Wednesday, May 25, 2005

New York Magazine competitions

This post contains all the New York Magazine competitions I have posted excerpts from on my main blog, Whatever It Is, I’m Against It, over the years. The competitions were sadly but appropriately ended with the retirement of the irreplaceable Mary Ann Madden some years back. There were books collecting some of them, three I think, the last, Maybe He
’s Dead, in the early 1980s, which I just bought after years of trying to get it from Amazon. The dates of the NY Mag issue are included where I have them.

Similar writing competitions are still held by the New Statesman in Britain, a British magazine, some of which I’ve also excerpted over the years; and in the Washington Post’s Style Invitational.

Common Phrases Redefined. Competitors were asked to change one letter in a familiar non-English phrase and redefine it.

Harlez-vous francais?
(Can you drive a French motorcycle?)

Ex post fucto
(Lost in the mail)

Idios amigos
(We’re wild and crazy guys!)

Veni, VIPi, Vici
(I came; I’m a very important person; I conquered)

J’y suis, J’y pestes
(I can stay for the weekend)

Cogito Eggo sum
(I think; therefore, I am a waffle)

Rigor Morris
(The cat is dead)

Respondez s’il vous plaid
(Honk if you’re Scots)

Que sera, serf
(Life is feudal)

Le roi est mort. Jive le roi
(The King is dead. No kidding.)

Posh mortem
(Death styles of the rich and famous)

Pro Bozo publico
(Support your local clown)

Monage a trois
(I am three years old)

Felix navidad
(Our cat has a boat)

Haste cuisine
(Fast French food)

Veni, vidi, vice
(I came, I saw, I partied)

Quip pro quo
(A fast retort)

Aloha oy!
(Love; greetings; farewell; from such a pain you should never know)

Mazel ton!
(Lots of luck)

Apres Moe, le deluge
(Larry and Curly get wet)

(Sacramental wine)

Iic liebe rich
(I’m really crazy about having dough)

Fui generis
(What’s mine is mine)

VISA la France
(Don’t leave chateau without it)

Ca va sans dirt
(And that’s not gossip)

Merci rien
(Thanks for nothin’)

Amicus puriae
(Platonic friend)

L’etat, c’est moo
(I’m bossy around here)

L’etat, c’est Moe
(All the world’s a stooge)

10/7/96, opening lines of human-to-Martian colloquy:

Hi! We met in Roswell.

Gimme three.

Pleasure, Mr. Perot.

You may already be a winner.

Abduct my wife, please.

You talkin’ to me?

Hot enough for you?

Run guns don’t kill earthlings, Martians kill earthlings.

Welcome to planet Earth. Use as directed.

You left your lights on.

Uh, that a rental?

Okay, so your people will talk to my people about 25% at the back end for an exclusive option to your life-story rights regarding book, television, cable, and motion pictures, plus 10% of all ancillary worldwide product sales for the first five years...

3/17/97, famous last words:

"If it stops your heart, you must depart." Johnnie Cochran

"I wonder if Roy remembered to feed..." Siegfried

"I’m going out for some couscous." Salman Rushdie

"See you in the movies." David Caruso

"I think I’ll try green eggs and ham..." Dr. Seuss

"Bye." Gary Cooper

"Hom’m I doin’ on time?" David Letterman

"Wrong!" John McLaughlin

"What time did you say? Fourteen after the hour?" Andy Warhol

"I am not too big--it’s the coffins that got small." Norma Desmond

"...and never, never sell the movie rights." Nathanial Hawthorne

"I don’t get no last respects." Rodney Dangerfield

"I thought you said at the count of five." Alexander Hamilton

"I’m tired of London." Samuel Johnson

"My fellow Corinthians, what you do not understand you will find in *St. Paul for Dummies*. St Paul

"Eeeeeeeeek!" Stephen King

"Rubber ducky, you’re the one
You make bathtimes lots of fun..." Jean-Paul Marat

"Uhh...conspiracy...uhh...." Oliver Stone

8/4/97, outgoing answering machine messages:

"Hello. This is Bob Dole. Bob Dole is not here right now..."

"This is Martha Stewart. While you are on hold, why not spray-paint your phone? First, put masking tape..."

