Style Invitational Week 1269: Mess with our heads
This is a ‘bank head.’ Write a funny one for a real headline. Plus
winning parodies about education.
(Bob Staake for The Washington Post )
By Pat Myers By Pat Myers Email the author
March 1 Email the author
(Click here to skip down <#report> to the winning song parodies about
/Real headline: / *Roasting a chicken is easier than you think *
/Fake bank head: / /*Just start your speech with ‘Hey, you dumb cluck .
. . ’ * / //
*Cousins will file grievance if tagged *
/*Litigious relatives ruin reunion picnic game with legal threat * /
Along with song parodies — which we enjoy this very week — Mess With Our
Heads remains one of the Empress’s favorite Style Invitational contests.
Even though The Post’s headlines (thankfully) aren’t as “newspapery” as
they used to be, and now often read more like conversational sentences,
there’s still plenty to play on, especially since you can use any paper
anywhere. *This week: Reinterpret (or comment wryly on) a headline
appearing in The Post (print or online) or another publication and dated
March 1-12 by writing a bank head,* or subtitle, as in the examples
above, which play on recent headlines in The Post and its Express
tabloid. Please give the source and date for the headline so the E can
What counts as a headline? Can you use just part of one? May you write a
bank head /for/ a bank head? The Empress explains just how to Mess With
Our Heads in *The Style Conversational,* her weekly supplemental column
published late on Thursday, March 1, at wapo.st/conv1269
Submit entries at the website *wapo.st/enter-invite-1269*
Winner gets the *Lose Cannon,
* our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives two-count-’em-two
fine volumes: *“Red Flags! How to Know When You’re Dating a Loser,” *a
self-help paperback that tragically fails to warn the reader to look
discreetly for refrigerator magnets; and *“Expletive Deleted: A Good
Look at Bad Language,”* which explores the history and many uses of
various words we can’t say here.
*Other runners-up *win our “You Gotta Play to Lose”
Mug or our Grossery Bag, “I Got a B in Punmanship.”
Honorable mentions get one of our
lusted-after Loser magnets, “We’ve Seen Better”
First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener”
for their first ink). *Deadline is Monday night, March 12; *results
published April 1 (whuh-oh) in print, March 29 online. See general
contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/InvRules
. The headline “Ha for Teacher” is by Dave
Matuskey. Kevin Dopart and Tom Witte both submitted the
honorable-mentions subhead. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees
group on Facebook at /on.fb.me/invdev ./
*The Style Conversational *The Empress’s weekly online column discusses
the new contest and results. Especially if you plan to enter, check it
out at wapo.st/styleconv
And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .
*HA FOR TEACHER: EDUCATION-THEMED PARODIES FROM WEEK 1265*
**In*Week 1265 *we asked for songs falling
into the deliberately broad topic of “education,” set to familiar tunes.
As with all our song parody contests, there were dozens of inkworthily
clever, funny lyrics among the several hundred entries. I’ll feature
more of the over the next week or so in the Style Invitational Devotees
group on Facebook (on.fb.me/invdev). Most of
the links below go to YouTube videos featuring the original song, so you
can hear the melody while you sing along with these lyrics; the ones to
Loser Nan Reiner’s songs are to her own recordings, complete with
*Home Economics 1963 *
/(to “Be Our Guest”
Sew a dress! Sew a dress!
Learn to launder and to press!
Be a winner cooking dinner
And then cleaning up the mess!
Writing checks is complex
For the weaker, fairer sex,
But you need to have this knowledge
To get married before college!
While the boys are in shop
You can learn to use a mop
Or bake brownies that are destined to impress!
Come get your education in subordination:
Your success — being less — sew a dress!
(Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
*“You’re at the final exam and never attended class. It’s that dream again.”
*(To “I Dreamed a Dream”)
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When I found college courses thrilling.
I dreamed my schooling would supply
A way to make my life fulfilling.
Though I was on financial aid,
Professors knew me as a scrapper.
By sticking to the plans I’d laid,
At last I made Phi Beta Kappa.
