(Click here to skip down to the winning five-line TankaWanka poems about the news)
In our last song parody contest, just days after the election, the Empress pleaded for lyrics that in some way expressed hope. Eight months later, we’re not bothering to ask for that again. This time we’ll switch gears a bit with a new theme, suggested by veteran Loserbard Mark Raffman: This week: Write humorous lyrics on the subject of science or technology, set to a well-known tune. “Science or technology” can cover a lot — anything from an ode to the vastness of the universe to a ditty about a phone app that won’t update. And while the songs, for once, aren’t required to pertain to current events and politics, neither are they required not to. As always, the results we run in the print edition (including the top winners) will be parodies of (what we hope are) very well known songs; in the online Invite, we’ll supply links to all the melodies so that readers can hear an unfamiliar tune. See this week’s Style Conversational column for more on what we’re looking for in a song parody (remember, it has to be read).
And since the Empress will be on vacation, you get an extra week to work on them; entries aren’t due till July 24.
Submit entries at this website: wapo.st/enter-invite-1235 (all lowercase). Feel free to include a link to an audio or video clip to the tune you’re using. You can even make your own recording.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy — one of the last few before we come out with a new design. Second place receives yet another in our lengthy series of Silly Second-Place Headwear: This time it’s a face-covering chicken-head hat, worn by donor Dave Prevar last month during much of the 22nd annual Flushies, the Loser Community’s award “banquet.”
Other runners-up win our “You Gotta Play to Lose” Loser Mug or our Grossery Bag, “I Got a B in Punmanship.” Honorable mentions get one of our lusted-after Loser magnets, “No Childishness Left Behind” or “Magnum Dopus.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). Deadline is Monday night, July 24; results published Aug. 6 (online Aug. 3). See general contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/InvRules. The headline for this week’s results is by Jeff Contompasis; the honorable-mentions subhead is by William Kennard. Join the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev. “Like” Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at bit.ly/inkofday.
The Style Conversational The Empress’s weekly online column, published late Thursday afternoon, discusses each new contest and set of results. Especially for song parody guidance this week, check it out at wapo.st/styleconv.
SEPTIC TANKA: THE POEMS OF WEEK 1231
In Week 1231 we had our third contest for TankaWanka, a form of verse we coined so that people wouldn’t accuse us of doing the real tanka form improperly. Our only rules were (a) that the syllable count had to be 5-7-5-7-7 (like haiku with two extra lines); (b) that any two lines had to rhyme; and (c) that the verse had to be about something in the news. And you know what that brings us . . .
Keep making box office news.
Why? Not hard to see:
We wish our troubles could be
Wrapped up in a great “S” cape. (Perry Beider, Silver Spring, Md.)
Whole Foods??” Other grocers wince
As their stocks tumble.
“We need an Amazon on
Our side — call Diana Prince!” (Perry Beider again!)
and the basketball-hoop-on-head game:
Tell me how much you love me!”
Each of them complied.
Thought: Having fewer suck-ups
Might produce fewer . . . organizational failures.
(Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
Filled with yes-men all bleating
Fealty to their Don.
You suck up to El Jefe
Or land in Deep Covfefe.
(Nan Reiner, Boca Raton, Fla.)
The Russia matter:
Flynn, Manafort, Page,
Kushner, Sessions – all the rage.
What’s the problem? Trump’s
Just a fashion-forward guy;
Every day, a new red tie.
“Will you kiss the ring?”
Questioned the newly crowned king
To the earnest knight.
When he did not do as sought,
He was banished from the court. (Barry Goodmann, Hackensack, N.J., a First Offender)
Was not about the Russians,
Or so we are told.
Did his probe become a threat?
White House sources just say nyet. (Maria Zimmerman, Berryville, Va.)
Trumpet tweets profess,
“It’s a witch hunt, nothing less!”
So be it. It’s time
For our nation to abort
The sad(!) reign of Vulgarmort.
The Cabinet meeting:
The longer one goes
In the Cabinet of Trump,
The browner the nose.
They’ve all got the idea:
Act like it’s North Korea.
(Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
The Nationals’ bullpen:
Our starters have kept
Fans and their Rolaids apart.
But one big issue
Has brought late-game angst and grief:
Some pitchers can’t spell “relief.” (Barry Koch, Catlett, Va.)
‘Millions doubt global warming’:
“Science” says, “It’s hot!”
So ’14’s “the hottest!” first,
Then ’15 topped that,
Then, for heat, ’16’s the worst!
See? They can’t keep their facts straight!
(Elden Carnahan, Laurel, Md.)
The latest men’s fashion fad, rompers:
What gets women hot?
Men in rompers, dude — that’s what.
Watch how quick your chick
Gives this sign she wants to boff:
Begging you to “take that off!” (Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)
The British election:
It’s Mayday for May,
Who’s in complete disarray.
Can she carry on
With her majority gone?
Who knows? Theresa may not. (Stephen Gold, London)
Uber faces a crisis
Draining its own swamp.
Make their leaders’ exits swift
Kindly giving each a Lyft.
(Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
Legislation to legalize silencers:
In Congress, a bill:
These gun accessories will
Shortly be legal.
They hush it, but here’s the tell:
A silent-but-deadly smell.
Conjoined twin porpoises caught in fishing net:
In the Dutch nation,
Rare conjoined-twin cetacean
Born. Museum seeks
Space to house this baby boom —
In its Multi-Porpoise Room.
‘Wildfires taint air with microscopic poison particles’
Whew! That fire came close,
But your house did not burn down!
There is also bad news, mate;
So take a deep breath — oh, wait!
(Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
Good Ol’ Boy Sessions,
Asked about indiscretions,
Stonewalls every time.
As AG, Jeff Beauregard
For the law shows low regard.
Had he been there in
Odds are Jeff Sessions
Wouldn’t want to find out who
Colluded with the Hessians.
North Korea: Grr!
They keep shooting those missiles.
Their leader we hate,
He’s stupid but thinks he’s great.
We’d never elect — oh, wait.
(Neal Starkman, Seattle)
Report: Russia delves
Into our voting systems,
Hoping to screw up
Our elections. We object!
We can screw them up ourselves!
Red-tied, portly resemblance
Takes the ’Net by storm.
At last, Freud can explain why
She ever married that guy.
(Kevin Dopart, Washington)
‘77% of Americans think it will be normal to have a robot in home in 20 years’
Life is so easy
Now that I have you, Robot,
To do my housework.
What? You say your name is HAL?
EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt:
Trump has appointed
Climate change skeptic Pruitt —
Not as focused on
What to do for the planet.
As on what to do to it.
The latest Taylor Swift-Katy Perry feud:
Every morn I cringe
Peeking at the day’s news binge.
Just for once, I wish
There were nothing more weighty
Than Taylor versus Katy.
Dad of Ivanka
Inspires my TankaWanka:
With his “covfefe,”
The source of our yuge schism
Coined a neologism.
(Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)