Style Conversational Week 1490: The Style Invitational Empress on this week’s song contest
Like a contest of words that will be Lily in print (at least in the newspaper version), the Invitational places greater emphasis on rhyme and recognizable meter than it would if it were an all-video contest; and song lines cannot be repetitive because it makes reading tedious.
If you are new to Style Invitational song contests, PLEASE read this Style Conversational 2021 column which explains what works best for invitational purposes. (But remember the dates mentioned were for week 1440, last summer!) The column also includes many links to songs from previous contests.
If it’s not covered in the week 1440 column: I’m quite expansive on what constitutes “news.” It doesn’t have to be about any specific news item, but the topic should be about someone or something that’s currently being mentioned in the news. So even if you write a love song to Benedict Cumberbatch, especially if it mentions his current movies, it would be harder to justify a love song to your cat.
For the nuts and bolts of submitting an application, here’s what I write on this week’s application form, which reaffirms and expands a bit on the instructions for the invitation itself:
“In this week’s Style Invitational, Week 1490, write a satirical song about anything in the news these days, to a familiar tune (or if you’re making a video, feel free to use a tune original). Mention which song (if any) you are parodying, even if it’s obvious to you. And if there is a record of the original on YouTube or elsewhere on the internet that matches your parody, please include the URL so the Empress can listen, and if you get any ink, share it with readers.
“If you make a video a parody or your original piece, please include lyrics here but also a YouTube link to your video that the Empress could share with Invite fans. (Lyrics ON the video are best of all, but not required.) Important! If you made a video, be sure to indicate that in your entry with the link (eg, “video of me singing the song”). Want to make sure I know the link is going to a performance of YOUR song and not just a recording of the original.
“In the printed version of the invitation – including the top four winners – the parodied songs should be very widely known so readers can get to know the tunes as they read the lyrics. Online, however, we can make parodies of less iconic songs, since we can link to a clip of the original. Please do not embed links in the text; simply copy and paste the URL above or below your song; otherwise the Empress finds herself with scrambled.
“Your song may not have been released elsewhere yet, except for certain online shares or publications for a small audience; if you’re not sure if your song is eligible, go ahead and submit it with a rating, and the Empress will render a decision. (If you email email@example.com with this in the subject line, she’ll see your question much sooner.)
“You get an extra week! The deadline for registration is midnight or a moment before midnight on Monday, June 13, wherever you are. (However, if something terrible happens and you have to do it the next day, go for it, you won’t be locked out. Just don’t make it a regular practice.)”
I LURRRRRVE THE PARODIES.
LOL in a working day*: The results of the week 1486
*Title without inking submitted by Jesse Frankovich and Chris Doyle
I’m glad I decided to rerun our 2002 contest asking for clues of incompetence in a particular area: week 1486 drew a deluge of some 2,000 entries, of which I ran 54 in this week’s results in line, and about 40 in print (almost all were very short). Most of the inking entries featured funny quotes, though for some, only the concept did the trick (eg Kevin Dopart’s incompetent rabbi: wears a yarmulke with a propeller).
It’s the first Clowning Achievement trophy, but fifth Invites first-place win, for Rob Cohen, who nailed the quote included in the cartoon to the top of this page. Like many entries today, it beat out a few other fun entries with the same general idea. In second place, rookie Karen Lambert continues her rapid rise in Invite-fixturehood; in fact, she also came in second just two weeks ago for something you could say both at the hairdresser and when taking your car to the gas station: “Very funny, ha ha – no, I wasn’t under the influence when I did that.” This time, his inept comic asks, “There aren’t any of those hypersensitive people in the audience tonight, are there?” Hall of Famer Frank Osen hints at future Cake Wrecks affair with “Happy Birthday Brian with a Y!” And because Bob didn’t want to draw a picture of a song, Diana Oertel turns her incompetent astronaut (“Are we there yet?”) into a full-color work of art.
What Doug dug up: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood agreed with me on this week’s top winners, and also singled out brain surgeon Jean Sorensen”(whispers to self) “You got that!”; dairyman Tim Livengood (“I like those cows that only have one — they take a lot less time to milk”); and wine taster Coleman Glenn (“I detect notes of…grape? Yeah, definitely grape”).
