(The pun in the headline was Brendan Beary’s runner-up entry in Week 540)
Yes, it’s a bit of a stretch — “a bit” meaning something like this — to link Week 1064 to the Norman Conquest. But we work on flex time here in Loserland, when some warping proves convenient, such as the scheduling issue* that prompted this arrangement.
Anyway, you can go at least two ways with this contest; they’re both represented in the examples: You can construct a scenario humorously resulting from your altered history, as Elden Carnahan did. Or you can pose it as a one-liner joke or riddle, as Steve Fahey and Chuck Smith did. I’ll probably run a mix of both kinds. What counts as history? That would be Things In The Past That You Can Write Jokes About.
Totally coincidentally, NPR has been running a series all week titled “What if World War I Had Never Happened?” While it includes some head-scratching speculations — e.g., “George Gershwin might have stayed more of a classical composer with no reason to write his biggest pop hit, ‘Swanee’ ” — it’s not supposed to be funny.
*The scheduling issue, if you really care (and only the Invite-obsessives should): I’m going to be out of the country for a week or so next month and so I’ll have to produce the April 27 Invitational a week early. That’s a lot easier to do if it doesn’t include the contest results. So we won’t be having a new contest four weeks before that — which is two weeks from now; that would have been Week 1066. To complicate things further, the contest that now will become Week 1066 — the one running April 6 (April 3 online) — will be our annual horse name “breeding” contest, because we want the results to run on Kentucky Derby weekend. So I’m running this “1066 minus 2” this week, and another suggested contest, “Week 1066 minus 1,” next week. (That one will be even more tenuously linked to C.E. 1066.)
As always — I mean always, and we’ve done this contest several dozen times — we got lots of funny, creative, varied captions for the series of Bob Staake cartoons we posted four weeks ago. There were significantly fewer entries for Picture 4, the pedestrian and the driver, but I had hundreds of captions to choose from for each of the four cartoons. Not surprisingly, many (not all) entries were variations on an idea that many other people also used; in these cases I choose the one whose wording I liked the most.
Of the more than 200 entrants who supplied the well over 1,000 entries, 28 of the aspiring Losers were, I think, brand-new to the contest. And three of them will be getting FirStinks for their first ink.
The four “above -the-fold” winners this week, though, have all gotten ink before — but certainly they’re not as mired in it as some weeks’ winners. It’s the second win and 54th blot of ink for Ward Kay of the Virginia suburbs, where perhaps dog-mess-pickup laws aren’t as strict as in the city. Ward does have an extraloser life: In addition to being an expert in immigration policy, he’s has also written and produced a number of plays, including one that was just staged in Detroit. And a musical by Ward will be part of D.C.’s Capital Fringe Festival in July (details eventually).
But it’s just the third blot of ink, and first above the fold, for second-place Bruce Niedt. Bruce seems to have a special knack for cartoon captions, since just a few days ago he scored second place in the New Yorker’s non-Bob contest. Third-place Trevor Kerr has mopped up 32 blots and six above the fold, but I think this will be his first chance to choose between the Whole Fools Grossery Bag and the Loser Mug. And it’s just the third ink for Jeff Wolfson, who got the first one in Week 276 and the second in Week 1048. We like the curve that this graph is taking.
With Malitz toward . . .: The fave this week from Sunday Style Editor David Malitz was Frank Osen’s for Cartoon 1: “You must hear this all the time, Mrs. Farkis, but your duodenum really loves the camera.”
King’s Peach: And Sunday Style layout editor Amy King, who sees the section into print on Thursdays, votes for Sylvia Betts’s “Pharm to Table.”
Usually, a few people will send in an entry incorporating all that week’s cartoons. This time we got this interpretation from Drew Knoblauch that viewed all four as Bob Staake’s ultra-subtle announcment that he plans to quit The Style Invitational — and he did it as a parody of the Journey rock song “Don’t Stop Believin’ ,” It’s a ridiculous stretch, yeah:
(Cartoon 3) Just a small town girl livin’ in a cartoon world
She’ll take the midnight tain goin’ anywhere
Just a cartoon dog, but not that one from South Quahog
He’ll take the midnight train goin’ anywhere.
(Cartoon 2) A waiter in a dining room, a smell of wine and cheap perfume
From a smile, a diner hides in fright, cowering on and on and on and on.
