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Writing We've Missed. - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
Writing We've Missed.
Read Number 50 of the year is in the can.  The 51st is on my tablet, and a very different 52nd, which was featured on the Daily Show the other night, should be in hand by day's end soon- so I will make my book-a-week goal for 2014.

But there's always other written stuff to be consumed. If I'm eating by myself, I need something- a periodical, a cereal box, the ads on the diner menu.  Two of my favorite long time fillers from the magazine world have been gone from the world for awhile, but one, I'm happy to say, has come back online.

New York magazine (not to be confused with the older, staider New Yorker) always had a back-of-the-issue focus on challenging readers' minds. They gave me my first-ever exposure to British-style crosswords, enough to know that I'd never be good enough to [SPOILER: Not give, not us (3, 4)]get them, but I always enjoyed the long-running New York Magazine Competition. Two issues out of every three, alternating with the crossword originally edited by Stephen Sondheim, were the very different form of wordplay originated by Sondheim's friend Mary Ann Madden and continued in the magazine through her retirement in 2000. They encouraged cleverness over correctness- often encouraging "higgledy-piggeldy" filled double-dactyls and "change one letter to...." submissions. The answers were always amazingly fun and creative, and the regulars ranged from Nora Ephron to the "SUNY Albany Physics Building."

And it's back, at least online! Every other week, you can dance with the double-dactyls again!  They say they're posted alternate Mondays, but this one, with an October 29 deadline, was the most recent I could find:

COMPETITION NO. 33: MY FAVORITE BAND'S GETTING OLD. Please rename a well-known band to reflect its advancing age. For example:

Matchbox 80
They Might Be Tired
Rage Against the Noise Level in This Restaurant
Mumford and Grandsons

Enter through the comment thread, or tweet with the competition's hashtag (that one's was #agingbands).


Still dead, alas, is the Esquire entrant into the world of clever. For a good 40 years or so, an early-month issue would feature the Dubious Achievement Awards for the year just ended. Each would present, straight, a brief news item from the year with the headline packing the punny punch. This feature also developed its regulars over time, from an almost-guaranteed headline of "And then they went to Elaine's" to a clever use of this Nixon pic captioned "WHY IS THIS MAN LAUGHING"-


The awards took 2001 off, as September made it hard for anyone to be funny, but they returned for a final run ending in 2008. Below the cut (but sadly brief) is the entire online content of that last hurrah for the Dubious, which gives a good idea of how they worked and why they stopped working:

Forecast of the Year
"At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained." --Federal Reserve chairman Ben S. Bernanke before the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, March 28, 2007

And in an Even Bigger Waste of Resources, They Brought Her Back
NBC flew Ann Curry from New York to the South Pole for a report on global warming.

I Mean, That’s a Storybook, Man
After dining at Sylvia's, a soul-food restaurant in Harlem, Bill O'Reilly said on his syndicated radio show, "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant . . . even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship." He added, "There wasn't one person in Sylvia's screaming, 'M-f-er, I want more iced tea.'"

I Couldn’t Believe It. He Went the Whole Debate Without Screaming “M-F-er, I Want Some More Iced Tea!”
Speaking about fellow presidential candidate Barack Obama, Senator Joe Biden told The New York Observer, "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."

So That Was the Tainted Dog Food?
In an effort to show that it was serious about improving the safety of its products, China executed its former top food and drug regulator.

Judith, for One, Has a Safe Word
"It depends on how it's done," Rudolph Giuliani responded to a question about whether waterboarding is torture. "It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it."

As Always, He’d Prefer Someplace Offshore
Explaining his objection to an inquiry about the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys, President Bush told reporters that he would not subject his top officials to "show trials" on Capitol Hill.

As Good an Answer as Any
Asked at the Miss Teen USA pageant why she thought a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a map, Lauren Caitlin Upton of South Carolina answered: "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don't have maps, and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq everywhere like, such as, and . . . I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., err, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future."

Not Counting the Anal Sex with Men, of Course
A fellow minister said that the disgraced Rev. Ted Haggard, who resigned his ministry after being implicated in a scandal involving a male prostitute, told him that after weeks of counseling, he was now "completely heterosexual."

Who Knew It Was So Hard for Astronauts to Get Laid?
Astronaut Lisa Nowak drove 950 miles from Houston to Orlando, Florida, to allegedly kidnap a romantic rival, wearing an adult diaper so she wouldn't have to stop. Police reported that Captain Nowak had an air pistol, a steel mallet, a knife, latex gloves, and garbage bags in her vehicle.

But John from Cincinnati? No Problem
HBO chairman and CEO Chris Albrecht resigned after his arrest in Las Vegas for hitting and choking his girlfriend.

We Thought He Just Had a Wide Stance
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed that one of her characters, master wizard and Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, is gay.

Didn’t One of them Marry Antonio Banderas?

The Hairpiece Should Cushion It

For a White Guy Maybe

Excuse Me, Holy Mother, but Is That Mousse on Your Halo?

. . . Enough. Stop. Aren't we all getting sick of this? The one-line irony? The cheap malice? Late-night, cable, the Web, The Onion, Colbert, the "Razzies," the Darwin Awards, the Bum Steer Awards, the Walk of Shame Awards, the Dubious Achievements in Anime, blah, blah, blah. We started it in another century, and now we're full. We're done. Let a thousand poisonous flowers bloom, but . . .

And then they went to Elaine's, but it had closed for good:(
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