Style Conversational Week 1507: Eat our words

It’s always a pleasure to judge The Style Invitational’s song parody contests, which I’ve hosted more than 20 times since 2004. Well, except for the part where I – have to — refuse the ink to dozens of people who have not only spent a significant portion of their week producing one or more elaborate parodies or even videos, but have made them genuinely impressive.

The results of week 1503 – a competition for songs that relate in some way to food – are a good example of this. If you sang along to the 19 songs, including six video performances, would you be number 19 half an hour later? One hour? Even with an emphasis on shorter songs at the top, omitting repeats, etc., it’s the best I can expect from a reasonable reader.

And so my long “shortlist” is full of clever, funny, well-crafted parodies that loser t-shirts should wear.

I hope you take the time to scroll through the page with all the honorable mentions, so I’ll try not to keep you here in the convo for long.

But just as an example of how deep our bank is, I wasn’t expecting this, but a bunch of losers made clever use of the food theme of week 1503 to write about that famous lunchtime tantrum: the Trump White House ketchup splat, captivatingly told by Adjutant Cassidy Hutchinson during the Jan. 6 hearings. Several Ketchup Splat entries made my shortlist, with veteran loser parodist Barbara Sarshik taking second place.

Here are the other Splat finalists, in whole or in part:

Pout everything you can pout
(to “The Army Goes Rolling Along,” the US Army song)
When things weren’t going so well, he’d yell in a rage and the ketchup would slide down. Get angry, full of hatred, throw his hamberder (and his plate) with the ketchup just oozing onto the floor. He would smoke and shake, then heave a well-done steak and stain the walls auburn. The taste of the White House soiled by a lazy kid while the ketchup kept dripping down.
(West Point graduate and longtime loser Randy Lee)

To “Up, Up and Away” Would you like to dine with a handsome tycoon? Would you rather hide from the angry orange baboon? We could have a nice lunch together ruined by When Burgers Fly; Yes indeed. he let ketchup fly and away, throwing like a cake, an angry kid cartoon. The land was humbled by this maroon from Looney Tunes. He’ll call the porter, put it on another guy ‘Cause he can lie, he can lie to ketchup and gone Like a condiment, a condiment typhoon!
(Bridge) He steps over the broken dishes. We crawl across the ground to hide. When your thoughts accidentally turn to mockery; He tries to divide us, This loser, fool’s gold, Midas. He’s immortalized by a big baby balloon Far up in the air Allies mock our buffoon With his tiny hands he’ll throw our dreams across the sky Cause he can lie and he will lie. Ketchup and Away With our nice big hot air balloon Buffoon Put, put it away.
(Longtime loser J. Larry Schott)
To “Flowers Count on the Wall” (an excerpt) … throwing ketchup at the wall That doesn’t bother me at all. Grab my driver by the throat when I have to block the vote. Claiming every court where I lost is just a kangaroo. Now don’t tell me, I have nothing to do.
(Barbara Sarsik)

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As I regularly do with our plethora of excellent submissions to our parody contests, I’ll be sharing other notable “noinks” in the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook over the next few days; Just search for #parodies and you should see a list of posts.

At least one of those noinks will be owned by Duncan Stevens, who can take comfort in the fact that he’s won another clowning achievement to be the first five-time Disembodied Clown Head on a Stick trophy winner. Sing along to his parody of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and see how the accents of the lyrics fit perfectly with the melody and rhythm – and, more importantly, how they make you laugh: “Pumpkin flavor in Belgian waffle / Pumpkin Flavored Spice Potato Chips/ Pumpkin Flavored Burger: That’s Just Awful/ Pumpkin Flavored Spam? Not on my lips.”

And at least one more goes to runner-up Mark Raffman, who pulls off a rather rare feat of parodying a power-chord rock song, in this case the survivor screamer “Eye of the Tiger” — it’s youthful vigor, deliciously ironic when made for a song about fighting constipation with a “high-fiber diet” is used. (Meanwhile, Mark’s usual “Be Our Guest” parody fodder went inked this week, despite at least six losers — none of them Mark — submitting “Guest” songs.)

Two more veterans fill the Losers’ Circle this week: Rob Cohen’s song about food with a punch line and Barbara Sarshik’s ketchup splat ballad join their extensive parody song lists.

