The Empress of The Style Invitational on this week’s contest and results

Perhaps the column inspired a large segment of the Loser Community to scrutinize Bob Staake’s four cartoons for Week 1392, whose results run today. I didn’t have room in the Invite to use all the inkworthy ones, so I thought I’d highlight some of them here in the Convo.

By the way, thank you to all of you — more than 160 people — who answered my pleas for you to begin each entry with “Picture A,” “Picture B,” etc.; not to begin the line with a number, a bullet, etc.; and, most important, not to have that label on a different line from the entry itself. (Not so much thanks to the few of you who didn’t.) Your efforts enabled me to sort the entries electronically so that I could read all the hundreds of captions for each picture together.

As you might notice if you entered this contest, some ideas were submitted by lots of people, and I chose my favorite wording. Captions in the forms of quotes usually (not always) were more lively than descriptions of the characters or situations. A few people wrote whole paragraphs. tl; dr

Picture A is for antennae

One rather conspicuous detail in the restaurant scene was the waiter’s novel hairstyle. I got lots of entries about antennae; Nancy Della Rovere’s “you aliens” got ink, as did Lawrence McGuire’s about a washed-up Jiminy Cricket. Other inkworthy ideas noting the waiter’s do:

“I’ll have the escargot … Ack!! So sorry, no offense, I’ll have the soup de jour.” (Janelle Gibb)

“You mean to tell me that not only are you the head waiter, but also you’re the WiFi extender?” (John Kupiec)

“You can just retract those mantennae right now, mister man! I’m a married woman!” (Rob Huffman)

Thanks to an observant diner, Henri discovered where he’d left his fishing hooks. (Ellen Raphaeli)

Francoise was so surprised to see her “Uncle Martin” waiting table that she spit out her petit pois. (Jeff Hazle)

Jeff’s reference to “petit pois” (little peas) notes the three dots near the customer’s mouth; Chuck Smith got ink with the same dots with his entry “Unfortunately, the waiter did not understand the Ellipsis language.”

Bob had originally included a sign that said “Covid Cafe”; I asked him to change it to “CC” so that people could interpret it differently. I did get several entries about Covid Cafe and Corona Cafe but also Culture Club, with waiter Adam Ant (by Richard Franklin) and even Chez Cafard (meaning “cockroach” in French but not English; way too obscure). And a play on just CC: “Given the name of the place, I’ll have the same as everyone else.” (Sam Mertens) But the most eagle-eyed on this detail was Jeff Contompasis, who had the customer saying, “I don’t understand why your towel’s logo doesn’t match the restaurant’s.”

Finally, Barbara Turner called on her long experience in Staake contests to have the customer say to the waiter: “Do you realize you’re the first character with a chin that our artist has drawn in eight years?” It’s true — look at all the other characters!

Picture B is disarming

Before judging the contest, I hadn’t noticed that the woman who’s running through a supermarket was pushing her cart with one hand — because her other arm isn’t connected to her body. Jesse Frankovich and Richard Franklin both sent entries very much like “Quick — where can I find your arm reattachment supplies?” In fact, there were at least a half dozen arm jokes. I also especially liked the one by Danielle Nowlin that referred to both the shopper and the gesticulating store clerk: “Sir, don’t do that with your arm! That’s what happened to mine!”

At least five other people diagnosed the emergency in another way: that the shopper desperately needed a bra. (Someone specifically asked for “women’s brassieres”; not going there) In fact, Mark Raffman noted Bob’s proclivity for dangleboobs with this entry for Cartoon D: “The new support bra in this package will — I guarantee it! — improve the comfort and appearance of the women in Pictures A, B, and C!”

Picture D: Seat your can right here

I don’t think there were any obscure details in Picture C, even though it was probably the weirdest of the four cartoons. A lot of people did plays on “upskirt photos,” calling them “upnostrils.” Some people made “mind in the gutter” jokes, perhaps confusing gutters with downspouts.

Picture D, too, was pretty much upfront. Once you have a missing arm in Picture B, the legless back of a chair in D would have been anticlimactic. The main thing — and it was what I’d hoped for — was the ambiguous object sitting in the chair. In addition to the can, toilet paper, paper towels, Alexa, a number of Losers noted the small horizontal lines and labeled it a beaker or graduated cylinder. Some made “graduation” jokes along with it.

Actually, many Losers seemed not to notice a key element: the microphone on the desk. Which to me ruled out the numerous entries that depicted a job interview.

But what propitious timing to have a can/tube cartoon: It was an opportunity for runner-up Marni Penning Coleman to allude to the instant boycott of Goya Hispanic food after the company’s chief gushed about President Trump; and for Invite Hall of Famer Frank Osen to snag his 24th contest win with a play on “Bounty,” incorporating both the Paper Towel Snafu of 2017 and the recent presidential shrug about the revelation that the Russians offered payoffs to the Taliban for killing U.S. soldiers. Ooooh.

And all together now …

And one little similarity in all four pictures: Mrs. Drysdale’s dog has been very busy. He left three little presents in every single scene! (Bill Lieberman)

What Pleased Ponch: Ace Copy Editor Ponch Garcia continues to fill in for Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood to offer his faves. This time Ponch went entirely to the honorable mentions: For A: “Will there be anyone else exposed to madam’s droplets for lunch today?” (Howard Walderman) and “Frankly, I liked it better when I could see you smirking.” (John McCooey). For B, the arm-reattachment joke; for C, Bill Dorner’s “peeking duct” pun and, from Kevin Dopart, “Conversations with M.C. Escher rarely lasted long”; and for D, Steve Fahey’s figure-it-out about the guest from “that famed film festival in the south of France … ”

Oh, yeah, we have limericks!

It’s the 17th straight year we’ve worked with OEDILF.com, the effort to produce at least one limerick for every word in the English language. On the home page, creator Chris Strolin points to a “mini-crisis” of fewer limericks — especially good limericks — being submitted lately, so we’re happy to gallop in anapestically to lend a hand, or at least a lot of galumphing feet.

There are lots of words beginning with “ha-.” My only caveat is that the word needs to be “featured” in the limerick — and so a line like “I sure had a terrible day” wouldn’t work as a limerick for “had.”

Instead of going into the same details here about how to do the lims, I’ve once again posted “Keep Your ’Rick Rolling,” my guide to limerick-writing, with large chunks lifted from OEDILF and, of course, the classic work of our Loserbards. If you have managed to read this column without being a Post subscriber, you can read a copy of the guide in the Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook. Along with the copy of this week’s Invitational, it’ll be at the top of the list of “Files” (link on the left side of the page); the link will also appear in the comment thread of the posting of the Invite at the top of the page.

And if you don’t want to join the Devotees and can be patient, you can see a link by next week on Elden Carnahan’s Master Contest List on the Losers’ website, NRARS.org. (Elden’s also been posting copies of this column.)

And while I can never pin down Bob Staake on which entries this week were his faves, I’ll give it another try. Remember, you can buy the original sketch ($80) or pen-and-ink art ($125) for one of these Bob cartoons — or hundreds of earlier ones. He has a special link for Invite readers: www.bobstaake.com/si.

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