But now the terrors come at night
In a dream that drags me under:
I’m back in college feeling fright
And a sudden sense of shame.
I took a course but never went
To any classes. What a blunder!
There’s not a chance I can prevent
A grade of F beside my name!
(Chris Doyle, Denton, Tex.)
2nd place and the “Dirty Mind, Clean Body” tote bag featuring a photo of
/To “Be Our Guest”: /
Beat the test, beat the test,
Don’t you mind about the rest,
We will teach you how to better guess the answers we want guessed.
Taking tests — just a game,
And each subject is the same:
No one cares if you have knowledge;
“They’ll take care of that in college.”
Every question has a clue
How to answer, what to do
So your strategy is never second best.
Go on, get out your pencil
And even the most dense’ll
Beat the test, beat the test, beat the test.
Math or poems, you won’t care;
We will help you to prepare.
All the questions have suggestions of their answers — they’re right there!
Eliminate two of four
And you’re sure to raise your score;
Don’t be such pathetic chancers —
Hey, we’re giving you the answers!
We will show you little tricks
Filling boxes in with ticks
And to stay inside the lines and be repressed.
If you’ll just come to class, we’ll guarantee you’ll pass,
Just take the test (we suggest
That you cheat like all the rest),
Beat the test, beat the test, beat the test!
(Marcus Bales, Cleveland)
And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
*“D.C. schools increasingly graduating chronically absent students,
report finds”* *
/To “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
*I was raised in the D.C. public schools,
Where the suits make their own achievement rules.
But it’s all right now, this slacker’s morass.
Yeah, it’s all right — I’m never in class, still I pass pass pass!
Turn in junk, get the teachers’ dirty looks.
Still don’t flunk, cause they’re cooking all the books.
And it’s all right now — to college for me.
Yeah, it’s all right . . . accepted I’ll be into UDC!
(Nan Reiner, Boca Raton, Fla.)
Song and dunce: Honorable mentions
*Inside the Girls’ Room
* /To ‘Under the Boardwalk” /
Though I’m a boy-turned-girl, like other kids I need relief,
And there’s a place I’d like to go without the school officials’ grief:
Inside the girls’ room to take a pee . . . yeah,
In a stall with the door closed tight is where I’d be.
Inside the girls’ room! (It’s not really that fun)
Inside the girls’ room! (To sit and go number one)
Inside the girls’ room! (Why on earth does the guv)
Inside the girls’ room! (Think I’m lookin’ for love)
Inside the girls’ room! Girls’ room! (Mark Raffman)
*Kansas School Funding*
/(To “Wonderful World”) /
Don’t know much about history, don’t know much biology,
’Cause my state has gone completely nuts, pushed through education
Now there’s 45 kids per class; if you show up, then you’re sure to pass,
Ain’t a wonderful world here for me.
Don’t know much about geography, don’t know much trigonometry,
’Cause my district has been starved of funds, can’t learn much about the
Goths and Huns,
But if they throw out those right-wing fools, and start funding all the
What a wonderful world this could be.
(Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
*Potty Training *
(Hey, that’s education, too)
Well I heard you’re 2, you’ve entertained thoughts of getting potty-trained
’Cause you don’t really care for diapers, do ya?
Well if you want to have a chance to graduate to big-boy pants
There’s quite a simple test, I’ll give it to ya:
When you do the
Pee and poo, ya,
Use the loo? Yah?
(Hildy Zampella, Falls Church, Va.)
*The English Major’s Song*
(To “The Major General’s Song”
I am the very model of a modern English major grad,
Where my degree will take me next, I wouldn’t care to wager—sad!
I diagram my sentences and have a special expertise
At spotting misplaced semicolons, commas and apostrophes,
At assonance and consonance and matters quite poetical
I’ve theories both rhetorical and also hypothetical,
I can expound on anything from Albee plays to Zeno’s work—
So, patience, please, while I refill your mocha Frappuccino, jerk!
(Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)
*Waking Up From a Map *
/Another “Major General” parody/
I used to love to go to school; how happy were those golden days!
But sadly now I realize: those golden days were olden days.
