The Style Conversational
The Style Conversational
Loser-friendly discussion with The Empress of The Style Invitational

Week 975: Swing for a myth

This week’s contest, for a funny Sixth Myth in one of a dozen actual “Five Myths” categories, is yet another Invitational contest based on content in The Washington Post — something we’ve been doing since the caption-writing contest back in Week 71, or earlier if you count contests about the Style Invitational itself. But this one — suggested by Loser Ward Kay (one of the few people for whom “Loser” is the longest word in their names) — is one we’ve never done before.

The closest contests I can think of to Week 975 are the “fictoid” contests for humorous “untrue facts” about some subject. But this one, of course, is limited to a dozen topics, some of which are somewhat abstract and cerebral. It might be a challenge. I didn’t specify a maximum length, but as in most Invite contests, being succinct is a good strategy. When you look at a series of short items in, say, the letters to the editor, your eyes probably go to the shortest items first, even if the longer ones are pretty short in themselves.

The format of the Outlook section’s “Five myths” consists of five statements about some subject — ostensibly widely held misconceptions — printed in boldface. After each of the statements, the author writes a paragraph or two to set the reader straight with the Real Truth. Both to save space and to enhance humor, for this contest you can use one sentence to say what your “myth” is and that’s it’s not true — plus, if you like, humorously explain why.

Try not to be overly screedy about members of whichever political party you detest. (This is one reason I didn’t include such recent topics as “Conservative voters” and “Obama's foreign policy.”)


I dragged my feet for quite a while before taking up Kevin Dopart on his suggestion of a “flip-book” contest pairing two humorously related books. For one thing, I wasn’t sure if it should be all real book titles, or whether they could be made up, and whether the two kinds would work well together. I’m glad I allowed both options, since they resulted in a variety of zingy jokes, some referring to the actual content of the books (including the Invite’s first entry about the Buzz Book du Jour, “50 Shades of Grey”), others comically ignoring it (e.g., Brendan Beary’s pairing of P.G. Wodehouse’s “What Ho, Jeeves” with an analysis of prostitution in Britain). While three of the top four entries use a made-up title, I think that a majority of the better entries of the week incorporated two real books. As usual, the Losers found many opportunities to slip in some very current and biting humor in both combinations.

You can’t get much more current or much more biting than Jeff Brechlin’s Inkin’ Memorial winner about John Edwards, written during the trial of Ex-Sen. Sleazeball (D-N.C.). Jeff has been entering the Invitational regularly for a decade — and for quite a while, he was sending a long list of entries single week — and he needs just a couple of ink blots to break into the Invite’s All-Time Top 10, as indicated by Elden Carnahan’s meticulous statistics.

Our other three “above-the-fold” winners this week have more balanced lives, at least Invite-wise. So far. Mike Caslin, who wins the remarkable “she-cozy” unless he’d rather have something less, well, remarkable (let me know, Mike), started playing the Invite only in the past year or so; this is his ninth ink and first big win. A brand-new Loser, Carol Applegate of Washington’s Virginia suburbs, gets her choice of a mug, a Grossery Bag or one of our remaining Loser T-shirts, with her clever “Tiger Mother” combo. And Les Greenblatt of Ann Arbor, and before that Toledo, found a perfect alter ego for President Clinton in Dav Pilkey’s recent-classic hero, for his 10th ink and third above the fold.

This week’s “HAW” by Sunday Style Editor Lynn Medford — who this past Sunday took the stage clad in a giant pig costume in the Post Hunt, just as the Queen of England did during her own party the same weekend — went to “Senior Moments”/ “Senior Moments” by First Offender Jayne Osborn, one of the light-verse poets who found the Invite during the tailgaters contest of Week 970, and came back for more (I’m hoping lots more). My predecessor, the Czar of The Style Invitational, also was partial to Jayne’s entry.

(Thanks to Jeff Contompasis for that subhead)

Probably a few of this week’s web-only honorable mentions were a bit over the line already; I’m thinking of Tom Witte’s “Peter Pan” and Dion Black’s combination of “Sh!” and “It.” But they can’t compare for tastelessness with this lineup:

“The Naked and the Dead”/ “Necrophilia for Dummies” (several people)
“Goldfinger”/ “Platinumpenis” (Edward Gordon)
“Holes,” by Louis Sachar/ “My Life,” by Bill Clinton (Steve Balik, a would-be first offender)
“Naked Lunch”/ “The Big Pop-Up Book of Sausages” (Bird Waring)
“Moby-Dick”/ “All About Big Harpoons, Seamen and Sperm Whales” (Bird Waring)
“The Sign of the Beaver”/ “Free Willy” (Kathy El-Assal)
And my guilty laugh: “Traditional Japanese Chests”/ “The Complete Book of Itty-Bitty Bras” (Lawrence McGuire)

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