There aren’t too many people who have accused The Style Invitational of being too timid or wholesome or fuddy-duddy. (Well, Bob Staake is one; from his occasional rants at me after I rejected some cartoon or other, you’d think I was Church Lady’s maiden aunt.) The Post has never even considered syndicating the Invite to other newspapers because not only is its humor often highbrow and often D.C.-centric (as in these results), but it’s also often much edgier than other papers would want to risk. Here are a few examples, taken more or less as random, from past years, all printed in The Post.
Week 766, awkward situations: You didn’t realize you would get a screen credit as a fluffer. (Chuck Smith)
Your boss tells you she saw your name Saturday in The Style Invitational. “But what does ‘MILF’ mean anyway?” she asks. (Drew Bennett)
Week 547, bad product names: Excalibur is a good name for a security company but a bad name for a tampon. (Jeff Brechlin)
Week 421, explain what everyday items “really” are (in this case one of a pair of dice): “After the tragic accident with the trash compactor, there were only 100 Dalmatians.” (Jennifer Hart)
Week 483, headlines for obits for people even if they haven’t died yet: Hugh Hefner: Publisher Laid to Rest. (contest example)
I can understand why other papers wouldn’t want to go there, but I had no problems with the Invite’s running any of the above. And as far as I know, none of them drew reader complaints.
So why am I warning people so strongly to be tasteful in this week’s contest for imagined items as various real or imagined gift shops? The difference, for me, comes down to pain. I don’t want to be in the business of inflicting pain on anyone (except, of course, my blithely robbing Losers of highly deserved ink).
The entries above show various elements of crudity: a fairly graphic image of a sex act, if you know what a fluffer is; the use of a highly vulgar acronym; a graphic allusion to the physical use of tampons; a joke about animal death; a crude term used as wordplay. (Of course, The Post’s taste standards aren’t based on pain potential alone; you can only be so graphic when it comes to sex, bodily functions and emissions, and profanity.)
But none of those jokes (with the possible exception of the Dalmatian one, which I decided amounted to “cartoon violence” rather than anything associated with reality) is possibly going to cause pain to anyone. On the other hand, think of someone with a personal connection to the Holocaust reading a joke about the Auschwitz E-Z Bake Oven.
If you’re a member of the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook (or join up), you can see the discussion thread prompted by the Ground Zero gift shop here.
Just as some of Loserdom’s greatest poets pretended to be metrically deficient, tin-eared tragic-odists in our most recent contest, the McGonagalls, some of the Invite Shed’s sharpest tools did some pretty convincing imitations of total dolts in Week 1081, in keeping with the inquiring mindless who post on Yahoo Answers. And while I don’t know them from their previous cleverness, this week’s five First Offenders clearly smartly got the joke as well. (I had a hunch we’d have a lot of fresh ink this week, since I counted 27 entrants who I think were entering the Invite for the first time; at least a couple of this week’s newbies are among those 27.)
It’s a veteran, however, who earns the Inkin’ Memorial this week: Gary Crockett gets his seventh win and, with his concurrent third place, his 26th ink “above the fold” as he continues to stride past the 200-ink mark. But it’s just Ink No. 8 — and the second above the fold — for runner-up Scott Poyer, who’s invited intermittently since his debut in Week 937. And the very same stats apply to fourth-place finisher Frank Mann, who joined us even later, in Week 996. Scott and Frank get their choice (if they let me know) of the Loser Mug or the Whole Fools Grossery Bag.
Speaking of emissions standards: Here’s a funny question by newcomer Dave Bunai: “If my girlfriend eats eggs, and later swallows some of my, um, “man juice,” can she get pregnant? With chickens?
It’s not too late to join the half dozen Losers who’ll be driving up this Sunday morning on roughly the route that J.E.B. Stuart took his Confederate troops to reach Gettysburg. However, Gen. Stuart didn’t get to have a nice lunch at the Appalachian Brewing Company on Buford Avenue, and then not get shot at while strolling around the battlefields while resident Losers Roger Dalrymple and Marty McCullen explained what happened where. And if you need inspiration for Week 1085, the Gettysburg Visitor Center serves up aisle after aisle of tackiness. If you’d like to go (I won’t be able to attend this year), contact Elden Carnahan ASAP via this link at the Losers’ website, nrars.org.