The Empress discusses this week’s Style Invitational contest and results


And it was fun to look up the clips and articles I linked to that can help out a puzzled reader without explaining the joke to death. (Don’t worry, there are articles, not film footage, from the links to “Deliverance” and “Last Tango in Paris.”)

More than most weeks, though, I faced a lot of duplication among the entries. On reflection, it’s not surprising: While there are hundreds on hundreds of films and TV shows that readers will recognize, there’s not an infinite list of iconic quotes from those movies. The contest didn’t require the use of a quote from an existing movie, but most of the entries used them.

Here are some funny ideas that were all sent by too many people to credit individually. I don’t usually use an entry that’s been sent by more than two people, or occasionally three; these all had four or more of essentially the same joke.

“Tomorrow is another day,” from “Gone With the Wind,” also for “Groundhog Day.”

“I coulda had class”: From “On the Waterfront” and also “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

“You talkin’ to me?” “Taxi Driver” and “The Miracle Worker.”

“Jaws” and “Titanic”: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

“We’ll always have Paris”: “Casablanca” and “Troy.”

“Cool Hand Luke” and “Titanic”: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

“I’ll be back”: “The Terminator” and “The Passion of the Christ.”

The final line from “Gone With the Wind” — “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” — was paired more than a dozen times: more or less straightforwardly, with “Super Size Me,” “Stand by Me,” “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman,” “Julie and Julia,” “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”; or, more yuckily, with cannibal jokes: “Alive,” “Soylent Green” and, most frequently, “The Silence of the Lambs.”

And “Say hello to my little friend” — Al Pacino’s reference in “Scarface” to his AR-15 (souped up with a grenade launcher) before he commenced with five solid minutes of blowing people up — was matched 18 times, from everything from “Howdy Doody” to “Of Mice and Men” to “Thumbelina” to “Austin Powers” (or “Snow White”) to “Boogie Nights,” “The Crying Game” and “Deep Throat.”

But this week’s four top winners were all unique ideas, and all from veteran Losers (though this week’s results produced a bumper crop of four First Offenders — three more than last week, and four more than the week before that). Invite Hall of Famer Duncan Stevens not only suggested this week’s contest for a metaphor for 2020, but he takes also home the Lose Cannon trophy, his 15th first-place win, for his dig at the Current Occupant without using his name. My only concern was that readers might be less familiar with the movie title “Charly” rather than the book it was based on, “Flowers for Algernon,” so I used a link online. There was a “Flowers for Algernon” movie as well, from 2000, but it wasn’t a big deal and isn’t the Oscar-winner; in the print paper I list both titles.

“Here’s lookin’ at you, kid” was paired numerous times with “Pretty Baby,” “Lolita,” etc. But only Gary Crockett paired it with the telescreen of “1984” as he ambles toward the 500-ink mark. Jeff Shirley gets the coy-dirty-joke award with “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” for “There’s Something About Mary.” And Hildy Zampella, who’d suggested the contest in the first place, offered a zingy simile between Jeds (Jedi?) Bartlet and Clampett and their problems with the people on the hill after each moves into the big, fancy house.

What Doug Dug: Back from a three-week vacation that included traveling to idyllic Maine and not traveling from idyllic Hyattsville, Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood was in an agreeable mood yesterday, telling me that he agreed with me about all four “above the fold” entries, and also singled out, from the honorable mentions, Hildy’s “Harry Potter”/”Harry Met Sally” joke about faking it when the wand doesn’t work so well; Chris Doyle’s “butter you up” reference to “Last Tango in Paris”; and Sarah Walsh’s “really good bones” for the scripts of both “This Old House and Saw.”

Congratulations to our First Offenders, some of whom have entered the Invite before, some total newbies: Susan Swanda with her “Mr. Wilson” for “Dennis the Menace” and “Cast Away”; Lori Smith, applying Scarlett O’Hara’s “I’ll think about that tomorrow” to “An Inconvenient Truth”; Wayne Debban, with his “take it out” pun for “Boogie Nights”; and Larry Rifkin — father of 35-time Loser Jesse Rifkin — with “I could have been some body” for “The Invisible Man.” Hope you’re all off the One-Hit Wonders stats list in no time.

(Unprintable entries are at the bottom of this column. If such things upset you, please don’t read that section.)

Your 2020 visions: This week’s contest

In addition to Duncan Stevens’s “If 2020 were a …” examples for Week 1398 (deadline Aug. 31), our cartoonist Bob Staake did his own, my favorite of several ideas he offered. I’m offering a graphic option as well, but do realize that the odds are low that you’d get ink — especially in the print paper, where I’d most likely have room for a maximum of one graphic. (I had predicted I’d run no more than two total, but I might go back on my word if I end up with a few utterly brilliant and original memes that I could run online.) Do note that because of copyright issues, you can’t just pick up a photo from the Internet that’s not in the public domain; the best solution is to use your own photo.

Here are links to some right fine 2020 memes:

Hey, you want to hear some dirt about the Invitational?

The operative word is “hear”: Longtime Loser Mike Gips, who’s been working up a podcast in his professional field of computer security, also has the idea of starting a podcast about The Style Invitational, complete with interviews with guest Losers as well as the contest judge. I’ll keep you posted as Mike’s plans develop. You could weigh in on the Style Invitational Devotees page on Facebook about any topics you’d like him to tackle.

Rated N for Nope: The Unprintables: Among the funny entries that wouldn’t pass muster from the Taste Police, or ones that the authors themselves asked to be “Convo-only”:

Where no man has gone before”: “Star Trek” and “Lolita.” (Bill Lieberman)

“Yippee-ki-yay, m—–f—er!” “Die Hard” and “Oedipus the King” (Tom Witte)

“The Sword in the Stone” and “Knocked Up”: “I hope he pulls it out!” (Duncan Stevens)

“Titanic” and “Deep Throat”: “She’s going down!” (Duncan Stevens)


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