If your idea of an addictive time-suck is getting into political arguments on Facebook, or clicking on link after digressive link to even more Merrie Melodies cartoons on YouTube, think what it’s like to leaf through binders full of ... more than 500 Style Invitational columns in a search of a varied sampling of the best, most representative entries, cartoons, prizes and more from the past 10 years. Especially if another human is in the same room, enabling you to read entry after entry out loud.
But at least I can say it’s for my job. And not only will we inevitably end up with slew of great stuff in the March 3 20th-anniversary retrospective (in print March 3, online, I hope, by Feb. 28), but I got to be reminded of some classic contests that clearly need another airing. This is one. Here are the original results from Week 524, which were published a couple of months before I officially became Empress. But I think I had a hand in judging this contest; in the months leading up to when I overthrew the Czar, we had started to work together a bit. Note that while the original contest allowed both books and movies, this is just for film.
If all goes as hoped, this new format of the Conversational has let me share with you Bob Staake’s two sketches for this week’s contest — he shared them himself this morning on Facebook, to demonstrate to his thousands of FB friends the silly demands he has to put up with from his various clients. I asked Bob on Tuesday morning which of two sample entries he’d like to illustrate: “The Brief Pelican” or “You Are 54 — Where Car?” He chose the latter, and in short order sent me the top drawing.
See, I happen to be exactly 54.
To me, this lady looked about 75. And “54” was the point of the joke — that your mind tends to start with the senior moments before the body actually turns senior..
It was the suggestion of my son, the Scion of the Style Invitational, who suggested that it’s easier to illustrate the concept of middle age with a man than a woman, because you can show a man as balding, paunchy, etc., but not elderly. With women, you pretty much have to go with a subtle amount of facial wrinkling to establish “in her fifties.” And it’s the beauty of Bob that a day later, he sent today’s sex-changed final, which I love.
The contest: You can change the punctuation; capitalization shouldn’t be an issue. Don’t break up the words in the original into two or more words; the point is to rejigger the words in the title, not the letters. Yes, you have to use all the words in the title. As you can see from the results of the preceding contest, entries are generally funnier when it’s clear what the original movie was; if the movie is obscure, or if the words are rearranged beyond recognition, some of the humor will be lost, though perhaps not fatally.
By my count, I’ve now judged the joint-legislation contest six times — for the freshmen (and sometimes exiting members) of the 109th through 113th Congresses, plus the 2010 off-year edition, in which we used only those legislators who were still in office since before the Invite did its first freshman contest in 1994. And , much as with the horse-“breeding” contests, they’re always a slog to judge, but a fun slog. Because it always yields so much funny stuff.
By “slog,” I mean that many of the entries have to be puzzled out, said out loud; I can’t just move my eyes down the list. And of course because there are just so many entries from so many people (probably because it’s so easy to come up with some amusing combinations of two out of almost 100 names). But I’m always excited to see a lot of new names among the entrants, especially when they end up getting ink: I’ve been keeping track of new entrants (as opposed to people who actually get ink) only for a couple of years, as I update the e-mail list each week. But the 105 new names for Week 1005 were by far the biggest deluge; by comparison, I got 13 new people for Week 1007 (though many entrants were among those who started in 1005).
Thanks to those Losers who took pains to include the “translations” of their entries but let me hide them while I gave the first read; putting them on a separate line, or listing them in a block below the group of entries, both worked well. It did prove useful a number of times when I wouldn’t have figured it out otherwise. I don't think I had to look up any entries that eventually got ink, but on the other hand, I’m reading hundreds of these entries at a time; after I see Esty used over and over to mean “is the,” I tend to forget that another reader might have to puzzle over it.
As I did two years ago, I’m including the “answer key” for readers who can’t figure out the sound of the entry, or don’t get the reference. While some of them here can be hard to figure out, I still think they’re valid, especially if you have a sense of humor.
As I warned the Style Invitational Devotees on Facebook earlier today: “Please try to turn down your griping dial this week about who’s getting credited for what combination of congressional names. There are going to be a lot of instances where someone had that combination, but with extra or fewer names attached, or with a very slightly different description. I have great faith that you will not let this wreck your day, and mine.”
In fact, our winner today, Rick Haynes’s Heck-Pocan-Cook-Rice wasn’t unique in its entirety; some other entries had Pocan-Cook-Rice. But to me (and also to the Czar, whom I discussed this with) it was that starting “Heck” that turned the bill perfectly into a Marie Antoinette-style show of ignorant , contemptuous lack of compassion. It’s the fourth win for Rick (very misleading stats anagram: “He Is Cranky”), who recently retired to Florida from the D.C. area, and his 109th blot of ink. (These ink figures are from the last time Elden Carnahan updated the stats, so I’m sorry if the numbers are a couple short.)
John Glenn (no, he’s not) of Tyler, Tex., who doesn’t enter often or with many entries but often gets ink when he does, gets Ink No. 19 (and 20) today, but his runner-up is his sixth ink “above the fold”; his “war in Yoho” was one of the few entries this week that made me laugh out loud. It’s a welcome return for longtime Loser Steve Fahey, who hadn’t been Inviting for years, it seems; Steve picks up his 165th ink, and 25th above the fold, since his debut all the way back in Week 104. And another always clever enters-now-and-again vet, David Smith, came up with the best of many takes on JFK conspiracies this week, for Ink No. 72.
The HAW this week from Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford — well, I don’t know if she actually emitted said HAW, since she’s in the newsroom and I’m home at Mount Vermin, but she liked it most — was the Horseford-Cartwright bill.
Too inside, but cute was this “And Last”: The Jeffries-Payne Act to mandate that this contest be run with every new Congress. (Jeff Contompasis, who gripes about this contest every time.)
As I said, there were 247 entries that featured the legislative work of Rep. Peters. Holding-Peters. Pocan-Peters. Flake-King-Peters. Cook-Peters! And many, many others. I gave ink to two of them, but they won’t be in the print paper. And if I had to argue for those, you can see why these weren’t even close. (As often true in this section, I don’t necessarily consider all the entries inkworthy. But they’re funny in their tastelessness. (The “Schatz’ entries meaning feces ended up here as well.)
The Gallego-LaMalfa-King-Peters Act addressing reverse sexual harassment. (Deb Dawkins)
The Swalwell-Peters Act to promote the nutritional value of following through on oral sex. (Warren Standley)
The Peters-Swalwell Act--Well, honey, it’s not really an “act”; it’s more of a “maneuver”. Here, let me show you... -- Divine Brown (William Verkuilen)
The Peters-Flake Resolution, calling on the Department of Health and Human Services to officially retire the term ‘smegma’ and replace it with ‘organ dandruff’ (David Garratt)
The Swalwell-Peters Act to regulate Your Mama. (Dixon Wragg)
Brownley-Pocan Act in honor of ex-Senator Santorum (Mark Richardson)
The Takano-Schatz Bill encouraging new members not to stink up the congressional washroom (Sam Ackerman)
The Titus-Heck Act to allow more explicit advertising for K-Y Jelly (Neil Starkman)
The Cook-Schatz bill for a fossil fuel alternative (Bill Clark)
The King Schatz Brownley Act to declare that royal poop don’t stink. (Stephen Dudzik)
Shatz-Titus-Heck Act - Congressional attempt to free logjams (Dave Komornik)
The Yoho-Cruz-Castro-Wagner-Peters Act extending truth-in-advertising laws to prostitutes in the Tenderloin district and any other place a red-blooded American guy might reasonably expect to encounter an actual, you know, female, for crying out loud. (Paul Burnham, Gainesville)
The Enyart-Titus Lubrication Research Act (Jonathan Hardis)