And while masks will still be required, If I were going, I think I’d wear one of those giant-brimmed hats to ensure social distancing.
Last April, after the postponement was announced, events were being canceled left and right, and of course the pandemic quickly became more and more widespread, so I didn’t have a lot of optimism for a fall Derby. But I certainly didn’t want to miss out on the Invitational’s most popular contest every year, and so for Week 1382, instead of using the names of that year’s 3-year-old Triple Crown nominees, I listed 100 of the 145 previous Derby winners. But the game was the same: Select any two names and “breed” them to produce a foal name that cleverly reflects the names of both parents.
And then, wouldn’t you know it: The Derby did go off in September. And so what the heck; then we did the contest again in Week 1400, this time with the horses that ran in the race (and 85 or so others).
Ever since the Invite began this contest in 1995, at the suggestion of Loser and horseplayer Mike Hammer, the contest has drawn thousands of entries from several hundred contestants per contest. It’s understandable: No outside research or Web surfing is necessary — the list is right there — and it’s pretty easy to come up with a few entries in a few minutes. Many more contestants than in other weeks will submit the maximum of 25 entries; lately I’ve been getting some 4,000 names for the week.
It’s daunting, true, but I always look forward to judging this contest. First of all, now that I can sort the entries so that I can read all ones for each pairing together (say, Horse 27 x Horse 53) — and, thanks to the special program created and run by Loser Jonathan Hardis, without having to read them twice (i.e., Horse 53 x Horse 27) — the process is far more efficient and far more accurate. And even more important: There are so many clever, funny jokes!
Still, with 4,000 entries to read within a couple of days, I can’t mull each entry forever. And I find that recently I tend to read down the list with an eye for funny foal names and novel puns, then check on how it reflects the names of the sires (or even the occasional dam; there just aren’t many fillies nominated to run in these races). But don’t worry: If the entry doesn’t have an obvious pun, I’ll also peruse the entry to find another clever approach, like Determine x Agile = Will & Grace (Mia Wyatt,). Or: As Seen on TV x Verb = Avoid (Nancy Della Rovere) Or the “operative”: A x B = Modified A: As Seen on TV x Censored = ** *een on TV (Duncan Stevens, Laurie Brink)
In past Style Conversationals at horse time, I often share winners and runners-up from our more than two dozen earlier contests. This time I’ll look toward the bottom of each list, just to avoid repeating myself. Remember that all the inking entries had beaten out thousands of others: They’re all good. Also, once I started adding entries online to supplement the ones in the paper, I’d often put the racier ones near the bottom of the list. Really, who’s going to write in to complain about the 62nd entry down the page — the complainers aren’t going to read that far.
Drill x No Spin = Doesn’t Auger Well (Larry Yungk)
Tsetse Fly x Dreaming of Anna = Sleeping Thickness (Brendan Beary)
In Orbit + Hello From Heaven = In Obits (Pam Sweeney, Sam Laudenslager)
Barber Shop Rock x Rousing Sermon = Four-Part Homily (Jeff Contompasis)
Verne x Whistleblower = 20,000 Leaks (Dudley Thompson)
Concealed Identity x Positive Response = Private Aye (Kathy Hardis Fraeman)
Major Art x Become the Wind = DeGas (Laurie Brink)
Old Guys Rule x Sinai = See Nile (Susan Thompson)
Okay Corral x Super Saver = Buy It Earp (Steve Price)
Unspeakable Filth x Kollege = Dirty Duncing (Brad Alexander)
Pavarotti + Forty Grams = The Four Tenners (Mike Hammer)
Oceanography x Backlash = Abalone! (Mark Eckenwiler)
Men’s Magazine x Reporting for Duty = Stand Up N Salute (Rick Haynes)
Would you like to see a few thousand more of these? This page on the Losers’ website, kept by Such a Loser Elden Carnahan at NRARS.org, contains links to each new horse contest and each set of results, in plain text, PDFs, the whole schmear.
The results of Week 1430 will run online on April 29, two days before the running of the Derby, so we’ll have “our horses” to root for in the race. While ultimately the promise of the actual horse won’t determine who gets ink, I did fill about half of this week’s list of 100 names from “top touts” predictions from various racing writers. At least the favorites should have an opportunity to beget some inky foals.
News quippings*: The bank headlines of Week 1426
*Inking headline by Jesse Frankovich in an earlier contest
I never tire of Mess With Our Heads, our bank head contest, and always finding myself reinterpreting headlines for weeks after I’ve finished judging one. And the results of Week 1426 should generate much coffee-spitting among the inveterate newspaper readers who probably constitute the large majority of Loserdom.
And this week’s Clowning Achievement winner is a classic of the genre. Jesse Frankovich, who lives in Lansing, Mich., turned for some reason to the website of the Washington County (Wis.) Insider:
US 45 resurfacing project starts Monday
Former president getting skin peel, de-oranging
Jesse’s name is familiar to anyone who’s read the Invite in the past several years; he routinely gets several blots of ink in a single week. And this is not just his 17th contest win; it’s his second win of our new Clowning Achievement trophy; he got the first just a few weeks ago. But in our 100 Clowners for 100 Losers program — all the disembodied clown heads we could find — I’ll be sending Jesse a little paper “II″ flag on a dowel that he can attach to the trophy’s base. think we’d better make up a “III” and “IV” pretty soon.
Runners-up Chris Doyle and Danielle Nowlin also swim laps in their respective Invite ink vats, but it’s the first trip for third-place John Klayman to the Losers’ Circle. and just his third blot in all., for his play on “Find a Place for Covid Shots” (recommended: arm).
While I invited people to use any print or online newspaper, a large fraction of the entries were from The Post, especially the print version. And so I ended up with too many entries for the Local Living headline “Can I repair the pie-crust molding on my old table?” (All answers: Gross, no, just wash it off, throw it away, and make a new pie, for gosh sakes.), Also: Sweeping relief package clears Senate/ Every American will get a free Roomba. And various headlines about the hometown NBA team, the Wizards, generated various banks about Muggles.
Head covering required: Unprintables from Week 1426: Some topics are just too serious, some headlines too brutal, to make silly jokes about in the Invite. Like this well-done but tasteless effort from Jeff Contompasis: Prison guard pleads guilty in beating death/ Confesses to brewing Live Forever Elixir in jailhouse kitchen. Or this one by Barbara Turner: McIlroy shoots 66 to share Arnold Palmer lead … well, you know where this is going. Too soon, we can say every single day of the year.
And then just your generally unprintable: Goats pee on their faces to attract mates/ Yet all it gets me is a restraining order (Sam Mertens) And one that several people submitted with the same general idea: Things are about to get a lot harder for Joe Biden/ President thought little blue pill was his statin.
The Staake Stable
If you’d like an original Staake horse picture of your very own — maybe even the Equine Strom Thurmond reprinted above — there’s a good chance that he still has some of his dozens of his equin-ish creations, either as a pencil sketch or the final pen-and-ink drawing. Go to bobstaake.com/SI and tell him what you’re looking for — a horse picture or another Invite picture — and he’ll check to see if he still has it. (Feel free to write to me to figure out the date, etc.)
See you next week — maybe
There’s a fair chance I might not do a Conversational next week: I’m getting my second Moderna shot at 5 p.m. the day before, and given that I had a mild reaction the first time around (e.g., overnight fever, fatigue), I’m a bit apprehensive about this second one.
But either way, Happy Easter/Passover/Springtime to all. And happy mating.