Bonus: Annabeth’s bets: “Slot,” or copy desk supervisor, Annabeth Carlson gave another print prompt on Thursday, and she had various favorites, though she said she liked the whole list so much it was difficult to choose. She finally cited Kate Sammons’ accountant, who got rid of the company’s red ink with an easy trick; Howard Walderman’s doctor’s receptionist, who calls out to people by their illnesses, like “Mr. Hernia”; Fox News anchor Bill Bouyer (“I can’t read this. It’s too ridiculous”); and, from first offender Aaron Olszewski, the cat trainer (“They think their job is possible” ).
Why they call him loser of the year and other thoughts on the Hot Flushies:
Yes, the thermometer topped 90 degrees last Saturday in loser Steve Leifer’s backyard in Potomac, Maryland, but a well-spaced crowd of around 70 losers and various hangers had the usual boffo time at the 26 (!) Flushies, the annual potluck / one-on-one singing / general rejoicing loser community awards. Several of the tables were moved from the patio to more shady spots, and a few of us accepted Steve’s invitation to wallow in the pool.
The single consisted of a set consisting entirely of Style Invitational-themed parodies (plus Jonathan Jensen’s classic original “Love Me, I’m a Loser”). It was streamed live on the Style Invitational Devotees Facebook group, but alas, I couldn’t find a recording, except for “Keeper of the Stats” (“Master of the House”) by Duncan Stevens, a tribute to Ur-Loser Elden Carnahan, who maintains an indispensable database and meticulous charts – spanning the entire era of Loserdom since Week 1 in 1993 – at NRARS.org. Elden couldn’t attend on Saturday, after having people poking around in his brain and continuing to growl about the next drugs, but he – and you – can enjoy the parody here on the Devs page (the amazing lyrics by Duncan are in the comment thread).
This year’s loser of the year, Frank Mann, proved particularly fit for the title. First off, it doesn’t necessarily come down to the most successful loser of the year; it is for the loser with the highest score who has never won the title before. So while Frank scored an impressive 50 inkblots from March to March 2021-22, his totals were surpassed by former LOTY Jesse Frankovich. And former LOTY Duncan Stevens. And (ditto) Chris Doyle. And Mark Raffman. And Kevin Dopart. And Tom Witte. And Jonathan Jensen. And Beverly Sharp. And Jeff Contompasis. But stay! Pretty good company! And Frank had a lot of hilarious ink in a lot of different contests, and was certainly worthy of the Loser of the Year plaque he brought home.
Then, this very afternoon, Frank, who is a lawyer for a federal agency, sent me this note:
“Okay. That’s super embarrassing. Trying to hang my LOTY plaque. It slipped through the crack behind a 7ft cabinet that DEA thoughtfully bolted to the wall. In other words, it’s now a wonderful time capsule that won’t be unearthed for another 15 years – if so. Don’t ask me about the various steps I’ve taken to try and recover it, but you can safely say that “It’s gone until the next renovation or a massive earthquake. Is there a way to pay someone to make a duplicate? If not, I’ll happily continue as the loser (and motte) of the game. ‘year.
Yes, it’s true. Frank works for the Drug Enforcement Administration. Which seems unable to pull anything out from behind a cupboard.
We’re gonna give Frank another plaque.
See now! Loser Jonathan Jensen’s musical to open in Baltimore
Move over, “Fiorello”: The Royal Consort and I are definitely going — and we’d love to be part of a losing contingent — to Baltimore in mid-July to see “Do It Now!”, a musical on the legendary colorful city mayor of the 1970s-1980s William Donald Schaefer, with both music and lyrics by Loser Jonathan Jensen. The show has been in the works forever – there was an article about it in the Baltimore Sun in 2012 – and finally, after many redesigns, debuts at the Fells Point Corner Theater July 16-31, as part of the Baltimore PlaywrightsFestival. (tickets and info here). We are going to Niagara Falls, Ontario for the Loserfest holiday trip July 25-29, so we will want to attend one of the first two weekends. We will be putting up a list of events on the devotee page to coordinate. (Meanwhile, Pope Loserfest Kyle Hendrickson may bring a few more people into the Niagara festivities; check out the Fungenda and lots of other info here. He’s set an approximate deadline of May 31.)
So have fun writing a song (or, for many of you, taking a week off), but remember that week 1489, the contest to rearrange the words of a movie title to make it a new movie, is still in progress; deadline May 30.