Some of the contests play more off the title than the content of the movie itself, but others, like today’s Week 1394, require you and the reader to be at least superficially familiar with the movie (or play or TV show). This week’s contest, suggested by 150-time Loser Hildy Zampella, is one we’ve never done before, so I can’t share any ink from a previous contest. (Hildy’s examples, though, instantly convinced me of the contest’s potential.) So instead I’ll offer a sampling of a quarter-century of movie ink that’s more than just wordplay on titles.
That first contest, Week 26 in way-pre-Google 1993, was as short-form as you can get, suggesting a name of someone who could be in a movie. Some of the results were wincingly lame, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Granny in “The Beverly Hillbillies” or as the old lady Gladys in “Laugh-In.” But the results (PDF of microfilm here) were saved by five A-B sets of photos, with the win going to one like this:
Week 399, in 2001, trafficked more in gender stereotypes than I’ve ever been comfortable with, but the results were funny once you accept the premise: “Write a short film description that could persuade a woman that the guy movie he wants to see is really close to being a gal movie, or vice versa.” Here’s some of the ink:
Third runner-up: “Das Boot” — A group of co-workers worry about water retention. (Jonathan Paul, Garrett Park)
Second runner-up: “Steel Magnolias” — Sally Field’s kidney is ripped from her body while she is still alive! (Sandra Hull, Arlington)
First runner-up: “Titanic” — Leonardo DiCaprio dies. (Joe Morse, Charlottesville)
And the winner of the Orrin Hatch CD: “Bambi” — Hunters bag a 150-pound doe with a single shot. (Robin D. Grove, Pasadena, Md.)
Honorable Mentions: “The Wizard of Oz” — Good-looking babe mud-wrestles with pigs. (Jean Sorensen, Herndon)
“Pretty Woman” — A guy finds a whore who looks exactly like Julia Roberts. (Greg Forster, Reston”
“The Great Escape” — Ol’ Bedroom Eyes Steve McQueen (“Love With the Proper Stranger”) stars in this soul-searching paean to dishing the dirt. (Bruce W. Alter, Fairfax Station)
Readers who didn’t know that “Das Boot” involves a leaky submarine, or that “The Great Escape” is about making a tunnel through earth, might not have gotten Jonathan Paul’s or Bruce Alter’s entry, and that’s the risk with contests that requires the reader to know more than what’s on the page. Now, at least, I can add links to the online version for readers seeking an explanation.
Week 423 (2001), also from the Czarist era (though I filled in for the Czar on judging duties that year, and might have done this one), relied largely on wordplay:
“ … in which you were asked to replace a character in a movie with one from another movie, and explain how the movie would change.”
Fourth Runner-Up: If Ben Kingsley’s Gandhi had played Darth Vader, the Empire wouldn’t have struck back. (Joseph Romm, Washington)
Third Runner-Up: If Renton from “Trainspotting” had played Mary Poppins, it would have taken a spoon, a lighter, a belt and a syringe to make the medicine go down. (Jessica Henig, Takoma Park)
Second Runner-Up: If Phil from “Groundhog Day” had played Scarlett O’Hara, tomorrow wouldn’t have been another day. (Chris Doyle, Burke)
First Runner-Up: If Marlee Matlin’s character in “Children of a Lesser God” had played Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver,” it would have made a lot more sense for her to keep wondering, “Are you talking to me?” (Mike Edens, Canoga Park, Calif.)