The Roadrunner: "Beep beep"

Harry Houdini: "I’m all tied up right now..."

The Marquis de Sade: "I’m all tied up right now..."

"Hello, this is Jerry Seinfeld. Did you ever wonder why everyone has to say hello?....."

"Hi, this is Gary Karsparov. I could have taken your call, but the machine beat me to it."

"Paul McCartney here. daed ton m’I."

"You’ve reached the home of Erwin Schrodinger. I’m both in and not in at the moment..."

"You have reached the offices of Dr. Jekyll. Thank you for your patience during our transition."

"You have reached Weight Watchers. If this is an emergency, press the pound sign now."


Fast Food
Franco-American Spaghetti
Smart ass
Common courtesy
Parental guidance
Rapid City, South Dakota
Sly Stallone
Internet access
Coach class

Olympic events of the future:

Opinion poll vault

The compact disc throw

Synchronized paparazzi beating

Cross-country reindeer tipping

Aussie rules ice dancing

Au-pair skating


50-yard Mrs. Dash (low-sodium track and field)

Cross dressage

Cellular phone tag

Fishing for compliments

Synchronized watching

Whitewater stonewalling

Full-figure skating

Jose Greco-Roman Polanski wrestling

Drive-by skeet shooting

Maximum bobsledding


Senatorial shotputzhead

Mom soccer

Elevator sprint

400 meter walking-and-chewing-gum relay

50-yard dine and dash

Crack and speed skating

Subpoena-dodging slalom

Men’s 500-channel surfing

Platform-shoe diving

Advertising disclaimer speed reading

6/28/99. Sequels:


Malcolm XI

The Postgraduate

The King and II

Saving Corporal Ryan

The English Outpatient

Mylanta with Andre

Oliver Stone’s JFK Jr.

Dos Boot

It’s Still Pretty Quiet on the Western Front

Rear Windows 95

Mary Poppins’s Revenge

The Eagle has Come to a Complete Stop and the Captain has Turned Off the Seat-Belt Sign

The Grapes of Wrath: Deuxieme Cru

To Stuff and Mount a Mockingbird

Viva Zapata--Yada, Yada, Yada

Unusual greeting cards:

So you’re a juror at my brother Vinnie’s trial!

A belated message of forewarning.

Thanks, but do I know you?

Sharing in your profound disappointment with Eyes Wide Shut.

We are so, like, not thinking of you.

I’m so sorry to hear your friend has succeeded.

Welcome back from your alien abduction

Thanks for the alibi.

You’re a girl!

To my husband’s mistress on her 21st birthday.

So you’ve discovered your husband’s computer password.

Congratulations on adopting a highway.

Thank you for the soft money.

Thinking of you as you face damnation.

So you’re the master of your domain!

Here’s wishing you and yours a rapturous apocalypse.

Messages for two sides of a business or visiting card:

Michael Corleone. 1. Never ask me about my
2. business card.

1. Cabinets, Bureaus, Desks
2. Water into Wine

Dan Quayle:
1. Please see other side.
2. Please see other side.

Emily Dickinson:
1. I’m nobody.
2. Who are you?

1. Stephen Baldwin
2. No, no, no--_Stephen_.

1. Jack Benny
2. Please return to Jack Benny.

1. A. F. Mobius
2. A. F. Mobius

1. Shirley MacLaine--Actress, Author
2. 100% Recycled Paper

1. Inspector 12
2. Inspected by Inspector 12

Noah Webster:
1. Obverse.
2. Reverse.

1. Philipphilipphilipphilip
2. Glassglassglassglass

1. Lemuel Gulliver
2. No job too big or too small

1. Ishmael
2. Call me.

Brief smart-aleck reviews.

Eyes Wide Shut: And keep them that way.

The Making of the President: No, it’s not what you think.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Some assembly required.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Two thumbs off.

Misery: doesn’t love company.

Unfinished Business: Mediocr.

The Stranger: In bookstores today. Or yesterday...

The Dead: You better believe it.

Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: You’ve read the title, now read the book.

Witness: Amish-mash.

Das Kapital: It’s the economy, stupid.

The Prince of Egypt: Passover.