(Cartoon 4) A stranger driving up and down the boulevard
Road raged, yelling in the night
Streetlight people Turning ’round to find emotion
Road-raged, yelling in the night.
(Cartoon 1) Working hard, it’s Doctor Bill:
The X-ray’s truth about to spill:
She swallowed dice so she could see the doc just one more time
Some will win, some will lose, some end up with hair that’s blue
Her discomfort never ends; it goes on and on and on and on .
Bob Staake is leaving; hold on to that feelin’
Bob Staake people in the night ...
Drawing a Foul: I wouldn’t call it horribly tasteless, but it’s just past what we’ll put in the Invite, I think: This is a Mark Raffman entry for Cartoon 3, the dog in the subway: “He found that his pickup line — ‘I’m Underdog, but I can be on top too’ — needed some work.“
If you’d like to join us at the next Loser Brunch but haven’t yet let Loser Brunchmaster Elden Carnahan know, do that right here, This is the brunch circuit’s annual-or-so stop at the expansive (and rather expensive at $25, but that includes mimosas) buffet of Paradiso, a stand-alone restaurant on Franconia Road between Alexandria and Springfield, just outside the Beltway between the I-95 and Van Dorn Street exits. The brunch is at noon, and there’s a big array of both breakfast-type (waffles, French toast, eggs, fruit, etc.) and Italian lunch dishes and a lot of desserts. The last time I was there, last March, I was wearing a giant papier-mache plunger on my head, .but they’re still letting us back in. And I’ll be presenting the Nose Aerobics Basketball to Jeff Contompasis, which should present exciting video opportunities. The last time I heard, we were up to a table of 14, including regular brunchers, Losers from way back, and a few people coming to their first Loser event. To the newcomers: We just sit and eat and chat. It’s not a show or a wit showdown or anything.
Also note that there’s been a date change for the April brunch, so that we can welcome South Carolina-based Devotee Catherine Harmon, who’ll be in town: It will now be on Sunday, April 6, at Grevey’s pub in Falls Church (another nice place, but no more buffet)..
I didn’t get a chance last week to share a couple of submissions that didn’t quite fit the contest — which was to embellish a song title by adding some words in parentheses — but were notable nevertheless:
Being a bit concerned that the contest was too short-form to demonstrate the Losers’ cleverness, I’d mentioned that the song title might be accompanied by “a fake line or two from the song, to add to the funny.” (I ended up not using any of the few entries submitted this way.) But one of our new Losers and Style Invitational Devotees, anagram whiz Jon Gearhart, sent along a very good multi-verse parody to accompany his entry “(Barely) Stayin’ Alive” (here’s a YouTube video so you can hear the tune and original words). Here’s just part of it:
Well, you can tell by the way I use my walker,
I’m a broken man, a washed-up rocker.
Wheezing loud and out of breath, I’ve been around
Since Methusaleh left.
And now it’s all right., it’s okay,
I may be lookin’ rough today.
You should try to understand
How old age effects a man.
Whether you’re a doctor or funeral director,
I’m stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Feel my bones achin’ as my chins are shakin’,
But I’m stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive . . ..
Well now, I know that my pressure’s high,
And I take more pills than a hippie guy.
See the light of heaven in the tunnel’s end.
I’m over the hill and around the bend.
And now it’s all right, it’s okay,
They hooked me to machines today.
All these tubes and things that beep.
Make it so that I can’t sleep. . . .
I’m looking forward to see what Jon has to offer in our next actual song parody contest — I’m definitely taking suggestions for contest themes!
Also notable was this entry from Brian Allgar, who’s an Englishman living in Paris, but who’s clearly up on his Recent American History. Brian submitted this “short story” consisting but song titles strung together with some phrases, conveniently set in parentheses, to produce a Monicagate tale that would make Ken Starr blush. (You hear that? If you don’t want to read the following crude paragraph, please skip it.)
(It was a stormy day when Bill and Monica went for a picnic, so she ended up) Blowin’ in the Wind.
“Blow high, blow low,” (said Bill to Monica. “Whatever, so long as it’s deep.”)
“(Deep throat?” said Monica. “But Bill, you know I only use) The Tip of My Tongue.”
“When I’m Sixty-four (inches,” said Bill to Monica, “It’ll be time to start complaining about deep throat.”)
“Here Comes The Sun(day load from Bill,” thought Monica.)