Geography was lots of fun; our maps were quite meticulous.
But nothing’s where it used to be-- (it’s really quite ridiculous!).
I look at modern maps and have to ask myself: “Hey, what the heck?”
Bombay is now Mumbai, and look! Slovakia’s no longer Czech.
Zimbabwe, where is that? Oh yes, it used to be Rhodes-i-a;
Sri Lanka was Ceylon (unless, perhaps, I have amnes-i-a)
I’d love to go to Burma, but my ticket wouldn’t get me far,
’Cause Burma is kaput, and now they call that country Myanmar;
I’ve had it up to here! Constantinople now is Istanbul
And Leningrad’s St. Petersburg ... (okay, I’ll just go back to school...)
(Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
*“Calif. case exposes lack of state laws on home schooling”*
If you are tribal with a hankerin’ for Bible, you can always go – home
If it’s too scary where complexions may vary, there’s an “out,” you know
– home school.
If you should want a science jaunt devoid of evolution,
A smudging and a fudging of the U.S. Constitution,
Why should we care?
No matter your pupil’s loss, you’ll get a wink and a voucher from Betsy
So go home school – trumped-up curriculum –
Home school – though it’s ridiculum –
Home school – keep your kids clueless like you. (Nan Reiner)
*Teaching at D.C.’s Ballou High*
/To “Yesterday” ) /
Yesterday, you missed school again just yesterday,
But I’m gonna pass you anyway
’Cause at Ballou, that’s how we play.
Can’t you see, giving credit to an absentee,
That’s what principals expect of me
In trade for job security.
Kids who chose to show, they all know. What can I say?
Stands will overflow on your graduation day.
Suddenly I’m not welcomed by the faculty.
There’s a stench that’s stronger than PE.
I’m gonna get the third degree.
Why’d I have to show numbers grow? Boss didn’t say.
Now the public knows, dominoes will start to sway.
didn’t bring accountability,
Plus, there’s problems over in P.G.
The next to fall: Montgomery?
(Dave Airozo, Silver Spring, Md.)
*Trump U (I)*
/to “Jump” by the
Your guys tell me that you want me
To teach you tricks of Wall Street.
I know you like the man you see.
You know me, I’ll give you what you know you need.
You’ll be glad, believe me.
You’re all excited ’cause you know there’s no one smarter.
I’ll make my pitch, then make you rich
Like none of you has been before,
And if you want more, more, more ...
Choose Trump! I’m the best.
Trump U! You’ll pass the test.
Trump! If you want to be a millionaire, all right then,
Choose Trump and screw the rest. ... (Chris Doyle)
*Trump U (II)*
/To the Notre Dame fight song
Jeer, jeer for bad old Trump U.,
You got the money, we got the screw.
We went to learn real estate
And found out the scam a bit too late.
We had no credits, we had no sport,
Except perhaps to take you to court,
Our class action got some traction,
Our only victory. (Bruce Niedt, Cherry Hill, N.J.)
*Ode to the Educational Testing Service*
To — what else? — “Be Our Guest”
ETS! ETS! They administer the tests
That have countless hapless students feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Fill out forms, pay the fees, hope your writing hand won’t freeze,
In your essay analyzin’ what produced the Easter Risin’.
Watch the time, stay on track, fill the ovals, sign the back;
Do it all again if Harvard’s not impressed —
You might not find it thrilling, but they’ll make a killing:
ETS! ETS! ETS! (Duncan Stevens)
*Oh, why not one more ...*
Passed the test! Passed the test! Going in, I felt distressed;
I’ll admit I hadn’t listened to a word the prof professed.
Had all week to prepare, but I didn’t really care,
And that meant a lot of trouble when I went to fill a bubble—
Was it A? Was it B? How ’bout C? Or maybe D!
I’d no clue of what to do but try my best...
So as the clock was ticking, took a stab at picking—
I just guessed! I just guessed! I just guessed!! (Jesse Frankovich,
Grand Ledge, Mich.)
*“You’re Gonna Be (Late)” by Dad*
/To “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
by the Proclaimers]
/C’mon, wake up! Yeah, you know you’re gonna be,
You’re gonna be the kid who’s late again for class!