Meanwhile, Marty Gold & Kids’ exuberant video “Ode to the Chinese Buffet” totally won me over, and not just because I’ve always had a soft spot for said establishments. Clever lyrics (father Sam gets a co-credit), pretty good vocals, an infectious cheerfulness – and is what Marty plays in one-man-band style the first-ever orchestration of “YMCA” for multiple clarinets?

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But you don’t need an entire staged production to make a great video: I was also charmed by Florida first offender Judy Freed, who simply (beautifully and absolutely clearly) sang into a camera, backed by a karaoke track, to a knockout parody of the “Pippin” song “Corner of the Sky” in which she promotes therapy-through-cake. Judy also kept her video under two minutes, as did Jonathan Jensen — who can sing, play the piano, and look at the camera at the same time (not to mention make funny faces) — with “It’s Not Easy Eating Beans.” Without a story or significant visual elements (such as a slideshow or camera action — like Sandy Riccardi’s video putting the “nut” in Nutella), many viewers ask you to sit down and wait for your next line for several minutes in one piece. It helps when the music moves with you.

In the meantime, if you’ve had your ink run out this time, most parodies shouldn’t seem old when we host the Second Chance Retrospective competition in December. I’ll probably run one starting in week 1503.

What Ponch liked: Ponch Garcia, editor of Ace Copy, read the printed invitation, which had space for nine of this week’s 19 parodies, and called it “uniformly clever.” Everyone’s a winner! The print list – which favors songs, especially shorter songs which I think will be known to several generations – included the top four winners plus Beverley Sharp’s Dracula ballad “If I Only Had a Vein”; Melissa Balmain and Hildy Zampella’s “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious” verses (even the title was shortened to fit in one column of text); Nancy McWhorter’s “My Favorite (fattening) Things”; and excerpts from “Chinese Buffet” by Marty Gold and “This S’more That I’m Eating” by Sarah Walsh.

Forwarding for you: This week’s brand new state slogan contest

Your more obsessive readers of the Style Invitational may have noticed Bob Staake’s greater involvement as of late, as he’s been drawing the Invite cartoon weekly since 1994: Instead of “What Should I Draw?” Bob has often produced his own copies for recent competitions and even delivered a well-made copy for the Limerixicon.

I’m happy to have Bob as a collaborator – after all, it was his creative contribution as a temporary replacement in year 2 that made my predecessor, the Tsar, decide to keep him forever. But as he became a hugely successful and famous artist and writer over the next three decades, Bob understandably diverted his creative endeavors to other realms, in many directions at once, and, for old times’ sake, came to the Invite once a week.

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Maybe it’s nostalgia on his part, or just a temporary breather from all his book projects and speaking engagements, but in the last few months I’ve started to see him again more as a partner than just the guy I send assignment to. And then, just recently, Bob emailed me: “This came to me in a dream last night and I think it has great potential.” He then went on to present this week’s contest, week 1507, almost unchanged , along with several compelling examples.

Since I hosted another “twin town” place name contest just two weeks ago, residents of the losing community might still be in map mode and ready to apply this to this week’s contest: use the initials of consecutive US states into a “route” as the first letter of a slogan that describes the state at the beginning of the route.

Sooo much easier to show an example like this one from Bob which I didn’t use: FLORIDA: An alligator always tastes wild (fla. Ala, Ga., Ala, Tcn., Ga.)

Meanwhile: We have held contests for state slogans in the past, but not for a long time. A word of warning: don’t describe a condition by saying there’s nothing interesting about it. In other words, don’t brag about being ignorant.

Text files with previous slogan ink (scroll past this week’s new contest to the winning slogans):

Week 640, State Mottos (my competition)

Week 231, mottos for the backs of the then new State Quarters (Contest of the Tsar)

Week 2 (!!), motto for Maryland

try it once If I don’t have enough good stuff in four weeks… I think I might find an extra song parody to run.

Coloring Out Loud: Coming – the Invite and Convo on audio!

I’m excited to see what happens with next week’s Invitational and Conversational: like many other Post items, they have an audio version option! It’s automated, but it’s usually so good that it takes a minute to realize. (Here’s a random story from today’s paper; click the listen icon just below the photo.) Next week’s results will be the 100 Scrabble tile passages from week 1504 that Mrs. AI should complete – but what will happen when we get to neologisms?

Okay, enjoy these parodies: Happy New Year for those who count to 5783 – remember everyone gets an extra day for week 1506; deadline is Tuesday, 27 Sep

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