The Last Emperor: Deja fu.

Hamlet: Mundane.

1/17/00, children’s books:

Goldilocks Does the Three Bears.

Victoria’s Secret Garden

Little Crackhouse on the Prairie

The Little Search Engine That Could

Charlotte’s Website

So You’re Going to Be Tried as an Adult

See Dick

Horton Hires a Ho

Fun with Old Refrigerators

The Caramel Sutra

Why Little Irving Has No Foreskin

Have You Smelled the Muffin Man?

Alice in Wonderbra

How the Leper Lost his Spots

Fear and Loathing at FAO Schwartz

Look, Mommy, a Drag Queen

My Day with Dad’s New Trophy Wife

Noddy Goes Postal

Curious George W. Bush

Timothy Outs the Tooth Fairy

A Donner Family Christmas

The Hardy Boys Go To Amsterdam

Where are Waldo’s Underpants?

My Mommy is My Sister (Chinatown for Children)

Stuart’s Little (But It’s Okay)

A Pokemon Passover

You Might Be Adopted If....

2/14/00: one-letter substitutions

You’ve Got Bail

Torched By an Angel

Love me or lease me

New York, the City that Never Sweeps

Boys will be boss

I’m OK, You’re OJ

The first thing we do, let’s bill all the lawyers

These are the mimes that try men’s souls.

That will does not kill us makes us stranger.

A horse divided cannot stand.

The truth shall make you flee

Anything you lay can and will be used against you.

Hostile makeovers

Anna and the King of Spam

PMS Pinafore

9/13/93: slogans for any movement du jour

Save the dead white males.

It’s the stupidity, economist.

Let’s give it up for the King’s English

Bring back long division.

Give denial a chance.

Send a gay to camp.

Is a barrel of monkeys your idea of fun?

Carnivores are people too.

Godfather knows best.

Get involved. Make love and war.

4/20/92: songs from the crap musicals based on a good book, movie etc.

You’ll have to guess the original source; New York didn’t list them because its readers are soooo literate that, unlike me, they didn’t have to google the entry
“Can’t This Be Our Little Secret?” – Arthur Dimmesdale
because they’d already know that that referred to the Scarlet Letter. If I had to figure them out, so do you. If I didn’t figure them out, I didn’t bother typing them up. Some have multiple songs, which I’ve grouped together. You’ll get the idea.

“If I Were a Hit Man” – Michael Corleone
“We’re Going to the Mattresses, They’re Sleeping With the Fishes” – Entire Company

“Can’t We Get Some Ice Cream First?” – Lolita

“A Lovely Day for a Ride in the Cah” – JFK
“Waiting for President K to Come Our War” – Oswald and People of Dallas
“The Grassy Knoll” – CIA and Mafia
“Oh, My Suit, My Poor Pink Suit” – Jackie

“How Can We Ignore the Guy Next Door?” - Nick
“What’s New, Old Sport?” - Jay
“Is This Absolutely Where You Live?” – Daisy
“Shirts, Shirts” - Jay
“East Egg, West Egg, All Around the Sound” – Entire Cast

“Look at Me, I’m Madame B!” – Emma

“Honey, I’m Home” - Agamemnon

“The Silence of the Lambs When You Are Gone.”
“Hey, There’s a Moth in Her Mouth” - Clarice

“Decisions, Decisions” – Solomon

“I Hate Spunk” - Mr. Grant
“Hey, Mare” - Rhoda

“My Mama Done Ptolemy” - Cleo
“It’s Only a Papyrus Moon” - Antony
“B-A-D-D- A-S-P-P, Bad Asp” - Cleo

“Here’s Atticus” - Townspeople
“Boo Who?” - Arthur Radley

“Don’t Cry for Me, Oklahoma” - Ma Joad
“I’m Gonna Wash That Dust Right Outta My Hair” - Rose of Sharon

“Call Me Ish, My Game Is Fish” - Ishmael

“There is Nothing Like a Thane” - Chorus
“I Enjoy Being a Churl” - Macbeth
“Greymalkin’s Gonna Clear Up, Put On a Happy Face” - Three Weird Sisters
“Ripp’d Untimely Rag” - Macduff
“Into the Woods” - Macduff