C’mon, slowpoke! Yeah, you know you’ve gotta be,
You’ve gotta be to school or else I’ll kick your ass!
So you’re tired? So you think your life’s a pain?
You oughta see how stinkin’ fortunate you are!
Quit complaining! You’ve got no right to complain!
You get to ride to school in comfort in a car.
Oh, I would walk five fun-filled miles,
And I would walk five fun-filled more,
In the snow, uphill—both ways—to get to school
When I was only 4! (Jesse Frankovich)
*Walking the Lunch Line*
/To “Walking on Sunshine” /
The orange ones are probably carrots; the green ones, who knows?
The purple ones just make me wonder if eggplants have toes.
The chili is leftover hot dogs and beans from last week.
The nuggets use all of the chicken except for the beak.
I’m walking the lunch line! (Yeow!)
I’m walking the lunch line! (This chow!)
I’m walking the lunch line! (Run now!)
It doesn’t look good!
I used to think pizza was tasty, but now I don’t know,
If pizza’s rectangles of cheese glued to barely cooked dough.
“Fresh fruit” is misleading, I’m pleading for something that’s real.
The burgers are charred discs of sadness, I know how they feel… (Paul
*The Bore Curriculum*
/To “My Favorite Things” /
Cosines and arcsines and “pure” mathematics,
Logs to base e, second-order quadratics,
Euclid and Euler and all of their breed –
These are the things you must learn but won’t need.
Plays in pentameter, plots seldom sunny;
Footnotes insisting the Bard’s being funny,
Brit kings with numerals, gore guaranteed –
These are the things you must learn but won’t need.
When I mess up, when I misspeak,
When I crash and burn,
I limply resent all the things that I need
But school never made me learn. (Steve Bremner, Philadelphia, a First
*Another one to the same song ... *
Levers and pulleys and fake engineering,
Getting a late pass, the office clerk sneering,
Trying to memorize all British kings:
These were a few of my least favorite things.
Verb conjugations and Early Man mysteries,
Random equations and changing world histories,
Lunch trays with tater tots, limp chicken wings:
These were a few of my least favorite things.
When the car’s dead, when the phone’s lost,
When adulting’s sad,
I simply remember the misery of school
And then I don’t feel so bad.
Fruit flies that got in my hair and eyelashes,
Chemistry labs that left nothing but ashes,
The smell of formaldehyde, oh, how it clings:
These were a few of my least favorite things.
But here’s the strange thing: At age 60
These things float my boat,
It turns out that learning is actually fun
When it’s not forced down your throat. (Francesca Kelly, Highland Park,
/To “More Than a Feeling”
I woke up this morning at five-oh-one
’Cause I’ve got a paper that’s due today
Got till third period to get it done
Why do my nights always slip away?
It’s procrastination, procrastination,
That same old game that I always play,
My grades are slipping, grade point is dipping,
I see my car taken away,
I see my car gettin’ taken away (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)
*Sex Ed: A Horror Story*
/To “The Birds and the Bees”
Let me tell you ’bout the birds and the bees and venereal disease;
Let me fill you with dread ... when you take sex ed!
Let me tell you that we can’t tell you much about birth control and such
Or the ways to protect — parents would object!
They think ignorance will keep you chaste, but perhaps they miss the mark
Thinking you’ll be disinclined to mess around being left in the dark--
Let me tell you, when you’re out on a date, you don’t wanna procreate
Or contract STDs — so just cool it, please!
Though you can’t learn math or history, still we think there’s lotsa sense
To believe you’ll listen to a word we say teaching you abstinence--
Let me tell you, we don’t want you prepared; we just wanna keep you
Kids, you can’t take the chance — keep it in your pants!
(Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)
*Still running — deadline Monday, March 6: our contest for fake trivia
about the media, publishing, etc. See wapo.st/invite1268
*Next week:* It’s The Style Invitational’s 25th birthday — we started on
March 7, 1993. We’ll be able to rent a car! (Still, nobody will accuse
us of being grown up.)