And the winner of the can of South Carolina Potted Possum:
If Flipper, from “Flipper,” had starred in “Jaws,” then after eating people he could have scooted through the water backward on his tail balancing their heads on his nose. Cool. (Russell Beland, Springfield)
Honorable Mentions: If C3PO replaced Mariah Carey in “Glitter,” there’d be fewer complaints about robotic acting. (Ray Aragon and Cynthia Coe, Bethesda)
If one of the “Porky’s” gang had starred in “Psycho,” he’d have taken the knife and just cut a little peephole in the shower curtain. (Russell Beland, Springfield)
If William Wallace of “Braveheart” had played any Woody Allen character, it would have actually made sense when he ended up with the girl. (Andrea Connell, Arlington)
If James Bond had played “The Man in the Iron Mask,” he would have cut the mask away with his laser pen, escaped from jail with his exploding cuff links and floated away on his underpants-that-convert-to-a-helium-balloon. (Jennifer Hart, Arlington)
If Miss Piggy had played Debbie in “Debbie Does Dallas,” I, for one, would have asked for my money back. (Joseph Romm, Washington)
If John Rambo had played the lead in “Saving Private Ryan,” it would have ended with Rambo and Hitler in sneering, shirtless hand-to-hand combat. (Bob Sorensen, Herndon)
If Dudley Moore’s Arthur played Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” he would’ve yelled, “Look, Stella, I’ve ripped my shirt! I’ve ripped my bloody shirt off! Isn’t that the funniest thing ever?!!” (Mark Ross, Gaithersburg)
Report From Week 693 , in which we [the Empress] asked for fanciful sequels to actual movies.)
Fourth place: “Bonnie and Clyde II”: The troopers just keep shooting into the car for another 127 minutes. (Russell Beland, Springfield)
Third place: “Snakes on a Blimp”: Hey, what’s that hissing noise … hey, what’s that BIG hissing noise? (Beth Baniszewski, Somerville, Mass.)
Second place, the winner of the nostril pencil sharpener and snot key chain: “Kramer vs. Kramer: The Next Generation”: Ted and Joanna reconcile and have another son. But little Cosmo goes terribly wrong. (Drew Bennett, Alexandria)
And the Winner of the Inker: “Gandhi II”: No more Mister Nice Guy! (Andy Bassett, New Plymouth, New Zealand)
“It’s a Wonderful Life for You, Maybe”: An angel shows an elderly George Bailey how much happier everyone he knows would be without the burden of taking care of him. (Beth Baniszewski)
“A Brief History of Time 2: Downforce”: When Stephen Hawking is dropped off a 20-story building as the result of a David Letterman prank gone horribly wrong, his valuable brain is transplanted into the nearest available body, which happens to be that of the guest immediately before Hawking, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Andrew Malone, Washington)
“The Other 603 Commandments”: Moses sits up there on Mount Sinai taking notes about such topics as pigeon sacrifice and whether bats are kosher. Except for the slightly racy Commandments 82 through 105, which cover forbidden sexual relations, the tale is a bit short of epic. (Andrew Schneider, Fairfax)
“Upper West Side Story”: The remaining Jets grow up and become bond traders, taking ballet classes in their off-hours. (Ira Allen, Bethesda)
“Brokeback Molehill”: Even in the rural West, some traditional attitudes are softening, so Ennis’s new love interest is just no big deal. (Russell Beland)
“Rocky 13”: Rocky Balboa, now 92, winds up in the same nursing home as his nemesis Clubber Lang, 87. The rivalry is reignited after their wheelchairs bump on the way to bingo. They throw some Jell-O at each other, then take a nap. (Michael Levy, Silver Spring)
“You’ve Got Spam”: Kathleen breaks up with Joe and fears she’ll never love again, until she starts a new e-mail relationship with a Nigerian banker. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)
Groundhog Day II”: Only the title is different. (Ben Aronin, Washington)
And finally, Week 1029 (2013) a contest to describe the plot of a movie in a song parody (one
The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:
See a chest! See a chest!
Tops are coming off with zest!
We’re awaiting an R-rating
When we show another breast!
Lots of girls! Lots of pranks!
We’ll accept your humble thanks,
We are loading up the sleaze
Because we only aim to please!
There’s not much plot to enjoy
But for every teenage boy
We deliver what you need to be impressed,
You’ll holler out with glee
And see a chest! See a chest! See a chest! (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
Getting to know you, getting to know all about you,
‘Cause we have cameras watching whatever you do;
Getting to know you, we can control you quite nicely;
That is precisely our plan, it’s true!
Getting to know you; you’ll never feel free and easy;
We are recording e-ver-y word that you say;
Haven’t you noticed? Suddenly you’re feeling queasy,
Because we’re pros at wiretapping your flat;
Guess who taught us to do that?
