I was really worried going into the final hours of the Verse or Worse competition involving writing a headline about a highway covered with chicken fat, when it seemed to me that, under all the old mail in my spiffy MinnPost email inbox, there were only three entries.
I should have known better: Reference to chicken fat is one of the pillars of modern American humor, and — short of a sudden spike in vegetarianism — it could not have been so universally resisted. In fact, it was only my unfamiliarity with that spiffy MinnPost email inbox that obscured the multiplicity of entries over which, to my great relief, I finally stumbled.
That none of those first three entries made use of the word “schmaltz” (in its original, prehistoric meaning — chicken fat — not its more recent use to denigrate, as one source puts it, “excessively sentimental art or music”) should have told me that there had to be lots more entries somewhere. Just so: Fully a third of the entries I eventually found involved “schmaltz.”
In fact, of the entries that — after wrestling with the choice for several agonizing days in the beautiful MinnPost steam room — I have emerged to declare the five best, a startling 60 percent contain that word. (That’s startling even to me, but you can’t argue with mathematics.) Two of those also contain “waltz,” possibly a sly reference to “excessively sentimental art or music.”
Without further nattering, here are the choices: Cast your vote for the winner by clicking here. Voting ends at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20.
1. Funky schmaltz causes four car waltz — Jeanne Lasko
2. Excess fat impairs drivers — Dan Maki
3. Cop faults schmaltz for asphalt halts — Jill Field
4. Why is the chicken across the road? — Michael Friedman
5. Valve faults; Cars waltz on schmaltz — Ervin Stembol
On Friday, Dec. 21 — a little early because of the holidays — check back for the results of the vote (who gets the disturbingly excellent MinnPost T-shirt?) — and a new challenge.