Style Invitational Week 1378: It’s (emergency) Parody Time
Write us a song (or Covidio) about the Age of Corona. Plus our winning rap battles.
Image without a caption
(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
April 2, 2020 at 10:12 a.m. EDT
(Click here to skip down to the winning rap battles between historical/literary figures)
The Style Invitational last did a song parody contest just four months ago. But that was 2019 B.C.: Before Coronavirus. Even a matter of weeks ago, we didn’t shudder involuntarily when we saw a photo of people gathering at a dinner table, chatting at the office, or even — eeek! — touching.
And while the Internet has been teeming with “My Corona,” “I Want to Wash My Hands,” etc., the Loser Community still has a lot to work with out there.
This week: Write a song about Life in the Age of Corona, set to a familiar tune (or even one of your own, if you perform it on video). It can be about the virus itself, about living in isolation, about our leaders. The humor can be pointed but not so bitterly angry that its wit is crushed.
Hot off the old-fashioned letterpress: This week’s second prize, created and donated by Loser Pete Morelewicz.
Hot off the old-fashioned letterpress: This week’s second prize, created and donated by Loser Pete Morelewicz. (Pete Morelewicz)
If you make a video, we might feature it in the online Invite, but it’s the quality of the lyrics that matters most. If you do, send us a YouTube link that the Empress could share in the results.
But please: We are in the midst of a horrifying pandemic, overflowing with both tragedy and fear. And anger. And helplessness. And depression. I strongly believe, with evidence I see every day on social media and simply among friends, that humor helps us face our situation, helps bring a smile, if a wistful one. But for heaven’s sake: It’s emphatically not the time for sick humor, for anything making light of the power of this virus and the toll it has taken on our fellow human beings.
We’re out to make you (and your fellow readers) smile, even if wistfully. This is not the time for sick humor about a deadly disease.
The poster being printed from the wood-block letters of the letterpress.
The poster being printed from the wood-block letters of the letterpress. (Pete Morelewicz)
Submit up to a total of 25 entries (in case you’re Irving Berlin) at wapo.st/enter-invite-1378 (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, April 20 (an extra week!); results will appear May 3 in print, April 30 online.
Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives a very special, very timely prize: 34-time Loser Pete Morelewicz, who’s an artist and graphic designer, has a hobby of creating posters and such on an old-fashioned letterpress, with raised wooden letters imprinting the text on the paper. Pete donated, for the Invite cause, a limited-edition poster reading “Thou Shalt Not Covid Thy Neighbor’s Spouse. — Fauci 3:16.” Perfect for framing over the bathroom sink.
Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mug or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our lusted-after Loser magnets, “Too-Weak Notice” or “Certificate of (de) Merit.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/InvRules. The headline “Heavy-Wit Bouts” is by Tom Witte; Gary Crockett wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the Devotees group on Facebook at on.fb.me/invdev. “Like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at bit.ly/inkofday; follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.
The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column, published late Thursday, April 2, reviews each new contest and set of results. Especially if you’re thinking of writing a song, check it out at wapo.st/conv1378.
And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago …
Heavy-wit bouts: The rap battles of Week 1374
In Week 1374 we once again paid tribute to (a.k.a. ripped off the concept of) the YouTube series Epic Rap Battles of History with this Loserly rhyming trash talk between two historical, literary or, um, other figures. Be sure to check out the videos below as well.
Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker:
Darth: Your lame-ass rebel band is green—you’re all a bunch of rookies!
Got the sprightliness of Yoda, the loquacity of Wookiees.
Just froze your pal in rock for a bounty hunter! Sad!
Frankly, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m your dad.
Luke: Can it, you robotic, creepy Empire-loving hack!
The fire station called and they want their helmets back!
And ditch the cape, Darth Dracula! What is this, Halloween?
And Pops, about your breathing? Try an antihistamine.
(Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)
Kermit the Frog: What kind of monster teaches kids to want sugar?
Cookie Monster: Me guess it not easy being color of booger.
(Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)
and the Seattle Space Needle ringtoss snow globe:
Pierre Curie vs. Marie Curie:
Pierre: Don’t confuse, you’re just my muse, ain’t no chauvinism,
You’re my student, I’m a PhD in magnetism!
You know Curie’s law? Well, it’s named after me.
And the unit of measure? It’s “curie,” not “marie”!
Marie: So sad you think the unit’s named after you,
You got one Nobel, but I’m stylin’ with two!
You died in ’06, run over by a carriage;
Your name would be forgotten if not for your marriage!
The more famous Curie? You best believe that I am.
Je m’appelle Marie, but they call me Ma-DAMN!
(Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)
And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
Harriet Tubman: I’m an Abolition hero, Union soldier, scout and spy!
Your face is on the twenty still — you wanna tell me why?
Andrew Jackson: You’re crazy if you think that off the twenty I’ll be scoochin’!
Don’t care if you’ve got history, ’cause I’ve got Steve Mnuchin!
(Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)
Peanut Eminems: Honorable mentions
Shakespeare vs. Dr. Seuss:
Will: Thou knave who pens these “books” for youth, with talking fauna most uncouth:
Thy “doctorate”? The thought’s absurd! Like elephant that hatches bird.
Doc: I would not read a word you wrote,
Not in a car or on a boat,
Your fusty works? Not worth a damn,
I would not read them, Will-I-am.
(Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)
Salk and Sabin
(created and performed by Bill Dorner)
If you don’t see the video below, click on this link: https://youtu.be/gWXu9BIm6dc
Jonas Salk vs. Albert Bruce Sabin
Jonas: Yo, I started college at the age of 15,
Then I saved the world with my polio vaccine!
Albert: Your vaccine’s okay, but I’ve got one quarrel,
It’s injectable, who wouldn’t rather have oral?
Jonas: Your Medal of Freedom’s from 1986,
Mine’s from ’77, so just hit the bricks!
Albert: I’m the polio Pole, and my rhymes are so desirous,
Your rap is dead, just like your vaccine’s virus!
(Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)
Jill Biden: It’s 20 years now that your Skins have been slidin’;
You need lines that can block like the gals from Team Biden.
Dan Snyder: Your women on dee-fense can’t take any chances —
They’ve learned by repulsing Joe’s handy advances.
(Kevin Dopart, Washington)
Ivanka Trump vs. Hunter Biden:
Ivanka: The Senate probe’s just underway
But we all know what they will say:
Your “service” on that Ukraine board
Was shady, crooked and untoward.
Hunter: Oh, I’m the one who’s gone off wild?
You’re nepotism’s poster child!
So let those fools investigate me —
At least my dad don’t want to date me. (Mark Raffman)
Ahab: You bilious blob of blubber, I am the champ!
I’ll chop you up for oil just to light my lamp.
Moby Dick: Your obsession with me just makes me grin —
Those kids in Freshman English know who’ll win!
(Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)
Samuel Beckett: I wrote a groundbreaking play about men wasting their lives,
You talked smack about Windsor and some merry old wives.
Shakespeare: O these cuts, though unkind, have so wounded me — not!
Perchance you’re still mad ’bout bein’ stiffed by Go-dot?
(Frank Mann, Washington)
Mrs. Sprat: Consuming fat is where it’s at, and that is that. I’m ultra-keto;
Only blubber is my grubber. You’re a lout to doubt my credo.
Jack Sprat: “Here’s the skinny: you’re a ninny. Fat impacts your tracts with plaque,
And passion flops (libido drops) with all the glops of lard you pack.
Mrs. Sprat: “Like you control the passion—LOL! You’re not King Cole, and I’m not Frito-
Lay, and who is Jack-ass you to lecture me about libido?”
Jack Sprat: “Ho, I’d veto any keto-eating credo. You can yak, but fat is wack. I’d rather snack on ipecac. You don’t know Jack!”
(Alex Steelsmith, Kailua, Hawaii)
French Chef vs. Swedish Chef:
Julia Child: My food’s la bombe and yours is flawed.
In Stockholm I’m the Smorgas-Broad.
Swedish Chef: Ah svenska yom eh spoon i fork,
Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn børk!
(Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)
Joe Biden: You’re a socialist nut with a thing for Castro!
You’ll steal from the rich like a sign-swipin’ Astro!
Bernie Sanders: I’ve been fightin’ for the workin’ class all of my life,
And at least I can tell my sister from my wife! (Jesse Frankovich)
Michelangelo: I’m lookin’ at your paintings and I gotta say I see no
Real diff’rence from the scribbles of a one-armed bambino.
Picasso: Your stuff is well known (for a ceiling-painting hack)
And just like your mama, you work on your back. (Kevin Dopart)
Franz Joseph Haydn: I wrote a hundred symphonies, and 50-some sonatas,
Masses, oratorios, concertos and cantatas.
My string quartets are glorious, my operas are terrific.
You may have been a prodigy, but I’m the most prolific.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: You say you wrote some operas? They may be good, and yet
How many are in regular rotation at the Met?
Today there’s quite a difference in the way that folks portray us:
Nobody knows your story, but they’ve all seen “Amadeus.”
(Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)
Macbeth: “Macduff, you’ve got Macnuffin! Take that army back to Fife!