NSA! (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
Are you a King Kong fan — or a Bob Staake fan in general? You can buy the sketch above, or sketches ($80) or pen-and-ink art ($125) for any of hundreds of Bob’s Invite cartoons. He has a special link for Invite readers: www.bobstaake.com/si.
Some linkage may occur*: The results of Week 1390
*Honorable-mention entry for Week 1120 for the same contest, by Tom Witte
“I thought that Loserdom outdid itself this week,” offered Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood about the results of Week 1390, our recurring contest to compare/contrast any two items from a random list we supply. I won’t dispute Doug’s assessment; my printout of inkworthy entries in my “shortlist” ran more than eight closely spaced pages.
For several years now, I’ve been compiling the list with the help of an effusion of suggestions in a thread in the Style Invitational Devotees Facebook group (join and the Devs will anagram your name!) and I really do shoot for a random combination rather than trying to envision particular relationships between any of them. Then I just hope for the best, with the knowledge that the Loser Community always comes through. And while I did pad the list to a full 20 items, in case some turned out to be duds, I noticed last night that today’s inking entries incorporate every last item — something I’d made no effort to achieve.
Dating all the way back to 1996, the compare/contrast contest tends to be one for the Usual Suspect Losers, and indeed, three of the four members of the Losers’ Circle this week — Lose Cannoneer Jesse Frankovich (“red neckwear”/”redneck wear”) and runners-up Mark Raffman (“best man isn’t there” at either the Zoom wedding or the Tulsa rally) and Jonathan Jensen (nasal swabs and Bolton’s ego: “Each is definitely irritating, but we can tolerate it if it helps defeat a deadly menace:) — get ink so often that I’ve memorized their mailing addresses for sending out their weekly swag. But it’s only the second appearance for third-place finisher Jack Doherty (“Rise again” for both Confederates and sourdough starter), who got his Fir Stink in November. And two of the honorably mentioned also get to hop off the One Hit Wonders list and onto the big grown-up Loser Stats table: Bill Cromwell, who debuted five weeks ago in Week 1385, and Spencer Lu, who last inked in … Week 602, 15 years ago.
Our new Loser magnets for honorable mentions — “Punderachiever” and “No ‘Bility” — have arrived and I’ll send them out to this week’s inking Losers unless you’d rather have one of the old ones, “Too-Weak Notice” or “Certificate of (de)Merit,” before they’re all gone. If so, please email me by Sunday, when I plan to go to the Post newsroom for my monthly visit and mail out the swag. Also, if you got ink this week but are so heavily awash in it that you don’t want any more stuff in the future, let me know and I’ll send you one of each magnet for this week’s ink, and I’ll just email you after that.
What Doug Dug: It’s a bit misleading this week to say that the Ace singled out his favorite entries, because he mentioned so many of them: He “loved” all the top winners, plus Dave Shombert’s about the Angry Goldfish vs. Lincoln Memorial (“the Lincoln Memorial doesn’t look like a tiny version of the U.S. president’); “A Confederate statue and the last roll of toilet paper: The toilet paper is worth fighting for,” by Francis Canavan; all five of the digs at what today is officially named the Washington Football Team; and the various entries about the 2,300 Invite entries (the number I got for a contest a few weeks ago; this time it was more like 1,500).
All better and staying that way
“I had a pretty severe case of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the early spring. I survived it and have tested positive for the antibodies. It didn’t kill me, even though I’m right in its wheelhouse: a man in his 70s who could use some road work. More than a few folks think I’m bulletproof. I don’t.
“I wear a face mask these days because it’s the polite thing to do, it can’t hurt and it’s required by many places. But mostly I wear a mask because in doing so I stand in solidarity with the great majority of Americans, and it’s nice to have that sense of shared and responsible community again, even if it’s only about something as trivial as a face covering. Maybe the mask will be a baby step back to a more civil, as well as safe, society.
Jon S. Ketzner, Cumberland, Md.
Thank you, Jon — and we’re so happy you’re in good shape again.