“Boo” - Voice on the Battlement
“Are We Having Fun Yet?” - Gertrude, King
“I’ve Got Those Uncle-Killed-My-Father-Stole-the-Throne-and-Married-Mother Blues” - Hamlet
“Nothing Could Be Finer Than to Be in Asia Minor” - Agamemnon
“Oh, the Hoplites and the Helots Should Be Pals” - Achilles and Myrmidons
“The Last Time Paris Saw Me” - Helen
“A Big Wooden Horse, of Course, of Course” - Priam and Trojans

“A Suitcase Full of Dreams” - Willy
“Attention Must Be Paid” - Linda
“What Am I, Invisible?” - Happy

“We Got Trouble, Right Here in Theban City” - Mr. Oed
“It’s a Wise Child” - Oedipus
“Break the Jinx, Go See the Sphinx, You Little Minx” - Village People
“I Know Something You Don’t Know” – Tiersius
“Uh-Oh” - Jocasta
“I’m A – What?” - Oedipus
“It’s Funny Till Somebody Loses an Eye” – Creon

11/23/92: greeting cards.

So you drew a suspended sentence!

Sorry you’re having a bad hair day.

So you’re a lame-duck president!

Have a happy Yom Kippur.

Yo, condolences!

A special wish for you on your deathbed.

Sorry you’ve lost the ability to accessorize.

Condolences on the breakup of Communism.

You missed my birthday. Burn in hell.

Sorry I missed your beatification.

You put the lite in elite!

Thanks for not confusing really great sex with love.

Happy birthday to your inner child.

Congratulations on being out of the loop.

8/17/92: Famous First Words.

“Le Tot C’est Moi” – Louis XIV

“Dada” – Marcel Duchamp

“Birth, nascency, nativity...” Peter Mark Roget

“Is that a stethoscope in your pocket?” – Mae West

“The placenta is coming!
The placenta is coming!” – Paul Revere

“Booo!” – Stephen King

“Sum, ergo, cogito” - René Descartes

“Is this a rattle I see before me?” – Macbeth

“Mommy, I presume” – Henry Stanley

“I swam in water and it was warm and good” – Hemingway

10/18/82, a familiar line, title etc, updated and downgraded by the insinuation of a trendy [in 1982, anyway] word or phrase.

To be or not to be, that is the bottom line.

When shall we three interface again?

Something is grody to the max in the state of Denmark.

Give me liberty or gag me with a spoon.

Cry “God for Harry! England and Saint George! Go for it!”

Take a number, Satan.

Is this a dagger which I see before me, or what?

Beware of Greeks bearing free gifts.

Hi! Call me Ishmael.

Love is visually impaired.

What airheads these mortals be.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, check this out.

11/1/99, new magazines.

Drunk Car & Driver.

Roughage Digest.

Big Fat Bride.

Today’s Governess.

Rod Stewart Living.

Popular Creation Science.

Nouveau Riche.

Power Luncher.


Online Boyfriend.

Too Much Money.

Trophy Wife.

Alternative Lifestyles Bi-Monthly.

Loo Magazine.

Ennui Enthusiast.

Hats and Cattle.

3/21/94, prequels:

Kindergarten for Scandal.

Two Dalmations.

Prince Kong.

Malcolm IX.

Little Richard III.

We’re Running Low on Mohicans.

Wee Willie Loman.

Mrs. Warren’s Entry Level Position.

The Personal Ads of J. Alfred Prufrock.

The Baggage Check-In of the Bumble Bee.

Cogito Ergo Subtotal.

A Man Called Horsie.

A familiar quotation (1), and the silent reaction (2) of a listener or reader

1. “Tomorrow and tomorrow...”
2. Is that from “Annie Hall”?

1. “I was a child and she was a child/ In this kingdom by the sea/ But we loved with a love that was more than love...”
2. Nobody doesn’t like Annabel Lee.

1. “I shot an arrow into the air,/ It fell to earth, I knew not where.”
2. Dial 911, I’ll try to work his hat off.

1. “Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?”
2. Coming soon, “Little Caesar II.”

1. “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore.”
2. Quick – where’s the “Kick me” placard?

Search This Blog