I got this throne by following that floating ghostly knife;
The witches say I’ll keep it with a minimum of drama,
There’s no one that can hurt me, ’cept a dude who’s got no mama.”
Macduff: “Usurper! Such a lame-ass fool, I call your buns inane!
You hang around and watch the forest come to Dunsinane!
No weirdo witch’ll stop my sword from turning you to carrion,
And yes, I had a mama. Ever heard of a Caesarean?” (Duncan Stevens)
Edgar Degas: Don’t like my dancers? Who made you the ref?
I’m okay with the fact that they’re awkward AF.
That’s body positivity and realness, man!
Better than a dude sittin’ on the can.
Auguste Rodin: Hey! He’s meditating! You shut your face!
I’ve got beautiful figures all over the place!
I celebrate the curves on the human body,
Don’t you dare say my Thinker’s doing business on the potty!
(Sarah Walsh, Rockville, Md.)
Pablo Escobar vs. George H.W. Bush
(Video created and performed by Alejandro Cruz, Alexandria, Va., a First Offender)
If you don’t see the video below, click here.
Pablo Escobar vs. George H.W. Bush
This story starts in '80s and ends in the '90s.
It's a little bit shady and a whole lotta grimy.
First up: Pablo Escobar!
“I’m a drug-dealing superstar,
I’ve got cars and girls all over the world,
Many a residence -- and dead presidents.
Speaking of which, here comes George Bush!
“Escobar, you’re no star,
I ran the CIA.
Is your buddy Nori-e—”
“Don’t finish that sentence, I won’t be behind fences,
Rather be shot in the street!”
“Well, maybe that’s an accommodation we can meet.”
(Alejandro Cruz, Alexandria, Va., a First Offender)
Wile E. Coyote: Yo, bird, you’re creepin’ meep-meepin’, But know you’ll soon be weepin’
’Cause I’m the wiliest, the smiliest, the super genius with plans beguiliest.
The Road Runner: You say your fame is your fantastic brain, But I disdain your claim.
You try and track me, you’ll never sack me:
’Cause your plots and your schemes all end up with busted Acme.
(Mary McNamara, Washington)
Donald Trump: The Mouth of the House is thinkin’ she can rap-battle me
But I will never ever let her flappin’ yap trap rattle me.
Nancy Pelosi: He first said, “If you’re sick, Go back to work. Think nothing of it.”
(Makin’ good on his promise that he’s got the country Covid)
Trump: I know she says “Puh-low-see” but I think it’s more “Puh-loser”
Or maybe it’s “Puh-lousy”? Well, they do both kinda suit her.
Pelosi: He’s such a wheelin’-dealin’ and negotiatin’ fella
But can’t negotiate onto to a plane with an umbrella!
(Jon Gearhart, Des Moines)
Al Gore: The last administration with a Bush’ll be your dad’s!
You’re hanging by a thread, just like a bunch of dimpled chads!
You may be backed by Limbaugh and by all the other schlock jocks,
But Holy Joe and I have this election in a lockbox.
George W. Bush: Forget it, Al! You wanna count the votes again? Just try it.
My Gucci-wearing pals will stage the world’s lamest riot.
You think I care if vote counts give you half a million more?
There’s only nine that matter, and I got ’em, 5 to 4.” (Duncan Stevens)
Guglielmo Marconi: I can make the airwaves sing like heavenly choirs.
All you do is dot-dot-dash through coppery wires.
Samuel Morse: I could rant and rave in response to such trash
But all I will say is ..-. ..- (John McCooey, Rehoboth Beach, Del.)
And Last: The Czar: I’m the king of the ink, I’m the champ of the choosers,
The man in the lead of a legion of Losers!
The Empress: It’s time for the Czar to say sayonara —
There’s a new judge in town, and she’s rockin’ a tiara. (Jesse Frankovich)
And Even Laster: I’m the original star, the Czar –
Without me, the Invite couldn’t have gone far.
I had T-shirts galore (though maybe not in your size).
Did I mention that I’ve won a Pulitzer Prize?
Well, now I’m the Empress; you may hold my tiara
While I tell you of the Invite since your lame-o reign of erra.
I rule Loserdom from the halls of Mount Vermin
And slice through bad entries like Georgia was by Sherman.
If you’d like to try to join the best punsters alive
Submit to my dominion...and cull your jokes to 25.
(Mark Richardson, Takoma Park, Md.)
Still running — deadline Monday night, April 6: Our contest for ideas of games, activities, etc., you can do/make with things around the house. See wapo.st/invite1377.
DON’T MISS AN INVITE! Sign up here to receive a once-a-week email from the Empress as soon as The Style Invitational and Style Conversational go online every Thursday afternoon, complete with links to the columns.