours, Kevin noted that someone else had walked off earlier with his pair (they were all at the front door, explaining why the Dudziks continue to have lovely light-colored carpets). The Foreign Weejun was finally traced to another of the 60-some guests, and presumably the shoes will dance back to their respective owners.
Aside from the Loserly schmoozing and an unconscionable amount of delicious potluck food, the partyers were delivered some highly inkworthy entertainment in the form of three song parodies by Loser Nan Reiner, one of them in collaboration with Just as Serious a Loser Mark Raffman
The first was a singalong to this Christmas chestnut:
The Loser’s Christmas Song
Lyrics by Nan Reiner
Lincolns bobbing by an open fire,
Whole Fools bags hung up like hose,
Stacks of magnets that climb ever higher,
And toilet mugs lined up in rows...
Every Loser knows a kangaroo-skin scrotum sac
Makes a Christmastime delight,
And porcelain pigs that attach (ahem) at the back
Will warm a cold midwinter night.
I rack my brain with every test.
I don’t know why some people say that I’m obsessed,
To cheer when double-dactyl notables fall dead,
And scream out lovers’ names as anagrams in bed.
And so I’ll send some entries on their way,
With fingers crossed that they don’t stink,
And wish — for us all — that the Empress will say
“Merry Christmas... Happy New Year... Joyous Martin Luther King Day... Chag Sameach Tu b’Shevat... (etc.)” with Ink.
And by Nan and Mark, to “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid”:
Look at their gags, look at their jokes;
Nothing’s too lowbrow for this bunch of folks.
It’s an empirical fact that they’ll say ANYTHING…
Listen real close: you’ll overhear
Patter and puns about boobies and beer.
Utterly lacking in tact, they don’t filter ANYTHING…
As for me, in my life something’s missing.
I’ve got wit – so I’ve been led to think.
Need I stoop to Empress-tuchus-kissing?
It’s not just… But I must… I want ink…!
I want to be where the Losers are…
Back of the Style section every Sunday.
Grabbing a bobblehead Abe by the – what’s that called? – feet!
Musings about a dead movie star;
Martian haiku – they will print mine one day;
Even a Doyle or a Dopart can sometimes be beat.
I will stoop low, all of the time,
GO with the flow crafting each stream of rhyme.
Jokes about pee, ’cause I’d like to be in Loser World.
I know the trick: to limerick about Nantucket.
Clever and snide; snark on the side; charmingly rude.
If I see print, my eyes will glint… and if I don’t, then I’ll say [the heck with] it.
Or, do one better… A Scarlet Letter… Let me be crude!
Oh, I want to have what the Losers have:
Excrement-flavored and phallic tchotchkes;
Twenty-cent magnets to stick up all over the place.
Let others chase Olympic gold;
Just give me ONE inkblot above the fold!
PLEASE publish me… Then I can be… in Loser World!
And only six months late, the Empress finally presented Steve Dudzik with his award upon reaching the Hall of Fame — his 500th ink — and read off a sampling of 10 bits of Dudzikian humor:
Week 62, lines one would not like to hear from various people:
From your hunting buddy: “Great shot! Saaaay … do deer wear saddles?
Week 103, solutions to D.C.’s financial woes:
Have city workers spill coffee on themselves at area McDonald’s.
Week 161, bad advice to tourists in Washington:
Prostitutes can be identified by their outfits -- ordinary business apparel, incongruously accessorized by sneakers or running shoes.
Week 211, slogans for the back of the new Loser T-shirt:
Ask me about my unsightly bulges.
Week 273, a children’s book you will never see:
“Strangers Have the Best Candy”
Week 294, redefine the name of a company or product :
Renuzit: Acne enhancer.
Week X, good/bad/ugly progressions:
Good: You’ve struck Gold.
Bad: Harvey Gold.
Ugly: Of the law firm of Gold, Dershowitz and Scheck.
Week 517, a line to be secretly inserted into George W. Bush’s teleprompter for his next State of the Union message:
“I wish to announce my conversion to Islam.”
Week 531, cynical takes on inspirational sentiments:
Every failure is a step to success up a ladder that will eventually collapse under the weight of all those failures.
Week 806, “disqualifying statements” by a potential romantic interest:
“I wish my sister’s breasts were as large as yours.”
Week 845, “reologisms,” neologisms submitted in previous contests that deserved better definitions:
Blabyrinth: An elaborate structure whose function is to hold the Senataur, a creature that is half man and half bull ----.
Lots of photos and all the parody lyrics are on the Devotees page.
If all this makes you crave some more Loserly contact, check out the calendar of brunches and other upcoming events at the Losers’ own website, nrars.org. As always, all are welcome — just RSVP.
Funny but not runnable, including, we’ve decided, entries making fun of Asian accents:
HENHOUSE: Just one of the many places you shouldn’t put your cock. (Danielle Nowlin)
GERE: Gerbil storage device. (Michael Greene)
LINGO: Japanese Beatle (Jim Macaulay)